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1, 2, and 3 John (The Story of God Bible Commentary) Hardcover – March 21, 2017
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About the Author
Constantine R. Campbell (PhD, Macquarie University) is professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author of several books, including Advances in the Study of Greek, Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek, Keep Your Greek, Paul and Union with Christ, Outreach and the Artist, and 1, 2 & 3 John in The Story of God Bible Commentary series. Con is a scholar, public speaker, musician, and author, and lives in Lake Zurich, IL with his wife and three children.
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One of the most recent additions to the series is 1, 2, & 3 John by Constantine R. Campbell. Campbell is professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. Campbell is a capable New Testament scholar and an influential thinker in the arena of Biblical Greek. Though The Story of God Bible Commentary is by no means an academic work, Campbell’s background is well situated for the focus on this series.
The commentary opens with a sizable introduction compared to other volumes in the series (20 pages for 1 John alone). Campbell comments on some of the major themes of the Johannine epistles (love, the centrality of Christ, sin and forgiveness, truth, and fellowship with God), authorship (Campbell affirms traditional author as John the Apostle), situation, similarities of 1 John to John’s Gospel, etc. Campbell treats both 2 and 3 John with similar yet separate, smaller introductions. While the series itself is somewhat characteristic of lackluster introductions, Campbell breaks the trend and offers readers a stellar orientation to 1, 2, & 3 John.
As the commentary proper opens the reader is guided passage-by-passage through three major sections: (1) LISTEN to the Story—includes the NIV translation with additional references to encourage the reader to hear the story within its broader biblical context, (2) EXPLAIN the Story—explores and illuminates each passage within its canonical and historical setting, and (3) LIVE the Story—reflects how each passage can be lived today and includes contemporary stories and illustration to aid teachers, preachers, and beyond.
Where Campbell shines, surprisingly, is in the application of the Johannine epistles. Readers who are familiar with Campbell might expect him to deliver results in the EXPLAIN section, and, to be honest, he does such extremely well. Campbell does an excellent job of keeping the story of God in view while navigating the Johannine epistles. That said, readers will be pleasantly surprised at how natural Campbell was able to move from exegesis to application here. It was both consistently meaningful and dependably appropriate for the contemporary audience. Readers may be slightly disappointed in the lack of attention spent on 2 and 3 John, but quality of Campbell’s interaction easily overshadows any possible shortcomings.
The Story of God Bible Commentary: 1, 2, & 3 John by Constantine R. Campbell is a magnificent contribution that offers a cohesive presentation of one of the most theologically overlooked of the New Testament epistles. Not only is he well-informed and easy to read, but Campbell is surprisingly keen on matters of practical application. This is a must have if you are studying the Johannine epistles and should be one of the first application commentaries off the shelf for the foreseeable future.
In many commentaries about 1, 2, 3 John the main focus is 1 John, with little or no attention paid to 2 and 3 John. Sadly this is the case with this commentary, yet the limited space spend on 2 and 3 John does not negate the plethora of attention paid to 1st John. Furthermore while this commentary is a lightweight commentary, weighing in at only 230 pages, Campbell’s attention to detail in 1 John makes this commentary a worthwhile read for both the pastor and the laymen, with a slight bent to the laymen.
A pastor will find that Campbell’s practical insights extremely helpful in giving application from the text to his congregants, while the laymen will find this commentaries easy to use formant and the non-technical format an easy read. It is truly the best of both worlds.
When looking specifically a this commentary Campbell spends about 20 pages on introductory matters. While this seems small, when compared with the relatively small size of the commentary itself the introductory comments take up over 20% of the work, which is larger than average. When investigating maters specifically with the text of scripture, Campbell takes an interesting approach. When exegeting on 1st John he deals mostly with the imagery that the apostle whom Jesus loved wrote in. Yet he does not fall into the trap of many commentators in allegorizing the imagery.
In the end I would recommend this commentary as in introduction to pastors and Sunday school teachers, that help tremendously with the laymen a pastor will want another commentary to pair with this wonderfully practical commentary on scripture.
This book was provided to me free of charge from B and H Kids Publishing in exchange for an unbiased, honest review.
1, 2, 3 John (The Story of God Bible Commentary)
© 2017 by Constantine Campbell
Publisher: Zondervan Publishing
Page Count: 272 Pages