The Gospel and Letters of John - Vol. 3

The Gospel and Letters of John - Vol. 3

The Gospel and Letters of John - Vol. 3

The Gospel and Letters of John - Vol. 3


Urban von Wahlde's radically new, three-volume commentary on the Gospel and Letters of John is the most detailed study of the composition of the Johannine literature ever put forth by an American scholar.

Nearly all of the problems confronted by those who study John have to do with the literary strata of the Gospel of John and their relation to the composition of the Letters of John. With an archaeologist's precision, and engaging a whole range of scholarly contributions in this area, von Wahlde digs down to the foundations and exposes three distinct literary strata in the development of the Johannine tradition. Volume 1 gives detailed evidence identifying and listing the criteria for each stratum. Volumes 2 and 3 apply those criteria to the Gospel and Letters of John respectively.


The First Letter of John represents a stage in the history of the Johannine tradition subsequent to the Gospel’s second edition, but prior to its third. This conclusion is reached on the basis of a detailed comparison of features in 1 John with similar features in the third edition. in all cases, the third edition either represents a development of ideas found in 1 John or presumes ideas expressed in that Letter. the detailed arguments for this view are given in the Analysis of the Third Edition in the section entitled “The Dating of the Third Edition Relative to 1 John” and will not be repeated here. We have discussed the arguments for the actual date of the Letters in the General Introduction to the Letters.

A. an overview of the purpose of composition

At the time 1 John was written, there was an internal theological crisis dividing the Johannine community. This crisis was caused by two divergent interpretations of the community’s traditions. the crisis had gotten to the point that some in the community had left, evidently to form their own community guided by their own beliefs.

It is clear that 1 John was written to deal with this crisis. However, the Letter is not aimed primarily at the opponents but at the author’s own followers. the author speaks to those who have remained faithful to him and faithful to the tradition as he understood it. the author is not in direct dialogue with his opponents. Consequently, the majority of his Letter explains how his views differ from those of the opponents and why the opponents have no right to make their claims.

While the author is concerned primarily with the refutation of the opponents’ views, at times he exhorts the faithful to live out the ideals that they hold . . .

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