The Gospel of John: A Theological Commentary

The Gospel of John: A Theological Commentary

The Gospel of John: A Theological Commentary

The Gospel of John: A Theological Commentary

Synopsis

This excellent commentary by Herman Ridderbos engages seriously the host of twentieth-century interpretations of John while also developing its own integral understanding of John in which the Gospel emerges as a profoundly theological work. Ridderbos presents John in its distinctively apostolic character and includes important criteria for the literary and homiletical exegesis of the Fourth Gospel.

Excerpt

The Evidence of the Gospel Itself

For our insight into the unique character of the Fourth Gospel the author’s self-testimony is of decisive importance in more than one respect. Frequently this self-testimony is associated with the tradition of the ancient church, namely that the apostle John, the son of Zebedee, wrote the Gospel at an advanced age in Asia Minor. However, a sharp distinction needs to be made. the tradition can certainly not be derived directly from the Gospel itself, in which the name of John the apostle never occurs.

In the redactional conclusion of the Gospel, persons other than the author identify “the disciple whom Jesus loved” as the author (21:20, 24), but we are not given further information about this person either there or in other passages in which this person is mentioned. As a result the question of the identity of this disciple has become an important — and still unresolved — point of dispute among interpreters. Those who follow the ancient tradition recognize the apostle John in this disciple without any problem, but those who reject Johannine authorship — the large majority of modern interpreters — have, of course, greater difficulty with this identification. in the course of more recent scholarship a series of other candidates have been successively proposed to fill the vacancy, though none have found general acceptance. and some have expressed the notion that in the case of this disciple we are not dealing with a historical person but with an “ideal” figure (e.g., the Gentile Christian). Still others take a somewhat less radical but no less controversial intermediate position: the “disciple” in question was indeed a historical figure, but only symbolic significance — not historical reality — can be attributed to his conduct.

This array of hypotheses sometimes leaves the critical reader with the impression that almost anyone except the apostle John could have been “the . . .

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