Volume 9 - Issue 1

Recent literature on the fourth gospel: some reflections

by D. A. Carson

Students working on the fourth gospel have long been blessed with admirably detailed bibliographies to aid them in their research. Quite apart from the major commentaries (though at times Raymond Brown and Rudolf Schnackenburg come perilously close to unloading their card index systems into their commentaries!), it is difficult to imagine working without the nearly exhaustive list of entries compiled by Malatesta for the period 1920–65,1 and the continuing bibliographical essays published by Theologische Rundschau (first by H. Thyen2and now by Jürgen Becker3). Two books in English have recently attempted to sketch in the current state of studies on John,4 and essays occasionally attempt the same thing by focusing more narrowly on select themes or scholars.5 One might almost suggest that in the wake of the convulsive productivity in Johannine scholarship over the past thirty years, the time had come for reflection and re-assessment, a pause to catch one’s breath. Yet in addition, bibliographical essays on slightly adjacent areas—life-of-Jesus research, for instance6—multiply the contributions to the study of the fourth gospel, as do continuing streams of articles in Festschriften and of specialized monographs.

The scope of this article is modest. The space and language constraints of Themelios require primary focus on English language contributions of recent years. I shall eliminate consideration of material on the Apocalypse, and almost all on the Johannine epistles, except where it has substantial bearing on the fourth gospel. I shall select representative articles from the last two or three years, and books from the last five or six years, aiming to be impressionistic rather than exhaustive, and discuss them under several headings before offering a number of summarizing reflections.


The day of full-length treatments of John’s gospel has come to a pause: there is no recent English competitor to Brown, Lindars, Morris, Schnackenburg (all three volumes now available in English),7 Barrett and Bultmann, nor one just over the horizon. Nevertheless, five developments deserve mention.

Pride of place goes to the publication of the second edition of Barrett’s justly famous commentary.8Relatively little from the 1955 edition was changed, but about 100 pages of new material were added. In Barrett’s own words, this commentary will seem to many to be old-fashioned;9 but in certain respects that makes the work more valuable, not less. Whatever a reader may make of Barrett’s stance on historical matters (fairly radical—e.g. ‘I do not believe that John intended to supply us with historically verifiable information regarding the life and teaching of Jesus, and that historical traditions of great worth can be disentangled from his interpretative comments’10), source critical questions (very conservative) or assessment of provenance (not a Palestinian work and not to be interpreted by Qumran), this commentary should take top billing for careful exegesis of the Greek text and for sane theological comment.

The second development is the publication of several very short ‘overview’ commentaries for laymen. For the most part these are so brief that serious students will learn little from them, and even the noun ‘commentary’ is not entirely appropriate. Entries in this class include Vanderlip,11 whose gentle and slightly bland work surveys the major themes of the fourth gospel while skirting virtually every issue of consequence; Kysar,12 whose five chapters and a conclusion constitute a lay introduction to mainstream modern criticism of the fourth gospel and to such themes as Johannine Christology, dualism, concepts of faith and eschatology; Smith,13 whose contribution to the series of Proclamation Commentaries provides an easy guide in three parts—introduction; exegesis of 1:1–18; 9; 16; and three interpretative essays; Perkins,14 whose slightly longer work runs through the entire gospel, largely as a popular synthesis of approaches and interpretations adopted by Brown and Schnackenburg; and McPolin,15 whose contribution to the New Testament Message series attempts roughly the same feat as Perkins’ book, but with considerably less skill at synthesis.

The third development is the publication (unfortunately only in German) of Karl Barth’s 1925–26 lectures on John 1–8.16 In fact, this printed edition follows the 1933 revised form of the lectures as far as the beginning of John 7, and then follows the earlier form. The book is dated, of course, and very uneven in depth of coverage (e.g. 63 pages of a 420 page book are devoted to 7:1–8:11, whereas 151 pages are given over to the prologue). Nevertheless there is a vitality here, a refreshing independence of thought, that cries out to be heard and respected. Barth insists, for instance, that although history-of-religions questions have their place, the crucial question that arises from the text of the fourth gospel is not its background but its Johanninemeaning. He finds the Trinity not only taught in this gospel, but also the ultimate answer to the relativities of history-of-religion. The evangelist interests Barth much less than the author’s sense of witness; and the resulting answers interest Barth so much that by his own confession he loses his taste for the technicalities of ‘the Johannine question’ (in the sense of modern scholarship). There are, of course, severe limitations to a work of this kind, especially one so out of date; but in addition to the countless flashes of profound insight, what we have is a book on its way to becoming theological commentary. That genre is all too rare today, so the model-in-progress provided by Barth is all the more important.

Fourth, two new commentaries have appeared in German. The first of two volumes by Jürgen Becker17reveals a condensed, middle-level work of a fairly radical nature. More significant is the posthumously published work by Ernst Haenchen.18 This commentary was compiled and edited from unfinished manuscripts by Ulrich Busse, who elsewhere19 provides a biographical sketch of Haenchen, explains what manuscripts were left behind and what steps taken to edit them for publication (not unimportant, since in the published book 450 pages are devoted to John 1–12, and only 150 pages to John 13–21), and outlines how Haenchen’s literary-critical and theological approaches to Johannine exegesis differ from those of Bultmann and Käsemann. Readers familiar with Haenchen’s massive commentary on Acts will not be surprised by his methods of tackling John. Haenchen defends the existence of a well-developed, full-blown Gnosticism in the first century, and interprets the fourth gospel as if it were located somewhere on a line between the synoptics and Gnosticism—and rather closer to the latter end than to the former. Moreover, Haenchen discovers his own ‘sources’ (or rather, ‘layers of tradition’, since he thinks detailed source criticism of this book is impossible) and postulates various developments in the Johannine community, correlated in part with what he perceives to be discordant levels of Christology in the fourth gospel.

The fifth and final development in the area of commentaries is the recently published volume by Raymond Brown on the Johannine epistles. It offers important implications for the fourth gospel—so important, in fact, that I shall discuss Brown separately a little farther on.

Redaction criticism and the delineation of the Johannine community

Source criticism no longer maintains the centre of interest in Johannine research it once did. There are exceptions: one recent essay, for instance, basically accepts the source-material approach of Bultmann to John 5–7, and attempts some relatively minor modifications.20 But this sort of work proceeds only by ignoring the detailed critiques of various source critical theories on John.21

Yet if simple source criticism is no longer in vogue, redaction criticism of the fourth gospel still runs from strength to strength; and by and large it is of the sort that makes many distinctions between source and redaction. In this sense source criticism continues apace; but ironically it is in some respects less disciplined than the slightly older source criticism it displaces, since much less is left to linguistic criteria (as in the justly famous work by Fortna22) and much more to fairly subjective perceptions of shifts in theology or theme. The continued impetus for this work stands beyond the desire to retrieve snippets from sources or to discern literary levels: the drive is to sketch in not only something of the beliefs and setting of the Johannine community but also to trace out its history and conceptual development.

An excellent example is the recent book by Tragan.23 Tragan strongly defends the view that the gospel of John as we have it went through a series of major changes and alterations before reaching its final form, and that many of these may be identified by linguistic or theological aporiae. More, this process of development and accretion reflects developments in the Johannine ‘circle’24 or ‘school’25 and that John 10:1–18 constitutes a particularly valuable test case. In his view, the original Palestinian mashal is preserved in 10:1–2, with vv. 3–5 providing a first commentary on the mashal. Verses 7–18 constitute five distinct layers of explanation of the parable: vv. 7–8, representing the first explanation, identifies the figures of vv. 1–2 and reflects a blunt anti-Jewish polemic against all religious figures who fail to confess Jesus as the Christ; vv. 9–10, a second layer of explanation, does much the same as vv. 7–8, but now from a soteriological perspective; vv. 11–13, a third layer of explanation, does not identify the figures of vv. 1–2 but replaces them with those of shepherd and hireling, developing a pastoral parenesis designed to prepare the Johannine community to withstand emerging heresy; vv. 14–15, 17–18, a fourth explanation, reflects advancing Christological developments regarding the relationship of love and knowledge between the Father and Jesus; and v. 16, the final addition, introduces the theme of loving unity at the church level. To all of these ‘explanations’, the redactor has added v. 6, reflecting his own strong anti-Pharisaic bias.

In this instance, the delineation of the development of Johannine Christianity is accomplished by the redaction critical analysis of one passage. Something similar is attempted in various tradition critical analyses of some individual pericope that occurs in more than one gospel.26

Probably the most influential attempts to develop such sharp community delineations on the basis of redaction criticism are those of J. Louis Martyn. His first book on the subject is well known,27 and cannot be described again here; but two of the three essays in his most recent book on this subject28 demonstrate the same approach in operation. In ‘Persecution and Martyrdom’, Martyn seeks to show that the Johannine community was at one time in its history a Jewish-Christian church whose members faced Jewish courts on charges of theological heresy. In the last essay of the book, ‘Glimpses into the History of the Johannine Community’, Martyn divides up the history of the community into three parts. The early period was characterized by a naive messianism still happily at home in the bosom of the synagogue. During this period some preacher in the group collected various traditions and homilies together into the Signs Source, a rudimentary gospel. During the middle period, the group faced expulsion from the synagogue (now wielding the Birkat ha-Minim), persecution and even martyrdom; as a result of the old understanding of salvation history became increasingly transmuted into an above/below dualism with Jesus and the community itself now being viewed as strangers ‘from above’. The late period brought theological and sociological maturity to the Johannine circle, thus providing impetus to publish what we now call the gospel of John (though Martyn conceives of such publication in two editions). Damning the book by faint praise, one reviewer comments, ‘Though some will stumble over the presuppositions which M. makes (e.g. the literary history of the Fourth Gospel is in effect a time-lapse photographic record of the social and theological history of the Johannine community), he will certainly not be faulted for lacking imagination.’29

Not only books, but many articles as well attempt to reconstruct the Johannine community. Collins discerns something of the community’s history by the crises she detects.30 Gryglewicz does something similar by analyzing the different ‘levels’ of the pericopae which mention the Holy Spirit.31 Bassler distinguishes not Galilee and Judaea, but Galileans (= those who accept Jesus and his teaching) and Judaeans (= those who do not), a distinction then incorporated into a ‘high-level reading’ of the fourth gospel.32 Neyrey’s analysis of John 3—which he says focuses neither on Jesus as heavenly revealer (contra Bultmann), nor on baptismal materials (contra Brown), but on Johannine epistemology and Christology—is ultimately in service of the Johannine community;33 and Painter believes he can detect something of the history of that community from the levels he detects in the farewell discourses (sic).34 So also does Segovia, who in his treatment of John 15:1–1735 argues that 15:1–8 shows that members of the community have either ceased to abide or are in danger of ceasing to abide as ‘branches’, and that the problem has arisen at least in part because of a Christological dispute in which Jesus is innovatively being represented as the true vine. The next verses (15:9–17), Segovia argues, demonstrate that this ‘inner-Christian problem’ also has an ethical dimension. In another essay,36 Segovia attempts to prove the sectarian origins of Johannine Christianity by isolating a number of passages both in the ‘first’ farewell discourse (13:31–14:31) and in other parts of the fourth gospel (esp. 3:19, 20; 7:7; 8:42; 12:43) which suggest to him that the community which brought them forth embraced a strong ‘in/out’ mentality. This encouraged the community to love those who are ‘in’ and reject those who are ‘out’—a perspective that betrays the mentality of a sect. This ill accords with the sense of mission in John’s gospel; but passages in support of mission are assigned by Segovia to a different level of redaction. Still on the farewell discourse (but now reverting to a book, not an article), Woll37 argues that the tension in John 14 between the fact that Christians have immediate access to the Spirit (reflecting a charismatic type of authority) and the fact that they do not have unmediated access to the Father is to be explained on the hypothesis that the Christians to whom the fourth gospel was addressed needed correction and restraint because of a too facile claim to direct access to divine authority. Even the primacy of Jesus was threatened; and so the evangelist countered by reinterpreting the charismatic traditions of his circle into a hierarchical system: Father-Son-Spirit-disciples. Looking at four discourses in John, Lindars38 detects a substantial transformation of the traditional materials the evangelist inherited as the evangelist struggles to adapt Christianity to his own environment.

These are not much more than thumb-nail descriptions of random examples; but they raise questions of foundational importance. I shall return to some of those questions later. At the moment it is enough to observe that these studies claim to tell us little about Jesus and his teaching, and much about the evangelist and his community.

Questions of critical introduction

Most major commentaries, of course, and all major New Testament introductions, devote substantial space to questions of introduction. Critical orthodoxy is well served by the magisterial two volume work written by Koester.39

In addition, however, there is an article literature that treats many aspects of critical introduction relevant to the fourth gospel. It is not possible in brief compass to mention every area treated in the literature; and in any case it is scarcely desirable to do so, since many of the entries would necessarily overlap with other questions (e.g. various redaction critical interpretations of the gospel of John40). Not a few of these essays pick up on problems of perennial interest and unyielding complexity, and provide only plodding progress at best. Typically, they include questions of textual criticism,41 the precise significance of Papias in identifying the fourth evangelist,42 the identification and/or purpose of the beloved disciple,43 the evaluation of alleged eyewitness material in John,44 and much more.

I shall limit myself to identifying three areas that have received multiple treatments in recent literature. The first and most important (at least in terms of frequency) is the relation between John and the synoptic gospels. In the aftermath of books by Gardner-Smith45 and Dodd,46 the view that the fourth gospel not only preserves tradition quite independent of the synoptic gospels but is in fact so independent as to be uninfluenced by the synoptics (or, in the strongest form of the argument, by synoptic-type tradition) came to be almost universally accepted. A few notable standouts, especially C. K. Barrett, remained; but their isolation was unenviable. The new position was embraced with quite radically divergent results. In the hands of a Brown, it became added justification for speaking of the Johannine community (or ‘school’ or ‘circle’) as a fairly independent group that had preserved its own Jesus-traditions, and whose heritage and development could to some extent be recovered. In the hands of a Morris, the same position bolsters the value of John as an independent historical witness, rather than as someone who has merely transformed an older tradition.

But now the critical orthodoxy is being assailed. The second edition of Barrett’s commentary47 finds him quite unrepentant, and elsewhere he has defended his stance in a little more detail.48 Walker49 compares the Lord’s prayer in Matthew with John 17 and finds many points of comparison, then cautiously suggests these points argue not necessarily for literary dependence but at very least for some kind of dependence at the oral tradition stage. Lindars50 reconstructs an Aramaic ‘original’ behind John 3:3, 5 and traces it to Matthew 18:3; Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17. Maier51 has detailed the main themes common to Matthew and John. More comprehensively, Moody Smith52 has weighed in some detail the work of de Solages53 and of Neirynck54 on this subject, and has also written a suitably cautious survey article on the present state of the debate,55 laying out the parameters of the problem in such a way that it becomes quite clear he does not think the issue is closed. Not all contributions in the area, of course, are equally convincing; but it is quite clear that this question will dominate a certain amount of scholarship on John for some time to come.

The second area is the emergence of a self-conscious attempt at hermeneutical innovation with respect to the fourth gospel. I shall say more about such innovation as it takes the form of structuralism (infra); but there are other innovations as well. For instance, Léon-Dufour, in his SNTS presidential address,56 takes up a theme he had raised years earlier and makes a case for a symbolic reading of John, by which he means an interpretative approach which recognizes John has used language simultaneously reflecting and suitable to the deeds and actions of the historical Jesus, and reflecting the experience of the evangelists’ readership. Used with great caution, Léon-Dufour’s exposition and illustrations show considerable promise. On the other hand, Schneiders,57 leaning rather heavily on an undisciplined form of the new hermeneutic, openly advocates ‘the integration of the appropriation process into the exegesis itself’.58 Again, she argues, ‘The essential context for understanding the text [is] contemporary experience [italics hers], not the historical-cultural context of first-century Palestine.’59 The result is that ‘at least one meaning’ for contemporary disciples of John 13:1–20, the footwashing incident,

lies not in an understanding of Christian ministry in terms of self-humiliation or individual acts of menial service but as participation in Jesus’ work of transforming the sinful structures of domination operative in human society according to the model of friendship expressing itself in joyful mutual service unto death.60

The deep problem of this approach, apart from its debatable philosophical roots,61 is that it is at bottom self-defeating; for the application of Gadamer and Ricoeur (who insist that the meaning of a text is its meaning for me in my situation rather than something objective) to the text of Gadamer and Ricoeur would authorize one in my circumstance (since I want to shed something of the superb freedom with which they deal with meaning) to interpret their works as intentional ironies which actually underline and emphasize the importance of objective meaning.…

The third area is something of a scholarly minority report: the questioning of the validity of modern critical orthodoxy on John, the return to methodological questions and the cautious support of older interpretations that argued for such currently unpopular positions as the view that the fourth evangelist is none other than the apostle John. During the past quarter century, doubtless Leon Morris has been the mainstay in this area; but one of his recent essays62 returns to this theme, and admirably sets forth a model as to how John went about writing his book—an attractive alternative to the dominant voices of Johannine scholarship, and one that attempts (no less than theirs) to take account of the exegetical evidence. Other writers are still engaging in detailed polemics against Bultmann’s source criticism63—unfortunately ignoring the fact that the debate has moved on somewhat during the last forty years. I myself have attempted to enter the lists at one or two points.64 But I should hasten to add that this minority report is not the preserve of theological conservatives: John A. T. Robinson comes to mind as one notable (but certainly not the only) exception.65

Use of the Old Testament

Interest in the way the New Testament writers—and not least John—used the Old Testament continues unabated. Numerous approaches are possible: examination of the relation between some New Testament passage and some particular form of text (e.g. lxx, targum, peculiar textual recension),66 careful probing of how one Old Testament text may influence an array of passages in the New Testament book under scrutiny,67comparison of how an Old Testament text may be handled by two or more different New Testament writers,68reexamination of the quotation formulae used by a particular writer,69 and much more. One scholar who has devoted much of his academic life to the study of the relationships between the Testaments has recently published another book on this theme; and in its pages, John 1:14–18 and John 2:17–22 receive special attention.70 The field is wide open for further work; but students aspiring to such inquiry must make themselves competent in the languages and technical issues of both Testaments, wrestle with complex questions of form and literary genre, and struggle especially with the relationship between the particulars of an individual quotation and the generals of comprehensive explanatory theories. It is this latter relationship which urgently needs more work, not least in the fourth gospel.

Background of the fourth gospel

For decades a debate has been fought over the background of the gospel of John, or of some part of it (especially the prologue). Bultmann71 postulated a Mandaean form of Gnosticism, even though the literaryremains of Mandaism can be traced back no farther than the seventh century ad. Dodd72 offered a fairly comprehensive survey of the evidence and opted for a Hermetic background. The publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls convinced most scholars that John is far more Jewish, and perhaps Palestinian, than had generally been recognized; and this development served to diminish the influence of those who advanced Philo as the best example of an appropriate conceptual background. Ever popular is the view that John’s Christology fits best into a wisdom trajectory. The debate has recently become more complex by the publication of the Nag Hammadi texts, which have prompted not a few scholars to return to some form of the Gnostic thesis.

The question is rendered difficult by two factors not always recognized. First, a great deal of John’s language belongs to the almost universal symbolism of religion: light, dark, up, down, spirit, world, word and so forth. What this means is that verbal parallels are multitudinous and therefore easy to find in almost anyreligious literature; and so it is imperative to focus primary attention, in these debates over correspondences, on the question of conceptual parallels. Second, although everyone recognizes that John’s principal overtsource is the Old Testament, this point, though important, can be abused by those who fail to recognize that some Gnostic literature also quotes extensively from the Old Testament—as do Qumran, Philo, the Rabbis and so forth. Quoting from the Old Testament does not prevent Philo from moving in a conceptual world far removed from the heart of the Old Testament; and so quoting from the Old Testament must not be thought a guarantee that John is thereby necessarily safeguarded from, say, Gnosticism—even though in my view John’s intellectual antecedents are best explained by Old Testament and Palestinian rootage and concern for ‘contextualization’ (to use the modern buzz-word of missiologists) of the Christian gospel in his own setting.

The debate, then, is far from over; and recent essays reflect the diversity of options and opinions. Williams73 detects allusions in John to the cultic language of the Old Testament. De Vogel74 compares love in the fourth gospel with Greek cosmic love. Philo has been advanced as the plausible explanation of John 8:56–58.75 In a cautious essay, Evans76 carefully compares parts of the Gnostic Trimorphic Protennoia with John’s prologue and suggests that the best explanation for their verbal (and to a lesser extent, conceptual) similarities lies in a common dependence on Wisdom traditions and terminology. A great deal more discussion is still needed.

Exegetical studies

The heading for this section is potentially misleading, for it may suggest to some extent that ‘exegetical studies’ rightly belong in a class by themselves, standing over against redaction criticism, critical questions, problems in identifying background, structuralism or one of the other headings. The truth is far different: most of the topics I have chosen as magnets around which to array my bibliographical entries properly overlap with other topics; and many of the articles and books mentioned in this essay could profitably be discussed under several different headings. But I group under ‘exegetical studies’ those contributions whose primary significance lies in the light they shed on the text itself, or, more precisely, on some well-defined passage of the text.

Perhaps pride of place should go to Ritt’s lengthy treatment of John 17.77 The first half of the work exhaustively reviews previous work on this chapter, and details the methods and tools to be pursued in this inquiry. These include structuralism, detailed lexicology, exegesis that is form-critically informed, and so forth. The rest of the book is a detailed linguistic, structural, and form-critical analysis of John 17, resulting not only in countless exegetical gems but also in a highly cogent demonstration of the essential unity of the chapter (Ritt thinks vvs. 3, 10ab, and 12gh are the only possible glosses).

Many of the essays that properly belong to this section relate the exegesis of a verse or short passage to broader questions. One writer examines Jesus’ trial before Pilate in light of Johannine theological emphases;78another relates ‘the lamb of God’ to various atonement theories;79 and still another studies the healing miracle in John 9 to set up a typology of reactions to Jesus the Son of man.80

The most controlled essays are those which attempt a careful exegesis of a particularly disputed passage, marshalling arguments for a specific interpretation. Not all are equally convincing; but the careful student usually finds ‘harder’ evidence at his disposal to enable him to enter into the debate than in the case of essays that treat, say, some reconstruction of the Johannine community. Thus, one writer provides a detailed examination of the significance of water in John 3:5, and concludes, probably correctly, that it picks up Old Testament imagery for renewal and cleansing.81 Another, less believably, argues that Jesus is the speaker of the words, ‘Behold, the man’ (John 19:5), uttered in reference to Pilate.82 One study attempts a new interpretation of that extraodinarily difficult passage, John 16:7–11;83 and another offers a somewhat speculative translation of John 3:8.84 The last two years alone have witnessed the publication of scores of articles along such lines.85


If there are numerous books and articles that treat specific passages of the fourth gospel, so also are there many studies of Johannine themes. Nereparampil86 begins with the temple-logion of John 2:19 (which describes Jesus as the new temple), but draws out the thematic connections between this passage and the rest of the fourth gospel—the meaning of ‘sign’, the relationship between Jesus and the Jews, the significance of the resurrection. Schein87 offers quite a different and rather popular book: his work re-evaluates the physical and geographical aspects of John, and provides maps, photos, various illustrations and a dozen appendices on the relevant archaeology. Another volume assesses the tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility in the fourth gospel, comparing and contrasting the results with similar analyses of Old Testament and intertestamental Jewish backgrounds.88 Numerous contributions are in the area of Christology89 or sacramentalism.90 Other writers strike off in independent directions, such as the one who has written on Satan in the fourth gospel;91 and the present editor of Themelios has surveyed the theme of Spirit and life.92

Structuralism and the new literary criticism

There are few words more slippy than ‘structuralism’. On the one hand, the word can refer to the ‘surface structure’ of a text (or the study of it), and thus refer to a somewhat more sophisticated utilization of various literary flags than has been common up to now, even if there is little that is new in any particular step. The first major structuralist study on the fourth gospel along these lines was that of Olsson93 on John 2:1–11 and 4:1–42, published almost a decade ago. Procedurally it was pedantic, self-conscious and heavy. The results were not startling, but basically confirmed what an intelligent reader would have deduced from the text in the first place. ‘Structuralism’ may also be an appropriate term to describe the analysis of the structure of the prologue94 or of some more extended passage (most recently exemplified by the competent work of Simoens95 on John 13–17).

But modern literary criticism, including structuralism, tends to delight not only in refusing to ask historical questions, but even in some cases in questioning the usefulness of historical inquiry, or in calling into question the legitimacy of such inquiry as a discipline no less important than that of structuralism itself.96 The intellectual roots of these developments are too complex to be probed here; but the results are ironic. Many structuralists, precisely because they are focusing more attention on the text and less on highly speculative historical reconstructions, often emerge with interpretations remarkably similar to those espoused by conservative interpreters; but before the latter cheer, they should recognize that the cutting edge of structuralism dismisses historical considerations as fundamentally irrelevant. In other words, if conservatives in the past have sometimes clashed with their less conservative colleagues over precisely what happened and therefore over the trajectory of developing Christian theology, they may find themselves in fair agreement with structuralists over the descriptive features of the text, but then discover that these new colleagues dismiss historical questions lightly and therefore cannot possibly retain theological structures that are fundamentally compatible with those of the conservatives.

Of course, the situation is still very fluid, and I have somewhat idealized both the ‘conservative’ and the ‘structuralist’ positions; there are numerous mediating positions. But I remember that at the recent SBL meetings in New York (December 1982), one scholar read a paper presenting a structuralist approach to an Old Testament passage, and created a minor storm because, superficially at least, his resulting interpretation was virtually indistinguishable from a traditional, conservative one. His audience was somewhat exasperated, and pressed him as to whether he was retreating to a ‘fundamentalist’ stance. His response was revealing. Traditional critical approaches he largely dismissed as being fundamentally incapable of truly listening to the canonical text. Structuralist methods often do succeed in demonstrating a profound unity and coherence to a narrative which a slightly obsolescent criticism divides up into pieces and layers. But, he confessed, he did not want to be pushed: he was not yet ready to ask historical questions.

Literary criticism of this order has come slowly to the fourth gospel. But here and there contributions have been made: Dewey97 has written a suggestive article that has implications for the structure of John as a whole, and Alfred M. Johnson, Jr., who has written extensively in the field of structuralism, and translated some of the works of the French pace-setters into English, has also written a doctoral dissertation on John, using a structuralist approach.98 I suspect the deluge has not yet begun; but signs of rain multiply.

Raymond E. Brown

We already owe a debt of gratitude to Brown for his two-volume commentary on the gospel of John. That alone would have been enough to secure for him an honourable place in the annals of Johannine commentators. But in addition to that work and to many articles on the fourth gospel, Brown has written two other books which give him the premier place of influence among English language writers on John. The first is a relatively short piece that attempts to set out Brown’s reconstruction of the history of the Johannine community, the ‘community of the beloved disciple.’99 The second is a monumental commentary on the Johannine epistles.100 The latter runs in excess of eight hundred pages, and leaves almost no issue related to the exegesis and theology of the Johannine epistles untouched. It displaces Schnackenburg’s commentary as the most important resource in studying the Johannine epistles. Among the many results is that Brown’s influence on the landscape of Johannine scholarship has become so substantial that it calls for separate treatment.

When Brown wrote his commentary on John, he postulated that there had been five steps in the literary development of what we now call the gospel of John; but he was very cautious about detailing the life of the Johannine community from these postulated steps. Two factors have encouraged Brown to go much further. The first is his work on the Johannine epistles to which I have just alluded. These documents, he contends, clearly set out a somewhat later period in the life of the community than does the gospel; so it is possible to sketch in a rough trajectory of development. The second factor has been Brown’s close association at Union Seminary in New York with J. Louis Martyn,101 whose views Brown has largely come to share. Martyn, it will be remembered, advocates a two-level reading of the fourth gospel, an approach which (if valid) enables the reader to grasp something of the situation of the Johannine community from the surface of the text, since it is presupposed that the stories John presents include both a brief reference to the historical Jesus and a substantial description of what is understood by the evangelist to be a re-enactment in the experience of the community of Jesus’ experiences.

Where Brown has gone beyond any of these individual steps is in his integration of them. He relies on his own five-stage literary development, the two-level approach of Martyn, and his own work on the Johannine epistles, and constructs a trajectory of the Johannine community. This reconstruction, Brown admits, is somewhat speculative at points. He candidly confesses that the best hopes he entertains are that sixty per cent of his reconstruction will be accepted by other scholars.

Accepted or not, it is important to see how his work must be distinguished from two other types of reconstruction to which it bears superficial resemblance: (1) It differs from ordinary critical reconstruction of a particular community in that the latter uses a document to discern the shape of a community more or less restricted to the time at which the document was being completed, whereas Brown is attempting to delineate the trajectory of the development of the community, made possible at the early end only by the sort of theory Martyn espouses. (2) Brown’s approach differs from the doctrinal ‘trajectories’ of many scholars who attempt to reconstruct the stages of development of early Christian belief on the basis of redaction critical emphases in different corpora of the New Testament; for Brown is tracing out his trajectory on the basis of one corpus alone.

Brown understands the Johannine community to have gone through four phases. In the first, disciples of Jesus who had first been disciples of John the Baptist joined up with Samaritan Christians; and this union catalyzed the emergence of a high Christology and an anti-temple polemic. Evidence for this first phase is drawn primarily from John 1–4. These doctrinal developments ultimately led to the group’s expulsion from the synagogue—presupposed, it is argued, by John 9. In Phase Two, the community consolidates its understanding and its identity, engages in various debates, and witnesses the writing of the gospel of John—which is, unfortunately, sufficiently ambiguous at certain crucial points that it becomes the focal point of new debates, this time within the community. This new strife characterizes Phase Three, the period of the Johannine epistles. The last period covers the final separation of the community into orthodox and gnostic camps.

Clearly, Brown has modified some of the positions he took in his commentary on John. For instance, he now argues that John 1, with its numerous Christological confessions, reflects how Jesus was being preached in other Christian communities. The fourth evangelist, however, finds these approaches inadequate, and therefore proceeds to write his own gospel. In the same way, the image of the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven is not to be reserved for the end: John places it at the beginning (John 1:51), and argues in effect that he must begin where the other evangelists leave off, and build from there. This also explains why the temple cleansing is placed at the beginning of the gospel. (Elsewhere, I have suggested an alternative explanation for these phenomena.)102

Some of Brown’s understanding of the history of the Johannine community is surely correct. The fact that we have both a gospel and three epistles (though Brown does not think they were penned by the same author, but only that they sprang from the same community) provides us with at least a few controls not available to modern reconstructions of, say, the Matthean community. I think it reasonably clear that the anti-gnostic (or anti-proto-gnostic, if you prefer) polemic of 1 John erupts because some members of the church(es) to which John writes have been giving the fourth gospel an essentially docetic interpretation. In this, Brown is not innovative, but he is probably right.

But try as I do to be sympathetic with the detailed reconstructions of the Johannine community that Martyn and Brown see emerging within the gospel of John itself, I find myself unhappy with the sheer speculation, the unproved assumptions, the inferences drawn on evidence patient of twenty other inferences. I hope to weigh Brown’s reconstruction with some care in a later article; but perhaps one or two examples may be helpful. I shall approach these through a series of questions. On what basis is it legitimate to read John 3 and detect end-of-the-first-century debates between church and synagogue, or to read John 4 and deduce that the Johannine community enjoys decentralized and charismatic worship practices? What evidence shows the events of John 3 and 4 to be so hopelessly anachronistic that they cannot refer to events in the life of Jesus? (Brown replies, for instance, that John 4 contradicts the synoptic picture of a Jesus who forbids ministry among the Samaritans [e.g. Matthew 10:5, 6]; but does the context of such prohibition suggest the disciples were never to work in Samaria, or only that for the mission in question the disciples were to restrict themselves to Israel? And might not the synoptic record of this prohibition suggest redactional interest in not recording the successful ministry of John 4?) and if John 3 and 4 do refer to events in the life of Jesus, what authorizes us to detect a re-enactment of them in the life of the community? The kinds of evidence advanced by Martyn are incredibly subjective and flimsy; and methodologically, he does not seriously weigh his speculative proposal against other possible scenarios, but merely presses on to support his own theory.103 Does the mere fact that the evangelist includes John 3 prove that his community is facing church/synagogue confrontation? Did the New Testament evangelists include only material that bore close parallels to their own setting? Did they everinclude material to inform readers as to what happened in the past, without trying to find detailed points of comparison with their own situation? Assuming that the evangelists write out of concern for their own situation, what evidence establishes that the focal point of concern is church/synagogue tension as opposed to the desire to instruct readers as to the nature of the new birth? And even if John’s community is going through the throes of church/synagogue conflict, what evidence supports the view that John 3 or John 9 constitutes a description of that conflict, as opposed to providing a ground for church self-justification by appeal to the example of Jesus’ conflicts—and not by detailed re-enacts of history at two levels? More fundamentally, why should it be thought that the fourth gospel reflects community theology? Why not instead speculate that the evangelist was trying to correct a drift in his conservative, Hellenistic Jewish, professing Christian readership back to an integration with the Jewish community—an integration which then happily excludes others, like Samaritans—and that the evangelist is seeking to correct the problem by going over the historical foundations again? In other words, what establishes for us that the gospel of John reflects the theology of the community, over against the theory that it reflects the theology of the evangelist who is trying to correct the community? And how much of this speculation is based less on evidence than on a priori reconstructions of the rise of Christian doctrine and the development of the Christian church that are not supported by any text but only by our reconstructions of the texts and of history—reconstructions which are then used as a Procrustean bed into which the texts are forced in order to glean the desired interpretation? The unavoidable circle suddenly turns vicious.

We may be thankful to Brown for forcing us to think through these issues afresh, while remaining rather sceptical about the cogency of many points in his reconstruction.

Final reflections

I have offered a number of evaluative asides in what is otherwise a fairly descriptive paper; and without wishing to repeat those evaluations, I would like to conclude with a few summary reflections on the current state of Johannine scholarship.

  1. One reviewer of Haenchen’s work, a reviewer best left unnamed, hails Haenchen’s commentary on John as the first truly critical work on the fourth gospel since Bultmann. Such naive and partisan judgments aside, it appears fairly clear that history-of-religions approaches do not have the force or dominance they once did. The Nag Hammadi texts will doubtless slow this trend (it is no accident that James M. Robinson writes the Forward to Haenchen’s commentary); but it is unlikely they will stop it.
  2. Although there are many papers written on all kinds of exegetical conundra in the fourth gospel, the driving force of mainstream Johannine scholarship is not exegesis but the redaction critical reconstruction of the community. Although I have learned much from reading such studies, I remain persuaded that this is fundamentally a false track—far too speculative, methodologically uncontrolled, and intrinsically incapable of meaningful verification. Nevertheless it will be around for a long time yet.
  3. For better or worse, structuralism has not yet crested, and will doubtless receive more application to John in the years ahead, especially as scholars tire of treating (synoptic) parables and turn to other discourse material. I have already suggested something of the strengths and weaknesses inherent in these developments.
  4. Certain critical problems will continue to attract a lot of attention, not least the relationship between John and the synoptic gospels, and the use of the Old Testament in the fourth gospel.
  5. Some recent developments, especially those in a dominant position, must have a certain baleful influence on the church, however important the questions they raise. The ministry of the word is being short-changed. For years we have been told it is old-fashioned to speak of Christian theology, as opposed to Johannine or Pauline or Matthean theology;104 now we are being told we cannot meaningfully speak of Johannine theology, but only of the theology of each layer of the Johannine tradition. The effect is two-fold. First, very little first-class, biblical, Christian theology is being thought about, constructed, written; we learn less and less of Jesus and more and more of Christian communities whose existence depends on uncontrolled speculation and whose alleged ‘theologies’ conflict fundamentally with other Christian ‘theologies’—leaving as their heritage explanations born in sociology but void of transcendent truth claim. Second, I am concerned about the way the Bible should be handled in the churches. This focus on reconstructing the Johannine community’s trajectory is quite transparently not the chief concern of the author of John and of the Johannine epistles. Doubtless there is a revered place for a little scholarly speculation; but when the arena of speculation becomes the driving force in a biblical discipline, one wonders how the Bible is to function in the church. Do we need a new priesthood, the true cognoscendi, to tell people what Jesus really did not say to Nicodemus? Do we simply explain that this reflects church/synagogue disputes about ad 80? And then what do we preach? That we should not enter into disputes? That the church and synagogue disputes will pass with time? That churches have always cherished their beliefs deeply? On what basis do we draw a conclusion and proclaim the word of God? Do we dare preach that unless a man is born again he cannot enter into the kingdom of God? I am not, of course, suggesting that biblical scholarship has nothing to teach the church, or that ignorant piety is to be preferred above informed piety. But as I read Martyn, for instance, not only do I observe the countless methodological fallacies, but I begin to wonder how I shall find what to preach next Sunday. Why is it that I do not have that same problem when I read the text of the gospel of John itself?

1 Edward Malatesta, St. John’s Gospel 1920–1965: A Cumulative and Classified Bibliography of Books and Periodical Literature on the Fourth Gospel (AnBib 32; Rome: PBI, 1967).

2 H. Thyen, ‘Aus der Literatur zum Johannesevangelium’, ThR 39 (1974), pp. 1–69, 222–252, 289–330; 42 (1977), pp. 211–270; 44 (1979), pp. 97–134.

3 Jürgen Becker, ‘Aus der Literatur zum Johannesevangelium’, ThR 47 (1982), pp. 279–301.

4 Robert Kysar, The Fourth Evangelist and His Gospel: An Examination of Contemporary Scholarship(Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1975); Stephen S. Smalley, John: Evangelist and Interpreter (Exeter: Paternoster, 1978).

5 E.g. John F. O’Grady, ‘Recent Developments in Johannine Studies’, Bib Theol Bull 12 (1982), pp. 54–58; Urban C. von Wahlde, ‘The Johannine “Jews”: A Critical Survey’, NTS 28 1982), pp. 33–60. See also the article by R. Schnackenburg (‘Entwicklung und Stand der johanneischen Forschung seit 1955’) and another by J. Giblet (‘Développements dans la théologie johannique’) in M. de Jonge (ed.), L’Evangile de Jean: Sources, rédaction, théologie (BETL XLIV; Gembloux: Duculot/Leuven: University Press, 1977), pp. 19–44 and 45–72 respectively.

6 E.g. W. G. Kümmel, ‘Jesusforschung seit 1965: Nachträge 1975–1980’, ThR 46 (1981), pp. 317–363.

7 Rudolf Schnackenburg, The Gospel According to St. John, vol. I (ET Kevin Smyth; New York; Herder and Herder/London: Burns and Oates, 1968); vols. II and III are available in English from Seabury (1981–82), which has now also taken over vol. I as well.

8 C. K. Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John (London: SPCK/Philadelphia: Westminster, 21978).

9 Ibid., p. viii.

10 Ibid.

11 D. George Vanderlip, John the Gospel of Life (Valley Forge, PA: Judson, 1979).

12 Robert Kysar, John, the Maverick Gospel (Atlanta: John Knox, 1976).

13 D. Moody Smith, John (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1976).

14 Pheme Perkins, The Gospel According to St. John, A Theological Commentary (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1978).

15 James McPolin, John (Wilmington, DE: Glazier, 1979).

16 Karl Barth, Erklärung des Johannes-Evangeliums (Kapitel 1–8): Vorlesung Münster Winter-semester 1925/26, Wiederholt in Bonn Sommersemester 1933 (ed. W. Fürst; Zürich: Zürich Theologische Verlag, 1976).

17 Das Evangelium des Johannes. Kapitel 1–10 (Gütersloh: Mohn/Würlung: Echter, 1979).

18 Johannes Evangelium: Ein Kommentar (ed. Ulrich Busse; Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr [Paul Siebeck], 1980).

19 Ulrich Busse, ‘Ernst Haenchen und sein Johannes-kommentar’, EphTheolLov 57 (1981), pp. 125–143.

20 Harold W. Attridge, ‘Thematic Development and Source Elaboration in John 7:1–36’, CBQ 42 (1980), pp. 160–170.

21 Most recently, E. Ruckstuhl, ‘Johannine Language and Style. The Question of Their Unity’ in M. de Jonge (ed.), L’Evangile de Jean: Sources, rédaction, théologie (BETL XLIV; Gembloux: Duculot/Leuven: University Press, 1977), pp. 125–148; D. A. Carson, ‘Current Source Criticism of the Fourth Gospel: Some methodological Questions’, JBL 97 (1978), pp. 411–429.

22 R. T. Fortna, The Gospel of Signs (Cambridge: University Press, 1970).

23 Puis-Ramon Tragan, La parabole du “Pasteur” et ses explications: Jean, 10, 1–18: La genèse, les milieux littéraires (Rome: Editrice Anselmiana, 1980).

24 Oscar Cullman, The Johannine Circle: Its Place in Judaism, Among the Disciples of Jesus and in Early Christianity (London: SCM, 1976).

25 T. Alan Culpepper, The Johannine School: An Evaluation of the Johannine-School Hypothesis Based on an Investigation of the Nature of Ancient Schools (SBLDS 26; Missoula: SP, 1975).

26 E.g. John Paul Heil, Jesus Walking on the Sea: Meaning and Gospel Functions of Matthew 14:22–33, Mark 6:45–52 and John 6:15b–21 (AnBib 87; Rome: BIP, 1981).

27 J. Louis Martyn, History and Theology in the Fourth Gospel (New York: Harper and Row, 1968; revised ed. Nashville: Abingdon, 1979).

28 J. Louis Martyn, The Gospel of John in Christian History. Essays for Interpreters (New York: Paulist, 1978).

29 David E. Aune, CBQ 43 (1981), p. 138.

30 A. Y. Collins, ‘Crisis and Community in the Gospel of John’, CurrTheolMiss 7 (1980), pp. 196–204.

31 Feliks Gryglewicz, ‘Die Aussagen über den Heiligen Geist im vierten Evangelium. Überlieferung und Redaktion’, SNTV 4 (1979), pp. 45–53.

32 Jouette M. Bassler, ‘The Galileans: A Neglected Factor in Johannine Community Research’, CBQ 43 (1981), pp. 243–257.

33 Jerome H. Neyrey, ‘John III—A Debate over Johannine Epistemology and Christology’, NovT 23 (1981), pp. 115–127.

34 John Painter, ‘The farewell Discourses and the History of Johannine Christianity’, NTS 27 (1980–81), pp. 525–543.

35 Fernando F. Segovia, ‘The Theology and Provenance of John 15:1–17’, JBL 101 (1982), pp. 115–128.

36 Fernando F. Segovia, ‘The Love and Hatred of Jesus and Johannine Sectarianism’, CBQ 43 (1981), pp. 258–272.

37 D. Bruce Woll, Johannine Christianity in Conflict: Authority, Rank, and Succession in the First Farewell Discourse (SBLDS 60; Chico: SP, 1981).

38 Barnabas Lindars, ‘Discourse and Tradition: The use of the sayings of Jesus in the discourses of the Fourth Gospel’, JSNT 13 (1981), pp. 83–101.

39 Helmut Koester, Introduction to the New Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress/Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 1982).

40 Very hard to classify is the problematic work of A. Q. Morton and J. McLeman, The Genesis of John(Edinburgh: Saint Andrew, 1980), who combine computerized stylometry, idiosyncratic arguments to the effect that the autographa of the New Testament were codices, and speculative Sitze im Leben. See the penetrating review in CBQ 44 (1982), pp. 519–520.

41 For a recent example, cf. J. Delobel, ‘The Bodmer Papyri of John: A Short Survey of the Methodological Problems’ in M. de Jonge (ed.), L’Evangile de Jean: Sources, rédaction, théologie (BETL XLIV; Gembloux: Duculot/Leuven: University Press, 1977), pp. 317–323.

42 Most recently, an article on Papias with only a few implications for John, viz Adrien Delclaux, ‘Deux Témoignages de Papias sur la Composition de Marc?’ NTS 27 (1981), pp. 410–411.

43 E.g. M. B. Moreton, ‘The Beloved Disciples Again’ in E. A. Livingstone (ed.), Studia Biblica 1978, II. Gospels(Sheffield: JSOT, 1980), pp. 215–218.

44 E.g. R. L. Sturch, ‘The Alleged Eyewitness Material in the Fourth Gospel’ in E. A. Livingstone (ed.), Studia Biblica 1978. II. Gospels (Sheffield: JSOT, 1980), pp. 313–327.

45 P. Gardner-Smith, Saint John and the Synoptic Gospels (Cambridge: University Press, 1938).

46 C. H. Dodd, Historical Tradition in the Fourth Gospel (Cambridge: University Press, 1963).

47 See n. 8, supra.

48 C. K. Barrett, ‘John and the Synoptic Gospels’, ExpT 85 (1974), pp. 228–233.

49 William O. Walker, Jr. ‘The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew and John’, NTS 28 (1982), pp. 237–256.

50 Barnabas Lindars, ‘John and the Synoptic Gospels: A Test Case’, NTS 27 (1981), pp. 287–294.

51 Gerhard Maier, ‘Matthäus und Johannes—Viergestalt oder Zweiespalt der Evangelium?’ in R. T. France and David Wenham (eds.), Gospel Perspectives II (Sheffield: JSOT, 1980), pp. 267–291.

52 D. Moody Smith, ‘John and the Synoptics’, Bib 63 (1982), pp. 102–113.

53 B. de Solages, Jean et les Synoptiques (Leiden: Brill, 1979).

54 F. Neirynck, Jean et les Synoptiques: Examen critique de I’exégèse de M.-E. Boismard (BETL XLIX; Gembloux: Duculot/Leuven: University Press, 1979).

55 D. Moody Smith, ‘John and the Synoptics: Some Dimensions of the Problem’, NTS 26 (1980), pp. 425–444.

56 X. Léon-Dufour, ‘Towards a Symbolic Reading of the Fourth Gospel’, NTS 27 1980–81), pp. 439–456.

57 Sandra M. Schneiders, ‘The Foot Washing (John 13:1–20): An Experiment in Hermeneutics’, CBQ 43 (1981), pp. 76–92.

58 Ibid., p. 91.

59 Ibid.

60 Ibid.

61 See especially A. C. Thiselton, ‘The New Hermeneutic’, in I. H. Marshall (ed.), New Testament Interpretation(Exeter: Paternoster, 1977), pp. 308–333; idem, The Two Horizons: New Testament Hermeneutics and Philosophical Description (Exeter: Paternoster, 1980).

62 Leon Morris, ‘The Composition of the Fourth Gospel’, in W. Ward Gasque and William Sanford LaSor (eds.), Scripture, Tradition, and Interpretation (Festschrift for Everett F. Harrison; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), pp. 157–175.

63 E.g. Edeltraud Leidig, Jesu Gespräch mit der Samaritanerin und weitere Gespräch im Johannesevangelium(Basel: Reinhardt, 1979).

64 D. A. Carson, ‘Historical Tradition in the Fourth Gospel—After Dodd, What?’ in R. T. France and David Wenham (eds.), Gospel Perspectives II (Sheffield: JSOT, 1981), pp. 83–145; idem, ‘Understanding Misunderstandings in the Fourth Gospel’, TynB 33 (1982), pp. 59–91; and cf. n. 21, supra.

65 Of his many writings that touch on the fourth gospel, the most recent, to my knowledge, is Redating the New Testament (London: SCM, 1976).

66 E.g. Bruce Chilton, ‘John vii. 34 and Targum Isaiah lii. 13’, NovT 22 (1980), pp. 176–178.

67 E.g. John V. Dahms, ‘Isaiah 55:11 and the Gospel of John’, EQ 53 (1981), pp. 78–88.

68 E.g. Craig A. Evans, ‘The Function of Isaiah 6:9–10 in Mark and John’, NovT 24 (1982), pp. 124–138.

69 E.g. idem, ‘On the Quotation Formulas in the Fourth Gospel’, BZ 26 (1982), pp. 79–83.

70 A. T. Hanson, The New Testament Interpretation of Scripture (London: SPCK, 1980).

71 Rudolf Bultmann, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (ET G. R. Beasley-Murray; Oxford: Blackwell, 1971). The crucial essay in which he first set forth his proposal in detail is ‘Die Bedeutung der neuerschlossenen mandäischen und manichäischen Quellen für das Verständnis des Johannesevangeliums’, ZNW 24 (1925), pp. 100–146.

72 C. H. Dodd, The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel (Cambridge: University Press, 1953).

73 J. T. Williams, ‘Cultic Elements in the Fourth Gospel’ in E. A. Livingstone (ed.), Studia Biblica 1978. II, Gospels (Sheffield: JSOT, 1980), pp. 339–350.

74 Cornelia J. de Vogel, ‘Greek Cosmic Love and the Christian Love of God: Boethius, Dionysius the Areopagite and the Author of the Fourth Gospel’, VC 35 (1981), pp. 57–81.

75 Linnard Urban and Patrick Henry, ‘ “Before Abraham was I am”: Does Philo Explain John 8:56–58?’ Stud Phil 6 (1979–80), pp. 157–195.

76 Craig A. Evans, ‘On the Prologue of John and the Trimorphic Protennoia’, NTS 21 (1981), pp. 395–401.

77 Hubert Ritt, Das Gebet zum Vater: Zur Interpretation von Joh 17 (Würzburg: Echter, 1979).

78 J. Blank, ‘Die Verhandlung vor Pilatus Joh 18, 28–19, 16 im Lichte johanneischer Theologie’, BZ 3 (1959), pp. 60–81.

79 George L. Carey, ‘The Lamb of God and Atonement Theories’, TynB 32 (1981), pp. 97–122.

80 M. Gourges, ‘L’aveugle-né (Jn 9). Du miracle au signe: typologie des réactions à l’égard du Fils de l’homme’, NRT 114 (1982), pp. 381–395.

81 Linda L. Belleville, ‘ “Borne of Water and Spirit”: John 3:5’, TrinJ 1 (1980), pp. 125–141.

82 J. L. Houlden, ‘John 195: “And he said to them, Behold, the man” ’, ExpT 92 (1981), pp. 148–149.

83 D. A. Carson, ‘The Function of the Paraclete in John 16:7–11’, JBL 98 (1979), pp. 547–566.

84 J. D. Thomas, ‘A Translation Problem—John 3:8’, RestQ 24 (1981), pp. 219–224.

85 To cite just a few: G. Siegwalt, ‘Der Prolog des Johannesevangeliums als Einführung in eine christliche Theologie’, ZSTR 24 (1982), pp. 150–171; Pierre Courthial, ‘Note sur Jean 3/12’, RevRéf 31 (1980), pp. 256–269; Craig A. Evans, ‘The Voice from Heaven: A Note on John 12:28’, CBQ 43 (1981), pp. 405–408; E. D. Freed, ‘Ego eimi in John 8:24’, JTS 33 (1982), pp. 163–167; M. Gourgues, ‘Section christologique et section eucharistique en Jean VI. Une proposition’, RB 88 (1981), pp. 515–531; Arland J. Hultgren, ‘The Johannine Foot-washing (13.1–11) as Symbol of Eschatological Hospitality’, NTS 28 (1982), pp. 539–546; Hans Joachim Iwand, ‘Ich lebe, und ihr sollt auch leben’, TheolBiet 12 (1981), pp. 49–53; R. Loewe, ‘ “Salvation” is Not of the Jews’, JTS 32 (1981), pp. 341–368; Eduard L. Miller, ‘The Christology of John 8:25’, TZ 36 (1980), pp. 257–265; F. Neirynck, ‘La traduction d’un verset johannique: Jn 19, 27b’, EphTheolLov 57 (1981), pp. 83–106; V. Parkin, ‘ “On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee” (John 2:1)’ IBS 3 (1981), pp. 134–144; T. E. Pollard, ‘Jesus and the Samaritan Woman’, ExpT 92 (1981), pp. 147–148; B. P. Robinson, ‘The Meaning and Significance of “The Seventh Hour” in John 4:52’ in E. A. Livingstone (ed.), Studia Biblica 1978. II, Gospels(Sheffield: JSOT, 1980), pp. 255–262; J. Swetnam, ‘The Meaning of pepisteukotas in John 8, 31’, Bib 61 (1980), pp. 106–109; Urban C. von Wahlde, ‘Faith and Works in Jn 6:28–29: Exegesis or Eisegesis?’ NovT 22 (1980), pp. 304–315.

86 Lucius Nereparampil, Destroy This Temple: An Exegetico-Theological Study of the Meaning of Jesus’ Temple-Logion in Jn 2:19 (Bangalore: Dharmaram, 1978).

87 Bruce E. Schein, Following the Way: The Setting of John’s Gospel (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1980).

88 D. A. Carson, Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical Perspectives in Tension (London: MMS, 1981).

89 E.g. John de Sagté, ‘The Human Integrity of St. John’s Jesus’ in E. A. Livingstone (ed.), Studia Biblica 1978. II. Gospels (Sheffield: JSOT, 1980), pp. 75–78; Alain G. Martin, ‘Les relations du Père et du Fils dans I’Evangile selon saint Jean’, RevRéf 32 (1981), pp. 23–39; J. Ramsey Michaels, Servant and Son: Jesus in Parable and Gospel (Atlanta: John Knox, 1981) (not restricted to the fourth gospel).

90 E.g. Kikuo Matsunaga, ‘Is John’s Gospel Anti-Sacramental?—A New Solution in the Light of the Evangelist’s Milieu’, NTS 27 (1980–81), pp. 516–524; R. Wade Paschal, Jr., ‘Sacramental Symbolism and Physical Imagery in the Gospel of John’, TynB 32 (1981), pp. 151–176.

91 Wendy E. Sproston, ‘Satan in the Fourth Gospel’ in E. A. Livingstone (ed.), Studia Biblica 1978. II. Gospels(Sheffield: JSOT, 1980), pp. 307–311.

92 David Wenham, ‘Spirit and Life: Some Reflections on Johannine Theology’, Themelios 6/1 (1980–81), pp. 4–8.

93 Birgir Olsson, Structure and Meaning in the Fourth Gospel: A Text-Linguistic Analysis of John 2:1–11 and 4:1–42 (ET Jean Gray; Lund: Gleerup, 1974).

94 Most recently, cf. R. A. Culpepper, ‘the Pivot of John’s Prologue’, NTS 27 (1980), pp. 1–31.

95 Yves Simoens, La gloire d’aimer: Structures stylistiques et interprétatives dans le Discours de la Cène (Jn 13–17) (AnBib 90; Rome: BIP, 1981).

96 See, for instance, the somewhat extreme position of B. W. Kovacs, ‘Philosophical Foundations for Structuralism’, Semeia 10 (1978), pp. 85–105.

97 Kim E. Dewey, ‘Paroimiai in the Gospel of John’, Semeia 17 (1980), pp. 81–100.

98 Alfred Marion Johnson, ‘The Cultural Context of John—A Structural Approach’ (PhD diss., University of Pittsburgh, 1978). To the best of my knowledge, this work has not been published; my copy is on microfiche.

99 Raymond E. Brown, The Community of the Beloved Disciple: The Life, Loves, and Hates of an Individual Church in New Testament Times (New York: Paulist, 1979).

100 Idem, The Epistles of John (AB 30; New York: Doubleday, 1982).

101 See n. 28, supra.

102 D. A. Carson, ‘Understanding Misunderstandings’.

103 This habit, far too common in Johannine scholarship, is of course one reason why there is so much disarray among the competing interpretative proposals.

104 On this problem, see D. A. Carson, ‘Unity and Diversity in the New Testament: The Possibility of Systematic Theology’ in D. A. Carson and John D. Woodbridge (eds.), Scripture (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982), pp. 61–95, 368–375.

D. A. Carson

D. A. Carson is emeritus professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and president of The Gospel Coalition.