The Social-Science Commentary series presents a pioneering alternative commentary genre that offers a contextual approach to the study of the New Testament, thoroughly grounded in the original audience’s first-century cultural setting. This commentary on the Gospel of John builds on the unique format and success of the Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels and includes illustrations and photographs for maximum socio-cultural content. Unlike the usual historical, exegetical, or theological commentaries, this rich and engrossing work assembles and catalogs the pertinent values, conflicts, and mores of ancient Mediterranean culture. Its Gospel outline, detailed textual notes, and “reading scenarios” bring life and light to the social circumstances the Gospel text relates about childhood, money, divorce, military service, farming, family life, cities, demons, patronage, and a host of other aspects of the ancient world. The “reading scenarios” sections present the perspective of the original audience drawn from anthropological studies of the Mediterranean social system, offering clues for filling in the unspoken or implicit elements of the writing as a Mediterranean reader would certainly have done. The authors argue that, in many ways, the Fourth Gospel addresses an alienated anti-society, fundamentally at odds with the predominant culture. With its format, charts, and photos, this social-science commentary is the ideal companion for the study of the Fourth Gospel.
“Rather, Jesus sets forth a way of living focused on attachment to himself—a fictive kinship group much like the group for whom John wrote this Gospel.” (Page 48)
“The feet serve as a reference for the zone of purposeful action, the zone of behavior and activity. To wash the feet in such a symbolic way points to washing away the effects of one’s actions, hence, forgiveness of ‘trespasses’ or ‘transgressions’ (other foot metaphors). Jesus’ washing the feet means that he forgives his disciples their ‘offenses’ (another foot metaphor) against him, even forthcoming ones.” (Page 223)
“Forty-three times in John we are told that Jesus was ‘sent’ by God, language that appears only twice in Matthew (10:40; 15:24), once in Mark (9:37), four times in Luke (4:18, 43; 9:48; 10:16), and once in Paul (Rom. 8:3). While this may be a feature of Johannine antilanguage and its double meaning, the fact is ‘send’ belongs to the vocabulary of patronage.” (Page 118)
“Antilanguage’ is the language of an ‘antisociety,’ that is ‘a society that is set up within another society as a conscious alternative to it. It is a mode of resistance, resistance which may take the form either of passive symbiosis or of active hostility and even destruction’” (Page 7)
“The ‘sent’ messenger is one beholden to a patron. He acts as an intermediary between the patron and those for whom the message is intended—that is, he acts as a broker. This is a role Jesus plays throughout John’s Gospel.” (Page 118)