Paul Anderson, a leading scholar of the Fourth Gospel, provides an introductory textbook, crafted for a semester course, which leads students through literary, historical, and theological aspects of the Fourth Gospel’s most vexing puzzles. Traditional, historical-critical, and literary-critical approaches are deftly introduced and their limitations evaluated; questions of the Gospel’s authorship, composition, relationship to the Synoptics, and origins in particular historical experiences are succinctly addressed; and distinctive Johannine perspectives on Jesus, the church, and the world are discussed.
“‘Sin’ in John thus refers not to debauchery, lawlessness, or moral failure; it is used to describe the closing of oneself to God’s saving/revealing work because of religious certainty and conventional investments.” (Page 185)
“While Matthew and Luke built upon Mark, John builds around Mark; John’s alternative rendering of Jesus’ ministry appears knowing and intentional.” (Page 129)
“The text deserves to be interpreted as it stands, whoever wrote it, whenever and wherever it was written.” (Page 125)
“While the Jesus of history probably never uttered the I-am discourses as presented in the Fourth Gospel, it cannot be said that any of these themes are missing from the Synoptics. And, while the Jesus of history probably never claimed to be the preexistent deity, the burning-bush motif is developed by the Markan Jesus, who also declares several times ‘I am.’ The Johannine paraphrase developed these motifs further, representing the convictions and experiences of the Evangelist, but not entirely truncated from Jesus’ ministry.” (Page 164)
“Culpepper’s approach applies the literary-critical approaches of Frank Kermode and others to the narrative characteristics of the Fourth Gospel, including the narrator and his point of view, narrative time, the plot, characterization, implicit commentary, and the implied reader. The great attraction of Culpepper’s approach is that he outlines how a biblical narrative can be considered ‘true’ apart from history.” (Page 119)