dinsdag 29 januari 2013

Review of: Jo-Ann A. Brant, John (PAIDEIA), Baker Academic, 2011

Jo-Ann A. Brant, John (PAIDEIA), Baker Academic, 2011

Review in: The Expository Times 2012 123: 606
Review door: Paul Foster
Gevonden op: http://ext.sagepub.com/content/123/12/606.full.pdf+html

Jo-Ann A. Brant, John – Paideia Commentaries on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2011. $29.99. pp. xxii + 330. ISBN: 978-0-8010-3454-1).

Although commentaries on John abound, both the Paideia series in general and Brant’s commentary in particular add something fresh to the study of John’s Gospel in terms of the packaging of material and the content of the volume. Topics covered in the brief introduction provide a sense of the flavour of Brant’s approach with its mix of older and more recent methodologies. The first set of issues she tackles are the standard introductory debates con­cerning date, authorship and provenance. It is argued that John was written ‘a decade or so after AD 70’. The issue of authorship is problematised by recourse to narratological insights: ‘The author composed for a lector … John’s first-person narra­tor belongs to the world of the audience’ (p. 7). The question of provenance is left equally open, observ­ing only that the language suggests an author work­ing with Greek as a second language, yet nothing is inferred from this concerning location. Then Brant turns to the perennial question of the relationship between John and the Synoptics. She concludes that ‘the hypothesis that John knew one or more of the Synoptic Gospels remains viable’ (p. 10). The remaining three topics covered in the introduction are: ‘Johannine Narrative Art, Structure, and Interpretation’ (pp. 12-14); ‘Hermeneutics and Method’ (pp. 14-17); and, ‘Place in the Canon’ (pp. 17-20).

As is typical of the Paideia series, the commen­tary section has a strong pedagogical purpose. Taking the section on John 6:1-71 as an example, the section opens by covering ‘introductory matters’ (pp. 113-115). Issues such as the degree of repeti­tion, the place of ‘signs’ in the fourth gospel, and parallels with classical drama are all discussed. Next Brant turns to ‘tracing the narrative flow’. This is the major component in this section (pp. 115- 126), and dividing the narrative into four scenes Brant works through the text sequentially. This sec­tion is helpfully supplemented with a range of rel­evant pictures and carefully designed tabulated data. The final component is the treatment of ‘theo­logical issues’ (pp. 126-130), such as Eucharistic theology, the relationship between manna and the bread of life, and wider issues that emerge such as predestination, providence and free will.

Brant’s commentary admirable fits the aims of the series to be accessible as a teaching tool, to draw upon relevant background materials, to inform the understanding of the text with newer methodological approaches, and above all to engage readers in the closer study of the New Testament text. In each of these areas Brant suc­ceeds, and in the process makes a valuable contri­bution to Johannine scholarship.

School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh

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