woensdag 6 februari 2013

Review of: O'Day & Hylen, John (Westminster Bible Companion), Westminster John Knox, 2006; in: Interpretation

Gail R. O'Day and Susan E. Hylen, John (Westminster Bible Companion), Westminster John Knox, 2006

Review in: Interpretation 2008 62: 101
Review door: Linda Mckinnish Bridges
Gevonden op: http://int.sagepub.com/content/62/1/101.full.pdf+html

by Gail R. O'Day and Susan E. Hylen
Westminster Bible Companion. Westminster John Knox, Louisville, 2006.
205 pp. $24.95. ISBN 978-0-664-25260-1.

GAIL O'DAY AND SUSAN HYLEN conclude this volume of the Westminster Bible Companion with the very famous last words of the Gospel: "But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books what would be written" (John 21:25). O'Day and Hylen contend that this is "a statement of the author's humility" that refers not only to those events "contained within his [Jesus'] life and resurrection appearances (see 20:30), but those that flow out of his abiding presence with those who believe and follow him" (p. 204). I contend that their clearly written, coherent, flowing comments on the Gospel of John belong to the same stream. Thank you to these authors for this labor of love—love for both the Gospel and the reader.

Harvesting the best of scholarly contributions in Johannine scholarship and following the sequence of John's narrative, the authors provide a useful tool for teachers and preachers. Complex land mines of Johannine interpretation receive simple but effective treatment. Particularly helpful is the discussion of logos in John 1:1, a difficult concept made clear in a few paragraphs that explain why this language "is not restricted to any one religious setting" (p. 24).

Another Johannine conundrum—the anti-Semitic nature of the Gospel—is explicated. The use of the term "the Jews" is explained as in-house controversy. "The Jews" are best understood as one of the "characters in John's story, alongside other characters, like Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman" (p. 69) and not to be used as an "ally for Christian anti-Semitism" (p. 96). The Johannine Jesus' much-debated claim, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life" (John 14:6) is treated in a careful but simple manner. The authors state that "Jesus is the tangible presence of God in the world… [W]hat John intends as particularism, many contemporary Christians wrongly interpret as exclusiveness and superiority" (p. 146).

With much praise for this commentary, I also provide critique. The authors chose to remain anonymous, but sometimes I wanted to be able to identify whose words, either O'Day's or Hylen's, I was reading. I also missed references to two important Johannine scholars—Raymond Brown and Alan Culpepper. I heard echoes of their groundbreaking scholarship in many of the comments, but I did not see their works or even their names cited (p. 205). While I understand the need to write to preachers and teachers, I also know the importance of honoring the ideas and minds of others who introduced new thoughts to Johannine scholarship. Honoring Johannine scholars in a commentary on John would not distract from the commentary's value to clergy and lay readers. Humility and honesty demand it.


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