Another Scholar Appears To Support Historicity Of John

Paul N. Anderson, Professor of Biblical and Quaker Studies, George Fox University, and author of The Making of Luke-Acts and The Christology of the Fourth Gospel, has written a new book entitled The Fourth Gospel and the Quest for Jesus: Modern Foundations Reconsidered in which he challenges the views held by many scholars that the Gospel of John cannot be seen as historical. According to the Religious News Service Press Release:

Anderson assesses the strengths and weaknesses of six planks comprising each of two modernistic platforms: the de-historicization of John and the de-Johannification of Jesus. Upon critical analysis, though, none of these planks is sturdy. While John's differences from the Synoptics pose real problems, prevalent explanations are critically insufficient.

Building on his earlier book, The Christology of the Fourth Gospel, Anderson poses a new set of theories regarding John's "dialogical autonomy," composition, "interfluential" relations to other traditions, and situation history. Craig Keener (Eastern Seminary) calls these a "...nuanced critical approach and balanced conclusions that are sure to invite much rethinking of traditional paradigms."

Likewise, Robert Kysar (Emory University) concludes in the book's foreword:

"This volume challenges biblical scholars to rethink the foundations of much of our study. It will, I believe, make readers assess their own methods and stimulate new discussions of John and the quest for Jesus."

Just as John's Christology must be understood dialectically, so should John's historiography. In so doing, Anderson elucidates "Jesus in bi-optic perspective." In eight major ways John and the Synoptics agree, and in eight major ways each, the Synoptics' and John's presentations are shown to be preferable for a more nuanced analysis.

In mounting a critical challenge to the prevalent critical views of the day, this book will indeed provoke discussion and debate within biblical scholarship and beyond!

At $120, I suspect that the sales of this book won't be high, but it sounds as if it's one that may be worth the price to the person interested in defending the truth of the message delivered by the Gospels -- all four.


Tenax said…
120 bucks! Man. That would be a record for me.

I am very interested in this, however. John is the only gospel which claims eyewitness testimony, and the common complaints brought against its Johannine authority, that it has high christology or couldn't have been written by a Jewish peasant, seem incomplete. As is often noted, Paul, writing 25 or so years after the crucifixion, has very developed Christology, from the atonement to the kenotic emptying. And if John had years to produce sermons within his community based on his experiences and these were written down...I can't see why these couldn't become the extended discourses of the gospel, perhaps compiled after his death. Here we have an eyewitness claim to both the resurrection and the empty tomb, if not resurrection appearances as well. This makes John ripe to be undermined.

Surely the issues between John and the synoptics are real, but it seems the 4th gospel's historicity is summarily dismissed by all but the most conservative scholars. I'd like to see critical studies which dialogue with Raymond Brown's influential analysis.

Whatever, this was the gospel which put me 'over the edge' and into my faith, and it's done this for millions.

BK said…
Actually, if you follow the link for the article at the Religious News Service it says "60% DISCOUNT UNTIL 11/30! (Contact:". So, you can get it for about $50. if you act now! :)\

But I agree with you. I would love to read this book, and I find the dismissal of John to be . . . well, not particularly convincing. I would like to see this response for myself.
Jason Pratt said…
I'm interested in seeing this, too.

But meanwhile, if you'd like to see a critical study that dialogues with Brown's analysis (as well as many others) in a thorough analysis through the text, I can recommend Blomberg's _The Historical Reliability of John's Gospel_.

Last I checked, less than $50, too... {g}

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