This collection of essays was published soon after Bauckham's triumphant "Jesus and the Eyewitnesses", an important book on the gospels so powerful and well reasoned it will likely influence biblical scholarship for decades, if not longer.
"The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple" continues the exploration of John's gospel, once again stating his position that John was most likely John the Elder. This is also the position of Martin Hengel. "There is no evidence that the Gospel was ever regarded as anonymous (unlike Hebrews)" (p 35), but was always known as John's gospel, just as it was always associated with Ephesus. Bauckham wonders if there was a deliberate ambiguity on the authorship. This section follows closely many of the arguments presented in "Eyewitnesses".
Many scholars have suggested that the gospel's ending was tacked on. Bauckham disagrees. He argues that the gospel does not have two endings. On the contrary, the gospel has a two stage ending. The head of the apostles, Peter, repents, and becomes a true disciple. "The Gospel acknowledges Peter's leading role in the whole church, to which its own community belongs, while claiming for the beloved disciple a role of witnessing to the truth of Jesus that is equally significant for the whole church" (p 87).
Various scholars believe John was written for a single community, an idea Bauckham rejects totally. Bauckham finds many reasons to believe the gospel was aimed at the church as a whole Or else why would John have so pointedly added the information about Peter's martyrdom? Furthermore, the language is clearly universal.
Bauckham agrees with Burridge that the gospel falls in the general category of Greco-Roman biography. While John names about the same number of places as the synoptics, the dates are more precise.
I think the essay that intrigued me most was "The 153 Fish and the Unity of the Fourth Gospel". Bauckham points out the prologue to the gospels "consists of 496 syllables. The epilogue shows its correspondence to the prologue in that it consists of 496 words" (p 277).
Other topics discussed; John as the ideal author, historographical characteristics, the audience, the Qumran community, Nicodemus and the Gurion family, the Bethany family, foot washing in the gospel, Jewish messianism, monotheism, Christology, and the the holiness of Jesus.
True, it's aimed at scholars, but anyone could pick this up and read it.