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Testimony of the Beloved Disciple, The: Narrative, History, and Theology in the Gospel of John [Paperback]

Richard Bauckham
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Nov 2007
How do historical and literary details contribute to a coherent theological witness to Jesus in the Gospel of John? A leading British evangelical New Testament scholar answers that question with studies on themes from messianism to monotheism, symbolic actions from foot washing to fish catching, literary contexts from Qumran to the Hellenistic historians, and figures from Nicodemus to "the beloved disciple" to Papias. Originally published in various journals and collections, these essays are now available for the first time in one affordable volume with a substantial new introduction that ties them all together. A must have for serious students of the Fourth Gospel.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic (1 Nov 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080103485X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801034855
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 16 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 219,434 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Richard Bauckham (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is professor of New Testament studies and Bishop Ward law Professor at the University of St. Andrews and a Fellow of the British Academy. He is the author of numerous volumes, including Jesus and the Eye witnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony and Bible and Mission: Christian Witness in a Postmodern World.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Richard Bauckham is one of the better know, and better respected, evangelical scholars actively engaged in New Testament scholarship. He is the professor of New Testament studies and Bishop Wardlaw Professor at the University of St. Andrews and is also a Fellow of the British Academy. At St Andrews, Prof Bauckham is listed as teaching New Testament theology and history;the Catholic epistles; early Judaism; the Bible and contemporary issues.

Prof Bauckham's other works include, perhaps most notably, 'Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels As Eyewitness Testimony' (2008) and his recent 'Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament's Christology of Divine Identity' (2008). He has also written and/or edited a myriad of other scholarly essays such as his 'Papias and Polycrates on the Origins of the Fourth Gospel', Journal of Theological Studies 44.1 (1993), which is germane to the book we are considering here.

This book is, in effect, a library of 12 distinct essays which address issues pertaining to Johannine history and theology. These essays themselves date variously between 1993 and 2007 and have won plaudits from scholars such as Martin Hengel - Professor Emeritus of New Testament and Early Judaism at Tubingen, Germany and, perhaps slightly more predictably, from D. Moody Smith, now Professor Emeritus of New Testament at Duke University's Divinity School.

In the latter's review he quite correctly points out that this collection of essays is not simply that; it is far more than a flung together compilation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Countering the "dominant approach" 6 Feb 2013
By E. L. Wisty TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Richard Bauckham's "The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple" is effectively a collection of essays on various aspects of the fourth gospel. If there is any kind of overarching theme, many of them counter what Bauckham calls the "dominant approach" of contemporary scholarship, namely the approach claiming that the gospel is the product of a small "Johannine community", having several authors with multiple layers of construction, and being allegorical in content, referring to this supposed community's expulsion from the synagogues.

The essays are:

- "Papias and Polycrates on the origin of the Gospel of John" &
- "The Beloved Disciple as ideal author",

which respectively consider the external and internal evidence for authorship, from which Bauckham believes that the "tradition that the beloved disciple who wrote the gospel was John the Elder [deserves] to be taken very seriously", and that contrary to the commonly described idea that the character of the beloved disciple is an allegorical figure representing the "ideal disciple", he is the author who presents himself as the "ideal author", having personally witnessed the events and consequently perfectly qualified to write the work.

- "Historiographical characteristics of the Gospel of John",

arguing that contrary to the "dominant approach", the gospel fits the genre of Graeco-Roman 'bios'; rather than an allegory of the "Johannine community" it is exactly what it appears to be, namely a biography of Jesus.

- "The audience of the Gospel of John",

that the gospel was written with the wider Christian community in mind, and was not created for restricted circulation within a "Johannine community".
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb text 21 Oct 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
One must admit that this is bound to be restricted in readership to those interested in the Fourth Gospel. The introduction as a 'collection' of essays does not do it justice, as one tends to expect a few discarded items from an author's desk. These are crisp and relevant and review the subject with great erudition. While his deductions regarding the 'Beloved Disciple' are not my own, I found that much of the evidence he brings to the fore can be used to support an alternative view. In particular I was grateful for the chapter on Nikdimon ben Gurion. This important character has previously been spoken about in Eisenman's 'The New Testament Code', but as that book is practically unreadable it was good to have Prof Bauckham's lucid review.
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant. Bauckham at the top of his game. 3 July 2008
By Jeri Nevermind - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb collection of thought-provoking essays 17 Jan 2009
By David W. Stroud - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Excellent compilation ranging over a wide variety of Johannine topics but conveying an inner consistency which rewards the reader with new insights. One often reads that an author has accomplished fresh insights into a well-worn subject arena, but in Bauckham's case this is factually true. There are many instances which could be cited, but one which stands clearly to mind is his discussion of the implications of John's subtle use of anointing imagery to designate Jesus as the Holy One of Israel in the next-to-last essay in the text. This, for me, was one of those moments in which an author takes a common trope and throws a new and powerful light on it so that one literally lays the book down in one's lap and spends 10 to 15 minutes in contemplation of the insight gained and how it correlates with a lifetime of reading in John's Gospel and commentaries and studies of that text. This was accomplished within the context of discussions of purity, holiness, consecration, and ritual cleanliness. A tour de force!

I was so taken with this coherent collection of essays that I gifted it to a friend from a completed theological studies program. He found it very informative and useful in his on-going Adult Sunday School class on John. There can be no higher recommendation for accessibility and freshness of ideas and presentation. Bauckham is fast becoming one of my favorite New Testament critical authors for precisely these reasons. I unreservedly recommend this book to anyone with interest in Johannine studies!
15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comments by Michael Calum Jacques author of '1st Century Radical'. 14 Nov 2008
By Michael Calum Jacques - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Richard Bauckham is one of the better know, and better respected, evangelical scholars actively engaged in New Testament scholarship. He is the professor of New Testament studies and Bishop Wardlaw Professor at the University of St. Andrews and is also a Fellow of the British Academy. At St Andrews, Prof Bauckham is listed as teaching New Testament theology and history;the Catholic epistles; early Judaism; the Bible and contemporary issues.

Prof Bauckham's other works include, perhaps most notably, 'Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels As Eyewitness Testimony' (2008) and his recent 'Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament's Christology of Divine Identity' (2008). He has also written and/or edited a myriad of other scholarly essays such as his 'Papias and Polycrates on the Origins of the Fourth Gospel', Journal of Theological Studies 44.1 (1993), which is germane to the book we are considering here.

This book is, in effect, a library of 12 distinct essays which address issues pertaining to Johannine history and theology. These essays themselves date variously between 1993 and 2007 and have won plaudits from scholars such as Martin Hengel - Professor Emeritus of New Testament and Early Judaism at Tubingen, Germany and, perhaps slightly more predictably, from D. Moody Smith, now Professor Emeritus of New Testament at Duke University's Divinity School.

In the latter's review he quite correctly points out that this collection of essays is not simply that; it is far more than a flung together compilation. One of the main features of this work is the fact that the author employs and devotes serious attention to the commentary and testimony of various patristic sources as well as engaging in a detailed scrutiny of what he believes to be areas, both textual and topical, which have been either ignored or forgotten by the Johannine community of scholars.

Evangelical Prof Bauckham may well be, but he does not follow the script at each and every turn and is willing and quick to engage and challenge many accepted tenets of Johannine scholarship, most notably, of course, the question of the Fourth Gospel's 'targeted readership or audience'. Even scholars who would by no means share the writers final conclusions have praised the freshness of approach and the willingness of Prof Bauckham to announce that 'it ain't necessarily so!'

Yet the question still begs of how much actual viable historical substance can be sucked out of a work so pickled and drenched in theology and downright spiritual symbolism (and some would also add at least a helping of proto-Gnostic theosophy to that!) and here, inevitably, the reader must draw her or his own conclusions. That will require even more than this thought-provoking and stimulating library of Johannine essays can provide.

Michael Calum Jacques
5.0 out of 5 stars bauckham -john 6 Mar 2012
By Dominic J. Romaguera - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
this is a good one. the book is easy to read and the development by the arthor is well done. the different self contained chapters make it easy to consume the material
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