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I would like to thank Westminster Press for providing this review copy.
C. K. Barrett was the Professor of Divinity at the University of Durham.
The amount of literature produced on the Gospel of John in the past four decades is enormous. It would be a task in itself to collect a bibliography of all the works on theology, history and exegesis of the fourth Gospel since the seventies, let alone set oneself to reading them. Why then should we turn our gaze to a commentary published in 1978? There are two answers to this question. First the author is C. K. Barrett, that and that alone would mean that this commentary is worth checking into. Second, is the approach of this commentary. It is concentrated, in the commentary section, almost solely on notes on the Greek. There is extensive interaction throughout the commentary section with lexical, syntactical and grammatical aspects of the Greek language in John from a master of Koine. In addition to the grammatical notes, Barrett's handling of the textual critical issues is second to none. Each section in the commentary, usually broken up by pericope, does include a good length introduction to the narrative purpose and literary context of the passage before the notes on the Greek text.
In addition to the Greek notes there is an extensive introduction, taking up 146 pages and six chapters dealing with the themes and purpose of the Gospel, the historical background of the book, the theology of John, the authorship and authenticity of the book and the sources of the text in the papyri and other ancient texts. In this introduction Barrett shows himself, as throughout his other writings, to be a masterful scholar who is neither conservative or liberal. I would disagree with him on authorship, date and origin, but other liberals would probably disagree more on Christology and atonement. In addition to these disagreements, I would have to level two other criticisms of this volume. First, any additional printings of the commentary would benefit from a new printing run with a new modern font and setting. Second, this volume is thirty-three years old so it will not interact with the advancements in Greek lexicography, linguistics and grammar made during those years. Though this does hamper the greatest benefit of this volume it cannot be blamed for its time and is still immensely valuable for understanding the Greek text of the Gospel of John.