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Truth on Trial: The Lawsuit Motif in the Fourth Gospel [Hardcover]

Andrew T Lincoln

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Book Description

1 Dec 2000
Religious truth has always been in dispute, but there are certain times and places in which the debate has been more intense. One such period was the first century C.E., when the rapid spread of Christianity with its claims about Jesus produced considerable ferment. The Gospel of John, written late in that century, presents that dispute with greater clarity than any other document of the time. John presents a Jesus who claims not only to tell the truth but also to "be" the truth. And yet, as the Roman magistrate asks Jesus in John's gospel, what is truth?

Two millennia later in the Western world, pluralism and postmodernism radically challenge traditional notions of truth. Is there any truth beyond the formal logic of merely analytical propositions? And if there is, do humans have any way of knowing it? Many who have a postmodern perspective deny that either rationality or imagination can give us access to the truth. Instead they adopt a thoroughgoing incredulity toward metanarratives. Truth is again on trial.

In "Truth on Trial: The Lawsuit Motif in John's Gospel, "Andrew T. Lincoln links reflection on contemporary issues with careful study of the Fourth Gospel. Exegetical chapters discern the shape of John's narrative and the function of the lawsuit motif within it, describe antecedent uses of the motif in Jewish Scripture, and set John's use of the motif in theological, historical, and social perspective. Closing chapters on contemporary application explore the pervasive power of the trial metaphor in Western literature in relation to recent hermeneutical thought. Over against modern and post modern views, Lincoln argues that Christians can simultaneously exercise criticaljudgement and accept John's testimony that Christ is the truth.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Truth on Trial: The Lawsuit Motif in the Fourth Gospel + Participating in God: A Pastoral Doctrine of the Trinity + Philosophy and Theology (Horizons in Theology)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 527 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic, Div of Baker Publishing Group (1 Dec 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801046920
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801046926
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 4 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 292,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"Scholars have long recognized John's use of the lawsuit motif, but to date there has been no definitive study of this motif. Lincoln has now filled that void. "Truth on Trial" is a masterfully comprehensive and perceptive work, leading the reader into the Isaianic background of the lawsuit motif, its development in the Gospel narrative, its social and theological significance, and its implications for contemporary hermeneutics. More than just the study of a motif, readers will discover here a demonstration of the adage that to do anything well one must do everything. Lincoln starts with a motif and ends up interpreting the Gospel."
" R. Alan Culpepper, Dean, McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University

"Andrew Lincoln's "Truth on Trial" provides richly textured readings of the lawsuit motif in John as well as a series of thoughtful and profound theological reflections. This volume reflects Lincoln's thorough immersion in Johannine studies as well as his broad understanding of contemporary hermeneutical and theological issues. He never glosses over tough questions. Rather, his patient, clear prose, leads readers to a deeper engagement with matters concerning witness, testimony, confession, and truth. All Christian thinkers will benefit from wrestling with "Truth on Trial."
" Stephen Fowl, Professor of Theology, Loyola College in Maryland

"In "Truth on Trial," Andrew Lincoln deftly combines literary, historical, and theological approaches in a masterful and wide-ranging study of the lawsuit motif in the Gospel of John. Reading the Fourth Gospel against the backdrop of the lawsuits between God and Israel and God and the nations in Isaiah, the author freshly illumines John'sreading of the Scriptures and repeatedly sheds new light on the Gospel's narrative and structure, theological world of thought, and historical context. Few recent studies on John can match the breadth and depth of insight with which Lincoln carries through his project."
" Marianne Meye Thompson, Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Fuller Theological Seminary. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Study of John's Gospel 9 Sep 2008
By Shane Lems - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is a masterful and detailed discussion of the lawsuit motif in John's Gospel. Bringing much of his earlier work on John's Gospel together in a single volume, Lincoln approaches the Gospel from a witness/testimony/trial aspect, which he shows is intrinsic to the Gospel message itself. Lincoln shows how the fourth Gospel's literary and theological structure contribute to this trial theme.

In the first section of the book, Lincoln evaluates the narrative as narrative, and how a lawsuit theme can be found in the narrative itself, according to plot, structure, and characters.

In the second section, he deals with the cosmic lawsuit found in Isaiah 40-55 and how the same themes come up in John's Gospel. He then (in part three) comments on some key stages in the trial narrative.

Fourth, Lincoln writes about more general themes of lawsuit and narrative - genre, reader, persuasion, etc. Next, he evaluates the main themes of the Gospel, the judge, witnesses, testimony, and so forth. In part six, Lincoln evaluates the trial motif from a historical and social perspective (i.e. 1st century background).

In parts seven and eight, he explains Ricoeur's 'Hermeneutics of Testimony,' as well as answering four key objections to his proposal (i.e. anti-semitism, violence, metanarrative, etc). Finally, he ends with four key reflections on this trial motif in the Gospel.

A study of John's Gospel without this book would be incomplete. I highly recommend this to all students of Scripture - of deutero-Isaiah as well as John's gospel specifically.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Powerful and Creative Work on John's Gospel 26 April 2011
By J.B. Hughes - Published on Amazon.com
As I have been researching the Gospel of John I have ran across Andrew Lincoln's name a few times and thought I would pick up a copy of this work to get a sense of his thoughts on the central motif of John. I was not sure what to expect but found myself pleasantly surprised and refreshed by Lincoln's assessment of the fourth Gospel.

The main premise of the book is that Isaiah 40-55 is a picture of God's dealings with the nation of Israel. By bringing out the wording and sense of the original Hebrew Lincoln effectively shows that Isaiah characterizes God's dealings with the nations as a lawsuit. God was pressing a suit against the world so that he might prove to them that he is God and there is no other. This lawsuit was not one of condemnation but one is which God intended to offer salvation. He compares the language of Isaiah with the language of John to show that it is quite likely that John was using this piece of Isaiah as a way to understand the events which happened with Jesus' life and ministry. The Gospel of John shows God pressing a lawsuit and man pressing a counter-suit against God.

He demonstrates that John uses quite a bit of legal language such as "witness," "testimony," "judgment," "paraclete," and even the double "amen" (truly, truly). Over and again he connects these passages with those in Isaiah and with some in other Old Testament books to show that the truth was presented in John in the form of a trial. It is not merely a trial that was faced by Jesus but a continuous cosmic trial which in many ways continues in the present. He tackles key issues in the narrative itself by analyzing the literary style of the book and suggested key points in the plot as intersections for the lawsuit theme. He examines aspects of Jewish-Christian relations at the time of the book's authorship to find issues that may give insights into the importance it would have served for it's original audience. He ends the book talking about contemporary issues that interact with the Gospel and suggests ways in which we can use this book to address those realities.

There were a few things that I found a little hard to swallow and would definitely disagree with. First of all, his idea of historical truth I did not find compelling. Lincoln is unsure whether John as a story is actually true in the "forensic" sense of the word. In fact, he seems unsure if any of the gospels are entirely true and has this basic approach to historical record in general. In one place he suggest that Thucydides for example rewrote a lot of speeches and political orations in his words and then attributes them to others. As a historian myself I studied some Greek history and know that this is in fact highly controversial. We have every reason to believe that Thucydides may have faithfully recorded the speeches of Pericles word for word. My point in bringing this out is that he feels that all history from this period is likely contaminated and yet somehow he talks his way through it so as to label it as "truth" even though it may not be accurate facts. I had a difficulty with this part of the work itself. Second of all, I really do not like his "Johannine Community" theory. This is a very common idea from Bultmann down but it is falling into disrepute and being renounced by scholars who are now realizing this model as proposed by Brown and Bultmann is not necessary.

There were minor issue like those listed above but overall I found the work to be stimulating and thought provoking, and as you can see despite my disagreements with the work I am still giving it a 5 star. The other ideas in this book are so intriguing that these small disagreements are really a minor issue and should not detour one from purchasing this book. It is very accessible to general audiences and if you intend to study the Gospel of John I think that this book is an absolute must for your library. I will definitely be reading some of Lincoln's other works in the future.
4.0 out of 5 stars one of the scholarly studies on the trial motif in John 6 Aug 2013
By K. Richard HON - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Lincoln provides a scholarly research on the trial motif in the Gospel of John. It is a book that worth to keep. It provides an extensive study from different angles on the trial motif in the gospel of John. His survey covers the following areas

1. Lawsuit and narrative
2. Lawsuit, Jewish scripture, and the fourth gospel
3. Key stages in the trial proceedings
4. Lawsuit and Literary Issues
5. Lawsuit and the theology of John
6. Fourth Gospel's Lawsuit in Historical and Social perspectives

... This is a comprehensive study on the lawsuit motif in the gospel of John. It is helpful to those who wants to have an extensive study on this issue.
4.0 out of 5 stars Truth on Trial 18 Dec 2012
By Alan F. Stuart - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This was a very difficult book, carefully argued but it is not a book to read. It is a book to be studied carefully, and in fact would constitute a major study for 12 months.
Alan Stuart.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars it serves its purpose 13 Sep 2012
By Pearl Luv - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I did not understand the reading always, some is understandible for me and some is not. I guess everyone has their ways of expressing information. Yet, it is very informative. If you like me that intense readings with not such a great knowledge of vocabulary, take the reading time in sections and slowing so you can understand it better. Like in many book, you will agree with the author in some things, and other things you will not. Sometimes when a book has too many disagreement/bias with me I put it down, but since this was for Class in John I had no choice but to read it and write papers on. This is just my personal opinion. Yet, in class I found other students that enjoyed the book very much.
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