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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Countering the "dominant approach", 6 Feb. 2013
By 
E. L. Wisty "World Domination League" (Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Testimony of the Beloved Disciple, The: Narrative, History, and Theology in the Gospel of John (Paperback)
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".

- "The Qumran community and the Gospel of John",

while many attempt to link the two because of the literary imagery of light and darkness employed by both, Bauckham argues that the imagery is so general as to render such speculation as without foundation.

- "Nicodemus and the Gurion family",

an examination of rabbinical and other Jewish literature suggesting that Nicodemus was a Naqdimon of the Gurion family.

- "The Bethany family in John 11-12: History of Fiction?",

counterarguments against assertions by various scholars, and arguing for historicity.

- "Did Jesus wash his disciples' feet?",

argues for historical veracity of the act rather than literary symbolism.

- "Jewish Messianism and the Gospel of John",

an analysis of the Jewish ideas of Messianism at the time of Jesus and how they relate to the gospel.

- "Monotheism and Christology in the Gospel of John",

argues that the theology of the gospel is perfectly consonant with the Jewish conception of monotheism of the time.

- "The holiness of Jesus and his disciples in the Gospel of John"

- "The 153 fish and the unity of the Gospel of John",

an examination of gematria in the gospel as evidence of its integrity as an original work. Bauckham argues that chapter 21, often considered a later addition, is either original, or if an addendum is by the same, sole author as the rest of the gospel.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comments by Michael Calum Jacques author of '1st Century Radical'., 14 Nov. 2008
This review is from: Testimony of the Beloved Disciple, The: Narrative, History, and Theology in the Gospel of John (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
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Countering the "dominant approach", 6 Feb. 2013
By 
E. L. Wisty "World Domination League" (Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
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".

- "The Qumran community and the Gospel of John",

while many attempt to link the two because of the literary imagery of light and darkness employed by both, Bauckham argues that the imagery is so general as to render such speculation as without foundation.

- "Nicodemus and the Gurion family",

an examination of rabbinical and other Jewish literature suggesting that Nicodemus was a Naqdimon of the Gurion family.

- "The Bethany family in John 11-12: History of Fiction?",

counterarguments against assertions by various scholars, and arguing for historicity.

- "Did Jesus wash his disciples' feet?",

argues for historical veracity of the act rather than literary symbolism.

- "Jewish Messianism and the Gospel of John",

an analysis of the Jewish ideas of Messianism at the time of Jesus and how they relate to the gospel.

- "Monotheism and Christology in the Gospel of John",

argues that the theology of the gospel is perfectly consonant with the Jewish conception of monotheism of the time.

- "The holiness of Jesus and his disciples in the Gospel of John"

- "The 153 fish and the unity of the Gospel of John",

an examination of gematria in the gospel as evidence of its integrity as an original work. Bauckham argues that chapter 21, often considered a later addition, is either original, or if an addendum is by the same, sole author as the rest of the gospel.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb text, 21 Oct. 2011
By 
Dr. I. G. Poole "ian3637" (Liverpool) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Testimony of the Beloved Disciple, The: Narrative, History, and Theology in the Gospel of John (Paperback)
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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