The Gospel of John, Volume One: 1 (The New Daily Study Bible) Paperback – 1 Nov 2001
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About the Author
William Barclay (1907-1978) is known and loved by millions worldwide as one of the greatest Christian teachers of modern times. His insights into the New Testament, combined with his vibrant writing style, have delighted and enlightened readers of all ages for over half a century. He served for most of his life as Professor of Divinity at the University of Glasgow, and wrote more than fifty books--most of which are still in print today. His most popular work, the Daily Study Bible, has been translated into over a dozen languages and has sold more than ten million copies around the world.
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This reduction in pages is not solely due to differences in formatting. It is largely due to the deletion of many portions of Barclay's commentary contained in the 2nd edition. I first noticed the selective deletion of portions of Barclay's original commentary in the commentary for John 13:33-35, in which Jesus speaks of loving one another as he loved us. In the 2nd edition, Barclay so beautifully states the following: "He [Jesus] knew all their [his disciples] weaknesses and yet He still loved them. Those who really love us are the people who know us at our worst and who still love us." However, these two sentences, along with four other sentences, do not appear in the revised edition, and they do not appear in this edition. Repeatedly, key sentences and phrases are deleted from this edition. At another point in this commentary, Barclay states that: "It is when we live with people that we find out their moods and their irritabilities and their weaknesses." Although this sentence is contained in this edition, the sentence that immediately follows it in the 2nd edition will not be found in this edition. That sentence is: "And others have the same experience with us."
Furthermore, the changes in the revised edition are not the work of William Barclay, but as William Barclay states in the introduction to the revised edition, "the work of revision and correction has been done entirely by the Rev. James Martin." Clive Rawlins, who wrote an authorized biography of William Barclay, stated in the biography that it was especially questionable for Barclay to allow republication without his own personal revision (due to Barclay's physical decline, Rawlins indicates that Barclay was unable to make the revisions himself). Rawlins was very critical of the revisions by Martin, stating that the nature of the original work was not always respected. At one point, Rawlins stated that Martin's elimination of two key phrases was a great pity and lessened the force of Barclay's statement. In the introduction to the book of Romans, Rawlins stated that it was strange that Martin should have so completely missed Barclay's emphasis in the revised edition prepared by Martin. Rawlins stated in the biography that the reduction of approximately 600 pages in the 17 volume set was because of "vigorous pruning" of Barclay's writing. In conclusion, Rawlins found that the revisions made by Martin in the revised edition "are not of the highest order."
On the other hand, I cannot emphasize enough the value of Barclay's commentaries. His knowledge of the Greek language, the Jewish culture and religion, and the Roman occupation during the New Testament era is phenomenal. Furthermore, he has a unique ability to convey this immense knowledge in a manner which is very easy for any reader to understand. William Barclay has the ability to convey to the reader not only what that passage meant to the people to whom Jesus spoke to 2,000 years ago, but what those passages say to us today. On countless occasions, I have felt that Barclay was speaking to me personally as he discussed the relevance of the passage in his commentary.
William Barclay's New Testament commentaries are the most insightful and meaningful commentaries that I have ever read, and I cannot recommend them highly enough. He has both challenged and inspired me; William Barclay's writings have truly changed my life. However, if you want to read all of what Barclay actually said instead of what some editor thought was important enough to leave in, then check with a used book store or do a used book search on the internet to get the 2nd editions of the Gospel of John or other volumes in Barclay's Daily Study Bible.
One unfortunate criticism of the Revised Edition of Barclay's Commentaries on the New Testament is that it is somewhat inferior to the 2nd Edition. It is true that the Revised Edition has fewer pages, but this criticism does not take into account the fact that the size of the pages in the Revised Edition is larger than that of the 2nd Edition. Also, Barclay removed a number of redundancies of writing in preparing the Revised Edition. Barclay was a prolific writer, and I suspect that he improved his writing talent considerably in the 19 years between when the two editions were published. I am also hard-pressed to believe that Barclay would have compromised the message of these commentaries in any way in later editions. Further, printing technology improved considerably in that period, such that the Revised Edition is much easier on the eyes. And I would note that it is quite difficult to locate the 2nd Edition of these commentaries. I believe that the Revised Edition is a perfectly viable if not preferable substitute for the 2nd Edition.
The "New" daily Bible studies by Barclay have been updated to more modern English; not necessary in my opinion. We lose a lot when we stop reading old books as they were written.
William Barclay is a self-declared Universalist, writing an article "I AM A CONVINCED UNIVERSALIST" available via Google search.
William Barclay is also a self-described "liberal evangelical", neo-orthodox and attempts to deny Christ's miracles. Barclay looked at the healing miracles as normal practices and not supernatural in any sense. See Pg 41-42 where he comments on John 9:6-12 where Jesus healed a beggar, Barclay says this was a common healing practice of the day and that Jesus did nothing special. On Pg 42, paragraph 3, he even calls Jesus a "physician". Barclay writes "The fact is that Jesus took the methods and customs of his time and used them. He was a wise physician."
William Barclay also denies the trinity "Nowhere does the New Testament identify Jesus with God" according to William Barclay: A Spiritual Autobiography. When you read Barclay's books, look at such topics in the index as "The Virgin Birth," "Miracles" and "The Person of Christ." As Barclay dealt with these and other matters related to them, he would often just cast a little aspersion on the belief in super natural matters. He did not directly but essentially denied the virgin birth of Jesus Christ in his commentary on Matthew but called it a "crude fact" and emphasized that it is not important to literally believe that Jesus was born only of a woman. He argued that the virgin birth story could not be taken literally.
Some may also find it objectionable that Barclay uses the books of the Jewish Apocrypha as support and treats it on the same level as God-breathed scripture. Example: Pg 29 of his John Volume 1 commentary, he refers to 2 Esdras and Wisdom as if they were God-breathed scripture. And Pg 32 Barclay quotes from the Apocryphal book of Ecclesiasticus.
This commentary is easy to read and understand for the lay reader but there are much better commentaries on John available from the following authors: Don Carson, Köstenberger, Köstenberger's Theology of John, Michaels, Bruner; J. Ramsey Michaels. John (NICNT commentary series); and Leon Morris's commentary on John from the NICNT series.
Note, William BarclAy is not to be confused with William BarclEy. William B. Barcley is the pastor of Sovereign Grace Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was previously Academic Dean at Reformed Theological Seminary.
Update: Upon further review, I do see what the other 1-star commentator was objecting to. When reading very carefully through Barclay's commentary on John 1:1-18 Pgs 25-40, it becomes clear that Barclay is removing the deity of Jesus Christ. He downplays Christ's divinity in the whole section, ending with pg 39-40:
"Finally John says that the word was God." (Notice Word is not capitalized?) This is a difficult saying for us to understand... [because the Greek is different from English]. ... He said that the word was theos - which means that the word was, we might say, of the very same character and quality and essence and being as God. When John said "the word was God" he was not saying that Jesus was identical with God; he was saying Jesus was so perfectly the same as God in mind, in heart, in being that in him we perfectly see what God is like. So right at the beginning of his gospel John lays it down that in Jesus, and in him alone, there is perfectly revealed to men all that God always was and always will be, and all that he feels towards and desires for men." (Notice carefully that Barclay implies Jesus is a human man who is very much LIKE God in mind, heart, being but NOT identical with God and NOT part of the trinity. Barclay carefully DOES NOT associate Jesus directly as being God or part of God/trinity. He so carefully steps around this teaching that in stepping around it, it is clear that he is denying this teaching. ALL commentators that read "The Word was God" associate this with Jesus BEING God/Trinity. Barclay carefully avoids this conclusion.