UK Christian Bookshops Directory: Christian Book Reviews: John
John John
Tyndale New Testament Commentary

Colin G Kruse
ISBN 9780851113272 (0851113273)
IVP, 2003

Category: Commentaries

At long last we have a replacement volume for the 1960 contribution of R.V.G. Tasker to the Tyndale commentary series. The author has already contributed the volume on 2 Corinthians in this series in 1987. He also published the larger scale commentary in the Pillar New Testament Commentary series on The Letters of John (Leicester: Apollos/Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000).

The present volume, like others in the series, is aimed at the mythical "general reader of the Bible" (page 7), concentrating on elucidating the meaning of the text, but eschewing undue technicalities. It aims to be neither too unhelpfully short (at 395 pages, it is half as long again as Tasker's original) nor overlong. For the most part its language is crisp and to the point, explaining the text but not straying into recommendations about how this ancient text might be used and expounded today. Christian leaders will find their knowledge and understanding of the text enriched, but will not be helped to see how they could use it in next week's Bible study.

So the purpose of this volume is not to introduce new perspectives or interpretations of the text, but to faithfully represent a conservative evangelical response to (though not a great deal of detailed interaction with) the state of johannine scholarship at the beginning of the new millennium. Kruse is aware of, but rather sceptical of, the newer trends in biblical scholarship — the sociological and narrative approaches with which many have been preoccupied over the last twenty-five years or so. Not that they are deemed to have no value: where appropriate they are called upon to shed light upon the sacred text. However, where they serve as a distraction from what is taken to be John's essential focus upon Jesus in all of his historical particularity, Kruse rules them out of court.

Kruse affirms the apostolic authorship of the Gospel, whilst making room for later editorial shaping on the basis of 21:24-25. John's primary purpose is evangelistic though secondary aims are certainly likely. John makes no comment as to the sacraments and it is inappropriate to think of the johannine church as in any way sectarian. On this basis one can easily discern the author's admitted dependence upon the earlier commentary of D.A. Carson (page 10) in the above-mentioned Pillar series (1991) and those who possess that much larger volume will not find very much that is new here. However, those who want a small to medium length, succinct, comprehensible commentary on John, written from the author's distinctive school of interpretation, yet aware of current trends and up-to-date, will not go very far wrong here. On that basis I can recommend this volume wholeheartedly.

Robert Willoughby, March 2004

Robert Willoughby teaches New Testament and Children's Ministry at London School of Theology. He is the author of The Children's Guide to the Bible, Angels and So, who is God?, all from Scripture Union, and is a regular contributor to Scripture Union's daily Bible reading notes, Encounter with God.


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