John (Pillar) by D. A. Carson

book john pil

This commentary on the Gospel of John (Pillar New Testament Commentary series) by the renowned D. A. Carson has stood as a giant among commentaries for several years now. Glowing reviews can be found in a multitude of places. Carson himself comes the closest to having a following of any scholar I know. He’s conservative, sharp, thorough, and never fears going on record with what he believes. My guess is that the publishers of this series will hold on to this title for a long time, and if there’s ever any revision done it will be done by Carson himself.

Since Mr. Carson never beats around the bush about what he believes, he is particularly adept at writing an Introduction. He doesn’t meander through scholarly prognostications, but lines them up, assesses them quickly, and shoots down the ones that don’t deserve to stand. You will learn what he believes, why he believes it, and why it is right! Whether you will agree that he is right or not, his style of writing sticks in your mind and makes an impression long after other things would be forgotten.

He begins by explaining some distinctive characteristics of John’s Gospel. That section opens up issues that will reappear in many ways later. His second section has to do with the early reception of John’s Gospel. He sifts a lot of history quickly and makes a strong case for his opinion. As he moves closer to present times, he effectively banishes some of the stranger scholarly reconstructions that have been foisted upon John. In the third section on authenticity he gets into evaluating source criticism as well as some other critical analyses. To be the conservative hero that he is, he occasionally steps farther into criticism than I would expect, but his conclusions still come down firmly in the conservative camp. These discussions, of course, lead naturally to one about the relation of John and the Synoptics. At length, he gets to the section on the authorship of John’s Gospel. In my opinion, he particularly excelled in this section. After you read this section, you will see that attempts to discredit the possibility that John the Apostle wrote this gospel are more smoke and mirrors than reality. In the section on the date and provenance of John’s Gospel he well surveys the field before he arrives at a date around A.D. 80-85. Another section on the purpose of John’s Gospel is enlightening as is the one on the theological emphases in John. He barely discusses structure before he provides us with an outline.

The commentary proper is the same thoughtful, careful, determined work that you found in the Introduction. The Gospel of John is one of the most important books in the Bible, and I have two or three special commentaries on John that I never fail to consult when looking at a passage in John. This commentary is one of those volumes. You could almost label this commentary “famous”. Believe it or not, it’s quality can bear its fame.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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