The Gospel of John by Frederick Dale Bruner

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Here’s a commentary that’s just a little different. The author, Frederick Dale Bruner, who was well known for his earlier two-volume commentary on Matthew, has a writing style that is at once thoroughly academic and personally chatty. How else could I describe this commentary of over 1200 pages where Mr. Bruner seems to be having such fun? I’ve reviewed a lot of commentaries and I don’t think I’ve ever before described the author as having fun. But that is my distinct impression in this case.

The label I’ve heard (“mildly critical”) seems accurate. He follows a few critical theories that I couldn’t accept, yet in other instances he writes beautifully about the deity of Jesus Christ. His preface, again the most personal that I’ve read in a major academic commentary, almost reads like a stream of consciousness flowing happily along. You’ll read about his family and what must be an unusually large social network. He apparently loves people, and with all the interesting people that Christ will encounter in the Gospel of John, that probably makes him an ideal commentator.

There is no introduction to the Gospel of John, which is quite surprising for a major commentary. In any event, the publishers gave him all the room he wanted in the commentary itself. I don’t feel that the more academic subjects that are usually found in an introduction would be his strength anyway, as interesting theology is his forte. I’ve even read that some major reviewer’s think that he misfires occasionally on the exegetical level, but I believe that some well-done theological commentaries are excellent to use on the second pass after we’ve already used our exegetical ones. Maybe it would be fair to call him a modern, mildly critical Herman Ridderbos.

I’ll still reach for D. A. Carson, Leon Morris, and Edward Klink first on the Gospel of John, but I am genuinely happy to have Mr. Bruner on hand to draw out theological reflection and to give me something that the others will not. I found unique angles in every passage I surveyed. Eerdmans went all out with a nice hardback in a very attractive dust jacket. You should check out this lively, bubbling commentary!

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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