Moody Smith delivered this commentary on the Epistles of John in the Interpretation Bible Commentary series. You may have noticed his name showing up in the literature on the Gospel of John so he was a natural choice to tackle the Johannine Epistles in the series. As you are probably aware, this series is known for its critical outlook and its homiletical/theological contributions. Though a thinner volume than I expected, it succeeds in reaching the aims of the series. Probably his background on John made him able to say much in fewer words.
He offers a somewhat breezy introduction to these epistles. Even where I could not agree with his conclusions, there was an evident love for these epistles which always raises the value of a commentary to my mind. In the unusual buildup within this introduction, I was beginning to believe he was going to suggest that the Apostle John himself was the writer. That was a surprise because it would not be typical in this series. As it turned out, he closely followed the well-known critical scholar, Raymond E. Brown, and his well-known thesis of the Johannine school or community. Though some of us have never bought into that theory, even critical scholarship has backed away from it in recent years. He does share some good information on how the same person could have written the gospel and these epistles, but his conclusions in my judgment on the impossibility of John himself as the writer fell flat.
He also discussed the audience and purpose of the letters, had some discussion of the composition and structure of these letters that also reminds one of Raymond Brown’s positions, and the use of these letters in the church. From there, he discussed interpretation and shared a few good insights along the way. The final two sections that describe the commentary itself and biological reflection were of less value.
Though it was somewhat brief and guided by some of the earlier critical conclusions mentioned, his exegesis was well done. There are reports that he plans a more substantial volume on these epistles in the future. Overall, I would label it a solid volume in the style I have come to expect from this series.
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