The Gospel of John has always been a mysterious, exciting book of scripture to me. I feel like a stranger in its pages, entering a strange land. Yes that was an intended U2 reference 🙂 John is unlike the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke), and yet he has such a powerful portrayal of Jesus’s life and teachings. A weird thing has happened to me with John’s gospel. I remember when I first came to Christ John’s gospel was the easiest part of scripture for me to understand. Somehow Jesus just made more sense to me in John’s gospel and now much older, and I hope (gasp), much more mature I find that John’s gospel is harder for me to understand. His stories, what he leaves out and why, and the metaphors he uses are difficult for me to fully appreciate and interpret. Not the mention the macro structure of his gospel. 

John’s Gospel is a part of scripture I’d love to spend months and months meditating upon and exploring. Perhaps you’re like me and you’ve always wanted to understand the Gospel of John but you feel lost in the labyrinth of interpretations. If so I hope these books may help you as you engage John. Having not read them yet I’m not sure if they’ll help you and I or hurl us deeper down the well. Regardless when we finally are drawn out I’m sure what we found in those depths will be well worth the time spent there. 

The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple by Richard Bauckham. One of the valuable lessons I learned in seminary was the importance of reading scripture in light of the biblical story. Bauckham does this better than most people. I’m very interested in seeing how he reads John and how he connects John’s insights to the biblical story. 

The Word of Life: A theology of John’s gospel by Craig Koester. Koester has a very keen eye for social-scientific issues in scripture while also reading books in light of their front-to-back context. He is able to bring out the culture and the times of the original setting of books and develop his reading of the books message in light of them. I’m very interested to see how he reads John’s gospel and what he says about the macro structure of the book. 

The Light has come: An exposition of the fourth gospel by Lesslie Newbigin. Newbigin’s deep missionary exposure turned upon scripture always germinates profound insights. You barely get started reading this book before you’re greeted with a fresh perspective on John like Newbigin’s remark about the prologue being more like an overture to a symphony than a prologue to a treatise. Newbigin’s contribution will feed your soul. Don’t expect it to be in the same scholarly vein as the ones above but expect to leave changed from having spent time with him.

One of my pastors in Florida (Randy Evans) is currently going through a series on John, needless to say I’m envious of the time he’s able to spend in this wonderful book.

(Photographic art by virgi+nia, piece entitled “i am a stranger“)