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Sunday, October 21, 2012

"The Writings of John" (C. Marvin Pate)

TITLE: The Writings of John: A Survey of the Gospel, Epistles, and Apocalypse
AUTHOR: C. Marvin Pate
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011, (562 pages).

This survey covers all five New Testament books in the New Testament written by John; the gospel of John, the three letters of John, and Revelation. Recognizing the centrality of Christ in its Christology, Soteriology, and Eschatology, and its impact on the formation of creeds and confessions for the Church, this work balances critical scholarship with general commentary, drawn from a variety of sources, including extrabiblical sources such as the Qumran Dead Sea scrolls, the old and new testament Apocrypha, and Pseudepigrapha.

Each of the 57 chapters begin with the same format. It begins with a one page list of objectives for that chapter. Filled with colourful diagrams, tables, and illustrations, it draws out key theological themes, frequent flashbacks to the Old Testament, section by section commentary of the key ideas in John's writings, highlighting contextual information with great clarity and insight. The review questions enable readers to look over the chapter in case they have missed something.

My Thoughts

This book is a preacher's treasure chest for preaching on anything that is from John's writings. With brilliant drawings and corresponding photo images of the lands, the book brings the gospels, the letters, and revelation alive to the reader. There are so many ready made point by point summary that it helps preachers and teachers be able to communicate the Bible clearly and meaningfully. The most fascinating part for me is the part on Revelation. Pate is able to move in and out of the three genres: apocalyptic, prophetic, and epistolary. There is history and prophecy, major schools of interpretation compared, with brilliant explanation  that unpacks complex imagery into understandable ideas. Focused on descriptive terms, readers can be rest assured that the author does not share just one view. He draws on many interpretations, and allows readers to decide for themselves. The multiple summaries, glossary, definitions of terms, make this book ideal for learning the writings of John on their own.

If you are looking for something in depth, this may not suit your liking. If you are looking for something that resembles a doctoral dissertation, look elsewhere. If you want to appreciate what the writings of John is about, how the contexts inform understanding of the biblical texts, and how educators can bring alive the events John recorded to the lay person, this is it.

I wish I had this book.

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


This review is based on a book provided by the local library.

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