Reflections on the John-Commentary Poll

Reflections on the John-Commentary Poll June 1, 2010

In a recent post, I polled readers regarding the best commentary on John for an evangelical-seminary exegesis course textbook.  Here are some reflections on the responses (see #6 below for my conclusions)

(1) Carson received 27/67 votes – the highest number of votes. His commentary is generally considered to be rich theologically and written in a clear way that exposits the text for pastoral insight.  A few people, though, would criticize Carson’s apologetic approach to John that seeks to defend its historical accuracy and validity. Personally, I think the gains outweigh the drawbacks and Carson does think like a pastor- which is often a rare quality in commentary authors.

(2) Brown received 21/67 votes – the overall impression was that Brown’s work is highly respected and the commentary is a classic. However, the format and details of the commentary make it difficult to digest in one sitting. It thrives as a reference work, not a textbook.

(3) Keener received only 12/67 votes. Much like Brown, commenters respected his exhaustive work, but the two-volume commentary is not meant to be read through in a few months.

(4) About 7/67 people voted for “other” – such others were mentioned in comments.

Barrett – while his work is good, I think I would like to assign something more literary-driven and up-to-date.

Kostenberger – A few people voted for Kostenberger’s BEC. I am personally not impressed with his work, and I do think his work can be over-driven by conservative-apologetics.

Moloney, Ramsey-Michaels, and Beasley-Murray also received mention. None of these particularly appeals to me as a textbook, but they are all fine commentaries for research.

(5) I was impressed that a number of people mentioned Andrew Lincoln’s BNTC volume on John. Several people have used this in classroom settings and found Lincoln’s work current and stimulating.

(6) Conclusion: Given my purposes and audience for the class, and also taking into account the very helpful discussions in the recent post on this subject, I will tentatively do the following. I will give students the option of reading through either Carson or Lincoln. I will give a short description of each commentary to the students and let them decide. I will, of course, offer Keener and Brown as recommended reading for their papers!

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