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David F Ford – The Gospel of John: A Theological Commentary

Baker Academic

Hardback

ISBN 1 3978 1 5409 4083

496 pages

£37.40

It is not every day that a book launch takes place at Lambeth Palace, presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury. That is what happened on 24 January for this new book on John’s Gospel.

Over the years I have read close to a couple of dozen commentaries on John Gospel. You would think that there is nothing new to say! The opposite is the case, because John is such a rich book full of wonderful language and imagery.

This commentary is a labour of love over a 20-year period. In that time David Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity Emeritus in the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Selwyn College, has read and re-read the fourth Gospel. This book is the fruit of those faithful labours.

This commentary has four distinctive features.

  1. It explores the theme of abundance in John Gospel.

The sheer vastness of God’s life-giving grace in Jesus is explored and celebrated. The author suggests that the best word to use about reading John is “slowly”, because it takes time to allow the riches to sink in.

  1. It provides a lens through which the reader can reflect on Jesus.

This is done by focusing on the central question of this Gospel:

Who is Jesus?

Which leads to the second question: What does he what me to do in response? These questions reflect the way that John stimulates a spirit of enquiry in this gospel summed up in the words of Jesus: “Come and see.”

  1. It communicates the sense of drama that the gospel conveys.
    John has a sense of theatre as he unfolds his gospel, scene by scene.
  2. It reminds us that God is at work in every time and place.
    This commentary provides an elegant re-reading of the ancient text of John’s Gospel, but it is read with a recognition that it speaks with freshness to our contemporary situation.

The book bears all the marks of being written with care, in conversation with many other readers of John Gospel. It is penetratingly insightful, yet remarkably accessible. It is generous in tone, providing an interpretation of the gospel that will resonate with Christians of all types.

Readers of the New Testament know that there is a different air when reading John’s Gospel; there is also a different air reading this commentary. It breathes the air of a careful and prayerful reader, who loves God’s word written, because he loves the Word become flesh.

To read this commentary is an unforgettable experience. If you want to dig deeper into John’s Gospel; give it a try.

  • John Woods is a writer and Bible teacher based in West Sussex. He is Director of Training for the School of Preachers in Riga, Latvia

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