Saturday, August 28, 2010

Robert Kysar - John, the Maverick Gospel

In a recent post, I mentioned Robert Kysar's book John, The Maverick Gospel.  First published in 1976, it is now in an expanded third edition in paperback format.  Let me be direct.  Buy it.

This is one of the best introductions to the Gospel of John that I know.  But it is not the typical introduction that spends all its time on authorship, date, audience, etc.  Rather, Kysar wants to introduce us to the thought world and symbolism of this  literary/theological work in a non-technical fashion.  His hope is to accomplish three objectives:
  1. to stress the uniqueness of the Fourth Gospel among the literature of the early Christian movement
  2. to set the thought and symbolism in the broader context of the universal religious quest of humanity
  3. to keep the reader engaged in the text of the gospel itself
It is the latter objective that initially attracted me to this book.  It is structured almost as a self-study course with various reading assignments, called Reader's Preparation, scattered frequently throughout the text.  As you might guess, this is not a linear approach to the gospel, but topical and conceptual.  The four major chapters of the book are:

Chapter 1:  The Father's Son - Johannine Christology
Chapter 2:  Two Different Worlds - Johannine Dualism
Chapter 3:  Seeing Is Believing - Johannine concepts of Faith
Chapter 4:  Eternity Is Now - Johannine Eschatology

Each time I begin a new study of the John's Gospel, the first book to come off the shelf is John, The Maverick Gospel.  That's why I've got at my desk right now.  It clearly has the revJohn Seal of Approval.


jakemaxwel said...

You can't do much better than having the revJohn seal of approval. That is certainly good enough for me! I will buy it and let you know what I think. Anything that illuminates John is welcome!

Anonymous said...

Kysar certainly shares some deep and observant insights. I find Raymond Brown's (Anchor Bible series) seminal treatments more worthwhile across the board.

Kysar seems a bit more biased at times -- such as in his over-wrought anti-anti-Semitic material (pp. 67f). I think he's reading 20th and 21st-century concerns into John there. But I'm gaining a lot presently from the treatment of the semeia opposite faith and progress in believing.