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3 Stars Out Of 5
Not that good
September 29, 2013
THE GOSPEL OF JOHN by J. Ramsay Michaels
This is a massive work (1094 pages) on John, which replaces Leon Morris' work in The New International Commentary on the New Testament series. As I have been doing some study in the Gospel of John, I added it to my library. I must say that after using it, I am not impressed with Michaels work. While he is conservative in the approach to John, I am disappointed in the commentary. I found the following:
*I was surprised that he acts mostly with older scholars (Bultman and Barrett); little with Carson and Keener, and with Kostenberger at all. I was expecting more. To me this dates the work before it came out.
*He is not afraid of controversy; in fact he opens in Gospel with such with his view of the Prelude. Some of this is interesting, but does not outweigh the rest of the work.
He downgrades the idea of John the Apostle being the author. His conclusion is we cannot know who wrote it.
*He has some unusual interpretations. An example of a fanciful connection is found in John 19:30 where he connects Jesus laying his head and giving up the spirit to Matthew 8:20 where Jesus had no place to lay his head (page 964).
*He seems to be brief on theological issues, and does not cover others, like John's use of the Old Testament.
Overall, I found he did not add much to what I found in other works.
I would not recommend this work. To me the cost benefit is not there. The cost is great and for me the benefit are little. In my humble opinion it certainly does not measure up to the work it replaces by Leon Morris. Carson, Keener, Kostenberger, and Beasley-Murray are much better choices.
This volume maintains the balance between readability and scholarship. Those who wish a more thorough Greek study should try the NIGTC entry. The author's depth and and insight into the text are excellent. While it is a large volume, it is not so because of verbosity, but from sheer volume of information.
I love to read commentaries and this is the most readable commentary on John that I have read in a while (maybe since Morris' initial commentary in the series). The author brings you to the depths of John's thoughts and leaves you something to ponder: "the light has come into the world and permeates the darkness." Whether that darkness is found in the lives of those 2000 years ago or our darkness today.
His writing style is easy to read and knowledge of Greek is added value but not needed to get the main idea of the text. His use of other commentaries and academic material is also good. He addresses commentaries that agree with his position as well as those who do not. He also sends you to other commentaries for bibliographies that are more extensive.
I highly recommend this commentary for the student, pastor or someone who wants to feel the heart of John.