When Raymond E. Brown died in 1998, less than a year after the publication of his masterpiece, An Introduction to the New Testament/em>, he left behind a nearly completed revision of his acclaimed two-volume AYBC commentary on the Gospel of John.
The manuscript, skillfully edited by Francis J. Moloney, displays the rare combination of meticulous scholarship and clear, engaging writing that made Father Brown's books consistently outsell other works of biblical scholarship.
An Introduction to the Gospel of John represents the culmination of Brown's long and intense examination of part of the New Testament. One of the most important aspects of this new book, particularly to the scholarly community, is how it differs from the original commentary in several important ways.
It presents, for example, a new perspective on the historical development of the Gospels, and shows how Brown decided to open his work to literary readings of the text, rather than relying primarily on the historical, which informed the original volumes. In addition, there is an entire section devoted to Christology, absent in the original, as well as a magisterial new section on the representation of Jews in the Gospel of John.
A bittersweet read! Intended as the introduction to a major revision of the landmark Anchor Bible commentary on John, but sadly cut off by his death in 1998, this work stands alone as a magnificent survey of major issues in the study of the Fourth Gospel. With his accustomed thoroughness and respect for the work of others, even in disagreement, Brown updates and often moves beyond positions first articulated over three decades ago. Scholars will be long in debt to Francis Moloney for his own insightful introduction and conclusion as well as for signposts along the way which point to shifts in Brown's work along with developments subsequent to his death, and current bibliography. This eminently readable work will extend the influence of Brown well into the present century.
-Fr. John Donahue,
Raymond E. Brown Distinguished Professor of New Testament Studies, St. Mary's Seminary and University
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