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Interpreting the Gospel of John, 2nd Edition

A Practical Guide

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This tried and true classroom favorite by respected New Testament scholar Gary Burge has been praised for its usefulness. The expanded second edition has been revised throughout to take account of current scholarship and introduces software tools that have become available since the original edition was published. Combining original insight with how-to guidance, this textbook helps students interpret the Gospel of John and apply it in teaching and preaching.


Preface to the Second Edition
Preface to the First Edition
Part 1: Before You Begin
1. History of Interpretation
2. Who Wrote the Gospel of John?
3. How the Fourth Gospel Was Built
4. Johannine Style
Part 2: Strategies for Interpretation
5. The Text
6. The Literary Context
7. Building a Bibliography
8. The Cultural Context
9. Word Studies in John: Part 1--Word Searches
10. Word Studies in John: Part 2--Word Meanings
Part 3: Preaching and Teaching from the Fourth Gospel
11. The Problem of Horizons
12. Preaching from John
13. Commentaries


"This new edition of Gary Burge's introduction to the Gospel of John is no mere reprint but a detailed updating of a standard textbook for beginning students that will provide them with information and tools for their study, all placed in the context of preparation for a preaching ministry. It has the important merits of simplicity and conciseness and in its new form will continue to be a first resource for students. I cordially commend it."

I. Howard Marshall, professor emeritus of New Testament, University of Aberdeen

"Gary Burge has shared his lifelong close association with the Gospel of John in a way that puts all those who turn to this subtle Gospel in his debt. With balance and reliability he leads a reader through matters external and internal to the text that influence interpretation. Bibliographies, well-chosen footnotes, and a precious guide to electronic resources make this book a unique contribution to all who teach, study, preach, and pray with the Fourth Gospel in hand."

Francis J. Moloney, SDB, senior professorial fellow, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne

"This manual exposes students to a breathtaking array of issues, studies, strategies, scholars, and tools. It draws on the author's insights from more than four decades of high-level involvement in Johannine scholarship. While it calls in question the degree to which we can be certain of John the son of Zebedee's full and direct authorship of the Fourth Gospel, it equips readers to grapple with the evidence and to make up their own minds about crucial questions. It thereby aids and advances critical thought in its application to John's Gospel."

Robert W. Yarbrough, professor of New Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary

"Gary Burge draws his reader into the detective work of Johannine scholarship, equipping apprentice investigators with the background and methods by which they can arrive at their own logical insights for the purpose of scholarly papers and meaningful exposition. Teachers of the Gospel of John will find this a practical resource for pedagogic strategies; students will discover a course text that will excite them to become sleuths."

Jo-Ann A. Brant, professor of Bible and religion, Goshen College

"An excellent text for the classroom and personal study alike! In his newly revised introduction, Gary Burge offers a highly accessible understanding of the essential issues needed for meaningful interpretations of the Gospel of John. As a highly trustworthy guide to this amazing Gospel, Burge empowers biblical interpretation at its best!"

Paul N. Anderson, professor of biblical and Quaker studies, George Fox University; author of The Christology of the Fourth Gospel and The Fourth Gospel and the Quest for Jesus

The Author

  1. Gary M. Burge

    Gary M. Burge

    Gary M. Burge (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is dean of the faculty and visiting professor of New Testament at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously taught at Wheaton College and Graduate School for twenty-five years. His...

    Continue reading about Gary M. Burge


"This is a substantially revised edition. . . . Its primary intended audience is evangelical seminarians, but it will be of value to a wider readership. . . . Burge is an enthusiastic teacher, who uses interesting anecdotes and provides the sort of helpful practical hints that are invaluable for students, but are often taken for granted. His guide is non-technical and clearly set out, but by no means simplistic. . . . The information on software and online resources is particularly valuable. . . . This is a splendid introduction for undergraduate students and preachers, with some useful tips for those doing more advanced research."

David A. Lamb,

Journal for the Study of the New Testament

"A revised and expanded edition of a very helpful resource for the study of John's gospel. Burge . . . provides the serious but still beginning student a step-by-step entry into a study of the Fourth Gospel, a New Testament text that remains the object of enormous interest to contemporary scholarship. . . . Practical suggestions include a very helpful chapter for developing a bibliography on John using Internet resources. This is not meant to be a theological or pastoral exploration of John's gospel but, as its title states, a practical guide for how to do that process in a thorough way."

Donald Senior, CP,

The Bible Today

"Burge thoroughly and methodically presents the key points one must keep in mind when interpreting the gospel of John. I remember writing my very first exegetical paper a few years ago. It was a hassle. There were so many things to think about, and that was before I even knew Greek. This book would have been useful for me as I walked through the process. First, Burge shows that he is keenly aware of the scholarly debates that are going on in the world of academia. . . . Another of the book's strengths is that it walks through the entire process of exegesis. . . . The greatest value of this book regarding the exegetical process is the tour of the abundance of materials available to us. . . . The language in the book itself is easy to follow for those who have some understanding of the jargon and other aspects of the academic world of Christianity."

Josef Disby,

Calvin Theological Journal

"This introduction to the Gospel of John is a good recommendation for seminary students and pastors."

CBA Retailers + Resources

"A 240-page compendium providing students and general readers with an informed and informative introduction. . . . Of special note is that each individual chapter has its own bibliography. Superbly organized and presented, Interpreting the Gospel of John: A Practical Guide lives up to the promise of its title and is highly recommended as a seminary or Sunday School curriculum textbook and for personal, church, and community library Christian Studies collections."

Midwest Book Review

Praise for the First Edition

"Burge has undertaken the difficult task of 'providing a guide through the maze of academic discussion' on the Fourth Gospel for the beginning student. . . . The book is written primarily for students preparing for ministry, with an evangelical perspective. . . . In general, Burge has accomplished his aim well. Novices at exegesis will find this a helpful introduction to the Fourth Gospel. Professors may also find this work useful for organizing an introductory course on the Gospel of John. . . . This book provides a helpful introduction to the Fourth Gospel and to exegetical method for the beginning student."

Barbara E. Reid,

Catholic Biblical Quarterly

"The general evaluation of this text must be positive indeed. Burge specifically sets himself to write 'with the beginning student in mind.'. . . However, the author's knowledge of the tools and methods of exegesis, as well as the literature of Johannine research ensure that this brief treatment contains information and guidelines that can be helpful even to the specialist. In addition, Burge does give brief descriptions of many helpful tools, both texts and computer-based research software. Students and scholars alike will benefit from his discussions regarding the importance of cultural context in establishing the meaning of John's text. . . . Without a doubt, the reader will be challenged to recommit himself to a responsible and humble attitude toward the challenging task of exegesis of John's Gospel, or (for that matter) of any Gospel text."

Jeffrey Gibbs,

Concordia Journal

"[Burge is] well aware of recent scholarship. . . . At the same time, [he] show[s] considerable skill in selecting the best resources available and in presenting their material in a clear, logical, and appealing fashion. Every Bible student who is serious about a systematic exploration of [the Gospel of John] will find [this book] an invaluable help in their own study of Scripture."

Andreas Köstenberger,

Trinity Journal

"This work is well written and is highly recommended for students and pastors interested in pursuing studies in the Gospel of John. Even for advanced students it provides a helpful summary and introduction to current scholarly approaches to the Fourth Gospel."

W. Hall Harris III,

Bibliotheca Sacra

"It is well written, easy to read, sound and practical. It should be of considerable help to those who are just starting out on a study of John's gospel and who want to know how to make its message live for today."

Peter Ensor,

Evangelical Quarterly