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series: Paideia: Commentaries on the New Testament

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"Among the spate of commentaries published on John's Gospel, Brant's is distinctive and distinguished. It may well become the text of choice for the university classroom and will enhance appreciation of the Bible as literature."--Willard Swartley, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary

The Gospel of John, full of striking language and symbolism, is familiar to many as a sourcebook of favorite quotations. It is far more difficult to read this complex and subtle Gospel as a coherent whole on its own terms. In this addition to the well-received Paideia series, an expert on John's dramatic rhetoric helps students and pastors do just that.

Paideia commentaries explore how New Testament texts form Christian readers by
This commentary, like each in the projected eighteen-volume series, proceeds by sense units rather than word-by-word or verse-by-verse.

Editorial Board

Paul J. Achtemeier (emeritus, Union Theological Seminary in Virginia)
Loveday Alexander (University of Sheffield)
C. Clifton Black (Princeton Theological Seminary)
Susan R. Garrett (Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary)
Francis J. Moloney, SDB (Salesian Province of Australia)
Part 1. John 1:1-2:12 In the Beginning
John 1:1-18 The Prologue and More
John 1:19-2:12 Jesus Enters the Narrative
Part 2. John 2:13-12:11 Jesus' Itinerant Ministry
John 2:13-4:54 Transforming Sacred Space
John 5:1-47 God Works on the Sabbath
John 6:1-71 Bread and Circuses
John 7:1-8:59 Verbal Sparring at the Festival of Sukkoth
John 9:1-10:42 A Second Sabbath Violation at a Second Pool
John 11:1-12:11 The Sweet Scent of Death
Part 3. John 12:13-19:37 Jesus' Triumphant Hour
John 12:13-50 Jesus the Triumphator
John 13:1-38 After the Last Supper
John 13:31-17:25 The Farewell Address
John 18:1-19:37 Behold the Man
Part 4. John 20:1-21:25 Jesus' Resurrection: Endings and Epilogues
John 20:1-31 Recognition and Reversal
John 21:1-25 Out of the Past and into the Future


"Among the spate of commentaries published on John's Gospel, Brant's is distinctive and distinguished. Informed by Greco-Roman rhetoric and sources, archaeology, maps, and arresting sidebars, the commentary excels for the classroom. It may well become the text of choice for the university classroom and will enhance appreciation of the Bible as literature. The author and publisher merit commendation, especially for the layout and the inclusion of many illustrative figures that catch the eye and tables that facilitate grasp of content."

Willard Swartley, professor emeritus of New Testament, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary

"Jo-Ann Brant is attentive to both the background and the reception history of the Gospel. She first traces the narrative flow of each section of the Gospel and then explores some of the theological issues that emerge from it. Drawing on everything from Greco-Roman rhetoric to Shakespeare to modern American pop culture, Brant offers fresh perspectives on specific points in virtually every chapter, provides a coherent picture of the Gospel as a whole, and identifies resources for the reader to explore further. By any measure, a significant and welcome contribution."

J. Ramsey Michaels, professor of religious studies emeritus, Missouri State University

"Brant skillfully mines the Greco-Roman literary, rhetorical, and social world of the Fourth Gospel and writes with brevity that moves the reader briskly along from one fresh insight to the next. The result is paideia--a wonderfully formative experience!"

R. Alan Culpepper, dean, McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University

"This marvelous commentary is packed with substantive information and fresh insights. Brant draws on current literary approaches and an array of useful sources from antiquity to illumine John's Gospel. She likewise makes the complexities of the Greek text intelligible for English readers. One may disagree with interpretations at points, but I find them consistently stimulating and well thought-out. As with other volumes in the Paideia series, this one is masterfully designed to provide optimum access for readers."

Craig S. Keener, professor of New Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary

"Jo-Ann Brant has written a commentary that thoughtfully leads the reader deeply into the Gospel of John as well as the Greco-Roman world that shaped it. Students who read carefully will be rewarded with not only with a profoundly enriched understanding of the Gospel but also a solid introduction to Greco-Roman literary, rhetorical, and dramatic traditions."

Colleen M. Conway, professor of religious studies, Seton Hall University

"Jo-Ann Brant has written a commentary on the Fourth Gospel that is ideal for the classroom and the pastor's study, while also proving useful to the scholar. She serves as an authoritative guide to the world of ancient literature and makes two major contributions. First, by paying close attention to the intricacies of the Johannine narrative, she demonstrates in considerable detail the sophistication with which the Fourth Gospel was constructed. Second, she gives attention to both the Jewish and Hellenistic backgrounds of the Fourth Gospel without overemphasizing one at the expense of the other. I recommend this commentary highly."

Chris Keith, professor of New Testament and early Christianity, director of the Centre for the Social-Scientific Study of the Bible, St. Mary's University

"Brant engages extensively with both ancient and modern sources in such a way that the student receives an introduction to major figures and currents in both the ancient world and modern scholarship on John. Her special focus on ancient rhetoric includes explanation of the terms and techniques, providing the student with a lively working introduction to this field of study. Her commentary is clear, concise, and engaging, with many insights that provide an important supplement to the more conventional and comprehensive commentaries."

Rodney A. Whitacre, professor of biblical studies, Trinity School for Ministry

The Author

  1. Jo-Ann A. Brant

    Jo-Ann A. Brant

    Jo-Ann A. Brant (PhD, McMaster University) is professor of Bible, religion, and philosophy at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana. She is the author of Dialogue and Drama: Elements of Greek Tragedy in the Fourth Gospel and has contributed to several books.

    Continue reading about Jo-Ann A. Brant


"A delightful and stimulating addition to the Paideia series of biblical commentaries on the New Testament. This volume masterfully achieves the goal of enabling students to understand John's Gospel 'as a literary whole rooted in a particular ancient setting and related to its context within the New Testament.'. . . On nearly every page one encounters fresh insights either from the comparison of John with other ancient literature or from attention to the complex literary dynamics occurring within John's Gospel itself. Accordingly, while written with students in mind, the volume will be a welcome resource for more advanced readers of the Fourth Gospel as well. . . . Brant has liberally included photographs, illustrations, drawings, timelines, maps, and a variety of tables that highlight aspects of the narrative dynamics of the Fourth Gospel. The result is a volume that is extremely user-friendly, particularly for students. Text boxes are also a prominent feature of this volume providing important background information for readers on a wide range of topics. . . . As a professor, I can imagine that many of the topics raised in the text boxes would provide excellent avenues for bringing specific ancient texts into the classroom for further discussion. . . . The commentary succeeds brilliantly as both an appropriate resource for students and as a reliable guide for more advanced readers and scholars seeking fresh insights into the treasures to be found within the Fourth Gospel."

Matthew Gordley,

Review of Biblical Literature

"Although commentaries on John abound, both the Paideia series in general and Brant's commentary in particular add something fresh to the study of John's Gospel in terms of the packaging of material and the content of the volume. . . . Brant's commentary admirably fits the aims of the series to be accessible as a teaching tool, to draw upon relevant background materials, to inform the understanding of the text with newer methodological approaches, and above all to engage readers in the closer study of the New Testament text. In each of these areas Brant succeeds, and in the process makes a valuable contribution to Johannine scholarship."

Paul Foster,

Expository Times

"This helpful series is designed for students who want to explore the New Testament writings in depth, including the cultural, literary, and theological dimensions of a particular New Testament book and its continuing significance for today. Brant . . . gives particular attention to the rhetorical and narrative features of John's gospel, situating these dimensions within the context of first century Jewish and Greco-Roman cultures."

Donald Senior, CP,

The Bible Today

"Brant's commentary is readable and on a level that is both understandable to students, which is especially furthered by the use of charts and diagrams throughout the text, and useful to the serious exegete. Her approach to the text as a literary whole is to be commended. . . . She is adept at seeing and explaining important grammatical and syntactical features of the text and also deftly demonstrates how particular parts of John's Gospel relate to particular theological issues. . . . John would make a welcome addition to any biblical scholar's library, whether a new student or a seasoned exegete."

Matthew Y. Emerson,

Bulletin for Biblical Research

"This exceptionally rich and user-friendly commentary on the Gospel of John has qualities that range from very good to outstanding. Each chapter carries a sidebar outline that positions the chapter within John's narrative flow. This is helpful and well done. . . . In the tradition of the Paideia series, Brant provides broad exposure to Hellenistic culture and literary conventions. Antiquity meets modernity in a user-friendly way. . . . The commentary's preeminent feature is Brant's meticulous translation of John's text. She succeeds admirably in preserving nuances of John's Greek diction, with illuminating explanations for her choices. For this reason alone, few serious readers of John will want to miss this commentary. . . . Although Brant is a NT scholar and classicist in the best tradition of both disciplines, her voice at times blends with her text almost the way John the Baptist, the Beloved Disciple, the narrator, and Jesus speak in the same diction."

Sigve K. Tonstad,

Catholic Biblical Quarterly

"[Brant's] training in Second Temple matters serves her well in this commentary. . . . The commentary explicates the text to 'enhance' two things: 'the intelligibility of the Gospel for modern audiences and the gratification one finds in coming to know it as a unified work.' A couple of dozen photos, drawings, and tables help serve this end, as do numerous brief sidebars. . . . There are . . . more graphics in this commentary than is customary in the genre. . . . The commentary serves as an excellent study of how the Fourth Gospel looks and functions when various contemporary matrices are brought to bear in interpreting its words."

Robert W. Yarbrough,

Trinity Journal

"The work is complemented by illustrations, photographs, tables, and boxes providing key background information and, given the length of the work, Brant engages with a wide range of scholarship, both ancient and modern. . . . There is a refreshing enthusiasm and energy about her engagement with the text and use of modern cultural references, such as films. She states, 'This commentary seeks to enhance the intelligibility of the Gospel for modern audiences and the gratification one finds in coming to know it as a unified work.' It fulfills this intention admirably."

David A. Lamb,

Journal for the Study of the New Testament

"A welcome addition to Johannine scholarship. At the same time, [Brant's] generous use of explanatory sidebars, charts, illustrations, and occasional photographs makes the pages visually attractive and welcoming to the average student. Brant writes concisely, with a brisk style. She explicates the Gospel in comments that are constantly attentive to the narrative flow at work in the text. One of the key purposes of the Paideia Commentaries as a series is to give careful attention to the cultural and literary conventions of 'Hellenism.'. . . Brant's commentary is an excellent example of turning that focus on the Fourth Gospel. . . . Brant's commentary is distinctive for the breadth and depth with which she mines the Greco-Roman world for literary, rhetorical, and religious insights that help us read this Gospel. . . . I recommend this commentary along with the observation that it will be appreciated most by an educated audience that is itself cosmopolitan and literate in (or interested in learning about!) the literary, cultural, and religious conventions of the Hellenistic world."

Loren L. Johns,

Mennonite Quarterly Review

"[Brant] clearly knows her way around the study of John as well as the ancient world. . . . She brings great wisdom from studying Greco-Roman literature, including social values, history, and the arts. . . . What I appreciated about the commentary is that she brings something fresh to the table of study. It is like the Gospel of John is treated as a play and she sits next to you as you watch and coaches you on how plays work in the Greco-Roman world and what you are supposed to 'get' as you watch it. She is your guide to the ins and outs of symbols, coded language, dramatic technique, and the identification of types in these settings. At the end of each section of commentary, there are short discussions of key themes and some pointers towards application. She does quite well here, dealing with thorny issues. . . . If you love all things Johannine (as I do!), this won't disappoint. So many things in this book I never knew and it opens a window of study (the theatrical perspective) that is rather appropriate to this Gospel in particular."

Nijay Gupta,

"This commentary incorporates a breadth of scholarly voices and takes into consideration a variety of literary sources that may have contributed to the composition of John. The strength of the book lies in Brant's ability to take into consideration the ethos of the ancient reader. . . . I recommend this book to anyone wishing to gain a rudimentary knowledge of Greco-Roman terminology concerning drama and tragedy. Provision of several helpful definitions on the side-bar of various pages helps the reader place the terms into a greater context. This book is also helpful for categorizing Jesus' speeches, which aids in learning how those are dissected. Brant's commentary is a well-written and helpful addition to the discussion on the Gospel of John. This book should be considered by any professor teaching courses on John at the undergraduate or graduate level."

Adam Z. Wright,

Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism

Praise for the Paideia series

"The Paideia commentary series has established itself as a solid series of concise works that focus on the final form of the biblical text, highlighting narrative flow, rhetorical devices and structure, and commenting particularly on relevant historical background and theological significance."

Craig L. Blomberg,

Denver Journal

"[I] continue to be impressed by the contributors' skill in combining academic rigor with accessibility. . . . The [series] authors . . . combine historical and linguistic analysis with theological reflection, which makes these commentaries useful for those interested in bridging the gap between the ancient world and contemporary Christianity (seminarians, clergy). . . . Frequent inserts with asides [offer] additional explanations or attempts to relate ancient texts to contemporary issues."

Michael Gilmour,

Catholic Biblical Quarterly