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The Gospel of John, 2 Volumes

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"2004 Christianity Today Book Awards" Award of Merit, Biblical Studies Category

"A striking achievement in the history of Johannine scholarship. It is meticulously researched, cogently argued, and clearly presented, and will not soon be surpassed either in comprehensiveness or in depth. [It] belongs on the shelf of every student of the Fourth Gospel."--David E. Aune, University of Notre Dame

Keener's commentary explores the Jewish and Greco-Roman settings of John more deeply than previous works, paying special attention to social-historical and rhetorical features of the Gospel. It cites about 4,000 different secondary sources and uses over 20,000 references from ancient literature.


"Keener's new commentary on the Gospel of John represents a striking achievement in the history of Johannine scholarship. It is meticulously researched, cogently argued, clearly presented, and it will not soon be surpassed either in comprehensiveness or in depth. [It] belongs on the shelf of every student of the Fourth Gospel."--David E. Aune, Walter Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins, University of Notre Dame

"Craig Keener has given us far more than a commentary. He has invited us into the world of John's Gospel and made it a magnificent window into the thought and practice of early Judaism and, to a lesser extent, the whole Greco-Roman world of the first century. The reader will find this work a treasure trove of information about the origins of Christianity, shedding light on such questions as, What is a Gospel? How reliable are the four Gospels in their portrayal of Jesus of Nazareth? and in particular, How reliable is the Gospel of John? Keener presents a compelling case for viewing Jesus himself within the framework of early Judaism and for both the Jewishness and the essential reliability of the traditions about Jesus preserved in John's Gospel. The book is a remarkable achievement, and all who work on early Christianity in general or on John's Gospel in particular, whether they agree with Keener or not, will have to pay attention both to his facts and to his argumentation. In that sense, it is something of a milestone, not only in Johannine studies but also in the scholarly world's ongoing investigation of Christian origins."--J. Ramsey Michaels, professor of religious studies emeritus, Missouri State University

"With his comprehensive treatment of the relevant ancient literature, Keener plants the Fourth Gospel deep in the soil of its time and place. The author's meticulous and encyclopedic documentation of both ancient and contemporary literature makes this a commentary of supreme importance for any who wish to crack the Johannine puzzle. You may not always agree with Keener, but I am confident you will admire and learn from his careful scholarship."--Robert Kysar, Emeritus Bandy Professor of Preaching and New Testament, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

"This exhaustive commentary on the Gospel of John is an example of evangelical scholarship at its best. Keener relentlessly pursues all the possible sources for the Johannine story. The historical Jesus, early Christian tradition, and the Palestinian, rabbinic, and Mediterranean worlds are his regular points of extensive reference. Keener's reading of the Fourth Gospel as a story written for a rejected Jewish community, claiming they are the true Israel and that Jesus is the perfection of the gift of Torah, raises questions that must be taken into account by future Johannine scholarship."--Francis J. Moloney, SDB, Katharine Drexel Professor of Religious Studies, The Catholic University of America; past president, Catholic Biblical Association

"Keener's commentary is marked by intelligence as well as comprehensiveness. In the marshalling of relevant materials from John's own milieu and in the canvassing of modern scholarly literature, Keener is unsurpassed in his generation of Johannine scholars. . . . Serious interpreters of the Gospel of John will not always agree with Keener's conclusions, but they must take account of his work."--D. Moody Smith Jr., George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament, Duke University; past president, Society of Biblical Literature

"Keener's detailed knowledge of the ancient sources is enviable. He provides a wealth of documentation on the ancient Mediterranean cultural, social, political, religious, and literary milieu of the Fourth Gospel. On numerous occasions his discussion of Jewish and Greco-Roman cultural conventions aids appreciation of the details of John's narrative. His commentary is therefore a mine of illuminating background material for all students of this Gospel. Its social-historical focus makes it an excellent complement to those commentaries that concentrate more on literary and theological matters."--Andrew Lincoln, Portland Chair in New Testament Studies, University of Gloucestershire, England

"Craig Keener's academic commentaries are among the most important in print, because they not only summarize former scholarship but also add so many new insights from primary literature of the time."--David Instone-Brewer, senior research fellow in rabbinics and New Testament, Tyndale House, Cambridge

"Keener's commentary on the Gospel of John is a work of stunning erudition. Aimed primarily at situating the Gospel in its intellectual, theological, and historical context, this monumental commentary cites an unparalleled array of ancient sources. Scholars will be mining its references and citing its interpretations for decades to come."--R. Alan Culpepper, dean, McAfee School of Theology

The Author

  1. Craig S. Keener

    Craig S. Keener

    Craig S. Keener (Ph.D., Duke University) is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. He is author of 30 books, 5 of which have won awards in Christianity Today. More than a million copies of his books are in...

    Continue reading about Craig S. Keener


Christianity Today 2004 Award of Merit (Biblical Studies)

"Most modern commentaries on the Gospel of John are massive, and this new commentary is no exception. However, a substantial number of pages are devoted to introductory issues (330 pages of Volume 1) and bibliography and index (393 pages of Volume 2). That is an indication of the character and strength of this particular Johannine commentary. . . . This is a serious commentary that will also serve as a rich bibliographical resource."--The Bible Today

"The publication of a major new commentary on John's Gospel is always a significant event in NT studies. While somewhat different in orientation, the scope of Keener's two-volume work puts him in the league of the likes of Raymond Brown and Rudolph Schnackenburg, each of whom produced multi-volume commentaries on the Gospel. . . . Keener's commentary is set to make a major contribution to the field for years to come."--Andreas J. Köstenberger, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

"An excellent resource for students of the Fourth Gospel. . . . Keener has tried to take us from the present to the past, specifically the first-century social-historical context in which the Gospel was originally read. He has certainly taken us to the past and by doing so has met a need in Johannine research."--Edward Klink, Review of Biblical Literature

"Students of this Gospel must remain grateful for what Keener has accomplished. Well done!"--Theological Studies

"One is in the presence of a master interpreter who is not afraid to take a fresh look at old positions. My Johannine shelf is already overflowing, but clearly I will have to make room for Keener."--Sean P. Kealy, Catholic Biblical Quarterly

"This is a masterful scholarly commentary on the Fourth Gospel. There is a long introduction and an equally long bibliography of ancient sources and secondary literature. Scholars of all persuasions will use it for its rich documentation and its fresh discussions of debated issues."--International Review of Biblical Studies

"Craig Keener has assembled in this commentary on John an impressive amount of background information that is important to the interpretation of the text. Almost half of each page consists of footnotes with a wealth of detail drawn from difficult-to-find Jewish and Greco-Roman sources. Therefore, scholars will be returning to this commentary time and again in their study and research. Likewise impressive is the bibliography extending over 150 pages and the indexes that cover over 225 pages. In his 330 pages of background information at the beginning of his commentary, Keener proves that he is a person of detail who can converse with the latest scholarship. . . . The background material is the strength of this commentary and will enable it to be used productively for many years."--Calvin Theological Journal

"Craig Keener's commentary The Gospel of John is not only a brilliant work on Johannine studies, but also a major contribution to the task of applying both Jewish and Greco-Roman background material to the study of New Testament texts. Keener states from the outset that his approach in this commentary is a social-historical one. [S]uch an approach allows him to argue that much of the material found in John's Gospel is historical and accurately depicts the life of the historical Jesus. . . . In the end, it is difficult to say anything negative about Keener's commentary. . . . [F]or years to come, scholars will have to interact with Keener's commentary on the Gospel of John."--Toronto Journal of Theology

"[T]he interaction with so much ancient and modern literature makes this both an important resource for scholars and a demanding book to read. The amount of extra-biblical ancient literature cited in this commentary is nothing less than prodigious. Keener has done all students of John an enormous service by bringing together a comprehensive compilation of ancient sources that could influence the interpretation of the Fourth Gospel. This makes the commentary a potentially valuable reference tool. . . . [I]t is the commentary to consult for extra-biblical texts that relate to the interpretation of John's Gospel."--Southwestern Journal of Theology

"Keener is able to exercise a critical sympathy, rather than critical distance, with the text. Such critical sympathy enables Keener to write a work that is not only rigorous in its historical method, but also offers theological insight to the reader. The work is certainly not a devotional commentary, but does represent an empathy with the author and theological sensitivity not always present among commentators. [T]hus, it is helpful not only on an academic level, but also to pastors who are willing to wade through the detail of the commentary to plumb the depths of John's Gospel."--Ashland Theological Journal

"Keener's immense work is a substantial contribution to Johannine studies. He has consistently carried out his socio-historical approach on almost every page. This work will aid mainly scholars in their study of the social-historical background of the Gospel and will provide them with a wealth of source material in this regard that is normally not included in such a thorough way. Keener's commentary should take its place next to other monumental commentaries like [those of] R. Brown and R. Schnackenburg."--Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses

"Craig Keener's commentary has raised the bar for scholarship on the Gospel of John. . . . [It] will be useful for seminary and university studies on the Gospel of John as well as for teachers and homileticians in the church."--Restoration Quarterly

"Keener's work looks into the one area he feels he can make the most contribution to Johannine studies--examining the Gospel in light of its social-historical context and to obtain new insight from ancient sources. . . . He wants to provide other researchers with his own supply of relevant social data, which for the most part have not been applied as extensively to the Fourth Gospel. . . . The manner in which Keener synthesizes the enormous amount of material contained in these volumes is a tribute to his dedication and sound knowledge in this field. . . . [T]hese two volumes offer [a] wealth of information for researchers and scholars for years to come. This value-added feature alone makes these volumes worth possessing."--Laval théologique et philosophique

"In this impressive two-volume commentary on John, Craig Keener sets a new standard for examining John in the light of its social-historical context. At 1600+ pages, this magnificent work deserves a place among the great commentaries of Brown, Schnackenburg, Barrett, Bultmann, and Haenschen, despite advancing few truly original answers to the Johannine riddles. Its primary distinction is that it borrows in unsurpassed ways from ancient Jewish and Greco-Roman sources, casting fresh and compelling light on the primary interests of Johannine Gospel studies. . . . A first-rate critical treatment of the Johannine text, this commentary also elucidates meaningful and applicable theological points at every turn. Keener contributes insights regarding social and anthropological associations with particular themes and details, and identifies ways in which John's material is either consonant or contrasts with parallel understandings, thereby providing a great service to the interpreter. . . . This work will be a challenge to critical and traditional scholars alike, but for different reasons. It will challenge the traditionalist scholar by providing an avalanche of Greco-Roman and contemporary Jewish information sure to provoke new insights and understandings. It will challenge the critical scholar by pointing out the ways in which John is both divergent from and similar to ancient parallels, contesting deconstructions on the basis of ancient contemporaneous literature. All readers, though, will be helped by Keener's massive commentary. Every serious collection of Johannine commentaries must include a spot for this important work."--Interpretation

"Keener's mega-social-historical commentary is an important contribution to Johannine studies. Biblical scholars will find it a valuable reference book especially for the innumerable ancient sources."--Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection

"The publication of a new commentary on the Fourth Gospel is always a significant event in New Testament studies and the publication of this masterful scholarly commentary on the Fourth Gospel by Keener is no exception. . . . [He] has included over 20,000 references to ancient literature and also refers to about 4,000 different secondary sources. These numbers provide an indication of the character and strength of this particular Johannine commentary. . . . Keener accomplished his objective: To assist the reader in reading the Fourth Gospel from a social and historical first-century perspective. [His] aim is to take the reader from the present to the past, specifically the first-century socio-historical context in which the Gospel was originally read. The strength of this commentary is certainly its comprehensiveness and in this respect it will undoubtedly make a significant contribution to the field of Johannine studies. The background material will be used productively by serious students for many years."--HTS: Hervormde Teologiese Studies

"This commentary provides an excellent resource for further investigation into the social and historical background to the Fourth Gospel as well as providing a reliable conservative reading of the Fourth Gospel. In this respect Keener has served his audience well."--Reformed Theological Review

"There are many excellent commentaries on John, including the contributions of Raymond Brown and D. A. Carson. Keener's work joins and possibly surpasses these. The more one learns about the ancient context the better one can understand the biblical text. Keener provides the reader with a wealth of excellent material both to illuminate the Gospel of John and to enrich the study of other New Testament literature."--Bibliotheca Sacra

"Warned that mature scholars who began full-scale John commentaries have usually died before they finished them, Keener . . . decided to start young, and did indeed outlive his endeavor. He admits that the Fourth Gospel is a text, and so provides attention to literary and similar issues, but says his main contribution to the scholarship is the social data he presents and his overall awareness of the social and historical context. He analyzes the book section by section. The two volumes are paged and indexed together."--Book List, Inc.

"Keener has compiled a massive commentary on John's Gospel. The introduction alone is over 300 pages long and is educational in itself. This commentary does not concentrate so much on theology but on the social, political, religious, literary, and historical milieu of the Fourth Gospel period. Keener invites the reader into that intriguing world to see the practice and thought of early Judaism, the origins of Christianity, and the entire Greco-Roman world of the first century. . . . Keener's commentary is a mother lode of illuminating source material on this Gospel and the era in which it was written. The mine includes a bibliography of almost 200 pages, footnotes on every page, and indexes of modern authors, scripture, OT Apocrypha, and other ancient sources. Keener's writing style is clear, engaging, and readily understood."--Church and Synagogue Libraries

"I have great respect for Keener as a scholar; his judgments are sound, his assessments of the issues and the opinions of others are accurate and helpful, his desire to bring the meaning of the Gospel of John to bear in the modern world commendable. . . . If you are looking for a good all-rounder, one which keeps abreast of serious scholarship without forfeiting readability, then this is worth the investment. I am happy to recommend it warmly. Even if you already have a good, older commentary on John, this one is a worthy replacement."--Regent's Reviews

"The clear strength of this commentary is Keener's relentless interaction with the Greek, Roman and Jewish milieus from which the Gospel of John emerges. Within this commentary, Keener makes over 20,000 extra-biblical references, and the thoroughness with which he compares the Gospel to the ancient world is, in my experience, unparalleled. It is this thoroughness that makes this a great commentary. Included is a mammoth 166-page bibliography. This is obviously helpful for anyone wishing to find sources regarding John's Gospel. In conclusion, Keener's commentary on John is impressive. He is incredibly thorough and does an excellent job at placing the Gospel of John within its literary and historical context. . . . This commentary needs to be consulted by Johannine scholars if they wish to understand how the Gospel of John interacts with and relates to its Hellenistic milieu."--Sean A. Adams, Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism

"Keener's introduction . . . ought to be required reading for anyone who wants to seriously study John. . . . The body of the commentary deals with every imaginable aspect of the Greek text, drawing on the Hebrew Bible as well as the literature of the Second Temple Period. A scan through his footnotes demonstrates Keener's mastery of both Jewish and Hellenistic literature. He deals with problems of historicity as well as special Johannine features in the body of the commentary."--Phillip J. Long, Reading Acts blog

"A massive two-volume set on John. . . . [Keener's] unique and uniquely helpful focus is on setting the book of John in its Jewish and Greco-Roman contexts. . . . This is a commentary that is probably best suited to those who are doing an in-depth study, either for preaching or for scholarly work."--Tim Challies,