The Gospel of John
A Theological Commentary
Christianity Today 2023 Book Award Finalist (Biblical Studies)
John is a Gospel of abundant truth, life, and love. David Ford, one of the world's leading Christian theologians, invites readers into a fresh, profound encounter with Jesus through the Gospel of John in this comprehensive theological commentary. This commentary will appeal to a wide audience, including pastors, church leaders, and other readers interested in the intersection of theology and spirituality. It will also be of interest to professors and students doing research on John and the reception of the Gospel in Christian theology.
Introduction: Why John? Why Now?
John 1:1-18 The Unsurpassable Horizon: God and All Reality, Jesus and Us, Ultimate Mystery and Intimacy
John 1:19-51 The Formation of a Learning Community
John 2:1-25 Signs of Glory and New Life
John 3:1-36 Astonishing Teaching
John 4:1-54 Two Surprising, Life-Giving Encounters
John 5:1-47 Into Controversy
John 6:1-71 Food in Abundance: Three Dramas and Four Courses
John 7:1-52 Danger and Division, Identity and Desire
John 8:1-59 A Drama of Bitterly Contested Identities
John 9:1-41 "He Opened My Eyes"
John 10:1-42 Wonderful Shepherd, Abundant Life, Father and Son
John 11:1-57 "The Dead Man Came Out"
John 12:1-50 "The Hour Has Come": Ultimate Glory, Attraction, and Decision
John 13:1-38 Love like Jesus--Utterly, Intimately, Vulnerably,
John 14:1-31 Comfort and More: Trusting, Dwelling, Praying, and Loving
John 15:1-27 "Abide in Me"
John 16:1-33 The Final Realism and Encouragement
John 17:1-26 The Summit of Love
John 18:1-40 Arrest and Trial
John 19:1-42 Condemnation and Crucifixion
John 20:1-31 "Mary!"--The
Free, Surprising Presence of the Crucified and Risen Jesus
John 21:1-25 The Ongoing Drama
"In this commentary on John, David Ford communicates his love of Scripture, his passion for allowing John's Gospel to teach us, and his immense learning and profound commitment to the church. This is a commentary of rare value that is not only immensely inspiring in its own terms but points constantly to the unsearchable depths of the passages on which he comments. It feeds the mind, informs the thoughts, and is fruitful in one's own thinking and praying. It is a truly Christ-centered and Spirit-breathing work."
Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
"This beautiful, generous commentary is the fruit of many years of 'reading, thinking, trusting, praying, and living John.' It acknowledges the wounds of John's reception history and the darkness that continues in the community gathered around Jesus. Yet it confidently welcomes readers into the 'deep plain sense' of John's Gospel, where they can continue to be challenged and abundantly fed."
Amy Plantinga Pauw, Henry P. Mobley Professor of Theology, Louisville Presbyterian Seminary
"Who was this first century Jew, this Jesus who has dominated two millennia of religious sensibility? John knew him best of all the evangelists, and it is his New Testament words David Ford unpacks so flawlessly in this book designed for an often jaded twenty-first-century audience. With wonderful use of music and poetry, David reintroduces us to the unequaled excitement of the Jesus John wanted us to know, to love, to follow, to hope in. Just as the evangelist is a passionate and credible guide to the Jesus he was persuaded by, so David Ford is a comfortable and yet challenging guide to Jesus in our time. A magnificent commentary on a magnificent Gospel."
Mary McAleese, president of Ireland, 1997-2011
"The fruit of twenty years of studying and living with John, this theological commentary is vintage David Ford: wise and erudite, never squeezing the polyphonous text of Scripture into neat theories, and always seeking to honor the diverse ways in which our lives are lived before God. Reading it, you taste something of the abundance of life Jesus came to bring."
Miroslav Volf, Yale Divinity School
"Here is a lyrically written reflection on a centrally important text of the Christian faith. Ford's interpretation is both academically rigorous and deeply true to the abundance of spirit in John's Gospel. This is a book not only for Christians but for all who are serious about the place of religion in a human life."
Laurie Zoloth, Margaret E. Burton Professor of Religion and Ethics, University of Chicago
"So much more than a traditional commentary, David Ford's The Gospel of John is a profound and detailed exploration of what it means to enter into life with Jesus Christ and thereby experience the whole of reality transformed by the power of God's creating, healing, and reconciling love. The fruit of a lifetime of patient and careful study, this text is saturated with insights about God's desire and plan for life's abundance. It will be an essential guide for biblical scholars, theologians, and laypeople for generations to come."
Norman Wirzba, Gilbert T. Rowe Distinguished Professor of Theology, Duke Divinity School
"David Ford is possibly the most strictly creative theologian of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Though steeped in the range of classic theology, his most immediate dialogue partner is the Irish poet Micheal O'Siadhail. More than anyone, Ford has a sense that we love God for nothing--and thereby he sidesteps the contractualism systemic in Western theology. Correspondingly, he offers a sense of God's sheer abundance toward us and all created things. Those basic instincts epitomize the Fourth Gospel. They are its message. That is why this full-length engagement with that Gospel is itself such a feast. I truly commend it as the product of a lifetime of reflection, practice, and love."
Iain Torrance, president emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminary
"The Gospel is opened up. Scripture overall is opened up. Last but not least, the reader is opened up. It's a bit like the gradual opening of a water lily as the sunlight plays on its petals and its depths are fathomed. Old profundities seem refreshed with new insights, old problems appear with new twists, as we are drawn into a learning community that is progressively led into the truth by the Holy Spirit, discovers anew the identity of Jesus Christ, and is drawn into the mutual love of Father and Son. This is no ordinary commentary."
Frances Young, emeritus professor, University of Birmingham
"This commentary, the distillation of many years of study, is a way into the abundance of meaning in St. John's Gospel. Illuminated by contemporary poetry and by reference to the matrix of symbolism in the Old Testament, it is informed by the latest biblical scholarship but is never dense. John is a Gospel for a learning community seeking to understand who Jesus Christ is now and always. David Ford is a wise and respectful guide. He has composed what will become an indispensable resource for genuine seekers."
Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, 1995-2017
"David Ford gives a wonderful exhibition of theological interpretation of Scripture. Thoroughly conversant with exegetical and critical issues, his commentary focuses on the Gospel of John's major core themes of meaning, life, and love within the horizon of God and all reality. For Ford, John's creative Christological interpretation of Scripture and the Synoptic Gospels offers a model for reading and rereading the Gospel. His own penetrating and imaginative treatment of passages both informs and is informed by constructive and questioning contemporary theological reflection. The Gospel's later reception, poetry, interfaith dialogue, and Christian living with its joys, sorrows, and ambiguities also play their part in the way this reflection comes to expression. Ford's clear, direct, and impassioned style conveys excitement about this Gospel's potential for transformation of lives, managing to sustain the sense that in engaging with the evangelist's testimony readers are engaging with the presence of Christ through the Spirit. While readers will certainly want to consult this commentary for insights on specific passages, it is also that rare sort of commentary that invites one to just keep reading."
Andrew T. Lincoln, emeritus professor of New Testament, University of Gloucestershire
"Whether you are a scholar, pastor, or lover of John's Gospel, you will learn something new from this book! Although John's story is familiar, David Ford is a careful reader of Scripture and a profound theologian. His interpretation of John combines exegetical insight and precise scholarship with wise reflection. The outcome is a book that brings John's message to life for modern readers. No matter how many times you have read the Gospel of John, David Ford will draw you in to experience the Gospel anew."
Susan Hylen, associate professor of New Testament, Candler School of Theology, Emory University
"Ford invites us to a profound encounter with Jesus in ways no other commentary does. The ancient voices burst forth with life, extending to us in unison an invitation to 'come and see.' The style is lucid and captivating, drawing us ever deeper into hearing the witness of John the Evangelist with incomparable clarity. Ford opens up new horizons and offers great insight into different ways of reading Scripture, warming the heart and challenging the mind to fathom the very meaning of life. We can be deeply grateful for this invaluable gift to the church of Christ--a precious tool in our hands as we, too, invite others to 'come and see.'"
Joseph D. Galgalo, Bishop, Anglican Church of Kenya; vice-chancellor, St. Paul's University, 2010-2020
"The Gospel of John: A Theological Commentary is an eloquent invitation to reread John continually. The commentary magnificently shows what a deep engagement with John can do for followers of Jesus and for those wanting to know who Jesus is. It creatively engages with centuries of biblical scholarship, theological commentaries, and various other works in theology and more, yet it also perceptively interprets the Gospel of John for the twenty-first-century church, which faces a wide range of issues both internally and in the world. Ford intertwines his commentary with his life experiences and also connects with poetry, history, music, interfaith and public engagement, and many other aspects of individual and community life."
Muthuraj Swamy, director, Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide
Christianity Today 2023 Book Award Finalist (Biblical Studies)
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