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The Priority of John

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It has been the fate of many books on John to be left unfinished, for its interpretation naturally forms the crowning of a lifetime. I have myself been intending to write a book on the Fourth Gospel since the 'fifties, before I broke off (reluctantly) to be Bishop of Woolwich, though I am grateful now that I did not produce it prematurely at that time. It means however that I shall be compelled to refer to and often recapitulate material directly or indirectly related to the Johannine literature, which I have ...

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2010 pp. 443. New book. Previously published by SCM, 1985. Edited by J.F. Coakley.

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Overview

It has been the fate of many books on John to be left unfinished, for its interpretation naturally forms the crowning of a lifetime. I have myself been intending to write a book on the Fourth Gospel since the 'fifties, before I broke off (reluctantly) to be Bishop of Woolwich, though I am grateful now that I did not produce it prematurely at that time. It means however that I shall be compelled to refer to and often recapitulate material directly or indirectly related to the Johannine literature, which I have written over the years (some of it indeed while I was bishop). Many scholars in fact, if not most now, think that the author of the Gospel himself never lived to finish it and have seen the work as the product of numerous hands and redactors. As will become clear, I prefer to believe that the ancient testimony of the church is correct that John wrote it 'while still in the body' and that its roughnesses, self-corrections and failures of connection, real or imagined, are the result of its not having been smoothly or finally edited. If so I am in good company. At any rate who could wish for a better last testimony from his friends than that 'his witness is true' (John 21.24)? In other words, he got it right—historically and theologically."—from the Introduction At the time of his death in December 1983, John Robinson had completed the text of the book on which his 1984 Bampton lectures were to be based, so that it is possible to see the full details of his extremely controversial argument that the Gospel of John was the first Gospel to be written. Dr. Robinson himself once described the dawning of his conviction that this was the case as a 'Damascus Road experience', and his presentation of the evidence is made with all the customary vigor with which he would argue for something in which he deeply believed. The objections which need to be overcome to stand on its head what has long been one of the fundamental assumptions of New Testament scholarship are substantial, but here once again Dr. Robinson shows that so much of what is taken as established fact in that area is no more than preference and presumption. Certainly he will provoke rethinking on a whole series of topics, from the chronology of Jesus' ministry to the nature of his teaching. As The Listener said of the equally controversial Redating the New Testament: "The greatest pleasure Dr. Robinson gives is purely intellectual. His book is a prodigious virtuoso exercise in inductive reasoning and an object lesson in the nature of historical argument and historical knowledge." This sequel equals, if not excels, its predecessor in those respects and is a fitting tribute to a brilliant New Testament scholar. The manuscript was prepared for publication by Dr. Chip Coakley, Dr Robinson's pupil, now Lecturer in Religious Studies in the University of Lancaster.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781610971027
  • Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/1/2011
  • Pages: 460
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

John A. T. Robinson was a New Testament scholar who served as Bishop of Woolswich England was well as Dean of Trinity College, University of Cambridge. Among his many writings are Redating the New Testament, Honest to God, and Wrestling with Romans.

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Table of Contents

Editor's Note vii

Introduction ix

Abbreviations xiv

I The Presumption of Priority 1

1 A change of presumption 1

2 The long shadow of dependence 10

3 Sources and source 23

4 Some redaction-critical assumptions 28

5 A first Gospel 33

II From Sources to Source 36

1 A shift in perspective 36

2 The link in space 45

3 The link in time 67

4 The link in person 93

III The Chronology of the Ministry 123

IV The Story: the Beginning 158

V The Story: the Middle 190

VI The Story: the End 212

1 The approach to Jerusalem 212

2 The proscription of Jesus 223

3 The arrival in Jerusalem 229

4 The arrest of Jesus 238

5 The Jewish trial 245

6 The Roman trial 254

7 The crucifixion 275

8 The burial 281

9 The resurrection 288

VII The Teaching of Jesus 296

1 The difference in technique 296

2 The common ground 300

3 The process of transposition 322

4 The charge of individualism 325

5 The charge of introversion 329

6 The Johannine eschatology 339

VIII The Person of Christ 343

1 The making explicit of the implicit 343

2 The self-consciousness of Jesus 352

3 The invader from another world? 365

4 The true Son 372

5 Pre-existence and incarnation 379

6 John's contribution to christology today 394

Select Bibliography 398

Index of Names 405

Index of References 415

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