The Epistles of John


With this study—companion to the masterful two-volume The Gospel According to John—Raymond E. Brown completed his trilogy on the Johannine corpus. Meticulous in detail, exhaustive in analysis, persuasive in argument, it examines controversies that have long troubled both biblical scholars and lay readers. Questions of authorship, composition, and dating, as well as the debate over source theories, are discussed at length; but these are kept subordinate to the overall question of...

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With this study—companion to the masterful two-volume The Gospel According to John—Raymond E. Brown completed his trilogy on the Johannine corpus. Meticulous in detail, exhaustive in analysis, persuasive in argument, it examines controversies that have long troubled both biblical scholars and lay readers. Questions of authorship, composition, and dating, as well as the debate over source theories, are discussed at length; but these are kept subordinate to the overall question of meaning.
What give this commentary special interest and excitement is the bold, imaginative reconstruction of the setting of the Johannine work—in particular of the “opposition figures,” who are only dimly sketched in the Epistles—so that we see clearly that the author is writing to his flock both about the dangers and difficulties confronting them, and about the eternal life that is theirs by the gift of God. In this way, the Epistles of John become intelligible as broadsides in a critical engagement between the forces of light and darkness.
In addition to his superb textual analysis of the letters, Raymond Brown has brought to life the community in which these works were formed and shaped. We are forcefully reminded that the Gospel and the Epistles were addressed to very real people living in the first century a.d., people with religious problems not unlike our own. In all respects, The Epistles of John stands out as a model of biblical scholarship and study.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300140279
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2007
  • Series: The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 840
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Over his illustrious career, RAYMOND E. BROWN, S.S., Ph.D., was internationally regarded as a dean of New Testament scholars. He was Auburn Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Among his more than thirty-five books on the Bible are three volumes in the Anchor Bible series, as well as the Anchor Bible Reference Library volumes The Birth of the Messiah, The Death of the Messiah, and An Introduction to the New Testament, winner of the 1998 Catholic Press Association Award for Biblical Studies.

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Table of Contents

Preface     ix
Principal Abbreviations     xxiii
Information from Tradition     3
Designation as Catholic Epistles and Epistles of John     3
Attitudes toward These Epistles in the First Five Centuries     5
Possible Echoes before A.D. 175     6
From the Late Second Century to the Fifth Century     9
Problems of Johannine Authorship     14
Did the Same Author Write All Three Epistles?     14
Common Authorship for II John and III John?     15
Common Authorship for II John and I John?     16
Did the Same Author Write the Fourth Gospel and the Epistles?     19
The Argument for Common Authorship Based on Similarities in Style     20
The Argument against Common Authorship Based on Differences in Style     21
The Argument against Common Authorship Based on Differences in Thought     25
The Argument against Common Authorship Based on Differences in Life Situation     28
In What Sequence Were the Gospel and the Epistles Written?     30
Sequence among the Epistles     30
Was II John or III John Composed First?
Was I John or II John Composed First?
Sequence of GJohn and I John     32
Arguments for the Priority of I John
Arguments for the Priority ofGJohn
Source Theories for the Origin of I John     36
The German Theory of an Antithetical-Statement Source     36
E. von Dobschutz     36
R. Bultmann     38
After Bultmann     41
Other Source Theories     43
W. Nauck     43
J. C. O'Neill     45
Origin of I and II John in a Struggle with Adversaries     47
Which Views in I and II John Belong to the Adversaries?     47
Reconstructed Portrait of the Adversaries     49
One Well-defined Group?     49
The Theological Positions of the Adversaries     50
Ethical Behavior and Attitudes
Comparison to Known Heresies     55
Groups Condemned Elsewhere in the NT
Docetic Opponents of Ignatius of Antioch
Second-century Gnostics
The Theory Adopted in this Commentary     69
Brief Statement of the Theory     69
The Secessionists' Relation to the Fourth Gospel     71
Methodological Cautions     72
Christology-Secessionist and Fourth Gospel     73
Negating the Importance of Jesus
Not Acknowledging Christ Come in the Flesh and in Blood
Ethics-Secessionist and Fourth Gospel     79
Lack of Emphasis on Moral Behavior
Perfectionist Freedom from Sin
Love of the Brethren
The Epistolary Author's Relation to the Fourth Gospel     86
Literary Genre of I John     86
Universal Religious Tractate
Circular Epistle
Homily; Diatribe; Informal Tractate; Pastoral Encyclical
Comment Patterned on GJohn
Polemic and Argumentation Employed in I John     92
Reuse of GJohn Polemic
Style of Correcting
The "We" of the Johannine School
"From the Beginning"-Older Johannine Theology
Date and Locale of the Epistles     100
The Aftermath     103
The Secessionist Path toward Gnosticism     104
The Path from the Epistles to the Great Church     106
III John and Church Order
The Epistles and the Redaction of GJohn
Evidence from the Church Writers
Structure and Text     116
The Structure of I John     116
Recognition of Units     118
Organization of Units through Thought Patterns     119
Organization of Units through Analogy with Other Writings     122
Miscellaneous Suggestions
GJohn as a Structural Model
The Text of the Epistles     129
General Bibliography for the Johannine Epistles     131
Bibliographies; Surveys     131
Commentaries or General Analyses     131
Earlier Commentaries     131
Recent Works     132
Epistolary Theology      135
General Works     135
Specific Theological Topics     136
"Abiding, remaining" (menein)
"Life" (zoe)
"Love" (agapan, agape, agapetos)
"Sin" (hamartia)
"Truth" (aletheia)
Authorship Issues     138
Source Theories     139
Life and Setting of the Community     140
History     140
House-Churches     143
Adversaries (in General)     143
Specific Adversaries     143
Structure of I John     144
Text     145
Miscellaneous Works Cited in this Commentary     145
The First Epistle of John
The Prologue     149
The Prologue (1:1-4)     151
Part 1     189
The Gospel of God as Light; Three Boasts and Three Opposite Hypotheses (1:5-2:2)     191
Three Claims of Intimate Knowledge of God to be Tested by Behavior (2:3-11)     247
Admonitions to Believers: Having Conquered the Evil One, They Must Resist the World (2:12-17)     293
Warning against the Secessionists as Antichrists who Deny the Son and the Father (2:18-27)     329
God's Children versus the Devil's Children (2:28-3:10)     378
Part 2     437
The Gospel of Loving One Another (3:11-24)     439
The Spirits of Truth and of Deceit, and Their Respective Adherents (4:1-6)     485
Loving One Another as a Way of Abiding in and Loving God (4:7-5:4a)     512
Faith as Conqueror of the World and the Role of Testimony (5:4b-12)     569
The Conclusion     605
The Conclusion (5:13-21)     607
The Second Epistle of John
The Second Epistle     645
The Third Epistle of John
The Third Epistle     699
Charts     755
Similarities between II-III John and the Other Johannine Writings     755
Similarities between I John and GJohn     757
Bultmann's Reconstructed Source for I John     760
Epistolary Statements Pertinent to the Adversaries' Views     762
Sample Proposed Divisions of I John     764
Outline of I John     765
Cerinthus     766
The Epistle(s) to the Parthians     772
The Johannine Comma     775
General Observations on Epistolary Format     788
Bibliographic Index of Authors     797
Subject Index     804
Index of Greek Words     811
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