Two Views Of John

Christianity According to John, by D. George Vanderlip (Westminster, 1975, 224 pp. $8.50), and The Gospel of John, Volume I, by James Montgomery Boice (Zondervan, 1975, 443 pp., $9.95), are reviewed by Donald A. Carson, dean, Northwest Baptist Theological Seminary, Vancouver, British Columbia.

Both of these books are concerned with the Fourth Gospel, and each was written by an evangelical living in the Philadelphia area. There the similarities between them end.

Christianity According to John apparently arises out of Vanderlip’s classroom experience. Its twelve chapters constitute a basic theology of the Gospel of John. The chapter headings cover many of John’s most important themes: “Jesus as the Word,” “The Children of God,” “Believe,” “Know,” “Love,” “Light and Darkness,” “The Spirit of Truth,” and so on. Vanderlip writes clearly and concisely and shows competence in the secondary literature (in fact, there are too many quotations).

For better or for worse, Vanderlip goes out of his way to show that John is “relevant.” The first chapter, for instance, “John Speaks to Our World,” begins with several pages devoted to discussing “life’s true meaning,” reality, genuineness, oppression. “John’s understanding of love,” we read, “involves creative human response to need.” Several chapters conclude with a section seeking to develop the contemporary meaning of the exposition. I would be the last to eschew the relevance of the Scriptures, but I think Vanderlip’s efforts to demonstrate this relevance are the weakest part of his book. At one point he even finds it necessary to apologize for the Evangelist’s negative comments on “the Jews.” We have, he says, no right to speak of the Jews, or of anyone else, as “children ...

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