The Historical Reliability of John's Gospel: Issues  Commentary, By Craig L. Blomberg
The Historical Reliability of John's Gospel
  • Length: 346 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: October 20, 2011
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 3871
  • ISBN: 9780830838714

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Throughout much of the twentieth century the Fourth Gospel took a back seat to the Synoptics when it came to historical reliability. Consequently, the contemporary quest of the historical Jesus discounted or excluded evidence from the Fourth Gospel.

The question of the historical reliability of John's Gospel is well overdue for a thorough reinvestigation and reassessment. In this foundational study, Craig L. Blomberg sheds new light on persistent questions. He presents his conclusions largely in commentary form, following the principal scenes of the Gospel. His introduction frames the pathway into the discussion, taking up critical issues such as

  • authorship, date and provenance of the Fourth Gospel
  • sources and omissions of the Fourth Gospel
  • points where John's Gospel interlocks with the Synoptics
  • general indications of historicity
  • literary genre and unique audience of this Gospel
  • burden of proof and criteria of authenticity

In his commentary examining the text of the Fourth Gospel, Blomberg asks two essential questions. First, using the recently nuanced criteria of authenticity, "What positive evidence do we have that the actions or words of the characters in John's narratives are indeed historical?" Second, "Is there anything in the text . . . that is implausible within the historical context to which it is attributed, particularly if we assume the general historical trustworthiness of the Synoptics?"

The result is a seminal work for the present day--one that affirms the historical reliability of John's Gospel with intelligence and sure-footed care.

"This is a book with extraordinary strengths. In form it harks back to the approach of Sanday in 1872: Blomberg not only tackles many topical questions but works through the Gospel itself, chapter by chapter, asking pertinent historical questions. The evenhandedness of the evaluation, the eminent good sense of so many of the judgments and the clarity of the exposition (not to mention the excellent bibliography) conspire to make this an outstandingly useful book."

D. A. Carson, research professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Illinois

"There has been no full-length defense of the historicity of John's Gospel for some years. Blomberg fills that void, taking us through the text and interacting intelligently with more skeptical scholars. I warmly welcome his sane contribution to the discussion and hope it will be given the attention it deserves by scholars and students alike."

David Wenham, lecturer in New Testament, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, England

"Not since John A. T. Robinson's work has there been such a 'tour de force' argument about this Gospel and its origins and historical substance. Highly recommended."

Ben Witherington III, professor of New Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary

"The Historical Reliability of John's Gospel accomplishes exactly what is needed at this juncture in Johannine scholarship: a decisive vindication of the integrity of John's Gospel in matters of history."

Andreas Köstenberger, assistant professor of New Testament, Southeastern Baptist Seminary

"A challenge to those who in the past have too easily dismissed the historical significance of John's Gospel and an encouragement to those who have felt that this dismissal has been arbitrary and premature. This is a prodigious piece of work and one for which a new generation of readers will be profoundly grateful."

Colin Kruse, lecturer in New Testament, Bible College of Victoria, Australia

"Craig Blomberg's highly acclaimed volume The Historical Reliability of the Gospels is now matched by an equally persuasive and compelling treatment of John's Gospel. . . . This is an exceedingly valuable book that will serve students and academics alike."

Gary M. Burge, professor of New Testament, Wheaton College Graduate School



List of Abbreviations

Part One: Introductory Considerations
Date and Provenance
John's Omissions
Interlocking Between John and the Synoptics
The Outlines of the Four Gospels
Other Indications of Historicity
Literary Genre
John's Unique Audience and Purposes
The Burden of Proof and the Criteria of Authenticity
The Way Forward

Part Two: Commentary
Prologue (1:1-18)
The Baptist's Testimony (1:19-34)
The First Followers of Jesus (1:35-51)
Water into Wine (2:1-11)
Clearing the Temple (2:12-25)
Jesus and Nicodemus (3:1-21)
The Baptist Gives Way to Jesus (3:22-36)
Jesus and the Samaritan Woman (4:1-42)
Healing an Official's Son (4:43-54)
Healing an Invalid by the Bethesda Pool (5:1-18)
The son's Testimony (5:19-47)
Feeding the Five Thousand (6:1-15)
Walking on Water (6:16-21)
The Bread of Life Discourse (6:22-59)
A Turning Point in Jesus' Ministry (6:60-71)
Jesus Leaves for the Tabernacles Festival (7:1-13)
Jesus Begins Teaching at Tabernacles (7:14-36)
The Living Water (7:37-52)
The Woman Caught in Adultery (7:53-8:11)
The Light of the World (8:12-30)
Jesus as the 'I Am' (8:31-59)
Healing the Man Born Blind (9:1-12)
The Aftermath of the Miracle (9:13-41)
The Good Shepherd (10:1-21)
The Feast of Dedication (10:22-42)
The Resurrection of Lazarus (11:1-44)
Plotting to Kill Jesus (11:45-57)
Mary of Bethany Anoints Jesus (12:1-11)
The 'Atriumphal Entry' (12:12-19)
Jesus' Death and Ministry to the Greeks (12:20-36)
Summaries of Jesus' Ministry (12:37-50)
The Footwashing (13:1-20)
Betrayal and Denial Predicted (13:21-38)
'Do Not Let your Hearts Be Troubled' (14:1-14)
The Promise of the Paraclete (14:15-31)
The Vine and the Branches (15:1-17)
Future Hatred for the Disciples (15:18-16:4)
Further Encouragement (16:5-33)
Jesus' 'High-Priestly' Prayer (17:1-26)
Jesus' Arrest (18:1-14)
Initial Interrogations of Peter and Jesus (18:15-27)
Jesus and Pilate (18:28-19:16)
The Crucifixion (19:17-30)
Confirmation of Death and Burial (19:31-42)
Resurrection and Appearance to Mary Magdalene (20:1-18)
Jesus Appears to the Eleven (20:19-29)
The Purpose of the Gospel (20:30-31)
Fishing in Galilee (21:1-14)
The Future of Peter and John (21:15-23)
Final Testimony (21:24-25)

Summary of Findings
Implications of These Results




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Craig L. Blomberg

Craig L. Blomberg (PhD, Aberdeen) is Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary in Denver, Colorado. His books include Interpreting the Parables, Neither Poverty nor Riches, Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey, The Historical Reliability of John's Gospel, commentaries on Matthew and 1 Corinthians, Making Sense of the New Testament: 3 Crucial Questions and Preaching the Parables.