This second installment in the highly anticipated The Lightfoot Legacy Set—The Gospel of St. John: A Newly Discovered Commentary—brings together previously unpublished and important Lightfoot material on the Fourth Gospel. This is an exciting and refreshing moment in history for Johannine scholars and Lightfoot enthusiasts alike.
Similar to the previous volume, the commentary opens with a brief recounting of the story behind the discovery and an editors’ introduction to the person of Lightfoot as a biblical commentator. If the reader is unfamiliar with Lightfoot, which would be hard to believe, this is an appropriate starting point. The commentary itself covers John 1-12, and includes various topical excursuses and appendices.
The competency of Lightfoot’s understanding of the original languages is astounding, and his ability to quickly draw upon and interact with textual information is simply ahead of his time. Moreover, the comprehensive scope of his literary understanding and interaction therein is amazing. For example, as he interacts with John 8:5, Lightfoot makes mention of a possible Qur’anic parallel, and also makes mention of Mohammed’s utilization of the Apocryphal Gospels (p. 172).
The introduction and two appendices (Appendix A & B) that address the authenticity and genuineness of the Fourth Gospel should prove to be worth the price of the book alone. When one considers the historical landscape of biblical scholarship in the 19th century, specifically concerning the Gospel of John, Lightfoot’s proclamation was quite unique. Remember, this was prior to the discovery of P52 and the various challenges that important finding had upon biblical scholarship.
Furthermore, as testimony of the usefulness of Lightfoot for today, the editors have included an essay by Martin Hengel (originally presented at Durham University in 1989, titled, Bishop Lightfoot and the Tübingen School on the Gospel of John and the Second Century) as “Appendix C: Lightfoot and German Scholarship on John’s Gospel.” It is here that Hengel concludes in light of the historical milieu, “Joseph Barber Lightfoot, historian and theologian, Christian and bishop, can still become our tutor today” (p. 358).
The Gospel of St. John: A Newly Discovered Commentary is an exciting window into the mind of one of the most brilliant biblical commentators of the past two centuries. Readers of all backgrounds and interests will benefit greatly from the wisdom and judicious historical and exegetical care of J. B. Lightfoot. This was true for his previously published work, and evidently, it remains true for these newly discovered ones as well. This is an important publication that I would not want to be without, and thus it comes highly recommended.
I received a review copy of this book in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.