Review: I, II, & III John (NTL)

3791899Judith M. Lieu is Lady Margaret’s Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge in England. Lieu is the current President of the Society of New Testament Studies, as well as the University Gender Equality Champion with special responsibility for Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Lieu is the author of numerous books and the Editor of the journal of New Testament Studies.

I, II, & III John: A Commentary is a classic example of the New Testament Library series. The commentary begins with an introduction that covers all three Johannine Epistles and tackles the standard introductory matters with clarity. Lieu is well aligned with the current critical consensus concerning the date and authorship of the epistles, and thus concludes no compositional relationship with the author of the Fourth Gospel.

The commentary proper stands in the top rank of critical commentaries on the Johannine Epistles. Lieu is judicious in her interaction with the text and appears to be well-acquainted with the peripheral issues. Two features deserve mention here. First and foremost, like the other volumes in the NTL series, Lieu provides the reader with an original translation and textual notes. I have stated this many times before and I will state it again, I have continually found this to be one of the most helpful features of the NTL series, and Lieu does not disappoint. Second, the exegetical handling of the text is brief, pointed, and full (336 pp.). Lieu demonstrates a keen awareness of the theological issues and firmly ground them in the text of the Johannine epistles. That said, more discussion surrounding textual issues would have been welcomed.

There is no shortage in sight when it comes to choosing a commentary on the Johannine Epistles, and I, II, & III John: A Commentary by Judith M. Lieu is an option well worth discovering. Lieu is both clear and to-the-point in her exegesis, and her presentation is helpfully critical in an approach will compliment other available options. While I don’t see this volume superseding Marshall (1978), Smalley (1984), or Kruse (2000) in usefulness, I do see it being positioned as one of the better, more recent examinations of the Johannine Epistles from a critical perspective. It comes highly recommended!

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