Southeastern scholar writes book on John’s theology

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by Jason Hall

Andreas Köstenberger, a professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, has written an important new book on the theology of John’s New Testament writings.

The book, A Theology of John’s Gospel and Letters, is the first comprehensive treatment of the topic by an evangelical scholar. The book is also the first in a new series by its publisher, Zondervan, called the Biblical Theology of the New Testament series.

“I’ve studied John’s Gospel closely for almost two decades, and every time I read John’s Gospel I learn new things about God, Christ, and myself,” said Köstenberger, who also serves as the Ph.D. program director at Southeastern.

Köstenberger said that while the approximately 650-page work will be used in many academic settings, it is also intended to be helpful for pastors who are preaching through John’s writings.

“My favorite part to write was the middle section where I spend close to 100 pages walking through the whole Gospel (and the Letters) section by section,” Köstenberger remarked. “I’ve heard from several pastors and serious students of the Bible who said that they found this survey very useful because it looks at the broad theological themes in the Gospel—Christology, the signs, faith vs. unbelief, election and predestination, and so on. This way, our preaching can be theological preaching, looking at the individual units in light of the big picture, rather than merely taking the text unit by unit.”

Köstenberger has a rich history writing on John’s Gospel. He has written or contributed to three different commentaries on the Gospel including the volume in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series.

“(This book) does culminate years of research and writing on John’s Gospel,” he said. “Writing the Johannine theology was a wonderful opportunity to integrate all of this research and put it all together in a (hopefully) coherent fashion.”

While there are a number of works written about the theology of Paul’s works, there has been a lack of resources on John’s writings. Köstenberger said John’s theology has primarily been studied by critical scholars, until recently.

“I think part of the problem is that many scholars working in Johannine studies are non-evangelicals who do not share our high view of Scripture,” he said.“They don’t believe the Gospel was written by the apostle John, but instead credit authorship to a supposed ‘Johannine community’ who compiled the Gospel based on some of John’s reminiscences (at best).”

This work, in contrast, upholds the integrity of John’s writings as the apostle’s work, and interprets them accordingly. This will be true of other volumes in the series as well, of which Köstenberger is the editor. Volumes will be coming in the next few years on the theology of Matthew, Luke and Acts, Paul, and others.
A Theology of John’s Gospel and Letters is available now in bookstores and online.

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