Book Review of A Theology of John’s Gospel and Letters

Andreas Köstenberger, A Theology of John’s Gospel and Letters

This contribution to Zondervan’s Biblical Theology of the New Testament Series is not a disappointment. Köstenberger is a breath of fresh air in the often stuffy, clinical world of academia. Rarely do such scholarly works include the kind of simple and transparent expression of personal devotion to Christ as one finds in the author’s preface. His devotion to the Lord does not end at the preface, however, but surfaces repeatedly in Köstenberger’s consistent defense of Scripture over against the theories of more liberal scholars. My brief personal correspondence with the author (I used his book as the text for Exposition of John’s Gospel and Epistles) only confirmed these impressions of him.

That’s not to say that readers will always concur with Köstenberger’s conclusions. For example, his extended argument that the seven signs in John’s gospel include Jesus’ clearing of the temple (2:14-17) but not Jesus’ resurrection (in spite of 2:18-19) is not convincing (for reasons I cannot discuss at length here!). Nevertheless,  Köstenberger’s treatment of the Johannine literature (though the volume does not include Revelation) is extensive, well thought out,  and almost obsessively organized. His 3-page Table of Contents is followed by a 15-page Detailed Table of Contents that incorporates every subsection into the outline.

Köstenberger approaches his task of interpreting John’s writings by applying a “hermeneutical triad” in which historical background, literary issues (genre and thematic vocabulary), and theological themes all interface and mutually inform. Hence, Part 1 treats the “Historical Framework” for John’s theology, helpfully exploring the theological (and psychological) significance of a post-temple-destruction date for John’s writings. Part 2, “Literary Foundations” for John’s theology, furnishes a flyover view of the literary landscape and structure of John’s writings. Parts 1 and 2 lay the groundwork for Part 3 in which he outlines the major theological themes in John’s writings. Finally, Part 4 looks at John’s theology in its canonical context.

Full of stimulating insights, sound bibliology, and penetrating analysis, Köstenberger is well worth having on your shelf. There’s nothing else on John quite like it.

  • Hardcover: 652 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan, 2009
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-0310-26986-1

Reviewed by: Layton Talbert, Ph.D., Professor of Theology in BJU Seminary.

This book is available at


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