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.
Craig L. Blomberg (Ph.D., Aberdeen) is Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary. His books include Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels and Making Sense of the New Testament: Three Crucial Questions.