First I want to thank Philip Esler for inviting me to St Mary’s University College, Strawberry Hill, where he had recently taken up the post of Principal, for the purpose of giving the short series of lectures on which this book is based. The invitation was especially welcome because an offer to my own university, Oxford, to give the lectures there had recently been turned down.
A similar offer to Judith Lieu in Cambridge met with a similar, though very gracious answer: the lecture syllabus was already full. So I was especially grateful for Philip’s immediate response to the expression of my disappointment, while I was entertaining him to breakfast along with his wife, Patricia, one bright summer morning in my Oxford flat: “Come and give your lectures at St Mary’s, John. What’s more, I’ll pay you.”
Like many storytellers, I have begun at the end. The true beginning was an offer by my very good friends Catrin Williams and Christopher Rowland to organize a colloquium on my work at the University of Bangor. A month before this took place, in July 2010, I had returned to Oxford after a long stay in France, convinced (having recently completed a second edition of my book Understanding the Fourth Gospel ) that I had nothing left to say on the Gospel of John. But of course I was obliged to introduce the Bangor colloquium, and to write up my piece afterwards for the book that Catrin was editing. A spin-off from this work was an article on the Son of Man, published the following year in New Testament Studies . Meanwhile I had been asked to contribute something to a book celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of C. H. Dodd’s Historical Tradition in the Fourth Gospel . What with one thing and another I felt I had accumulated enough material for a short series of lectures, and possibly, after that, for another book. Hence my offer to Oxford, and hence too my gratitude at Philip Esler’s immediate response to my story of its rejection.
I must now name the five friends who have generously and unstintingly given me advice during the composition of this book. I have already mentioned Catrin Williams and Christopher Rowland, but it is to Chris especially that I owe many stimulating suggestions about how my work could be improved. Another old friend and colleague who has given me help is Robert Morgan, and I remember in particular one summer day last year in his Sandford garden, when we were hunting through a decidedly prolix book by F. C. Baur, the great nineteenth-century exegete and theologian whose work he knows so much better than I. The oldest friend of all, Robert Butterworth, has reviewed my work for many years with a clarity of perception and a refusal of fudge that only a true friend could supply. Lastly a newer and much younger friend whose opinion I have come to value, Ben Reynolds, whom I see somehow as picking up the baton of Johannine studies and carrying it for a long time to come.
To all these, and to many other friends who have helped me in different ways, I am very very grateful. And in adding a word of thanks to Fortress Press I want to record my delight and surprise when a submission made by email when the book was almost finished was greeted an hour later with a message from the editor, Neil Elliott, that included the words, “I know your work well.”
Aberle, Moriz von. “Über den Zweck des Johannesevangeliums.” Theologische Quartalschrift 42 (1861): 37–94.
Aland, Kurt. “Eine Untersuchung zu Joh I 3, 4: Über die Bedeutung eines Punktes.” Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 59 (1968): 174–209.
Ashton, John. “Bridging Ambiguities.” In John Ashton, Studying John: Approaches to the Fourth Gospel , 36–70. Oxford: Clarendon, 1994.
———. “Intimations of Apocalyptic: Looking Back and Looking Forward.” In John’s Gospel and Intimations of Apocalyptic , edited by Christopher