Intended for preachers, Bible study leaders, and the informed layperson, this commentary examines the flow of the text, draws a few lines towards establishing how the Fourth Gospel contributes to biblical and systematic theology, and offers this Gospel as an evangelistic Gospel.
Hardcover, 715 pages
December 1st 1990
by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Excellent commentary on John. One of my favorites of any book. Carson is the premiere scholar on the gospels and the life of Jesus. He gives wonderful pastoral insight while crafting his study with love and diligence. He provides great overviews and exalts Christ in every chapter. He still gets rather deep with his handling of Greek and pointing out and critiquing other views on various theological stances, which may overwhelm the average reader looking for devotional material. But he brings itExcellent commentary on John. One of my favorites of any book. Carson is the premiere scholar on the gospels and the life of Jesus. He gives wonderful pastoral insight while crafting his study with love and diligence. He provides great overviews and exalts Christ in every chapter. He still gets rather deep with his handling of Greek and pointing out and critiquing other views on various theological stances, which may overwhelm the average reader looking for devotional material. But he brings it back the heart of the gospel and accurately reflects "the one whom Jesus loved" in his treatment of the text. This is a go to every time I study John. ...more
In the process of studying the writings of John I kept seeing various commentators making reference to Carson. I have a friend who is also a big fan of Carson's works so both of these things influenced me to buy this work. This book actually exceeded any expectations I had. I cannot decide what is the best work on John but it is certainly between F.F. Bruce and this one.
First I would like to say that Carson is very articulate and exact. He is not given to fanciful fits of imagination of clumsy eIn the process of studying the writings of John I kept seeing various commentators making reference to Carson. I have a friend who is also a big fan of Carson's works so both of these things influenced me to buy this work. This book actually exceeded any expectations I had. I cannot decide what is the best work on John but it is certainly between F.F. Bruce and this one.
First I would like to say that Carson is very articulate and exact. He is not given to fanciful fits of imagination of clumsy exegetical comments. He is a real scholar who approaches the topic with class and sensitivity. The book started with him giving a synopsis of past hundred and fifty years of scholarship on John. He systematically deconstructs and dismantles every objection to the authorship of the Apostle John. He does this in a cool and calm manner that takes all views into account while exposing the weaknesses of the methodology espoused by Bultmann and his school of thought. This part of the work was colossal!
Carson proceeds with the narrative with reserve and caution. He talks about a variety of views and usually shows their strengths and weaknesses pointing out the one he thought was most likely. He has mastery over New Testament Greek and his command of the language makes his ideas even more plausible. There are areas where he is unsure and he leaves those areas open with a few possibilities but usually he discusses why he favors one over another. He never resorts to belittling or running another view down but always proceeds with a cool-headed approach to theology.
This book is unique because he achieves a strong balance. For those who are well-versed in the Gospel of John they will find this book to be a great addition to their library and will no doubt acquire some things to add to what they are already know. At the same time, it is not an overwhelming work and one could hypothetically read this book without any previous background to John's works and still walk away with valuable insights into the overall theme of John's Gospel.
I would like to offer some criticism as I often do for other works but I really can't think of anything that was big enough to bring up. It is accessible, theologically sound, well argued, exhaustive, and professional all the way around. He deals with some delicate theological issues and does so without resorting to dogma like Sproul did in his work on John. Overall, this is a must for your library. I would say that this and Bruce are two of the best works out there on the subject. Carson offers great advice for young preachers who are preaching John to their people for the first time and great devotional reflections. It is a big work so be ready to labor working your way through it but it is worth it!
Reliable reference work! E.g. The Gospel of John is formally anonymous. Many scholars, such as Blomberg, Carson, Morris and Bauckham, see sufficient internal evidence to suggest that the disciple John, the son of Zebedee, is the author of the Fourth Gospel. Morris points out that the author apparently knew facts firsthand (1:14; 18:13; 19:35). Furthermore, there is also external evidence that Irenaeus, who knew Polycarp who knew John, acknowledged the same. (p68-72)
Carson suggests a date around ADReliable reference work! E.g. The Gospel of John is formally anonymous. Many scholars, such as Blomberg, Carson, Morris and Bauckham, see sufficient internal evidence to suggest that the disciple John, the son of Zebedee, is the author of the Fourth Gospel. Morris points out that the author apparently knew facts firsthand (1:14; 18:13; 19:35). Furthermore, there is also external evidence that Irenaeus, who knew Polycarp who knew John, acknowledged the same. (p68-72)
Carson suggests a date around AD 80 and certainly 21:23 would suggest the late first century. It would be fair to say that almost any date between about AD 55 and AD 95 is possible. (p82)
E.g. The TNIV rightly inserts Samaritans as the plural pronoun you states. Jesus declares that since they have missed the ongoing narrative of Israel's prophetic history they do not really know the God they worship. In sharp contrast he associates himself with the Jews when he states “we worship what we do know,” depicting the Jewish religion as the medium of God's salvific plan. Carson poignantly calls it, “the historical matrix out of which that revelation emerges,” (3:17; Ps 76:1; Rom 3:2; 9:4-5). Carson, 223-224.
Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John. Leicester/Grand Rapids: IVP/Eerdmans, 1991. ...more
I recently found myself motivated to work my way through the Gospel of John, for which Carson's thorough commentary provided a decent support. I have found my time in John's Gospel to touch on some deeply personal issues and emotions. It is interesting as I was first pushed to reread it following a discussion with an old friend, one who walked away from the Christian faith years back and who had been recently challenged himself to read through the Gospel of John. The challenge was to see if fresI recently found myself motivated to work my way through the Gospel of John, for which Carson's thorough commentary provided a decent support. I have found my time in John's Gospel to touch on some deeply personal issues and emotions. It is interesting as I was first pushed to reread it following a discussion with an old friend, one who walked away from the Christian faith years back and who had been recently challenged himself to read through the Gospel of John. The challenge was to see if fresh perspective could reignite some of those old passions. I desired to join him in that journey, albeit as a Christian. The following week the Church we started attending was just starting a series on the book of John, and a Bible study group from outside of the Church we had just joined had voted to go through the book of John, both interesting coincidences (or divine interaction?).
Carson is unapologetically evangelical and conservative and assumes John "the beloved" as the author. This might frustrate liberal readers, however Carson is a heavy weight in his position. Any liberal position should demand (at the very least) a conversation with Carson's arguments before solidifying their own conclusions. The work is scholarly, researched and concise. It is accessible to both the educated, the layperson and the common reader. Given that Carson writes with a preconceived conclusion (as any scholar would), he travels that thin line between allowing himself to face each portion of the text with an unbiased approach versus leaving the reader with the feeling that he is forcing (or demanding) the text to support his specific position. There are certainly moments where it feels like he is exasperating (and complicating) certain portions beyond what is necessary (perhaps to further solidify his position), but for the most part he leaves you with enough material and well constructed arguments that you are forced to wrestle with it before you write anything off. His commentary could have benefited though by allowing some of these more difficult sections (such as the competing sections with the synoptics regarding the flow of the last supper/prayer/crucifixion narrative) to simply remain complicated rather than explained away.
I have been wrestling with some of the distinct theology represented by strongly Calvinist/Reformed positions regarding total depravity, reprobation and particular views on the substitutionary atonement of Christ that follow. I recently confessed to my Bible study group that I have been at once greatly frustrated and challenged as I read through the Gospel of John which seems to represent these themes in what is the most theologically driven and defined Gospel. It is usually accepted that John is the latest Gospel to be formed, and yet it also stands as the most intimately connected with Jesus' ministry. Carson deals with many of these questions adequately, but any reader can walk away with the understanding that John's particular focus is unique within the four Gospels. If Mark is the earliest, there is evidence that Matthew and Luke were associated with this source (Matthew bringing a particular Jewish response and Luke bringing a researched and motivated Gentile response). Carson argues that although John's composition arrives later (and is particularly influenced as a source of encouragement for the Christian/Jewish people following the final destruction of the temple), he seems to write from outside of the grand influence of other source material. As well, some speculation leaves John with a degree of gnostic influence which could also reflect his connection with the Essene community (who were distinctly Christ centered but somewhat removed politically and highly apocolyptic). Given all of this there are certain immediate convictions that any reader needs to wrestle with. First, John's Gospel is intended to be comforting and assuring to its original audience, whoever that audience is seen to be. This motivation must speak to our struggle to read it as modern day readers as John's words can come across as somewhat harsh and exclusive in its understanding of salvation. Second, John's Gospel is exclusive because it is focused inward on the early Christian community. If John was removed from political motivation (from the force of the Roman/Greek pressure, the (assumed) misguided Jewish convictions of the Pharisees, and of and the corrupted political position of the Sadducees and the Priests), he wrote his Gospel from a visible position within the Church motivated by a period which demonstrating a fractured Jewish identity (indeed, following the destruction of the temple the entire Jewish sacrificial system was permanently altered and changed) He has a special interest in protecting the original witness of Jesus' ministry. The most direct themes are highly symbolic contrasts of light and dark, sight and blindess, along with highly symbolic visions of the light in action (water and spirit, sheep and shepherd). Interestingly the purpose of the book is clearly set out in chapter 20 (who some see as the more likely ending to the Gospel) and is defined as a record of the "signs" of Jesus (the book of John can be divided in to two parts, the first a series of 7 signs which lead up to the second part, the road to the cross and the death and resurrection as the "greatest" sign) written down so that they ("you") might believe and have life. Carson firmly understands this purpose to be evangelical in nature and describes John's letter as a direct and intentional witness to the Jews who have yet to commit Jesus and/or who are struggling to stay committed to Jesus. This would place John's motivation outwards rather than inwards. Whether this is true or not the message remains clear. Believe (or see) and have life, or reject (remain blind) and remain dead in sin.
The language of John can be confusing. Some of this confusion can be explained by recognizing that although John is presenting his final material after the destruction of the temple, his eye witness account desires to capture the more immediate sense of Jesus' ministry. What is clear (John goes out of his way to point this out) is that while the truth was hidden during Jesus' ministry it was eventually revealed after His resurrection. This causes the material to navigate between the allusion of what they do not already know during His ministry and the application of what they now know following the resurrection. John is also highly symbolic. It is unclear whether he insists on adding historical value or whether his deliberate use of elements such as specific Jewish festivals is incorporated to give his central themes more power in speaking to what one can speculate is primarily a Jewish audience. But it does create confusion when trying to connect His Gospel with the synoptics.
Some parts though are simply just confusing for a modern reader. For example, in John 3:16 God's love for the world is contrasting elsewhere with a love/hate relationship with the world. Does he understand that the Spirit came earlier than Pentecost, or was there more than one coming of the Spirit? How do we make sense of his complicated arrangements of the relationship between father, son and spirit. Are they one in the same? Do they have separate roles? What are these roles? Is John intended to be sacramental in its theology or simply practical? Where this gets more difficult is when we begin to try and make sense of the more implicit theological conceptions. "Belief" is central to this Gospel. What is confusing is how exactly it suggests one comes to believe and how one knows they believe. John brings in a conviction that everything that happens in his narrative happens under God's direct and sovereign will and control. In John 2:24 God's foreknowledge is indicated and follows this in 4:15. In 6:64 Jesus knows all who would believe and the one who betray him. In John 10:18 we hear the conviction that Jesus death (the hour) will come on his own terms, a response to Jesus' careful navigation through the general response to his public signs (Jesus withdraws so the people don't take him before his time in 6:15). Everything in this Gospel is clearly calculated for a purpose which in effect leads us to question the nature of belief, namely God's love for the world. It is easier to understand the connection between seeing, hearing, believing and doing. However it is much harder to view this through John's stark realization that God has hardened the hearts of the people so that they cannot see, and that Jesus, even at personal request to speak plainly (chapter 10) chooses to speak in ways that cannot be understood. How can he speak at once about a sort of assurance to some while at the same time negating the opportunity to believe to others? And further, in John's Gospel the explicit purpose of belief in Christ is that His commandments are revealed, and he is clear that His commandments are to love others/one another. And yet he appears on the surface to highly exclusive in exactly who God loves, especially in a Gospel which suggests God is solely interested in loving those who are on the inside?
It is hard to wrestle through John and not come face to face with the fact that the light is seemingly arbitrary in how it affects any given person. It is also somewhat defeating as as soon as someone opens their eyes to believe they are at once chastised around the next corner for not believing. The signs which remain so central seem to be presented as a sort of witness of who Jesus is, and yet over and over again we see people seeing, hearing and following only to fall victim to a hardened heart (John 12:39-40) around the next corner. That Jesus has overcome the world (16:32) is supposed to speak of peace, and yet it is presented as something so incredibly allusive and selective that even John reserves the right to ask what is "offensive" about this sort of declaration (6:60) These are the things I have struggled with and continue to struggle with. So how do I make sense of it in terms of my own faith?
First, it seems necessary to me to be able to connect the love of God with the activity of human love. Love God and love others is so readily connected that it would appear entirely out of place to suggest otherwise. We are commanded not to be selective in our love, and if it is God's love which informs our own His love must provide the ultimate example. In the sacrifice of Christ Jesus declared His love for the world, a term in its original language that stays fairly closely connected whether speaking to the evil/sinful nature or the expanse of Christ's saving work. It is difficult to distinguish between the positive and negative use despite the confusion in our relationship to this "world".
Second, what is clear is that sin is always referenced as unbelief and a lack of love for others. Our modern eyes and ears are tempted to expand this term to include a lengthy list of laws and activity in our fervor to assure we are on the inside, yet John's Gospel does not give any weight to such a description. For him sin is reflected not directly in terms of works of the law but rather the works of the Father and the Son and the Spirit. And what is this work? While the work of the Father is a bit harder to grasp, the work of the son is clearly two fold: to reveal and to give life, ultimately through the death and resurrection. This leads me away from an association with the works of the law and pushes me works in light of the saving work of Christ (a truly reformed idea). This also (in its natural flow) causes me to recognize that the direct attention of God/Christ is given to the "condition" of sin rather than the person's unique successes or failures. If John wanted us to perceive anything more than this he would have given effort to defining sin in more specific terms.
Third, it is helpful for me to recognize the appropriate use of the terms "righteousness" and "word" (or Word) which are both a part of Johanine language and understanding. Far too often the "word" is translated as simply "scripture". This is done under the assertion that the scripture is said to be "God breathed". However, this misplaces the use of the "word" in scripture, which in its capitalized form indicates Christ, and its lower case is connected directly with "spirit". In both cases it is connected with revelation, but more rightly involves the activity of the spirit in "revealing". It is hard to escape this throughout John's Gospel as the movement of the disciples is one in which they are asking, discovering and learning under the (S)spirits guidance. Is scripture a part of this revelation? In a sense yes. It is the written (and at one time spoken) testimony of the witness of the Christian relationship in the life of its characters/authors and original readers. It is the testimony of how Christ changed the lives of these early followers/believers. But we cannot miss the truth that as Christians we are given a similar charge towards this witness today. What establishes our relationship with God is our experience of spirit, a spirit that is confirmed by the witness of those in scripture as well. The (S)spirit is light and life. When we limit it to a collection of laws and dogma (words written on a page) we end up with a works based approach, or rules we are intended to follow. Likewise righteousness is often misunderstood when it is connected with works. Good Reformed fashion recognizes righteousness as "imputed". This means that when Christ died his perfect "righteousness" (works) was given to us so that in effect God sees Christ in our place (and thus saves us on His behalf). The term "righteousness" though is best understood as "right standing" rather than works. This gives it a more judicial leaning in that as Christ died and rose again He effectively placed us in the right regardless of our works. This gives the work of Christ a decidely declarative stance which fits well with John 9:4 and 5:20 (in which the work of the Son is connected with the work of the Father in the activity of bringing "light" or life to the world), and is much more personal
Why is this all so important. It remains important for me to reconcile some sense of comfort in John's words. It is difficult for me to perceive that one would write a book with evangelical intention that looks to declare our efforts to believe or to do good completely futile. This is even more defeating when I am given allusions of undefined works which are either the result of or will result in death, sickness and defeat. This would leave me helpless if I could not find a way to reconcile the truth that God/Christ loves the world and is motivated for a desire to see "all people" saved. Part of the way I reconcile the strong predestinarian slants in John is by recognizing the scope of John's view which is directly connected to Jesus coming to the cross on His terms. He is interested in this moment in history in which Jesus will die on His own terms and prophecy will be fulfilled in the coming spirit. He is looking to connect his witness of the ministry of Christ with a Jewish audience and understanding. if we read it beyond the scope that John presents we will tend to lose hope rather than gain it as even the disciples don't really believe until after the spirit has come. If we as modern readers can see (as I have argued) the message that we are asked to believe in is simply this: that Christ died so that we would be seen as righteous (or in right standing) we can find an inroad towards hope that connects us more readily with God's love for the world. But we do so recognizing that the hope for Jewish hearers of the day was found in the prophetic promise of the activity of God in Jewish history. In this sense John's intent is to show that the law cannot save, only Jesus can, and that the length he went to come to the cross on His own terms proves this.
John uses language that would have reflected a direct tension between four powerful public groups and a marginalized community, which also explains the harsh approach. These four groups were the Pharisees who laid claim to protecting the tradition of the law, the Sadducees who laid claim to the authority of the temple and high priestly roles out of political motivation, the Priests who had become puppets of Rome and the Sadducees, and lastly the mighty Roman empire and the Roman/Greco philosophical and religious polarity. John is speaking as a Jew who now understands that the works of God are not wrapped up in law, political power or personal preference. The one thing needed to unify the Church is love, and love can only be found if Christ is unified with the father. Because four of these groups are Jewish John can come across as anti Jewish at points (which he is not), but it also means that the traditional understanding of "God's chosen and elect children of Israel" is an important part of his dialogue. And yet this is precisely where he needs to balance this truth with the witness of the prophets and scripture as fulfilled in Christ which points to the the promised outpouring of the spirit (that we read of in Joel and Jeremiah) and a Gospel that reaches to all nations. Some read around this by translating all as in "all kinds" (to protect a limited Calvinist approach to particular salvation). But I find this does not fit nearly as well as "all" with the larger witness. The boundaries of God's saving work are not defined by moral works or righteous behavior (even though moral behavior remains an important study in relation to love). The boundaries of God's saving work is also not defined by entitlement. John's continued efforts to connect us with the tribes of Israel (as he does in 6:13) and the larger story of God is found in his urge to move back to the "beginning" (ch 1). We see this in chapter 4 where John makes sure to connect his Gospel back to Jacob and the field that Jacob had given to Joseph. This location was at Shechem which is the place where Moses guided his people, and the place where Joshua led his people (lining them alongside both shoulder mountains to declare the difference between blessing and curse). It is also here where the Samaritans, cast out from their own people as half breeds (seen as corrupted Jews who had mingled with foreigners during the conquest in 1Kings 16:24), decided to erect their own version of the temple that would sit high on the mountain top to show that they could still worship God. There is an interesting note regarding the development of the word Shechem (or Hashkem) which means shoulder mountain. Over time it became connected with the action of putting ones belonging on the shoulder of an ox to make a long journey. It then developed a sense of getting up early in the morning to prepare and start on ones journey, out of which it finally gained the definition "persistant/persistance. It is this allusion of persistence that Jonn gives to God's activity of grace and love in Christ and spirit. The truth that John is defending is that Jesus is the Christ and that the true spirit bears witness to this with a persistent purpose to reach the world with the message of the Gospel. That is that we have been placed in right standing through the death and resurrection of Christ. John focus is on the theological implications of Jesus' work, but we cannot miss the larger witness that speaks to the spirits continued movement. This is the message of grace and the message of love we are asked to give to one another. Love with no boundaries. Love that sees not the privileged or entitled but the heart that reflects life. This is the kind of life and light that Christ brings to the world and through which we find hope....more
Well deserving of its status as the must-read commentary on John's Gospel, which might call into question my rating. The thematic depth, scholarly breadth and linguistically technical aspects of this work make it a seminal piece for any serious work in the fourth Gospel. Carson deals with most of the debates surrounding interpretation, as well as the final form of the text, while providing detailed footnotes where one can find treatment of and engagement with all the technical works (along withWell deserving of its status as the must-read commentary on John's Gospel, which might call into question my rating. The thematic depth, scholarly breadth and linguistically technical aspects of this work make it a seminal piece for any serious work in the fourth Gospel. Carson deals with most of the debates surrounding interpretation, as well as the final form of the text, while providing detailed footnotes where one can find treatment of and engagement with all the technical works (along with many articles) that were extant at the time of publication. But, and here is where the commentary is exceptionally strong, Carson nearly always provides the reader with the way forward in thinking about the text and its meaning. The greatest weakness, in my opinion, and one of the very few, however, is that the author does not always show how a pericope or particularly difficult verse fits with the larger narrative....more
16 May 2015 I like the Pillar commentaries very much for my personal Bible study. Infinitely readable, this exegetical and expository commentary on John is full of thoughts to ponder and insights that enrich my study.
Today, I am reading about Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman, John 4. Carson gives me a greater understanding of the Samaritan's view of God as opposed to Judah's ongoing revelatory relationship with God. At the same time, I am reading 2 Kings and the fall of both kingdoms - S16 May 2015 I like the Pillar commentaries very much for my personal Bible study. Infinitely readable, this exegetical and expository commentary on John is full of thoughts to ponder and insights that enrich my study.
Today, I am reading about Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman, John 4. Carson gives me a greater understanding of the Samaritan's view of God as opposed to Judah's ongoing revelatory relationship with God. At the same time, I am reading 2 Kings and the fall of both kingdoms - Samaria and Judah, so Carson's words gave me a more "up close and personal" view of these kingdoms as I looked back to the OT readings. Food for thought. Today, though, more particularly, Carson digs into the nature of God - spirit, and he gives me this sentence: "And he has chosen to reveal himself: he has uttered his Word, his own Self-Expression." That sentence, with the descriptive phrase "Self-Expression," is worth a whole morning of meditation for me.
27 May 2015 Carson uses the language of more sophisticated learners than I, but he tells me what he means in a way that smoothly gives me an opportunity to learn. This is an example from the commentary on John 10:34-36: "... although the argument is ad hominem– i.e. it does not require Jesus to subscribe to the same literal exegesis as his opponents ... " I appreciate this effort and trust it more than I trust a more watered down explanation of the scriptures. The challenge causes me to think, and in the challenge, I engage more in my study.
Carson gives the opinions of many other commentators, sharing his pros and con's of their way of thinking in a way that seems to give me space to consider the merits of those other ways in a respectful, not derogatory, way. I have in mind another set of commentaries where the author seemed to be waging a personal battle against those with whom he disagreed. The commentaries seemed to be more about the commentator's "Look at me" stance than about the scripture text. I appreciate Carson's civility.
12 June 2015 There are many teaching moments in Carson's commentary, similar to those in a Life Application Bible.
14 Jun 2015 Certainly a commentary I will read again during further studies of John. Well worth the price!...more
This is an evangelical commentary. If you are a liberal protestant or Catholic, buyer beware. It is well done as an evangelical commentary and Carson shows himself to have mastered the scholarly material on the subject. Regarding, author, date, provenance of the Gospel, he vigorously defends the Early Church Fathers' tradition (even though it has problems internally with the text)--compare his treatment with that of Ramsey Michaels' in the evangelical New International Commentary on the New TestThis is an evangelical commentary. If you are a liberal protestant or Catholic, buyer beware. It is well done as an evangelical commentary and Carson shows himself to have mastered the scholarly material on the subject. Regarding, author, date, provenance of the Gospel, he vigorously defends the Early Church Fathers' tradition (even though it has problems internally with the text)--compare his treatment with that of Ramsey Michaels' in the evangelical New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT) series. If I were evangelical, I would probably choose the NICNT volume over this one were I buying only one commentary, however it is worth having for comparison. If I were an evangelical looking for a commentary that specifically challenges the conclusions of the standard academic commentaries: Bultmann, Schnackenburg, Dodd, and Brown, then this is the commentary for you. The introduction to the Gospel in this commentary is an extended hit piece on the standard four academic commentaries....more
I read this commentary straight through and hands down it is the best commentary I worked with through a series through the gospel. Even if I disagreed with the interpretation Carson was so clear that I knew why I disagreed with it and what exactly I was disagreeing with. However, many times Carson put it in a way that brought things together for me as I wrestled with the text. Sell your shirt and get it if you are planning on preaching through the gospel of John.
This is a fairly good read. I don't mean, grab a blanket and cuddle up next to the dog for a good sunday afternoon adventure, but for getting a good look at John, this is worth having. It's at the very least, a good starting point for an in depth study.
Excellent commentary of John's Gospel. Carson also has a helpful introduction that interacts with many of the questions about authorship, reliability, textual criticism, historical culture of the time, purpose and theological emphasis of the Gospel. Carson is orthodox, scholarly, and pastoral in his treatment of the text. His should be one of the standard commentaries you go to when studying John.
A bit dated and difficult to read, but certainly not a bad commentary on John. Carson would have benefited from more interaction with scholarship and less vague illusions that made his work difficult to walk through. It is perhaps best for pastors/laypersons as a reference text and for scholars/students dealing with Carson's views—which are certainly not groundbreaking or fresh.
At first glance, this seemed to be a really dense commentary, but once I dipped into other commentaries I found this to be an extremely useful source. One of the best commentaries on John that I had come across. Carson is very thorough in his explanations and seems to address many of the questions I had concerning this book of the Bible.
I am currently reading this book for my class on the Fourth Gospel. I think that it is the best book that I have read about John from a theological standpoint. I think that it is important to take all things into account when studying the Word (author, audience, situation, etc). Carson effectively does just that in this work.
Outstanding insights from Carson. He is also very careful to provide alternative / competing interpretations and to help guide the reader through evidences for and against. Incredibly helpful for an in-depth study of John's gospel.
Carson's work remains the best commentary on the Gospel of John. It's thorough without being overly long. The Pillar series is one of my favorites, and this is one of the more outstanding in that outstanding series.
D.A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He has been at Trinity since 1978. Carson came to Trinity from the faculty of Northwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he also served for two years as academic dean. He has served as assistant pastor and pastor and has done itinerant ministry in CanaD.A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He has been at Trinity since 1978. Carson came to Trinity from the faculty of Northwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he also served for two years as academic dean. He has served as assistant pastor and pastor and has done itinerant ministry in Canada and the United Kingdom. Carson received the Bachelor of Science in chemistry from McGill University, the Master of Divinity from Central Baptist Seminary in Toronto, and the Doctor of Philosophy in New Testament from the University of Cambridge. Carson is an active guest lecturer in academic and church settings around the world. He has written or edited about sixty books. He is a founding member and currently president of The Gospel Coalition. Carson and his wife, Joy, reside in Libertyville, Illinois. They have two adult children....more
“To have faith in the gospel message is not the same thing as responding positively to the story of Superman, who is also said to invade our turf from beyond. Although biblical faith has a major ‘subjective’ or ‘personal’ or ‘existential’ component, it depends even more on its object - on the other side of the ‘window’.”
“The relevant social barriers of first-century Palestine may not have been that strong in any case: rabbis were expected to gain a skilled trade apart from their study (thus Paul was a leather-worker), so that the stratification that divided the teacher from the manual labourer in Stoic and other circles of the hellenistic world was not a significant factor in much of Palestine.”