Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
CTSJ 6:1 (January 2000) p. 63
The Epistles of John: Walking in the Light of God’s Love, by Zane C. Hodges, The Grace New Testament Commentary, (Irving, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 1999). 312 pages. Hardback, $17.95. Reviewed by John Niemela, Professor of Greek and Hebrew at Chafer Theological Seminary.
Scholars often characterize John’s epistles as exhibiting simplicity of Greek, but profundity of thought. Though it sounds catchy, what do they mean? Disjointed preaching from 1 John may lead a congregation to complain, “Although the Greek may be simple, the thought is profoundly complex.” Sound exposition (as in this commentary) can correct this into “The Greek is simple and the thought is profoundly simple.” This commentary combines a popular, easy-reading style with academic rigor.
Zane Hodges is eminently qualified to write this commentary. He taught these epistles many times in his twenty-seven years as a Greek professor, and contributed the sections on the Johannine epistles to Dallas Seminary’s Bible Knowledge Commentary. This book evidences an intimate knowledge of John’s writings, enabling the author to offer insightful comments on issues that many others avoid or mishandle.
For example, commentaries often claim that no argument progresses systematically through 1 John.1 Consequently, if the apostle John really has a cogent argument to make, any
CTSJ 6:1 (January 2000) p. 64
commentary that (1) concludes otherwise or (2) replaces his outline errs in its understanding. Could this be why expositors often muddle the profound simplicity of John’s epistle? Hodges looks beyond the nebulous associations that commentators promote to justify their imposed patchwork-quilt outlines and demonstrates that John distinguishes his introduction, body, and conclusion through rhetorical features common to ancient writers.2 Once John’s own structure and theme are evident, only then does the contribution of each paragraph become evident. Having immersed himself in John’s writings for years, Hodges is uniquely prepared to conclude:
The opinion so often stated in the past, that John lacks clear development and structure in his first epistle, turns out, upon careful examination, to be unfounded .... I have no hesitation in saying that the author of First John was a man whose simplicity of language in no way indicates that his concepts and thought structure were simplistic. On the contrary, no book of the New Testament-not even Romans-has been structured with more care than the Epistle of First John.3
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