My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Once in a great while I stumble across a book that deserves 6 out of 5 stars, and this one is it. (The last one like it was "The Tabernacle Pre-figured" by L. Michael Morales.) What makes this book so great are a number of factors. For starters, it's a Sheffield/T&T Clark/Bloombury Press book, aka highly academic, but it's also highly readable. The author doesn't blast page after page with complicated jargon or references to sources that aren't readily accessible; instead he works a steady pace, page after page, introducing the reader to the idea of the main thesis, using scripture and contemporary rabbinical sources.
Also, what he inserts at a steady pace is golden. Because the thesis of the book is that Jesus fulfills Old Covenant temple typology, and that John's Gospel was written convey that very clear message, he begins with a section discussing the significance of the Gospel being written shortly after the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 A.D., and how Jews responded to the destruction of that Temple. In contrast with that, John's Gospel is set up to teach that destruction as a necessary consequence of covenant infidelity; nevertheless hope is offered in the new Temple, the temple of Jesus' Body, which also was destroyed, but also raised to greater glory.
Theologically, this book is fascinating. One of my favorite aspects of the book is how the author tries to clarify some of the goofy looking parts of John's gospel. For example, chapter one has this really goofy [at least I think so], out of place conversation between Jesus and Nathaniel (John 1:43-51). Nothing seems to flow together well. He insults Nazareth for no apparent reason, gets complimented by Jesus, is seen sitting under a fig tree, and then suddenly comes to believe Jesus is "The Son of God"! The narrative seems choppy and forced, and the reader is left wondering if it's supposed to be as cryptic as it appears. However, its choppy feel is not so choppy to me anymore after reading Allen Kerr's explanation of it's connection with the surrounding narrative (and it's temple typology). Indeed, Kerr's contribution to the exegesis of the first five chapters of John's gospel are worth the price of the book. (And this book is pretty pricey!). Thankfully Kerr surveys much more than just the first five chapters.
Kerr also contributes significantly to the conversation about temple festivals and priestly activity in John's gospel. However, Kerr remains focused on how John seems to have used those themes in connection with temple typology. In this area, one observation that stood out to me was Kerr's explanation of Jesus' footwashing, and how many factors within that narrative section (and yes, he deals with literary structure!) allude to Jesus' footwashing rite as a priestly rite of preparation for entering the temple.
Bottom line: read this book if you're interested in John's gospel and temple typology. You won't be disappointed.
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