The Gospel and Letters of John. By Urban C. von Wahlde. 3 vols. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010. ISBNs: 978-0-8028-0991-9, 978-0-8028-2217-8, 978-0-8028-2218-5. lii and 705, xvii and 929, xii and 441 pages. Paper. $60 each.
Over three volumes, von Wahlde argues for a complex composition scenario for John's gospel and the three letters. He presents his case broadly in the first volume and then in detail in the commentary on John's gospel (vol 2) and the Johannine Letters (vol 3). He presents a detailed case that John's gospel developed through three editions with the three letters written between the second and third edition.
The first edition (c. 55-65 CE) was a complete narrative of Jesus' ministry that preserves historically accurate traditions not Found elsewhere (e.g., the Wedding at Cana). The second edition (c. 60-65 CE) responded to conflict with fellow Jews in the synagogue and focused on claims about Jesus, the Son of God who announces the eschatological outpouring of God's Spirit.
The three Johannine Letters (c. 65-70) were written by the Elder (who is the Beloved Disciple in von Wahlde's analysis) following the second edition in response to an internal crisis. The Elder's opponents misinterpreted the second edition to overemphasize the role of Jesus' baptism over Jesus' death and crucifixion. By receiving the Spirit in baptism, opponents claimed the believer becomes like Jesus, cannot sin, knows God without any mediator and has no need for ethical direction. Within an apocalyptic framework, the Elder balanced the role of Jesus and the Spirit and presented the need for the believer to abide in Jesus spiritually...