Just today I finished up my work on an exciting new Cascade Companion, Reading John by Christopher W. Skinner. What struck me most about Skinner’s book was his evident care for students, not just the ones in the classes he teaches, but all students of the Gospel of John. Skinner writes in order for his readers to learn. He has no axe to grind. He doesn’t write to build himself up. He doesn’t talk above his audience. He writes like a good teacher. And for that reason, Reading John is an excellent guide to the Gospel of John. It is short, accessible, learned, well-organized, and, if I do say so myself, quite attractive.
Like a good teacher, Skinner does not simply tell his readers how to think or give them all the answers to the questions still surrounding the Fourth Gospel. Instead he gives them the tools to become “more perceptive readers.” Here’s a glimpse of the Table of Contents:
- Reading John: Where to Start?
- John’s Prologue: The Interpretive Key for Reading the Gospel of John
- A Tale of Two Stories: John’s Two-Level Drama
- John, Jesus, and Judaism: Is the Gospel of John Jewish and Anti-Jewish at the Same Time? (Or, Is the Gospel of John Schizophrenic?)
- An Alien Tongue: The Foreign Language of the Johannine Jesus
- John’s Characters and the Rhetoric of Misunderstanding
- Putting the Pieces Together: Reading John 3:1–21
- Postscript: Reading John Theologically?
Alan Culpepper says this about Reading John:
“Studying or teaching John? Reading John takes anyone interested in learning to read the Gospel of John and leads them step by step on a delightful journey into its strange and wonderful landscape, with the result that each chapter builds reading competence. Skinner is impressive as a teacher and guide, equally at home in the ancient world, the Gospel of John, and twenty-first-century culture, and he has a keen ear for the nuances of each. This guide is ideal for Bible study groups and college classes.”
And Paul Anderson writes:
“In this fresh introduction to John, Christopher Skinner treats readers of John to some of the most valuable of recent approaches to the Fourth Gospel clearly and succinctly. Embracing the narrative through the lens of the Prologue, appreciating the sketching of characters, understanding misunderstandings, and seeing John as a two-level drama afford new insights that would otherwise be lost. Here we see John’s theological, historical, and literary riddles addressed in helpful and compelling ways; Skinner’s readers will not be disappointed!”
Another reason I am excited about this book is that it is one of the first in our new-look Cascade Companions series. The companions have always been some of our most popular titles, but in the past couple of years, as other areas of our publishing company have grown, Cascade Companions have been less frequent. Now, with the good work of our acquisitions editors, most especially Christian Amondson, we have enlivened the series with a new look and a full slate of forthcoming titles. Reading John joins Hannah Hunt’s A Guide to St. Symeon the New Theologian as the first two in the Cascade Companions reboot.
Keep an eye out for volumes by Rustin E. Brian on Jacob Arminius, Anthony Bash on Forgiveness, Jack R. Lundbom on Jeremiah, Everett Ferguson on The Rule of Faith, and more!