CHARLES DAVID ISBELL
Few Words From the Author/Publisher:
This book is written for readers of the Gospel of John who are troubled by its incendiary language aimed at the Jews, by historical inaccuracies in the text, by the differences between John and the other canonical gospels (Mark, Matthew, Luke), or by various other kinds of textual complexities it presents. The eleven essays in the following chapters are my attempt to grapple with actual questions posed to me over a period of more than forty years by Jewish colleagues, synagogue congregants, lecture audiences, and university students who found the Gospel of John to be both puzzling and uncomfortable. Broadly speaking, they are designed to engage thoughtful readers from every religious background, to encourage their questions, and to suggest plausible answers to the questions raised by problems in the text of John. Because there is no central authority to broadcast theJewish position and because of their commitment to the idea that “iron sharpens iron” (Prov 27:17), other Jewish scholars may offer competing answers to the issues addressed here. Christian scholars may choose different questions and find answers leading down an alternate path. Individual readers of all faiths should articulate their own questions and frame their own responses. My answers are intended to assist in their efforts and to encourage the kind of honest engagement with the gospel text that produces a clearer understanding of John’s true worth in defining Christianity for the world.
Charles David Isbell holds four university degrees, including the Ph.D. from Brandeis University. During his fifty-year career at the University of Massachusetts, the Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit, and Louisiana State University, Dr. Isbell has taught Hebrew (the language of the Bible), Greek (the language of the New Testament), Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke), Latin, Arabic, and Akkadian; Bible history, literature, and theology; rabbinic thought; and the history of anti-Semitism. He has published more than 250 journal and encyclopedia articles and ten previous books, including How Jews and Christians Interpret Their Sacred Texts (Resource Publications) in 2014.