This is a continuation of my review of Essays on John and Hebrews by Harold Attridge and published by Mohr Siebeck. As suggested by the title, this book is a collection of essays on these two books Biblical books.
In terms of the division of the contents, the essays are not quite evenly split between John and Hebrews. The main body of the text is right around 350 pages, with around 200 devoted the Gospel of John and around 150 devoted to the Epistle to the Hebrews. This is somewhat reflective of the length of John as compared with Hebrews.
Each of the essays in this volume has appeared elsewhere. This may make the text less valuable for those who may only want to read one or two of the essays. They might be able to xerox a hard copy or get electronic versions through a library. Yet for those who rely heavily on Attridge’s work this text puts many of his important essays in one place.
The essays range from fairly general introductory matters to fairly specialized matters. For example, the authorship of the gospel of John is the focus of one of the essays. For someone like myself, who, either in the context of the university or even in the context of a church parish, sometimes has to give general introductions to Biblical books, essays like this one should be very helpful. I have had the opportunity to read through that essay, so far, and Attridge appears to summarize much of the important literature. As an example of a more specialized essay, Attridge looks at matters like the relationship between logos in the Gospel of John and in Philo. This essay and ones like it may or may not prove useful to me in the contexts in which I teach, as most of the people that I deal with may not want to delve quite so deeply.
With this said, this book could prove helpful for the generalist and the specialist alike. To conclude, I’m also providing the publisher’s description below:
Harold W. Attridge has engaged in the interpretation of two of the most intriguing literary products of early Christianity, the Gospel according to John and the Epistle to the Hebrews. His essays explore the literary and cultural traditions at work in the text and its imaginative rhetoric aiming to deepen faith in Christ by giving new meaning to his death and exaltation. His essays on John focus on the literary artistry of the final version of the gospel, its playful approach to literary genres, its engaging rhetoric, its delight in visual imagery. He situates that literary analysis of both works within the context of the history of religion and culture in the first century, with careful attention to both Jewish and Greco-Roman worlds. Several essays, focusing on the phenomena connected with “Gnosticism”, extend that religio-historical horizon into the life of the early Church and contribute to the understanding of the reception of these two early Christian masterpieces.