Why is the account of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel so very different from the one we find in the Synoptic Gospels? Professor Hanson believes that at least part of the answer can be found in the considerable dependence of John's narrative on the Old Testament. The first thirteen chapters of this book are devoted to careful examination of the language of the Gospel in this light. Again and again this shows that passages are heavily influenced by the Old Testament, mostly from the Septuagint but also sometimes by the targumic tradition. This leads to the conclusion that John was writing what might be called a 'prophetic gospel' rather than an historical account of Jesus' life. He saw many passages in what he regarded as scripture as containing prophecies which must have been fulfilled in the life and teaching of Jesus, despite having no historical basis. Although this is not to say that John freely invented speeches and episodes as he chose, John thus felt justified in departing widely from the early tradition about Jesus.
Professor Hanson contends that Johannine scholarship has suffered too much from the conviction that scholars must defend the substantially historical nature of the Fourth Gospel. The study ends with a consideration of John's christology and of how the Church today should regard the Fourth Gospel. Thought-provoking and supremely scholarly, Hanson writes with such clarity and elegance that all students of the Gospel will find his study accessible.
Anthony Hanson was Professor of Theology at the University of Hull until his retirement in 1982.