Xlibris Publishing returns with Richard Ferguson, author of A Reading of John.
Being an author can easily be quite a lonely situation. You have something to say, but it is not always easy to get it heard. I am immensely grateful to Xlibris for making it possible for A Reading of John to get out there – and in particular to help people, who are at present baffled by this profound but difficult Gospel, to be enriched and inspired by the truth the author of the Gospel sets before us.
I am also grateful to my friends who helped me see what I had written in a new light, and prompted me to make changes which make the final product so much more reader-friendly. Writing is about communicating, so what is written needs to be shaped by who the intended audience is, and what their needs are. Strangely enough, that has been one of the insights which has allowed me to approach each of the Gospels, and understand it in a new way which is true to that Gospel, and a key ingredient in any understanding of each Gospel.
This has shaped the way I have presented John’s Gospel. Usually, books on the Gospels begin with an introduction – usually of some length – which sets out who wrote it and the commentator’s understanding of its different features. All too often, if readers are told to expect something, they find it very difficult not to be swept along by what they have been told is the case. To me, that puts the cart before the horse! So, ‘A Reading of John’ has the briefest of introductions, followed by the text of the Gospel itself in a new translation. It is, after all, the Gospel itself which is all important.
Then, when the reader has had the opportunity to absorb the Gospel itself – with all its unique features – a chapter follows which picks up the decisions which author of the Gospel must have made, and what it tells us about his message and his purpose. Then, and only then, do we turn to exegesis. This way, I hope, I am putting the Gospel first and allowing it to speak. The result is a very different book from any I have come across, but it lays the Gospel of John open to everyone, not just theologians, and enables each of us to engage with the truth, as it is in Christ. The shape of the book enables each of us to encounter that truth both with our understanding and our inner spirit.
But life goes on, and understanding grows. Those who have read this blog will see a gap: what about Luke? True, there is a whole chapter on Luke’s Gospel in Listen to the Gospels. But that Gospel too deserves individual and careful attention. My first task will be to make my own translation of Luke from the Greek; maybe I shall also have to translate Acts. It will take six months – maybe longer as, at 77, I work more slowly. Then we shall see what he has taught me.
For myself in retirement, writing has been about sharing what has been shown to me – sharing truth as far as I see it. Throughout this whole process there has been discovery after discovery, and the purpose of writing is to share what I have been shown so that other lives are lit up. I am grateful for all the help I have received along the way; I am acutely aware that there is more to discover, but I hope that what I have written will help others to journey on in hope.
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