D. A. Carson. The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: An Evangelical Exposition of John 14-17. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2018. 242 pp. $13.89.
As a pastor, I have taught through the Gospel According to John at least twice, and of course have gone back to the text many times. Whenever I study this book, I eagerly refer back to D. A. Carson’s commentary in the Pillar set. So I am a fan. And thus I am a fan of this shorter work by Carson aimed at helping anyone in the church body to gain a greater understanding of John 14-17.
Carson is a brilliant writer. He can move from faithful exegesis and examination of Greek on the one hand to citing the lyrics of sweet old hymns on the next. He can go from heavy argument on more difficult verses on the one hand to talking us through what it means that Jesus calls us his friends on the next. Carson knows how to be the scholar and he knows how to right as a fellow believer with all the rest of us.
Carson’s work on the farewell discourse feels much like his commentaries, though the heavier lifting is not there. Unlike a scholarly commentary, when Carson runs across a debated point in the text in this work, he will not offer 4 or 5 alternative views before making his argument for his preference. Instead, he simply gives us the argument he believes is correct. This is no weakness to this book. Rather, it is a product of the purpose of the text. Carson is writing here for pastors and laypersons who want to go deeper in their study but who do not want to purchase a $50 commentary on the subject. He wants to be readable and understandable without bogging people down in minutia. And Carson, as always, does an excellent job of finding the balance between heavy scholarship and readability.
If you would like a solid book to help you to do an in-depth Bible study with other believers on the farewell discourse of Jesus, this would be a great tool for you. No, it is not a fluffy work. No, it does not offer you study questions and outlines for the study. This book simply takes you through the text, shows you its meaning, and draws for you helpful application. If you are interested in such things, this book is a good one.
** I received a free copy of this work from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.