Teaching and researching the Gospel of John for thirty years has led author Mary L. Coloe to an awareness of the importance of the wisdom literature to make sense of Johannine theology, language, and symbolism: in the prologue, with Nicodemus, in the Bread of Life discourse, with Mary and Lazarus, and in the culminating “Hour.” She also shows how the late Second Temple theology expressed in the books of Sirach and Wisdom, considered deuterocanonical and omitted from some Bible editions, are essential intertexts. Only the book of Wisdom speaks of “the reign of God” (Wis 10:10), “eternity life” (Wis 5:15), and the ambrosia maintaining angelic life (Wis 19:21)—all concepts found in John’s Gospel.
While the Gospel explicitly states the Logos was enfleshed in Jesus, this is also true of Sophia. Coloe makes the case that Jesus’s words and deeds embody Sophia throughout the narrative. At the beginning of each chapter Coloe provides text from the later wisdom books that resonate with the Gospel passage, drawing Sophia out of the shadows.
Mary L. Coloe, PBVM, is professor of New Testament at Yarra Theological Union, a college of the University of Divinity in Melbourne. Mary taught for over twenty years at Australian Catholic University and also at Boston College, the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, and in Jerusalem. Mary has many academic publications on the Gospel of John, as well as books to help parents and teachers, such as A Friendly Guide to John, The Two Hands of God, and A Friendly Guide to the Birth of Jesus. Mary has also written an introduction to the Johannine literature for the new revised edition of the Jerome Biblical Commentary.
"Lucid, balanced, and insightful, Coloe introduces students of the New Testament to both the Gospel of John, which draws heavily on wisdom tradition, and the mature feminist criticism to which the Wisdom Commentary series is devoted. Leading feminist scholars join the conversation with Coloe in notes and short essays. This volume will serve admirably in a wide variety of contexts, as readers will delight in its insights into John, the fresh perspectives of this commentary series, and its innovative format."
R. Alan Culpepper, Dean and Professor of New Testament Emeritus, McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University
“This is a perceptive and sensitive reading of the first ten chapters of the Fourth Gospel written by a widely-published Johannine scholar. It is full of literary and theological insights into the text, as well as insight into the relevant background issues. It is particularly appropriate for the reader wishing to explore feminist readings of the Bible, but also offers an interpretation that will both nourish and challenge all readers. In Coloe’s hands, the focus on Wisdom-Sophia provides a rich resource for understanding John’s meaning in new ways and new contexts.”
Dorothy A. Lee, Trinity College, University of Divinity, Australia
“This first full-scale feminist commentary on John is at the same time irritating and inspiring. Whereas the dominance of Wisdom language may irritate many and trigger fresh reflections about various aspects of the story, Coloe’s thoughtful reflections certainly inspire readers' new perceptions."
Jörg Frey, University of Zurich, Switzerland
"With the publication, now underway, of the Wisdom Commentary on the Bible edited by Barbara Reid, New Testament scholarship has probably passed a definitive milestone. Feminist criticism is no longer a ‘niche specialty’ appending to mainline commentary some ideologically critical comments from a feminist perspective. Mary Coloe’s volume on John 1-10 makes this abundantly clear. Throughout the commentary, Coloe integrates seamlessly into a thorough-going, multi-faceted, over-arching feminist interpretation of the Johannine text several complementary and supportive, as well as sometimes challenging, linguistic, exegetical, historical, literary, sociological, and other forms of traditional criticism. This volume is extraordinarily comprehensive, in terms of content and methodology, and demonstrates the originality and fruitfulness of the ideologically critical approach. One would have no hesitations about making it the ‘basic commentary’ in a course on John with suggestions for collateral reading from the major traditional resources. Traditional scholarship is utilized, but deepened, illuminated, challenged, occasionally questioned, but not accorded precedence over the feminist critical approach. This feminist commentary is a major, original contribution to Johannine scholarship. Volume II, devoted to John 11-21, is to be eagerly awaited.”
Sandra M. Schneiders, IHM, Santa Clara University