The project has disseminated reviews and other information about Christian books since the start of the Millennium. We regret that it is no longer possible to sustain it.
In the Beginning Was the Word
Group Studies on the Gospel of John
by Gerald West and others
Publisher:SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published:20 August 2009
The back cover states that, ‘these studies on the Gospel of John have been designed to encourage members of Bible study groups to share their interpretations of the Gospel and relate its themes to their own experiences and situations.’ Although this is undoubtedly true, and this is something of a personal preference, I have found the individual studies to be a little wordy and I wonder if asking more questions would help to tease out personal thoughts and interpretations. Therefore, these studies, like all Bible study material, need some preparatory work by the one who is leading.
The material is well thought through and presented, albeit a bit wordy, but this should not put anyone off from using it, and this is acknowledged within the Introduction. In short, one could say that they are for an established group and not one starting off.
The study is split into two distinct sections; one looking at the ‘I am’ sayings and the other at the ‘signs’. Each section is sensitively covered and in a way that, once the leader has properly prepared, opens up the themes contained therein, drawing on the experiences of the members of the group. There is richness in the diversity of the questions posed; from asking when one first heard the opening verses of chapter one to how the Eucharist brings life, both in worship and in ordinary life.
All in all, one can instantly tell that this Bible study has been created with care and a sense of wanting the participant to engage with themes found within John’s Gospel. A very useful study, but one must be mindful, as always, of how one approaches its leading.
Reviewer: David Howarth (26/03/11)