Ever read a book that should have been longer? Except, then you wonder if, had it been longer, it would have been as good?
That’s how I feel about I AM…Exploring the “I am” saying of John’s Gospel by Iain D. Campbell. Weighing in at only 120 pages, this volume does not belabor any of the points within. Instead, Campbell comes right to the point on the seven usages of “I AM” by Jesus as reported in the Gospel of John.
In a short introduction, Campbell explains the purpose of the book. He expresses why the “I am” statements of Jesus stand out, citing the Old Testament usage of the phrase in God’s revelation at the Burning Bush. The introduction to I AM… then explains that the Gospel of John uses a specific word pattern in Greek to say those words.
This discussion lacks two things that would add value: first, it lacks the actual Greek terminology. While simplifying the explanation to “what could be said with one word is said with two” may provide clarity, to extend and show the actual Greek would not have made the point any less clear. Second, an acknowledgement that Jesus likely spoke in Aramaic rather than Greek would have been appropriate. It would only be necessary to state that, whether Jesus spoke in a different language or not, inspired Scripture records the words in Greek and so it is on Greek the book is based.
However, those are minor quibbles from a person living neck-deep in New Testament studies right now. Overall, the book reads like seven introduction lectures that are perfect to set up discussions in small groups. The discussion questions that follow each chapter are helpful at probing into the ideas expressed.
Admittedly, I AM… is not really bursting with new information. Many of Campbell’s points can be found in various commentaries and studies on the Gospel of John. However, having just these sayings extracted and put in an easy-to-read bundle is well worth it.
Note: I received a free copy of this book from Cross Focused Media in exchange for the review.