1, 2, 3 John

‘I must admit, I did not always appreciate the editors…’

3 October 2016

On writing 1, 2, 3 John in the Asia Bible Commentary Series

For the writers of the first volumes in the new Asia Theological Association and Langham Partnership Asia Bible Commentary Series it has been hard work hammering out the best format to reflect an Asian way of interpreting the biblical text.

In the early stages that process involved many hours of patient and persevering rewriting, re-arrangement and redoing.

Weaving together exegesis and contextual application, the editorial team decided, would yield a more holistic reading of the text.

Dr Gilbert Soo Hoo reflects on what the experience was like for him as a writer:

My journey of writing this commentary [1, 2, 3 John] began in December 2013 when I first proposed the idea to the Asia Bible Commentary Series General Editor, Dr Rico Villanueva, and he accepted conditionally. By ‘conditionally’ I mean that he asked whether I would be willing to work with a contextualization consultant when I was thinking of doing both the exposition and the contextualization myself. On other writing projects before I always worked alone. To work with another person required quite a bit of adjustment for me. It meant greater complexity of coordination.

But as the project progressed, sometimes very slowly, I understood the wisdom of collaborating with a native Asian who brought in his cultural and religious experience, particularly within a predominantly Muslim context. This was something I could not experience living in Singapore, an oasis of economic and political stability, and religious harmony.

Until I worked on this commentary, I had researched and written on the Fourth Gospel nearly exclusively and hence I did not study in any depth other Johannine literature. The opportunity to do so served as the primary motive for me to write. I believed that studying and writing on the letters of John would enrich my study and understanding of the Gospel of John and vice versa, as both writings emerged from a common tradition.

As I review this writing journey, I must admit that I did not always appreciate the editors of ATA, and later of Langham Partnership. Months would pass before I received their input, by which time I had to refresh myself on what I had written earlier. The format specifications changed a number of times, forcing me to redo what I thought was complete. Sometimes I was urged to submit something quickly, prompting me to frantically find ways of complying without causing my other responsibilities to lag. But through it all I sensed that the editors and I were pursuing the same goals and they really wanted to see this work published as much as I did.

Further, I realized that they reviewed the material from the perspective of the readers and offered careful scrutiny in order to enhance the final product. As a result, I am now confident this commentary will serve its intended purpose, in large measure due to the editors’ high standards and dedication.

Reprinted with permission from ATA News, Apr-Jun 2016.

Gilbert Soo Hoo teaches New Testament and Pastoral Ministry at Singapore Bible College. After completing his doctoral studies in the USA he served as a congregational pastor. He also wrote The Pedagogy of the Johannine Jesus (VDM Verlag, 2009) and From Faith to Faith: Blindman’s Bluff (Wipf and Stock, 2012).

1, 2, 3 John and other commentaries in the Asia Bible Commentary Series, are available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

1, 2, 3 John

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