Where are we to locate the Gospel of John within the complex history of early Christian thought and life? Can we discern, for example, some of the patterns of christological confession which immediately preceded the Evangelist's own labors, and are we thus able to see more clearly where John's remarkable and majestic views of Christ fit into the early history of christology? What kind of community was the church in which John lived and worked? Can we identify some of the formative events in its life, and piece together at least a partial picture of the community's history, so as to see how it was related both to the synagogue and to other Christian groups of its time?
If we are to read and interpret the Gospel of John in its own setting, questions of this sort must be clearly posed, and they must be rigorously discussed on the basis of the text of the Gospel itself. The task is both crucial and demanding, and the present volume makes an important contribution to it by focusing on the issues of christology and ecclesiology. If other Johannine interpreters find here an angle of vision which is truly constructive for their own labors, the purpose of the volume will be fulfilled.