Book Review: St. John’s Gospel Study Guide and Commentary

Book Review: The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible The Gospel According to Saint John
With Introduction, Commentary, and Notes by Dr. Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch and with Study Questions by Dennis Walters and St. John’s Gospel A Bible Study Guide and Commentary Author: Stephen K. Ray

Publishers : Ignatius PressAugustine Institute

For over four years I have been part of a men’s group that meets once a month to discuss a variety of Catholic topics. When the group originally formed, we were reading books to inspire men to grow in their Catholic faith and live the virtues. As time has passed, we progressed into studying the bible and just finished the last of the four Gospels The Gospel According to Saint John. Our Bible study has been guided by the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible as noted above as they have a bible study on each of the four gospels with in depth notes, word study, and questions that focus on better understanding the scripture, as well as, additional questions to challenge you to think about the impact of the gospels in your personal life. To say the content is thorough and thought provoking is an understatement.

One of my weaknesses is that I enjoy having books around the house and my habit is to buy books intending/hoping to read them some day. Some years ago I purchased Steve Ray’s book as noted above and it has sat simmering on my nightstand for just the right time. Full disclosure, I have picked it up a few times to skim it and have even listened to a podcast interview with Steve Ray about why he wrote the book on St. John’s Gospel. Steve’s book spans around 400 pages including the introduction and concluding thoughts about The Gospel of St. John and as one can imagine the gospel is well covered with ample questions and references to help the reader understand the topic more clearly using both historical and theological perspectives.

Two Reviews at Once?

So why review both works at once? For the purpose of my men’s group I drew upon Steve Ray’s book to add further content to our discussion and if I could do it over again, I would have pulled from Steve’s book when we started at chapter 1. For some reason I did not think to utilize Mr. Ray’s book until we got to chapter 17. I am not saying Dr. Scott Hahn’s and Curtis Mitch’s study was lacking in any way, but I found using both works helped make our discussions deeper and more lively, while still allowing plenty of time for “holy detours” as our group recently coined regarding our spiritual discussions that drift a little into the weeds. Another aspect I would alter if I could do it over again was to use the “for application” questions provided by Dennis Walters in work #1 listed above more frequently. I found the “for application” questions to be very poignant and thought provoking with regard to the personal aspect of the gospel in our lives.

On the official Catholic Man Show technical read scale *** I rate these books at a level 9 as you will need extra time for study of the answers to the questions, as well as extra time for thought and reflection. Luckily in Dr. Hahn’s and Curtis Mitch’s work they provide answers to their “for understanding” questions in the notes that accompany each chapter. Not to be outdone Steve also provides plenty of questions to further challenge the reader to take a deeper dive into The Gospel of St. John. On a personal note my journey through this gospel was filled with plenty of “Oh, now I understand!” moments.

Maybe you are already part of a men’s group or maybe you are thinking about starting a men’s group. Whatever the case, each of these works or both of these works would be a good place to start. The readings can be broken down any way you prefer (for my group we usually covered 2 chapters a month, although for our last meet up we covered 3 in order to finish the gospel). Each book provides plenty of questions for discussion and points you to the answers so you are not expected to be a bible scholar. In addition, if you wanted to meet more than once a month I definitely think both books would work for that as well. So if you are ready to dive in and grow in faith and understanding pick up one or both of these works and start your journey.

Purchase from the EWTN Catalogue 

By: Kent Keithly, husband and father

***Regarding The Catholic Man Show technical read scale: A 3 out of 10 is a leisurely read that could be read in a couple of weeks, an 8 out of 10 is a more technical read which requires more time and often requires looking up definitions of words to clearly understand the author, and finally a 10/10 is an extremely technical read that requires a significant amount of time to complete the book, as well as, extra time to look up further information.

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