Information on Gospel of John
Robert Kysar writes the following on the authorship of the Gospel of John (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, v. 3, pp. 919-920):
The supposition that the author was one and the same with the beloved disciple is often advanced as a means of insuring that the evangelist did witness Jesus' ministry. Two other passages are advanced as evidence of the same - 19:35 and 21:24.
There is a case to be made that John, the son of Zebedee, had already died long before the Gospel of John came to be written. It is worth noting for its own sake, even though the "beloved disciple" need not be identified with John, the son of Zebedee. In his ninth century Chronicle in the codex Coislinianus, George Hartolos says, "[John] was worth of martyrdom." Hamartolos proceeds to quote Papias to the effect that, "he [John] was killed by the Jews."
If the author of the Gospel of John were an eyewitness, presumably the author would have known that Jesus and his compatriots were permitted to enter the synagogues. But at one several points it is stated that those who acknowledged Jesus as the Christ during the life of Jesus were put out of the synagogue. This anachronism is inconceivable as the product of an eyewitness.
Kysar states that most scholars today see the historical setting of the Gospel of John in the expulsion of the community from the synagogue (op. cit., p. 918). The word aposynagogos is found three times in the gospel (9:22, 12:42, 16:2). The high claims made for Jesus and the response to them (5:18), the polemic against "the Jews" (9:18, 10:31, 18:12, 19:12), and the assertion of a superiority of Christian revelation to the Hebrew (1:18, 6:49-50, 8:58) show that "the Johannine community stood in opposition to the synagogue from which it had been expelled." (p. 918)
Kysar states concerning the dating of the Gospel of John: "Those who relate the expulsion to a formal effort on the part of Judaism to purge itself of Christian believers link the composition of the gospel with a date soon after the Council of Jamnia, which is supposed to have promulgated such an action. Hence, these scholars would date John after 90. Those inclined to see the expulsion more in terms of an informal action on the part of a local synagogue are free to propose an earlier date." (p. 919)
Kysar also observes on the dating of the Gospel of John: "The earliest date for the gospel hinges upon the
question of whether or not it presupposes the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. Most agree that it does, although there have been persistent attempts to argue otherwise.
The external evidence fixes the terminus ad quem for the Gospel of John. Irenaeus of Lyons made use of John (c. 180), and Tatian included the Gospel of John in his harmony (c. 170). The Gospel of John is also mentioned in the Muratorian Canon (c. 170-200). Justin Martyr (c. 150-160) and the Epistula Apostolorum (c. 140-150) may have made use of the Gospel of John. But the earliest known usage of John is among Gnostic circles. These include the Naassene Fragment quoted by Hippolytus Ref. 5.7.2-9 (c. 120-140), the Valentinian texts cited in Clement of Alexandria's Excerpta ex Theodotou (c. 140-160), a Valentinian Exposition to the Prologue of the Gospel of John quoted in Irenaeus' Adv. Haer. 1.8.5-6 (c. 140-160), and the commentary of Heracleon on John (c. 150-180, quoted in Origen's own commentary).
Kysar writes: "In the place where the synoptics narrate the origin of the eucharist stands the account of the foot washing (13:1-10). The last meal Jesus celebrates with his disciples before his passion is not a Passover meal at all. Thus one of the basic features of the institution scenes in the synoptics is missing. Furthermore, there is no account of the baptism of Jesus, and there is confusion about whether or not Jesus practiced baptism (compare 3:22 and 4:2). Water baptism is treated critically and assigned strictly to the Baptizer in contrast with Spirit baptism (1:26, 31, 33). One is left with the impression that the sacraments of baptism and eucharist did not figure in the theology of the fourth evangelist." (p. 929)
Kysar states: "The passages which seem to address the sacraments are sometimes thought to be redactional. Some maintain that 'water and' in 3:5 and the discourse in 6:51-59 are insertions of a later hand by one interested in strengthening the explicit sacramental teachings of the gospel. It has been recently argued that portions of chaps. 13-17 come froma redactor at the time of the writing of the Johannine epistles some ten years or more after the completion of the gospel." (p. 922)
Norman Perrin believes that the redactor who added the sacramental passages to the Gospel of John also authored the first epistle of John, in which the sacraments are emphasized.
Helms adduces evidence that there were divisions over the interpretation of John at an early period, as early as the writing of the epistles 1 John and 2 John. Consider the passages 1 John 2:18-19 and 2 John 7. Helms writes (Who Wrote the Gospels?, p. 163):
Some members of the Johannine community departed, became a rival sect, over the question of the 'flesh' of Jesus Christ, an event that leads the author of I John to the certainty that 'this is the last hour.' We do not know for sure who these secessionists were, but as Raymond Brown notes, they were 'not detectably outsiders to the Johannine community but the offspring of Johannine thought itself, justifying their position by the Johannine Gospel and its implications' (1979, 107).
Helms states, "we need to note that part of the purpose of Irenaeus was to
attack the teachings of Cerinthus, a gnostic Christian teacher who lived in
Ephesus at the end of the first century" (op. cit., p. 162). Cerinthus was "educated
in the wisdom of the Egyptians, taught that the world was not made by a
primary God, but by a certain Power far separated from him...
by the proclamation of the Gospel, to remove that error which by Cerinthus had been disseminated among men, and a long time previously by those termed Nicolaitans, who are an offset of that 'knowledge' [gnosis] falsely so called, that he might confound them, and persuade them that there is but one God, who made all things by His Word; and not, as they allege, that the Creator was one, but the Father and the Lord another; and that the Son of the Creator was, forsooth, one, but the Christ from above another (3.11.1)
Helms argues: "So the gospel attributed, late in the second century, to John
at Ephesus was viewed as an anti-gnostic, anti-Cerinthean work. But, very
strangely, Epiphanius, in his book against the heretics, argues against
those who actually believed that it was Cerinthus himself who wrote the
Gospel of John! (Adv. Haer. 51.3.6).
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