John's Gospel-When Was It Written?

I have begun to delve into Bible studies, on an informal basis. I understand that the first 3 Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke-the so-called “synoptic gospels”) appear to have a common source. However, John is very different! Just the beginning… “In the beginning was the word”-strikes me as if the author of John came from a very different culture than the authors of the other three.
If we posit that the synoptic gospels were written fairly soon after the death of Christ, then why would a later work like John be necessary? Finally, what is the concensus about who actually wrote John-and when? Some scholars have placed John as very late-possibly after 200 AD.
Any Bible scholars care to comment?:confused:

You are correct that the authorship of John as always triggered debate. I think the most popular theory is that it was compiled by disciples of the apostle, or a school devoted to him, which was also influenced by contemporary gnostic philosophy.

The most generally accepted dates seem to be between the 90’s AD to about 130 AD. Biblical conservatives have proposed earlier dates (60s/70s) and some have argued for dates much later, as you indicate. (Although Ireneus, who died in 202AD, refers to it, so it had to be before then).

some cites:
http://www.continentallocating.com/World.Literature/Links/john.htm
http://www.bible.org/docs/nt/books/joh/joh-intr.htm
http://www.bible-history.com/new-testament-books/newtestamentbooks_unger_s_bible_dictionary_john.html

You might start with what’s already been written:

Who Wrote the Bible?.

You will find that there is almost no consensus about anything, but those who do not accept the traditional authorship (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John themselves) do indeed place the Gospel of John last. John is said by some to be “gnostic” compared to the others. As for why it’s necessary, why were any of them necessary? With the slow transmission of information, the authors of John may not have known of the other gospels; if they did, perhaps they didn’t feel the other gospels jibed with their sources (including John himself?).

One interesting point, which I forgot to mention, is that Irenaeus himself attributes the gospel to the apostle John. Irenaeus was a pupil of Polycarp (the real one, not ours, of course), who according to tradition was a friend/pupil of the apostle himself.

That doesn’t prove anything of course, except that the work has been attributed to the apostle since the earliest times.

What’s been said above pretty much covers it, except to note that, IIRC, fragments with lines from the Gospel of John dating from the beginning of the second century CE have been found, which pretty much confirms the prior-to-120 CE claims.

The author of the gospel is not identified by name in the body of the text (as, indeed, none of the gospels are), and people have attributed it to John by the clues within and the process of elimination.

Pheme Perkins, professor of theology at Boston University, in her workReading the New Testament, believes that the gospel was written by disciples of John in the 70’s or 80’s.

There is a papyrus that contains a few lines from John’s gospel which one Korean scholar believes can be dated to the second half of the first century. I can give some cites about that if anyone’s interested (gotta visit the archives of the B-Greek mailing list).

UnuMondo

IANABS, I’m going here on some New Testament history I had to sit through in high school and some informal reading on my part.

It’s not as though there were just Mat, Mark, and Luke before John. There are lots of different versions of the gospels. The four we have are just the ones that the Church decided at some point to declare “official.” Clearly, lots of different people wanted to publish a version.

Why would that be? I mean, the three Synoptic Gospels are themselves based on an earlier version, which you’d think would have been sufficient in itself. Well, first of all, I doubt that M, M, & L (whoever they were) thought they were writing The Authoritative Story of Jesus, or anything like history the way we mean it. They wanted to tell the story, get the word across, explain just why someone reading should accept Jesus’ status as messiah–often for specific groups. I was told in school that, for instance, Matthew is pretty much considered to be written with Jews in mind, hence the opening focusing on JC’s ancestry. John, on the other hand, is written for people who have grown up with an education in Greek philosophy (In the beginning was the Word, etc.).

So what I’m getting at is, each gospel has its own spin, depending on the beliefs of the person writing, and the intended audience, and that’s reason enough (in the minds of the writers, anyway) for the different versions. I stand ready for correction by the folks here who know better than I do.

Basically, fundamentalist Christians will prefer early dates for all the gospels and more mainstream scholars will give later ones. I don’t know who’s right but the conservatives obviously have a certain vested interest in placing the writings close to the events. Of course the liberals and sceptics might also be said to have an interest in placing them far from the events.

Conservative groups also reject the “synoptic” idea outright preferring to assert that Matthew, Mark and Luke are three independent sources. Josh McDowell and other pop-evangelists like this idea especially since it seems to strengthen their case that the events described really happened in more or less the way they are reported in the synoptics. Mainstream scholars tend to feel that these three gospels all use common material and are various reworkings of an older (lost) document or documents. This idea, or course, takes some of the wind out of the evangelists’ sails.

Basically, fundamentalist Christians will prefer early dates for all the gospels and more mainstream scholars will give later ones. I don’t know who’s right but the conservatives obviously have a certain vested interest in placing the writings close to the events. Of course the liberals and skeptics might also be said to have an interest in placing them far from the events.

Conservative groups also reject the “synoptic” idea outright preferring to assert that Matthew, Mark and Luke are three independent sources. Josh McDowell and other pop-evangelists like this idea especially since it seems to strengthen their case that the events described really happened in more or less the way they are reported in the synoptics. Mainstream scholars tend to feel that these three gospels all use common material and are various reworkings of an older (lost) document or documents. This idea, or course, takes some of the wind out of the evangelists’ sails.

Well, I got a “no valid thread” error the first time I posted so I posted again and corrected my spelling too. And yet now both posts exist. I can see they will have to be made to fight some sort of Klingon style deathmatch to see who is more righteous. I can hear the fight music now…

One of the main clues in dating John is his use of the term “aposynagogos”, meaning “the time of being thrown out of the synagogues”. Unfortunately, there is no solid knowlege of when the Christians were thrown out. Some scholars trace it to around 90 AD, when there was a meeting of Jewish leaders in Jamnia. No one knows for sure what went on at that council, but declaring Christianity heretical may have been on the agenda.

Of course, the story is much more complicated than that. The author of John certainly used at least one earlier document in his writing, just like Matt and Luke used Mark. Scholars also think that the “prologue” with the Word stuff was composed by someone else and tacked onto the front of the gospel at some point. So some of the gospel is certainly based on earlier writings, but there’s little agreement on which parts.

Possible reasons for being written? There might have been a group of Christians with no written Gospel, just scattered stories and oral traditions. (This was probably the case with Matt’s and Luke’s communities, or why would those gospels have been written?) Or, John’s community might have had theological differences with the existing gospels, and so felt the need to rewrite the story “correctly”.

Papias, who was probably writing around 120 AD, mentions the 3 synoptic gospels but not John. This doesn’t mean that John was written after that time, tho, because Papias might never have encountered it (e.g. if it was written far away), or he might have considered it heretical and so left it out.

The mainline Christian biblical scholars (Catholic, Anglican, Episcopal, Lutheran, etc…) have remarkable agreement on biblical scholarship. They are dedicated to using modern scientific methods of literary, documentary, and archeological methods. They publish in peer reviewed journals.

Of course, there will be debate even within this community of scholars, especially on topics that rely on best-guesses, because the hard, scientific evidence is simply lacking.

Their best guess is that John was written c. 90 - 120 AD, for all the reasons given above. It is attributed to John, the Apostle, however, in the Ancient Near East, attributions were loosey goosey. It was not unknown for disciples of a teacher to compile his teachings and attribute the work to him, even after death.

Unlike the synoptic gospels which have short sayings and stories which are likely to be pretty good approximations of the actual words of Jesus, John composes lengthy homilies of Jesus. Obviously, no one was taking dictation, and so, these homilies are fabrications built on kernels of Jesus’ teaching. However, John’s gospel gets some historical bits of data right moreso than the earlier-written synoptics.

And so, while a later Gospel, John has some insider accuracy that the earlier Gospels miss.

Yes, there are lots of other Gospels, but they date much later than even John’s. It is quite clear that these other Gospels lift text right out the canonical four. And, if you read them, they’re quite fantastical (read, ‘crazy’), and I’m not just talking miracles, I’m talking crazy miracles.

Peace.

Is The Book of Armaments canonical?