John gospel dating
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It begins, as you might say, in heaven: In the beginning was the Word.It starts with the assumption that if you relate to Jesus, you don't simply relate to another human being, you relate to the eternal self-expression of God. You're already back to 100 and counting, so to speak.
Concerning the earliest the Gospels might have been written, Ehrman writes: To begin with, none of the Gospels appears to have been known to the apostle Paul, writing in the 50s. Many of Paul’s epistles were written in the 50s, and in those epistles, Paul does not quote from the Gospels.Paul was an extraordinarily well-traveled and well-connected apostle, as we will see, and if anyone would have known about the existence of written accounts of Jesus’ life, it would have been him. He does echo a lot of things we find in the Gospels, but that could be due—and likely is due—to his use of oral tradition about Jesus.Without a direct quotation from the Gospels, we can’t show that he was aware of any of them. 24), and he would have heard Paul and others in his circle celebrate the Eucharist many times.And the argument went: 'Surely, that's something people only worked out rather late in the day? It probably came from Asia Minor, where it must have spread from one church to another... So simply on the grounds of what people were familiar with, and using the texts that were around in the earliest days of the church, it would be very, very unsafe to say that St John's Gospel was written after 100 AD – very unsafe.It must have taken them nearly 100 years to come to that sort of conclusion, mustn't it? And again, people have said there aren't very many quotations from St John's gospel in the earliest Christian writings outside the New Testament, but what you do have is quite a number of what you might call echoes or allusions which sound very John-shaped.Some of you may even have seen the ruins of this quite big complex of public baths inside the sheep gate with the five chambers and five big arches.
So that's a kind of warning shot not to assume you know what St John is doing in his gospel.
'What has unsettled that kind of assumption has been a mixture of understanding more deeply what's going on in the New Testament overall and some bits of very straightforward history. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch at the beginning of the second century, one of the most formidable theologians of that[ continued from previous page}period, whose letters on his way to be martyred in Rome are among the earliest surviving Christian documents, never gives you a quote from St John's gospel.
The earliest surviving piece of the New Testament on paper (or on papyrus rather), can be dated with some confidence before 120 AD. Because this was found in Egypt, and St John's Gospel almost certainly wasn't written in Egypt, you can begin to trace it back... Yet he speaks about 'the word coming out of silence', he speaks about being 'born not of blood but of Spirit' and if he hasn't read the fourth gospel, then he's been talking to somebody who has.
But let's take the simplest question first of all: the date.
As I say, it was widely assumed a century or so ago that St John's Gospel must have been written in the second century at least. Because it shows quite a complex, advanced theology.
It was very, very popular with Gnostic heretics in the second century and the mainstream church took quite a long time to accept it in its full integrity.