The Gospel According to John (Κατὰ Ἰωάννην εὐαγγέλιον, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Ἰωάννην, kata Iōannēn euangelion, to euangelion kata Iōannēn) commonly referred to as the Gospel of John is an account of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. It details the story of Jesus from his Baptism to his Resurrection. In the standard order of the canonical gospels it is placed fourth, after the three inter-related synoptic gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke; but in the earliest surviving gospel collection, Papyrus 45 of the 3rd century, it is placed second in the order Matthew, John, Luke and Mark, an order which is also found in other very early New Testament manuscripts. In syrcur it is placed third in the order Matthew, Mark, John and Luke.
The Gospel is anonymous, but in Disciple whom Jesus loved', whom Early Church tradition identified with John the Apostle, one of Jesus' Twelve Apostles. It is closely related in style and content to the three surviving Epistles of John, such that most commentators routinely treat the four books together.:p.63 Scholarly opinion is divided as to whether these epistles are the work of the evangelist himself, or of his followers writing in his name. The epistles are addressed to a particular but unnamed church community, and most scholars presume that the Gospel too is addressed to the specific circumstances of that community. The evangelist urges his church to beware of internal factions and reject false teaching, and also seeks to strengthen their resolution in the face of hostility and persecution from the Jewish leadership of the synagogue; " ...it is now widely accepted that the discourses are concerned with the actual issues of the church and synagogue debate at the time when the Gospel was written.":p.53 It is notable that, in the gospel, the community still appears to define itself primarily against Judaism, rather than as part of a wider Christian church. Lindars points out that Christianity started as a movement within Judaism, but he says that gradually Christians and Jews became bitterly opposed to one another.:p.60it is stated that it derives from the testimony of the '
Of the four canonical gospels, John presents the highest Christology. It describes Jesus as the incarnation of the divine Logos, through which all things were made, and declares him to be God. Only in the Gospel of John does Jesus talk at length about himself and his divine role, including a substantial amount of material Jesus shared with the disciples only. Here Jesus' public ministry consists largely of miracles not found in the Synoptics, including raising Lazarus from the dead. Contrary to the Synoptics, Jesus' miracles in John are signs meant to engender faith. In John, Jesus is the object of veneration. Certain elements of the synoptics such as parables and exorcisms are not found in John. In terminology close to that found in later Gnostic works, one tract, generally known as "The Trimorphic Protennoia", must either be dependent on John or the other way round.":p.65 John teaches that salvation can only be achieved through revealed wisdom, specifically belief in (literally belief into) Jesus.:p.62
Prominent contemporary scholars regard the Gospel of John as more theological and less historical than the Synoptics, and they dispute that the Apostle John was the author. Critical scholarship in the 19th century distinguished between the 'biographical' approach of the three Synoptic Gospels and the 'theological' approach of John, and accordingly tended to disregard John as a historical source. This distinction is no longer regarded as sustainable in more recent scholarship, which emphasizes that all four gospels are both biographical and theological. According to Barnabas Lindars, "All four Gospels should be regarded primarily as biographies of Jesus, but all four have a definite theological aim.":p.26 Nevertheless, prominent mainstream scholars emphasize that the John's picture of Jesus is very different from that which emerges as a recognisably common theme, underlying the accounts in the Synoptics. Lindars writes that John's picture of Jesus, however, is different.:p.27 In discussing these differences, scholars distinguish anecdotes from discourses. Anecdotes about Jesus' ministry in John are similar in style to those found in the Synoptics, and often cover recognisably the same events. In several such instances John appears to draw on distinct source material, which often appears to be historically more reliable. However this anecdotal material also appears to have been extensively reworked, especially in order to dramatise the narrative. The discourses in John are considered by mainstream scholars to originate in homilies and sermons, that are predominantly the evangelist's own composition but which expound on a saying or action of Jesus from the tradition. There is no consensus in current scholarship as to how far the material in John may derive from a historical 'Disciple whom Jesus loved', but it is broadly agreed that the authorship of the Gospel should be credited to the person who composed the finished text, rather than to the source of material in the text; and that this composition is to be dated around 85-90 AD, a decade or more later than the most likely dates for composition of the Synoptics. On account of this later dating, and also of the greater degree of editorial reworking detected in John, the Synoptic accounts are generally considered to be more historically reliable, except in those anecdotes where John's sources may be superior.
|A series of articles on
|John in the Bible|
|Gospel of John · First Epistle of John · Second Epistle of John · Third Epistle of John · Revelation · Authorship|
|John the Apostle · John the Evangelist · John of Patmos · John the Presbyter · Disciple whom Jesus loved|
|Twelve Apostles · The Early Church|
|Apocryphon of John · Acts of John · Logos · Signs Gospel|
The Traditional View has been that the Gospel of John was an eyewitness account, composed by John, the Beloved Disciple of Jesus. Modern Historical Criticism  has cast serious doubt on the validity this position. However, interest in demonstrating that the author was an eyewitness to the historical Jesus is still very much alive.
The Alogi, a 2nd-century sect that denied the doctrine of the Logos, ascribed this gospel, as well as the Book of Revelation, to the Gnostic Cerinthus. Irenaeus, on the other hand, asserted that John wrote his gospel to refute Cerinthus.
As the gospel's name implies, the author has traditionally been understood to be the Apostle John. This understanding of the authorship of the Fourth Gospel remained in place until the end of the 18th century.
According to the Church Fathers, John the Apostle, was the last of the Evangelists to compose a gospel. The Bishops of Asia requested he write such a gospel in response to Cerinthus, the Ebionites and other Hebrew groups which they deemed heretical.
The second reason given for this work, was that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, only gave a history for the one year, of and following the imprisonment of John the Baptist. Therefore, the Evangelist expanded on the Synoptic gospels of which he had read and approved. Johannine authorship was also evidenced by Polycarp, (who is said to have known the apostles), Irenaeus and Eusebius. 
The express testimony of the author states that he is an eyewitness to Jesus and that his testimony is true. The Gospel of John explains that the author is the Disciple whom Jesus loved. In other words, we are told that the disciple giving this account has born true witness. 
The text implies that the unnamed author is an apostle.  Critics point out that the abrupt shift from third person to first person in indicates that the writers of the epilogue, (who are supposedly third-party editors) claim the preceding narrative is based on the Beloved Disciple's testimony.contains information that could be construed as autobiographical. Some believe that the first person "I" in , the disciple in and the disciple whom Jesus loved (also known as the Beloved Disciple) in are the same person.
In the Synoptics, John is close to Peter, the chief apostle, in a way that, in John, the beloved disciple is close to Peter. The consistent omission of John has traditionally been taken as evidence that John authored the Gospel.
The external evidence and documentation up to and including Jerome is unambiguous and virtually unanimous. Before the end of the 2nd century, the Church had identified the author, the "disciple Jesus loved," as the Apostle John. The writings of Papias, Justin, Dionysius of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius, Irenæus of Lyons and Jerome provide a sound historical basis for this assertion. Furthermore, scholars are unaware of any cogent historical document from the first three centuries that seriously challenges the authenticity of John.
The traditional view is that the Apostle John was an historical figure who, along with James and Peter, John was one of the "pillars" of the Jerusalem church, as reported by Paul. In the synoptics, he was one of the inner circle of disciples.
Some modern scholars hypothesize that John was an illiterate, hence precluding him from authorship of the gospel attributed to him. In their view, the Gospel of John is a falsified account, forged by an unknown writer who never met Jesus. This stance is not popular within Christendom.
Modern mainstream scholarship has predominantly concluded that the author of the Gospel of John was not an eyewitness to the Historical Jesus. Certain modern critical scholars concluded that the Gospel of John was largely unreliable. These further argued that the traditional identification of the book's author—the Beloved Disciple—with the apostle John was false.
Some see the Fourth Gospel as being so hostile towards Judaism that the author might not even have been Jewish. The claim that John was the author was thought to be falsified and not backed by any solid historical evidence. Since the author was fluent in Hellenistic philosophy, it could hardly have been John, described in Acts as "unschooled and ordinary."
Some view the Gospel of John as being a largely unreliable written account forged by an anonymous author posthumous to the Apostle. The Gospel was likely written c. 90-100, possibly in Ephesus.
According to scholars such as Paul Anderson, debates about the authorship of the Gospel of John "are not as frequent" today as they were in earlier times. In many cases, the issue of authorship has been absorbed into the reconstruction of the Gospel's development over a period of time in various stages. It is thus more complex than simply identifying a single person as the document's author. However, the issue of the Fourth Evangelist being an eyewitness to the historical Jesus is far from settled.
Raymond E. Brown summarizes a prevalent theory regarding the development of this gospel.:pp.363-364 He identifies three layers of text in the Fourth Gospel (a situation that is paralleled by the synoptic gospels):
Different theories of authorship have been advanced by other biblical scholars and notable theologians.
One group of scholars has argued that Mary Magdalene was not just companion and confidante of Jesus, but also his spokesman, the disciple he most loved, possibly the Beloved Disciple mentioned in the Gospel of John. This could easily make her the "author" or "primary source" for that gospel. Marvin Meyer, a Chapman University scholar of religion, supports this position contending the author of John’s gospel was in fact Mary Magdalene. Also among scholars, Ephesus in Asia Minor is a popular suggestion for the gospel's origin, which was the local of both Mary and John.
Richard Bauckham, professor of New Testament at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, presents his alternative approach to John. He has concluded that John’s gospel is an integral whole written by a single author—John the Elder, a Jerusalem disciple but not one of the Twelve, aka the Beloved Disciple. He is convinced that John’s gospel is not the product of, written for, or telling the story of a so-called “Johannine community”. Instead, it tells the story of Jesus for both believers and nonbelievers. It is intended for general circulation among all the churches. Bauckham claims that John’s gospel is a reliable source for the history of Jesus—at times even more so than the Synoptic gospels. Baukham's claims, however, have come under dispute.
Most scholars who disagree with the traditional view believe it likely that John was martyred around the time James was, as suggested by and .
There are scholars who continue to argue that the writer of the Gospel of John could not have been an eyewitness to the historical Jesus. They also argue the traditional identification of the book's author, denoted in the text as the "beloved disciple", with the apostle John is false.
Still other scholars continue to defend the traditional theory of apostolic authorship; and regard the Gospel as transmitting a fundamentally reliable narrative from the earliest phase of Christian tradition. John A. T. Robinson, a staunch defender of the apostolic authorship of the Gospel, says the Johannine tradition did not suddenly emerge about AD 100. He says there is "a real continuity, not merely in the memory of one old man, but in the life of an ongoing community, with the earliest days of Christianity."
One possible construction of the "internal evidence" states that the Beloved Disciple wrote an account of the life of Jesus.
The hypothesis of the Gospel of John being composed in layers over a period of time had its start with Rudolf Bultmann in 1941. Bultmann suggested that the author(s) of John depended in part on an author who wrote an earlier account. This hypothetical "Signs Gospel" listing Christ's miracles was independent of, and not used by, the synoptic gospels. It was believed to have been circulating before the year 70 AD. Bultmann's conclusion was so controversial that heresy proceedings were instituted against him and his writings. (See: Images of Jesus and more detailed discussions linked below.)
Nevertheless, this hypothesis has not disappeared. Scholars such Raymond Edward Brown believe that the original author of the Signs Gospel to be the Beloved Disciple. They argue that the disciple who formed this community, was both an historical person and a companion of Jesus Christ. Brown goes one step further by suggesting that the Beloved Disciple had been a follower of John the Baptist before joining Jesus.
The structure of John is similar enough to the structure of the synoptic gospels that the author must have had access to a synoptic gospel or to some other source close to the synoptics. Specifically, the author seems to echo the distinctive style of Mark, and his Passion narrative resembles Luke's.
The author has Jesus foretell that new knowledge will come to his followers after his death. This reference indicates that the author has included new information, not previously revealed, that is derived from spiritual inspiration rather than from historical records or recollection.
There is no certain historical evidence as to the date of its composition. Scholars most often date it to c. 90–100, decades after the events it describes. Bart Ehrman argues that there are differences in the composition of the Greek within the Gospel, such as breaks and inconsistencies in sequence, repetitions in the discourse, as well as passages that clearly do not belong to their context, and these suggest redaction.
The so-called "Monarchian Prologue" to the Fourth Gospel (c. 200) supports A.D. 96 or one of the years immediately following as to the time of its writing. Most scholars agree on a range of c. 90–100. The gospel was already in existence early in the 2nd Century.:p.313 John was composed in stages (probably two or three).:p.43 There is credible evidence that the Gospel was written no later than the middle of the second century. Since the middle of the second century writings of Justin Martyr use language very similar to that found in the Gospel of John, the Gospel is considered to have been in existence at least at that time. The Rylands Library Papyrus P52, which records a fragment of this gospel, is usually dated to the first half of the second century.
Conservative scholars consider internal evidences, such as the lack of the mention of the destruction of the Temple and a number of passages that they consider characteristic of an eyewitness, sufficient evidence that the gospel was composed before 100 and perhaps as early as 50–70. In the 1970s, Leon Morris and John A.T. Robinson independently suggested earlier dates for the gospel's composition.:pp.284,307
Some modern scholars question the mainstream view. The non-canonical Dead Sea Scrolls suggest an early Jewish origin, parallels and similarities to the Essenne Scroll, and Rule of the Community. Many phrases are duplicated in the Gospel of John and the Dead Sea Scrolls. These are sufficiently numerous to challenge the theory that the Gospel of John was the last to be written among the four Gospels and that it shows marked non-Jewish influence.
Probably the earliest surviving New Testament manuscript, Rylands Library Papyrus P52 is a Greek pypyrus fragment discovered in Egypt in 1920 (now at the John Rylands Library, Manchester). Although P52 has no more than 114 legible letters, it must come from a substantial codex book; as it is written on both sides in a generously scaled script, with on one side and on the other. The surviving text agrees closely with that of the corresponding passages in the Gospel of John, but it cannot necessarily be assumed that the original manuscript contained the full Gospel of John in its canonical form. Most reference books list the probable date for this manuscript as c. 125 but the difficulty of estimating the date of a literary text based solely on paleographic evidence must allow potentially for a range that extends from before 100 to well into the second half of the second century. P52 is small, and although a plausible reconstruction can be attempted for most of the fourteen lines represented, nevertheless the proportion of the text of the Gospel of John for which it provides a direct witness is necessarily limited, so it is rarely cited in textual debate. Other notable early manuscripts of John include Papyrus 66 and Papyrus 75, in consequence of which a substantially complete text of the Gospel of John exists from the beginning of the 3rd century at the latest. Hence the textual evidence for the Gospel of John is commonly accepted as both earlier and more reliable than that for any other of the canonical Gospels.
Much current research on the textual history of the Gospel of John is being done by the International Greek New Testament Project.
The mysterious Egerton Gospel appears to represent a parallel but independent tradition to the Gospel of John. According to scholar Ronald Cameron, it was originally composed some time between the middle of the first century and early in the second century, and it was probably written shortly before the Gospel of John. Robert W. Funk, et al., places the Egerton fragments in the 2nd century, perhaps as early as 125, which would make it as old as the oldest fragments of John.
|Gospel of John|
After the prologue,
This prologue is intended to identify Jesus as the eternal Word (Logos) of God. Thus John asserts Jesus' innate superiority over all divine messengers, whether angels or prophets. Here John adapts the doctrine of the Logos, God's creative principle, from Philo, a 1st-century Hellenized Jew.
Philo had adopted the term Logos from Greek philosophy, using it in place of the Hebrew concept of Wisdom (sophia) as the intermediary (angel) between the transcendent Creator and the material world. Some scholars argue that the prologue was taken over from an existing hymn and added at a later stage in the gospel's composition.
This section recounts Jesus' public ministry. It consists of seven miracles or "signs," interspersed with long dialogues and discourses, including several "I am" sayings. The miracles culminate with his most potent, raising Lazarus from the dead. In John, it is this last miracle, and not the temple incident, that prompts the authorities to have Jesus executed.
This section opens with an account of the Last Supper that differs significantly from that found in the synoptics. Here, Jesus washes the disciples feet instead of ushering in a new covenant of his body and blood. This account of foot washing might refer to a local tradition by which foot washing served as a Christian initiation ritual rather than baptism. John then devotes almost five chapters to farewell discourses. Jesus declares his unity with the Father, promises to send the Paraclete, describes himself as the "real vine," explains that he must leave (die) before the Holy Spirit comes, and prays that his followers be one. The farewell discourses resemble farewell speeches called testaments, in which a father or religious leader, often on the deathbed, leaves instructions for his children or followers. Verses represent a conclusion, and most modern scholars regard the next three chapters to have been inserted later. Most scholars regard the discourses as having been assembled over time, representing the theology of the "Johannine circle" more than the message of the historical Jesus.
John then records Jesus' arrest, trial, execution, and resurrection appearances, including "doubting Thomas." Significantly, John does not have Jesus claim to be the Son of God or the Messiah before the Sanhedrin or Pilate, and he omits the traditional earthquakes, thunder, and midday darkness that were said to accompany Jesus' death. John's revelation of divinity is Jesus' triumph over death, the eighth and greatest sign.
The major events covered by the Gospel of John include:
Hymn to the Word
Book of Signs, Seven Signs
Book of Glory, Last Teachings and Death
The Gospel of John is easily distinguished from the three Synoptic Gospels, which share a considerable amount of text. Over 90% of the Gospel is unique to John. The synoptics describe much more of Jesus' life, miracles, parables, and exorcisms. However, the materials unique to John are notable, especially in their effect on modern Christianity.
As a gospel, John is a story about the life of Jesus. The Gospel can be divided into four parts:
Following on from "the higher criticism" of the 19th century, scholars such as Adolf von Harnack and Raymond E. Brown have questioned the gospel of John as a reliable source of information about the historical Jesus.
John portrays Jesus Christ as "a brief manifestation of the eternal Word, whose immortal spirit remains ever-present with the believing Christian.":p.304 The book presents Jesus as divine and yet subordinate to the one true God. The gospel gives far more focus to the relationship of the Son to the Father than the other gospels and it has often been used in the Christian development and understanding of the Trinity. John includes far more direct claims of Jesus being the only Son of God than the Synoptic Gospels. The gospel also focuses on the relation of the Redeemer to believers, the announcement of the Holy Spirit as the Comforter (Greek Paraclete), and the prominence of love as an element in the Christian character.
In the synoptics, Jesus speaks mostly about the Kingdom of God. His own divine role is obscured (see Messianic secret). In John, Jesus talks openly about his divine role. He says, for example, that he is the way, the truth, and the life. He echoes Yahweh's own statements with several "I am" declarations that also identify him with symbols of major significance::pp.302-310
Critical scholars think that these claims represent the Christian community's faith in Jesus' divine authority but doubt that the historical Jesus actually made these sweeping claims. Other scholars have argued that the "I Am" statements are in reference to YHWH, and have interpreted as meaning that Jesus expressly denied being God.
John also promises eternal life for those who believe in Jesus.
In the Prologue, John identifies Jesus as the Logos (Word). A term from Greek philosophy, it meant the principle of cosmic reason. In this sense, it was similar to the Hebrew concept of Wisdom, Yahweh's companion and intimate helper in creation. The Jewish philosopher Philo merged these two themes when he described the Logos as God's creator of and mediator with the material world. The evangelist adapted Philo's description of the Logos, applying it to Jesus, the incarnation of the Logos.
The opening verse of John is translated as "the Word was with God and the Word was God" in all orthodox and historical Bibles. There are alternative views. The explicit statement that Jesus was himself the Arche does not come from John's gospel but from the Letter to the Colossians.
Another divergent view is that of religious groups like the Jehovah's Witnesses. They accept that the Logos refers to Jesus, but deny the accuracy of the historical translation, "The Word was God", arguing that John meant "a god". Their analysis notes that the optional Greek article "hos" is present on "theos" in the phrase usually translated "The Word was God" and then is missing from the subsequent "theos".
John's account of the Baptist is different from that of the synoptic gospels. John is not called "the Baptist", though stress is laid on his being sent to baptize with water. John's ministry overlaps with Jesus', his baptism of Jesus is not explicitly mentioned, but his witness to Jesus is unambiguous. The evangelist almost certainly knew the story of John's baptism of Jesus and he makes a vital theological use of it. He subordinates John to Jesus, perhaps in response to members of the Baptist's sect who denied Jesus' superiority.
In John, Jesus and his disciples go to Judea early in Jesus' ministry when John has not yet been imprisoned and executed by Herod. He leads a ministry of baptism larger than John's own. The Jesus Seminar rated this account as black, containing no historically accurate information. Historically, John likely had a larger presence in the public mind than Jesus.
In his Jerusalem speeches, John's Jesus makes unfavorable references to the Jews. These references may constitute a rebuttal on the part of the author against Jewish criticism of the early Church.
The author most likely considered himself Jewish, did not deny that Jesus and his disciples were all Jewish, and was probably speaking to a largely Jewish community.
Though not commonly understood as Gnostic, John has elements in common with Gnosticism. Like the gospel of Thomas and like Gnostic source proper, John portrays Jesus as the revealer of special a transcendent message that requires special understanding ("Gnosticism"), which is the source of salvation.
Christian Gnosticism did not fully develop until sometime around the mid-second century. As Roger Olson noted, “second-century Christian leaders and thinkers expended tremendous energies examining and refuting it.” To say John’s Gospel contained elements of Gnosticism is to assume that Gnosticism had developed to a level that required the author respond to it. Nevertheless, it should be noted that comparisons to Gnosticism are based, fairly or unfairly, not in what the author says, but in the language s/he uses to say it; notably, use of the concepts of Logos and Light.
However, to say the author was Proto-Gnostic, or even Docetic, would be a misinterpretation of the prologue contained in the first eighteen verses of the text. As noted by Gordon Fee, the proper exegete of any text begins with a survey of the historical context of entire document.:p.34 Therefore, we must ask who was the author’s intended audience? Raymond E. Brown noted, "John is most often characterized as a Hellenistic Gospel.":p.371 This is to say the author of John’s Gospel addressed people familiar with Greek thought and philosophy. When the author identified Christ as the Logos (Gk. word), Greek-speaking Jews and Gentiles heard a philosophically charged word that evoked images of Platonic dualism. However, as the author noted, the “Logos” became “Sarks” (Gk. flesh) and was the true light which illuminates every person and overcomes all darkness. Theologically, this is inconsistent with classical Greek dualism and a repudiation of any form of Gnosticism and Docetism as well which held that Christ was not flesh but spirit.
Gnostics must have read John because it is found with Gnostic texts. The root of Gnosticism is that salvation comes from gnosis, secret knowledge. The nearly five chapters of the "farewell discourses"
Raymond Brown contends that "The Johannine picture of a savior who came from an alien world above, who said that neither he nor those who accepted him were of this world,
The teachings of Jesus in John are very different from those found in the synoptic gospels. Thus, since the 1800s scholars have generally believed that only one of the two traditions could be authentic. Today, prominent, mainstream historians largely tend to discount the historical value of John. Few scholars regard John to be at all comparable to the Synoptics in terms of historical value. E. P. Sanders and other critical scholars conclude that the Gospel of John contains an "advanced theological development, in which meditations of the person and work of Jesus are presented in the first person as if Jesus said them." The scholars of the Jesus Seminar assert that there is little historical value in John and consider nearly every Johannine saying of Jesus to be nonhistorical. Geza Vermes discounts all the teaching in John when reconstructing "the authentic gospel of Jesus."
The Gospel of John also differs from the synoptic gospels in respect of its narrative of Jesus' life and ministry; but here there is a lower degree of consensus that the synoptic tradition is to be preferred. In particular John A.T. Robinson has argued that, where the Gospel narrative accounts can be checked for consistency with surviving material evidence, the account in the Gospel of John is commonly the more plausible;:201 and that it is generally easier to reconcile the various synoptic accounts within John's narrative framework, than it is to explain John's narrative within the framework of any of the synoptics.:125 In particular he argues that, where in the Gospel of John, Jesus and his disciples are described as travelling around identifiable locations, then the trips in question can always be plausibly followed on the ground:53 which he claims is not the case for the narrative accounts of any other of the four Gospels.
Some scholars today believe that parts of John represent an independent historical tradition from the synoptics, while other parts represent later traditions. The Gospel was probably shaped in part by increasing tensions between synagogue and church, or between those who believed Jesus was the Messiah and those who did not.
Nevertheless, John is not entirely without historical value. Sanders points out the that author would regard the gospel as theologically true as revealed spiritually even if its content is not historically accurate. The gospel does contain some independent, historically plausible elements. Henry Wansbrough says: "Gone are the days when it was scholarly orthodoxy to maintain that John was the least reliable of the gospels historically." It has become generally accepted that certain sayings in John are as old or older than their synoptic counterparts, that John's knowledge of things around Jerusalem is often superior to the synoptics, and that his presentation of Jesus' agony in the garden and the prior meeting held by the Jewish authorities are possibly more historically accurate than their synoptic parallels. And Marianne Meye Thompson writes: "There are items only in John that are likely to be historical and ought to be given due weight. Jesus' first disciples may once have been followers of the Baptist (cf. ). There is no a priori reason to reject the report of Jesus and his disciples' conducting a ministry of baptism for a time.
A distinctive feature of the Gospel of John, is that it provides a very different chronology of Jesus' ministry from that in the Synoptics. Some commentators such as E.P. Sanders, suggest that John's chronology, even when ostensibly more palusible, should nevertheless be treated with suspicion on the grounds that the Synoptic accounts are otherwise superior as historic sources. Others, like C.H Dodd, propose that historians may mix and match between John and the Synoptics on the basis of whichever appears strongest on a particular episode. Robinson argues that John's chronology is consistently more likely to represent the original sequence of events.
Robinson offers three arguments for preferring the chronology of John's Gospel to that of the Synoptics. First, he argues that John's account of Jesus' ministry is always consistent, in that seasonal references always follow in the correct sequence, geographical distances are always consistent with indications of journey times, and references to external events always cohere with the internal chronology of Jesus' ministry. He claims that the same cannot be claimed for any of the three Synoptic accounts. For example, the harvest-tide story ofis shortly followed by reference to green springtime pasture at . Again, the historically consistent reference to the period of the temple construction in , may be contrasted with the impossibility of reconciling Luke's account of the census of with historic records of Quirinius's governorship of Syria.
Second, Robinson appeals to the critical principle, widely applied in textual study, that the account is most likely to be original that best explains the other variants. He argues that would be relatively easy to have created the Synoptic chronology by selecting and editing from John's chronology; whereas expanding the Synoptic chronology to produce that found in John, would have required a wholescale rewriting of the sources.
Third, Robinson claims that elements consistent with John's alternative chronology can be found in each of the Synoptic accounts, whereas the contrary is never the case. Hence, Mark's explicit claim that the Last Supper was a Passover meal is contraindicated by his statement that Joseph of Arimathea bought a shroud for Jesus on Good Friday; which would not have been possible if it were a festival day.
In John's Gospel, the public ministry of Jesus extends over rather more than two years. At the start of his ministry Jesus is in Jerusalem for Passover,
In favour of the Synoptic chronology, E.P Sanders observes that a short ministry accords with the careers of other known prophetic figures of the time─who appear in the desert, raise large scale public interest, but soon come to a bloody end at the hand of the Roman military. In favour of the two-year ministry, John Robinson points out that both Matthew and Luke imply that Jesus was preaching in Galilee for at least one Passover during his ministry. The Temple tax
In John, Jesus drives the money changers from the Temple at the start of his ministry, whereas in the Synoptic account this occurs at the end, immediately after Palm Sunday. In favour of the later dating of the Synoptics, it is noted by many commentators, especially Geza Vermes, that this event, which almost all commentators agree to have been historical, provides a clear context and pretext for Jesus' arrest, trial and execution. It makes more sense to suppose that events proceeded quickly. Against this, Robinson points out that all three Synoptic accounts explain the reluctance of the Temple authorities to arrest Jesus on the spot, as being due to their fear of popular support for John the Baptist. This would make more sense while the Baptist was still alive.
Inof the Gospel of John, Jesus, following his encounter with John the Baptist, undertakes an extended and successful baptizing ministry in Judea and on the banks of the River Jordan; initially as an associate of the Baptist, latterly more as a rival. In the Synoptic accounts, Jesus retreats into the wilderness following his baptism, and is presented as gathering disciples from scratch in his home country of Galilee; following which he embarks on a ministry of teaching and healing, in which baptism plays no part. In favour of the Synoptic account is the clear characterisation of Jesus and his disciples in all the Gospels as predominantly Galilean. Against this, Robinson points out that all the Synoptics are agreed that, when Jesus arrives in Jerusalem in the week before his death, he already has a number of followers and disciples in the city, notably Joseph of Arimathea. and the unnamed landlord of the upper room, who knows Jesus as 'the Master'.
In John, Jesus not only starts his ministry in Jerusalem, he returns there for other festivals, notably atand at . As noted above, E.P Sanders regards the short, sharp prophetic career as having greater verisimilitude. Against this John Robinson notes the numerous instances in the Synoptic account of Jesus' final days in Jerusalem, when it is implied that he has been there before. In two of the Synoptics ( and ), Jesus appears to recall several previous preaching ministries in Jerusalem, when his message had nevetheless been generally spurned.
In John, Jesus dies on the day before Passover; the 14th of Nisan in the Jewish calender, and Passover itself (15th Nisan) falls on the Sabbath; i.e., Friday night and Saturday daytime. In the Synoptic accounts, the Passover falls on Thursday night and Friday daytime, so that the Last Supper is a Passover meal, and Jesus trial and crucifixion take place during the actual day of the festival. In favour of the Synoptic chronology is that in the earliest Christian traditions relating to the Last Supper, in the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians, there is a clear link between Passion of Jesus, the Last Supper and the Passover lamb. In favour of John's chronology is the near universal modern scholarly agreement that the Synoptic accounts of a formal trial before the Sanhedrin on a festival day are historically wholly impossible. By contrast, an informal investigation by the High Priest and his cronies (without witnesses being called), as told by John, is both historically possible in an emergency on the day before a festival, and accords with the external evidence from Rabbinic sources that Jesus was put to death on the day before the Passover. It is further agreed by most scholars that astronomical reconstruction of the Jewish Lunar calendar tends to favour John's chronology, in that the only year during the governorship of Pontius Pilate when the 14th Nisan is caclulated as fallng on a Thursday was 27 CE - which appears too early as the year of the crucifixion; whereas 14th Nisan fell on a Friday in both 30 CE and 33 CE. Consequently many scholars, including many who otherwise favour the historicity of the Synoptics, regard John's dating of the crucifixion as correct.
John is significantly different from the Synoptic Gospels in many ways. Some of the differences are:
The material in the Comparison Chart is from the Gospel Parallels by B. H. Throckmorton, The five Gospels by R. W. Funk, The Gospel According to the Hebrews, by E. B. Nicholson & The Hebrew Gospel and the Development of the Synoptic Tradition by J. R. Edwards.
|Item||Matthew, Mark, Luke||John||Thomas||Gospel of the Hebrews|
|New Covenant||The central theme of the Gospels - Love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself ||The central theme - Love is the New Commandment given by Jesus||Secret knowledge, love your friends ||The central theme - Love one another|
|Forgiveness||Very important - particularly in Matthew||Assumed||Not mentioned||Very important - Forgiveness is a central theme and this gospel goes into the greatest detail |
|The Lord's Prayer||In Matthew & Luke but not Mark ||Not mentioned||Not mentioned||Important - “mahar” or "tomorrow" |
|Love & the poor||Very Important - The rich young man ||Assumed ||Important ||Very important - The rich young man |
|Jesus starts his ministry||Jesus meets John the Baptist and is baptized ||Jesus meets John the Baptist ||N/A- Speaks of John the Baptist ||Jesus meets John the Baptist and is baptized. This gospel goes into the greatest detail |
|Disciples-inner circle||Peter, Andrew, James & John ||Peter, Andrew, James & the Beloved Disciple ||Peter, Andrew James & John ||Peter |
Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, Simon the Zealot, Jude Thaddaeus, & Judas
Philip, Nathanael, Matthew, Thomas, James, Simon the Zealot, Jude Thaddaeus & Judas 
Matthew, James the Just (Brother of Jesus), Simon the Zealot, Thaddaeus, Judas 
Matthew, Thomas, James the Just (Brother of Jesus) 
|Possible Authors||Unknown; Mark the Evangelist & Luke the Evangelist||The Beloved Disciple ||Thomas ||Matthew the Evangelist |
|Virgin birth account||In Matthew & Luke, but not Mark ||Not mentioned||Not mentioned||Not mentioned|
|Jesus' baptism||Described ||Not Mentioned ||N/A||Described great detail |
|Preaching style||Brief one-liners; parables||Essay format, Midrash||Sayings ||Brief one-liners; parables |
|Storytelling||Parables ||Figurative language & Metaphor ||Gnostic, hidden ||Parables |
|Jesus' theology||1st Century liberal Judaism.||Critical of Jewish Authorities||Gnostic ||1st Century Judaism |
|Miracles||Many miracles||Seven Signs||N/A||Fewer but more credible miracles |
|Duration of ministry||1 year ||3 years (Multiple Passovers)||N/A||1 year |
|Location of ministry||Mainly Galilee||Mainly Judea, near Jerusalem||N/A||Mainly Galilee|
|Passover meal||Body & Blood = Bread and wine||Interrupts meal for foot washing||N/A||Hebrew Passover is celebrated but details are N/A Epiphanius |
|Burial shroud||A single piece of cloth||Multiple pieces of cloth, as was the Jewish practice at the time.||N/A||Given to the High Priest |
|Resurrection||Mary and the Women are the first to learn Jesus has arisen||John adds detailed account of Mary's experience of the Resurrection||Not Applicable as Gospel of Thomas is a collection of the "sayings" of Jesus, not the events of his life||In the Gospel of the Hebrews is the unique account of Jesus appearing to his brother, James the Just.|
John was written somewhere near the end of the first century, probably in Ephesus, in Anatolia. The tradition of John the Apostle was strong in Anatolia, and Polycarp of Smyrna reportedly knew him. Like the previous gospels, it circulated separately until Irenaeus proclaimed all four gospels to be scripture.
The Church Fathers Polycarp, Ignatius of Antioch, and Justin Martyr did not mention this gospel, either because they didn't know it or didn't approve of it.
In the 2nd century, the two main, conflicting expressions of Christology were John's Logos theology, according to which Jesus was the incarnation of God's eternal Word, and adoptionism, according to which Jesus was "adopted" as God's Son. Christians who rejected Logos Christology were called "Alogi," and Logos Christology won out over adoptionism.
The Gospel of John was the favorite gospel of Valentinus, a 2nd-century Gnostic leader. His student Heracleon wrote a commentary on the gospel, the first gospel commentary in Christian history.
In the Diatesseron, the content of John was merged with the content of the Synoptics to form a single gospel that included nearly all the material in the four canonical gospels.
When Irenaeus proposed that all Christians accept Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John as orthodox, and only those four gospels, he regarded John as the primary gospel, due to its high Christology.
Although very much in line with many accounts in the Synoptic Gospels and probably primitive (the Didascalia Apostolorum definitely refers to it and it was probably known to Papias), the Pericope Adulterae is not part of the original text of the Gospel of John. The evidence for this view does not convince all scholars.
Online translations of the Gospel of John:
Gospel of John
Books of the Bible
|Gospel of John
|This is a disambiguation page. If an article link referred you here, please consider editing it to point directly to the intended page.|
Gospel of John is a book in the Bible. The following English translations may be available:
This is a chapter-by-chapter study guide to the biblical Gospel of John. Several texts can be found on Wikisource including the King James Version and | This modernized version
| Introduction | The Apostle John | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 | Chapter 18 | Chapter 19 | Chapter 20 | Chapter 21
w:Gospel of John on Wikipedia
|Books of the