The Religious A priori



One of the major Skeptical arguments about John which is popular right now, is that his Gospel is not very Jewish, and in fact represents a hellenized or Greek/Gentile version of the Gospel compossed some time in the second century. Some of the major points that internet skeptics use are the use of the Greek term Logos, the dualistic theology, and the seeming lack of Jeiwsh themes.

I. Historical Nature of the Account.

The claim to first hand representations begins with the BD himself, the testimony of the work centers around this disciple whom "Jesus loved," the disciple closest to Jesus. according to Johnson the Forth Gospel shows first hand traditons of Palestine in the first century, the customs and ideology of that region and time. (The New Testament Writtings, 469).

Archaeological discovery has uncovered the pool of Bethseda in John Chapter 5, and it's 5 porticos which was not known and thought to be a myth until "excavation in Jerusalem has brough to light a pool with five porticos and an assortment of detailed and interesting evidence has led highly competetant archaeologists to conclude that this probably was the Bethseda to which the fourth Gospel alludes." [Dr. Jerimiahs did this research in 1949. F.F. Bruce also documents the discovery in The New Testament Doctuments, and in Araeology of the Bible: Book by Book, Galyaah Cornfeld documents the similarities of the account and the fact that the pool had been marked by ealier pilgrims as the spot. A moseic was found which had been covered up for some time, which depicted the story of the angel "troubling the waters."

There are a few earmarks of an eye witness account. First in Chapter 20 the Elders of the Ephasis chruch attest to the veracity of the BD as the author and as an eye witness to the events described. This level of redaction probably accounts for the second or third level of redaction, but unless we stoop to the silly notion that they just made it up, we should take them at their word as vouching for the beloved figure of their community. We might ask why he was believed (by the community)? Because he was a great guy? Or because they knew he was actually there, that he knew the Lord, the Apostles and saw the events unfold?

Morover the focuss on Mary Magdelen as the only woman at the tomb, which should tell us more than just an empty "contradiction." It should tell us that Mary wound up in the John community, that she was the eye witness to whom they had the most access and upon whose word their version of the story was based. Chruch legeond does have it that Mary stayed with John and Jesus' mother Mary and latter Mary M. and John traveled together sperading the Gospel. This could be a reflection of the reality that MM. stayed in the John community. Why else focuss just on her?

There is also the BD's access to the family at Bethany. No other Gospel records this aspect of Jesus' social life or let's us into the life of the characters. WE also find the one expression of real emotion on the part of Jesus ("Jesus wept") in relation to this family, it's loss of Lazarus and in this Gospel. All of this suggests an eye witness who was part of the scene at Bethany and who was close to this segment of Jesus realations, and a segment to which the other Gospel writters had no access. For this reason Kasemann concluded that the BD was Lazarus.

That the Gospel existed from an early date can be seen in many early souces.


New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia

John, from I's discussion of Papias Eusebius on Papius[The same person uses proofs from the First Epistle of John, and from the Epistle of Peter in like manner. And he also gives another story of a woman who was accused of many sins before the Lord, which is to be fount in the Gospel according to the Hebrews.

With the similarities between the 1 John and John, the odds are high that this indicates that John existed before this time, but it's not direct proof; he could have had a differnt version of 1 John but in any case that's what I was thinking of. I remerebered it wrong. 1 John rather than John.

Ignatious Quotes John, eventhough he doesn't mention it by name. That Polycarp attesting to John is the old McDowell argument. Eusebuis said that Polycarp attests to it, and so does Iranaeus; that John wrote it, so it had to have existed if he really said that. He may be wrong about who wrote it, but it must have existed.

My theory is that the Johonnine community went to Asia Minor, based upon the Chruches of Revelation. The Earliest copies of the Gospel turn up in Egypt, but that could be explained by the Schizmatic faction metioned in 1 John. They were gsotics (1 John, the Elder is battaling the Gnostic herasy that Christ's fleshly existece was illusory). The schizmatics spirt from the group (they went out from us because they were not truley of us). They could have gone to Egypt and taken the Gospel with them. The first appearances of the work in Egypt are among Gnostic groups. The Johannine community probably formed an alliance with the Pauline circle at some point, based up mutual adoration of Jesus as Divine, and that opened their Gosple to wider Christain circles.As for Koester, speaking of Mark, comparing it to other Gospel attestations he says,

"Although a rather early date must be assigned to the Gosple of Mark, the eariest attestation is markedly poorer than the attestation for Matt. and Luke; to say nothing of the early appearance of the Gospel of John from Egypt." [P 237 Koster says: "Several Gostic writtings in Egypt used it and the fist commentaries ever written on any Gospel are commentaries on the Gospel of John which derive form Egypt."

These sources are Valentinian commentaries in Clement of A and Iranaeus. He goes on to agree about the major early second century bulwarks such as Ignatious not mentioning it, but also indicates that Ignatious lanaguage is very Johonnine. In a book by Eugene R. Fairweather (U. of Toronto--Anthology of Chruch Fathers, a passage is marked from Ignatius and Polycarp which appear to be quotes form John. The problem with my theory is it didn't show up in Asia minor until latter in second century, but that could just be because we don't know everything about what they did.Apparently it was circulating in Egypt before that.

The Gospel of John:
Introduction, Argument, Outline
Daniel B. Wallace

Dr. Wallace has taught Greek and New Testament courses on a graduate school level since 1979. He has a Ph.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary, and is currently professor of New Testament Studies at his alma mater. His Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Zondervan, 1996) has become a standard textbook in colleges and seminaries. He is the senior New Testament editor of the NET Bible. His email address is:

Wallace argue for Johannine authorship. I do not support that, but the same documentation also works to indicate an early date for John, and its link to someone named John, as I believe that the Gospel was written by the "Edler John" (Papias and 1 John) this documentation supports my view as well.

"As with the other gospels, no MSS which contain John’s Gospel1 affirm authorship by anyone other than John.2 Once again, as with the others, this is short of proof of Johannine authorship, but the unbroken stream suggests recognition (or at least acknowledgment) of Johannine authorship as early as the first quarter of the second century. Indeed, John’s Gospel is unique among the evangelists for two early papyri (P66 and P75, dated c. 200) attest to Johannine authorship. Since these two MSS were not closely related to each other, this common tradition must precede them by at least three or four generations of copying. Further, although B and P75 are closely related, textual studies have demonstrated that P75 is not the ancestor of B—in fact, B’s ancestor was, in many respects, more primitive than P75.3 Hence, the combined testimony of B and P75 on Johannine authorship points to a textual tradition which must be at least two generations earlier than P75. All of this is to say that from the beginning of the second century, the fourth gospel was strongly attached to the apostle John."*(fn at bottom)

The Ms evidence of the titles support an early date, so do he mentions by chruch fathers.

"Attestation of Johannine authorship is found as early as Irenaeus. Eusebius reports that Irenaeus received his information from Polycarp, who in turn received it from the apostles directly. Although Irenaeus’ testimony has been assailed on critical grounds (since he received the information as a child, and may have been mistaken as to which John wrote the gospel), since all patristic writers after Irenaeus do not question apostolic authorship, criticism must give way to historical probability. The list of fathers include Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, etc. Further, the Muratorian Canon suggests that John was given the commission to write this gospel after Andrew received a vision indicating that he would do so. If one were to sift out the possible accretions in this statement, the bare fact of Johannine authorship is not disturbed. Finally, the anti-Marcionite Prologue also affirms Johannine authorship.In countering this external evidence are two considerations. (1) There would be a strong motivation on the part of patristic writers to suggest authorship by an apostle. Further, the internal evidence, when compared with the synoptics, strongly suggests John as the leading candidate. But ;'this is off-set by the remarkably early documentary testimony of Johannine authorship4 as well as early patristic hints (Ignatius, Justin, Tatian)".

Earliest fragmens of NT support early date for John


Further, P52—the earliest fragment for any NT book—contains portions of John 18:31-33 and 37-38 and is to be dated as early as 100 CE5; and the Papyrus Egerton 2, which is to be dated at about the same time, draws on both John and synoptics for its material.6 Although the early patristic hints and the early papyri do not explicitly affirm Johannine authorship, they do illustrate its early and widespread use, an implicit testimony to its acceptance by the church. Indeed, there seems never to have been a time when this gospel bore any name other than John’s.*(see fn 5 at bottom)

Philip Schaff, 1882 provides several possible quoatations of John by early chruch fathers, who are said by skeptics not to metion him. This is an outdated source, but it makes really good use of the Apostolic fathers and that information has not changed.

Etherial Library
Philip Schaff

But we can go still farther back. The scanty writings of the Apostolic Fathers, so called, have very few allusions to the New Testament, and breathe the atmosphere of the primitive oral tradition. The author of the "Didache" was well acquainted with Matthew. The first Epistle of Clement has strong affinity with Paul. The shorter Epistles of Ignatius show the influence of John's Christology.30 Polycarp (d. a.d. 155 in extreme old age), a personal pupil of John, used the First Epistle of John, and thus furnishes an indirect testimony to the Gospel, since both these 'books must stand or fall together.31

32John 1:40-43; from which it has also been inferred that he knew the fourth Gospel. There is some reason to suppose that the disputed section on the woman taken in adultery was recorded by him in illustration of John 8:15; for, according to Eusebius, he mentioned a similar story in his lost work.3334

Here from the footnotes where he lines up the quotations. Quotations of Ignatius drawing upon the 4G..


Comp.(FN 1065) such expressions as "I desire bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ ... and I desire as drink His blood, which is love imperishable," Ad Rom., ch. 7, with John 6:47 sqq.; "living water," Ad Rom. 7, with John 4:10, 11; "being Himself the Door of the Father," Ad Philad., 9, with John 10:9; [the Spirit] "knows whence it cometh and whither it goeth," Ad Philad., 7, with John 3:8. I quoted from the text of Zahn. See the able art. of Lightfoot in "Contemp. Rev." for February, 1875, and his S. Ignatius, 1885.

[here quotes Polycarp](FN1066)
31 Polyc., Ad Phil., ch. 7: "Every one that doth not confess that Jesus Christ hath come in the flesh is Antichrist; and whosoever doth not confess the mystery of the cross is of the devil." Comp. 1 John 4:3. On the testimony of Polycarp see Lightfoot in the "Contemp. Rev." for May, 1875. Westcott, p. xxx, says: "A testimony to one" (the Gospel or the first Ep.) "is necessarily by inference a testimony to the other."Eusebius32 According to Eusebius, III. 39. See Lightfoot in the "Contemp. Rev." for August and October, 1875.

33 Eusebius, H. E., III. 39, closes his account of Papias with the notice: "He has likewise set forth another narrative [in his Exposition of the Lord's Oracles] concerning a woman who was maliciously accused before the Lord touching many sins, which is contained in the Gospel according to the Hebrews."

Here From Justin Martyr The quotation is not literal but from memory, like most of his quotations:Justin, Apol., I. 61: "For Christ also said, Except ye beborn again [ajnagennhqh'te, comp. 1 Pet. 3:23], ye shall in no wise enter [eijsevlqh'te, but comp. the same word In John 8:5 and 7] into the kingdom of heaven (the phrase of Matthew]. Now that it is impossible for those who have once been born to re-enter the wombs of those that bare them is manifest to all."John 3:3, 4: "Jesus answered and said to him [Nicodemus], Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born anew [or from above, gennhqh'/ a[nwqen], he cannot see [ijdei'n 3: 5, enter into] the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?"Much account has been made by the Tübingen critics of the slight differences in the quotation (ajnagennhqh'te for gennhqh'/ a[nwqen, eijselqei'n for ijdei'n and basileiva tw'n oujranw'n for ba". tou' qeou') to disprove the connection, or, as this is impossible, to prove the dependence of John on Justin! But Dr. Abbot, a most accurate and conscientious scholar, who moreover as a Unitarian cannot be charged with an orthodox bias, has produced many parallel cases of free quotations of the same passage not only from patristic writers, but even from modem divines, including no less than nine quotations of the passage by Jeremy Taylor, only two of which are alike. I think he has conclusively proven his case for every reasonable mind. See his invaluable monograph on The Authorship of the Fourth Gospel, pp. 28 sqq. and 91 sqq. Comp. also Weiss, Leben Jesu, I. 83, who sees in Justin Martyr not only "an unquestionable allusion to the Nicodemus story of the fourth Gospel," but other isolated reminiscences.

Luke T. Johnson
The Real Jesus

"Although the Gospels undoubtedly bear within them evidence of firsthand sources and even eyewitnesses, such material is not identified as such, and the narratives as a whole were most probably composed by authors of the generation after that of Jesus' immediate followers." (Luke Timothy Johnson, 1996, p.107)

*footnotes from Wallace

1 i.e., which contain John either in its entirety or at least which have the first few verses, permitting them to reveal their inscription. It should be added here that P52, which is to be dated c. 100-150, only contains portions of five verses from John 18.

2 The simplest inscription is kataV jIwavnnhn, found in a B (“according to John”). As time progressed this became more elaborate: in the fifth century the title was customarily eujaggevlion kataV jIwavnnhn ([A] C D L W et al. [“The Gospel according to John”]), while still later it was called a{gion eujaggevlion kataV jIwavnnhn (28 and others [“the Holy Gospel according to John”]). Curiously, the two earliest MSS (P66 and P75) have eujaggevlion kataV jIwavnnhn, a fact which suggests that this gospel—even more than the synoptics—was already well accepted in the early part of the second century, for such accretions were usually associated with books which had a long-standing history of acceptance with the church. This further illustrates that even though these two papyri are our earliest (fairly) complete witnesses to John, the great codices of the fourth century may, at times, be more reliable guides to the wording of the original text.

5 For a survey of the dating of this MS, cf. D. B. Wallace, “John 5,2 and the Date of the Fourth Gospel,” Biblica 71 (1990) 177-78 (n. 6).]

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The Religious A priori