Thursday, April 30 2020 by Matt Horan
A Word of Introduction about the Gospel of John:
The earliest existing written attribution of this Gospel to the Apostle John, son of Zebedee, was by Irenaeus in his writing opposing the Gnostic Movement in the year 180AD. While he is not likely the inventor of this attribution, it does show a lack of absolute clarity about the authorship of the Gospel.
Further, it is widely accepted (Boring & Craddock, Frend, and others) that there were two editions of the Gospel–a first edition followed by one added later by members of the Ephesus community who were led by John for a tim (for example, in verse 1:14 the narrator is “we”). The additions expounded on some of the theological implications of the elements of the first edition, which were a simpler narrative of Jesus’ words and work.
However, the attribution of an author was usually, frequently done not to deceive, but rather to locate the Gospel theologically by associating it with the point-of-view held, as well as the intended audience being reached. Attribution to John’s by his students in the Ephesian church would give this clarity to its readers as a helpful reference point as it was circulated among the churches of the first and second centuries, AD. However, in light of the lack of other potential candidates, as well a my own personal belief, I’ll refer to the author as John going forward.
Right off the bat John takes issue with the Gnostics, a group who’d invented a complex pre-creation mythology to explain how evil came to be in a world created by a holy God.
In response, John associates Jesus with the “logos,” a Greek conception of the divine reasoning that undergirds all things, and announces first and foremost that Jesus was there in the beginning, and is the connection between what happened at creation, what was happening now, and everything in between. Then he drops the mic, and introduces us to the first person we’ll meet in John’s narrative, John the Baptist, who actually had a considerable following in Ephesus. We’ll get to know him a little better tomorrow.
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