Loisy on The Gospel of John

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by Neil Godfrey

Why do I always seem to catch up with the older work last? Here are my notes from Alfred Loisy’s Origins of the New Testament (originally 1936) on the evidence for tradition concerning the Gospel of John.

The Gospel of John was a latecomer and “the elders” in Asia, specifically Ephesus, who were pushing for its acceptance had to compete against the synoptic gospels. To make the new gospel acceptable at such a late date it was necessary to attribute to its author a very long lifespan — from being a young man in the time of Jesus and living up till the time of Trajan (98-117). The Elders were able to say that they had conversed with this very elder John in the early years of the second century. (If he had been 20 at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion he would have been 90 years old in 100 ce.) In reality the apostle John was never in Asia but was confused with John the Elder there.

Loisy arrives at the above scenario from the evidence in Irenaeus, the Gospel of John itself, and the testimony of Papias. Continue reading “Loisy on The Gospel of John”