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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Date of John

Following the discussion on the dating of John based on P52 (see the HTR article mentioned by Mark Goodacre), Sean Winter has mentioned the possibility of potential early dating of John. Although I think a post 70 dating of John is fairly clear, it is the critique of assumptions mentioned by Sean that I think are sadly ignored too often in NT scholarship e.g. developed theology or Christology that suggests a late date. While there are serious problems with JAT Robinson's arguments in favour of early datings of certain NT documents, his attack on such assumptions are important. How long does it really take to 'devleop' theologically? 5 years, 10 years, 40 years? How long does it really take to develop a 'high' christology? This is not to say that Christians of (say) 35 CE necessarily had a very high Christology just that the arguments of developed theology necessarily = late date does not hold very much weight. Not to mention the sometimes subjective nature of 'developed theology'.


Blogger J. B. Hood said...


"I think a post 70 dating of John is fairly clear"

I'm no expert here, and I imagine you've thought a great deal about this since your work on Mark had a good bit to do with dating. What are the decisive elements that make it "clear" in your mind?

August 14, 2005

Blogger James Crossley said...

My main reasons are based on the following:

John 2.13-22 and the cleansing of the Temple. This goes much further than the synoptics with some notable views on Temple destruction and replacement with Jesus' body. These views are not so explcit in the synoptic tradition and I would think were prompted by the fall of Jerusalem. This is not the strongest case but there are other better ones.

Esp. eschatology: the preaching on the imminent kingdom is not there in John and is replaced with entering the kingdom in John 3. There is no imminent second coming either. I think this is best explained by failed prophecies and the second coming not happening. Given the earlier stuff in Christianity hopes for a return within a generation or lifetime after Jesus was preaching (around 40 years top limit) then this would make most sense then.

Then if we include John 21 too (this may have been a leter addition of course but it's there so whatever...) there is a very clear emphasis on the second coming not necessarily being imminent and being potentially put off sometime in the future. This is a notable feature of 2 Peter 3 also.

August 15, 2005

Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Hi James. Great blog.

You wrote: How long does it really take to develop a 'high' christology? This is not to say that Christians of (say) 35 CE necessarily had a very high Christology just that the arguments of developed theology necessarily = late date does not hold very much weight.

I agree with your equation.
But Hurtado, Hengel, Wright, Bauckham, Turner etc. would suggest that an early Christology was a 'high' Christology, even if by that one means a 'divine' Christology.

Furthermore, almost everyone would suggest that the earliest historical layers of Christology was 'high'. This is true even of those who would deny it was divine (e.g. Casey, Dunn etc.). As far as Paul is concerned, I've only come across one that would claim his Christology was 'low' (cf. Earl Richard, One and Many). And his arguments are definetly not the best.

As you probably know, the monumental Lord Jesus Christ by Hurtado is the book to read in relation to the question of Christology and its development from its earliest layers on.

All the best,

August 15, 2005

Blogger James Crossley said...

As it happens I agree with what you say Chris. When I say 'not necessarily' I was just trying to say that developed theology is no sign of late date but that by attacking this sort of argument does not prove high Christology of the earliest Christians. It was really the argument I was getting at not the content as it were. As you rightly point out there are some very strong arguments out there to show that 'high' christology was present from a very early date.

August 16, 2005

Blogger J. B. Hood said...

I guess Chris is all three of those people in his picture? Is he Trinitarian (if not theologically, then personally)?

James, good thoughts on John. I would think one of the real challenges for dating is how John uses the term "Jews"; is he himself working off of the prophetic tradition--which extends through Jesus--where one could blast one's own people (Israel, Judah, Jerusalem, Capernaum)? Or is it (as some would claim here) late, anti-Jewish work? I suppose in part that depends on how one reads the symbolic supercession of Temple, Jerusalem, ceremonial washing (wine at Cana?), Passover (?), Sabbath (?), Moses/manna, etc. This certainly isn't merely a Gentile revision, as J's actions are important precisely BECAUSE they are linked to the OT events.

Then there's John 9:34...

What a web...there is nothing that fails to affect one's thesis it seems (as in writing a dissertation...).

Additionally, the framework of apocalyptic/esch/temple destruction served for a great deal of ethical kingdom instruction (in Matt and Luke), which is almost roundly absent from John. I would say that Jn's emphasis is belief and entrance (into kingdom, community, etc), without caring much to spell out the implications of that, while Matt and Luke at least clearly want to spell out "how/what" the community's agenda must look like.

August 16, 2005

Anonymous Christopher Shell said...

For a long time I have thought c75 is the best date. The date suggested by the text is a date when the fall of the temple and Peter's & John's deaths are topical. The fall of the temple cannot be too recent, otherwise more would be made of it.

August 25, 2005


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