The Destruction Of The Second Temple And The Composition Of The Fourth Gospel -- By: Andreas J. Köstenberger

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 26:2 (Fall 2005)
Article: The Destruction Of The Second Temple And The Composition Of The Fourth Gospel
Author: Andreas J. Köstenberger

The Destruction Of The Second Temple
And The Composition Of The Fourth Gospel

Andreas J. Köstenberger

Andreas J. Köstenberger is Professor of New Testament and Greek and Director of Ph.D. and Th.M. Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

The quest for the most plausible historical setting surrounding the composition of the Fourth Gospel has had a colorful history in Johannine scholarship. Traditionally, it was thought that the Apostle John, at the urging of some of his disciples, put pen to papyrus and recorded his personal reminiscences of the life and times of Jesus’ earthly ministry toward the end of the first century A.D. (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 3.1.2). The geographical framework for such a setting was centered around Ephesus in Asia Minor, a location that also features prominently in the ministry of the Apostle Paul and receives mention in the Letters to the Seven Churches in Revelation 2–3. John, the son of Zebedee, one of three disciples to make up Jesus’ inner circle, is paired with Peter in the early portions of the book of Acts, and was reputed to be one of the pillars of the early church in Galatians 2. It is widely held that he later moved to Ephesus, perhaps just prior to the outbreak of the Jewish War, where he had a fruitful ministry that led to the establishment of several congregations, which eventually were the recipients of the three canonical Johannine epistles. Still later, the same apostle was exiled to the island of Patmos, where he wrote the final book of the NT canon, the book of Revelation.

In this reconstruction, John’s gospel occupies a place well within the mainstream of first-century Christianity. The relationship with the other canonical Synoptic Gospels tends to be one of friendly supplementation rather than sharp conflict or discord. The gospel itself reflects not merely “Johannine tradition,” whether independent of or indebted to “Synoptic tradition,” but eyewitness testimony on the part of one of the key participants in the actual story and history leading to Jesus’ crucifixion by the Romans. The eyewitness claims in John’s gospel (e.g., 19:35; 21:24) were thought to apply to none other than John, the son of Zebedee himself, rather than being applied to him by a later group or community founded by him or tracing their origin back to him. While John was not the main person pushing forward the Gentile mission of the first-century Christians—this

privilege was reserved for the Apostle Paul—he w...

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