The Johannine Corpus in the Early Church

By Charles E. Hill | Go to book overview

8 The Evidence for a Johannine Corpus

It would present a very incomplete picture of the setting for ecclesiastical use of the Gospel according to John in the second century if I spoke only of it separately, as independent from its most prominent literary associations. It had from very early on, of course, close associations with other 'gospel' literature, particularly with the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke. But for at least a great number of authors, surely representing the popular mind, it was viewed not only as a Gospel among other Gospels but also as a Gospel among other works attributed to John the apostle. Many writers who knew one member of what we now call the Johannine corpus knew two or more of them, and without exception at least up until the beginning of the third century, all who give them an attribution attribute them to the same person. This also helps explain and justify the observation that the authority imputed to any one member of the corpus seems to have been imputed to each. There is indeed sufficient reason to speak of ecclesiastical awareness of a Johannine literary corpus from early in the second century. At least with Papias himself, between 120 and 135, we see clear knowledge of the Gospel, the First Epistle, and the Revelation of John, and most probably the elder he cites made some connection between the Gospel and the First Epistle. From that point on we see intermittent signs of a recognition and reception not just of the Gospel, but of the Apocalypse and 1 John, and in a few authors 2 John and, in Irenaeus and the MF, 3 John. Here I want to explore further this awareness of a Johannine literary corpus, and even the possibility of there being an edition of this corpus available in the second century, before exploring the implications for the study of the history of the NT canon.


Evidence from Common Use

I begin with a simple review of the probable use of the members of the Johannine corpus on the part of the authors studied. The list in Table 1 cannot of course be considered definitive; there are some whose knowledge of one or more of these books is at least not certain, and, on the other hand, it is also true that a given author may know and receive more books than are now visible in their sometimes quite fragmentary works which remain. I have included in Table 1 those attestations which have some

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The Johannine Corpus in the Early Church
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Johannine Corpusin the Early Church iii
  • Acknowledgements v
  • Contents vii
  • List of Figures and Table viii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Introduction 1
  • I the Orthodox Johannophobia Theory 11
  • 1: The Making of a Consensus 13
  • 2: The State of the Question and Plan of This Book 56
  • Ii: the Johannine Writings in the Second Century 73
  • 3: John Among the Orthodox, C. Ad 170-200 75
  • 4: Gaius of Rome and the Johannine Controversy 172
  • 5: John and 'The Gnostics' 205
  • 6: John Among the Orthodox, 150-C.170 294
  • 7: John Among the Orthodox, Before C.150 360
  • Iii the 'Johannine Corpus'In the Second Century 447
  • 8: The Evidence for a Johannine Corpus 449
  • Conclusion 465
  • Chronology 475
  • Bibliography 478
  • Index of Ancient Texts 499
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