Scholars who support the OJP differ somewhat over the question of exactly who first introduced the Fourth Gospel to orthodox audiences and initiated the orthodox retrieval of John, and over exactly when this occurred. The name most frequently associated with the recovery is that of Irenaeus, whose use of this Gospel is the most accessible of any orthodox writer to his time, and whose influence as an author is widely recognized. Yet some scholars will allow for a bit of tentative, antecedent use. Koester thinks that before Irenaeus quoted from it in Gaul in the 180s he must have become acquainted with it in Asia Minor, though he does not speculate on whether Irenaeus ultimately got it from Church leaders or from heretics. 1 Haenchen concedes that 'John 1: 5 is quoted in Oratio ad Graecos 13. 1 as scripture' by Tatian. But he adds, 'that takes us approximately to the year 176 ce, and thus very close to the time of Irenaeus; it would thus not be a fundamentally new piece of evidence'. 2 Walter Bauer and Raymond Brown also cite Tatian, but only his Diatessaron, which used all four of the canonical Gospels. And both of these writers promptly remove Tatian from the orthodox witness stand and make him a witness for the heterodox. Tatian broke with the Church in Rome 'on account of profound differences in faith', 3 by becoming 'an encratite who played down the value of the flesh, and so he should be reckoned on the heterodox side of the usage of John'. 4 Brown goes on to propose that 'The earliest indisputable orthodox use of the Fourth Gospel is by Theophilus of Antioch in his Apology to Autolycus (ca. A.D. 180)'. 5 Brown discovers the first indisputable orthodox use in about 180; Haenchen will come down as far as 176, each finding but one slightly earlier precursor to the practice of Irenaeus in the 180s.
Culpepper, perhaps owing to the researches of Hengel, is willing to see orthodox use of John beginning somewhat earlier. He begins his examination of 'the Church's acceptance of the Johannine writings' with the anti-heretical apocryphon, the Epistula Apostolorum, which he dates to c.160-70.