The Johannine Corpus in the Early Church

By Charles E. Hill | Go to book overview

Conclusion

The Myth of Orthodox Johannophobia

The broken silence of the earliest sources

None of the three planks of the orthodox Johannophobia paradigm identified at the beginning of this study appears solid anymore; even together they cannot hold the weight they have been forced to bear. It is not that the earliest sources are silent, so much as that we have been hard of hearing, a condition aggravated by routine misconceptions about the standards of literary borrowing in the period. 1 While there are some early Christian sources which attest no clear signs of John's influence, these are not in the end very consequential in the light of the predominantly early date of these sources and the growing recognition that echoes of the Fourth Gospel can indeed be heard through an impressive number of other early witnesses. After the Johannine Epistles, the influence of this Gospel is evident in the writings or oral teachings of Ignatius, Polycarp, (John) the Elder, Aristides, Papias, the longer ending of Mark, the later portions of the Shepherd of Hermas, the Epistula Apostolorum, the Ad Diognetum, all before about 150. These represent the Great Church in at least Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, and Italy. The witness of Papias and his sources is of particular magnitude, as it seems to represent a substratum of tradition about the four Gospels which became widely diffused. This witness is consistent with the eminence of the four Gospels which is assumed by the longer ending of Mark, well before the comments made by Irenaeus in the 180s. The availability and even apparent popularity of the Fourth Gospel is certainly suggested by its strong representation among the surviving papyrus fragments of early Christian writings. It is also seen in the pointed suggestions by both Aristides in the 120s and Justin in the 150s that the reigning emperor read the Christian Gospels, a category of writings which evidently included the Gospel according to John. By the middle of the century, when Justin Martyr, Tatian, Valentinus, Ptolemy, and Hegesippus were in Rome, this Gospel must have been quite a well-known and prominent Christian authority. Justin's notice that the apostolic memoirs were read in Christian services of worship in Rome must have encompassed John as well, suggesting, again, not only that it was no newcomer to the scene but that it also

-465-

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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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