and their habitual attribution to a common apostolic origin, point to a very early and seemingly instinctive recognition of authority which befits some authoritative source.
All this, and the entire foregoing study, indicates that the long-prevalent understanding of the rise of the Johannine corpus in the Church must be abandoned and replaced with something more historically accurate. Both in its peculiar narrative of the life and sayings of Jesus and in its distinctive Christological expressions, the Fourth Gospel had a profound influence in the mainstream Church of the second century such as the bulk of modern scholarship has left us entirely unprepared to appreciate. The first half of the second century can no longer be called a silent period in the witness to the Fourth Gospel. This Gospel's Christology apparently never was perceived as 'gnostic' or heterodox, and was not a detriment but an advantage to the book's wide reception. And the vaunted gnostic affection for John, in preference to other Gospels, simply does not materialize in the sources remaining to us. In the present circumstances, the issue most to be reckoned with is surely the sometimes shocking, adversarial nature of many of the earliest gnostic appropriations of John (and of 1 John). Nor did this Gospel snake its independent way through the period as a maverick and unaccompanied force. Not only was it quickly associated with three other authoritative Gospels, but it belonged from apparently quite an early time (almost certainly from prior to Papias' writing, perhaps from the time of its original circulation) to a literary corpus attributed to an apostle of Jesus. Assessments of the 'Johannine school' and its history, and treatments of the rise of a New Testament canon, should recognize what looks like a mostly shared history of the use and reception of the books of the Johannine corpus in the second century, despite the fragmentation of that history in the succeeding centuries.