The Gospel of John (GJohn) is without doubt one of the most important and most influential "Jesus books" ever composed. Particularly in the christological disputes of the early centuries, it was unexcelled as the favorite arsenal of textual ammunition (often by both sides of the disputes!).1 Moreover, as one of the four canonical accounts, GJohn is of course historically linked with the Synoptic Gospels, but unlike them, it is more directly associated with certain other writings in the New Testament, especially the three epistles of John. GJohn and these other "Johannine" writings are commonly thought by scholars to have come from the same (or closely related) circles of first-century Christian believers; they were all probably composed in their present form within a decade or so of one another.2 Also, most scholars hold that GJohn does not demonstrate a direct literary relationship with any of the other three canonical Gospels, but rather, reflects a discrete stream of Jesus tradition (a matter to which I
1. See esp. Maurice Wiles, The Spiritual Gospel: The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel in
the Early Church (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1960); T. E. Pollard, Johannine Chris-
tology and the Early Church, SNTSMS 13 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970). On
the usage and influence of John, see the classic work by F.-M. Braun, Jean le théologien et son
Évangile dans l'église ancienne, Ebib (Paris: J. Gabalda, 1959); and René Kieffer, "Les premiers in-
dices d'une réception de L'Évangile de saint Jean," in The Four Gospels 1992: Festschrift Frans
Neirynck, ed. F. Van Segbroeck, C. M. Tuckett, G. Van Belle, and J. Verheyden (Leuven: Leuven
University Press/Peeters, 1992), 3:2225-38.
2. Although early Christian tradition also ascribed the book of Revelation to the "John"
(Zebedee) to whom the Gospel and epistles of John were attributed, most scholars today doubt
that Revelation comes from the same author, and perhaps not even from the same circles of
Christian believers, as the Gospel of John and the Johannine epistles. I discuss the presentation
of Jesus in Revelation in chap. 10.