- Dear list members,
The mention of John 20:30-31 in a recent post from Thomas
Butler started a chain of ideas that I thought I might put to the list.
Our recent discussions on `two witnesses' and `multiple
attestation' also make it pertinent.
"Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the
disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written
that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and
that believing you may have life in his name."
I have suggested many times that John was the product of a
group of apostles and eyewitnesses. I believe that the context for
their writing was a council in Ephesus in late 68, following
Nero's persecutions and death. I also claim that the Revelation
preceded Nero's persecutions and that John received it in mid
62. The giving of the Revelation precipitated a greater/renewed
expectation of the imminent return of Christ and of the tribulation
that would precede it as expressed in the epistles of the time.
When Nero died and Jesus did not show, there was a
considerable crisis the apostles had got it wrong. Not only did
the apostles and others need to produce a word of
encouragement to alleviate the crisis, they had to provide a
written record of Jesus' teachings for a Church which might
outlast them, i.e. the apostles and eyewitnesses.
When John says that Jesus did many other things `in the
presence of the disciples', the implication, it seems to me, is
that those things that are recorded are those that were done in
the presence of the apostles and eyewitnesses particularly the
former who were still surviving. The Gospel of John, then, was
not just a record of anything that Jesus had done but an account
of some of the things which at least two of the remaining
apostles had witnessed and which they could confirm. This also
adds to our understanding of 21:24.
By 68 we know that James the brother of John (44) and Peter
(64) were both dead. Therefore none of the events witnessed
only by the inner three (Peter, James and John) such as the
transfiguration or Gethsemane are included. The temptations
are not included as no apostle was present. On the other hand,
the story of the two disciples of John who followed after Jesus
(1:29f) means that both must have been present as contributors
to the gospel (i.e. Andrew and ? John?).
I suspect that there is no interest here for those who do not allow
the possibility of an early John but, for what it is worth, what do