Trusting God's word
John’s gospel is different to the other three. It has more direct theological reflection, less narrative, and is perhaps more abstract in its major themes.
Liberal scholars used to suggest this was clear evidence John’s gospel was written by church leaders in the second or third century, after the church had sorted out its major teachings. More conservative scholars argued that it was written by the Apostle John, an eye-witness of Jesus, when he was a much older man, probably around AD 80. Who’s right?
In 1920 Bernard Grenfell was traveling through Egypt and purchased a collection of ancient papyri. He numbered them and then deposited them in a library in Manchester, England. In 1934 Colin Roberts spotted fragment P52 and immediately recognized that both sides of the papyrus contained the text of John’s gospel. Today this little scrap of papyrus, 6cm by 9cm, is our oldest historical link to the New Testament Scriptures with most scholars believing it was written between 125 and 150 A.D.
Princeton Theological Seminary’s Bruce Metzger, one of the twentieth century’s most prominent scholars of New Testament Textual Criticism, described its importance in this way: “Just as Robinson Crusoe, seeing but a single footprint in the sand, concluded that another human being, with two feet, was present on the island with him, so P52 proves the existence and use of the Fourth Gospel during the first half of the second century in a provincial town along the Nile, far removed from its traditional place of composition (Ephesus in Asia Minor).”
Trust God’s Word. Hear, believe, and obey the Gospel of John.