In a recent blog post, Ian Paul pushes back on some points John Barton makes in one of his influential books. I find myself between the two, agreeing with Ian that there is a tendency to treat a widespread academic surmise about the dates of works and other matters as though they were known with a high degree of certainty, almost gospel truth. Yet I also tend to find that Ian prefers conservative dates and views because of his own leanings.
I hope at some point to write a book about the Gospel of John, recognizing that it might indeed have a close connection to an eyewitness, and yet also recognizing that this only makes the problem of the differences between John and the other Gospels more significant and not less. I think that John A. T. Robinson’s arguments about the character of the Gospel of John and the meaning of its Christology have been largely separated, with the latter ignored all around while his willingness to date John’s Gospel early has been pointed to regularly by conservatives and consequently largely ignored by others. His entire argument has far greater merit and nuance than that, and eventually I hope to get back to that question.
If you are among those who have ignored his arguments, I highly recommend Robinson’s book The Priority of John. (His Redating the New Testament is also relevant.) If people would read and seriously wrestle with his arguments, me writing something on the subject might not be necessary. On the other hand, historical study has moved on in important ways since he wrote, and some of the things he wrote as mere tantalizing suggestions deserve to be explored further. He himself might have done this had he not died before finalizing the manuscript, which was edited and published posthumously.
Of related interest:
From James Tabor:
From Bob Cornwall:
Newly digitized older books about Jesus:
The Teaching of Jesus by D. M. Ross
The Gospel that Jesus Preached by A. T. Cadoux