Historical accuracy of the gospel of John


In the gospel of John we find Jesus saying things that are not found in the other three gospels:
Before Abraham came to be, I am.
The Father and I are one.
For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.
If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.
All that belongs to the Father is mine.
For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

But we don’t find these quotes in the other three gospels, Mark, Matthew or Luke, which were written much earlier than the gospel of John. The gospel of John was written about 60 years after the death of Jesus. Why is his gospel so much different from the other three gospels which were written earlier and is this an indication that the gospel of John may not be historically accurate? What is the source of the gospel of John other than an oral tradition which was handed down from year to year ?


The bible is not a history book. It is a book detailing God’s covenants with man, and which has certain history in it. It does not teach error, and this is important.

Some questions right back: So, for 2,000 years, no one has noticed? For 2,000 years, the best and brightest of scholars and mystics have simply been fooled? For 2,000 years, this total inconsistency has been conveniently overlooked? Or, could there just be some other explanation?

John’s Gospel flies above the others theologically. John was the Apostle whom Jesus loved and trusted with the care if His mother. The Holy Spirit lead them into all truth and reminded them of what Jesus had taught.

The preaching that had occurred all along was under the impression that the Parousia was imminent. The end was the one thing that was not revealed to man, as God alone knows. It became apparent that time would march on for some undetermined period into the future.

Thus, some of the finer details emerged, so as not to be lost to the ages. Notice that certain events which John witnessed are not in his Gospel. They had been covered in the others and that preaching was well known.

John was the only one to receive the revelation (Apocalypse) which he did. Clearly he was privy to certain things, and things were revealed to him that were revealed to no other.


Many Catholic theologians will say that God is immovable and that God does not move. But Scripture teaches us that God was moving and walking around in a garden on earth thousands of years before Christ. So since Scripture is not in error, must we conclude that the Catholic theologians who say that God does not move are in error?


Already had this discussion. Repeatedly. You are giving the Bible your own interpretation which is not consistent with the universal understanding of the Church. God does not change. The language used in the bible which pictures him as so is figurative and intended to convey certain aspects of God to us in terms we can understand.

I know you either can’t or won’t accept this fact, so I am outta here. But that is the truth.


In addition, John speaks as a person who lived through everything, and is looking back, making a complete picture. Hindsight reveals much to people. The BIG Picture, if you will.


You say that some Biblical passages are figurative and not to be taken literally. But that is the question concerning the gospel of John. Since the gospel was written so many years later than the other three gospels, how do we know that many of the things written in the gospel of John are historically accurate quotations and are not to be taken figuratively? What was the source of the gospel of John, except oral tradition which was handed down year after year by word of mouth?


He didn’t need word of mouth. He was an eyewitness.


Unlike the other three “synoptic” gospels, John was not intended to relate events in strictly historical way. It is not a history book, it is a “theology” book written by a mystic, set in a historical context. The “source” of John’s Gospel is in fact extensive. Presumably, John had the access to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, as well as to the Book of Acts, and several of Paul’s letters, and other “written sources” not available to the synoptic writers (see below). John was written well after these other books. Also, John was an eye witness to the events of Christ’s ministry. This isn’t merely “word of mouth”, it is his own memory. More over, “oral tradition” of the time doesn’t mean what I think you think it means.

" Most scholars believe that the author of John’s gospel used oral and written sources different from those available to the Synoptic authors – a “signs” source, a “revelatory discourse” source, and others – although there are indications that a later editor of this gospel may have used Mark and Luke."

Scholz, Daniel J. (2009). Jesus in the Gospels and Acts. St Mary’s Press. ISBN 978-0-88489-955-6.

Dr. Daniel Scholz holds a PhD from Marquette University in biblical theology and is currently the chair of philosophy and religious studies at Cardinal Stritch University. He has taught the New Testament for almost 20 years at a variety of schools and served as the curriculum committee chair for St. Francis Seminary. He also serves as a speaker to the John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization.


Never forget, one is a Jew/Christian inwardly.

History, I would believe, is concerned more with the inward person.


Back in the 19th century, it used to be the case that John’s gospel was dismissed as the ‘unhistorical’ gospel when compared to the more down-to-earth synoptics. Reason for this being the complex theology of the gospel and its portrait of a Jesus who makes long speeches and overtly claims divinity. It was given lip service as the ‘mystic’, ‘theological’ gospel, but practically, many historical Jesus scholars generally did not take it seriously as a historical source.

Nowadays however there’s a reappraisal of the gospel that’s going on in certain segments; AFAIK there’s a slowly-growing acknowledgement that the earlier casual dismissal of John may have been a case of throwing the baby with the bathwater. Some scholars point out that when you look closely at John’s gospel, you’d notice that beyond all that deep theology and long speeches that put all the earlier academics off, the gospel actually has more historical verisimilitude and internal consistency when you compare it to the supposedly ‘more historically-accurate’ Mark or any other of the two synoptics.

(Now it’s not that earlier scholars did not see these ‘historical’ bits: some did see them, however they were puzzled as to why these ‘historical’ elements were mixed in with theological reflections and long discourses, with the seams being kind of visible. They kind of excoriated John for that: they accused him of not being able to write, of ‘spoiling’ the history by adding in things, of being a simpleton, even of being senile. You see, they were not kind, these 19th century people.)

John, for instance, is the only gospel that has a consistent, linear timeline - unlike the episodic synoptics which sort of jump all over the place and seem to be arranged artificially. In addition, John’s knowledge and representation of the topography in Judaea, especially around Jerusalem and the political situation there is apparently more superior and more ‘real’ than that of the synoptics. (For example, the Pool of Bethesda in John 5 - John’s gospel is our only ancient source that mentions the place, which to some people back in the 19th century meant that the pool did not really exist. It turns out that such a pool did exist in 1st century Jerusalem.)

In fact, when it comes to details about Jesus’ passion - His arrest, the hearing before the high priest, the day of Jesus’ crucifixion - John’s version of the events seems to be the more historically plausible.

One scholar even said that is more easier to fit the synoptics into John’s narrative framework than it is for John to be fitted into the synoptics.


Agreed. When you read the gospel you can see detailed points being made that only an eyewitness would be able to atone to.

I would recommend listening to this excellent free audio course on John’s Gospel.



Contributions for dating the gospel of John.

Redating the New Testament.

Reconsidering the date of John’s Gospel.

The Priority of John.


The book of Genesis should almost never be taken literally.


Matthew and Luke were based on Mark to a large extent. They also used a Q-source of the sayings of Jesus, as well as His birth and resurrection narratives, originating from oral tradition.

So, there is nothing wrong with the Gospel of John to use different sources.

Much of the story about Jesus has not been preserved. Let’s take this fragment from the Acts:

I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring you ought to support the weak, and to remember the word of the Lord Jesus, how he said: It is a more blessed thing to give, rather than to receive.

(Acts 20:35).

Jesus never said that in the Gospels. Therefore:

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.

(John, 21:25).

Personally I imagine the Gospel of John as written by the disciples of St. John in Ephesus, from the various stories St. John told them throughout his life, without writing them down initially.


2000 years is a long time, but the Jews have refused to recognize Jesus as Messiah for 2000 years and they are wrong. Space and time were thought to be absolute and not relative for 2000 years and Einstein showed that it was not the case. No one believed in quantum mechanics and the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics for more than 2000 years and that was not right, For 2000 years many people believed that the sun revolved about the earth and Galileo was forced to recant when he said it did not. For 2000 years people did not believe in evolution. So the fact that something was held to be true for 2000 years does not in itself guarantee that it is true.


When do you think that the gospel of John was written? Many scholars put the date at 95 AD which is 65 years after the death of Jesus. Now suppose that this gospel was written by John the apostle and that he was a witness. How reliable is the testimony of someone who witnessed an event which occurred 65 years ago? We hear of people getting on the witness stand and testifying about something that happened a few weeks or months ago and they were completely wrong even though they had taken an oath to tell the truth. Now if what people testify to happened only a month or so ago and they were wrong, how reliable is the testimony of someone who witnessed an event which occurred 65 years ago. Secondly, many scholars say that the Gospel of John was not written by the apostle John:
“To most modern scholars direct apostolic authorship has therefore seemed unlikely.” “John, Gospel of.” Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005 .
The language of the Gospel and its well-developed theology suggest that the author may have lived later than John and based his writing on John’s teachings and testimonies. Moreover, the facts that several episodes in the life of Jesus are recounted out of sequence with the Synoptics and the final chapter appears to be a later addition suggest that the text may be a composite.“ Encyclopedia Britannica.



The Bible isn’t journalism. It is literature.

The primary concern of the Bible is salvation, not historical accuracy. That’s all.

Everything God put in the Bible about salvation is 100% accurate.

The very fact that historical accuracy of the Bible is discussed as much as it is illustrates how the whole point of the Bible is missed.



Well all the references to the Beloved Disciiple and his parenthical note at the crucifxion? What can we think? John’s gospel was written by John the apostle. Modern scholarship in any area is 1-10% facts and 90-99% speculation.


the first three gospels focuses on the Jesus’ 3 trips into in Galilee
John’s Gospels focus on Jesus in Judea
(not exclusively; but that is the focus)

easy to remember

The 3 Gs : 3 Gospels; 3 Galilean trips
John has Jesus in Judea


equivocate much?

different definitions and usage of the word “move”

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