Johannine Community

When I read books, sometimes the term “Johannine community” arises and it has just come up again today in a book I have just started reading. My problem is that I have read a lot of historical writings and there is no concept of this “Johannine community” anywhere that I am aware of, so I have no reason to believe otherwise that this community is just a modern invention, with an invented romantised origin, and invented romantised “community”.

The name Raymond Brown keeps getting referenced in notes. Does anyone know when this “Johannine community” started appearing? Who invented this community? Because it doesn’t seem to be historically validated.

Raymond E. Brown is a Catholic priest who uses the historical-critical method of biblical interpretation to investigate the early Church communities. His book on the topic can be found here:

I have little knowledge of his ideas or the accuracy of his ideas regarding a supposed Johannine Community. I rather think that the topic is probably beyond most laymen’s ability to determine what is history and what is his interpretation of events/people/doctrine. So, I think that unless one is firmly grounded in their faith it might be unwise to delve into this man’s ideas. Maybe others will have more knowledge about Brown and the topic, but after looking at the reviews of his book, I’d be wary of accepting his ideas without having much greater knowledge about it.

For example

John ending his life either on Patmos or Ephesus

Two ECF’s in that Eastern area of the map, were direct disciples of John.

Bp Ignatius of Antioch
Bp Polycarp of Smyrna

I’m sure they could fit in with the description of
“Johannine community”

Thanks all, my biggest concern is that this Johannine Community is described as having specific traits, specific nuances which are seemingly isolated from the Catholic Church rather than them just simply being Catholic churches established by St John. They were then supposedly absorbed into the Catholic Church by the middle of the second century, and hence their unique identity was lost. I just don’t see this as being feasible.

Those who use the historical-critical method come up with all kinds of unorthodox scenarios for the early Church’s unity, practices, beliefs, you name it. Better to read the Early Church Fathers for more accurate historical information. :wink:


Looking at the continuity of thought, from the ECF’s themselves, not someone’s commentary of what THEY think they said, Ignatius was bishop of Antioch from ~69 a.d. to ~107 a.d. Irenaeus was from Smyrna, where Polycarp was from. Irenaeus was influenced by Polycarp, a disciple of John, making Irenaeus 1 man away from an apostle himself.

Irenaeus, who became bishop, wrote his work “Against Heresies”

Anyone reading Ignatius, Polycarp, and Irenaeus, see the continuity of thought and their direction. 3 Catholic Bishops, writing about the Catholic Church and defending it, in a continuous period of time spanning from ~ 69 a.d. to ~ 200 a.d.

Ignatius of Antioch [SAINT]

Polycarp [SAINT]

Even so, it is certainly possible – even likely – that separate groups of early Christians had their own peculiar customs, jargon, and “style,” just as the various religious orders and other groups within the Church have today. That does not have to mean that John’s followers were not orthodox in their beliefs, or not Catholic in the broad sense, even if they might have emphasized different aspects of the Faith than, say, those who had learned from Peter and Paul in Rome.

The main thing I find objectionable about the common use of the “Johannine community” in discussions of Scripture is the seeming assumption that they were, at best, distantly connected to the original John when they wrote/edited/completed the books assigned his name in the New Testament. As others have pointed out, tradition has Joun living until nearly the turn of the second century. Ignatius of Antioch wrote not long after and was an elderly man when he did so – there are stories suggesting he was one of the children who flocked around Jesus in the Gospels, and even if not, he was in the right age range. Even Irenaeus, who wrote at tail end of the second century (by which the NT books were complete even according to the latest of the proposed dates), knew Polycarp who’d known John. The notion that the New Testament was written (or at least finished) by people “generations removed” from the Apostles might technically be true, but the accompanying implication that those people weren’t really carrying on what Jesus and the Apostles taught in their lifetimes seems to ignore that it’s quite possible to have personal contact with someone one, two, or even three generations older.

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