Last chapter of Gospel of John


Does Last chapter of Gospel of John, specialy John21:20_25, exist in oldest manuscripts?


Short answer? Yes.


Okay, long answer. Yes, we have texts of John 21 that predate the 4th century (two or three: Papyrus 66 and Papyrus 109), and just about every other complete manuscript of John has the chapter. (In other words, no manuscript of John - except for a single one from the 4th century* - ends on chapter 20.) So if it is an addition, it must have been added very early - maybe before the gospel’s final publication.

  • Now recently, a 4th century Coptic (a late form of Egyptian in adapted Greek letters) manuscript was found which may end John at chapter 20, but it’s not like as if this one single manuscript will change anything, since nearly every other manuscript of John we have disagrees with it.


More interesting is the missing manuscripts of Mark’s Chapter 16 from verse 8, and the fact that despite compelling evidence that the longer ending was added, and probably not by Mark, that it still canonical.


Obviously the Holy Spirit wanted it included in the canon.


Here is a note from Bishop John McEvilly that I placed in the book called A COMPLETE COMPARISION OF THE FOUR GOSPELS

St. John would seem to have concluded his Gospel at verse 31 of preceding chapter. Hence, the authenticity of this chapter has been called in question by some, who doubted whether St. John was its author, or whether it may not have emanated from the pen of some other inspired writer. But, as it has been quoted from by the Fathers, and is found in all the codices of St. John’s Gospel, it is generally believed as certain and undoubted that St. John was its author, that the entire chapter was from his pen, and that no other inspired writer had a hand in any portion of it. Some say, it was added by him by way of appendix, for special reasons, as he would seem to have closed his Gospel at verse 31, of preceding chapter. But its inspiration, whoever its author may be, no Catholic can question after the Decree of the Council of Trent, “De Canonicis Scripturis.”


There is other evidence that the Gospel according to John was edited after it was in use. John 4:2 adds that Jesus himself was not baptizing, but only his disciples, which contradicts or explains 3:22 where Jesus is baptizing. One explanation was that, since Jesus was not yet glorified, he could not yet give the Spirit, and so would not have baptized in water alone (see John 7:39)–but this was only realized after the text had become established and was seen as holy, not to be modified. As a result, this comment was added to clarify the point.

By analogy, the end of John 21 seems to refer to the death of the Beloved Disciple, and to clarify that Jesus had not actually said he would not die before Jesus returned–only that people had assumed he meant that. It also refers to the death of Peter, which also happened some decades after the events recorded in the Gospel. So it also seems an addition, especially in light of the nice summary of John 20: 30-31. But it is also inspired, and has become an integral part of the Gospel.

We might also note the story of the Woman caught in Adultery (John 7:53-8:11), which is missing from the early Greek manuscripts, and in still other manuscripts is inserted after 7:36, or at the end of John, or after Luke 21:38 or at the end of Luke. This clearly is a later addition, added after the Gospel began to be used across the Church, unlike John 21–and yet is also considered inspired and canonical.


I had not heard that is in dispute, what is the reason that you are asking?


I see I glossed over one point I’d wanted to emphasize in my comment: There is no manuscript evidence of John’s Gospel without Chapter 21. If it was added, it was added quite early–likely before the Gospel spread beyond John’s own community, probably by John’s disciples. We have a similar situation in Deuteronomy–the book is one of the Books of Moses, but it tells of Moses’ death, so that chapter, at least, had to be written by another hand (traditionally said to be by Joshua). That does not make that final chapter less inspired than the others.


So, is there some dispute about this? I had not heard of it.


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