The Gospel of John

Who wrote the Gospel of John? I always thought it was the Apostle John but in my Bible, The News American Bible, St. Joseph Edition it says in the introduction: …“Critical analysis makes it difficult to accept the idea that the gospel as it now stands was written by one person. Chapter 21 seems to have been added after the gospel was completed…”:confused:

Don’t fret. It may or may not have been written by John, and the Church understands that, but She teaches that even the addition is God-Breathed. If you notice that the book seems to end at the end of chapter 20, and then picks up again. The general assumption is that the additional chapter was written by a disciple of John, and he would have become familiar with this story from listening to John’s Sermons.

The last chapter of the Gospel of Mark is thought to have an appended chapter, as well.

And Isaiah may have been written by as many as 3 authors.

The most important thing to remember is that the Holy Spirit inspired them to write John’s wonderful Gospel!

According to Inside the Bible, by Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J., the almost unanimous testimony of the early Church is that John the Apostle, the brother of James, is the author of the Gospel. The date is the main point of contention, being estimated at between 70 and 90 AD. Consider that about 37-57 years passed between Jesus’ ascension and the writing of John’s Gospel. In that amount of time, John most certainly reflected upon what he had written and may indeed have appended the 21st chapter at a late date.

As NotWorthy pointed out, many books of scripture have several authors, and several have unknown authors. But, since you have a great good fortune of being Catholic, you may rest assured that the Church has long since done all of the heavy lifting for the faithful. I have found Inside the Bible to be quite useful and a very handy reference.

Even though the USCCB prefers it (probably because of its “inclusive” language), I am not a fan of the New American Bible. God’s word is neither new, nor American. The ancient authors’ words have been altered to make their writing gender neutral. You have noted that the notes also cast some doubts. Have you examined a copy of the RSV2CE (Revised Standard Version - Second Catholic Edition)? I find it a better day-to-day bible, even though its notes are scarce.

Keep in mind, that liberal historical criticism, even among Catholic scholars (John Meier springs to mind) ironically takes almost a “sola scriptura” approach toward determining authorship. Outside testimony is ignored, and modern presuppositions are often used with only the text itself. This is a bit of a ridiculous standard of historical scholarship that is not used for anything else to my knowledge in regards to other ancient writings. The early fathers are unanimous that John the disciple wrote the gospel. They even say why:

Nevertheless, of all the disciples of the Lord, only Matthew and John have left us written memorials, and they, tradition says, were led to write only under the pressure of necessity. For Matthew, who had at first preached to the Hebrews, when he was about to go to other peoples, committed his Gospel to writing in his native tongue, and thus compensated those whom he was obliged to leave for the loss of his presence. And when Mark and Luke had already published their Gospels, they say that proceeded to write for the following reason. The three Gospels already mentioned having come into the hands of all and into his own too, they say that he accepted them and bore witness to their truthfulness; but that there was lacking in them an account of the deeds done by Christ at the beginning of his ministry. And this indeed is true. For it is evident that the three evangelists recorded only the deeds done by the Saviour for one year after the imprisonment of John the Baptist, and indicated this in the beginning of their account. For Matthew, after the forty days’ fast and the temptation which followed it, indicates the chronology of his work when he says: “Now when he heard that was delivered up he withdrew from Judea into Galilee.” Mark likewise says: “Now after that Jesus came into Galilee.” And Luke, before commencing his account of the deeds of Jesus, similarly marks the time, when he says that Herod, "adding to all the evil deeds which he had done, shut up They say, therefore, that the apostle John, being asked to do it for this reason, gave in his Gospel an account of the period which had been omitted by the earlier evangelists, and of the deeds done by the Saviour during that period; that is, of those which were done before the imprisonment of the Baptist. And this is indicated by him, they say, in the following words: "This beginning of miracles did Jesus "; and again when he refers to the Baptist, in the midst of the deeds of Jesus, as still baptizing in non near Salim; where he states the matter clearly in the words: “For into prison.” Christ which were performed before the Baptist was cast into prison, but the other three evangelists mention the events which happened after that time. One who understands this can no longer think that the Gospels are at variance with one another, inasmuch as the Gospel according to John contains the first acts of Christ, while the others give an account of the latter part of his life. And the genealogy of our Saviour according to the flesh John quite naturally omitted, because it had been already given by Matthew and Luke, and began with the doctrine of his divinity, which had, as it were, been reserved for him, as their superior, by the divine Spirit. These things may suffice, which we have said concerning the Gospel of John.
Eusebius Church History, Book III quoting Clement I

Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews(3) in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia. Irenaeus Of Lyons, Against Heresies, Book III Ch. I

We may therefore make bold to say that the Gospels are the first fruits of all the Scriptures, but that of the Gospels that of John is the first fruits. No one can apprehend the meaning of it except he have lain on Jesus’ breast and received from Jesus Mary to be his mother also. Origen. Commentary on the gospel of John Book I, 6.

And after the death of the apostles there were Guides and Rulers(5) in the churches; and, whatsoever the apostles had committed to them and they had received from them, they continued to teach to the multitude through the whole space of their lives. They too, again, at their deaths committed and delivered to their disciples after them whatsoever they had received from the apostles; also what James had written from Jerusalem, and Simon from the city of Rome, and John from Ephesus, and Mark from Alexandria the Great, and Andrew from Phrygia, and Luke from Macedonia, and Judas Thomas from India: (6) that the epistles of an apostle(7) might be received and read in the churches that were in every place, just as the achievements of their Acts, which Luke wrote, are read; that hereby the apostles might be known, and the prophets, and the Old Testament and the New;(8) that so might be seen one truth was proclaimed in them all: that one Spirit spoke in them all, from one God whom they had all worshipped and had all preached.

Memoirs of Edessa and Ancient Syriac Documents. Ancient Syriac Documents, The teaching of the Apostles, 27.

These are the most indepth quotations, the rest quote the gospel frequently and in passing. There is never any debate about it. About the Apocalypse, yes, the gospel, no.

Jesus,our Lords peace be whit You.
Who wrote what Gospel is not so importent,the message is. We can’t for sure say who wrote what,and in the end it has no meaning. Personally I like the Gospel of John best,it beutifull.

All the gospels are completely anonymous works. This is why your bible has…

According to Mark…etc. This is based on church tradition but it has no basis in reality.

The early church attributed the gospels to “apostles” in order to make them more believeable.

In fact, the only works of the NT where we know the actual author are 7 out of the 13 letters of Paul. The other 6 letters were written in Paul’s name.

The opinion of this person do not reflect the rest of Orthodox Christianity… :wink:

There IS a reason that Church Tradition claims that the authors of the Gospels are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. That Tradition is based on the fact that the early Church knew who wrote it.

You are completely in error.

From your own Catholic Encyclopedia.

"Mark not being the actual writer of the present work and its substance being due to St. Peter, there would have been no reason to attribute it to Mark, and it would undoubtedly have been known in the Church, not by the title it bears, but as the “Gospel according to Peter”.

It is a church tradition ONLY. The gospels are anonymous works written in Greek. The apostles, if they truly existed would have spoken in Aramaic, not Greek.

This is also part of the reason that Pilate is named in the Nicene creed - to establish a verifiable, historical connection with the events and persons written of.

Why would Pilate (a Roman prefect) care one iota about a Jewish end times preacher?

He certainly wasn’t a threat to Roman hegemony in Palestine.

Why then would Pilate have agreed to crucify someone who wasn’t an enemy of Rome?

The Jesus character in the NT wasn’t certainly not anti-Roman.

The whole passion story simply doesn’t add up.

Why is there no reference in contemporary historical documents about Jesus? None. Very odd to say the least for supposedly one of the great men in history.

What little we have is several generations after the time in question and in most cases outright forgery such as Josephus.

If you are searching for doubt, why do you not first doubt agnosticism? Who are its witnesses? Where are the agnostic martyrs? Who has preached agnosticism to the ends of the earth? Where are the agnostic temples and shrines? Name some agnostic Saints. Where are the agnostic miracles? Just as those who believe in nothing accomplish nothing, those who believe in everything account for nothing. However, those with belief, those with focus, those with purpose accomplish the seemingly impossible. .

The Gospels themselves bear witness to Christ’s fulfillment of prophecy. The apocryphal writings also bear witness. Do you seek only testimony from a non-believer? As to secular Roman authority, Pliny the Younger made reference to the existence of Jesus. The Jewish Masoretic text was a response to the establishment and rise of Christianity. Muhammad made reference to Jesus - and you’d better not doubt him!

Jesus was considered only a rabble rouser - one of many who lead groups against Jewish and Roman authorities. He was a footnote to the non-believer. He was the Seed which fell to earth and died, and seed is not written about until it produces a crop.

You make no sense whatsoever. Do you even know what is meant by agnostic? It means you can’t know about these things. The question of a God or Gods is unknowable.

All you do is repeat the same old misrepresentations. Tacitus is likely a forgery. Even if it wasn’t, the reference is many, many years later. Same for any so called Jewish references.
Pure hearsay, well after the supposed time frame.

The bottom line is that the Jews of Jesus time don’t know him. There is no non-scriptural contemporary record of him at all.

BTW, why didn’t the “believers” write about “Jesus” between 30 and 40 CE?

There are contemporary historical references to Jesus (like Josephus), but apparenly you simply reject them out of hand. I agree that Josephus was likely redacted later to play up Jesus’ role, but most historians agree that Josephus was a near contemporary of Jesus and recorded his existence. The evidence for Jesus’ existence is actually similar to the evidence of Socrates’ existence. Like Jesus, Socrates left no writings of his own and no official records. We know of him only because his followers, including Plato, wrote about what he taught. The same is true of many ancient figures. So while you are free to believe what you want about who Jesus was and what he did, asserting that he did not exist and did not found a religious movement puts you in an extreme minority - even among irreligious historians.

Getting back to the topic of the thread. No one know who wrote the Gospel of John. The text doesn’t say, and we have little else from tradition. Many believe it was written by the apostle John, but many other possibilities have been suggested. For myself, I think it was likely written by followers of the apostle John, based on what he taught them. It was probably the last Gospel written, and it probably went through some changes and versions before arriving at the form currently codified in the canon, but I believe it ultimately goes back to John’s teachings. That said, I don’t know that it would matter to me if it was discovered that someone else wrote it.

I think the fact that the author stressed so diligently that he witnessed the Crucifixion would mean it would have to be one of Jesus’ immediate Disciples and not John’s.

John is the accepted author and always has been.

This thread is concerned with the provenance of the Gospel of John. Please begin another thread in the appropriate forum regarding your assertions.

You are rejecting all of Josephus’ writings as fabrications? Someone went to a lot of trouble to put down nonsense, then. May I ask if you are Jewish?

No. Read my post again. Josephus is a very meticulous historian, even writing about many obscure events. The reference to Jesus is a clear insertion into his works. The likely culprit is known “liar for God”, Eusebius of Caesarea.

What does this tell you? Why would a church bishop forge a passage into the works of someone else? Answer. They were embarrassed that Josephus didn’t mention Jesus as the Son of God, yet wrote about many obscure people and events.

That’s because “Jesus” was likely an obscure run of the mill apocalyptic preacher, of which there were a dime a dozen at that time.


it’s what the Scriptures say, not what some one says about it.

Gospel according to John: 21:
18: Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
19: This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.
20: Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
21: Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?
22: Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.
23: Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?
24: **This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: **and we know that his testimony is true.

In case you are not aware: Apostle John is a Beloved of God just as Daniel was called Beloved of the Lord. Ain’t no better thing then to be called by God Himself, one of His Beloved.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit