John's Gospel

The Way It Happened

John 5:2, When Was John’s Gospel Written?

Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades.

//Authorship of John’s Gospel has traditionally been understood to be quite late … in the tenth decade of the first century. However, a number of Bible scholars—usually, the more conservative believers—date John’s Gospel quite early. Perhaps in the seventh decade.

There is good reason for the controversy. The author seems to know an awful lot about Judea and Jerusalem, and his knowledge dates to before the war of 70 AD. Today’s verse is a good example. The pool of Bethesda, particularly with its five colonnades, would not likely be known to an eye-witness of Jerusalem after the destruction of the war. There was no such architecture surviving the war! Note also the present tense of the verse: there is in Jerusalem a pool…

How can this be explained if most scholars date John to the tenth decade? Answer: the book grew over time. Current scholarship tends to recognize this Gospel as having been written over a period of perhaps 30-40 years, from roughly 60-100 AD.

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