Ask a Franciscan

Who Wrote the Gospel of John?

I was surprised to read in an earlier “Ask” column that John the Apostle did not write the Gospel of John. Who did?

We are not entirely sure. First, I should point out that only around the year AD 125 were Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John first identified by Papias as the authors of the Gospels. Some Gospels presumed to be written by other prominent Christians were not accepted into the Bible—the Gospel of Thomas, for example.

A distinct Johannine community of faith is linked to the Gospel of John. In the New Jerusalem Bible Commentary, scholar Pheme Perkins writes, “[T]he importance of the community’s history of faith in shaping the Johannine tradition makes preoccupation with a single Johannine author inappropriate today.”

We are naturally curious about many questions that the Bible does not answer definitively. Are we sufficiently ready to accept the answers it offers about how we are to live, as well as how we see ourselves, God, and other people?

Ask a Franciscan appears monthly in St. Anthony Messenger. 

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