About the origin and composition of the Gospel according to John / Περί της προέλευσης και συγγραφής του Ευαγγελίου κατά τον Ιωάννη

However, while the Evangelist drew upon terminology which was also current at Qumran, it is clear that he was at variance with a good many of the interpretations and doctrines characteristic of the sectaries. Thus, whereas John could speak of the “children of God” and the “children of the devil” as well as the “spirit of truth” and the “spirit of error” there were many other occasions on which he was obviously not in theological agreement with the Iranian dualism so typical of the Rule of the Community. His divergence from the funda­mental tenets of Qumran thought is evident from the fact that his propositions were firmly rooted in the Hebrew religious tradition, which upheld metaphysically a monistic concept of reality whose ultimate principle was transcendently good rather than evil. Furthermore, John exhibits a characteristic difference from the theology of both Judaism and Essenism in emphasizing Divine grace as revealed in the Cross, rather than sup- porting a mechanical adherence to the works of the Law as the sole means of human salvation.

These conclusions will ultimately have an important bearing upon critical theories regarding the origin of the Johannine traditions. Already it is increasingly apparent that there is less evidence than was formerly imagined to support the claims of Gnostic influence upon John. The same holds good also for the view that the Johannine writings generally took their rise within the Philonic dualism of Alexandria. As Montgomery remarked nearly half a century ago concerning the Fourth Gospel:

“…the Gospel of John is the composition of a well-informed Jew, not of the Pharisaic party, whose life experience was gained in Palestine in the first half of the first century, and whose mother-tongue was Ara­maic; and that this conclusion alone explains the excellence of the historical data and the philological phenomena of the book.”

R. K. Harrison, Archaeology of the New Testament, σελ. 75, 76.

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