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John’s Gospel in the 2nd Century

April 27, 2010

While perusing the latest additions to the St. Mary’s Seminary library last week, I came across a brand new volume from Brill entitled The Legacy of John: Second-Century Reception of the Fourth Gospel. The book is edited by Tuomas Rasimus of the University of Helsinki.

An excerpt from the description on the back reads:

“It was assumed, until quite recently, that Gnostic and other so-called heterodox groups were the first ones to appreciate the gospel, and hence the mainstream Christians avoided using it until Irenaeus rescued it for the church. Lately, this view has been challenged by several scholars for several reasons.”

Against this backdrop, the contributors examine John’s second-century reception from numerous angles. Especially interesting are chapters by Marvin Meyer (“Whom Did Jesus Love Most? Beloved Disciples in John and Other Gospels,” pp. 73-92), Charles E. Hill, (“‘The Orthodox Gospel’: The Reception of John in the Great Church prior to Irenaeus,” pp. 233-300), and Bernhard Mutschler (“John and His Gospel in the Mirror of Irenaeus of Lyons: Perspectives of Recent Research,” pp. 319-43).

Here’s hoping this volume will create new dialogue and help to nuance the mistaken notion that the Fourth Gospel was ignored by proto-orthodox Christians in the 2nd century.

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