Bible Review 9:1, February 1993

Reinterpreting John

How the Dead Sea Scrolls have revolutionized our understanding of the Gospel of John

By James H. Charlesworth

Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, many scholars considered the Fourth Gospel—the Gospel According to John—to be a mid-to-late-second-century composition inspired by Greek philosophy.

Today, 45 years later, a growing scholarly consensus finds John to be a first-century composition. More surprising still, it is perhaps the most Jewish of the Gospels. Elements that were once thought to be reflections of Greek philosophy were all there at the time in contemporaneous Palestine.

The Dead Sea Scrolls have been a, if not the, major force in this paradigmatic shift in the winds of Johannine scholarship.

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