Since I jumped right in yesterday to comment on the text of the Gospel of John, today I would like to stand back from it for a moment and share what some scholars think about the date of this Gospel. Here is what Perrin and Duling have to say in The New Testament: An Introduction….
The reference to the destruction of Jerusalem, the paucity of traditional Jewish Christian apocalyptic thought, and the conflict of the Johannine community with the Jewish synagogue all point to a context in the late first century A.D. This is reinforced by John’s knowledge of Mark and possibly Luke. Moreover, textual evidence at the other end is supportive. The earliest text we have of any part of the New Testament is a fragment of the gospel of John. It is a papyrus fragment containing parts of John 18:31-33, 37-38, discovered in Egypt, and scholars consider it to have been written in the first half of the second century. The gospel must have been written early enough for it to have circulated in Egypt early in the second century. A date later than A.D. 100 is, therefore, hardly likely. It seems probable that the gospel of John is to be dated about A.D. 90-100.
p52, the oldest papyrus fragment of the New Testament
I will say more about the author of this Gospel when we come to the end of the book. For now, let me offer this outline of the book from Perrin and Duling….
Introduction: Prologue and Testimony, 1:1-51
The Book of Signs, 2:1-12:50
Farewell Discourses and Prayer for the Church, 13:1-17:26
Passion Narrative, 18:1-20:30
Epilogue: The Appearance in Galilee, 21:1-25
The most ancient manuscripts of the New Testament lack 7:53-8:11. Other manuscripts add the passage here or after 7:36, or after 21:25, or even after Luke 21:38, with some variations in the text. Some manuscripts mark the passage as doubtful. Nonetheless, C. S. Lewis once made this fascinating comment about this text….
Apart from bits of the Platonic dialogues, there are no conversations that I know of in ancient literature like the Fourth Gospel. There is nothing, even in modern literature, until about a hundred years ago when the realistic novel came into existence. In the story of the woman taken in adultery we are told Christ bent down and scribbled in the dust with His finger. Nothing comes of this. No one has ever based any doctrine on it. And the art of inventing little irrelevant details to make an imaginary scene more convincing is a purely modern art. Surely the only explanation of this passage is that the thing really happened? The author put it in simply because he had seen it. (“What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?” God in the Dock)
p66, without text of John 7:52-8:16