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15. DATE AT WHICH THE FOURTH GOSPEL WAS COMPOSED.

More pressing is the question, When did it come into existence? And, as regards this, we must of course look once more for statements outside the Gospel. When were the first three Gospels written, which, by almost general agreement, were all known to the writer of the Fourth? If we may voice our own conviction, it would suffice to say that the Third Gospel cannot have come into existence until about the year 100, because the author was well acquainted with the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus who composed his chief work in the year 93 192or 94. Others, who place the Gospel of Lk. (and so the Gospels of Mk. and Mt. also) earlier, think that, when this estimation is taken into consideration, the Gospel of Jn. may have been composed as early as about the year 100. But here again we have to remember that the Gnosticism with which the Fourth Evangelist is familiar, and which he vigorously opposes, did not force its way into the Christian communities until about the year 100. We learn this from Hegesippus, who wrote his “memorials” about the year 180, and as he was of a great age was still able to afford correct information on the matter. Jn., on the other hand, already had to do with a more developed form of Gnosticism (p. 205). Only, he does not seem to be acquainted with the forms which appeared after about the year 140.

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