The Gospel of John is potentially the most important and most heralded Book of the entire Bible. It includes the verse of John 3:16, which is arguably the most recited and prayed verse in the entire Scriptures. Though similar, it is clearly different from the other 3 Gospels- with a different theme and almost a different focus. This Gospel was written after the other Gospels, in approximately 90 A.D. Most of Jesus’ disciples had been martyred by then. So how exactly did this famous Gospel come to be? What was the reason for it being written? Under whose influence?
Some clues to how John’s Gospel was written can be found in an ancient document, dating to approximately 170 A.D., called the “Muratorian Fragment”. This document was, as noted in its given title, not a complete literary work or book, but just a section that was found of an incomplete larger work. Therefore, historians and theologians must do their best to surmise what the author was stating. This is not always easy or foolproof.
In addition, the other problem with this document is it is not clear who it’s writer was. It is believed by most scholars that it was a renowned and learned bishop or theologian of the time, a number of generations after the Apostles. But the fact that it is not truly known makes it difficult to say with certainty if what is written is true. Regardless, here is a section of the writing:
“The fourth Gospel is by John, one of the disciples. When his fellow disciples and bishops were urging him, he said ‘Fast with me for the three days beginning today, and whatever will have been revealed to us, let us recount it with eachother,’. On that very night it was revealed to the Apostle Andrew that all the things they had recalled to mind, John should write them all in his own name.”
Thus, this Book was not really just the thoughts of the Apostle John, but rather a conglomerate from a small circle of remaining Apostles and other early church leaders. And it took a “revelation” of sorts (a dream?) via Andrew to determine that this needed Book was to be written by John and signed in his and only his name. So it is possible that there was a revelation of John which begat the Revelation of John biblical book, and a revelation of Andrew which led to the widely read fourth and final Gospel.
If this is true, does this change one’s perspective and attitude towards this Gospel? Or change the opinion of the Apostle John himself? And, who were the others in this inner circle who fasted with Andrew and John? That would be fascinating to know, but only God and the walls of history know. As is the case with history and biblical archeology, much of the time a finding or answer is not 100%, but rather it gives believers (and non-believers) a glimpse into what might have been.
(Note- Portions of this article were researched via the book The Faith of the Early Fathers, by William Jurgens.)