In the teaser I include below, Anderson raises the question of our reaction to the Fourth Gospel if it had disappeared from history until the twentieth or twenty-first century. If the late Gospel of Judas incited considerable hubbub, how much more would the re-discovery of the Gospel of John?! Even posing the question immediately reveals how shocking it should be that historical Jesus scholarship has become so sanguine vis-à-vis John. Essays like this give me some confidence that, after floundering for a number of decades, historical Jesus scholarship is finally beginning to head in some interesting (and potentially fruitful) directions.
Think of it! What would happen if the National Geographic Channel ran a special on a recently discovered gospel text from the late first century, which was different from the Synoptics but also developed an alternative rendering of Jesus and his ministry? If the third-century Gospel of Judas created a stir, with virtually no historical-Jesus tradition within it, imagine what sort of a ruckus would emerge if John were taken seriously as an independent Jesus tradition, differing from the Markan gospels with at least some knowing intentionality. That’s what I believe will happen if the Fourth Gospel’s historical features come out from being eclipsed by its theological ones.