The Muratorian Tradition and the Gospel Text
C H A P T E R O N E: Presuppositions
C H A P T E R O N E Presuppositions There is no book, either inside the New Testament or outside it, that is really like the Fourth Gospel. C. H. Dodd, “The Background of the Fourth Gospel” he following chapters represent an interpretation of the problem of Johannine origins in the light of a family of accounts that share or reflect the influence of certain narrative elements. I have called these the earliest tradition because, neglecting Irenaeus’ claim that John wrote the Gospel at Ephesus and Polycrates’ puzzling description of the author as a priest, teacher, and beloved disciple, these sources offer the earliest narrative account, an account which, although occurring in texts belonging to the second, and third, and fourth centuries, by context must belong to the late first or early second century. The principal witnesses are the Muratorian Canon, a document variously dated from the second to the fourth century, that is embedded in the Muratorian Fragment, a manuscript of the eighth century, which account is seconded by Papias of Hierapolis, by the so-called Anti-Marcionite Prologue to John, and by other authorities, among them Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Jerome, which, taken together argue the existence of a second-century (or earlier), written or unwritten, account of Johannine origins that did not influence Irenaeus. Emil Schürer prophesied a century of scholarly interest when he wrote in 1889, “No other question of NT criticism is of such significance as the origin T ANDREW OF BETHSAIDA2 of our...
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