Johannine community

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The term Johannine community refers to a hypothetical ancient Christian community, which placed great emphasis on the teachings of Jesus, particularly as revealed through the Gospel of John.[citation needed] Their version of Christian belief and practice may be referred to as "Johannine Christianity".[citation needed] Writers who have developed and promoted the community's hypothetical existence include Raymond E. Brown[citation needed] and Harold W. Attridge.[1]


According to Attridge, this community of early followers of Jesus "defined themselves rather starkly against the Jewish milieu in which they arose, these believers cultivated an intense devotion to Jesus as the definitive revelation of God's salvific will. They understood themselves to be in intimate contact with him and with one another, under the guidance of the Spirit-Paraclete. They were conscious of their relationship to other believers with whom they hoped to be in eventual union. Their piety found distinctive expression in a reflective literary corpus that explored new ways of expressing faith in Jesus."[2]

"Their common life included ritual actions known to other followers of Jesus, but they insisted on the unique spiritual value of those rites. Disputes eventually divided the community. By the middle of the second century some representatives of the Johannine tradition achieved a respected role in the emerging 'Great Church', the interconnected web of believers throughout the Mediterranean that provided mutual support and maintained fellowship under the leadership of emerging episcopal authorities. The Johannine community of the first century bequeathed to the universal church its distinctive literary corpus and estimation of Jesus,[3] which came to dominate the development of later Christian orthodoxy. Other representatives of Johannine Christianity, nurturing alternative strands of tradition, influenced various second-century movements, characterized by their opponents and much modern scholarship as 'Gnostic'."[2]


For much of the 20th century, scholars interpreted the Gospel of John within the paradigm of this hypothetical Johannine community,[4] meaning that the gospel sprang from a late-1st-century Christian community excommunicated from the Jewish synagogue (probably meaning the Jewish community)[5] on account of its belief in Jesus as the promised Jewish messiah.[6] This interpretation, which saw the community as essentially sectarian and standing outside the mainstream of early Christianity, has been increasingly challenged in the first decades of the 21st century,[7] and there is currently considerable debate over the social, religious and historical context of the gospel.[8] Scholars including Adele Reinhartz and Robert Kysar have challenged the idea of a Johannine community, and cite the lack of evidence for such a community.[9] Nevertheless, scholars such as Attridge have maintained that the Johannine literature as a whole (made up of the gospel, the three Johannine epistles, and Revelation), points to a community holding itself distinct from the Jewish culture from which it arose while cultivating an intense devotion to Jesus as the definitive revelation of a God with whom they were in close contact through the Paraclete.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Attridge 2006, p. 125.
  2. ^ a b Mitchell, Margaret M.; Young, Frances M.; Bowie, K. Scott. Cambridge History of Christianity: Volume 1, Origins to Constantine. Cambridge University Press. pp. 125–143. ISBN 978-0-521-81239-9.
  3. ^ "Johannine Community". Retrieved 2020-12-02.
  4. ^ Lamb 2014, p. 2.
  5. ^ Hurtado 2005, p. 70.
  6. ^ Köstenberger 2006, p. 72.
  7. ^ Lamb 2014, p. 2-3.
  8. ^ Bynum 2012, p. 7,12.
  9. ^ Mendez, Hugo (2020). "Did the Johannine Community Exist?". Journal for the Study of the New Testament. 42 (3): 350–74. doi:10.1177/0142064X19890490.