other church fathers report anecdotes ofJohn's activity in Ephesus, competing with 'Gnostic' teachers such as Cerinthus,10 or engaged in pastoral activity.11 While some scholars continue to think of Ephesus as a probable venue, at least for the gospel's final form,12 others have proposed options on the Mediterranean littoral or in the Syrian hinterland.13 Affinities between the gospel and other religious literature support such efforts. Alexandria was the home of the first-century Jewish philosopher Philo, whose complex speculation on the logos is often seen as a background to the Johannine prologue.14 Alexandria was also a centre both for the speculative Christianity labelled 'Gnostic', often proposed as a background to the gospel,15 and also for circles that generated the Corpus Hermeticum, a body of Graeco-Roman religious literature with affinities to the gospel's symbolic world.16 Alternatively, the Dead Sea scrolls parallel the gospel's 'dualism' and its use of scripture,17 prompting speculation about the gospel's Palestinian roots.18 Further east, the Epistles of Ignatius and the Odes of Solomon, probably of second-century Syrian provenance, offer intriguing similarities to the gospel's imagery and spirituality.19
Other texts occasionally enter discussions of the Johannine community. Although explicitly attributed to a visionary named John, the book of Revelation is not part of the relevant literary corpus. Despite some common motifs, its language, literary style and theology clearly distinguish Revelation from the gospel and epistles.20
10 Haer. 3.3.4, cited by Euseb. HE 3.28.6. On these legends, and the importance of Irenaeus, see Culpepper, John, 123-28.
11 Clem. Al. q.d.s. 42, cited by Euseb. HE 3.32.5-19, reports the activity of John the Apostle and a 'lost sheep' from the region of Ephesus.
12 Most recently see van Tilborg, ReadingJohn.
13 See Brown, Introduction, 19-206.
14 See e.g. Borgen, Logos. Tobin, 'Prologue'; Boyarin, 'Gospel of the Memra'.
15 The best known proponent is Bultmann, Gospel of John. See also Schottroff, Der glaubende und die feindliche Welt. The category 'Gnostic' has come under critical scrutiny Williams, Rethinking'Gnosticism', highlights dangers in broad generalisations but agrees that there were second-century Christian groups sharing a family resemblance, which he labels 'demiurgic creationists'. King, What is Gnosticism?, traces the category's polemical and scholarly uses. For primary sources, see Foerster, Gnosis, and Layton, Scriptures.
16 Noted especially by Dodd, Interpretation. For an English translation, see Copenhaver, Hermetica.
17 A connection has long been championed by James H. Charlesworth. See Charlesworth, 'Dead sea scrolls', 'Critical comparison' and Jesus and the Dead Sea scrolls. It is endorsed by Ashton, Understanding, 232-7. Others remain sceptical. See Bauckham, 'Qumran'. On the hermeneutical parallels, see Clark-Soles, Scripture.
18 Jews sharing the sectarian stance of the scrolls may, however, have also been in the diaspora. See Brown, Introduction, 199-206.
19 Lattke, Oden, provides a comprehensive treatment of scholarship on the Odes.
20 On possible relationships, see e.g. Taeger, Johannesapokalypse.
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