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The Gospel of John is a book of the Bible in the New Testament containing an account of the life of Jesus. The apostle John the Apostle is traditionally considered its author, and his name appears as the author in many ancient manuscripts.
After the prologue (1:1-5), the narrative part of this gospel begins with verse 6, and consists of two parts. The first part (1:6-ch. 12) contains the story of Jesus' public ministry from the time of his introduction to it by John the Baptist to its close. The second part (ch. 13-21) presents Jesus in the retirement of private life and in his intercourse with his immediate followers (13-17), and gives an account of his sufferings and crucifixion and of his appearances to the disciples after his resurrection (18-21).
The Gospel of John is easily the most distinctive of the four. The other three, known as the synoptic Gospels, share a considerable amount of text among them and describe much more of Jesus' life. By contrast, the specific peculiarities of this gospel are the place it gives (1) to the mystical relation of the Son to the Father, and (2) of the Redeemer to believers; (3) the announcement of the Holy Ghost as the Comforter (called in Greek the Paraclete; (4) the prominence given to love as an element in the Christian character.
This book is addressed primarily to Christians. Because its traditional author, John the Apostle, was believed as early as Papias to have lived at the end of his life at Ephesus, which became a major center of Christian life and activity after the destruction of Jerusalem (AD 70), many believe it was also written in that city. Scholarly research since the 19th century has raised suspicions about John's authorship, and the date of this gospel was believed to be many decades later than the events it describes; F.C. Baur asserted a date as late as AD 160 for this work. However, in 1934 C.H. Roberts published a scrap of papyrus (P52 = Papyrus Ryl. Gr. 457) that contained a few verses from the Gospel of John, whose handwriting he dated to the first half of the second century. While some experts in paleography have objected that a manuscript cannot be dated so accurately, it is agreed that this piece of papyrus is the earliest text for any portion of the New Testament.
Critics charge that some of the passages in this book are anti-Semitic, and that these passages have shaped the way that many Christians viewed Jews.
Unlike the synoptics, the Gospel of John is a Gnostic Gospel. The secret to salvation is through "knowledge" that Jesus is the Christ -- those who understand this are saved, those who don't "stand condemned already."