Johannine Chronology

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In my BECNT commentary on John’s Gospel, I propose that John follows a chronological arrangement in his Gospel. The specific dates listed below are predicated upon a A.D. 33 date for [tag]Jesus[/tag]’ crucifixion. As is well known, the two major possibilities for the crucifixion are A.D. 30 (the traditional date) and A.D. 33. Harold Hohner, among others, in Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ and in his Dictionary of Jesus & the Gospels entry on chronology, has set forth (in my view) highly persuasive arguments for the latter, A.D. 33, date, including the fact that Luke’s reference to the 15th year of Tiberius (A.D. 14–37) in Luke 3:1 most likely refers to A.D. 29 as the start date of Jesus’ ministry. The following chart is reproduced in essence from pp. 11–13 of my BECNT commentary:

Time

Location/Event

John

Origin (1:1–18)

Eternity past

The Word was with God

1:1–18

Initial ministry (1:19–2:12; A.D. 29–30)

Summer/fall 29

John the Baptist near the Jordan

1:19–34

Subsequently

Jesus’ calling of his first disciples

1:35–51

Winter/spring 30

The wedding at Cana of Galilee

2:1–12

First Passover and first full year of ministry (2:13–4:54; A.D. 30–31)

April 7, 30

Jesus’ first Passover (Jerusalem), temple clearing

2:13–3:21

Spring/summer 30

John the Baptist near the Jordan

3:22–36

Dec./Jan./Feb. 30/31?

Jesus’ ministry in Samaria

4:1–45

Subsequently

The healing at Cana of Galilee

4:46–54

Second year of ministry (ch. 5; A.D. 31–32)

March 27, 31

Passover not recorded in John

Matt. 12:1 par.?

Oct. 21–28, 31?

The Sabbath controversy (Jerusalem)

5:1–47

Second Passover recorded in John and third year of ministry (6:1–11:54; A.D. 32–33)

April 13 or 14, 32

Jesus’ second Passover recorded in John (Galilee)

6:1–21

Subsequently

Jesus’ teaching in the synagogue of Capernaum

6:22–71

Sept. 10–17, 32

Jesus at the feast of Tabernacles (Jerusalem)

7:1–52; 8:12–59

Oct./Nov. 32?

Healing of blind man, good shepherd discourse

9:1–10:21

Dec. 18–25, 32

Jesus at the feast of Dedication (Jerusalem)

10:22–39

Jan./Feb. 33?

Jesus’ withdrawal to the area near the Jordan

10:40–42

March 33?

The raising of Lazarus (Bethany near Jerusalem)

11:1–53

March 33?

Jesus’ withdrawal to Ephraim

11:54

Third Passover in John, passion week, resurrection appearances (11:55–21:25; A.D. 33)

Friday, March 27, 33

Jesus arrives at Bethany

11:55–12:1

Saturday, March 28, 33

Dinner with Lazarus and his sisters

12:2–11

Sunday, March 29, 33

“Triumphal entry” into Jerusalem

12:12–50

Monday–Wednesday,

Cursing of fig tree, temple clearing,

March 30–April 1, 33

temple controversy, Olivet discourse

Synoptics

Thursday, April 2, 33

Jesus’ third Passover recorded in John (Jerusalem);betrayal, arrest

13:1–18:11

Friday, April 3, 33

Jewish and Roman trials, crucifixion, burial

18:12–19:42

Sunday, April 5, 33

The empty tomb, first resurrection appearance

20:1–25

Sunday, April 12, 33

Second resurrection appearance recorded in John

20:26–31

Prior to May 14, 33

Third resurrection appearance recorded in John

21

To my knowledge, no similar detailed Johannine chronology has previously been proposed. Together with Craig Blomberg’s work The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel and my contribution, “John,” to the Zondervan Illustrated Backgrounds Commentary, I believe this proposal continues to make a strong case for the historical reliability of John’s Gospel. Richard Bauckham’s volume Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (Eerdmans, 2006) on the Gospels as eyewitness testimony furthers add to this trend. The time has come for scholars to take John’s Gospel seriously, not only with regard to theology, but also with regard to history. If John’s Gospel is untrue historically, how can it be true theologically?

4 Comments

  1. A fairly detailed explanation of first century Jewish Festal observances, supported by first century Jewish sources, is at:

    http://www.mortalresurrection.com/2009/05/09/reconciling-the-eyewitness-accounts/

  2. I have come up with a far more detailed gospel chronology primarily based on John that in many cases can identify exact dates for many of the event including the calling of His first disciples. The timing of the woman at the well (John 4). What and when was the feast of John 5:1. I also now understand that Jesus was following a solar calendar explaining certain differences. For example why did Jesus leave late for Tabernacles in John 7:2, it also explains the dating of his last Passover meal yet to be crucified on Passover. On my URL see especially “Jesus 2 Year Ministry,” and “The Lamb of God.”

  3. Great blogsite! And great post on Johannine chronology. I look forward to further posts.

  4. I haven’t read your BECNT commentary (at least yet) so sorry if you already covered this there — but I have read Blomberg’s The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel (which really persuaded me to look more historically at John.)

    Blomberg didn’t go so far as to name a date for Jesus’ temple clearing — nor did he really resolve the dating difference with the Synoptics. He suggested this was either a reordering (likely then by John) of the temple clearing or perhaps Jesus cleared the temple twice. It would seem from you or chorology that you believe that Jesus did clear the temple twice?

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