Dating John's Writings
Zane Hodges dates the Gospel of John as AD 48-52 and John's epistles at 64-65. I found this surprising when I first read it a few months ago and would like to hear your views.
These dates of Hodges were influenced by Redating the New Testament, by JAT Robinson. Robinson was a modernist Anglican bishop who thought he’d try to prove, originally as a joke, that much of the NT was written prior to the destruction of the temple in AD 70 and ended up finding a surprising amount of evidence for that premise.
The fact that John wrote in John 5:2 that “...there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool...” seems to indicate that John thought of Jerusalem as standing at the time of his writing his gospel.
Regarding Revelation, apart from Robinson’s theory that the destruction of the Jerusalem would have been mentioned in Revelation, Hodges believes that Revelation 17:10 pegs it to late 68, early 69. Rev 17:2 refers to five fallen emperors, a one that is, and one that is yet to come. Hodges thinks it is most natural to treat the five fallen emperors as Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero, the one that is as Galba and the one that has not yet come as Otho. So Hodges places the writing of Revelation during the short reign of Galba. The fact that the epistles of John seem to have been written prior to the Book of Revelation is why he places it even earlier than 68. Hodges date for the epistles, if they were written together, is 64-65, but believes it is possible they were as early as AD 55.
I thnk all this is interesting since it seems as if early dates, despite Robinson’s theological modernism, tend to provide support for the NT’s authority. R.A. Torrey also argued for early pre-Jewish War date for all the Gospels:
"It is perhaps conceivable that one evangelist writing after the year 70 might fail to allude to the estruction of the temple by the Roman armies...but that three or four should thus fail is quite incredible. On the contrary, what is shown is that all four gospels were written before the year 70."
A side note is that I like how Hodges keeps up to date, and broadly so, with the theological literature, European and also non-Evangelical, like Robinson. Although I think Redating is pretty well-known. He does often engage with modernist scholarship. I see that type of diligence as important in scholarship, and am glad he does it without his having earned his own doctorate. It shows that Hodges’ lack of that particular educational attainment is not about being anti-intellectual, but (perhaps) more about his own personal priorities as a minister of the gospel.