I found the following excerpt from a book I'm reading, The Ancient Library of Qumran, 3rd Edition, by Frank Moore Cross. He writes: "[Essene] parallels to John and the Johannine Epistles will come as a surprise only to those students of John who have attempted to read John as a work under strong Greek influence. It now turns out -- as a small coterie of scholars have long maintained -- that John has its strongest affinities, not with the Greek world, or the Philonic Judaism [I think Cross is referring to Philo the Jew, a first-century Jewish philosopher from Alexandria, Egypt], but with Palestinian Judaism... So that rather than being the most Hellenistic of the Gospels, John now proves to be in some ways the most Jewish... Ultimately these conclusions will bear on critical theories in regard to the origin of John... Some have suggested that John may be regarded no longer as the latest and most evolved of the Gospels, but the most primitive, and that the formative locus of its tradition was Jerusalem before its destruction...; the point is that John preserves authentic historical material which first took form in an Aramaic or Hebrew milieu..." (p155-56) This stood out to me, since I've always heard that John was the last gospel written. It was interesting to hear a scholar suggest that this conclusion might need to be questioned. Any thoughts about Cross's points? -- J.B.
Yes, I remember this being proposed in New Testament class when I was at Duke (1970s). In AIM we suggest both possibilities. John’s knowledge of pre-70 Palestine is impressive. But this of course need not mean it was written before 70. He could simply be remembering. Hard to prove conclusively either way. Both early and late dates work.
By the way, F. M. Cross was my Hebrew teacher at Harvard. He has been working on the Dead Sea Scrolls since 1953.