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We read in John 10:22-24 how the Jews pose a question to Jesus on his mission - whether he is the promised Messiah. In Verse 22 and 23 the Evangelist appears to have prepared a perfect setting for the dialogue, by telling of the occasion i.e. Festival of Dedication, and of the weather - that it was winter, and again, of what Jesus was doing right then - walking in Solomon's Colonnade (perhaps, enjoying the warmth of the sun). Such description is not usually found in the middle of a Chapter. One is inclined to doubt whether Verses 22 onwards form a later addition to the Chapter. My question therefore, is: Were Verses 22 onwards of John 10 originally part of a separate Chapter?

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First, and most importantly, the original Bible text, including the gospel of John, originally had no chapter divisions and verse divisions These all came centuries later.

Second, all the earliest extant copies of the gospel of John have the text almost exactly as we have it today - there is zero evidence of early tempering with the text.

For example, Papyrus 66 dates from about 200 AD and contains most of the gospel of John, including John 10. The text there is essentially identical to that now available.

Historical scholars vary only slightly as to when the gospel of John was composed but there is very narrow window from which to choose - it was somewhere between 60 and about 90 AD. My personal preference is toward the latter end of this range.

Therefore, there is no evidence of any change to the text of John as we now have it.

Lastly, John 10 contains two separate stories separated by a a few months:

  • V1-21 is the incident involving the "Good Shepherd" conversation
  • V22-39 contains the discussion between Jesus and the Jews about Jesus' identity at the feast of dedication, or Hanukkah.

There is no problem here.

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It is correct to note that the Bible, including the Gospel of John, did not originally contain the chapter and verse divisions that we see today. These were added much later, for ease of reference. However, that doesn't mean we should accept the current structure of these texts as the definitive or original form.

While it's true that our earliest extant copies of the Gospel of John, such as Papyrus 66, have a text essentially identical to what we have today, it's worth noting that these copies still date from at least a century after the estimated date of composition. This leaves ample room for editing, interpolation, and redaction.

And, even if we accept that the text has remained unchanged since the time of Papyrus 66, this doesn't necessarily mean that the text as it currently stands represents the original form. The process of textual transmission in the ancient world was complex and fraught with potential for error and alteration.

As for the dating of the Gospel of John, the window between 60 and 90 AD, while narrow, is still a significant period of time, especially in a world without printing presses or reliable methods of document preservation. A lot can happen in thirty years.

Finally, the argument that John 10 simply contains two separate stories separated by a few months is a possible interpretation, but it's not the only one. Other biblical scholars have proposed different interpretations, including the idea that the Gospel of John is a composite work incorporating multiple sources.

In conclusion, while the evidence may suggest that the text of John 10 has remained relatively stable since the earliest extant copies, this does not preclude the possibility of earlier alterations or additions. As with all historical texts, a healthy dose of skepticism and critical inquiry is warranted

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