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In a 2013 interview, Spong recalls reading Robinson's 1963 book: "I can remember reading his first book as if was yesterday. Views on the authorship, origin, and historicity of the Fourth Gospel have changed drastically over the last century and a half.The book, which has remained almost consistently in print, proposes abandoning the notion of God "out there", existing somewhere as a "cosmic supremo", just as we have abandoned already the idea of God "up there", the notion of "the old man up in the sky".In its place, he offered a reinterpretation of God as "Love".Robinson was born on in the precincts of Canterbury Cathedral, England, where his father was a canon.
The discovery of the fragmentary manuscript known as As a late work John’s Gospel was thus regarded as secondary and derivative, and where John’s version of events differed from that of the synoptic gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke, it was assumed that John had altered the traditions to suit his own theological ends. Robinson gave a paper to an Oxford Conference on the Gospels, entitled “The New Look on the Fourth Gospel.” In it he suggested that if a new look on John existed, it could be distinguuished from an ‘old look.’ He therefore set out what he regarded as the five presuppositions belonging to critical orthodoxy in the first half of the twentieth century so far as the interpretation of John’s Gospel was concerned, and tried to demonstrate that each was in need of and in the process of re-examination.After endorsing Paul Tillich's assertion that God is the "ground of all being", Robinson wrote: "For it is in [Jesus] making himself nothing, in his utter self-surrender to others in love, that he discloses and lays bare the ground of man's being as Love While some of its ideas have been taken up by more liberal circles of Christian thought, proponents of the traditional interpretation of Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant, reject Robinson's thesis as an unnecessary capitulation to Modernism.To what extent this is in fact the case depends very much on the frame of reference of the reader.He also wrote that past scholarship was based on a "tyranny of unexamined assumptions" and an "almost wilful blindness".Robinson concluded that much of the New Testament was written before AD 64, partly basing his judgement on the spare textual evidence that the New Testament reflects knowledge of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in AD 70.