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A2 Religious Std Authorship of the Fourth Gospel

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Introduction

A2 Religious Std - Authorship of the Fourth Gospel "The author of the Fourth Gospel must have been someone who knew Jesus." Examine and evaluate. (30 marks) The authorship of the Fourth Gospel is much of an enigma, as Marsh suggested, "The identity of the author must remain wrapped in anonymity". Whilst it is difficult to establish the actual author of the Gospel; through the use of internal and external evidence backed up by scholarly views we might be able to agree on our broader position of whether or not the author must have been someone who knew Jesus. We must also decide on the criteria on which to classify someone to have known Jesus. The traditional view claims the author to be an apostle, therefore includes "the disciple Jesus loved", which is believed to be John (the son of Zebedee) although some suggests it could have been Lazarus or Mary Magdalene. Nevertheless, if it were to have been written by "the disciple Jesus loved", the author would have been someone who knew Jesus. ...read more.

Middle

This supports the argument that it was John the Apostle who wrote the Gospel as it would have made sense for him not to have felt the need to distinguish between the two. It is also worth mentioning that the Muratorian Fragment also testifies John to be the author; this adds strengths to the argument as the Muratorian Fragment was a well respected document. Internal, biblical evidence can also be used to support the claim. The most obvious evidence would be John 21:24 where the author suggests the author "is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true." The detailed accounts which the author of the Fourth Gospel points to also strengthen the argument that the Gospel must have been written by someone who knew Jesus well. Taking John 21:11 as an example: "Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn." ...read more.

Conclusion

However, even if John was alive and his health condition and memory did not prevent him from writing the Gospel; the fact that he was poorly educated raises points against him being the author of the Gospel. Dodd pointed out that the discourses in the Gospel are revolved around complex themes which support the claim about John's lack of academic qualifications. Other doubts are also raised suggesting the Gospel was not written by someone who knew Jesus. First of all, the sequence of events in the Gospel differs with that of other Gospels therefore suggesting the author did not have to be an eyewitness. The inaccuracy in detail is also reinforced by the fact that some facts are wrong with the author using the term "Sea of Tiberius" instead of "Sea of Galilee" as a clear example. One may also point to the Gnostic influences on the Fourth Gospel where there are shared ideas of the existence of entities such as light, evil, physical and spiritual. However the belief that those who had "divine light" would reach the spiritual world was not stated in the Gospel which does not agree that knowledge alone is sufficient in getting us into heaven. ...read more.

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