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Outline the arguments of scholars for and against the view that the author of the Fourth Gospel was John the Apostle

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Outline the arguments of scholars for and against the view that the author of the Fourth Gospel was John the Apostle There are many different views of scholars towards the argument of whether the author of the Fourth Gospel was John the Apostle, despite the fact that Christian tradition since century AD has associated the fourth gospel with John the Apostle. The issue of authorship of what we call 'John's Gospel' is still greatly disputed today and I am going to discuss the views of different scholars. The view that the author of the Fourth Gospel was John the Apostle, the son of Zebedee and brother of James, is the most traditional theory. Stephen Smalley mentions that the main evidence on which this belief relies upon is that of St. Irenaeus, the Bishop of Lyons in AD 177. In two passages of his work, 'Against Heresies', Irenaeus testifies that the author of St John's gospel was 'John the disciple of the Lord'. He also mentions that John delivered the gospel to the elders of the church in Ephesus where John lived until the time of Trajan (98-117 AD). Smalley views that Irenaeus proclaims are believed to be accurate as he said that his information came from Polycarp (Bishop of Smyra) who is thought of as a reliable source as he heard this claim from John the disciple himself. ...read more.


For example, in chapter 18 v.13 he seems to have believed that the high priest only ruled for one year, and the Sea of Tiberius mentioned was not called such until the second century, 'and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year.' However, Barrett has a theory, that "it was drawn up, edited and published by persons who had no personal historical contact with Jesus, and perhaps no contact with Palestine; certainly not by an apostle." Another identity which people use for the Evangelist is often the Beloved Disciple mentioned in the Gospel. As C.K. Barrett writes, "he was either an unidentified, and unidentifiable, figure, or John the son of Zebedee, represented by an author with much more admiration for his hero than sound historical fact." Many scholars, including A. M. Hunter, have noticed that for the author of the Gospel to be the Beloved Disciple would mean that he was arrogant to describe himself as 'the one whom Jesus loved' (chapter 20 v. 2) and therefore it is very unlikely for the author to be John the Apostle. However, some people could argue that the term 'the disciple whom Jesus loved' could be looked on as humble wonder at the amazing fact, rather than a claim to a special position. There are a couple other suggestions for the author of the Fourth Gospel, John the Elder or Lazarus. ...read more.


The 'Egerton Papyrus' which contained passages similar to John and the Synoptics was also found in the second century and both pieces of papyri were found in Egypt. This implies that the Fourth Gospel must have been written quite before 150 AD as time would have needed for copies of the Gospel to be made and for the Gospel to be circulated and to reach Egypt. There are some other arguments to place the gospel at the end of the first century, one being that John's Gospel has been accused both of being doceitic heresy, and a book against these heretics at the same time. Doceitism does not seem to have existed before the end of the first century so, unless John developed that heresy himself and believed in it, it is unlikely that it was written before this time. Despite the substantial evidence leading to the belief that the Gospel was in fact composed at the end of the first century, there are also some arguments against this. Some people believe that the gospel was written later, in the second century as there is no evidence by any second century writer, e.g. Iranaeus to John earlier than 150 AD. Also, John was familiar to gnostics like Ptolemaeus and used by him in the middle of the second century. Also, John was used by the writers of the apocryphal 'Gospel of Peter' (150 AD) and the Valentinian document called 'The Gospel of Truth' (around 150 AD). ...read more.

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