The authorship of the Fourth Gospel
LE3 .A278 2016
Evans, Craig A.
Master of Arts
Acadia Divinity College
The research question for this study is, “Who provided the primary source of material for the Fourth Gospel (FG)?” This primary source is also referred to as the author or authority of the FG. In light of this and Jn 21:24, our research question could also be stated this way, “Who was the Beloved Disciple?” We limit the possibilities to three candidates, the Apostle John, the Elder John, and Lazarus of Bethany. The method we follow to investigate this question is, first, to analyze the internal and external evidence that is relevant to FG authorship, and then to endorse a theory that best explains both lines of evidence. The first chapter investigates the external evidence, and we consider the second-century writings of the Sethian and Valentinian Gnostics and the proto- Orthodox. The second chapter analyzes the passages in the FG wherein the BD appears and evaluates the arguments, which scholars have derived from the internal evidence, that support or oppose each candidate. The third chapter considers the theories that claim that the Apostle John, the Elder John, or Lazarus of Bethany was the BD, and uses the research from chapters one and two to evaluate these theories. The theory that identifies Lazarus with the BD and the Elder John with the Evangelist is judged as the one which best accounts for the internal and external evidence. The Elder John was Lazarus’ disciple, and he selected, arranged, and edited Lazarus’ written memoirs (and possibly other sources) to create the FG. Because of the Elder’s role in composing the FG, the name ‘John’ was attached to it. The Elder John was soon conflated with the BD, and, near the end of the second century, the proto-Orthodox were influenced by the Valentinian Gnostics to conflate this Elder John with the Apostle John.
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