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The Problem of the Fourth Gospel



'The evidences which reach back to disciples of disciples of St John, even to St John himself, who repeatedly affirms it in his Gospel, demonstrate that that Gospel was written by that very same Apostle1.'

So runs the verdict which, with much show of plausibility and prolific diatribe against 'self-styled critics,' amounts to a triumphant cadit quaestio in regard to the authorship of the Fourth Gospel. Pronounced by a writer who, pledged—it would seem —to the defence, is evidently well content to exercise the combined functions of counsel, jury-man, and judge, its unhesitating acceptance in the circles immediately addressed by him is a foregone conclusion. Yet such will scarcely be the case in other quarters; nor will open-minded students be slow to realize that the situation is far more complicated than he allows it to be supposed.

In like manner as in the preceding chapter, the question of authorship shall, at this stage, be discussed with exclusive reference to external evidence2; and with the recognition that any decisive word—if such a word be possible— must be spoken by the Gospel itself3.

There is no doubt whatsoever that upholders of the 'orthodox opinion' (there are, be it said, 'critics' among them) have the strong support of two illustrious personages, Eusebius and Origen, and they shall be questioned in the first instance.

To begin with Eusebius4. This writer entertains no doubt that

1 Polidori, I Nostri Quattro Evangelii, p. 246. With the like confidence H. H. Evans (St John the Author of the Fourth Gospel, pp. 84, 99).

2 Polidori's assertion points to internal as well as to external evidence.

3 Cf. Wernle, Quellen, pp. 9, 11.

4 Bishop of Caesarea, A.D. 314-340. The pupil and the friend of scholars he was himself possessed of extensive learning; and, a great traveller, he had frequent opportunities of converse with famous persons. He was well versed in the beliefs and opinions current in his age. His industry as a historian is conspicuous, if his style be somewhat prosaic and there be lack of system in the arrangement of his matter.


he who, returning from his island-exile, governed the Churches in Asia, and continued to reside in Ephesus until the days of Trajan, was John, Apostle and Evangelist, the disciple whom Jesus loved1. Discoursing on the order of the Gospels2, he starts off with an allusion to the undisputed writings of the same Apostle3; of these, says he, the Gospel, so well known in all the Churches under heaven, must be acknowledged at the first; then, explaining why John's Gospel stands last in order of sequence, he treats of those previously published by Matthew, Mark and Luke. What follows from him is to the following effect: John, they say, having all his time preached but not using his pen, in the end set himself to write. The occasion was this: on the three earlier Gospels being handed to him, he, they say, admitted them and testified to their truth, albeit they were therein defective that the earlier stages of the ministry were absent from their accounts. Such, says Eusebius, was the fact; and, the omissions being specified by him, he thus proceeds: for these reasons, the Apostle John, they say, being entreated to undertake the task, wrote an account of the period not touched on by the other Evangelists and of doings of the Saviour which they had omitted to record. With dismissal of arguments advanced by some that the Gospels were at variance, and with some remarks on John's additions and John's silence on the genealogy of the Lord, Euesbius adds: thus much about the Gospel according to John.

Such, in substance, is the testimony of the Bishop of Caesarea. Two things may be inferred from it; to begin with, he himself is fully persuaded that, however the case might stand with the two smaller Epistles and the Apocalypse, the author of the Fourth Gospel (and of the Epistle) is John the Apostle and Beloved Disciple. And next: the reiterated 'they say' is significant of dependence;

1 HE, iii, 23.

2 Ibid. iii, 24.

3 The Gospel and the First Epistle. Eusebius adds that the two smaller Epistles were in dispute, and that with regard to the Apocalypse there was difference of opinion.


the inference here is that Eusebius, having consulted such authorities as were at his command, finds a strong consensus of opinion to warrant his belief1.

Eusebius was, no doubt, abreast of his times and indefatigable in research2. He records what, to the best of his judgement, was ascertained fact; yet his critical judgement might be at fault, for, however conscientious and painstaking he might be, his methods and his tests were, after all, those of his own day, and a wide gulf lies between him and historians of the modern world. Accordingly it cannot be allowed off-hand that the traditional authorship of the Gospel is finally established by what he set down in all good faith.

As for Origen3, his belief was to the like effect. In the first of the many books of his great commentary on our Gospel, he places it last in order of sequence; in the fifth book he writes: What must be said of him, John, who reclined on Jesus' breast? He who has left one Gospel, with the avowal that he could write far more than the world itself could contain4. By 'John' Origen certainly means the Apostle John; and we may note in passing that he refers both the Gospel and the Apocalypse to the same pen.

It will be observed that Eusebius appeals to Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria5; and to Irenaeus and, if with some delay, to Clement, inquiry shall now turn.

Irenaeus. What this Father says about the Gospels is, in substance, this: Matthew produced his Gospel among the Hebrews, and in their dialect, while Peter and Paul were evangelizing and

1 'An individual might make a mistake about the authorship of a book, but could a whole community?' Mackay, A Reasonable Faith, p. 106. Yet beliefs do grow up on a very slight basis of fact, not to say without any basis at all.

2 Eusebius 'las grundlich'; Harnack, Chron. i, p. 657. Cf. Schwartz, Uber den Tod der Sohne Zeb. p. 22.

3 Origen (A.D. 185-254) was born at Alexandria. The pupil of Clement, he had visited Rome; he laboured in Arabia; some years were spent by him at Antioch; when on the way to Greece he passed through Palestine. A profound thinker, his literary activity was vast; and Raven's panegyric (op. cit. pp. 74 f.) is richly deserved by one who, in the eyes of pagans and Christians, was 'a miracle of scholarship.'

4 Euseb. HE, vi, 25. Cf. Jn xxi, 25.

5 HE, iii, 23.


laying the foundations of the Church in Rome. They being deceased, Mark, disciple and interpreter of Peter, also handed down to us in writing things which Peter had preached. Luke, Paul's companion, set forth in his book the Gospel as it had been proclaimed by Paul. Thereafter John, the disciple of the Lord, who lay on his breast, he too gave forth the Gospel while he yet abode at Bphesus in Asia1. And again: And all the elders, they of Asia who had conferred with John the disciple of the Lord, bear witness that (their tradition) had been delivered to them by John, for he remained on with them until the days of Trajan2. And again, writing to Florinus3, Irenaeus goes back to the days of his own boyhood as one who has better remembrance of events belonging to the past than of those of recent times ; I can tell, says he, the very place where sat and taught blessed Polycarp4, and how Polycarp spoke of intercourse had by him with John, and of what he had heard from others who had seen the Lord.

For Irenaeus, it will be remembered, the Fourth Gospel, like its three companions, was Holy Scripture. It was assigned by him to the Apostle John; and that in the first of the above citations, as elsewhere, he is really alluding to the son of Zebedee is not open to doubt and is indeed generally admitted5. This John, it will be remarked further, is identified by Irenaeus with the Beloved Disciple; yet what he does not do is expressly to designate him the Apostle.

Leaving Irenaetis for the moment, but not as yet turning to Clement, we will pause here for some allusion to the Alogi, to the Monarchian Prologue to the Gospel, and to the Muratorian Canon.

It has been said already that the Fourth Gospel was attributed to the heretic Cerinthus by the little sect or coterie to which Epiphanius gave the nick-name of Alogi. Let us remark now that,

1 Euseb. HE, v, 8.

2 Ibid. iii, 23.

3 In his Epistle περι μοναρχιασ. Euseb. v, 20. Florinus was a Roman presbyter. The genuineness of this Epistle is disputed by Scholten, Der Apos. Joh. in Kleinasien (from the Dutch, by Spiegel), p. 68.

4 Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, was martyred ca. A.D. 166 in the reign of Marcus Aurelius.

5 See Harnack, Chron. i, p. 657; Scholten, op. cit. p. 42; Julicher, Einl. p. 362; Stanton, op. cit. i, p. 213; Loisy, op. cit. p. 25; Gutjahr, Glaubwurdigkeit, p. 3.


belonging to the period in which Irenaeus flourished, their theory of the origination of the Fourth Gospel was controverted by Irenaeus himself; yet further, that the home of the Alogi was in Asia Minor. The strange thing, then is that they could flatly deny its Apostolic authorship in the very region to which its authorship was assigned; and the question necessarily arises whether any conclusive proof that its author was none other than the Apostle John could have been actually at hand at the time1.

Leaving the Alogi, we turn to the Monarchian Prologue to the Gospel. Together with its companion Prologues it has been assigned to the first third of the third century, and, revealing features characteristic of the Monarchian tendency2, it is less concerned with the contents than with the alleged author of our Gospel. Therein it is stated: John the Evangelist, one of the disciples of God, by God chosen to be Virgin . . . he wrote this Gospel in Asia, after he had written the Apocalypse in the Isle of Patmos. The romantic story follows which tells how, knowing that the time of his departure was at hand, John gathered his Ephesian diseiplea round him and descended into his tomb. The point to observe is that, referred to as Evangelist and Disciple, he is not expresses designated the Apostle John.

Again passing on, we take next the Muratorian Canon3. A mere fragment, with nothing in it which exactly determines its date, locality or authorship, written in barbarous Latin and evidently a version from a Greek original, it is held to have originated in the WEst, perhaps at Rome, towards the close of the second century, or, it may be, a few years later4. The opening sentences evidently referred to Mark; a statement is made as to Luke; the fourth place is given to John's Gospel and there is an account of the circumstances in which it was composed: 'At the entreaties of his fellow

1 The point has been raised by Loisy, op. cit. p. 21. 'The Alogi would scarcely have ventured on such a denial of Joh. authorship in the face of a fixed and certain tradition,' Forbes, op. cit. p. 168.

2 On the Monarchian Prologues, see Corssen, TU. xv. p. 1.

3 First published 1740 by Muratori, Librarian at Milan; hence its name. For the text see Lietzmann, Kleine Texte, i.

4 EB, i, col. 679; Westcott, Canon of N.T. pp. 190 f. The passage as cited is from Westcott's translation.


disciples and his bishops, John, one of the disciples, said: Fast with me for three days from this time, and whatsoever shall be revealed to each of us (whether it be favourable to my writing or not) let us relate it to one another. On the same night it was revealed to Andrew, one of the Apostles, that John should relate all things in his own name, aided by the revision of all. . . . What wonder is it then that John so constantly brings forward Gospel-phrases even in his Epistles, saying in his own person, what we have seen with our eyes and heard with our ears and our hands have handled, these things have we written? For so he professes that he was not only an eye-witness, but also a hearer, and moreover a historian of all the wonderful works of the Lord.' So runs the legendary tale which is perhaps itself based on some more highly elaborated romance1; what, to all appearance, does it suggest? It might be said, in the first place, that, albeit placed last in order of sequence, John's Gospel is apparently referred to a period earlier than the Synoptics. John, it might be said next, is differentiated, as a disciple, from certain Apostles of whom Andrew is one. The inference, again, is that his Gospel is not exclusively his own independent work. A further conjecture might be that the locality of composition is transferred from Ephesus to Palestine. Speaking generally, an impression is conveyed that accurate knowledge relative to the origination of the Fourth Gospel was not available for the Church at Rome.

The points thus far raised being each one borne in mind, our attention is now claimed by Clement of Alexandria2.

In one of Clement's works some account is given by him of all the Canonical Scriptures; and the tradition as to the order of the Gospels which, derived by him from primitive elders, he hands down is to the following effect: those which contain the genealogies

1 Corssen, op. cit. p. 103. Calmes (op. cit. p. 36, note) writes: 'Le fragment de Murat. depend des Acta Petri. Or ce dernier livre parait etre du meme auteur que les Acta Jo.' And see Scholten, op. cit. p. 82.

2 The date of Clement's birth is uncertain; his death took place ca. A.D. 200, and accordingly he would be very nearly contemporary with Irenaeus. In earlier life a learned pagan philosopher, he had travelled widely in the pursuit of knowledge. Becoming a convert at Alexandria, all his energies were thereafter devoted to the promotion, both by discourse and writing, of the Church's cause.


(viz. Mt. and Lk.) were written first; Mark, at the request of many who had heard Peter at Rome, composed his Gospel, Peter neither encouraging nor hindering him; John, last of all, perceiving that what had reference to corporeal things (τα σωματικα) in the Gospel of our Saviour was sufficiently related, encouraged by his friends and inspired by the Spirit, wrote a spiritual (πνευματικον) Gospel1.

So, then, the Marcan Gospel (as at that day was to be expected) is not prior to Mt. and Lk. in the eyes of Clement. In disagreement with Irenaeus, he refers it to a date at which Peter was still alive. By his manner of allusion to the Fourth Gospel it is plain that he himself realizes a contrast between it and the Synoptics; and this, perhaps, reminds us of the animadversions of Eusebius on certairn men who held that the Gospels were at variance as between themselves. He is content to call its author John. For his own knowledge as to its origination he is evidently dependent on tradition; and then the question arises: who were the elders (ανεκαθεν πρεσβυτερων) of the allusion, and to what locality did they belong? And again, what were the sources of their information?

Unquestionably the opinions of such a man as Clement must be treated with respect. They were based on what, for him, was sufficient evidence; yet here again it is necessary to remember that his methods of criticism were those of his own period. That he means the Apostle John may be freely admitted; a possibility remains that, having ascertained that the Fourth Gospel originated with a John, his own thoughts turned instinctively to John the Apostle and son of Zebedee.

To revert to Irenaeas; and, with him, to Polycarp: is it altogether fair to class them with 'pioous but stupid Churchmen of the second century3'?

Whatever the illumination of former as theologian, he was in any case a man of mark; he had been a great traveller, important missions had been entrusted to him; as Bishop of Lyons he

1 Euseb. HE, vi, 14. 'Eine Einseitigkeit der alexandr. Anschauungsweise,' Lange, Das Evglm. Joh. p. 25.

2 The Greek term (πρεσβυτερος) does not necessarily connote ecclesiastical office but might also be suggetsive of advanced years.

3 Raven, op. cit. p. 64.


occupied a prominent post. In his judgement the author of John's Gospel is the Apostle John; how, then, has he arrived at the belief? It surely cannot be a case of mere conjecture1. Whatever the exact extent of his intimacy with Polycarp in the days of his youth, his memory can scarcely have altogether failed him when he told of the very place where Polycarp had sat and held discourse with John; it is not likely that Polycarp was his one and only authority. The hypothesis is preferable that other sources were at his disposal2; and that he subjected them to such tests as, with the limitations of the times, he was competent to apply. The fact nevertheless remains that the decisive word Apostle is missing from the testimony of Irenaeus. As for Polycarp, there is no sufficient reason to distrust Irenaeus's statement relative to the intimacy of the former with a John and with others who had seen the Lord. What the Bishop of Lyons evidently cannot say is that Polycarp, on being asked whether the John he had known was really the son of Zebedee, Apostle, Beloved Disciple, Evangelist, had emphatically answered in the affirmative3.

The situation is not otherwise in the case of Polycrates4. Of the two extant fragments of his writings one is a letter addressed by him, towards the close of the second century, to Victor, Bishop of Rome. In it there stands as follows: In Asia also mighty elements of the Church (μεγαλα στοιχεια) have fallen asleep. . . . Philip of the twelve Apostles at Hierapolis and his two aged virgin daughters, another of his daughters . . . at Ephesus. Moreover John, he that reclined in the bosom of the Lord, who as priest wore the sacred plate (το πεταλον), martyr (μαρτυς) and teacher, he too fell asleep at Ephesus.

Whether there be confusion between Philip the Evangelist and the Apostle Philip5 is disallowed by some6; but on the perhaps safe assumption that there is, it might appear to be that the John named

1 Wernle, Quellen, p. 10; Harnack, Chron. i, p. 657.

2 Cf. Drummond, op. cit. p. 348; Gutjahr, op. cit. p. 14.

3 Julicher, op. cit. p. 364.

4 Bishop of Ephesus. He flourished about the same time as Irenaeus. As the leader of the Bishops of Asia Minor he played a prominent part (ca. A.D. 190) in the Paschal controversy.

5 Euseb. HE, iii, 31.

6 Cf Scott-Moncrieff, op. cit. p. 193.


is outside the number of the twelve. That Polycrates, acquainted, probably, with the Fourth Gospel, is himself evidently persuaded that the John who slept at Ephesus was the son of Zebedee may be conceded; why his allusion to the golden High-priestly frontlet1? Why the term used which might suggest a martyr-death2? The main point is the non-use, by Polycrates, of the decisive words Apostle and Evangelist.

We will pause here, and gather up the threads. In the preceding chapter the latest possible date of the Fourth Gospel was pushed back to a relatively early period; what now appears is that, before long time had elapsed, it was generally, not universally, regarded as the work of one who, albeit not thus expressly designated, was nevertheless so alluded to as to indicate his identification with the Apostle John. And further, the opinion seems to have been widespread that his home was in Asia Minor. Once more, it is true that in one instance a term which might imply actual martyrdom is used of him; otherwise his peaceful death at Ephesus was generally assumed. That 'direct and express ascription (of the Fourth Gospel) to the Apostle begins (ca. A.D. 181) with Theophilus of Antioch3' is, no doubt, quite true, only then the question arises; was such ascription justified by fact? Must it, on the other hand, be said that all that connects the Apostle with the Gospel 'runs out rapidly in mere legend4'?

Whatever be the case, the situation is complicated as a John other than the Apostle John appears on the scene.

This brings us to Papias5. Of the work in five books penned by

1 'Wie unkritisch Polykrates in diesem Brief zu Werke ging, ergisbt ich daraus, dass er Johannes als den Hohenpriester mit dem petalon geziert darstellt und hiermit eine in seiner Zeit bereits bestehende Gewohnheit die hohepriesterliche Wurde auf den christlichn Bischof zu ubertragen unchronologisch in die apostolische Zeit einfuhrt,' Scholten, op. cit. p. 74.

2 μαρτυς, a witness. The term could also mean martyr.

3 Sanday, cited by Bacon, Fourth Gospel in Research and Debate, p. 90; Scott-Moncrieff, op. cit. p. 199. In his Ad Autolycum Theophilus speaks of John as an inspired man. It would appear that the first to attribute literary activity to John the Apostle was Justin Martyr (Dial 83), yet in respect of the Apocalypse only, and by implication Justin locates its author in Asia Minor. See Loisy, op. cit., p. 14.

4 Bacon, op. cit. p. 91.

5 The story of his martyrdom at Pergumas seems to have arisen from a confusion of names and may be disregarded.


him, probably late in life, fragments only remain; the crucial passage runs thus: But if anywhere anyone also should come who had companied with the elders I ascertained (first of all) the sayings of the elders ('as to this,' not 'to wit') what Andrew or what Peter had said, or what Philip, or what Thomas or James, or what John or Matthew or any other of the disciples of the Lord (had said), and (secondly) what Aristion and John the Elder, the disciples of the Lord, say. For I supposed that the things (to be derived) from books were not of such profit to me as the things (derived) from the living and abiding voice1.

Quite properly Eusebius observes that the name of John occurs twice. That by the John first named Papias means the Apostle John is obvious, for he ranks him with other Apostles; as for the second John, he is, to all appearance, sharply differentiated from the former John; not only is he not classed with Apostles but he is expressly designated John the Elder2. If, in like manner as the Apostle John, he is spoken of as a disciple of the Lord, it is a distinction which Aristion shares with him; yet he is also differentiated from the latter by a term highly suggestive that, not simply advanced in years, he is a personage of importance. If so, where? An answer might come from Eusebius, who, for reasons of his own, is not unprepared to believe in the story of the two Johns in Asia and of the two tombs at Ephesus3. The question thenis : was he

1 Euseb. HE, iii, 39. As translated EB, ii, col. 2507. The Greek runs as follows: Ει δε που και παρηκολουθηκως τισ τοις πρεσβυτεροις ελθοι, τους των πρεσβυτερων ανακρινον λογους, τι Ανδρεας η τι Πετρος ειπεν η τι Φιλιππος η τι Θωμας η Ιακωβος η τι Ιωαννης η Ματθαιος η τις ετερος των του κυριου μαθητων (ειπεν), α τε Αριστιων και ο πρεσβυτερος Ιωαννης (οι) του κυριου μαθηται λεγουσιν.

2 Robson (JTS, xiv, p. 440) gets rid of one John by reading: . . . η η Ιακωβου η Ιωαννα η . . . and remarks: 'a natural and proper pair (Lk. xxiv, 10) to whom enquirers after authentic records would always resort.' The emendation is ingenious but quite unconvincing. For Mr Robson's identification of Aristion with the Beloved Disciple see Excursus II. Krenkel (Der Apostel Johannes, p. 142), identifying John the Presbyter with the Apostle John, discoveres John Mark in the John first named by Papias. Yet another emendation is offered by Larfeld (Die beiden Johannes von Ephesus, p. 184), who, reading του Ιωαννου μαθηται instead of του κυριου μαθηται, insists that Aristion and John the Elder were disciples of the Apostle John.

3 Euseb. HE, iii, 39; vii, 25.


still alive (and Aristion also) when Papias made his inquiries, and did Papias actually hold speech with him? Here the change of tense is probably decisive; what Andrew and others 'had said,' what Aristion and John the Elder 'say1'; and besides, Papias himself alleges his own decided preference for the living voice. It accordingly appears that, as a young man, he had not only seen but conversed with this second John who, brought by him on the scene, is not the Apostle John but John the Elder. And it is just here that Irenaeus is caught tripping; for, himself meaning the Apostle, he refers to the Bishop of Hierapolis as hearer of John as well as associate of Polycarp. Not so, says Eusebius, correcting the mistake; Papias by no means asserts that he was himself a hearer and eye-witness of the holy Apostles, but relates how he. had received the doctrines of faith from such as were of the number of their friends2.

It might, then, be inferred that he with whom both Papias and Polycarp held converse in their early manhood was not the son of Zebedee, but an aged disciple of the Lord who was in repute in the Churches of Asia as John the Elder. Yet is the further assumption warranted that, besides this John the Elder, whoever he might be, there had also been resident in Asia Minor and at Ephesus another John; he who was an Apostle and one of the Twelve3?

While the story of the two tombs at Ephesus, if not purely legendary, is at the most suggestive of a claim asserted by each to be the place of sepulture of a renowned personage4, there are other grounds for hesitating to answer in the affirmative. They are

1 The 'say' has been held (α) to be a historical present introduced for the sake of variety, or (β) understood of what men who have passed away still 'say' in books, or (γ) of utterances actually heard and fresh in the mind. The last explanation is adopted above.

2 Euseb. HE, iii, 39.

3 Silanus the Christian, p. 306. And see Calmes, op. cit. p. 24. Larfeld (op. cit. p. 185) wirtes: 'Die Amtsbezeichnunh πρεσβυτερος ist nach altrchristl. Gebrauch auch auf den Apos. Joh. (ο πρεσβυτερος κατ εξοχην) auszudehnen.' And thus Hennell (An Inquiry concerning the origin of Christianity, p. 104): 'the name "elder" was very commonly given to the heads of the Church (1 Pet. v, 1), and might be assumed by John the Apostle.'

4 Erbes, ZKG, xxxiii, ii, p. 162.


separately discussed elsewhere1, and it will suffice if, at this point, they be specified in few words. And first, it is clear that a John located in Asia Minor is identified in tradition with the Beloved Disciple who figures in the pages of the Fourth Gospel. The assumption being that the latter is a real personage, there is, to say the least, very grave difficulty in identifying him with the Apostle John. In the second place, it is not any longer possible to use the word 'universal' of the tradition which brings John son of Zebedee to Ephesus to die a natural death in extreme old age. Another stream of tradition must be reckoned with; and with the result that ample room must be made for the probability that, never quitting Palestine, he suffered martyrdom, and thereby completely fulfilled the recorded (Mk x, 39) prediction to himself and his brother James.

'The tradition of Asia Minor,' it has been said, 'knows but one John only, who accordingly must be either the Apostle or the Elder2'; and it is, no doubt, true that for the ancients, the residence of John son of Zebedee in Asia Minor appears to have been an 'uncontested historical fact3,' Not necessarily will it be accounted fact by the modern student. As he reviews the situation he will perhaps be led to agree that the question really is of two traditions, which, by the end of the third century, had been combined in the assertion that two Johns had resided at Ephesus, the one being the Apostle and the other the Elder4, He may go a step further; with an admission that the earlier and more trustworthy tradition, if decisive for some aged disciple who had companied with Jesus, is not by any means decisive for the Apostle John. And, although arguments from silence are precarious, he will pay added heed to the fact that in respect of the latter Ignatius has no single word to say5.

But to bring this chapter to a close. The allusion being to the external evidence for the traditional authorship of the Fourth Gospel, it has been remarked of it that it constitutes 'that portion of the field in which conservative theology has hitherto believed

1 See Excursus I and II.

2 von Dobschutz, LZ, Nrs. 52-53, col. 1779.

3 Schanz, Evang. d. h. Joh. p. 2.

4 von Soden, Early Christ. Liter. p. 429.

5 See Excursus I.


itself to have gained its securest successes1'; and a case very much in point is the confident appeal made to such evidence by the staunch upholder of the traditional authorship2 with whose verdict this chapter began. Whether the successes so claimed are indubitable is quite another question; and we must admit that neither for the residence of the Apostle John in Asia nor yet for his authorship of the Gospel called by his name is the external evidence of such a nature as to banish doubt3. On the contrary, it is highly probable that, when the field of internal evidence has been explored, we shall rather agree that were anyone, knowing nothing of the traditional belief, to peruse our Gospel, it would scarcely occur to him to seek for its author among the immediate disciples of Jesus4.

1 EB, ii, col. 2545.

2 Polidori. De Wette (op. cit. ii, p. 223), with allusion to the external evidence, gave it as his opinion that 'in dieser Hinsicht steht unser Evglm. nicht schlimmer, ja besser, als die drei ersten und als die paulinischen Schriften.' 'The external evidence,' says Evans (op. cit. p. 84), 'is wholly in favour of St John's authorship.'

3 It must be said with Cohu (The Gospels and Modern Research, p. 412) that 'the external evidence . . . is utterly inconclusive as to its (sc. the Fourth Gospel's) Apostolic authorship.'

4 Heitmuller, SNT, ii, p. 707. And see Contentio Veritatis, pp. 223 f.

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