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The Problem of the Fourth Gospel



It has already been decided by us, of course provisionally, that the two extreme limits within which the date of origination of our Gospel might be held to lie were roughly indicated by, on the one hand, that of the latest of the Synoptics, and, on the other, by its use, to all appearance, in the circles of Valentinian Gnosis.

Our provisional decision, it must be remembered, was the outcome of an inquiry which was then restricted to the field of external evidence. Not so in the present chapter, for it now becomes our business to question the Gospel itself; to determine so far as possible the relations in which it stands to event, circumstance, or movement in the outer world. And in so doing we shall speedily be told that, instead of finding a terminus ad quem in the year A.D. 135 or thereabouts, we must be content to assign our Gospel to a later date.

We will arrange our subject under separate heads. And first:

The revolt of Bar Cochba. It was in the year A.D. 132 that the whole of Palestine was roused against Roman domination by a Pseudo-Messiah; whether Simon was his real name or not, he is known by an epithet which, in one of the forms of its transmission means 'Son of a Star1.' The insurrection headed by him—it meant terrible sufferings endured by the Palestinian Christians for their refusal to have part or lot in it—blazed fiercely for three years; then it was stamped out ruthlessly by the Roman arms. As we read in Eusebius2, the author of the Jewish madness met his fate at the fortress of Bitthera—some dozen miles s.w. of Jerusalem—in the eighteenth year (A.D. 134-135) of the reign of Hadrian.

The plea is raised that our Gospel must be dated within, if not later than, the period A.D. 132-135, inasmuch as there is a clear

1 On this point, and for further details relative to the pretender, see RGG, i, col. 915.

2 HE, iv, 6.


reference to this false Messiah in words placed by the Evangelist (v, 43) in the lips of his Christ: 'if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.'

A view which, comparatively modern, has found confident adoption or qualified support1, while hints are met with that, whereas the Synoptic allusions2 are explicitly to false Christs destined to arise, the manner of the Johannine representation suggests personages not only come already but actually known to those who read3. The question is, however, not of a plurality; and, if an individual be really intended, the allusion is both vague and hypothetical. The 'if' (εαν αλλος ελθη) is surely tell-tale4; and although it may not positively exclude the view that (let alone the Antichrist of patristic interpretation) some given personage was in contemplation, it certainly militates, and forcibly, against that which contends for any given accomplished fact. Nor is it unlikely that the Saying instanced, reminiscent of Deut. xviii, 205, speaks generally and with bitter irony6, of all eager running after false Messiahs who shall come at their own instance, and without any commission from the Father7.

1 Schmiedel (Evglm. . . . des Joh. pp. 25) would hesitate to rely on such a point taken by itself, yet he finds justification in other grounds suggestive of the period A.D. 132-135. More decidedly Lützelberger, op. cit. p. 271. 'In Vers 43,' says Wellhausen (Das Evglm. Joh. p. 27), 'erkennt man mit recht eine Weissagung auf Barkochba.' If the question be of a definite personage (and not of false prophets and false Christs generally as in Mk xiii, 6, 21, 22 = Mt. xxiv, 5, 23, 24; Acts v, 36 f.) then, says Holtzmann (HCNT, iv, p. 99) ' entweder der persönliche Antichrist oder irgend eine geschichtliche Person lichkeit . . . dann doch wohl eher der einzige geschichtliche Judenmessias Bar Kochba als Simon Magus.' See also W. Bauer, HBNT, II, ii, p. 62 Pfleiderer decided for 'the Son of a Star' (cf. Numb. xxiv, 17), and Thoma for Simon Magus. But, as is pointed out by Loisy (op. cit. p. 416), the latter was not a false Messiah for the Jews.

2 For the refs. see the preceding note. No fewer than sixty-four such Messiahs, it is said, are enumerated by Jewish historians.

3 Cf. Réville, op. cit. p. 170.

4 'La particule conditionelle exclut plutot l'idée d'un fait précis,' Loisy, op. cit. p. 416. To the same effect B. Weiss, Das Johannesevglm. p. 106, note; Clemen, Entstehung des Johannesevglm. p. 147.

5 So Spitta, Das Johannesevglm. pp. 131, 133.

6 Heitmiiller, SNT, ii, p. 771.

7 McClymont, St John (Century Bible), p. 173. 'Pfleiderer's conclusion that Jn. v, 43 refers to Barkochba and the Jewish rebellion of 132-135,' says Forbes (op. cit. p. 165), 'will be shared by few.' Gillis P:son Wetter ('Der Sohn Gottes,' p. 167) is of the same mind.


A second contention points to one who, placed by the Fathers within the ranks of Gnosticism, is now allowed by many to have played a more independent role, and this was Marcion. Already a Christian when, having left his native Pontus, he (A.D. 139) arrived at Rome, he was excommunicated six years later on the ground of heresy. An ultra-Paulinist as he has been described, he appears to have been without any original design of sectarian action, while zealous for the purging of the Church from what for him were its Judaisms. As things turned out he proceeded to form separate Marcionite communities1.

Now it has been said that it was the set purpose of our Evangelist so 'to prevent the triumph of Judaistic reaction' by his Gospel as to save Marcion and the followers of Marcion for his comprehensive Church2.

The suggestion is not uninteresting. Our Gospel is certainly characterized by liberalizing tendencies; it illustrates attempts both to free the Church from distinctively Jewish-Christian survivals and to extend the Church's borders. Yet we seek in vain in it for anything in the shape of proof that its author was up in arms for the defence of any one person, or groups of persons, in particular; in his inclusiveness his thoughts take far wider range; nowhere is there any special indication of a paramount desire to win back persons or parties such as those in question. And besides; albeit the Gospel-Canon in Marcion's day was not the fixed quantity which it had become by the end of the second century, it is nevertheless highly significant that Tertullian could unhesitatingly charge the former with having rejected three Gospels and mutilated the Gospel which he thought fit to retain3. The balance weighs down in favour of the view that our Gospel was already in existence; and, if actually known to Marcion—and, it would appear

1 RGG, iv, col. 143 f.; i, col. 1103. See also the chapter on Marcion in Burkitt's Gospel History and its Transmission.

2 'Om dezen nu te behouden voor de Kerk en de zegepraal der Joodsche reactie te voorkomen doet onze schrijver in zijn Evangelie een welsprekend beroep op den Christus wiens heerlijkheid hij aanschouwt in den geest,' W. F. Loman, op. cit. p. 25.

3 Adv. Marc.


that it was so known1—there might be ground for surprise that, looking to the nature of its contents, it was not preferred by him to that Gospel which he mutilated2, viz. Luke.

We will next ask whether any nearer date for its origination is determinable from the manner of its allusions to the Baptist.

Unquestionably our Evangelist is not without Baptist-disciples in his mind. Much more in his mind, however, are the Jews of his own day; his aggressiveness is therein displayed that he joins issue with a hostile Judaism in its arguments from the priority of John to Jesus: in so far as he takes account of men whose staunch allegiance to the Baptist remained unshaken, he is far more nearly concerned to conciliate and to win them. If he be author of the first Johannine Epistle it might appear further (1 Jn v, 6) that he is also 'attempting to counteract the spread of certain erroneous opinions' which were in some way connected with existing Baptist sects3. And of the members of such sects it is not unsafe to say that the attitude assumed by them was no longer that of the evidently receptive minds instanced Acts xix, 1 f., nor could the case be one of individuals, Acts xviii, 26, of like type to the Alexandrian Apollos.

It were wise to content ourselves with having raised the question. No answer is forthcoming from the mere fact of the hostility of Judaism. As for Baptist-sects, there is evidence of their survival4 in a variety of shades and colours; but of clear proof that at any given date they had become special cause of anxiety at Ephesus to our Evangelist there is none whatever.

Let us glance at the Ebionites. The question here is said to be5 of Jewish Christianity in two tendencies or parties which, alike in their assertion of the permanent obligation of the Mosaic law, in this respect differed that in the one case some liberty was extended to Gentile converts, while in the other case there was a flat denial

1 Whether, as Zahn (Gesch. des NT. Kanons, i, 2, p. 677) urges, he actually borrowed from it is not easy to determine.

2 See on the whole question Loisy. op. cit. pp. 16 f. It may be added that the Prologue of our Gospel is conclusive against one main Maroionite contention.

3 Alban Blakiston, op. cit. p. 136. See the whole chapter for some account of 'the growth of the Baptist sect.'

4 Liitzelberger (op. cit. p. 275) discovers them in Parthia.

5 So, generally, Kurtz, Ch. Hist., i, pp. 120 ff.


of the virgin-birth and of the divinity of Jesus. They are met with in their respective groupings and variously designated1, at a day long after that to which it is, in any case, needful to assign our Gospel; it cannot be said, however, that assistance is rendered by them in our search. What can, of course, be said is that, in his attitude to legalism pure and simple, our Evangelist is of Paul's mind; that, be his view of the manner of the Incarnation what it may, he has a ready challenge for all who reject the divinity of his Lord2.

Already brought into contact with the syncretism of the period, we here turn for a moment to the reforming movement known as Montanism, with its assertion that the age of the Paraclete began, and reached its fullest developement, with Montanus3. A suggestion, then, is that our Evangelist, in respect of his doctrinal system, is himself a borrower from Montanism; and that consequently the date of his Gospel cannot be earlier than the last decade of the second century4. But the case is assuredly the other way about5; and, the suggestion dismissed by us, we go on our way.

We now address ourselves more particularly to one of 'the two main tendencies in the early Church which lie near the main current of its historic developement6,' viz. Gnosticism.

It is, of course, impossible in these pages to treat in detail of successive stages in and the many phases of—to repeat from a previous chapter—'the boldest and grandest syncretism the world has ever beheld,' and nothing more shall be attempted than a very general and bare outline of Gnosticism in its leading features. Of the Gnostic sects it has been said that they 'were the result of the

1 For Origen all Jewish Christians were Εβριωναιοι, yet he differentiated between διττοι and αμφοτεροι Εβριωναιοι. Jerome, followed by Augustine and Theodoret, termed the more moderate party Nazareans, the term Ebionites being reserved for the extremists. But see on the whole question of Ebionism, Bethune-Baker, Christian Doctrine, pp. 63 ff.

2 De Wette, op. cit. ii, p. 219.

3 Montanus made his appearance at Pepuza in Phrygia. The exact date is variously estimated; ca. A.D. 152—170. For an account of the movement of which he was a prophet see RGG, iv, col. 482 f.; Kurtz, op. cit. i, pp. 225 ff.

4 See Scholten, op. cit. p. 465; Schwegler, op. cit. pp. 204 ff.

5 De Wette, op. cit. ii, p. 226.

6 v. Dobschutz, Christ. Life in the Prim. Church, p. xxxiii.


contact of Christian principles with the current ideas of the first century,' every Gnostic system being 'an attempt to blend Christianity with the theosophical speculations of the age'; 'in a sense, however, Gnosticism is more ancient than the Church, being a philosophy of religion which seeks in the end to explain every cultus'; it is then suggested that 'the great test to which primitive Christianity was exposed from the outside world was not so much the danger of succumbing to persecution, as of adapting itself to the popular philosophies of the heathen and Jewish world1.' That truths, or elements of truth, are perceptible in Gnostic doctrines no one would venture to deny; at the same time they are adumbrated and distorted by what was a main principle with the 'intellectualism' so pre-eminently characteristic of Gnosticism, the belief that matter is essentially evil in itself. Some qualification is, perhaps, necessary; there is nevertheless truth in the remark: 'Herein lies the inherent weakness of Gnostic systems; they strike at the root of all morality, by denying that man in his state of material existence is responsible for his sins, which they assert are not the result of his free choice, but the inevitable consequences of the state in which he is placed2.' In practice a result, in some quarters, was of two sorts; on the one hand a resort to asceticism as the means of keeping the essentially evil body in subjection, on the other no restraint whatever was exercised, as the evil body with its evil desires was held to be beneath contempt3. As the principle was pressed to its logical conclusion, it was maintained that by no possibility could a world essentially evil be the creation of the supreme Deity4; and hence the work of creation was referred

1 Foakes-Jackson, Hist. of the Christ. Church, p. 122. The whole chapter should be read. See more particularly Bethune-Baker, op. cit. pp. 76 ff. See also the further remarks of v. Dobschütz, op. cit.; Kurtz, Church Hist. i, pp. 66 f., 98 ff.; RGG, ii, col. 1486 ff.; Bousset, Hauptprobleme der Gnosis; P. Wendland, Die hellenistisch-romische Kultur.

2 Foakes-Jackson, op. cit. p. 129; see foot-note on p. 128 of that work for an apt citation from v. Dobschütz: 'Gnosticism is, in the first place, intellectualism; one-sided over-valuation of knowledge at the expense of moral activity.'

3 He who was redeemed—and theories of redemption played no inconsiderable part in Gnostic systems—might conceive himself to be above and beyond Good and Evil.

4 Who is, in many cases, not so much the God of the prophets and of Jesus, as the First Cause, the Absolute to whom no predicates could be attached, the Ineffable One.


to an inferior being, while it was argued that of communication between the supreme God and the material evil world there could be none whatever. Intermediate agencies, aeons, emanations of the Deity, were accordingly conceived of. The conception being scouted that the highest of the emanations of the Father could take upon himself a material body, there came flat denials of the reality of the Incarnation, protests, in many forms, against the true humanity, the real suffering, of Jesus; in a word Docetism. There was indeed, so it was allowed by some, a man Jesus upon whom the superior aeon Christ had descended at the Baptism, but only to desert him at the Crucifixion; others, again, alleged that it was really Simon the Cyrenian who was crucified and by mistake, while the real Jesus looked on and smiled. Whatever the explanations offered, they alike show 'how rooted was the idea that God could not possibly have anything to do immediately with matter, or with the sufferings of a material universe; if He seemed to make such contact, it was only in appearance. The suffering Christ was a phantom; not a hair of his head was touched, let atone a bone being broken1.'

Now, there are clear indications of the spread of more or less developed Gnostic tendencies both in the admittedly genuine Pauline Epistles and in those which may or may not be traceable to Paul himself2. Thus in the case of the Colossian heresy, which has 'been pronounced to contain all the essential elements of a Gnostic system'; the situation is less clear in the so-called Epistle to the Ephesians, yet there are hints at errors similar to those which prevailed at the neighbouring Colosse; as for the Pastoral Epistles, they suggest that need had arisen at Ephesus to deal with the question of asceticism and to draw plain distinctions between true knowledge and knowledge which is 'falsely so called.' Nor is there

1 Rendel Harris, Newly-Recovered Gospel of St Peter, p. 29. And see pp. 45, 47, for striking instances of the Docetic character of the Pseudo-Gospel: 'he' (i.e. Jesus on the Cross) 'was silent, as if in no wise feeling pain'; 'And the Lord cried out, saying, My Power, My Power, hast thou forsaken Me?'

2 For the refs. see Foakes-Jackson, op. cit. pp. 129 ff.


room for doubt that, whether he be Paul or not, the author of the Epistles to Timothy was confronted with, at all events, the germs of Docetism when, 1 Tim. iii, 16, he points emphatically to Jesus as 'manifested in the flesh.' Yet it must be admitted that, if he really was Paul, he had himself used language in some degree savouring of Docetic tendencies at an earlier period; thus when, Phil. ii, 5 ff., he speaks of 'Christ Jesus' as 'taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men.'

We now turn to our Gospel. As we have seen already, it was not only commented on by the Gnostic Heracleon, but held in estimation by Basilides; and, such being the case, we may well be incredulous in respect of the very late dating of a previous suggestion. But the question is whether we be now pointed to the nearer date sought for by the manner and matter of its contents when compared with that Gnosticism which has been rapidly surveyed by us.

There are two extreme positions. In the one case our Gospel has been definitely claimed for Gnosticism1; in the other it is said to be characterized throughout by a pronounced antagonism to Gnostic modes of thought. The truth, however, does not appear to lie in either quarter, and it is far more reasonable to decide that, in some degree sympathetic, it also tells plainly of a discriminating mind. That it is not untinged by Gnostic influences might be admitted; its author has occasional resort to a terminology in use in Gnostic circles, he makes room for an 'intellectualism' of a certain kind, elements of dualism are perceptible in his conceptions, the idealized portrait of his Christ is suggestive of a Docetism from which he himself is not altogether free. On the other hand it must be as readily admitted that, by no means blind to momentous issues, he fastens on and repudiates errors detected by him in Gnostic doctrines which were making their appearance in his day. In his own fashion he contends for the real humanity of his Lord2. There are terms and expressions, it is argued, which, changing them for others, he significantly declines to import,

1 It was referred, in antiquity, to Cerinthus.

2 A case in point is where (Jn xix, 17) he excludes all mention of Simon of Cyrene and says of Jesus: 'bearing the Cross for himself.'


at anyrate does not import, into his Gospel1. It is safe to say that the theory of intermediate emanations is absolutely discarded by him. There is nothing 'one-sided' in the value attached by him to the intellect. The idea of asceticism is not so much foreign to as repulsive to him; he makes no secret of his conviction that right action is contingent on and must attend right thought. Never does he doubt that the God of the Old Testament is identical with the God and Father of Jesus2.

Our Evangelist is no advanced Gnostic. As for his Gospel, it is not the work of one who, realizing the gravity of the situation, is constrained to grapple with and refute a Gnosticism which has arrived at the hey-day of its developement. What might be allowed perhaps is that, not definitely hostile to Gnosticism in its earlier stages, he occasionally reveals a discriminating sympathy3; yet it must be added that, alive to errors creeping in and already fraught with mischief, he is bold to speak his mind. That his Gospel is altogether strange to the Gnostic movement4 it is hard to believe.

We are led to the conclusion that our Gospel places us in a day when Basilides and Valentinian had yet to elaborate their systems, and that accordingly it is prior to the year A.D. 135 or thereabouts.

By what space of time? If so be that our Evangelist is really the Beloved Disciple, necessity is of course laid upon us to retrace our steps so as to get within a period when he still survived; and in that case we should have to date our Gospel at least as early as a year or two after (if not before) the close of the first century5.

1 γνωσις, πιστις, σοφια. In the first two cases he has resort to the verbal forms γιγνωσκειν, πιστευειν; in the latter he uses the word αληθεια.

2 See on the whole question E. F. Scott, The Fourth Gospel pp. 87 ff.

3 Schwegler (op. cit. p. 211, note) is far less reserved: 'Dass das Joh. Evglm. von Beziehungen zu den ältesten Systemen der Gnosis durchwoben ist, liegt am Tage.' To the like effect Brückner, op. cit. p. 68.

4 According to Rëville (op. cit. p. 322) 'Cet Évangile est purement alexandrin; il est encore tout à fait étranger au mouvement gnostique.' The view adopted above is in part similar to that of De Wette, op. cit. ii, p. 217.

5 The Crucifixion is dated circa A.D. 29. At that date the Beloved Disciple (if a real person and in any case not the son of Zebedee) may have been quite a young man not to say a youth. Assuming that he actually reached extreme old age, he would be 90 or thereabouts by the year A.D. 100.


Yet, apart from the contingency that, not a real person, he 'represents the Church in its essential idea1,' he may be not so much author of as authority for our Gospel; and it may be said at once that it is not absolutely imperative to decide for a date within the life-time of an eye-witness of the life of Jesus. And besides, there are considerations which forbid us to travel very far back in our search. Whatever the identity of the Evangelist, he writes at a date later than the latest of the Synoptics; and here we bear in mind the uncertainty which attaches to the dating of the Matthaean and the Lucan Gospels. The very fact of his dependence on the Synoptics is an argument in favour of the theory that some time had elapsed since their publication. Nor is this all; the world in which he places us is not diverse only in locality, but in conceptions which suggest an after day. The One of whom he tells is not so much the Jesus of the Synoptic representation as the Christ of the experience of his own inmost soul.

Were our search to end at this point the conclusion would be reasonable that, although no precise date can be fixed, our Gospel can be safely assigned to the period A.D. 100-1252. while it might be not too venturesome to push the later limit somewhat further back3.

But, unhappily, we may not as yet cry halt. An objection must now be noted which, referring our Gospel to a circle to which Apollinaris4 had belonged, transfers the date of its origination to a period but shortly antecedent to the celebrated meeting at Rome (ca. A.D. 155) of Polycarp and Anicetus5. Accordingly we must perplex ourselves, if for a brief space only, with the tangled skein of Quartodecimanism and the Paschal Controversy.

It was remarked in the preceding chapter that there is—or there certainly appears to be—an irreconcilable discrepancy between

1 E. P. Scott, op. cit. p. 144. And see Appendix ii.

2 Thus, in italics, Réville (op. cit. p. 325): 'la rédaction du ive évangile doit etre repartée entre l'an 100 et 125 approximativement.'

3 But for the uncertainty relative to our First and Third Gospels the earlier limits might be pushed back to ca. A.D. 90.

4 Claudius Apollinaris, the distinguished Bishop of Hierapolis. Of his numerous writings fragments only are extant. His Apology, it is said, was addressed to Marcus Aurelius.

5 Schwegler, op. cit. pp. 201 ff. See also pp. 191 ff.


our Gospel and its three companions in respect of the Death-day of Jesus. According to the Synoptics, the legal Passover is kept by Jesus and his disciples on the evening of the 14th Nisan, and the Crucifixion takes place the day after; otherwise our Evangelist, who is at pains to make it understood that when the Supper of his narrative was held, the Passover lay still ahead; that it was on the 14th, not the 15th, of Nisan that Jesus went to his Death. This borne in mind we pass on to observe a marked divergence of practice in regard to the observance of the Paschal Feast. To state the position in fewest words; it was customary with the Christians of Asia Minor to celebrate it on the same day as the Jews, i.e., on the 14th of Nisan; not so in Western Christendom, where it was celebrated on the Sunday after.

Herein the point of difference between Polycarp and Anicetus when they met at Rome. It was urged by the former that he and his people were but steadfast in their adherence to the manner followed in Asia along with John the disciple of the Lord; the latter, on the other hand, appealed to the tradition of the Roman Church. They appear to have agreed to differ; and in token that there was no breach of fellowship, Polycarp was allowed by Anicetus to conduct the Eucharist. For a while controversy was hushed, but it again broke out; to rage fiercely at a subsequent day when, with the result of protest and remonstrance, the extreme step of breaking off Church fellowship was taken by the Roman Bishop Victor1.

The question is, what exactly was it that the Christians of Asia Minor had in mind in their observance of the 14th of Nisan? In other words, what was the rationale of Quartodecimanism?

There is divergence of opinion. Minor differences apart, the views entertained by scholars admit of classification under three main heads, and we will enumerate them with necessary condensation2. To begin with, we are told that the 14th of Nisan was

1 See Euseb. HE, v, 24, for the letter of Polycrates to Victor and the remonstrances addressed to the latter by Bishops of whom Irenaeus was one.

2 Dr Stanton's exhaustive survey of the whole question (Gospels as Hist. Documents, i, pp. 173 ff.) is here laid under contribution. See also Drummond, op. cit. pp. 444 ff.; Zahn, Einl. ii, pp. 509 ff.; Schenkel, op. cit. pp. 253 ff.; Réville, op. cit. pp. 65 ff.; Calmes, op. cit. p. 66.


observed in commemoration of the Passover eaten by Jesus and his disciples on the night before the Crucifixion. According to a second view, the observance, directly founded upon the recognition that Jesus was himself the true Paschal Lamb, was a commemoration of the Death, on the 14th of Nisan, of Jesus. In the third place, it is maintained that, with no specific reference to either the Last Supper or the Death, the observance of the 14th of Nisan pointed rather to a Commemoration of the Divine Redemption typified in the ancient Passover and now accomplished in Christ, in which the thought of the Last Supper and of the Death on the Cross and the Resurrection were all included.

Let us pass on to inquire into the situation as it points from the foregoing explanation to our Gospel.

Polycarp, as we have observed, appealed ultimately to 'John.' Had the commemoration for which he pleaded been really that of a Passover eaten by Jesus and his disciples on the night before the Crucifixion, he could scarcely have looked for support to the author of our Gospel; it would have been strange indeed had the latter been aider and abettor of a practice which was violently opposed to the sequence of his own narrative of the course of events. The case is altogether different with the two remaining explanations; the one being in full keeping with the Johannine representation, while of the other it may be said at the very least that there is no inherent incompatibility between Quartodeciman practice of such a nature and the Fourth Gospel Chronology. The question then is which of the three is entitled to the preference? The second is, of course, tempting, and it has been widely accepted; yet it breaks down with nearer scrutiny; for, in the first place, there is proof that contentions were actually based on the example assumed to have been set by Jesus in that he kept the Passover with his disciples; and next: if the 14th of Nisan observance had sole reference to his Death, how came it that no other day was set apart for commemorating the Resurrection? On the face of it the evidence might appear to be entirely on the side of the first;—and were such really the case it might then perhaps be argued that our Gospel is traceable to some late writer who does battle with the Christendom of Asia Minor and its Judaising Paschal


solemnities1. But the evidence is not so strong as it seems; and there are weighty grounds for the conclusion that Quartodeciman practice had no exclusive reference to any one particular occurrence in the story of the Passion. The balance perhaps, weighs down in favour of the third explanation. An ancient festival is retained. Yet wider significance is attached to it; it breathes a new spirit2.

It is not incumbent on us to follow the history of Quarto-decimanism through its later stages, nor need we take account now of the Easter decisions arrived at A.D. 325 at the Council of Nicaea. We have noted that appeal was made by Polycarp to 'John'; the question arises whether our Gospel itself was definitely and distinctly brought into consideration. And here we turn to Apollinaris; to whom language as follows is attributed3: 'and they say, that on the 14th the Lord ate the Lamb with the disciples, and Himself suffered on the great day of unleavened bread, and they argue that Matthew so speaks as they have supposed; wherefore their position is out of harmony with the Law, and the Gospels according to them appear to be at variance.' The assumption surely is that, if Apollinaris did so really express himself, he at all events had our Gospel in his mind. And further: that if such were really the case, he was able to reconcile the discrepancy to his own satisfaction. Others, it would appear, did likewise.

Thus much of the perplexing question. It has, no doubt, a special interest of its own; whether it really throws any light on the date of our Gospel is open to doubt, and, as a matter of fact, there is a tendency to exclude it from consideration. We might indeed hesitate to decide whether 'the history of the Quartodeciman controversy affords valuable evidence of the early and wide reception of the Fourth Gospel4,' or whether that history rather suggests an attitude unfavourable to its Apostolic authority in the very regions where that Gospel saw the light of day5. In either

1 According to Schwegler (op. cit. p. 201), Apollinaris was the first teacher in Asia Minor to head a reaction against such an observance. Yet the position Of Apollinaris himself is not altogether certain.

2 The view of which Stanton says that 'it seems to be proved.'

3 Paschal Chronicle, cited by Stanton, op. cit. pp. 180 f.

4 Stanton, op. cit. p. 197.

5 Réville, op. cit. p. 67.


case we fail to discover reason for modifying the conclusion already ventured that the date of our Gospel lies within the period ca. A.D. 100 (? 90)—1251.

In the next chapter we shall examine into the literary structure of our Gospel and seek to decide the question whether it be a unity or a composite work.

1 With allusion to 'die geschichtliche Situation in der sich die johanneischen Christen befinden,' Wetter (op.cit. p. 169) writes: 'Es ist die Zeit, da die Christen im Kampfe mit der popularen hellenistischen Frömmigkeit standen. Dagegen finden wir nichts, das dafür zeugen könnte, dass sie im Kampf mit dem offiziellen Kultus des Staates, z. B. dem Kaiserkultus, standen.' It must suffice to say of the second point thus raised (in a quite recent book only just received) that there is nothing in our Gospel which, decisive for the state of affairs, might go near to fix a date.

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