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The Problem of the Fourth Gospel



The stage is now reached when, with no pretence of speaking last words on the complicated subject of our inquiry and profoundly conscious of problems still unsolved and perhaps insoluble, we may at least venture tentative conclusions on the three-fold question of the authorship of the main fabric of our Gospel, the methods employed in its composition, and the processes whereby it assumed its present form.

Let us begin by asking whether it be possible to determine the identity of him who, responsible for the main fabric of our Gospel, shall be styled the Fourth Evangelist.

It was once said that of all the views and opinions then current in the region of Biblical research the one which, continually gaining ground, was the more likely to win its way speedily to general acceptance was that which deliberately and decisively set aside the traditional authorship of 'the Gospel according to St. John1.' Many years have elapsed since those words were uttered; and, were the speaker of them alive to-day, he would be forced to admit that he had been far too confident with his predictions inasmuch as staunch upholders of the traditional belief are still present in our midst. Nor are they solely discoverable in the many pious and devout souls who, as we have observed already2, are either unaware of, or prefer to shut their eyes and ears to, the grave difficulties which the Gospel presents. On the contrary, there are men in repute for scholarship who, having approached and grappled with the Johannine problem, are content to acquiesce in the traditional belief that 'John's' Gospel is the genuine work of the Apostle John.

Yet it would appear that they are no longer in the majority; and while the day has not come for anything like a consensus of

1 So, in effect, A. R. Loman, op. cit. p. 7.

2 See ch. 1.


opinion, it is certain that the view which discards the traditional authorship of our Gospel is rapidly gaining ground. Such a view is put forth boldly and uncompromisingly by scholars in the front rank both at home and abroad. If hesitation there sometimes be, it is but momentary: thus when it is said of the Fourth Gospel that its authorship by John son of Zebedee, while possible, is improbable in the extreme1.

We can but yield assent. On the one hand we will leave room for an exceedingly bare possibility that our Gospel comes to us from the Apostle John; on the other hand we are constrained to feel that the chances of his authorship being proved to satisfaction are exceedingly remote, and that the expression 'improbable in the extreme' may justifiably be adopted by ourselves. The external evidence is, at best, inconclusive; while there can be little question that features are presented by the Gospel itself which, not absolutely incompatible with the hypothesis of an eye-witness, are nevertheless of such a nature as to suggest that, whatever the identity of the Evangelist, he not only wears small resemblance to the son of Zebedee, but must be sought for outside the number of the traditional Twelve. Yet further; the Gospel, beyond all reasonable doubt, originated in Asia Minor2, and a stream of tradition must be reckoned with which goes near to prove that John the Apostle lived his life and died a martyr's death in Palestine3. If it really be the case that those who speak at the close of the appendix chapter were fully persuaded in their own minds—and this is doubtful—that he to whom they allude (Jn xxi, 24) was verily and indeed the son of Zebedee, the probability is that such belief is ultimately traceable to a confusion between two distinct personages of whom one was the Apostle while the other was vaguely designated a disciple of the Lord.

The Fourth Evangelist is, in all probability, not the Apostle John;—who, then, is he? Conjectures are numerous; let some be instanced before we ourselves venture any tentative conclusions.

1 Forbes, op. cit. p. 170.

2 Conjecture has pointed to Egypt. Jülicher (op. cit. p. 387) transfers the place of origination to Syria, not excluding Palestine, With allusion to our Gospel Calmes (op. cit. p. 60) rightly decides thus: 'il est donc impossible de lui assigner un lieu d'origine autre que l'Asie mineure.'

3 See Excursus i.


To begin with. There are very remarkable coincidences both of thought and diction between our Gospel and the treatise which, known as 'the Epistle to the Ephesians,' may have been composed by some Paulinist disciple who, after the manner of the age, put forth his work under the name of the revered founder of the Ephesian Church. It is, then, an exceedingly tempting hypothesis that, with an interval between them, the two great writings emanated from the self-same pen1. If, however, such were really the case—and there are weighty arguments against it2—the identity of the author of the two works would remain an open question.

Again. Attention has been called in like manner to remarkable coincidences between our Gospel and the Epistle to the Hebrews; and it is urged that the only satisfactory explanation is one which assigns both writings to a single author who, combining in himself a rich variety of scholarly qualifications, must have been a convert from Judaism, versed in Alexandrian learning, in touch with Baptist-disciples, and subsequently with the Apostle John. The contention then is that, for the portrait of one who was evidently no insignificant or unknown personage, we have but to turn to Acts xix, 24-28; the Apollos who there stands full in view is not only author of the said Epistle but the Fourth Evangelist3.

To pass from this certainly interesting hypothesis as it was advanced by the sometime Pastor of Uitikon in Zurich4 to the far less plausible conjecture which, identifying the Beloved Disciple with the Apostle Andrew, transfers the origination of the Gospel from Ephesus to regions bordering on Parthia where Andrew and Thomas had laboured and were in high renown. By preference it fixes on Edessa or its vicinity as the place where our Gospel was composed. The Fourth Evangelist is no Jew nor yet a Greek; he

1 W. Lock (DB, i, p. 717) regards it as 'a tenable view that the writer (sc. of 'Ephesians') was the author of the Fourth Gospel, writing in the name of St. Paul.'

2 There being much to be said in favour of the genuineness of the Epistle; and if it be presumed, the date of Paul's death would of itself suffice to rule him out as author of so late a work as our Gospel.

3 Tobler, Die Evangelienfrage, passim; ZWT, 1860, p. 293; Heft ii, pp. 177 ff. By the perplexing εκεινος of Jn xix, 35, says Tobler (p. 201), Apollos means the apostle John.

4 Sc. Tobler.


is perhaps a Syrian, who, by birth a Samaritan, had fled, when a mere boy, with his parents beyond the Euphrates at the outset of the Jewish war. At Edessa he became a Christian; and later on, perchance, a Bishop. He could quite well have known Andrew the Beloved Disciple. Himself author of the main fabric of the Gospel, it was reserved for another hand to supplement it—on this side of the Euphrates, in Asia Minor—with the appendix chapter1.

According to another, and more recent, hypothesis2, the one solitary indisputable statement, which, in view of the internal evidence, can be advanced by criticism with regard to John's Gospel must to-day run thus: 'the author is the Beloved Disciple, but the Beloved Disciple is not the Apostle, nor yet a disciple of the Apostle, nor yet John the Presbyter, nor yet the High priest John, nor yet the author of the Johannine Epistles.' Who, then, is this Beloved Disciple? The question is answered with the following equation: The Beloved Disciple = Lazarus = the sick boy of Jn iv, 46 = the impotent man of Jn v, 5 = the man blind from his birth of Jn ix, 11 = the author of our Gospel. The final equation identifies him with the Gnostic Menander.

Less far-fetched is the hypothesis3 which discovers the Beloved Disciple in the Aristion alluded to by Papias; and, insisting that the true reading should be Ariston, locates the bearer of what is held to be almost certainly an honourable nick-name (αριστος) in the neighbourhood of Ephesus and perhaps at Smyrna. As for the Fourth Evangelist, he is 'John whose surname was Mark'; and it is he, not John the Apostle, whose closing years are spent at Ephesus. With the lapse of time he has become ever more and more dissatisfied with his earlier work, our second Gospel; in the event he embarks on the composition of a 'spiritual' Gospel which sets forth his deepened and matured reflexions and convictions on the Person and the Ministry of Jesus. Himself destitute of claims

1 So Lützelberger, op. cit. pp. 199 ff.

2 Kreyenbühl, op. cit. pp. 627, 632, 642, 644, 810. When Kreyenbühl speaks of ' der einzige unangreifbare Satz,' he is making play with the opinion advanced (op. cit. pp. 374 f.) by Jülicher.

3 Condensed from some notes by E. Iliff Robson which he is now preparing for the press.


to the authority of an eye-witness—except, perhaps, in respect of the closing scenes; in any case but a mere youth at the date of the Crucifixion—he turns for information to the friend and near neighbour who can tell him of the things which were said and done by One who for both of them was Lord and Master. With his εκεινος of Jn xix, 35, he points to Ariston, viz. the Beloved Disciple. If more generally known as Marcus, it was at an earlier period—the Roman name being then best suited to the circumstances; the time came when his Jewish name Johannan was reverted to, and hence the great treatise which occupied the closing years of his life is designated 'John's' Gospel.

The conjecture, not altogether novel1, is at best interesting. It makes much of coincidences between the Second and the Fourth Gospels2; it goes on to urge that, while there is ground for the belief that John, son of Zebedee, devoting all his remaining energies to 'the circumcision,' never stepped outside Palestine, the John Mark known to us from New Testament allusions had not only been a great traveller but had come under the influence of the great Apostle to the Gentiles, and, as tradition has it, became Bishop of Alexandria3. Yet, apart from questions raised by the suggested emendation, it takes too much for granted; inasmuch as the Beloved Disciple of the Fourth Gospel representation, not standing full in view until the closing scenes, might not himself have had first-hand knowledge of what took place during the earlier stages of the Ministry. And again, when the point is raised that, in antiquity, the name of John Mark was actually connected with the Johannine literature, it must be remembered that it was only in respect of the Apocalypse4; and it would be difficult, not to say impossible, to identify the author, or compiler, of this latter work

1 It is within my recollection that some dozen or more years ago it was said to me by a friend: 'The Fourth Gospel spells John Mark.' But where and how does it spell it?

2 See E. A. Abbott, Joh. Grammar.

3 Praefatio vel argumentum Marci. See Wordsworth's and White's NT Lat. i, p. 171. But the tradition is scarcely in favour of the hypothesis.

4 See Dionysius (Euseb. HE, vii, 25) on the authorship of the Apocalypse. That work has been definitely assigned to John Mark by Hitzig (Joh. Marcus und seine Schriften), and Spitta (Offenbarung des Johannes) regards him as author of one of the sources of that work—an 'Urapocalypse.'


—John Mark or not—with him from whose pen there came the Fourth Gospel1.

Of such hypotheses and conjectures as the foregoing it may at least be said that, whatever be their claims to serious consideration, they are so many illustrations of a growing tendency to discard the traditional authorship of our Gospel; and, by consequence, to cast about in divers quarters for the type of person to whom its composition may be assigned.

Whoever he was, the Evangelist2 was assuredly a Jew. By birth and early training he was, in all likelihood, a Jew of Palestine who, at some period or other, had quitted his Palestinian home, and after much travelling, had found himself on the soil of Asia Minor; in the event he settled down at Ephesus. It may or may not have been the case that he was already full of years when he began to pen his Gospel. Beyond all question he was a man of soul and brain, of a contemplative turn of mind3, in touch with Greek philosophy4 and versed in Alexandrine speculation5, a philosopher and a theologian. He may indeed convey the impression that he had actually been eye- and ear-witness of at all events some of the events and scenes told of by him in the pages of his work. Yet the temptation is now and again strong to say of it that the evidences of dependence are so many and so convincing 'as to justify or even compel the inference that the author is not an eye-witness supplementing the Synoptic account by his own minute remembrances6 . . . but a writer somewhat remote from the events7' which he purports to relate.

1 Few would agree with Lange (op. cit. p. 11) that only the author of the Fourth Gospel could write the Apocalypse and vice versa, or say with H. H. Evans (op. cit. p. 78), 'it is therefore a psychological impossibility that the Apocalypse and the Fourth Gospel should have been other than the work of one and the same mind.'

2 That is, the author of the main fabric, or bulk, of our Gospel.

3 Whose 'little book,' as Herder (op. cit. p. 349) puts it, 'ist ein tiefer, stiller See.' But is this quite true of it?

4 Cf. Cohu, op. cit. p. 429.

5 Cf. Calmes, op. cit. p. 60.

6 So that his work becomes, in the often quoted words of Herder (op. cit. p. 424), 'der älteren Evangelien Nachhall im höheren Tone.'

7 Forbes, op. cit. pp. 154 f. Of our Gospel, De Wette (op. cit. ii, p. 211) says that it 'eher als einen Augenzeugen einen Schriftsteller zu verrathen scheint, in dessen nicht ursprünglicher Anschauung der Geschichte die Zeiträume in einander schwemmen.'


Let us take refuge—and not for the first time—in an 'either—or.' It may be that the Fourth Evangelist is really that Beloved Disciple1 to whom, no doubt with variety of identification, some so confidently point, and from whom others as resolutely turn away. Or he may be some other person; and one, who, possibly, had derived some store of information from the Beloved Disciple. To word what is after all but a tentative conclusion thus: the Beloved Disciple is perhaps author of, more likely authority for, the main fabric of the Fourth Gospel.

Whichever way it be, the identity of the Fourth Evangelist remains undisclosed. It is all very well to ask2 whether, even had he so desired, he could have kept the fact of his authorship a secret, and in the very locality where the Gospel originated; and an apt rejoinder might instance the undisclosed secret of the authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews3. With better show of reason is it suggested that, if he remained, and remains, the 'Great Unknown,' it is precisely because he himself did not wish to be known4—except, as is quite probable, within the limited number of his more intimate friends and colleagues, of the faithful group for whom he was theologian, doctor, and prophet. The supposition that it was not his intention that his work should forthwith reach wider circles is perhaps well-founded5.

It was said by Origen of the Epistle to the Hebrews that who its author was God only knew6; and the same words may be used of the work traditionally assigned to St John.

To pass on to our second question; it relates to methods adopted by the Evangelist in the composition of his Gospel.

Let it be freely granted that inspiration was with him both for the inception and the penning of his work. Truly might it be said

1 On the not absolutely safe assumption that he, in any case not John son of Zebedee, is a real person.

2 With Gutjahr, Glaubwürdigkeit, pp. 183 ff.

3 The latter work was perhaps less calculated to invite question than 'John's' Gospel.

4 Réville, p. 319. 'Ich glaube,' writes Grill (Untersuchungen, p. vi), 'er wollte und wird unbekannt bleiben.'

5 Loisy, op. cit. pp. 94 f.

6 Euseb. HE, vi, 25.


of him that he 'made ready his soul, as some well-fashioned and jewelled lyre with strings of gold, and yielded it for the utterance of something great and sublime to the spirit1'; let it then be added that inspiration did not mean in his case any more than in the case of other Bible writers that, becoming but a living pen in the grasp of an Almighty hand, he wrote currente calamo from divine dictation. On the contrary, he would make careful and systematic preparation; and a prolonged period must be allowed for during which he was busily engaged in the collection of material. He would consult his sources; and if the Synoptic Gospels were not actually before him as documents, he would draw as seemed good to him on his own memorized knowledge of their contents2. Living authorities would naturally be questioned by him; and here the thought might be, on the one hand, of survivors from the number of those who had themselves stood in the presence of Jesus, and, on the other hand, of men whose knowledge was derived from others whose claim to have been eye-witnesses was beyond dispute3. If himself really the Beloved Disciple he would muse over and jot down his own hallowed memories of far-off days when he had companied with the Master; while, on the assumption that he was a third person, he might listen to such stories as were told him by the 'Disciple whom Jesus loved'; and, whichever way it was, he would supplement them by his own reflexions on the Christ who lived in his heart. It may safely be inferred that large recourse was had by him to that oral instruction in which, no doubt, he himself participated as leader4; of the substance—quite probably the form5—of the teaching and preaching which went on

1 Chrysostom, Hom. on St John, i.

2 A list of parallels is given by Loisy.

3 Of the information thus gained some might point ultimately to, amongst others, the son of Zebedee; and, on that assumption he would (to borrow Harnack's words) stand in some way or other behind the Fourth Gospel. Soltau, in his seven-fold partition-theory (op. cit. p. 38), places first and second in order 'L(egende) nach mündlichen Berichten des Apostel Johannes; ergänzt nach 80 durch S(ynoptische Perikopen).' See also Strachan, op. cit. pp. ix f.

4 A main source of our Gospel, writes Calmes (op. cit. p. 43), consisted 'dans cet enseignement oral qui, vers la fin du premier siècle, florissait en Asie Mineure, et dont'—so he adds—'l'apotre Saint Jean fut l'ame.'

5 The discourse-sections have the appearance of essays, or studied compositions, which had undergone polishing by frequent repetition and revision.


regularly in the Christian communities of the locality, and of that controversial discussion in which, whether with Gentile or with Jew, he would take an active share1. Time goes on, and large store of matter—in part, perhaps, digested and revised by him—is ready to his hand.

And so the day comes when a start is made with the actual composition of the work which, long time in contemplation, had for long time engaged our Evangelist in the preliminaries of collecting and sorting materials which point not only to a variety of written and oral sources, but to the product of his own mind and soul.

Again room must be allowed for a considerable interval between start and finish. It is in the last degree improbable that the Gospel was penned at a stroke; and it is far more likely that one or other section was in the first instance worked up as a separate unity, and that such sections were subsequently so pieced together as to form an organic whole2. Neither will it do to conceive of the Evangelist as seated, solitary, at his study table; with good reason may we believe that he freely availed himself of the assistance of his disciples and attached friends3. Quite possibly he now and again talked (or, as one might say, thought aloud), while they took down with pen and ink his spoken words. It would have been quite in accordance with the customs of the age if, for some portions of his Gospel, he employed the services of a professional amanuensis who wrote from his dictation4.

The main fabric of our Gospel, it may accordingly be concluded,

1 Thus, in effect, Dr Stanton, in his Exposition delivered 31 Jan. 1916, before the Senate of the University of Cambridge. Let me here express my gratitude to our Regius Professor, who has allowed me to refresh my recollection of the spoken word by a perusal of his MS.

2 'Vielleicht ist das Evglm. nicht in einem Zug entstanden; vielleicht wurden einzelne Stücke allein ausgearbeitet, und dann erst zum Ganzen vereinigt,' Heitmüller, SNT, ii, p. 701. More definitely, Loisy, op. cit. pp. 141, 145.

3 'Unter freier Beihülfe von Freunden,' writes H. Ewald (op. cit. i, p. 56). The legendary story embodied in the Muratorian fragment is strongly suggestive of collaboration.

4 An interesting paper, entitled 'Composition and Dictation in N. T. Books,' by E. Iliff Robson (JTS, xviii, pp. 288 ff.), is very suggestive in this connexion.


was a gradual growth. That before a line of it was penned, the contents of it as a whole lay spread out before the author in his inmost soul1, is a conjecture which will scarcely pass muster; yet it may be readily admitted, not to say asserted, that, reserving to himself full liberty for deviation and modification as the work progressed, he had sketched the rough outline and generally decided in regard to plan. From one point of view the word 'composite' may be used of it, inasmuch as a variety of sources had been utilized by him. It may nevertheless be spoken of as a unity, in that its matter was stamped with the impress of his own mind.

But the time had not yet come for it to be given to the world; and the further conclusion now ventured is that whatever circulation it reached was limited to that inner circle which consisted of the Evangelist's disciples and attached friends. In any case there is nothing to suggest that the main fabric of our Gospel was ever published by itself apart2. The evidences indeed, are of such a nature as to point the other way.

Turning to our third, and last, question, we now inquire as to the steps and processes whereby the Fourth Gospel assumed its present form.

Conjectures are numerous. The appendix chapter being omitted, it is said of our Gospel that we possess it for the most part in the form it originally wore; but that interpolations here and there are due to some later editor whose materialistic conceptions, Jewish-Christian modes of thought, and far less developed standpoint, can be detected in the explanations and elucidations of the supposed meaning of the Evangelist which he attempts3. It was proved to his own satisfaction by an earlier critic that, worked over not once but twice, and by two different hands, the Gospel points ultimately to an Alexandrian Gnostic—quite possibly the author of the Apocalypse—

1 As suggested by Niermeyer, Bijdragen ter Verdediging van de Echtheid der Joh. Schriften, pp. 39 ff.

2 Spitta's contention (Das Johannes Evglm.) points to the 'Grundschrift' of his partition-theory, and in no way bears on the 'main fabric' of our conjecture; which, again, is something quite different from the 'ältere Schicht . . . welche,' according to Wendt (op. cit. p. 111), 'berechtigten Anspruch darauf hat, für eine primare, geschichtlichwertvolle Überlieferung zu gelten.'

3 Scholten, Het Evan. naar Joh. p. 72.


who supplied the Prologue by way of substitute for a lost or damaged Introduction1; a few years later the contention was raised that in our Gospel there are traces unmistakable, not of interpolations only, but of independent redaction on the part of one who allowed himself a very free hand2. According to the original intention of the Evangelist, so runs a still later suggestion, his Gospel was to remain until his death the possession solely of his nearer friends; ten years elapsed, and then, his friends again collaborating but this time allowing themselves a freer hand, the appendix chapter was penned, its two closing verses being added by the friends in question3. With nice distinctions between genuine Johannine 'wonders' and miracle akin to magic, between Galilaean and Judaean sections, and with the remark that an impression conveyed by our Gospel is that two altogether diverse spirits are discernible in its contents, the hypothesis was advanced which, pausing for a moment on two distinct authors, went on to dwell on a work which reveals the additions and interpolations of a later redactor; one who, having appended the narratives contained xxi, 1-23, put forth the Gospel with an assurance which points back to xx, 30 f. and which declares (vv. 24 f.) the work of the eye-witness alluded to in the immediately preceding narrative to be worthy of respect and use4. More recently, and with detailed specification of three different interests which our Gospel is held to reflect, it is said to be possible yet not probable that such interests were present in one and the self-same person, and that hence the probability is that the structure of the Gospel has undergone changes5.

Our Gospel has certainly undergone changes in that, at some time or other, it suffered disarrangement and dislocation. Tell-tale evidences are, in some cases, more or less clearly perceptible: yet

1 Cludius, op. cit. p. 321. For his reconstruction of the Prologue, see pp. 58 ff.

2 Ammon, Joh. evangelii auctorem ab editors hujus libri fuisse diversum.

3 H. Ewald, op. cit. pp. 56 f. According to Ewald, the Gospel (i-xx) was composed ca. A.D. 80 by the Apostle.

4 Alex. Schweizer, op. cit.; see in particular pp. vi, 6ff., 23, 59 ff., 97 ff., 125, 164 ff., 233 ff.

5 Forbes, op. cit. pp. 163 f. The three interests being as follows: attempted adjustment to the Synoptics, the grouping of material round the feasts at Jerusalem, Christological.


opinion is bound to differ as to their extent, and it has already been impressed upon us that what to modern eyes appears gap or lack of sequence may nevertheless have been in keeping—and was so regarded in antiquity—with the author's train of thought1. Neither is it possible to determine when such changes were effected or how precisely they came about.

The question must now be narrowed down to a distinction between the work of the Evangelist and that of a redactor (or redactors); and in dealing with it we will pick up the threads dropped by us in the closing sentences of the preceding chapter.

Two preliminary remarks. In the first place, we cannot but admit that it is more than doubtful whether attempts to distinguish not only between document and document but between hand and hand in our Gospel will ever be crowned with full and final success2. And secondly, we promptly acquiesce when told3 that not every unevenness in the text or apparent or actual contradiction of itself justifies the search for documentary sources; and that —what is very much to the present purpose—ample allowance must be made for clumsiness on the part of the author; for a diversity of possible points of view, for manifoldness of personal and documentary influences, for fluctuating mood and view during the period in which the work originated, for the author's own corrections of his completed work, or for minor improvements by some later hand which left the original work essentially intact. Let us add that it would be just as impossible to reconstruct the conjectured original work of the Evangelist from our Fourth Gospel only, as to reconstruct the Marcan Gospel from the two later Synoptics.

1 'Quand il s'agit d'un livre comme le 4e Évangile,' says Calmes (op. cit. p. 38), 'il faut s'attacher avant tout à suivre la pensée de 1'auteur.' The very thing which it is often hard to do.

2 Calmes (op. cit. p. 43), with specific reference to Spitta and Wendt, writes: 'Mais il est plus que douteux que l'on arrive jamais à distinguer dans ce livre des documents divers.' He adds: 'Non qu'il soit un modèle d'unité—on y remarque des transitions brusques et des redites—mais c'est, d'un bout à l'autre, le meme esprit et le meme style. L'unité est relative, mais réelle.' Heitmiiller (SNT, ii, p. 701) regards the 'Überarbeiter' as having been successful in producing what is, on the whole, a unity, a compacted work.

3 The words which follow are adapted from Spitta (op. cit. p. 402).


Let us proceed on the lines of that 'revisionist' theory which we have already decided to adopt.

We at once mark off the section vii, 53-viii, II1. The pericope de adultera is in any case a foreign element in our Gospel; while it presents points of contact with the Synoptic representation, there is no certainty with regard to its origination. And next, the legendary explanation of 'the troubling of the water,' v, 3 b-5, is a gloss2, and likewise disappears from the Gospel. These two passages, however, point to the field of textual criticism, and do not come into question for our present purpose.

We now turn to the appendix chapter (xxi). So far as our knowledge goes, the Gospel was never circulated without it3; opinions differ as to whether it was added during the lifetime of the Evangelist, and, if so, whether by others or by himself. In respect of style and diction it wears, no doubt, striking resemblances to the main bulk of the Gospel4; yet the view appears preferable that it is an addition, and by a later hand, to a work which had reached a formal close with the preceding chapter, and the contingency must be reckoned with that its final verse is of separate origination. Looking to the type of subject-matter it might perhaps be said of the chapter5 that it affords an instance of attempted adjustment to the Synoptic representation; but whether the intention really was to rehabilitate Peter, or, by conceding prominence to Peter, to stifle objections which had been raised at Rome, is quite another question.

The emphatic statement, xxi, 24, is strongly reminiscent of the equally emphatic statement met with xix, 35, and the probability is that both statements must be assigned to the same later pen. It is further possible that the like conclusion holds good, not of v. 35 only, but of vv. 31 b and 37 also6.

To pass on to the sections in which the Beloved Disciple figures

1 See RV margin.

2 See RV margin.

3 As, int. al., Niermeyer (op. cit. p. 26) rightly points out.

4 'Elle est d'autre provenance,' says Réville (op. cit. p. 305) with allusion to this chapter, but he adds (p. 307), 'par une main de meme famille que celle de l'auteur.'

5 Which, in the eyes of Cludius (op. cit. p. 67), was 'ein unbedeutendes falsches Anhängsel.' Spitta's results consequent on his examination of the appendix chapter (op. cit. pp. 16 f.) are certainly interesting.

6 So Heitmüller (SNT, ii, p. 711) who (p. 701) regards it as conceivable that the pen which added ch. xxi was that of the author of the First Epistle. On Jn xxi, xix, 35 see Calmes. op. cit. pp. 40 f., 'ont une origine fort ancienne,' if by another hand.


in the scene. No difficulty is raised by the fact that the designation is applied to this mysterious personage in the appendix chapter, for this chapter has already been assigned by us to a hand other than that of the Evangelist. It is however quite another matter when the designation is met with elsewhere in the Gospel; and the choice lies, it might be said, between two alternatives; either the Evangelist is not the Beloved Disciple—in which case he could quite well have used the designation of a third person; or the hand of a redactor is traceable in the respective sections. That it is so traceable is, in any case, probable; yet not so as to necessitate the conclusion that the entire sections were altogether absent from the original work. If the words 'whom Jesus loved' be therein attached to the 'disciple' alluded to, the phrase was perhaps imported by the redactor from the appendix chapter.

There is some show of ground for the belief that the sections which relate to Caiaphas are, to say the least, not free from interpolation, and on such an assumption the charge of having blundered (in holding the high-priesthood to be an annual office)1 might cease to lie at the door of the Evangelist himself.

Turning to the discourse with Nicodemus (iii, 1 ff.), we cannot but agree that v. 11 reads awkwardly in the context; and the conclusion may be ventured that, suggestive of later circumstances and conditions, it is an importation from an unknown source.

Attention is next claimed by a group of passages which are either not exactly in harmony with other passages (e.g., ii, 19; iii, 29 and iii, 31; iii, 22, 26; iv, 1 and iv, 2)2, or which are strongly suggestive of explanations which have missed the mark (e.g., xii, 32; xvii, 12 and xviii, 9); and the impression is hard to avoid that they reflect the workings of another and a duller mind3. The case is otherwise when (e.g., x, 5, 10) there is a mere change of metaphor.

1 If such be really the conception which underlies Jn xi, 49, 51; xviii, 13.

2 Cludius (op. cit. p. 37) unhesitatingly adds iii, 17; v, 22; xii, 47. And see Wendt, Die Schichten im vierten Evglm. p. 28.

3 See in this connexion J. M. Thompson, Proceedings of Soc. of Hist. Theol. (Oxford) for the year 1916-17, pp. 49 ff.


Nor is there occasion of difficulty in respect of what appear to be doublets (e.g., vi, 39 f.; xiv, 13 f.; xvii, 14, 16); for, in the first place, such features are not peculiar to our Gospel, and secondly, it might suffice to speak of prolixity of expression.

Unquestionably there are sections which illustrate diversity of view and standpoint. Two of them have already been enumerated (xiv, cf. xv-xviii; xiv, 16, 26, cf. xv, 26; xvi, 7) while a third (v, 21 ff.) has just been noticed in a foot-note reference1; and the question then arises whether, apart from divergence of conception relative to the sending of the Paraclete, the self-same author who can apparently dispense with an external Parousia has nevertheless had resort to the turns and phrases of Jewish Eschatology, or whether the sections do not rather indicate the hand of one who still clung to materialistic conceptions of Resurrection, of Judgement, of the Second Coming of the Lord2. There is ground for hesitation; yet on the whole we are, perhaps, guided to the conclusion that such fluctuations are to some extent accounted for by variety in mood3. The Fourth Evangelist, be it added, is by no means the only man of letters to be at times inconsistent with himself4.

Two more considerations. They point, in the one case, to the recorded manifestations5 of the Risen Lord. In the other they point to those opening verses which form the Prologue of the Fourth Gospel.

And first, the manifestations. There is no need to linger on the events narrated in the appendix chapter; and it may suffice to say of them that, leaning on the Synoptic representation, the

1 To Cludius.

2 Scholten, op. cit. p. 72.

3 I have ventured to say in the Preface to my Eschatology of Jesus (p. x), that 'if Eschatological Sayings be found in the lips of the Johannine Christ, it is precisely because the historic Jesus had actually been wont so to speak.'

4 Frequent instances are afforded by books reviewed in the Times Literary

5 Let room be made here for a conjecture It may be the case or not that, knowing Luke, our Evangelist had also knowledge of its companion work Acts: the chances are that the tale told Acts ii, 1 ff., had somehow reached his ears if not (in documentary form) his eyes and that it was deprecated by him. He does not flatly contradict it; what he does is to substitute the far more spiritual story Jn xx, 19 ff.


writer has apparently thought fit to recast and supplement a story belonging to the period of the earthly Ministry1 and to transfer it to an after date. Accordingly we turn from it to the immediately preceding chapter (xx); with its record of three several appearances of the Risen Lord—to Mary Magdalene; to an unspecified number of disciples; to, so it would appear, the same disciples, but, this time, Thomas with them. The point2, then, is whether, looking to their nature, the stories are precisely what the Evangelist has prepared us to expect. His Christ has, indeed, spoken of his impending death; yet no word has come from him which can be so construed as to suggest both a conviction and a prediction of an external Resurrection, while the allusions actually met with are strongly indicative of a coming to, of an abiding presence in the believer's heart. Nay more; the tone and tenor of the great Farewell Discourses are scarcely in keeping with an expectation that, before three short days had passed, the speaker would have rejoined his disciples, in outwardly visible if mysteriously transfigured form.

It must be confessed that the stories give us pause. They are singularly beautiful stories. They testify to an actual Easter assurance, howsoever vouchsafed and apprehended3, which brought conviction to the souls of the disciples and enabled them to say their 'Jesus lives.' A deep spiritual significance may be read into them. We are nevertheless constrained to ask again: has any word come from the Evangelist which expressly invites his readers to expect such stories? It is not altogether easy to answer in the affirmative; and the question arises: is he himself responsible for the stories—stories, quite in the Johannine manner, of spiritual experiences in concrete form4—or must their presence, not necessarily their origination, be accounted for by a redactor's hand?

1 Cf. Lk. v, 1 ff.

2 Anticipated, and discussed, but without definite conclusion, by Alex. Schweizer, op. cit. pp. 215 ff.

3 The crucial passage for the interpretation of the Gospel Narratives of the Resurrection is 1 Cor. xv, 1 ff.

4 According to Schwalb (op. cit. p. 33), 'er hat sie ja gedichtet oder doch frei umgebildet,' as one who feels, in his own soul, what he makes his characters feel.


Let us hold our judgement in suspense. Yet the remark is permissible that the stories do not seem quite to fit into the framework; to lead up quite naturally to the pointed reference1 of the verses which, immediately following on these stories—bring the Gospel proper to its formal close. Has matter of another type been ousted by them?

Turning to the Prologue (i, 1-18), we are confronted by a twofold question:—do we possess it in its original form—from whose pen does it come?

No doubt features are presented by it which, at first sight, might dispose us to differentiate between hand and hand2. They are present in vv. 6-8 and 15; where, with abrupt transition from 'great abstract conceptions,' we seem, if only for a moment, 'to touch the solid earth,' and then 'are taken back to the region of abstractions which we had hardly left3'; and the suggestion is not far-fetched that they are no part of the original text. It might well be pleaded that no real loss is involved by their removal; that, on the contrary, they seem but to impair the ordered sequence of majestic cadences. Yet the author himself may have been altogether unconscious of a break, or else be deliberately passing and repassing as it were from heaven to earth4; and the conclusion to be here ventured is that, albeit a difficulty must be recognized, there is much to favour the hypothesis that, in the form in which we have it, the Prologue is a unity.

Who, then, is its author? It is a safe assumption that a work

1 Jn xx, 30: Πολλα μεν ουν και αλλα σημεια εποιησεν `ο Ιησους ενωπιον των μαθητων, `α ουκ εστιν γεγραμμενα εν τω βιβλιω τουτω. The ταυτα of v. 31 cannot in any case refer simply and solely to the stories, and an inference might be that it points to something quite different.

2 Yet as by no means prepared to follow Cludius (op. cit. pp. 58 ff.), nor yet Spitta, who here, as elsewhere, arbitrarily distinguishes between 'Grundschrift,' matter derived from other sources, and the reflexions of the redactor.

3 J. Armitage Robinson, Study of the Gospels, pp. 119 f.

4 'Das Evangelium,' writes Heitmüller (SNT, ii, p. 721), 'ist das Evangelium der Gegensätze. Davon haben wir hier ein bezeichnendes Beispiel. Der Übergang von v, 5 zu 6 ist schroff. . . . Ohne jeden Übergang, ohne Vermittlung, ohne Rücksicht auf Stimmung und Verständnis des Lesers versetzt ihn der Verfasser jetzt in eine ganz bestimmte geschichtliche Lage. Die Stimmung der Wehmut schien ihn v, 5 zu beherrschen: hier (v, 6) schwingt er die scharfe Waffe des Kampfes.'


provided with a formal close (xx, 30, 31) could scarcely have been destitute of any formal introduction; and, inasmuch, as the section i, 19-28 not only fails to satisfy requirements but evidently presupposes some sort of preface by the manner of its opening words, we are, it would seem, tied down to two alternatives. If the Prologue be not attributable to the author of the main fabric of the Gospel, then his original introduction has somehow disappeared, while the gap so left has been filled in by another person.

The second alternative may be dismissed off-hand. Of valid reason for refusing to assign the Prologue to our conjectured author there is surely none whatever; and, apart from questions relative to influences pervading it (of which more hereafter), the sole point on which there can be reasonable difference of opinion is one which turns on the exact nature of the relation in which it stands to the remainder of the Gospel1. Yet here again the balance surely inclines on the side of the view that, even as with vestibule and temple, Prologue and body of the Gospel constitute a single whole2.

We may readily believe that, whether the Prologue was actually composed or not before the completion of the Gospel, its composition was not effected without prolonged deliberation and much use of pen3.

But to bring this chapter to a close.

The identity of the Evangelist is, and probably will remain, an enigma. Whether the Beloved Disciple (who is not the Apostle John) or some other person be the author, the Gospel was certainly not written by a tour de force; prolonged and careful preparation was involved; long time on the literary stocks, it was built up in collaboration with members of an inner circle. He himself never published it; when first it emerged from its depository

1 With allusion to Harnack's theory that the Prologue is no organic part of the Gospel, a postscript rather than a preface. Loisy (op. cit. p. 97) writes: 'On a vainement essayé d'isoler le Prologue.'

2 See on the whole question Johnston, op. cit. pp. 6 ff.

3 The Prologue, says Robson (JTS, xviii, p. 293), 'is certainly the work of a careful composer, seeking to rise to the height of his great argument, but certainly, as a composer pure and simple, timid and unconfident, and making his way from thought to thought and word to word.' The word 'cautious' might with advantage be substituted for the phrase 'timid and unconfident.'


he had, in all likelihood, already gone to his rest; and, when actually given to the world, it had, so to speak, ceased to be his Gospel to become our Fourth Gospel. Or in other words, the original treatise of the Evangelist had been somewhat freely dealt with—supplemented, interpolated, and perhaps modified—by editorial hands, yet so as to lend the semblance of compactness to the expanded work. If room must really be made (and this is doubtful) for a plurality of redactors they would differ in mental calibre and trend of thought. There is no settling the question as to who precisely they were, yet it may be said of them that, for all their diversity, they belonged to the Johannine school at Ephesus1.

1 It is possible to assume a redactor without necessarily being involved in the charge: 'So macht man diesen zu dem Ungeheuer, für das man den Verfasser zu halten sich scheut,' Wetter, op. cit. p. 2.

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