Authorship of the Fourth Gospel Revisited

Authorship of the Fourth Gospel Revisited March 5, 2020

Over at the White Horse Inn is a great discussion with Richard Bauckham, D.A. Carson, Craig Blomberg, Andreas Kostenberger, Lydia McGrew, and others on the authorship of the Gospel of John. I’m glad to say that Mike Horton sides with Richard Bauckham here!

For me, part of a clincher is John 18:15-16, which says, “Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door.” I cannot imagine the Jerusalem high priest knowing, in a familial or professional sense, a Galilean fisherman and letting him into his HQ to hear a capital trial against a prophetic agitator and messianic claimant. If you are about to adjudicate a case against a possible enemy of the state, you don’t let in your fishmonger!

In NTiiW, we conclude that:

To identify John the elder with the beloved disciple makes sense of a lot of evidence. The gospel points us to someone who, though not one of the Twelve, claimed none the less to have been an eye-witness during Jesus’ public career, having formerly perhaps been a follower of John the Baptist, perhaps even (like the Baptist himself) part of a priestly family, familiar with the high priest, and being closely involved with Jesus’ final days in Jerusalem. Jesus requested that he look after his mother, and together with Peter he discovered the empty tomb. The author of the gospel is clearly familiar with the topography of Judea and Jerusalem, and he has an intimate knowledge of Jewish customs and festivals. The external and internal evidence dovetails nicely: the ‘John’ behind the gospel, we cautiously conclude, was probably John the elder, a Judean disciple of Jesus, not one of the Twelve.

Photo: wikimedia commons.

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