|St. John the Evangelist
by Carlo Dolci
Robert Kysar writes the following on the authorship of the Gospel of John (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, v. 3, pp. 919-920):
The supposition that the author was one and the same with the beloved disciple is often advanced as a means of insuring that the evangelist did witness Jesus’ ministry. Two other passages are advanced as evidence of the same – 19:35 and 21:24. But both falter under close scrutiny. 19:35 does not claim that the author was the one who witnessed the scene but only that the scene is related on the sound basis of eyewitness. 21:24 is part of the appendix of the gospel and should not be assumed to have come from the same hand as that responsible for the body of the gospel. Neither of these passages, therefore, persuades many Johannine scholars that the author claims eyewitness status.
…If the author of the Gospel of John were an eyewitness, presumably the author would have known that Jesus and his compatriots were permitted to enter the synagogues. But at several points it is stated that those who acknowledged Jesus as the Christ during the life of Jesus were put out of the synagogue. This anachronism is inconceivable as the product of an eyewitness.
Kysar states that most scholars today see the historical setting of the Gospel of John in the expulsion of the community from the synagogue (op. cit., p. 918). The word aposynagogos is found three times in the gospel (9:22, 12:42, 16:2). The high claims made for Jesus and the response to them (5:18), the polemic against “the Jews” (9:18, 10:31, 18:12, 19:12), and the assertion of a superiority of Christian revelation to the Hebrew (1:18, 6:49-50, 8:58) show that “the Johannine community stood in opposition to the synagogue from which it had been expelled.” (p. 918)
…Finally, there is no mention of the Sadducees, which reflects post-70 Judaism. The retort that there is also no mention of scribes misses the mark, as the Pharisees represented the scribal tradition, and the Pharisees are mentioned.
…Kysar says that the theory of Johannine independence commands a “slim majority” of contemporary critics.
…”In the place where the synoptics narrate the origin of the eucharist stands the account of the foot washing (13:1-10). The last meal Jesus celebrates with his disciples before his passion is not a Passover meal at all. Thus one of the basic features of the institution scenes in the synoptics is missing. Furthermore, there is no account of the baptism of Jesus, and there is confusion about whether or not Jesus practiced baptism (compare 3:22 and 4:2). Water baptism is treated critically and assigned strictly to the Baptizer in contrast with Spirit baptism (1:26, 31, 33). One is left with the impression that the sacraments of baptism and eucharist did not figure in the theology of the fourth evangelist.” (p. 929)
…Norman Perrin believes that the redactor who added the sacramental passages to the Gospel of John also authored the first epistle of John, in which the sacraments are emphasized.
… He (Raymond Brown) admits that many accept that John 1:14 – ‘The Word became flesh’ – was ‘added by the redactor as an attack on the opponents of I John’ (1979, 109) but continues to write as if there were no revision of the Fourth Gospel.
…Helms argues: “So the gospel attributed, late in the second century, to John at Ephesus was viewed as an anti-gnostic, anti-Cerinthean work. But, very strangely, Epiphanius, in his book against the heretics, argues against those who actually believed that it was Cerinthus himself who wrote the Gospel of John! (Adv. Haer. 51.3.6). How could it be that the Fourth Gospel was at one time in its history regarded as the product of an Egyptian-trained gnostic, and at another time in its history regarded as composed for the very purpose of attacking this same gnostic? I think the answer is plausible that in an early, now-lost version, the Fourth Gospel could well have been read in a Cerinthean, gnostic fashion, but that at Ephesus a revision of it was produced (we now call it the Gospel of John) that put this gospel back into the Christian mainstream.”
Gary: The Gospel of John written by the Apostle John??? I don’t think so!