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It adds to the importance of this Gospel, styled by Renan" the most beautiful book in the world,” that about one-third of its contents is peculiar to itself,
consisting mainly of chapters ix. 51-xviii. 14, relating to the Saviour's last journey to Jerusalem.
“THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN.”
It is a weighty and significant fact that until the close of the last century the Johannine authorship of the fourth Gospel was never seriously challenged. Epiphanius, indeed (380 A.D.), tells us of a very small party? who had ascribed it to Cerinthus, a heretical contemporary of the Apostle John at Ephesus ; but they seem to have had no other reason for rejecting it than their aversion to its teaching. During the present century no question has been the subject of more controversy ; and scarcely any can be of more importance, considering its close bearing on the doctrinal aspects of Christianity, and especially on the divinity of Jesus Christ.2
1 Nicknamed by Epiphanius the 2 The question was raised by EvanAlogi ("Aloyol, irrational), as denying son in his Dissonance of the Evangelists the Logos (Word or Reason) of John in 1792; and the case against the i. and Rev. xix. 13, the latter book Gospel was elaborately stated by Bretbeing also rejected by them. A few schneider in his Probabilia in 1820. such heretics are vaguely referred to This negative view has been maintained by Irenæus. As Cerinthus lived at by Strauss, Weisse, Baur, Zeller, Ephesus in the end of the ist century, Schwegler, Volkmar, Keim, Scholten, the ascription of the Gospel to him in Hilgenfeld—but with a growing tendthe next century by those who were ency of recent years to push back the opposed to its teaching is so far a date to the early part of the 2nd cenrefutation of Eaur's theory that it was tury. In the progress of the controwritten so late as about 170 A.D. As versy there has been a frequent shifting many other sects would have found it of ground on the part of those who equally convenient, for doctrinal pur- deny the genuineness of the Gospel poses, to call in question the authority owing partly to the discovery of ancient of the Fourth Gospel, the fact that this documents which testify against them course was so seldom resorted to shows (e.g., Tatian's Diatessaron, and Hippohow firmly established the Gospel was lytus' Refutation of Heresies), partly to in the general estimation of the Church. the collapse of some of their arguments To this we may add, that the absence (such as that relating to the Quartoof any reference in this Gospel to the deciman controversy, which has been subjects of controversy in the end proved by Schürer and others to rest century is a strong confirmation of its a misconception of the Paschal apostolic origin.
reckoning in the Eastern Church, and
To a large extent the question is overtaken by the line of evidence already indicated in connection with the Gospels as a whole (Chap. II. § 2). Although not quoted by name till late in the 2nd century,' the external evidence for this Gospel is in some respects stronger than for any of the others. It is specially quoted by such early Gnostic writers as Basilides (125 A.D.), Valentinus (145 A.D., whose favourite phrases were borrowed from its opening verses), and Heracleon (a disciple of Valentinus), who wrote a commentary on it—being the first known commentary on any part of the New Testament.2
It has also to be borne in mind that John himself survived till near the close of the first century, so that a comparatively short interval was left between his death and the time when the four Gospels are known to have been universally accepted by the Church (185 A.D.). For this interval it so happens that, apart from the Gnostic testimony already adduced, we have a direct chain of testimony consisting of a very few strong and wellconnected links. At the lower end of the chain we have Irenæus, one of the most important witnesses to the general reception of the four Gospels towards the close of
that referring to the Saviour's occasional visits to Jerusalem, which they regarded as an invention of the Fourth Gospel but which have been shown to be in themselves probable and in keeping with many things incidentally mentioned in the Synoptics), and partly to the Christological consequences that have been seen to be involved in their acceptance of the Book of Revelation as the work of John, --which was originally part of the Tübingen creed. On the other side are ranged many eminent scholars, such as Meyer, Ewald, Hengstenberg, Luthardt, Godet, Westcott, Lightfoot, and Sanday.
i By Theophilus in his Ad Autolycum, ii. 22; 180 A.D.
2 Exception has been taken to the argument from the alleged testimony of Basilides aud Valentinus on the ground that Hippolytus, who has preserved it for us in his Refutation of Heresies, does not distinguish between the statements of those teachers them
selves and of their followers. But in some cases this objection is quite untenable, e.g. vii. 22: And this, he says, is what is said in the Gospels : “There was the true light, even the light which lighteth every man coming into the world,” being an exact quotation of John i. 9. In this connection Matthew Arnold writes : “In general he (i.e. Hippolytus) uses the formula according to them' (kat' aŭtoús) when he quotes from the school, and the formula, he says' (pnoi), when he gives the dicta of the master. And in this particular case he manifestly quotes the dicta of Basilides, and no one who had not a theory to serve would ever dream of doubting it. Basilides, therefore, about the year 125 of our era, had before him the Fourth Gospel.” (God and the Bible, p. 268). From Hippolytus we also learn that this Gospel was known and used by heretical sects still earlier than Basilides, viz., the Ophites or Naasenes and the Peratae.
the second century. Born in Asia Minor, where John spent the last twenty or thirty years of his life, he became Bishop of Lyons in Gaul, which had a close ecclesiastical connection with his native land. Early in life he was brought into familiar contact with Polycarp (born 70 A.D.), a disciple of the Apostle John, who was for more than forty years Bishop of Smyrna, and was martyred 155 A.D. Among other allusions which he makes to Polycarp, he says, in a letter to his friend Florinus (177 A.D.), "I can describe the very place in which the blessed Polycarp used to sit when he discoursed, and his goings out and his comings in, and his manner of life and his personal appearance, and the discourses which he held before the people, and how he would describe his intercourse with John and with the rest who had seen the Lord, and how he would relate their words. And whatsoever things he had heard from them about the Lord and about His miracles, Polycarp, as having received them from eyewitnesses of the life of the Word, would relate altogether in accordance with the Scriptures.”
It is beyond dispute that this Irenæus accepted the fourth Gospel as a genuine work of the Apostle John. Is it credible that he would have done so, if it had not been acknowledged by his teacher Polycarp, who had been a disciple of John ? And if it was accepted by Polycarp as a genuine writing, notwithstanding its marked dissimilarity to the other Gospels, what better evidence could we have that John was really its author, and that it was accepted as his, from the very first, by the leaders of the Church in Asia Minor? 1
1 This argument is further strengthened by the fact that not a few quotations from this Gospel are found in the writings of Justin Martyr, who wrote before the middle of the 2nd century, and was well acquainted with the teaching of the Church in Asia Minor, his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew having taken place in Ephesus. Among other apparent quotations from this Gospel, Justin has the following : (1) Referring to Baptism, he says (Apol. i. 61): “For
Christ also said, Except ye be born again, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven ("Αν μη αναγεννηθήτε, ου μή εισέλθητε εις την βασιλ. είαν των ουρανών). But that it is impossible for those who have once been born to enter into the wombs of those who brought them forth, is manifest to all” (John iii. 3-5, cf. Matt. xviii. 3).
That the want of verbal accuracy in this quotation should not be held to invalidate its testimony is
The following are the principal facts in John's life, and the circumstances under which he is said to have written his Gospel :
The younger son of Zebedee, a Galilæan fisherman who was in a position to have “hired servants,” i he was a follower of the Baptist before joining Christ's fellowship.2 To his mother Salome, supposed by some to be the sister of the Virgin Mary, who was one of the most devoted followers of Jesus, he and his brother James seem to have been indebted for much of their enthusiasm. They were
ned by Jesus “Boanerges” (sons of thunder), in allusion to the latent fervour and vehemence of their nature, of which we are not without tokens. During Christ's trial and crucifixion John was a close and deeplyinterested observer, receiving a charge from his dying Master to act the part of a son to the bereaved Mary,
shown by Dr Ezra Abbot, who men-
By inference from John i., especially vers. 35-42; (quoted p. 70, note 1); x. John xix. 25:
“ But there were standing by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene; cf. Mark xv. 40, “And there were also women beholding from afar; among whom were both Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome.”
Matt. xx. 20-24: “Then came to him the mother of the sons of Zebedee with her sons, worshipping him, and asking a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wouldest thou? She saith unto him, Command that these
my two sons may sit, one on thy right
" And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbade him, because he followeth not with us. But Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against you is for you.
And they (Samaritans) did not receive him, because his face was as though he were: going to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we bid fire to come down from heaven, and consume them? But he turned, and rebuked them."
7 John xviii. 15, 16: “And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and did another disciple. Now that disciple was known unto the high priest, and entered in with Jesus into the court of the high priest,” &c. xix. 25-27 : When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold, thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold, thy mother ! And from that hour the disciple took her unto his own home."
40, 41, &c.