Tuesday, January 30, 2007

John or Lazarus?

Ben Witherington posts his SBL paper: Was Lazarus the Beloved Disciple? It's an interesting read, which is not completely without merit. One of the sticky bits he tackles right at the end is how GJohn got its name attached. Ben writes:
This then leads us to the last bit of the puzzle that can now be solved. How did this Gospel come to be named according to John? My answer is a simple one—it is because John of Patmos was the final editor of this Gospel after the death of Lazarus. Once Domitian died, John returned to Ephesus and lived out his days. One of the things he did was edit and promulgate the Fourth Gospel on behalf of the Beloved Disciple. Somewhere very near the end of John’s own life, Papias had contact with this elderly John. It is not surprising, since this contact seems to be brief, that Papias learned correctly that this John was not the Zebedee John and that this elderly John had something to do with the production of the Fourth Gospel. This I think neatly explains all of the various factors involved in our conundrum. It may even have been Papias who was responsible for the wider circulation of this Gospel with a tag ‘according to John’. It is not surprising that Irenaeus, swatting buzzing Gnostics like flies, would later conclude that the Fourth Gospel must be by an apostle or one of the Twelve.
Compare this with Bauckham's new book: Jesus and the Eyewitnesses which argues compellingly that John was not only the author, but also an eyewitness who has theologically told the story, assuming his readers had knowledge of Mark. It's a tad unfair to critique Witherington's position in its current format, given the nature of the essay, compared with Bauckham's detailed book and references but overall I still seem to think plausibility rests with Bauckham. Be sure to read Ben's essay, as it will provoke various thoughts - good and bad...
What are your thoughts?

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