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The Beloved Disciple as Lazarus

Some years ago on his older blog, Ben Witherington III wrote an extensive post defending the identification of the beloved disciple with Lazarus. A good case can be made for Lazarus: the narrative mentioned that Jesus loved him (11:36), he appears to be a Judean follower which corresponds with the beloved disciple’s almost exclusive appearances in Judea as well as the Judean orientation of the Gospel (e.g. the Judean topography and the focus on Jesus’ ministry there rather than in Galilee), it might account for the beloved disciple’s resurrection faith at the sight of the folded linen cloth in which Jesus was buried (20:2-9), and it could explain the rumor that the beloved disciple would never die (because he had been resurrected already!) (21:23-24). The weaknesses is that it does not seem to make sense that the Gospel would reveal Lazarus’ name in chapter 11 and then revert to the anonymity of the “disciple whom Jesus loved,” Jesus equally loves Lazarus’s sisters Mary and Martha (11:5), and the lack of external support in the ancient church for this identification. Take a look at his post and see what you think.

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