Andreas J. Köstenberger wrote a critical article about Richard Bauckham’s hypothesis about the identity of the Beloved Disciple as the Elder John in “‘The Disciple Jesus Loved’: Witness, Author, Apostle—A Response to Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses” Bulletin for Biblical Research 18.2 (2008): 209–231 as well as a review of Hengel’s German monograph. Where do I stand in the debate between Köstenberger and Bauckham?
I agree with Bauckham that Papias distinguished John (the son of Zebedee) in the list of seven disciples from the Elder John. However, I disagree with him that the Elder John is the author of the Fourth Gospel as Papias never explicitly claims this and I do not agree with Bauckham’s reasoning for why Eusebius would omit this. However, I side with Köstenberger that Irenaeus, Polycrates, and the Muratorian Canon believe that the Apostle John, not the Elder John, was the author of the Gospel of John, despite Polycrates’ convoluted testimony about John’s priestly office. I have some limited interactions with Hengel and Bauckham on this issue in my book The Gospel on the Margins: The Reception of Mark in the Second Century and I hope to develop these points in a future project. As for Köstenberger’s conclusion, he mainly repeats the arguments advanced by B. F. Westcott in support of the traditional authorship of John’s Gospel (see my posts for and against this conclusion).