Ben, the “Amateur Exegete,” has offered a brief review of my book The Beloved Apostle? The Transformation of the Apostle John into the Fourth Evangelist (Eugene: Cascade, 2017). I really appreciate his summary and interaction with the case outlined in it. Here is how my argument unfolds:
- The beloved disciple in the Gospel of John was an elite Judean disciple of Jesus who appears as an ideal witness in the Passion Narrative. He is present when Jesus announces that he will be betrayed, when Peter denies Jesus in the high priest’s courtyard, when Jesus is crucified, and when the empty tomb is discovered.
- The beloved disciple is turned into the author of the Gospel in the epilogue, which was added to the Gospel in the early second century and may also be one of the earliest traditions about Peter’s crucifixion in Rome (one point I might revise if I was rewriting the book today is to allow for the option that the editors who added the epilogue may be right in identifying the beloved disciple as an author of an earlier edition of the Gospel).
- The beloved disciple is identified as the Apostle John in the latter half of the second century and the apostle’s biography was filled out by conflating him with other figures named John (i.e. the Elder John of Ephesus and the prophet John who penned Revelation at Patmos).
- Apostolic authorship was seen as important by some Christians to legitimate their texts (but there were also other criteria about the antiquity, universal appeal, and orthodoxy of the writings). Conversely, some Christians tried to discredit the book of Revelation, and perhaps later the Gospel of John, by attributing them to a discredited teacher named Cerinthus.
Anyways, I am grateful for this positive review and commendation of the book.