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Ephesus in Asia.”1 (3) Contemporaries of Irenæus, having the best opportunities for information, render their independent testimony to the same effect. Thus Polycrates, whose own statement shows that he was born about the year 125 or 130, and who was Bishop of Ephesus in the last part of the second century, numbers the Apostle John among the great lights which had gone out in (proconsular) Asia, and adds, “He is buried in Ephesus.”2 Apollonius, who was also a resident of Asia Minor about the same time, takes it for granted that the Apostle John lived at Ephesus. Clement of Alexandria speaks of the return of John from Patmos to Ephesus. (4) If it had not been a fact universally accepted, that John labored among the churches of Asia Minor, the Church at Rome probably would have denied that fact during the Easter controversy in the latter part of the second century. But we have no intimation of such a denial.5 (5) An early version, the Peshito-Syriac, appends to John's Gospel this sentence: “ The end of the holy Gospel, the preaching of John the Evangelist which he published in Greek at Ephesus.” 6 Now, such a mass of historical evidence as this is not easily to be offset. Certainly, the mere silence of Ignatius in a brief epistle, or the silence of one or two other writers in such fragments of their works as have come down to us, is utterly powerless to overthrow the grounds of the verdict that the Apostle John spent his later years in Ephesus.
1 Cont. Hær., iii. 1. 1. Compare iii. 3. 4; v. 30. 1; also the Epistles to Florinus and Victor as reported by Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., v. 20, 24.
2 Euseb., v. 24. 8 Ibid., v. 18. 4 Quis Dives Salvetur, xlii. 5 See Luthardt, Der Johanneische Ursprung des Vierten Evangeliums. 6 Harman, Introduction.
For hardly any book of the New Testament is the external evidence more ample than for the Gospel of John. A very large proportion of the Fathers of the second century, by quotation or by direct mention, have testified to its genuineness. Gnostic sects have left many indications that they acknowledged its apostolic origin. An obscure party, the Alogi, belonging to the latter part of the second century, and having probably neither the dimensions nor the consistency of a sect, were the only opponents of this Gospel which the ancient Church was able to specify. And their opposition, so far as known, was not based upon historical grounds, but upon dislike of the Logos teaching; accordingly, it amounts to nothing as a counter-evidence. Modern opponents of the Fourth Gospel have frequently proved themselves to be Alogi, if not in the sense which an uncharitable use might give to that term. A dogmatic presupposition has given shape to their conclusions. Strauss is a clear example of this. In the fourth edition of his Leben Jesu, he re-affirmed the doubts about the genuineness of John's Gospel, which he acknowledged in his third edition had been somewhat shaken by able criticisms upon his work, because without them one could not escape believing the miracles of Christ. Historically, the evidence for the Fourth Gospel is all that the known conditions would authorize one to expect. Adverse criticism itself has been compelled to pay tribute to the force of this evidence. Especially noteworthy is the retreat from the supposition of Baur, that this Gospel was not writen till A.D. 160 or 170, and the substitution, by more recent exponents of radical criticism, of dates as early as A.D. 140, 130, and in some cases even 115 or 110.1
1 Epiphanius, Hær., li., liv.
In the line of internal evidences, also, there are ample means for defending the genuineness of the Fourth Gospel. In whatever measure it transcends Judaism, it still bears indelible traces of Jewish antecedents. Its author had evidently been in the inner courts of Judaism. He was minutely conversant with its ideas and its ceremonial system. Not only was he a Jew, but he was a resident of Palestine, as is indicated by his thorough knowledge of the topography of the country. He was an eye-witness of the Gospel scenes; at least, many touches in his descriptions receive a satisfactory explanation only on this supposition. He was in confident possession of all the needful data for his narrative, and wrote as one having the authority of distinct personal reminiscence, so that he did not think it necessary to maintain an appearance of strict accord with other records of the Gospel history. Thus, many considerations point to John as the author of this unique sketch of the life of Christ. There is, indeed, an unmistakable contrast between the Fourth Gospel and the other three; but the contrast argues for, rather than against, the Johannine authorship. The effect of an author's personality upon his presentation of a given subject-matter is apt to be in the ratio of the strength of his personality. Suppose a man of Paul's mental constitution, after years of intimate personal fellowship with Christ, and added years of labor in extending His kingdom, had undertaken to write the life of his Master:
1 For a brief and excellent compendium of the external evidences, see Ezra Abbot, Authorship of the Fourth Gospel.
does any one imagine that a larger impress of the author's personality would not have been left upon his narrative than appears upon the synoptic Gospels? that a gospel according to Paul would not have had a distinctly Pauline tinge? Why, then, should it not be expected that John, the bosom friend of his Lord, would give to his Gospel the coloring of his own deep and strong personality ? In truth, the theory of Johannine authorship demands a gospel clearly differenced from the others by a Johannine cast. This prominence of the personal element, it must be allowed, brings in the liability of a somewhat detrimental result. It is possible that the more commonplace talents of the synoptists were suited to give certain events in a purer objectivity than that which such a writer as John would be likely to maintain in presenting the same. But, on the other hand, the deeper personality of John qualified him for a better understanding of the person and speech of Him who was at once the Son of man and the Son of God. So we are impelled to the conclusion that the Fourth Gospel helps us to a far more adequate and truthful conception of Christ and His teaching, than could be obtained in its absence. Of all the books in the sacred canon, there is no one which the Christian heart would be more loath to relinquish than this book of the beloved disciple, this incomparable mirror of the incarnate Wisdom and Love.
The First Epistle of Sohn was received by the early Church with the same unanimity as his Gospel. The two stand obviously in the relation of mutual confirmation. The Second and Third Epistles, owing to their
. brevity and the private nature of their contents, were
not frequently cited; but there is little ground for questioning their Johannine authorship. Their style plainly suggests that they came from the same hand which wrote the First Epistle.
Up to the middle of the third century, the Church was well-nigh unanimous in referring the Apocalypse to the Apostle John. Only one catholic writer of an earlier date, Caius of Rome, used language which may be construed into an adverse reference to this book.1 After the middle of the third century, a portion of the Church was disposed, for a time, to doubt the apostolic authorship of the Apocalypse. The source of the doubt seems to have been a dogmatic bias. There was occasion to oppose an intemperate millenarianism. This found an ostensible ground in the symbolic language of the Apocalypse. So hostility to the dogma led to prejudice against the book. The first to begin a critical attack, of which we have any record, was Dionysius of Alexandria. He called attention to the difference between the style of the Apocalypse and that of the Fourth Gospel, and leaned to the conjecture that the former was written by an Ephesian presbyter by the name of John. This Ephesian presbyter has also figured not a little in the representations of later critics. But there is no real warrant for the existence of such a person, except an ambiguous passage from Papias. And,
1 Euseb., Hist. Eccl., iii. 28. 2 Euseb., vii. 24, 25.
2 The mere conjecture of Dionysius is, of course, no evidence as to fact. The reference to two tombs at Ephesus is of little more weight. They may denote that there were at one time rival claims as to the place of the apostle's sepulture; indeed, Jerome inforins us (De Viris Illustr., ix.) that some in his day thought that both the tombs inscribed to John were memorials of the evangelist. We are thus left with next