The Authorship of John and the Identity of the Beloved Disciple

Student Author(s)

Nathan Longfield

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Wayne Brouwer

Document Type


Event Date



The Gospel of John, the fourth gospel in the New Testament, is one of the most popular books of scripture containing a powerful introduction as well as many oft-quoted verses. However, since the early 19th century the authorship of the Gospel of John has been challenged by a number of scholars as they have proposed alternative authors against the traditional ascription of the Gospel to John the Son of Zebedee. Beginning with David Friedrich Strauss in 1835, an increasing number of scholars have shifted to believing that other sources are responsible for producing the fourth gospel. Raymond Brown suggests that the gospel arose out of a community of early Christian believers, a Johannine Community. Richard Bauckham claims that a different John, John the Elder, is the author of the fourth Gospel. Lastly, Ben Witherington III proposes that Lazarus is the author and the Beloved Disciple. The fourth position examined, and argued for, is the traditional understanding that John the Apostle, the Son of Zebedee, is both the author of the Gospel and the Beloved Disciple. Within all four of these arguments, both the internal arguments of scripture and the external arguments from writers and accounts in the 1st and 2nd centuries were considered, though greater weight was often given to the gospel and other passages of scripture that provide clues towards the identity of the author of the gospel and, consequently, the Beloved Disciple.

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