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6. RESULT AS FAR AS THE FOURTH GOSPEL IS CONCERNED.

The result as far as the Fourth Gospel is concerned is as follows. The earlier the apostle died, the less easy it is to think that he wrote the Gospel. It is almost universally admitted that the first three Gospels were completed before the fourth; and of these the third at least was not composed until after the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 (provisionally we confine ourselves to a statement the truth of which is recognised almost on all hands). But even if we do not suppose that the Apostle died early, he cannot be regarded as the author of the Gospel because, as we have 179seen, he did not live in Ephesus. The Christian writers who look upon him as the author do not say that the Apostle composed it, no matter where he lived, but they say, “the John who was head of the Church of Asia Minor wrote it,” so that the Apostle may be held to be the author of the Gospel only if we can think of him as living in Ephesus. If he lived elsewhere, we cannot say that these writers regarded him as the author; for by the John who in their opinion wrote the Gospel, they always mean the John in Ephesus. Accordingly, their “testimony” to the effect that the Apostle was the author is evidence, rather, that some one else was the author.

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