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11. THE REAL PICTURE OF JOHN THE APOSTLE.

After all these “witnesses” on the part of badly informed writers, of the author himself and of his friends who have intervened on his behalf, it is at length time to seek for some point from which we can learn better who wrote the Fourth Gospel. What information have we then in the New Testament about the Apostle John which is really reliable? We must not of course turn to the Fourth Gospel for our answer. The most certain thing is the record of Paul, that John was one of the three pillars of the Community in Jerusalem, and wished to confine his missionary activity to the Jews (see pp. 174 and 177), the reason being no doubt that, if he held intercourse with the Gentiles, he would violate the Old Testament commandments about foods, cleanness, &c., which he thought ought still to be observed. This does not harmonise well with 188the fact that in the Fourth Gospel Jesus calls the Law a “Law of the Jews” and feels that he is quite superior to it. Further, the whole view of the world here, familiar as it is with the ideas of the greatest Greek thinkers, and the boldness with which, following the example of Gnosticism, all that is traditional is swept away—all this, which we have found in the Gospel, suits no one so little as this man who had remained stationary and simply persisted in holding the standpoint of the Old Testament. Add to this that according to Mk. i. 19 he was a fisherman, and according to Acts iv. 13 a man without learning and culture. Nor is this altered by the fact that he, with his brother James and with Peter, was one of the most intimate companions of Jesus in the circle of the twelve disciples (Mk. v. 37; ix. 2; xiv. 33).

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