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14. WHAT KIND OP PERSON WAS THE FOURTH EVANGELIST?

If this means that we must give up the idea of naming some well-known person as the author, we are, nevertheless, very well able to form a clear idea of the writer of the Fourth Gospel. In seeking to do so, we have come back, after making a long circuit, to our starting-point, for we have to consult the Gospel itself. To have been able to write such a book, the author must have been one of the leading spirits of his age. He was familiar with the best that the Greek mind and the religions of the whole world known to people of those days had produced. His own mind was liberal enough to soar to the realm of these ideas, and to refuse to allow itself to be cramped by anything traditional. He knew how to gather into a common reservoir all the streams of thought that flowed towards him from the most diverse sources. His great object was to use all for the glorification of Jesus as he conceived him. Even Gnosticism, the most dangerous movement of his time, was well known to him—so much so that he had made many of its ideas his own. But he recognised the danger in it and did all in his power to overcome it, without giving up anything in Gnosticism which was really lofty and emancipating.

His chief pattern was Philo, and he perhaps had some thing else in common with him in the fact that he was of Jewish extraction. If he had not been, he would hardly have attached so much importance to the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies (see p. 128 f.), and 191would hardly have made Jesus say “salvation is of the Jews” (iv. 22). He cannot of course have received his wide culture in Palestine. Accordingly, we must seek his home outside of this country, and preferably in a great city which would gather up all the wisdom of the known world. Ephesus would suit the requirements admirably, and if the Gospel came into existence here, it would be very easy for it to be ascribed to a person who had taken a very prominent position in the city at an earlier date, John the Elder whether or not it was done in such a way that he was sup posed to be the Apostle. Ephesus will suggest itself again when we inquire into the origin of the “Revelation” of Jn.; and in itself it is rather likely that all the five writings which are supposed to have been composed by John the Apostle would have come into existence amongst the same circle of men of kindred spirit, and so in one and the same locality. But we cannot rely upon all these considerations, nor need we think it important to be able to say where the Gospel was written.

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