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20. CONCLUSION AS TO THE “EXTERNAL EVIDENCES.”

When therefore we sum up the results of our examination of the external evidence for the Fourth Gospel, we find that 200the lesson it teaches is the opposite of what those who believe that it was written by the Apostle think it ought to teach. Instead of proving that this was written very early, it proves that it was composed at a very late date. If the work in question were that of an obscure person, we can perhaps understand that it may have been in existence for decades without attracting attention or gaining recognition. But think of it! A work by the disciple whom Jesus loved! And, besides, a work containing disclosures of such paramount importance! It could not have failed to be greeted on its first appearance with the greatest joy, and to be greedily devoured; we could not fail to find an echo of it in all Christian writers. Instead of that, from the date at which it must have been published by the Apostle, that is to say, at latest from 90-100, until 140, there is not one certain instance of the use of the book; we do not find the Apostle recognised as the author until after 170, and in the meantime we do find it clearly realised that it was not by him. Indeed, we have to add further that after 160 or 170 it was positively stated by some who were good Churchmen, and later by the Presbyter Gaius in Rome at the beginning of the third century, to have been composed by a heretic. The result therefore of examining the external evidence means that we cannot place the origin of the Gospel earlier than very shortly before the first appearance of this evidence, and so very shortly before 140.

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