Those that deny the trustworthiness of the New Testament almost always state that the doctrine of Christ’s divinity was not part of original Christianity, but “evolved” over the next several generations after Jesus’ crucifixion. The proof, they say, is the fact that the earliest Gospels, Mark, Matthew and Luke, place far less emphasis on Christ’s divinity than the fourth and latest – the Gospel popularly attributed to “John”.
Of course, critics don’t really believe that John the Apostle wrote the fourth Gospel. Admitting as much would mean they’d have to accept the Gospel record as factual history – a decision far too distasteful for the modern scoffer. Instead, they claim that an anonymous second-century author, influenced by the Gnosticism of his day, wrote the fourth Gospel.
This article is meant to refute such nonsense, and show clearly how the belief in John’s authorship of the fourth Gospel is well founded indeed.
Why aren’t they signed?
Many critics point to the fact that none of the Gospels include the signature of their writers. Many assume that the Gospels were therefore written by anonymous authors and later, because they agreed theologically with the doctrines held by the church, were attributed to certain apostles. There are four strong arguments against this idea:
- Scrolls had labels on them 1 – Christianity was birthed out of Judaism and as such, it is almost certain that its earliest writings were in scroll form. Martin Hegel has noted after careful research into the transmition of texts in the ancient world, that scrolls had nametags attached to them identifying whom their author was. It is therefore not surprising that the names of the Gospel writers are not found in the main body of text. These names would have been preserved on the tag.
- Unambiguous titles were deemed important – History records that Christians were subject to sporadic persecutions throughout the first century, particularly after AD 64 when Christians were targeted by the emperor Nero. Clearly, those interested in the new faith would have plenty of incentive to investigate the reality of its claims. This includes the claimed authorship of the Gospels. Tertullian noted in his denouncement of the heretic Marcion’s heavily doctored version of Luke’s Gospel that “A work ought not to be recognised which holds not its head erect [or which] “gives no promise of credibility from the fullness of its title and the just profession of its author.” [Tertullian, “Against Marcion” 4:2].
- No contestation regarding authorship If the Gospels were really written by anonymous authors, then there should have been some confusion regarding authorship, as copies were being made and propagated. Unlike the apocryphal writings of the second century, we can detect nothing of this among the canonical Gospels 2.
- Matthew, Mark, and Luke are unlikely names to have been picked by a forger. Neither Mark nor Luke was an apostle or eyewitnesses to the events of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Matthew was an eyewitness to Jesus, but he was not one of the “inner group” of apostles (Peter, James, and John). In fact, as a former tax collector, he would have no doubt been regarded as one of the least esteemed of the apostles (Remember, even Jesus was attacked for mingling with such people in Matthew 9:11). Mark, don’t forget, was also the subject of much controversy and tension because of his refusal to follow Paul and Barnabas “to the work” on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:13, 15:38). These names seem like very unlikely inventions.
John is the exception. He was one of the “inner group” of apostles (Peter, James, and John). In fact, he has come to be known as the “disciple whom Jesus loved”. A forger looking for credibility for his work might very well be tempted to attach John’s name to it.
Another problem for John Papias, writing in the early second century clearly attributed the Gospels of the Matthew and Mark to the men whose names they bear 3. Early attestation to Matthew’s Gospel is also found in the writings of Clement of Rome, and in the Diadache. As for the Gospel of Luke, numerous evidences, internal and external, date the book of Acts to the first century, most probably before AD 70 4. Because Acts is part two of a two-part work (Luke being part one), we must push the composition of Luke’s Gospel to within perhaps three decades of the events it describes. John’s Gospel, on the other hand, has no unambiguous external support (as far as I can tell) until Irenaeus makes mention of it late in the second century 5.
The External Evidence
Though the bulk of the evidence in favor of Johannine authorship is internal in nature, there are external evidences that cannot be overlooked.
- The Manuscript Evidence The New Testament has more manuscript evidence supporting it than any other piece of ancient literature. Though critics may wish to believe that the Gospel picture of Jesus is a fanciful embellishment (a lie), they must acknowledge that it is a well-preserved one. In other words, though the critic would like to believe that the Gospels have been changed to meet the changing doctrinal positions of the church, he must acknowledge that there is absolutely no manuscript evidence to support this belief. As far as we can tell, the Gospels as we have them today reflect what was originally written 6.
Interestingly, the oldest piece of New Testament text is a fragment from the fourth Gospel, dated to between 117 and 138 A.D.
- Irenaeus (AD 170) is very clear about who the author of the fourth Gospel was 7. Where did he get this idea? Irenaeus says that he was a hearer of Polycarp, who himself was a disciple of the apostle John.
- Hegisippus (AD 150) embarked on a research project in the mid second century investigating the doctrines of the different churches throughout the Roman world. His conclusion was that they all agreed 8. If they all agreed, and Irenaeus was convinced that John wrote the fourth Gospel, then we can strongly suspect that most – if not all – of the other churches did so as well.
- The Muratorian Cannon (AD 170) is an ancient cannonical list of books deemed inspired by the early church. John’s Gospel is included on this list 9
The Internal Evidence
I The Author of The Fourth Gospel was a Jew
- Familiarity with the Old testament
- Old Testament quotations are as frequent in this Gospel as in that of Matthew’s – supposedly the most Jewish of the four.
- Matthew’s Gospel makes quotations from the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) 10. The fourth Gospel’s Old Testament quotations come straight from the Hebrew: John 13:18 quotes the 41st Psalm, John 19:37 quotes Zechariah 12:10
- Familiarity with Jewish Feasts
- Out of 879 verses in the fourth Gospel, 660 refer to Jesus and the feasts of Israel 11
- Feasts are used by the author as “landmarks” to divide history
- 3 Passovers are mentioned (2:13, 2:23, 6:4, 13:1, 18:28)
- A “feast of the Jews” is mentioned in 5:1 – scholars are divided as to whether or not this was a Passover as well
- “Feast over Tabernacles” (7:37) a plain allusion to the rite of pouring water from the Pool of Siloam12
- The Feast of Dedication (a non-biblical feast, instituted to commemorate the rededication of the temple after it’s desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes) mentioned in 10:22 offers strong support for the idea that the writer of the fourth Gospel was Jewish.
- Familiarity with Jewish Customs and Habits Anyone even remotely familiar with Jewish customs and habits is aware of the importance placed upon purification. The details described concerning this aspect of Jewish culture throughout the fourth Gospel would lead all but the most biased and narrow-minded to conclude that its writer was Jewish. Some examples include:
- Mention of the water pots used for purification (2:5)
- Purification of Jesus’ and John’s disciples (3:25)
- Purification before the Passover (6:55)
- Jewish fear of defilement upon entering the Gentile Praetorium (18:28)
- Concern that bodies be buried before the Sabbath (19:31)
Other details pertinent to Jewish thought/culture/customs/habits include:
- Baptism seen as a Jewish rite (1:25) The Pharisees’ question to John the Baptist was not “what is this new thing you are doing?” but rather “Why are you baptizing?”
- Feeling between the Jews and the Samaritans reflected in Chapter 4 and in 8:48
- Rabbinical teachings concerning sin and suffering (9:2)
- Importance attached to religious schools (7:15)
- Rabbinical rule against converse with a woman (4:27)
- Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman at the well, “Salvation is of the Jews” (4:22) would never have been put in his mouth by a second century Gnostic. This verse screams Jewish authorship of the fourth Gospel.
II The Writer was a Palestinian Jew
- The writer is familiar with Cana in Galilee. Cana appears to have been a small and insignificant place – unmentioned by any ancient writer. It is therefore unlikely that a second century forger would have selected it as the place where Jesus’ first miracle was performed (2:11)
- The writer gives the correct distance from Jerusalem to Bethany (11:18).
- The writer correctly describes Ephraim as being “near the wilderness” (11:54).
- John 3:23 states: “And John also was baptizing in AEnon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came and were baptized.” Though the exact location of Aenon is not known, note that “Aenon” is the Chaldean plural of “Aen” which means “fountains” 13. “Aenon” may be a proper name or a written description but one thing is certain: it was not invented by someone ignorant of Semitic languages.
- The writer correctly places Sychar in Samaria (4:5)
- Mention is made of Jacob’s well (4:5) and the fact that is was deep (4:11). The remains of this well are extant today 14.
- Mount Gerizam is said to be a place of Samaritan worship (4:19). In fact temple remains have been located on this very mountain 15.
Details concerning Jerusalem:
The Pool of Bethesda where a miraculous healing takes place (5:3-4) has been discovered in the Northeast section of the city 16.
The Pavement where Jesus faced trial before Pilate (19:13) has been discovered beneath the Ecce Homo Convent 17.
Note that John was a Galilean: Matthew 4:18-21, Mark 1:16-19, Luke 5:1-10 – all make clear that John was a Galilean. Luke states that John and his brother James were partners with Peter and Andrew in their fishing business. Is it surprising then, to read how often the subject of Galilee and the status of its natives come up? Some examples:
Nathaniel’s question about whether any good thing could come from there (1:47)
The religious leaders’ question of whether the Messiah could come from Galilee (7:41).
The words of the Pharisees to Nicodemus after he defended Jesus to them are telling: “Art thou also from Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.” (7:52)
The Pharisees’ comments that the temple had been under construction for 46 years (2:20) are most instructive. According to Josephus, Herod began construction in BC 20 or 19 (Ant. 15.11.1-3). Adding 46 years brings us to AD 27 or 28 for the commencement of Jesus’ earthly ministry. This detail lies in close agreement with other chronological data. For example, the mention of 3 (possibly 4) Passovers makes it clear that Jesus’ earthly ministry was approximately 3-4 years in duration. Notice Pilate’s willingness to appease the Jews in all 4 Gospels; a response most unlike the Pontius Pilate we read about in the pages of Josephus. What’s going on? Roman history records that the Emperor Tiberius went into semi retirement in Capri in AD 26, leaving the anti-Semitic Sejanus to rule in Rome 18. It is likely that Sejanus was the one who appointed Pilate as governor of Judea. In AD 31, Sejanus was executed for sedition and so were his associates 19. An edict was passed by Tiberius that from henceforth the Jews were to be treated kindly 20. Pilate’s attitude in the Gospels makes sense only after AD 31, when his position was very weak. Calculating back 3-4 years from AD 31 brings us to 27/28, which agrees perfectly with the chronology given in John 2:20.
III The Writer was a Jew of the First Century
Note that subjects of interest or controversy differ from age to age. Even within a single lifetime certain subjects once thought highly significant can fade into the background while others are brought to the forefront of our thinking.
Messianic expectations ran high in the first century 21. The Gospel of John reflects this preoccupation in several instances:
In 6:1-15 Jesus performs the miracle of feeding 5,000 people with a young boy’s lunch. In verse 15 we read of how “Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king…”
Josephus echoes first century Jewish inclination toward Messianic expectations and claims:
“[After Herod’s death] Judea was full of robberies; and, as the several companies of the seditious lighted upon anyone to head them, he was created a king immediately, in order to do mischief to the public.” Josephus, “Antiquities”, 17.10.8
- In 11:47-48 the religious rules fear an unsuccessful revolt
- Note the concern for Messianic prophecy and expectation discussed by the religious leaders in 7:42
- The belief / expectation that the Christ would abide forever (12:34)
- The miracles of Christ compared to messianic expectations of His day (John 7:31).
IV The Writer was an Eyewitness
There are three explicit claims that the writer was an eyewitness to the events he describes:
1:14: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
19:35: “And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.”
21:24: ” This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.”
Note how the writer describes the thoughts of the disciples in chapter 2, where Jesus performed the miracle of changing water into wine:
“This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory: and his disciples believed on him.” (2:11)
A forger is not likely to mention that the disciples believed (this statement is redundant; they would not be His disciples if they didn’t believe!) An eyewitness might include such a detail, while a forger would almost certainly have mentioned the guests’ response to Jesus’ miracle.
Other examples of the writer’s knowledge regarding the disciples’ thoughts:
At the cleansing of the temple, “And his disciples remembered that it is written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.” (2:17)
“When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them , and they believed in the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.” (2:22)
At Christ’s triumphal entry: “These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.” (12:16)
Other signs of eyewitness testimony:
- 1:39 – The detail that it was about the tenth hour when Andrew and an unnamed disciple of John the Baptist came and followed Jesus
- 4:6 – The detail that it was about the sixth hour when Jesus sat at the well in Samaria
- 4:52 – The detail that the nobleman’s son was healed at the seventh hour
- 6:7, 14:8 – The writer tells us of Philip’s words to Jesus (as opposed to the words of the disciples in general).
- 6:8-9 – The detail that it was Andrew that told Jesus of the young lad’s sack lunch
- 11:16, 14:15 – The words of Thomas are recorded (again, as opposed to the words of the disciples in general).
- 14:22 – The words of Judas (not Iscariot) are recorded
- 18:10 – The detail that it was Malchus whose ear Peter had cut off in the garden.
- 1:44 and 12:21 – The detail that Bethsaida was the home of Peter and Andrew (the synoptic Gospels would have led us to believe it was Capernaum).
- 20:1-9 – The details concerning Peter and an unnamed disciple’s visit to Christ’s empty tomb are too specific to have been invented by any but the most thoughtful forger. We are told that the unnamed disciple ran to the tomb ahead of Peter but did not go in. Peter reached the tomb after and pushed in past him. In v. 8 we read of only the unnamed disciple’s thoughts concerning the empty tomb: “…he saw, and believed.” In v.16 Mary is said to have been the first to see the risen Savior. A forger would almost undoubtedly reserve this privilege for Peter and/or or John.
V The Writer was the Apostle John
The writer describes what the disciples said to one another:
- 4:13 – Details concerning the disciple’s discussion with Jesus and each other concerning what food the Lord was talking about
- 11:16 – Thomas’ words as they journeyed to Bethany
- 16:17 – The disciples’ questions regarding Christ’s departure
- 20:35 – The conversation between the disciples who had seen the risen Savior and doubting Thomas
- 21:3 – Peter’s words to the others “I go a fishing.”
- 21:7 – The disciple whom Jesus loved is described as saying to Peter (not just to the others around him), “It is the Lord.”
The writer describes what the disciples thought:
- 2:11 – The disciples said to have “believed” at Cana
- 2:17 – The disciples said to have “remembered” that Jesus’ cleansing of the temple was a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy
- 4:27 – The disciples “marveled” that Jesus spoke with the Samaritan woman
- 13:22 – The disciples were “doubting of whom he spake” when Jesus stated that one of them would betray Him.
- 13:29 – Describes how the disciples thought that Judas was leaving to buy supplies for the feast.
The writer describes the places that Jesus and His disciples were accustomed to resort to:
- 11:54 – Jesus walked in the country near the wilderness
- 18:1-2 – Describes how Jesus and his disciples were accustomed to resort to a garden “over the brook of Cedron” (v.1).
The author identified: The Disciple that Jesus Loved
“Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? This is that disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.” John 21:20-24
Other identifying information:
- 13:23 – This disciple leaned on Jesus’ breast at the Last Supper
- 19:25-27 – This disciple stood by the cross and at Jesus’ instruction, took Jesus’ mother into his own home
- 20:2 – This disciple was informed by Mary Magdalene that Jesus’ tomb was empty
- 21:7 – This disciple recognized the risen Savior on the seashore
- 21:20 – He follows Jesus and Peter
- 18:15 – He is possibly the disciple that was known to the high priest, and who followed Jesus into the palace
“The disciple that Jesus loved” must certainly be Peter, James, or John
We must rule out Peter because this disciple is distinguished from Peter in four passages:
- 13:24 – Peter beckons to the writer to ask Jesus who would betray Him
- 20:2 – Mary Magdalene comes to Peter and the writer to report the empty tomb
- 21:7 – The writer states to Peter that Jesus is on the seashore
- 21:20 – Peter turns and sees the writer following Jesus and himself
James the brother of John was slain by the sword at the command of Herod Antipas (Acts 12:1-2). This event must have occurred in the early 40’s of the first century. All scholars agree that John’s Gospel was the last to be written, certainly after the death of James; therefore we must rule out James as a candidate.
This leaves only John as the only likely candidate as author of the fourth Gospel.
What about the last chapter?
Admittedly, the 21st chapter of the fourth Gospel does appear to be an addendum. However, this in no way argues against John being the author. It might very well be that John added the last chapter when the rumor that he would not die reached his ears. The Lord’s words are clarified for his readers in v. 23:
“Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him [Peter], He shall not die; but, if I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?“
What about 7:53 – 8:11 [The woman caught in adultery]?
This one’s a bit tougher to explain. Many manuscripts do not contain this portion of scripture. Among those that do, considerable variation exists. Also note that there is virtual silence regarding this passage in the writings of the early church fathers before the fourth century. From the time of Augustine onward, this passage was referenced in church writings, but with accompanying notes stating that’s its authenticity was in question. Such facts have caused many learned New Testament scholars to reject the passage outright as far as Johannine origin is concerned. Samuel P. Tregelles (“An Account of the Printed Text of the Greek New Testament”, London, 1854, p. 236-243):
“We can no better cannonise this passage, if it were not genuine Scripture from the beginning, than we can the books of the Apocrypha, or any other writings. If the best MSS., versions, and fathers, know nothing of such a portion of Holy Scripture, it behoves all who value God’s word not adopt, as part of it, what is not only unsupported by sufficient evidence, but is opposed by that which could hardly be surmounted. The ancient translators in general could not have agreed, in so many countries, to pass by so considerable portion of this Gospel, it they knew it, or ad it in their Greek copies.”
Bruce Metzger concurs, but offers his opinion that the passage, though not authentically Johannine, does reflect what is likely an actual historic event (Bruce Metzger, “A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament”, Stuttgart, 1971, pp. 219-221):
“At the same time the account has all the earmarks of historical veracity. It is obviously a piece of oral tradition which circulated in certain parts of the western church and which was subsequently incorporated into various manuscripts at various places.”
All that being said, even if 7:53-8:11 are not authentically Johannine, this in no way proves that the rest of the fourth Gospel is a forgery. It must also be noted that there are many other learned scholars who do accept this portion of Scripture as authentic. Henry Scrivener was, by all standards, a very well educated and well-respected New Testament scholar of the nineteenth century 22. Though his opinions seemed to vacillate over the genuineness of this passage, the idea that it was authentically Johannine was certainly a viable option for him. In Scrivener’s view, John may have written more than one edition of his Gospel, which might account not only for the addition of 7:53-811, but of chapter 21 as well.
“Examples of this kind…suggest the suspicion that the Holy Gospels, like the works both in ancient and modern times, may have circulated in more than one edition, earlier wanting some passages which the sacred writers inserted in the later. Sufficient attention has hardly been paid to a supposition which would account for discrepancies otherwise very perplexing; and it is evident that transcripts might have been made from the first issue which, being propagated in distant lands, would always keep up the difference between the several recessions, each as it came from the author’s hand.” Henry Joseph Scrivener, “Six Lectures on the Text of the New Testament and the Ancient Manuscripts Which Contain it, Chiefly Addressed to Those Who Do Not Read Greek”, Cambridge: Deighton, Bell, and Co. 1875, p. 127
“The arguments in its favour, internal even more than external, are so powerful, that we can scarcely be brought to think it an unauthorized appendage to the writings of one, who in another of his inspired books, deprecated so solemnly the adding or taking away from the blessed testimony he was commissioned to bear…why should St. John not have inserted in this second edition both the amplification in ch. v. 3,4, and this most edifying and eminently Christian narrative?” Henry Joseph Scrivener, “A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament: For the Use of Biblical Students (Cambridge: Deighton, Bell, and Co., 1861), 2:364
What is particularly interesting is the inclusion of 7:53-8:11 in the critical editions of the New Testament by men who state categorically that the passage does not belong there. Why has it not been removed outright, like the apocryphal books? The strange staying power of the passage, supposedly proven fallacious, makes one wonder. In Psalm 12:6-7 we read, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation forever.” Maybe this portion of Scripture has been retained, despite the opinions of the so-called “experts”, because God wants it there. It’s something to think about anyway.
Again, even if we toss 7:53 – 8:11, we still have no good reason to reject the rest of the fourth Gospel as inauthentic. On the other hand, we have plenty of evidence supporting the traditional view, namely, that none other than the beloved Apostle John penned the fourth Gospel.
- “Martin Hengel of Tubingen University noticed that the following well-documented technique customary in the making of scrolls at the time ensured the very early preservation of authors’ names: Scrolls with literary texts had tags glued to them…They fulfilled the same purpose as the spine of a modern book: One does not have to open a book in order to find out who wrote it and what its title is.” Carsten Peter Thiede and Matthew D’Ancona, “Eyewitness to Jesus”, Doubleday, 1996, p.15
- “If, as is usually argued today, the earliest Gospels were anonymous or lacked titles, because of the pressing need to distinguish them in community libraries, a variation of titles would have inevitably arisen, whereas in the case of the canonical Gospels (in contrast to that of countless apocryphal writings) we can detect nothing of this.” Martin Hengel, “Studies in the Gospel of Mark”, London, 1985, pp. 81-82
- This information regarding Gospel authorship and the acceptance of 1 John and 1 Peter recorded in Eusebius, The Church History, 3.39.
- See my on-line book, “100 Reasons to Believe the New Testament”; points 28 – 52.Professor Craig S. Hawkins has written concise article outlining the main arguments that Acts is indeed a first century document. This may be found on line at apologeticsinfo.org.Also see J.A. Thompson, “The Bible and Archaeology”, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1962, pp. 378-403, Colin J. Hemer, “The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History” lists 17 reasons why the book of Acts must be a first century work. His arguments are summarized in Norman L. Geisler’s “Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics”, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1999, pp 5-6
- “Matthew published his Gospel among the Hebrews (ie the Jews) in their own tongue, when Peter and Paul were preaching the gospel in Rome and founding the Church there. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, himself handed down to us in writing the substance of Peter’s preaching. Luke, the follower of Paul, set down in a book the gospel preached by his teacher. Then John, the disciple of the Lord, who also leaned on His breast, himself produced his gospel, while he was living at Ephesus in Asia.” Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.1.
- “Not a single teaching of the Christian faith is affected by these variations, nor is any major historical aspect of the Gospel narratives or early Christianity affected.” Alister E. McGrath, (Professor of Historical Theology at Oxford University and Principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, consulting editor at “Christianity Today”), “In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How it Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture”, Anchor Books, a Division of Random House, N.Y., 2001, p. 242″The real text of the sacred writings is competently exact, nor is one article of faith or moral precept either perverted or lost, choose as awkwardly as you will, choose the worst by design, out of the whole lump of readings.” Charles Fremont Sitterly, “Text and Manuscripts of the New Testament,” in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Chicago: Howard-Severance Co., 1915).
- See endnote 5
- “Among those flourishing in the church at this time were Hegesippus, whom we met earlier, Bishop Dionysius of Corinth, Bishop Pinytus of Crete, Philip, Apolinarius, Melito, Musanus, Modestus, and above all Irenaeus. Their orthodoxy and ardour for the apostolic tradition have reached us in written form. Hegesippus has left a full record of his beliefs in five books that have come down to us. In them he tells of travelling to Rome and finding the same doctrine among all bishops there. After some comments about Clement’s letter to the Corinthians, he writes,”The Corinthian Church remained in the true doctrine until Primus became bishop. I conversed with the Corinthians on the voyage to Rome, and we were refreshed by the true doctrine. After arriving in Rome, I compiled the succession down to Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus. In each succession and in every city, preaching corresponds with the Law, the Prophets, and the Lord.” Eusebius, “The Church History”, 4.21-22
- “A…list of great importance was the Muratorian Cannon, named for the Italian historian and librarian who first found it in the Ambrosian Library at Milan. The manuscript itself is not older than the seventh century, but its content probably belongs to the last third of the second century, about A.D. 170. Since the manuscript is only a fragment of a larger work, it is not complete. It begins in the middle of a sentence, and the first book mentioned us Luke, which the fragment calls the third Gospel. Matthew and Mark almost certainly preceded Luke in this list; John follows with an unmistakable reference to the first epistle.” Merrill C. Tenney, “New Testament Survey, Revised Ed., Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Inter-Varsity Press, 1985, p.408
- For example, Matthew 12:18-21 quotes Isaiah 42:1-4. Verse 21 reads, “And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.” This verse is not part of the Hebrew Old Testament, but the Septuagint.
- This information from John Plantz, Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, personal communication
- “On each day of the feast, the people came with palm branches and marched around the great alter. A priest took a golden pitcher filled with water from the Pool of Siloam, carried it to the temple, and poured it on the alter as an offering to God. This dramatic ceremony was a memorial of the water that flowed from the rock when the Israelites traveled through the wilderness. On the last day of the feast, the people marched seven times around the alter in memory of the seven circuits around the walls of Jericho. Perhaps at the very moment that the priest was pouring water on the alter, Jesus’ voice rang out: If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” “Footnote in “The Nelson Study Bible, NKJ Version, Earl D. Radmacher, Th.D., General Editor, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997, p. 1775
- Renan notes that while we do not know where Latim was, we have “a significant hint. It is the word Ænawan, the Chaldean plural of Aïn or Æn, “fountain.” How can you account for some Hellenic sectaries being able to divine this? They could not be the name of any locality, or they would have stood for one which was well known, or they would have coined an impossible word in its relationship to the Semitic etymology.” Ernest Renan, The History of the Origins of Christianity. Book I. Life of Jesus, Appendix, London: Mathieson & Company: 1890, on-line, Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library
- “According to the traditions of the Samaritans it was here that Abraham sacrificed Isaac, that Melchizedek met the patriarch, that Jacob built an alter, and at its base dug a well, the ruins of which are still seen.” “Peloubet’s Bible Dictionary”, The John C. Winston Company, Philadelphia, PA, 1925, p. 217
- “Gerizim was the site of the Samaritan temple, which was built there after the captivity, in rivalry with the temple at Jerusalem. Gerizim is still to the Samaritans what Jerusalem is to the Jews and what Mecca to the Mohammedans. The ruins of the old temple are still visible.” “Peloubet’s Bible Dictionary”, The John C. Winston Company, Philadelphia, PA, 1925, p. 217
- “The Pool of Bethesda, with its five porticos, has been discovered deep below the level of present day Jerusalem.” The Eerdman’s Handbook to the Bible”, 1973, p. 538″Recent excavations revealed that before A.D. 70 there existed a rectangular pool with a colonnade on each of the four sides, and a fifth across the middle.” E.M. Blaiklock, “The Archaeology of the New Testament”, Revised and Updated, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984, p. 83
- “The Pavement in Pilate’s court, where this scene took place, survived even the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Its rediscovery was the result of years of work on the part of the archaeologist Father L.H. Vincent. His success was due to the exact description given in St. John’s Gospel.” Werner Keller, “The Bible as History”, New Revised English Translation, Hodder and Stoughton, 1980, p.347
- “By 26, Tiberius was well enough assured of Sejanus’ ability to run the government to feel that he could afford to retire completely from the cares of the state and from his sorrow at the death of his son. He therefore took up residence in restful retirement on the island of Capri in the Bay of Naples.” Isaac Azimov, “The Roman Empire”, The Riverside Press, Cambridge, 1967, p. 44
- “Eventually, though, the suspicious Tiberius became suspicious of even Sejanus. The prime minister was arranging to marry Tiberius’ granddaughter and thoughts of the succession may well have been in his mind at that. Perhaps Tiberius resented this. In this case, the Emperor sent a letter from Capri in 31 denouncing Sejanus and his till-then all-powerful prime minister was executed at once.” Isaac Azimov, “The Roman Empire”, The Riverside Press, Cambridge, 1967, p. 45″The tension in the state grew worse and worse and finally Tiberius became aware of Sejanus’ villainy to the senate, which quickly decreed and executed a death sentence. The cumulative bitterness of his many disillusionments soured Tiberius’ temper. A number of Sejanus’ associates were also executed and an atmosphere of terror pervaded Rome.” Merrill C. Tenney, “New Testament Times”, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1965, p. 151
- “[Tiberius] charged his procurators in every place to which they were appointed to speak comfortably to the members of our nation in different cities, assuring them that the penal measures did not extend to all but only to the guilty, who were few, and to disturb none of the established customs but even to regard them as a trust committed to their care, the people as naturally peaceable, and the institutions as an influence promoting orderly conduct.” Philo, “Legatio”, 24, 159-161
- “Messianic Hopes. The extravagant visions of the apocalypses were only one among the many hopes currently cherished by the Jews. Many messianic figures from the Old Testament had taken firm root in popular expectation.” Richard France, “Religious Background of the New Testament” in “Eerdmans’ Handbook to the Bible”, Lion Publishing, England, 1973, p. 497″Jesus Christ came into the world at a time of religious and philosophical malaise. His own people the Jews, under the heel of Roman domination, were looking for a political Messiah. When Jesus largely avoided the politically loaded term “Messiah” and presented Himself as a spiritual Redeemer (the Son of Man who must suffer and die as the Servant of the Lord before exaltation to dominion), not even his own disciples understood Him. The Jews in general and the Sanhedrin in particular rejected Him for Barabbas, who was a political revolutionary. Thus Jesus died by Roman crucifixion.” Robert H. Gundry, PH.D. “A Survey of the New Testament”, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1970, p. 383
- Fredrick Henry Ambrose Scrivener (1813-1891) was a leading figure in the field of textual criticism during the nineteenth century. He donated his life primarily to collating numerous manuscripts and producing written works pertinent to the study of textual criticism. His name stands equally with those of Griesnach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Westcott and Hort.