Bibliotheca Sacra 120 (July 1963) 214-23. Copyright © 1963 by Dallas Theological Seminary. Cited with permission.
II. LITERARY KEYS TO THE FOURTH GOSPEL
The Author's Testimony to Himself
Merrill C. Tenney
THE authorship of the Gospel of John has been a subject of warm debate for almost two centuries. Edward Evanson, in his work entitled The Dissonance of the Four Generally Received Evangelists and the Evidence of Their Respective Authority Examined, published in 1792, questioned the tradi- tional view that it was written by John, the son of Zebedee. His position was repudiated by contemporary scholars, but in 1820 Bretschneider's Probabilia de Evangelii et Epistolar- um Joannis Apostoli Indole et Origine renewed the discussion. Bretschneider contended that John was written by some un- known Gnostic in the middle of the second century. From his time the subject, has been a source of endless argument, which has not yet terminated in a conclusion acceptable to all concerned.
Numerous hypotheses have been advanced to account for the origin of this Gospel. Some critics have ascribed it to "John the elder," a presbyter of Ephesus, mentioned in Euse- bius' famous quotation from Papias, a writer of the early second century:
"And if anyone chanced to come who had actually been a follower of the elders, I would inquire as to the discourses of the elders, what Andrew or what Peter said, or what Philip, or what Thomas or James, or what John or Matthew or any other of the Lord's disciples of the Lord, say. For I suppose that things out of books did not profit me so much as the utterance of voice which liveth and abideth.