I have started a series of posts dealing with the authorship of the Gospels – specifically, why they were eventually named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. My first point, in my previous post and in this one, is that the books are completely anonymous. Their authors never divulge their names. Eventually I may want to address the question of why that is. But for now, my point is that despite what people might commonly think, the books are anonymous.
I pointed out yesterday that even though the author of Luke does not tell us his name, he does write in the first person (“I”/ “we”) in the opening of his Gospel. That never happens in either Matthew or Mark, but it does happen again in the Gospel of John. In fact, it is widely claimed – sometimes even by scholars who should know better – that the author identifies himself as the “beloved disciple” who appears several times in the Gospel of John, and only in this Gospel.
On a number of occasions the author of the Gospel refers to the “discipline whom Jesus loved” (for example, John 13:23; 20:2-4) This person is generally known as the “beloved disciple.” Who is he? And did he write the Gospel? Or did the author at least *claim* to be this beloved disciple?
In a later post I may deal with the question of who the beloved disciple may have been. (Traditionally, of course, he has been thought to be John the son of Zebedee; I will explain how that Identification came about – also in a later post.) For now, I want to deal with the question of whether this author of the book is claiming to be this disciple. There are two passages that readers have typically taken to indicate that in fact that is what the author is claiming.
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