Witherington Let’s Lazarus Come Out

Ben Witherington blogged this in 2007. What I read shook me. I’m generalising here, but people who read Signposts02 seem to like an occasional theological shake-up. Although this is a lengthy read, I am sure you will be hooked by his argument. What are your thoughts on the arguments Witherington raises? It made me re-examine my pentefaith.

From: http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/2007/01/was-lazarus-beloved-disciple.html

Monday, January 29, 2007

Was Lazarus the Beloved Disciple?

If you want to cause Biblical scholars to get their knickers in a knot there are two sure fire ways to accomplish that end: 1) you can skewer a sacred cow whether a liberal or conservative one; 2) you can propose a theory that requires one to believe in the possibility of the miraculous to even entertain the thesis. If you can accomplish both with one theory, well, you’ve created a Mallox moment! I seem to accomplished this at the last SBL meeting in November when I gave the following lecture. I’ll let you decide whether you find it illuminating or inflammatory. Flame On!


I. The problem with the traditional ascription of this Gospel to John Zebedee

Martin Hengel and Graham Stanton among other scholars have reminded us in recent discussions of the Fourth Gospel that the superscripts to all four of the canonical Gospels were in all likelihood added after the fact to the documents, indeed they may originally have been added as document tags to the papyrus rolls. Even more tellingly they were likely added only after there were several familiar Gospels for the phrase ‘according to….’ is used to distinguish this particular Gospel from other well known ones.

This means of course that all four Gospels are formally anonymous and the question then becomes how much weight one should place on internal evidence of authorship (the so-called inscribed author) and how much on external evidence. In my view, the internal evidence should certainly take precedence in the case of the Gospel of John, not least because the external evidence is hardly unequivocal. This does not alleviate the necessity of explaining how the Gospel came to be ascribed to someone named John, but we will leave that question to the end of our discussion.
As far as the external evidence goes it is true enough that there were various church fathers in the second century that though John son of Zebedee was the author. There was an increasing urgency about this conclusion for the mainstream church after the middle of the second century because the Fourth Gospel seems to have been a favorite amongst the Gnostics, and therefore, apostolic authorship was deemed important if this Gospel was to be rescued from the heterodox. Irenaeus, the great heresiarch, in particular around A.D. 180 stressed that this Gospel was written in Ephesus by one of the Twelve— John. It is therefore telling that this seems not to have been the conclusion of perhaps our very earliest witness—Papias of Hierapolis who was surely in a location and in a position to know something about Christianity in the provenance of Asia at the beginning of the second century A.D. Papias ascribes this Gospel to one elder John, whom he distinguishes presumably from another John and it is only the former that he claims to have had personal contact with. Eusebius in referring to the Preface to Papias’ five volume work stresses that Papias only had contact with an elder John and one Aristion, not with John of Zebedee (Hist. Eccl. 3.39-3-7) who is distinguished by Eusebius himself from the John in question. It is notable as well that Eusebius reminds us that Papias reflects the same chiliastic eschatology as is found in the book of Revelation, something which Eusebius looks askance at. Eusebius is clear that Papias only knew the ‘elders’ who had had contact with the ‘holy apostles’ not the ‘holy apostles’ themselves. Papias had heard personally what Aristion and the elder John were saying, but had only heard about what the earlier apostles had said.

As most scholars have now concluded, Papias was an adult during the reign of Trajan and perhaps also Hadrian and his work that Eusebius cites should probably be dated to about A.D. 100 (see the ABD article on Papias), which is to say only shortly after the Fourth Gospel is traditionally dated. All of this is interesting in several respects. In the first place Papias does not attempt to claim too much, even though he has great interest in what all the apostles and the Twelve have said. His claim is a limited one of having heard those who had been in contact with such eyewitnesses. In the second place, he is writing at a time and in a place where he ought to have known who it was that was responsible for putting together the Fourth Gospel, and equally clearly he reflects the influence of the millennial theology we find only clearly in the Book of Revelation in the NT and not for example in the Fourth Gospel. This suggests that the John he knew and had talked with was John of Patmos, and this was the same John who had something to do with the production of the Fourth Gospel. It is significant that Hengel after a detailed discussion in his The Johannine Question concludes that this Gospel must be associated with the elder John who was not the same as John son of Zebedee. More on this in due course. As I have stressed, while Papias’ testimony is significant and early we must also give due weight to the internal evidence in the Fourth Gospel itself, to which we will turn shortly. One more thing. Papias Fragment 10.17 has now been subjected to detailed analysis by M. Oberweis (NovT 38 1996), and Oberweis, rightly in my judgment draws the conclusion that Papias claimed that John son of Zebedee died early as a martyr like his brother (Acts 12.2). This counts against both the theory that John of Patmos was John of Zebedee and the theory that the latter wrote the Fourth Gospel. But I defer to my friend and colleague Richard Bauckham whose new book is a wealth of information about Papias and his conclusion is right— we should take very seriously what Papias says. He knew what he was talking about in regard to both the earliest and latest of the Gospels.

II. The growing recognition of the Judean provenance and character of this Gospel

Andrew Lincoln in his new commentary on the Gospel of John has concluded that the Beloved Disciple was a real person and “a minor follower of Jesus during his Jerusalem ministry” (p. 22). While Lincoln sees the BD traditions as added to the Gospel as small snippets of historical tradition added to a larger core that did not come from this person, he draws this conclusion about the Beloved Disciple’s provenance for a very good reason—he does not show up at all in this Gospel in the telling of the Galilean ministry stories, and on the other hand he seems to be involved with and know personally about Jesus’ ministry in and around Jerusalem.

One of the things which is probably fatal to the theory that John son of Zebedee is the Beloved Disciple and also the author of this entire document is that none, and I do mean none, of the special Zebedee stories are included in the Fourth Gospel (e.g. the calling of the Zebedees by Jesus, their presence with Jesus in the house where Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter, the story of the Transfiguration, and also of the special request for special seats in Jesus’ kingdom when it comes, and we could go on). In view of the fact that this Gospel places some stress on the role of eyewitness testimony (see especially Jn. 19-21) it is passing strange that these stories would be omitted if this Gospel was by John of Zebedee, or even if he was its primary source. It is equally strange that the Zebedees are so briefly mentioned in this Gospel as such (see Jn. 21.2) and John is never equated with the Beloved Disciple even in the appendix in John 21 (cf. vs. 2 and 7– the Beloved Disciple could certainly be one of the two unnamed disciples mentioned in vs. 2).

Also telling is the fact that this Gospel includes none or almost none of the special Galilean miracle stories found in the Synoptics with the exception of the feeding of the 5,000/walking on water tandem. The author of this document rather includes stories like the meeting with Nicodemus, the encounter with the Samaritan woman, the healing of the blind man, the healing of the cripple by the pool, and the raising of Lazarus and what all these events have in common is that none of them transpired in Galilee. When we couple this with the fact that our author seems to have some detailed knowledge about the topography in and around Jerusalem and the historical particulars about the last week or so of Jesus’ life (e.g. compare the story of the anointing of Jesus by Mary of Bethany in John to the more generic Markan account), it is not a surprise that Lincoln and others reflect a growing trend recognizing the Judean provenance of this Gospel. Recognition of this provenance clears up various difficulties not the least of which is the lack of Galilean stories in general in this Gospel and more particularly the lack of exorcism tales, none of which, according to the Synoptics, are said to have occurred in Jerusalem or Judea. Furthermore, there is absolutely no emphasis or real interest in this Gospel in the Twelve as Twelve or as Galileans. If the author is a Judean follower of Jesus and is not one of the Twelve, and in turn is sticking to the things he knows personally or has heard directly from eyewitnesses this is understandable. This brings us to the question of whom this Beloved Disciple might have been.

III. The “one whom Jesus loved”— the first mention— Jn 11 or Jn 13?

It has been common in Johannine commentaries to suggest that the Beloved Disciple as a figure in the narrative does not show up under that title before John 13. While this case has been argued thoroughly, it overlooks something very important. This Gospel was written in an oral culture for use with non-Christians as a sort of teaching tool to lead them to faith. It was not intended to be handed out as a tract to the non-believer but nevertheless its stories were meant to be used orally for evangelism. In an oral document of this sort, the ordering of things is especially important. Figures once introduced into the narrative by name and title or name and identifying phrase may thereafter be only identified by one or the other since economy of words is at a premium when one is writing a document of this size on a piece of papyrus (Jn. 20.30-31). This brings us to John 11.3 and the phrase hon phileis . It is perfectly clear from a comparison of 11. 1 and 3 that the sick person in question first called Lazarus of Bethany and then called ‘the one whom you love’ is the same person as in the context the mention of sickness in each verse makes this identification certain. This is the first time in this entire Gospel that any particular person is said to have been loved by Jesus. Indeed one could argue that this is the only named person in the whole Gospel about whom this is specifically said directly. This brings us to Jn. 13.23.

At John 13.23 we have the by now very familiar reference to a disciple whom Jesus loved (hon agapa this time) as reclining on the bosom of Jesus, by which is meant he is reclining on the same couch as Jesus. The disciple is not named here, and notice that nowhere in John 13 is it said that this meal transpired in Jerusalem. It could just as well have transpired in the nearby town of Bethany and this need not even be an account of the Passover meal. Jn. 13.1 in fact says it was a meal that transpired before the Passover meal. This brings us to a crucial juncture in this discussion. In Jn. 11 there was a reference to a beloved disciple named Lazarus. In Jn. 12 there was a mention of a meal at the house of Lazarus. If someone was hearing these tales in this order without access to the Synoptic Gospels it would be natural to conclude that the person reclining with Jesus in Jn. 13 was Lazarus. There is another good reason to do so as well. It was the custom in this sort of dining that the host would recline with or next to the chief guest. The story as we have it told in Jn. 13 likely implies that the Beloved Disciple is the host then. But this in turn means he must have a house in the vicinity of Jerusalem. This in turn probably eliminates all the Galilean disciples.

This identification of BD= Lazarus in fact not only clears up some conundrums about this story, it also neatly clears up a series of other conundrums in the Johannine Passion narrative as well. For example: 1) it was always problematic that the BD had ready access to the High Priest’s house. Who could he have been to have such access? Surely not a Galilean fisherman. Jn. 11.36-47 suggests that some of the Jewish officials who reported to the high priest had known Lazarus, and had attended his mourning period in Bethany. This in turn means that Lazarus likely had some relationship with them. He could have had access to Caiphas’ house, being a high status person known to Caiphas’ entourage. ; 2) If Lazarus of Bethany is the Beloved Disciple this too explains the omission of the Garden of Gethsemane prayer story in this Gospel. Peter, James and John were present on that occasion, but the Beloved Disciple was not; 3) It also explains Jn. 19.27. If the Beloved Disciple took Jesus’ mother ‘unto his own’ home (it is implied) this surely suggests some locale much nearer than Galilee, for the Beloved Disciple will show up in Jerusalem in John 20 immediately there after, and of course Mary is still there, according to Acts 1.14 well after the crucifixion and resurrection of her son. 4) How is it that the Beloved Disciple gets to the tomb of Jesus in Jn. 20 before Peter? Perhaps because he knows the locale, indeed knows Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, being one who lived near and spent much time in Jerusalem. One more thing about John 20.2 which Tom Thatcher kindly reminded me of—here the designation of our man is a double one—he is called both ‘the other disciple’ and also the one ‘whom Jesus loved only this time it is phileō for the verb. Why has our author varied the title at this juncture, if in fact it was a pre-existing title for someone outside the narrative? We would have expected it to be in a fixed form if this were some kind of pre-existing title. Notice now the chain of things—Lazarus is identified in Jn. 11 as the one whom Jesus loves, and here ‘the other disciple’ (see Jn. 20.1-2) is identified as the one whom Jesus loves, which then allows him to be called ‘the other disciple’ in the rest of this segment of the story, but at 21.2 we return once more to his main designation—the one whom Jesus loved=Lazarus. All of this makes good sense if Jn, 11-21 is read or heard in the sequence we now find it. 5) of course the old problem of the fact that the Synoptics say all the Twelve deserted Jesus once he was taken away for execution, even Peter, and record only women being at the cross, is not contradicted by the account in Jn. 19 if in fact the Beloved Disciple, while clearly enough from Jn. 19.26 a man (– called Mary’s ‘son’, and so not Mary Magdalene!) is Lazarus rather than one of the Twelve. 6) There is the further point that if indeed the Beloved Disciple took Mary into his own home, then we know where the BD got the story of the wedding feast at Cana—he got it from Mary herself. I could continue mounting up small particulars of the text which are best explained by the theory of Lazarus being the BD but this must suffice. I want to deal with some larger issues in regard to this Gospel that are explained by this theory, in particular its appendix in Jn. 21 But one more conjecture is in order here.

Scholars of course have often noted how the account of the anointing of Jesus in Bethany as recorded in Mk. 14.3-11 differs from the account in Jn. 12.1-11, while still likely being the same story or tradition. Perhaps the most salient difference is that Mark tells us that the event happens in the home of Simon the Leper in Bethany, while Jn. 12 indicates it happens in the house of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany. Suppose for a moment however that Simon the Leper was in fact the father of these three siblings. Suppose that Lazarus himself, like his father, had also contracted the dread disease and succumbed to it (and by the way we now know for sure that the deadly form of Hanson’s disease did exist in the first century A.D.). Now this might well explain why it is that none of these three siblings seem to be married. Few have remarked about the oddness of this trio of adults not having families of their own, but rather still living together, but it is not at all odd if the family was plagued by a dread disease that made them unclean on an ongoing or regular basis. It also explains why these folks never travel with Jesus’ other disciples and they never get near this family until that fateful day recorded in Jn. 11 when Jesus raised and healed Lazarus. Jesus of course was not put off by the disease and so had visited the home previously alone (Lk. 10.38-42). But other early Jews would certainly not have engaged in betrothal contracts with this family if it was known to be a carrier of leprosy.

IV How seeing that eyewitness as Lazarus himself explains both the ending of the Gospel and its character

Most scholars are in agreement that John 21 makes clear that while the Beloved Disciple is said to have written down some Gospel traditions, he is no longer alive when at least the end of this chapter was written. The “we know his testimony is true” is a dead give away that someone or someones other than the Beloved Disciple put this Gospel into its final form and added this appendix, or at a minimum the story about the demise of the Beloved Disciple and the conclusion of the appendix. This line of reasoning I find compelling. And it also explains something else. We may envision that whoever put the memoirs of the Beloved Disciple together is probably the one who insisted on calling him that. In other words, the Beloved Disciple is called such by his community perhaps and by his final editor certainly, and this is not a self designation, indeed was unlikely to be a self-designation in a religious subculture where humility and following the self-sacrificial, self-effacing example of Jesus was being inculcated. This then explains one of the salient differences between 2-3 John and the Gospel of John. The author of those little letters calls himself either the ‘elder’ or ‘the old man’ depending on how you want to render presbyteros. He nowhere calls himself the Beloved Disciple, not even in the sermon we call 1 John where he claims to have personally seen and touched the Word of Life, which in my view means he saw and touched Jesus. We must conjure then with at least two persons responsible for the final form of the Fourth Gospel while only one is necessary to explain the epiphenomena of the Johannine Epistles. This brings us to the story itself in John 21.20-24.

Why is the final editor of this material in such angst about denying that Jesus predicted that the Beloved Disciple would live until Jesus returned? Is it because there had been a tradition in the BD’s church that he would, and if so, what generated such a tradition? Not, apparently the BD himself. But now he has passed away and this has caused anxiety among the faithful about what was the case with the BD and what Jesus had actually said about his future in A.D. 30. I would suggest that no solution better explains all the interesting factors in play here than the suggestion that the Beloved Disciple was someone that Jesus had raised from the dead, and so quite naturally there arose a belief that surely he would not die again, before Jesus returned. Such a line of thought makes perfectly good sense if the Beloved Disciple had already died once and the second coming was still something eagerly anticipated when he died. Thus I submit that the theory that Lazarus was the Beloved Disciple and the author of most of the traditions in this Gospel is a theory which best clears up the conundrum of the end of the Appendix written after his death.

And finally there is one more thing to say. It is of course true that the Fourth Gospel takes its own approach to presenting Jesus and the Gospel tradition. I am still unconvinced by the attempts of Lincoln and others to suggest that the author drew on earlier Gospels, particularly Mark. I think he may have known of such Gospels, may even have read Mark, but is certainly not depend on the Synoptic material for his own Gospel. Rather he takes his own line of approach and has an abundance of information which he is unable to include in his Gospel, including much non-Synoptic material (see John 20.30 and 21.25) because of the constraints of writing all this down on one papyrus. He did not need to boil up his Gospel based on fragments and snippets from the Synoptics. On the contrary, he had to be constantly condensing his material, as is so often the case with an eyewitness account that is rich in detail and substance. But it is not enough to say that the author was an eyewitness to explain its independence and differences from the earlier Synoptic Gospels. There are other factors as well.

As I pointed out over a decade ago, this Gospel is written in a way that reflects an attempt to present the Jesus tradition in the light of the Jewish sapiential material (see my John’s Wisdom ). Jesus is presented as God’s Wisdom come in the flesh in this Gospel, serving up discourses like those of Wisdom in earlier Jewish Wisdom literature, rather than offering aphorisms and parables as in the Synoptics. I have suggested that this reflected Jesus’ in house modus operandi for his private teaching with his own inner circle of disciples. We need not choose between the public form of wisdom discourse found in the Synoptics (i.e. parables and aphorisms) and the private form of discourse (see e.g. Jn. 14-17) in John when trying to decide which went back to the historical Jesus— both did, but they had different Sitz im Lebens and different functions. But I have concluded even this line of thinking is insufficient to explain the differences from the Synoptics we find in the Fourth Gospel. There is one more factor in play.

Our author, the Beloved Disciple, had been raised not merely from death’s door, but from being well and truly dead— by Jesus! This was bound to change his worldview, and did so. It became quite impossible for our author to draw up a veiled messiah portrait of Jesus like we find in Mark. No, our author wanted and needed to shout from the mountain tops that Jesus was the resurrection, not merely that he performed resurrections, that he was what E. Kasemann once said about the presentation of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel—he was a God bestriding the stage of history. Just so, and our author pulls no punches in making that clear in various ways in this Gospel, especially by demonstrating that everything previously said to come only from God, or the mind and plan of God known as God’s Wisdom is now said of and said to come from Jesus. He is the incarnation of the great I Am.

The Beloved Disciple would not have been best pleased with modern minimialist portraits of the historical Jesus. He had had a personal and profound encounter of the first order with both the historical Jesus and the risen Jesus and knew that they were one and the same. This was bound to change his world view. It is no accident that the book of Signs in the Fourth Gospel climaxes with the story of Lazarus’s own transformation, just as the Book of Glory climaxes with the transformation of Jesus himself. Lazarus had become what he admired, had been made, to a lesser degree, like Jesus. And he would have nothing to do with mincing words about his risen savior and Lord. Rather he would walk through the door of bold proclamation, even to the point perhaps of adding the Logos hymn at the beginning of this Gospel. This was the Jesus he had known and touched and supped with before and after Easter, and he could proclaim no lesser Jesus.

This then leads us to the last bit of the puzzle that can now be solved. How did this Gospel come to be named according to John? My answer is a simple one—it is because John of Patmos was the final editor of this Gospel after the death of Lazarus. Once Domitian died, John returned to Ephesus and lived out his days. One of the things he did was edit and promulgate the Fourth Gospel on behalf of the Beloved Disciple. Somewhere very near the end of John’s own life, Papias had contact with this elderly John. It is not surprising, since this contact seems to be brief, that Papias learned correctly that this John was not the Zebedee John and that this elderly John had something to do with the production of the Fourth Gospel. This I think neatly explains all of the various factors involved in our conundrum. It may even have been Papias who was responsible for the wider circulation of this Gospel with a tag ‘according to John’. It is not surprising that Irenaeus, swatting buzzing Gnostics like flies, would later conclude that the Fourth Gospel must be by an apostle or one of the Twelve.

If I am right about all this it means that the historical figure of Lazarus is more important than we have previously imagined, both due to his role in founding churches in and round Ephesus and of course his role in the life of Jesus and Jesus’ mother. Jesus must have trusted him implicitly to hand over his mother to him when he died. Lazarus was far more than one more recipient of a miraculous healing by Jesus. He was “the one whom Jesus loved” as the very first reference to him in John 11 says. We have yet to take the measure of the man. Hopefully now, we can begin to do so.

Posted by Ben Witherington at 6:38 AM

59 thoughts on “Witherington Let’s Lazarus Come Out

  1. The real insight that comes with investigating the biblical evidence on “the disciple whom Jesus loved” is that it shows how easily we can be led to twist the Bible to fit the traditions of men — because one has to contradict facts in the plain text of scripture in order to believe that John was this disciple.

    TheDiscipleWhomJesusLoved.com has a free eBook that just compares scripture with scripture in order to highlight Bible facts that are often overlooked about the “other disciple, whom Jesus loved”. Those who are open to biblical correction may want to weigh the testimony of scripture that it cites regarding the one whom “Jesus loved” and may find it to be helpful as it encourages bible students to heed the admonition “prove all things”.

    There is a saying that people have to take off their own shoes before they can take a walk in someone else’s moccasins, and similarly, when it comes to cases of The Bible vs. Tradition, one must let go of the unbiblical traditions of men in order be corrected by the truth that is demanded by the plain sight in the text of scripture.

  2. Excellent post John and great find Specks, where do you find this stuff???

    I’ve read through that ebook and I’m now a “believer”
    Like the author, I can’t believe I took no notice of such things before.

    PS – Specks and others, please forgive me for earlier tactless remarks. If anyone is “full of sh*t”, it’s probably me.

  3. “Excellent post John and great find Specks, where do you find this stuff???”

    Once you step out of the charismatic circus, it becomes ones hunger to find truth and good resources. It’s taken some time, but after talking to people, checking out other churches, inquiring to ministers and people who see the bible or church life differently, you start to know where to tap in.

    I’ve been following Witherington’s blog for a few years now. I’ve had this in my favourites and re-read this a month ago. Since Heretic put me onto James Thwaites material, (Church Beyond… & Renegotiating the Church…) I’ve also developed an interest in understanding Jew’s and Jewish Christian’s understanding of the OT, the New Testament gospel and writings.

    Due to liberal theology also attacking some of the historical proofs of Christianity, I’ve also realised how often Pentecostal Christian’s have distorted or tampered with historical evidence to get them famous. Finding resources on historical Christianity have been much harder, but I have enjoyed examining the historical evidences of the bible.

    As I’ve said while I was receiving these articles about C3, my exploration into other denominations and how they are doing things are worth posting up in due times. Some Lutheran ministers writings are very challenging and well thought out as well.

    I am also aware of some serious issues on the Anglican church which I may be posting up once I further hear the courts are finally done with the issue. (Sorry Teddy!)

    I am now also aware of the current state of the Uniting Church as well in Sydney and have been observing how they are looking at how they are examining new ways to do church and embrace community.

    I will start posting ‘more emerging and less emergency’ articles up soon. 😉

  4. “Specks and others, please forgive me for earlier tactless remarks. If anyone is “full of sh*t”, it’s probably me.”

    We are all raw and real on Signposts02 and Groupsects. I laughed at your offensive comments towards me. I love your bluntness. I love what you say and what you contribute to these blogs. I hold nothing against you. Let Blah-Blah be Blah-Blah is all I say. I think it’s good that you’ve examined your online behaviour though. Thanks for doing that.

    I would like to encourage you though to refrain from personally offending first time bloggers on Signposts02 or Groupsects. If people stumble upon our forums, at least they might hang around enough to hear another side to Christianity. I am a sucker for testimonies. So I love seeing people give their stories, see them change, grow and mature. I like watching people see in new ways they never thought possible.

    A poisonous sting or double-edged doozy may have them want nothing to do with Signposts02 and may have viewers retreat back into their churches. I like encouraging people to search for truth. For once I’d like to show my RavingPente side. 🙂

  5. Another article that was linke don Witherington’s page:

    Lazarus and the Fourth Gospel: Part Two
    Posted on July 6, 2008 by paulglavic| 1 Comment

    As a follow-up to my Lazarus post, I wanted to also mention Witherington’s What Have They Done With Jesus? as an even more complete resource for the BD=Lazarus case.

    Also, one pro-Lazarus item that I didn’t see in Witherington’s coverage of the topic (that’s not to say it isn’t there; I could’ve overlooked it) but was one of the points in Dr. Steve Hunt’s lectures (as well as a paper I listened to him present for the Society of Biblical Literature) which sold me on Lazarus is the role of the sudarion in John 20.3-9:

    So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

    (John 20.3-9 NIV)

    Notice the role of the sudarion (the head-covering) in the Beloved Disciple’s reaction to the tomb. The text goes out of its way to identify the head-covering apart from the rest of the linens. Peter goes into the tomb, sees the sudarion, but nothing registers. The BD walks into the tomb and immediately believes. I’m convinced that is because of the BD’s own experience with the sudarion; seeing that thing all over again sealed the deal for him.

    Quick flashback:

    Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. ”Take away the stone,” he said.
    ”But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

    So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

    When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
    Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

    (John 11.38-44 NIV)

    Okay, so this has the makings of a good story, doesn’t it? All of the literary connections are there; they’re obvious. The resurrection of Lazarus in John 11 is the climactic point of this book. Why? Because Jesus has revealed himself as the Resurrection and the Life. The layout of the Fourth Gospel is all about Jesus revealing himself through signs and wonders – as Torah, as water, as light. But the pinnacle of those revelations – or maybe it would be better to call it the culmination of those revelations – is when Jesus reveals himself as the Resurrection and the defeat of death. Here in this Judean gospel, he does just that.

    This is a big-time moment in the biblical narrative.

    As for Lazarus? I’m going out on a limb and guessing that this whole personal experience of death and resurrection was a pretty big deal for the guy. Try dying, only to “wake up” to your close friend Jesus beside you and your family and entire community are huddled around. On top of everything else, you’re all wrapped up – like a dead person! Imagine waking up like that. It goes without saying that this is the most dramatic moment Lazarus has had to deal with. I am betting that Lazarus had images and sounds and scents from that day that stuck with him forever. And one of those memories would have been being released from his dead guy outfit.

    Fast forward to John 20 and the empty tomb. Peter and “the other disciple” (to whom Mary Magdalene would have been running) approach the tomb. Both of these guys see the linen cloths. Peter keeps heading into the grave. But this other disciple… this beloved disciple… Lazarus – well he stays put for a minute, in what I think is a “Could it be that…” moment.

    The stone moved from the grave. The scent of death. This guy has been here before.

    Lazarus steps into the grave, inside of which is a confused Peter and a sudarion, the head-covering used for burials. The garment Lazarus himself had worn just a short time ago. At this point I believed it clicked. The connection was made. The “other disciple” was able to believe in a Jesus who resurrects because he, Lazarus, had personally experienced that resurrection.

  6. These days Wikipedia believe it or not is a good first place to look. The articles usually have a basic outline of the different viewpoints as to authorship.

    I’d like to mention that if you do Biblical Studies in a seminary, or in a secular University you will be exposed to the MANY different ideas. And believe me there are many different theories.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia which I have mentioned before is a great resource. They usually outline the opposing views, but then give a thorough defense of their traditional positions on everything from who wrote Ephesians to whether Joseph and Mary had other children. I highly recommend it if you like serious study.

    All of the writings of the Apostolic and Church Fathers are also available online. Great reading even if you just have a passing interest in the spiritual life of early Christian leaders. Not much “awesome” and chk chk boom in them though.

    My own personal opinion is that this article above doesn’t interest me much. People 2000 years after the events surmising that this man wouldn’t have or couldn’t have authored something on the basis that he usually didn’t use these words, or grammar, or talk about this subject matter doesn’t wash with me. Scholars make subjective judgements on what Paul or John or Jesus “really was like”.
    In the end they don’t know. I got tired of hearing professors saying that Jesus would have said this in verse 6 but over there in verse 10 it’s obviously just a reflection of the later developed theology of the community, and Jesus wouldn’t have said that.
    In the end they don’t know. But I trust the consensus of opinion of the times and the immediate centuries rather than the surmising of contemporary sleuths.

  7. Some of the comments on Witherington’s article are fantastic!

    wgshuster said…
    Has anyone mentioned the book, “Lazarus and the Fourth Gospel Community” by Frederick W. Baltz. (Mellen Biblical Press: 1996). It presents the same thesis–that Lazarus was the Beloved Disciple–but goes a step further in identifying Lazarus (Greek for Eleazar) with the former High Priest Eleazar (4 BC to 6 AD), son of Boethus, who, like Lazarus, had two sisters, named Miriam and Martha (with whom he identifies Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha). Is his a reasonable hypothesis?

    davek said…
    My teacher in New Testament history, who is also a proponent of the “Lazarus as the Beloved Disciple” theory brought up an interesting speculation. If Lazarus was the BD, perhaps this explains why he didn’tenter the tomb in John 20:5. He would perhaps be reluctant to enter a tomb again, after his resurrection.

    I still have a lot of questions. I’m still thinking about this.

  8. Other people on Witherington’s blog have suggested that Nethanael or James was also the BD. Very interesting discussion.

  9. “Not much “awesome” and chk chk boom in them though.”

    I met chk chk boom the other day churchman! 😀

    I do love reading the Online Catholic resources.
    I only go to Wikipedia these days to look at their references. Their references are quite good sites.

  10. Really interesting article Specks. Thanks for posting.

    I am a little concerned at this statement however from the poster John- “it shows how easily we can be led to twist the Bible to fit the traditions of men — because one has to contradict facts in the plain text of scripture in order to believe that John was this disciple.”

    I don’t get how naming John as the author is “twisting the bible to fit the traditions of men”. So what if the authorship is attributed to someone else? There is some good evidence to say that John was the author, and this compelling evidence shows that perhaps Lazarus, or another was. So what? It’s still the truth, no matter if John, Lazarus, Paul, Mary or Oprah wrote it. I think some people just need to take a chill pill.

    Interested to see the linking to this blog by “Private Investigator”. A veiled threat perhaps?

  11. ” I’ve also developed an interest in understanding Jew’s and Jewish Christian’s understanding of the OT, the New Testament gospel and writings.”

    That’s an awesome undertaking specks. It is incredible how the Word becomes so much clearer when viewed from the Jewish mindset rather than our western ones. Let me encourage you to look at the usage of figures of speech in the bible too. It will blow your mind!

  12. I dont really get the current fashion for the “Jewish mindset”. Christianity has been influenced by both Hebrew and Greek/Roman traditions. The Gospel of John for instance is very Hellenistic in its conceptions.

    I think textual analysis and modern biblical scholarship (by modern I mean since the late 1800s) has shown pretty conclusively that John’s gospel was written a long time after the other three, and relied principally on Mark’s gospel and other source documents that were used in the other two. It’s not an eye-witness account, it is a theological and philisophical development of the ideas that were initiated in the other gospels – for a largely Greek audience. It cant have been written by John, Lazarus, Mary Magdelene or any of the disciples.

  13. Wazza, I can’t speak for everyone here, but the ‘Jewish mindset’ to me, when associated with Thwaites work (which Specks referred to), is talking about the ‘Hebrew worldview’. The big deal is that the Hebrew view didn’t divide the world up the way Plato did (the ‘Greek world view’). Plato divided it effectively into secular and sacred; a world where the perfect was in heaven, above us, ideal and unachievable, dividing physical things off from spiritual things. Whereas the Hebrew view saw no division – as physical beings in a physical world we also move in the spiritual world, which is here, around us, not in some ideal, unattainable atmosphere. (Atmosphere is important, actually.) Its kind of about God being here and now, close by and relevant, rather than distant, cut off, and only accessible if one has achieved some standard of perfection somehow. That’s my take on it anyway.

    There is no doubt Greek thought has influenced Christianity though.

  14. I get all that, but I find it all applied very simplistically (at least in the common discourse).

    It is not simply a matter of Greek world view (bad), Hebrew worldview (better). That in itself is an example of a ‘Greek worldview’.

    The Gospel of John was for a long time thought to be influenced by Greek thought because of all the divisions it talks about (light/dark etc). Then when the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered they saw that the Essenes used much of the same language (and they were presumably of the Hebrew worldview).

    It is not a simple dichotomy of Greek/Hebrew thought.

  15. Agree with RP. Plus Jesus came “in the fullness of time”. In other words when the mind-set of the Hebrews was ready to receive.

    The Hebrew world-view did not just happen. It was crafted by God over centuries with promises to Abraham, the wilderness, the promised land, the law et al. I think it is very important.

    Platonic thought – I think – was Satan’s attempt to subvert God’s crafting. Interestingly the eastern counterpart from the Buddha guy came at almost the same time.

    Re simplistic application I think it is the Greek thought we should be highlighting.

    Plato said the real work was the perfect one and this world was not real at all but a bad copy (similar to Buddha’s sayings). He claimed access to the perfection as the proposed “philosopher king”.

    Similarly our mega-churches claim that they have arrived. They own/have the blessing. They have the “apostle”, they have the place that God is. They are not like the other “dead” churches. In other words they have the real thing and we have to go to them to get it.

    But the good news is that the kingdom of heaven is not somewhere else. Not in some remote dimension we cannot attain. It is in us – in the creation.

  16. Actually I quite agree about it being applied simplistically. I first heard about it 30 years ago at the Bethel bible study and sophistication level was Greeks ask how, Hebrews ask why. This was a little bit helpful perhaps but not much.

    Thwaites’ books (and his person – he is at Manly Village Church in Sydney and he is excellent to listen to) are much more detailed about how to apply Hebrew thinking than that 🙂

  17. Sorry guys, my comment was probably a little too dismissive. I studied theology with people who didn’t believe in heaven, miracles, resurrections, you name it. And they were open to the idea that maybe we should read the New Testament assuming that instead of Paul and the author of the Johanine Epistles being right and correcting the heretics in their writings, that in fact the heretics were orthodox (or right) and the writers of the NT were the bad guys. How’s that for a different perspective?

    Specks, you met the chk chk boom girl?

    Are you one of her “fully sick mates” now?

  18. TVD: “Let me encourage you to look at the usage of figures of speech in the bible too. It will blow your mind!”

    I’m trying to find a book that some people in C3 are promoting called ‘The Source’. I want to see if it’s a good book before blindly buying. It apparently looks at the Greek phrases of the New Testament and examines those sayings or phrasings in their cultural context.

    One example that Jesus may have used was the camel going through the eye of a needle. Any news on that?

  19. Churchman: “Specks, you met the chk chk boom girl? Are you one of her “fully sick mates” now?”

    😀 Fully bro! Fully!

  20. TVDude

    RE: “There is some good evidence to say that John was the author”

    Not unless one thinks parroting the opinions of men found in non-Bible sources is “evidence” (the blind following the blind method).

    Pr. 30:5-6 and numerous other verses warn against putting the authority of God’s word in subjection to non-Bible sources, as is always done by those who promote the man-made John tradition. While it may be impressive to some to spend time quoting endless non-Bible sources which say that John was “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, what happens if one subjects that claim to biblical scrutiny, will it hold up? No it will not because two things are true:

    1: There is not a single verse of scripture that would justify promoting the idea that the unnamed “disciple whom Jesus loved” was the Apostle John, nor any other John. No such verse exists, which is why no such verse is ever cited by those who make such claims when they put forth the unbiblical John tradition (and instead, when pressed for facts they quote this-or-that non-Bible source as a stand-in for trusting what the Bible actually says on this issue).

    2: The facts in the plain text of scripture can prove that WHOEVER the unnamed “other disciple, whom Jesus loved” was he could not have been John – because that idea forces the Bible to contradict itself, which the Bible cannot do if it is true.

    Like it or not, scripture proves that EVERY non-Bible source that has identified “other disciple, whom Jesus loved” as John is in error.

  21. There is a theory that John and Lazarus are the same person and the beloved disciple, and that John/Lazarus and Jesus were gay lovers.

    Another theory is that Mary Magdalene was the beloved disciple and that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married.

    I don’t think either theory is correct.

  22. Well, it does say that the beloved disciple was reclining next to Him and leaned back against Him.

    But no, I dont think the theory is correct either. In our culture that kind of behaviour would indicate an intimate relationship, but its very unlikely that it would have been the case in the culture of the day.

  23. Specks, check this site out


    It’s just a snapshot of the kinds of things in his book, but will give you a bit of an idea of what his book contains.

    “not unless one thinks parroting the opinions of men found in non-Bible sources is “evidence” (the blind following the blind method).”

    John, chill. Your theories are interesting and deserve further study. But you do yourself a great disservice by disparaging those who hold the opposite views to yours. As I said in my OP, what does it matter if it was John or Lazarus?

  24. “Not unless one thinks parroting the opinions of men found in non-Bible sources is “evidence” “.

    I think what TVDude is referring to is 18 centuries of thought. And it’s not about doctrine, it’s about who wrote a book. All the evidence from the very first centuries of the church clearly show that the church always considered John the Author. Those who disagree have to come up with darn good evidence to support their case. And like I said before, talking about why a person couldn’t have or wouldn’t have included things isn’t good enough.

    Parroting the opinions of non-biblical sources doesn’t make something true, but I would rather quote them (if that’s what you mean by “parrot”, than non-biblical sources 2000 years later.

    Are you aware of the “non-biblical sources”? Do you know who these people were?

    TVDude says “As I said in my OP, what does it matter if it was John or Lazarus?”

    In a sense no, but Apostolic authority means a lot to me. But I agree with you in the sense that I believe there should be more reading of the text. Some people like coming up with new theories more than reading the text.

    Gee with a name like Churchman, I really am coming across like a traditionalist.

    But I will say, that before some of you read the latest theories, it’s good to read and understand the position of the traditional view.

  25. Teddy, Teddy, Teddy. That was a great link. Much more interesting than speculating about John vs Lazurus.

    And the moral of the story? Wives need to get busy with that for which God has created them…..!

    I’ll throw in something even worse for the Pentecostals here. Do you all realize that the man who many Pentecostals revere – William Branham (early faith healer and supposedly the greatest prophet ever – Benny Hinn, Todd Bentley all speak well of him) taught that Abel was Adam’s child, but Eve conceived Cain with the serpent (before he became a snake and crawled around).
    And humanity now is divided between Adam’s seed who become believers , and the serpent’s seed who don’t.

    Just thought I’d throw that in there to show that there are any number of weird theories. (And to show how crazy some of the Pentecostal heroes were).

    Sorry for getting sidetracked, but it’s all Teddy’s fault!

  26. Actually, for what it’s worth there are still Branhamites around.
    And like I said, people like Todd Bentley get mileage by claiming to have the same healing mantle.

  27. Heretic : “Platonic thought – I think – was Satan’s attempt to subvert God’s crafting”

    You say that like its a bad thing. Actually, this might be a bit of a controversial view but many people run down Satan. Honestly you’d think he was Brian Houston or something they way they go on about him.

    The Hebrew conception of Satan was of someone who was a tester, a “devil’s advocate”, someone who put people through trials. As in the book of Job. In some sense that role is needed for God’s purposes to be achieved.

  28. John the Apostle wrote the Gospel, the book of Revelation and the 3 letters.

    The real question is “why bother writing another Gospel?”

    Mark and Luke are written for unbelievers, Matthew and John are for Believers.

    Matthew was written for immature believers, John was written for mature believers. It’s the worst Gospel to give to an unbeliever.

    Matthew ties Jesus to the Jewish people. Luke ties Jesus to the Human Race and John ties Jesus to all of creation … as it’s author.

    John contains a huge amount of stuff not found in the other Gospels. It records private conversations between Jesus and others, that are not found anywhere else and indeed spectacular miracles not recorded anywhere else.

    If John didn’t write this gospel, and indeed written long after the last of the Apostles died, then not only is the individual gospel a lie, but the Bible loses all credibility to the extent that personal belief loses all credibility.

    The whole Bible is true, or none of it is. Higher Criticism has demolished belief in the Bible … and therefore, belief in Jesus.

    Anyone who promotes the idea that John did not write the Gospel should be thrown out of the Church … or form his own religion … just don’t call it Christianity.

    Coffee time.

  29. Wazza

    The Hebrew conception of Satan was of someone who was a tester, a “devil’s advocate”, someone who put people through trials. As in the book of Job. In some sense that role is needed for God’s purposes to be achieved.

    And for every bit of ying you need a little yang eh Waz?

  30. Churchman,

    Re: “before some of you read the latest theories, it’s good to read and understand the position of the traditional view”

    Ps. 118:8 and many other verses indicate that it is better to read and understand God’s word. And, since the proof that “the disciple whom Jesus loved” was not John comes from the plain text of scripture, one need not read any “theory”. Rather, all they need to do is to “prove all things” by the facts that we find in the biblical record because the man-made John tradition cannot stand up to biblical scrutiny.

    If one is looking for biblical truth the better “first place to look” would be to the plain text of scripture, instead of turning to the blended-thoughts of wikipedia editors for biblical guidance.

    Scripture makes it clear that being faithful in the little thing is the key to being faithful in the big things. So, what would this suggest about a person who would assert that they will be faithful to God’s word when it comes to “doctrine” if that same person would knowingly promote an idea as if it was biblical even after they discovered that they could not cite a single verse that would justify teaching that idea? Would it not be the case that scripture indicates that such a person would be deceiving themselves?

    The fact that something can be called a “tradition” says NOTHING about the truthfulness or error of that “tradition”, and the words of Jesus to those who were “making the word of God of none effect” through their “tradition” establishes that fact without question. Since a “tradition” can make the word of God of no effect, then just the fact that an idea is called a “tradition” cannot mean that the idea is biblical.

    So, when we find someone defending a tradition by noting that it is a tradition (i.e., has been around a long time, is believed by religious leaders, etc.) that is a red flag. For, when it comes to biblical matters, if there was biblical evidence for the idea, then it is obvious that they would quote the scripture on the matter and rest on the authority of God’s word.

    But what happens all too often is non-Bible sources (i.e., “tradition”) are substituted for scripture when there is no biblical evidence to justify teaching an idea, in order to sell an idea AS IF that idea is biblical. But substituting non-Bible sources for the authority of God’s word is never a good practice.

    For example, Christians believe that Jesus is the son of God because that is what the word of God says. Who would ignore what the primary source (the Bible) says on the matter and instead say that they believe that Jesus is the son of God because that is what Irenaeus or someone else believed?

    But I’ll leave it with that except to note that no one has ever cited a single verse to justify the belief that “the disciple whom Jesus loved” was John.

  31. Hey RP. That whole serpent seed doctrine I think, is somewhat taken from the superstition of Lilith, Adam’s first non-human wife.

    She is considered a demon that kills women and infants in childbirth by ancient Europe. You might be interested in reading that too. I think that story sprung up from emerging Babylon mythological literature, goddess serpent (‘chaos monster’ similar to dragon Rahab spoken of in the bible causing the chaos) emerging from or as the embodiment of primordial chaos.

    I’m pretty sure they also linked Lilith with the offspring of Cain.

  32. Wazza: “Well Specks, it looks like you and me are out. What do you want to call the new religion?”

    While I do find this challenging, I’m surprised no one’s shocked with a praised NT scholar like Witherington to spread such a view. He either seriously knows what he is talking about or he doesn’t.

    Name for new religion: ‘The Last To Rise?’ I’ll get the worship song slides for ‘You Raise Me Up’.

  33. Agreed John.

    Nothing really in Bull’s post except stated opinions of his own mind/indoctrination etc – nothing concrete or that suggests we look closer at what he is saying.

    As for TVdude’s supposition that it wouldn’t matter if Oprah wrote it?
    Well, can’t say I’m surprised to hear that from an ex-CCC practicing minister. In-fact, it’s about bang on the money. Next he’ll be saying Eckhart Tolle is one of the 2 witnesses of revelation.

  34. John, You don’t have a definitive verse in the “Word of God” that says that Lazurus was the disciple whom Jesus loved. You don’t.
    You have a lot of theories.

    It’s got nothing to do with Wikipedia. All you have is a theory.
    And tradition does count if when we talk about it we mean the church leaders of the 2nd century.

    But, it doesn’t really matter to me if you so desperately need to believe in the Lazarus idea. It won’t be the last theory to arise.

    But the onus is on you to come up with overwhelming proof.
    You haven’t convinced the majority of scholars yet. Keep trying.

  35. Not a happy chappy are you blah-blah. Are you usually prone to these kinds of irrational outbursts, or are you just restricting it to this blog?

  36. So … does Revelation refer to a future series of events or was it all AD70-ish?

    Was it the Apostle John who wrote it or some other John?

    Shall we start throwing doubt on the rest of the Bible?

    It’s pride again … “look how naive these fundamentalists are who still accept the ‘traditional’ authorship of the gospels and letters …”

    No wonder there is no passion for Jesus left. No wonder that churches have become wastelands. No wonder that intellectual pride has suffocated newly born-agains at birth!

    I am sick to death of biblical illiteracy dressed up as biblical literacy. No wonder Pentecostalism dismissed serious bible study and got swept up by every wind of doctrine. It is no coincidence that they did that at the same time as Higher Criticism crushed the church from the other direction.

    Believe in God? Great.
    Don’t believe the Bible is true about itself? What kind of God, what Kind of Jesus do you believe in? Where is the authority for what you believe?

    It is essentially the same lie promoted by Islam. “The Bible is corrupted and so needed to be restated to the Prophet and that’s why we have the Koran.”

    But, it doesn’t really matter what I say does it? I am merely indoctrinated. I am merely a closed minded religious bigot. Well let the Bible be right and every man a liar.

    I’ve had a gut-full of bullshit.

    Time for me to take a break from this.

  37. “So … does Revelation refer to a future series of events or was it all AD70-ish?”

    Nothing wrong with asking that question as long as you accept the possibility that others might answer it differently to yourself. Who said it referred to future events? Its a particular literary style (apocalyptic) are we familiar with other examples of this type of literature? Should it be taken as literally true, or is it a vision that is given in symbolic language? Do the visions foretell future events or are they commenting on current events (AD 70)?

    I dont care if you answer these questions differently to me, just that you question whether I believe in the same God if I answer them differently to you.

    Do we take everything literally? What about “if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out?” Seems pretty straight-forward, no room for interpretation there. What? still got two eyes? You are either much more pure than me, or you have interpreted this passage allegorically.

  38. Chill Bull.

    My comment was merely suggesting that you’d not added anything logical per say to counter the argument that Lazarus is the author of the 4th gospel.
    You simply restated your own beliefs but added nothing to convince myself or John that your belief was correct.
    I don’t believe John suggested that Revelation wasn’t penned by the apostle John, merely the 4th gospel.

    TVdude – I see you have a handle on subtle character-assassination? You suggest that I am emotionally unstable. Obviously, such a trait is necessary for a senior minister role?

    Your earlier post re “what does is matter” (in regards to 4th gospel authorship) to me is rather eye-opening.

    I would have thought that a revelation of true authorship is important? Have you or your wife written any books TVdude? I wonder if you’d have the same casual “who gives a sh*t” attitude if it was a matter of copyright / plagiarism where that is concerned?

    Probably not? Double-standards and hypocrisy… yuck.

  39. Maybe we all need to take chill pills.

    Blah-blah and John, I haven’t read the whole ebook.
    I do think it’s an interesting proposition, and that people have put a lot of thought into it. And no, I don’t think that tradition is always right, and I think it’s okay to question the opinions of the Church Fathers (and whether or not they really were their opinions).

    I don’t think it’s heresy or wrong to question biblical authorship at all. And I agree with you that it does make a difference who the author is. (It did to the people who decided what exactly our bible would look like).

    Bible scholars, from conservatives to moderates, to those way out in left field all discuss authorship issues and the there are so many theories – many of which are beyond the layman’s ability to follow – esp when you get into the various usages of Greek Grammar.

    So if I don’t agree with you, I’m not attacking. I am not a great defender of tradition – but I don’t discount it, and once again, think that if the early church (make that VERY, VERY early church) held to something, I would need a great deal of evidence to say that they were wrong.

    Like I said, there is no conclusive proof that Lazarus was the author of John, or the disciple whom Jesus loved. Until there is, you have a theory, and as such, I think you need to go easy on those who are not convinced. Like I said, it’s an really interesting idea, and even if I haven’t been convinced yet, it does make me rethink Lazarus and how special he must have been.

    And you got me reading Polycarp again. So thanks.

  40. I also understand completely where Bull is coming from. There have been many sincere young Christians who ended up shipwrecked when they encountered high level biblical studies for the first time. It’s often a matter of luck as to which professor you study under. Mine was a German who studied at Tubingen, so you can imagine what that was like for a young Pentecostal.

    Ironically, I ended up with a great love of finding the truth – whether or not it would shatter everything and make me start again. But it also, made me realize that there is a lot that is impossible to know.

    One thing I do know. “Knowledge puffeth up”, and it’s sad that a bible question can cause people to beat each other up.

    At least MMA fighters hug after the fights.

  41. “You suggest that I am emotionally unstable. Obviously, such a trait is necessary for a senior minister role?”

    I suggest that your hatred of anyone who doesn’t share your opinion causes you to say things that are irrational. And your wildly accusatory stance on anything to do with church leadership just proves to me that you haven’t moved on. Your mental state doesn’t come into play here.

    “Have you or your wife written any books TVdude? I wonder if you’d have the same casual “who gives a sh*t” attitude if it was a matter of copyright / plagiarism where that is concerned?”

    Funny you should ask. My wife’s fourth book arrives from the publishers next Monday, and my first is in it’s final stages of editing. Laying aside that copyright didn’t exist back in John’s day, and that it was a common occurrence to use other people’s writings without acknowledgement, my entire point, which you seem to have missed because of your desperate search for offence was that it doesn’t matter if John wrote it or if Lazarus wrote it – it was still an eyewitness account and the early church deemed it sacred and worthy of inclusion in the gospels.

    Blah-blah, I really feel for you that you have been hurt by church leadership in the past, but it wasn’t me who did it to you, and it wasn’t the next pastor who comes on here to offer comment. Deal with your issues,. Don’t come on here and blame me for them.

  42. Bull: “So … does Revelation refer to a future series of events or was it all AD70-ish?”

    Such an interesting and timely question. I shall be doing a post on this and the book of Daniel shortly. A friend’s been challenging me on some confronting issues on these books.

  43. Cheap tricks again TVdude.

    Who says I am harboring “hatred”? That is grotesquely strong language is it not?

    And why do you mitigate the myth that I have been “hurt by church leadership”
    How on earth would you know if I had been or not? I could be an atheist for all you know? I am not personally acquainted with any pastoral know-it-all’s so how could you assess such a thing?

    My goodness, the innuendo from a so-called minister is overwhelming – and all because I don’t pucker up to you? I really do believe that the reason you find me offensive is because you are too used to the cotton-candy “church world” that you inhabit which is devoid of rigorous debate and critical thinking.

    You are so used to being swept up in a time of “amens” that someone like me must be anathema to you and in your mind, clearly has issues of “hatred” to deal with.

    I had a sneaking suspicion that you’d written a book TVdude and again, your summary of the fact that copyright didn’t exist in the ancient world is totally beside the point. You just don’t get it so I’ll not harass the point.

  44. Are you charging people for your books TVdude?
    Or are you “freely giving” as saith the scriptures?

    I’ll wager you’re charging for them and I have an issue with that however, I understand and perceive that writing a book is a pastor’s way to progress in the sub-culture of the church world? Tell me I’m wrong – someone? I guess a DVD is in the works too?

    If you are writing another book, I’d like to suggest that you offer a valid explanation of your earlier statement “God is a perfect gentleman”
    In this book, perhaps you could address the fact that God ordered the deaths of innocent children and attempt to align these 2 issues?

    1 Samuel 15:3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass

    Or perhaps the 70,000 who were struck down over a botched census by King David? I Chr 21:9

  45. Blah-blah, thanks for proving my point! Hatred dripping from every word!

    And yes, we do charge for our books. Laying aside the fact that it costs thousands of dollars to produce them, my wife alone spent 11 years of her life writing her four books, and I spent 1 and a half years writing mine. We deserve to earn income from these books. We have also given away hundreds of our books over the last 7 years – all at a personal cost, so I don’t think that you are in any position to pass comment.

    “I’d like to suggest that you offer a valid explanation of your earlier statement “God is a perfect gentleman”. In this book, perhaps you could address the fact that God ordered the deaths of innocent children and attempt to align these 2 issues?
    1 Samuel 15:3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass
    Or perhaps the 70,000 who were struck down over a botched census by King David? I Chr 21:9”
    Have you been reading my mail blah-blah?! A large section of my book addresses this mis-interpretation of scriptures, and my wife’s last book is entirely about God’s goodness. I’ll send you a copy if you like. I doubt you’d read it though. You’ve already made up your mind that all pastors are evil and God takes pleasure in killing His children. Hope that works for you!

  46. Hatred dripping from every word?

    I don’t really think so TVdude. Perhaps that is what you’ve “read into” the text.

    Did I ever once say “God takes pleasure in killing his children”? No, I don’t believe that I did.

    I did say that the notion of God being a “gentleman” was, when one compared the facts of the Old Testament, rather farcical and seems to be an exercise in fantasy more than anything.

    Your explanation for selling your wares in the temple are simply an exercise in self-justification and self-righteousness.

    I won’t want to be in your shoes come the end of the age when you’ll need to explain to your “Lord” (a perfect gentleman right?) why you’ve taken it upon yourself to veto the clear words of scripture in this instance.
    I’m not sure that “we deserve to earn income from these books” will cut it.

  47. “I won’t want to be in your shoes come the end of the age when you’ll need to explain to your “Lord” (a perfect gentleman right?) why you’ve taken it upon yourself to veto the clear words of scripture in this instance.”


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