Sunday, August 14, 2016

Question: Was Lazarus the Beloved Disciple and author of the Gospel?

This is an interesting alternative theory but I don't think it is correct. One should not always believe 'tradition' without question, but in this case John seems designated. Why?
Clearly Lazarus was a beloved disciple. Jesus wept at his death. But so were many others 'beloved'.
Why should anyone not mention his name that he is the author of a book? There are several reasons. One is modesty. That semi-anonymity seems to be the reason that the writer of the fourth gospel can modestly describe his own activities and also the prophecies of his own future without admitting his name.
However Lazarus of Bethany is mentioned by name in John 11.  Because Lazarus is mentioned by name in the incident where he is resurrected, it is unlikely that, if he were the author, he would hide his name at the end of the book.
A second reason for anonymity is that by exposing a name the enemies of he gospel might persecute and kill that person as a special target. Lazarus was a major target as he could witness to his own resurrection! As mentioned in J3, p22, 685ff etc the enemies wished to kill him, but were perhaps afraid to do so. If they killed him who could say he would not rise from the dead again by a miracle?! That would hardly silence him! Instead they cast him and his sister into an open boat on the Mediterranean expecting them to die and disappear. They landed in France and went perhaps to Britain. 
John the apostle is a more likely candidate for the authorship of he book as he was one of the four leaders of the twelve. He also stayed in Israel where he was later involved with the Temple, possibly after the death of James.
There are a number  of other incidences of where the early gospels show discretion and then the later gospel of John reveals the name, presumably when the danger was over. One example is the name of the servant of the high priest whose ear Peter sliced off. His life would also have been threatened in the early years, up to the end of Caligula's reign with its major persecution and planned ethnocide.  Afterwards the danger subsided or he might have left Israel or even died. 

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