Why is John’s Gospel Different? Some Thoughts

Authorship as the key to the difference between John and the Synoptics

The Gospel of John presents a distinct picture of the life and ministry of Jesus. Whereas the Synoptics relate Jesus’ aphorisms delivered before the simple crowds in the rustic backcountry of Galilee, John’s Gospel attributes to Jesus lengthier theological discourses and elevated claims to God-like status (e.g. the “I am” statements).

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Was Lazarus the Beloved Disciple?

While there are good reasons for supposing that the Beloved Disciple was not John the son of Zebedee (see here), the view that he was Lazarus also raises difficulties.

1. The Beloved Disciple is portrayed as an anonymous figure right up until the final chapter of the Fourth Gospel, whereas Lazarus is named. This fact alone seems to rule out Lazarus as the BD.

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Were John son of Zebedee and the Beloved Disciple the same person?

It’s commonly thought that John the son of Zebedee was the author of the Gospel of John, the figure spoken of in that Gospel as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” The two are never explicitly identified, however, and there are reasons for questioning this identification.

Here are eight points to consider:

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John Mark? You have got to be kidding me!

My research into the thesis that the early Christians identified John/Mark with John the Evangelist

I remember as a graduate student talking about my undergraduate research with another student. There was interest until I mentioned that I had examined the potential identification of the Beloved Disciple/John the Evangelist with the John also called Mark.

Immediately the mood changed. Words didn’t need to be spoken; the incredulous look and change in demeanor said it all. The conversation was brought to an abrupt end.

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