The Origin Of The Gospels -- By: J. Isidor Mombert

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 023:92 (Oct 1866)
Article: The Origin Of The Gospels
Author: J. Isidor Mombert


The Origin Of The Gospels

Rev. J. Isidor Mombert

(Continued from page 384.)

Turning to the fourth canonical Gospel, Strauss says it would be well for it if the external evidence for its genuineness were as good as that for the synoptical Gospels. He begins with an attempt to invalidate the notice of Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. III. 39), that Papias cited the first Epistle of John (κέχρηται δ ᾿ ὁ αὐτος μαρτυρίαις ἀπὸ τῆς προτέρας ᾿Λωάννου ἐπιστολῆς), 1, by aspersing the scholarship and judgment of Eusebius, who may have been mistaken in identifying the citations of Papias with passages in the first Epistle of John; 2, by denying that the first Epistle of John and the fourth canonical Gospel had the same author. But since his first assertion is purely arbitrary, the notice of Eusebius, who was a learned man and saw the writings of Papias, has its full weight of importance; and since his second assertion is contradicted by the facts of the case, resulting from the closest scrutiny of both writings, and concurred in by the most competent and reliable authorities from the earliest times, his objections fall to the ground. His conclusion that the silence of Papias concerning John’s authorship is unfavorable to its genuineness amounts to nothing more than a subterfuge, for, apart from the incidental character of the notice in Eusebius,

the silence of Papias cannot be of any moment to a man like Strauss, who refuses to believe Papias when he breaks silence and speaks in plain terms.

Strauss notices the argument for the authenticity of this Gospel based on the passage John 21:24, and rejects it. That passage is generally regarded as an addition made by foreign hands, probably the presbyters of the Ephesian church; but without discussing the theories of the authorship of the last verses of that chapter, and indeed of the last chapter itself, one fact speaks for itself, that the testimony it gives for the veracity of the record of the fourth Gospel has stood the ordeal of the criticism of the early church, and cannot be invalidated by the arbitrary tests of the Tübingen school; they must first get rid of the whole Christian literature of the first three centuries, before they can touch the Gospel of John on internal grounds; but as they have not yet accomplished that task, even formidable to hands so well skilled in destruction, we need not further enlarge upon this particular point.

The testimony of the apostolical Fathers is unceremoniously set aside by Strauss, on the ground that, if the fourth Gospel had been acknowledge...

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