A Unitarian On The Fourth Gospel -- By: Parke P. Flournoy

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 062:248 (Oct 1905)
Article: A Unitarian On The Fourth Gospel
Author: Parke P. Flournoy


A Unitarian On The Fourth Gospel

Rev. Parke P. Flournoy

In 1903, Professor James Drummond, Principal of Manchester College, Oxford, gave to the world what, from a Unitarian, is rather a surprising book on “The Character and Authorship of the Fourth Gospel.”1 The dedication is as follows :—

“In reverent and loving memory of
John James Tayler

and
James Martineau

who, while themselves fearlessly seeking for truth, taught others to follow evidence with their own independent judgment, however imperfect, and to call no man master.”

Both Martineau and Tayler wrote elaborate arguments to disprove the Johannean authorship of the Fourth Gospel. But this book by their disciple, whose reverence for these two great leaders of modern Unitarianism in England is evidently most sincere, is a record of the tests to which he has submitted the arguments of his spiritual fathers and others who held the same view, and shows us that he found them unconvincing; and that, on the other hand, evidence shows that the Fourth Gospel was written by the Apostle John. His conclusion, after a full consideration of the objections raised by critics to John’s authorship, is as follows: “The external evidence (be

it said with due respect to the Alogi2 ) is all on one side, and, for my part, I cannot well repel its force.”

He finds the internal evidence, too, pointing in the same direction, as he discovers that its author is a Palestinæn Jew, a disciple of Christ, and an eye and ear witness of much that he relates. The Unitarian writer’s case is very much like that of Tyndall in pronouncing against Bastian’s assertion, that he had succeeded in demonstrating spontaneous generation. He wished it to be true, but the crucial tests which he applied showed him that Bastian was mistaken; and he honestly told the world so.3 His decision in the case has probably had more weight with thinking men than all the arguments of Christian Scientists combined; because it was the decision of a man who was not only among the first scientists of the age, but a decision based on the evidence of facts in the observation of which his predilections, if allowed to influence him, would have inclined him to the opposite conclusion.

Let us direct our attention to some part of the external evidence, the force of which the author “cannot well repel,”

It is well known that Eusebius, who seems to hav...

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