The Fourth Gospel At Yale And Chicago -- By: Parke P. Flournoy

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 067:268 (Oct 1910)
Article: The Fourth Gospel At Yale And Chicago
Author: Parke P. Flournoy

The Fourth Gospel At Yale And Chicago

Rev. Parke P. Flournoy

Two publications, the one, a large book, and the other, a short essay — the book from the most widely known New Testament critic in America, and the essay from a candidate for a degree in a large university, are attracting the notice of New Testament scholars. Dr. Benjamin Wisner Bacon, of the divinity school of Yale University, has recently given us “The Fourth Gospel in Research and Debate”;1 and Dr. Frank Grant Lewis had, earlier, written a monograph which is published in the Chicago University “Historical and Linguistic Studies,” on “The Testimony of Irenseus to the Fourth Gospel.” 2

We are thus enabled to see what is thought at two great institutions of learning on a matter of great interest at the present time.

In his Introduction, Dr. Bacon quotes Lightfoot’s characterization of two classes of opponents of the genuineness of the Fourth Gospel thus:—

“(1) Those who deny the miraculous element in Christianity — Rationalists, (2) those who deny the distinctive character of Chris-

tian doctrine — Unitarians. The Gospel confronts both. It relates the most stupendous miracle in the history of our Lord (short of the Incarnation and the Resurrection), the raising of Lazarus. Again, it enunciates in the most express terms the Divinity, the Deity, of our Lord. And yet at the same time it professes to have been written by the one man, of all others, who had the greatest opportunities of knowing the truth … the Apostle who leaned on his Master’s bosom, who stood by his Master’s cross, who entered his Master’s empty grave. If, therefore, the claim of this gospel to be the work of John the son of Zebedee, be true, if, in other words, the Fourth Gospel be genuine, the most formidable, not to say an insuperable, obstacle stands in the way of both classes of antagonists. Hence the persistence and ingenuity of the attacks; and hence also the necessity of a thoroughness in the defence.”3

Dr. Bacon thinks Lightfoot, if living now, would not use this language, in view of the publication of Drummond’s “Character and Authorship of the Fourth Gospel,” and evidently objects decidedly to the intimation that every denier of the genuineness of the Gospel belongs to either of the classes named. He may be neither a Rationalist nor a Unitarian, but he does not come behind either in “the persistence and ingenuity of his attacks “on the genuineness of this Gospel, as the reader will see.

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