The Fourth Gospel a Genuine Narrative -- By: Hans C. Juell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 072:287 (Jul 1915)
Article: The Fourth Gospel a Genuine Narrative
Author: Hans C. Juell

The Fourth Gospel a Genuine Narrative

Hans C. Juell


The purpose of this paper is to raise the question, whether the claim made by the author of the First Epistle of John in the first paragraph refers to the Fourth Gospel, and, if so, whether it is to be taken literally or not. When the author says, “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you (1 John 1:3), does he mean that he has been able to witness part of those incidents narrated or that he has narrowed his report down to those events in Jesus’ life which he witnessed personally and the words he heard? No writer of note has made a special effort to discover whether this is a genuine narrative or not, even if he has contended that the Gospel was written by the Apostle John. The question we will raise is, whether it is reasonable to suppose that John was present and able to witness all he has recorded in the Fourth Gospel or not.

I realize that it will not be an easy task to answer this question. It will be especially hard, since the author keeps himself continually out of sight, so to speak. But the test applied will be of such character that we may have positive knowledge of what we lay claim to. The test used will be applied to other writings, and the conclusion will be based on this comparative study.

In the first place, the author must have been present at the time and place when and where the incident narrated took place or the words recorded were spoken. And, in the second place, conditions must have been such that he could have seen and heard what he has narrated. Since it would be impossible to state definitely where the author was at the time referred to in the Gospel, we will investigate for the possibility or probability of his presence. If there is not a good reason for concluding that he could not have been present, we will assume that he witnessed what he has recorded. This may seem unfair. But when we apply the same test to other writings, and judge by comparative results, the test will be fair.

Let me briefly illustrate the test to be applied. If we accept the theory commonly held, that Peter was the authority for Mark’s Gospel, we may raise the question, whether Peter was present to witness what is herein recorded. If we turn to the death of John the Baptist, we conclude that he could not have been present in the castle of Machærus at the time of his execution. But it must be granted that we have no positive evidence for the claim that he was not there. But, on the other hand, we will consider that the work of John the Baptist, and the baptism of Jesus as recorded by Mark, were witnessed by Peter, since the fact that Peter’s brother was o...

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