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The Truth of Christianity By William Harry Turton Characters: 33555

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(A.) The First Three Gospels.

(1.) Their general accuracy; this is shown by secular history, where they can be tested.

(2.) Their sources; the triple tradition; other early documents.

(3.) Their probable date; before the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70.

(B.) The Fourth Gospel.

(1.) Its authorship. The writer appears to have lived in the first century, and to have been an eye-witness of what he describes; so probably St. John.

(2.) Its connection with the other Gospels. It was meant to supplement them; and it does not show a different Christ, either in language or character.

(3.) Its connection with the Book of Revelation. This admitted to be by St. John, and the Gospel was probably by the same author.

Having decided in the last chapter that the Four Gospels are probably genuine from external testimony, we pass on now to the internal evidence, which, it will be seen, strongly supports this conclusion. For convenience we will examine the first Three, commonly called the Synoptic Gospels, separately from the Fourth, which is of a different character.

(A.) The First Three Gospels.

In dealing with these Gospels, we will first consider their general accuracy, then their sources, and then their probable date.

(1.) Their general accuracy.

It is now admitted by everyone that the writers show a thorough acquaintance with Palestine both as to its geography, history, and people, especially the political and social state of the country in the half-century preceding the fall of Jerusalem (A.D. 70). The Jewish historian Josephus, who wrote about A.D. 95, gives us a vivid description of this; and everything we read in the Gospels is in entire agreement with it.

In regard to the actual events recorded, we have, as a rule, no other account, but where we have, with the doubtful exception of the enrolment under Quirinius, their accuracy is fully confirmed. According to St. Luke[196] this enrolment occurred while Herod was king, and therefore not later than what we now call B.C. 4, when Herod died; but, according to Josephus and other authorities, Quirinius was Governor of Syria, and carried out his taxing in A.D. 6.

[196] Luke 2. 2 (R.V.).

This used to be thought one of the most serious mistakes in the Bible, but modern discoveries have shown that it is probably correct. To begin with, an inscription was found at Tivoli in 1764, which shows that Quirinius was twice Governor of Syria, or at least held some important office there. And this has been confirmed quite recently by an inscription found at Antioch, which shows that the former time was about B.C. 7.[197] There is thus very likely an end of that difficulty, though it must be admitted that it would place the birth of Christ a little earlier than the usually accepted B.C. 4, which however some critics think probable for other reasons.

[197] Ramsay, 'Bearing of Recent Discovery on New Testament.' 1915, p. 285-292.

Next it will be noticed that St. Luke says that this was the first enrolment, implying that he knew of others; and discoveries in Egypt have confirmed this in a remarkable manner. For they have shown that it was the custom of the Romans to have a periodical enrolment of that country (and therefore presumably of the adjacent country of Syria) every fourteen years. Some of the actual census papers have been found for A.D. 20, 48, 62, 76, etc., and it is extremely probable that the system started in B.C. 9-8, though the first enrolment may have been delayed a few years in Palestine, which was partly independent.

And St. Luke's statement that everyone had to go to his own city, which was long thought to be a difficulty, has been partly confirmed as well. For a decree has been discovered in Egypt, dated in the seventh year of Trajan (A.D. 104), ordering all persons to return to their own districts before the approaching census,[198] which is worded as if it were the usual custom. The next census in A.D. 6, which is the one referred to by Josephus, is also mentioned by St. Luke;[199] but he knew, what his critics did not, that it was only one of a series, and that the first of the series took place at an earlier date.

[198] Ramsay, p. 259.

[199] Acts. 5. 37.

Curiously enough, there used to be a very similar error, charged against St. Luke, in regard to Lysanias; whom he says was tetrarch of Abilene, a district near Damascus, in the fifteenth year of Tiberius, about A.D. 27.[200] Yet the only ruler of this name known to history in those parts was a king, who was killed in B.C. 34. But inscriptions found at Baalbec, and Abila (the latter dating somewhere between A.D. 14-29) show that there was a second Lysanias, hitherto unknown, who is expressly called the tetrarch and who is now admitted to be the one referred to by St. Luke.[201] On the whole then, these Gospels, wherever we have any means of testing them by secular history, appear to be substantially accurate.

[200] Luke 3. 1.

[201] Boeckh's Corp. Ins. Gr., No. 4523; Ramsay, 'Bearing of Recent Discovery on New Testament.' 1915, p. 298.

But it may be said, do not the Gospels themselves contradict one another in some places, and if so they cannot all be correct? Now that there are some apparent contradictions, especially in the narratives of the Resurrection (see Chapter XVII.), must of course be admitted; but many of these can be explained satisfactorily, and those which cannot are as a rule quite trivial. For example,[202] St. Matthew relates that at Christ's Baptism the Voice from Heaven said, 'This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased;' and the other Evangelists, 'Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I am well pleased.' There is a clear verbal discrepancy, whatever words were used, or in whatever language they were spoken. Again, St. Matthew records the passage about the Queen of the South as being spoken just after, and St. Luke as just before, the similar passage about the men of Nineveh, though both can hardly be correct. Such mistakes as these, however, do not interfere with the substantial accuracy of the narratives.

[202] Matt. 3. 17; 12. 42; Mark 1. 11; Luke 3. 22; 11. 31.

(2.) Their sources.

Now the first three Gospels have, as is well known, a number of identical passages, which must plainly be due to copying in some form, either two Evangelists copying the third, or all three some earlier document. The portion they have in common (often called the Triple Tradition) includes some of the parables of Christ, and several of His miracles, such as calming the storm, feeding the five thousand, curing the man at Gadara, and raising the daughter of Jairus. If, as is probable, it represents the testimony of a single witness, there is little difficulty in identifying him with St. Peter.

But it is most unlikely for the whole of this earlier document to have been included in three separate Gospels; it is sure to have contained something that was only copied by one or two. Therefore most scholars are now of opinion that the so-called Triple Tradition was merely our St. Mark's Gospel, practically all of which was copied, either by St. Matthew or St. Luke, if not by both. And this is certainly probable, for the many graphic details in this Gospel show that it must date from an extremely early time; so it was most likely known to the other Evangelists. It would also agree with the statement of Papias (quoted in the last chapter) that St. Mark got his information from St. Peter. And as some of it has to do with events, such as the Transfiguration, when St. Peter was present, and St. Matthew was not, there is nothing improbable in St. Matthew (as well as St. Luke) including part of it in his Gospel.

This however is not all; for our first and third Gospels also contain a good deal in common, which is not in Mark, and this looks like another older document, often called 'Q' from the German Quelle, meaning 'source.' It consists chiefly of discourses and parables, though including at least one miracle, that of healing the centurion's servant, and is admitted by most critics to date from before A.D. 50.

But here again, it is unlikely for the whole of this earlier document to have been included in two separate Gospels, it is sure to have contained something else besides. Moreover, as thus restored (from Matthew and Luke) it is obviously incomplete. It contains scarcely any narrative to explain how the discourses arose, and of necessity it omits everything in Christ's life which is recorded by St. Mark as well, for this has been already assigned to the so-called Triple Tradition. Therefore when it was complete, it must have contained a good deal more, which may well have been the remainder of our St. Matthew's Gospel. St. Luke would then have only included a part of what St. Matthew wrote, just as they both only included a part of what St. Mark wrote. And the supposed second document would be our St. Matthew's Gospel, just as the supposed Triple Tradition is now thought to be our St. Mark's Gospel. There are difficulties on every theory, but on the whole this seems as satisfactory as any other, and it accounts fairly well for the first two Gospels.

But the third Gospel requires further explanation, for besides what is copied from the other two, it contains a good deal of additional matter, such as the parable of the Prodigal Son, which St. Luke must have got from some other source. While he expressly says that many had written before himself; so there were several such sources in existence. And this was only natural, for the Christian religion spread rapidly, and St. Luke himself shows us what its converts were taught. For he says that he only wrote his Gospel to convince Theophilus of the things about which he had already been instructed.[203] Clearly then the course of instruction must have included what the Gospel included; and this was the whole of Christ's life, from His Virgin-Birth to His Ascension. It is hence probable that from the very first Christian teachers had some account of that life.

[203] Luke 1. 1-4.

And this probability becomes almost a certainty in the light of modern discoveries. For quantities of old papyri have been found in Egypt, which show that at the time of Christ, writing was in common use among all classes; soldiers, farmers, servants, schoolboys, were all accustomed to write. Therefore, as it has been well said, 'so far as antecedent probability goes, founded on the general character of preceding and contemporary society, the first Christian account of the circumstances connected with the death of Jesus must be presumed to have been written in the year when Jesus died.'[204] And since St. Luke, when he was at Jerusalem met several of the elders there, including Christ's brother, St. James,[205] he probably had access to all existing documents.

[204] Ramsay, Transactions of Victoria Institute, vol. xxxix., 1907, p. 203.

[205] Acts 21. 18.

There is thus no reason to doubt his own statement, that he had ample means of knowing the truth, from the beginning. And this, he says, was the very reason why he determined to write; so a more trustworthy historian can scarcely be imagined.[206] Fortunately, however, though dividing the Gospels into their original parts is an interesting study, it is in no way essential to our present argument.

[206] Luke 1. 2-3.

(3.) Their probable date.

We now come to the probable date of the first three Gospels; and there are strong reasons for fixing this before the fall of Jerusalem, in A.D. 70. In the first place several subjects are discussed, such as the lawfulness of the Jews paying tribute to C?sar,[207] which would have had no interest after that event. And that conversations on such subjects should have been composed in later days, or even thought worth recording, is most unlikely. Nor are Christ's instructions as to what persons should do when they bring their gifts to the altar, likely to have been recorded after the altar, and everything connected with it, had been totally destroyed.[208]

[207] Matt. 22. 17.

[208] Matt. 5. 24.

Secondly, nearly all the parables of Christ have very strong marks of truthfulness, as they are thoroughly natural in character, and suit the customs and scenery of Palestine. Moreover, they are unique in Christian literature. However strange we may think it, the early Christians never seem to have adopted Christ's method of teaching by parables. Yet, if they had composed these parables, instead of merely recording them, they would doubtless have composed others like them. It is hence probable that these discourses are genuine; and, if so, they must obviously have been written down very soon afterwards.

Thirdly, there are a few passages which deserve special mention. Two of these are Christ's saying that (apparently) there would not be time to go through the cities of Israel before His Second Coming; and that some of His hearers would not die till the end of the world.[209] That such statements should have been composed in later years is out of the question; so we can only conclude that they were actually spoken by Christ. And they show that the Gospels must not only have been written when some of Christ's hearers were still alive, but that they could not have been revised afterwards; or the passages would not have been allowed to remain as they are.

[209] Matt. 10. 23; 16. 28; Mark 9. 1; Luke 9. 27; but some other texts imply the contrary-e.g., Matt. 21. 43; Mark 13. 7, 10; 14. 9; Luke 21. 24.

Another is the statement that the potter's field was called the field of blood unto this day;[210] which could scarcely have been written when the whole city was little more than a heap of ruins. Of course, on the other hand, it could not have been written immediately after the time of Christ, but twenty years would probably be a sufficient interval.

[210] Matt. 27. 8; see also 28. 15.

Fourthly, there is the prophetic description of the fall of Jerusalem itself, which seems confused by the Evangelists with that of the Day of Judgment, St. Matthew saying, and both the others implying, that the one would immediately follow the other.[211] Had the Gospels been written after the former event, it is almost certain that the writers would have distinguished between the two; indeed, their not doing so is scarcely intelligible, unless we assume that when they wrote, both events were still future.

[211] Matt. 24. 3, 29; Mark 13. 24; Luke 21. 27.

And this is confirmed by the curious hint given to the readers both in Matthew and Mark to understand, and act on Christ's advice, and leave the city and go to the mountains, before the siege became too severe.[212] Plainly such a warning could not have been written after the siege, when it would have been useless. It must have been written before; so if it is a later insertion, as it seems to be, it proves a still earlier date for the rest of the chapter. Moreover, none of the Evangelists have altered the passage, as later writers might have done, to make it agree with the event; since as far as we know, the Christians did not go to the mountains, but to Pella, a city in the Jordan valley.[213]

[212] Matt. 24. 16; Mark 13. 14; Luke 21. 21.

[213] Eusebius, Hist., iii. 5.

St. Luke, it will be noticed, omits the hint just referred to, and as his account of Christ's prophecy of the siege is rather more detailed than the others, it is sometimes thought to have been written after the event. But this is a needless assumption, for the hint would have been quite useless to Theophilus, to whom the Gospel was addressed; and the prophecy is anyhow no closer than that in Deut. 28., which everyone admits was written centuries before (Chapter XI.).

On the whole, then, everything points to our first three Gospels having been written some years before the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70; and most likely by the Evangelists, to whom they have been universally ascribed.

It may also be added, in regard to the Evangelists themselves, St. Matthew the Apostle was a publican or tax-collector, so just the sort of person to keep records, in either Greek or Hebrew.[214] St. Mark came of a wealthy family, as his relative, Barnabas, had some property; and his mother, Mary, had a large house at Jerusalem, where Christians used to assemble, and where it has been thought the Last Supper was held.[215] And the young man who followed from here to Gethsemane was probably St. Mark himself, or he would not have recorded such a trivial incident.[216]

[214] Matt. 9. 9.

[215] Acts 4. 37; 12. 12; 1. 13; Col. 4. 10.

[216] Mark 14. 51.

And St. Luke, as we shall see in the next chapter, was a doctor, who says he got his information fro

m eye-witnesses. And if he was the companion of Cleopas, as is perhaps probable (for such a graphic narrative must have come from one who was present, yet the language is thoroughly that of St. Luke), he would also have had some slight knowledge of Christ himself.[217] And in similar cases where St. John speaks of two disciples, but gives the name of only one, it is practically certain that he himself was the other.[218] Moreover St. Luke says that his Gospel, which only goes as far as the Ascension, was about those matters which have been fulfilled among us[219] (i.e., which have occurred among us), and this implies that it was written in Palestine at a very early date, and that St. Luke himself was there during at least part of the time referred to.

[217] Luke 24. 18; Expositor, Feb., 1904.

[218] John 1. 40; 18. 15.

[219] Luke 1. 1. (R.V.). A short paper on Fulfilled among us, by the present writer, appeared in the Churchman, Aug. 1914.

All three must thus have been well-educated men, and quite in a position to write Gospels if they wanted to. While as none of them seem to have taken a prominent part in the founding of Christianity, there was no reason for ascribing the Gospels to them, rather than to such great men as St. Peter and St. Paul, unless they actually wrote them.

(B.) The Fourth Gospel.

We pass on now to the Fourth Gospel, and will first examine the internal arguments as to its authorship, which are strongly in favour of its being the work of St. John; and then the two arguments on the opposite side, said to be derived from its connection with the other Gospels, and the Book of Revelation.

(1.) Its authorship.

To begin with, the writer appears to have lived in the first century. This is probable from his intimate acquaintance with Jerusalem, and as before said that city was only a heap of ruins after A.D. 70. Thus he speaks of Bethesda, the pool near the sheep-gate, having five porches; of Solomon's porch; of the pool of Siloam; and of the Temple, with its treasury; its oxen, sheep, and doves for sacrifice; and its money-changers for changing foreign money into Jewish, in which alone the Temple tax could be paid. And his mention of Bethesda is specially interesting as he uses the present tense, There is in Jerusalem, etc., implying that the gate and porches were still standing (and therefore the city not yet destroyed) when he wrote.[220]

[220] John 5. 2.

Secondly, the writer appears to have been an eye-witness of what he describes. He twice asserts this himself, as well as in an Epistle which is generally admitted to be by the same writer, where he declares that he had both seen, heard, and touched his Master.[221] So, if this is not true, the work must be a deliberate forgery; which is certainly improbable. Moreover, he frequently identifies himself with the Twelve Apostles, recording their feelings and reflections in a way which would be very unlikely for any late writer to have thought of. Would a late writer, for instance, have thought of inventing questions which the Apostles wanted to ask their Master, but were afraid to do so? Or would he have thought it worth repeating so often that they did not understand at the time the real significance of the events they took part in?[222]

[221] John 1. 14; 19. 35; 1 John 1. 1.

[222] E.g., John 2. 17, 22; 4. 27; 13. 28; 16. 17.

The author is also very particular as to times and places. Take, for instance, the passage 1. 29-2. 12, with its expressions On the morrow, Again on the morrow, About the tenth hour, On the morrow, And the third day, And there they abode not many days. It reads like extracts from an old diary, and why should all these insignificant details be recorded? What did it matter half a century later whether it was the same day, or on the morrow, or the third day; or whether they stayed many days in Capernaum, or only a few; as no hint is given as to why they went there, or what they did? The only reasonable explanation is that the writer was present himself (being of course the unnamed companion of St. Andrew); that this was the turning-point in his life when he first saw his Lord; and that therefore he loved to recall every detail.

And it may be noticed in passing that this passage explains an apparent difficulty in the other Gospels, where it is stated that these Apostles were called to follow Christ, after the death of St. John the Baptist; though with a suddenness and ready obedience on their part, which is hard to believe.[223] But we here learn that they had already been with Christ some months before, in company with the Baptist, so they were doubtless prepared for the call when it came. And the passage, like many others, bears internal marks of truthfulness. In particular may be mentioned the words of Nathanael, Thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel, implying that the latter title was at least as honourable as the former. No Christian in later times, when Christ was obviously not the King of Israel (except in a purely spiritual sense), and when the title Son of God had come to mean so much more than it ever did to the Jews, would have arranged it thus.

[223] E.g., Mark 1. 14-20.

Lastly, if we admit that the writer was an eye-witness, it can hardly be disputed that he was the Apostle St. John. Indeed, were he anyone else, it is strange that an Apostle of such importance should not be once mentioned throughout the Gospel. It is also significant that the other John, who is described in the first three Gospels as John the Baptist, to distinguish him from the Apostle, is here called merely John. No confusion could arise if, and only if, the writer himself were the Apostle John. While still more important is the fact that at the close of the Gospel, we have a solemn declaration made by the author's own friends that he was the disciple whom Jesus loved (admitted by nearly everyone to be St. John), that he had witnessed the things he wrote about, and that what he said was true. And testimony more ancient or more conclusive can scarcely be imagined.

With regard to the date of the book, we can say little for certain. But the extreme care which is taken in these closing verses to explain exactly what Christ did, and did not say, as to St. John's dying, before His coming again, seems to imply that the matter was still undecided, in other words that St. John was still alive, though very old, when they were written. And if so the Gospel must have been published (probably in some Gentile city, like Ephesus, from the way the Jews are spoken of)[224] towards the close of the first century; though a large part of it may have been written in the shape of notes, etc., long before.

[224] E.g., John 2. 13; 5. 1; 6. 4.

(2.) Its connection with the other Gospels.

But, as before said, there are two arguments against the genuineness of this Gospel. The first is that the Christ of the Fourth Gospel is almost a different person from the Christ of the other three. The events of His life are different, His language is different, and His character is different; while, when the Gospels cover the same ground, there are discrepancies between them. But every part of this objection admits of a satisfactory answer.

To begin with, the fact that the Fourth Gospel narrates different events in the life of Christ from what we find in the other three must of course be admitted. But what then? Why should not one biography of Christ narrate certain events in His life, which the writer thought important, but which had been omitted in previous accounts? This is what occurs frequently at the present day, and why should it not have occurred then? The Fourth Gospel may have been written on purpose to supplement some other accounts.

And there is strong evidence from the book itself that this was actually the case. For the writer refers to many events without describing them, and in such a way as to show that he thought his readers knew about them. He assumes, for instance, that they know about St. John the Baptist being imprisoned, about Joseph being the supposed father of Christ, and about the appointment of the Twelve.[225] It is probable then that the Gospel was written for well-instructed Christians, who possessed some other accounts of Christ's life. And everything points to these being our first three Gospels.

[225] John 3. 24; 6. 42, 70.

Then as to the language ascribed to Christ in the Fourth Gospel being different from that in the others. This is no doubt partly true, especially in regard to His speaking of Himself as the Son, in the same way in which God is the Father. But it so happens that we have in these other Gospels at least three similar passages[226] which show that Christ did occasionally speak in this way. And there is no reason why St. John should not have preserved such discourses because the other Evangelists had omitted to do so. On the other hand, the title Son of Man (applied to Christ) occurs repeatedly in all the Gospels, though strange to say only in the mouth of Christ Himself. This is a striking detail, in which St. John entirely agrees with the other Evangelists.

[226] Matt. 11. 25-27; 24. 36; 28. 19; Mark 13. 32; Luke 10. 21, 22.

The next part of the objection is that the Character assigned to Christ in the Fourth Gospel is different from that in the other three; since instead of teaching moral virtues as in the Sermon on the Mount, He keeps asserting His own Divine nature. And this also is partly true, for the Fourth Gospel shows the Divinity of Christ more directly than the others, which only imply it (Chapter XXI.). And very probably the writer did so on purpose, thinking that this aspect of Christ's character had not been sufficiently emphasised in the previous accounts. Indeed, he implies it himself, for he says that he omitted much that he might have inserted, and merely recorded what he did in order to convince his readers that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God.[227]

[227] John 20. 31.

But no argument for a late date can be drawn from this. Because four of St. Paul's Epistles (i.e. Rom.; 1 Cor.; 2 Cor.; and Gal.) which have been admitted to be genuine by critics of all schools, describe exactly the same Christ as we find in the Fourth Gospel, speaking of His Divinity, Pre-existence, and Incarnation (Chapter XXI.). And from the way in which St. Paul alludes to these doctrines he evidently considered them the common belief of all Christians when he wrote, about A.D. 55. So the fact of the Fourth Gospel laying stress on these doctrines is no reason whatever against either its genuineness or its early date. Indeed, it seems to supply just those discourses of Christ which are necessary to account for St. Paul's language.

Lastly, as to the discrepancies. The one most often alleged is that according to the first three Gospels (in opposition to the Fourth) Christ's ministry never reached Jerusalem till just before His death. But this is a mistake, for though they do not relate His attendance at the Jewish feasts, like St. John does, they imply by the word often ('How often would I have gathered thy children,'[228] etc.) that He had frequently visited the city, and preached there. And one of them also refers to an earlier visit of Christ, to Martha and Mary, which shows that He had been to Bethany (close to Jerusalem) some time before.[229]

[228] Matt. 23. 37; Luke 13. 34.

[229] Luke 10. 38.

Another difficulty (it is scarcely a discrepancy) is the fact that such a striking miracle as the raising of Lazarus, which is described in the Fourth Gospel, should have been omitted in the other three. It is certainly strange, but these Evangelists themselves tell us there were other instances of raising the dead, which they do not record,[230] and they probably knew of it, as it alone explains the great enthusiasm with which Christ was received at Jerusalem. This they all relate, and St. Luke's saying that it was due to the mighty works, which the people had seen, implies that there had been some striking miracles in the neighbourhood.[231]

[230] Matt. 10. 8; 11. 5; Luke 7. 22.

[231] Luke 19. 37.

On the other hand, there are several undesigned agreements between the Gospels, which are a strong argument in favour of their accuracy. Take, for instance, the accusation brought against Christ of destroying the Temple, and rebuilding it in three days. This is alluded to both by St. Matthew and St. Mark; but St. John alone records the words on which it was founded, though he does not mention the charge, and quotes the words in quite a different connection.[232]

[232] Matt. 26. 61; Mark 14. 58; John 2. 19.

Or take the Feeding of the five thousand.[233] St. Mark says that this occurred in a desert place, where Christ had gone for a short rest, and to avoid the crowd of persons who were coming and going at Capernaum. But he gives no hint as to why there was this crowd just at that time. St. John says nothing about Christ's going to the desert, nor of the crowd which occasioned it; but he happens to mention, what fully explains both, that it was shortly before the Passover. Now we know that at the time of the Passover numbers of people came to Jerusalem from all parts; so Capernaum, which lay on a main road from the north, would naturally be crowded with persons coming and going. And this explains everything; even St. Mark's little detail, as to the people sitting on the green grass, for grass is only green in Palestine in the spring, i.e., at the time of the Passover. But can anyone think that the writer of the Fourth Gospel purposely made his account to agree with the others, yet did this in such a way that not one reader in a hundred ever discovers it? The only reasonable explanation is that the event was true, and that both writers had independent knowledge of it.

[233] Matt. 14. 13; Mark 6. 31; Luke 9. 10; John 6. 4.

The objection, then, as to the connection of the Fourth Gospel with the other three must be put aside. It was plainly meant to supplement them; and it shows not a different Christ, either in language or character, but merely a different aspect of the same Christ, while the slight discrepancies, especially when combined with the undesigned coincidences, rather support its genuineness.

(3.) Its connection with the Book of Revelation.

We pass on now to the other argument. The Book of Revelation is generally admitted to be the work of St. John, and it is ascribed to him by Justin Martyr.[234] Its date is usually fixed at A.D. 68; though many critics prefer A.D. 95, which is the date given by Iren?us.

[234] Dial., 81.

Yet it is said it cannot be by the same writer as the Fourth Gospel because the Greek is so different, that of the Revelation being very abrupt, with numerous faults of grammar, while the Gospel is in good Greek. Therefore it is urged that a Galilean fisherman like St. John, though he might have been sufficiently educated to have written the former, as his father was well off and kept servants, and he himself was a friend of the High Priest,[235] could scarcely have written the latter. Various explanations have been given of this. Perhaps the best is that the Revelation was written by St. John himself, since he is not likely to have had friends in Patmos; and that when writing the Gospel he had the assistance of a Greek disciple.

[235] Mark 1. 20; John 18. 15.

On the other side, it must be remembered that though the two books are different in language, they are the same in their teaching; for the great doctrine of the Fourth Gospel, that of the Divinity of Christ, is asserted almost as plainly in the Revelation. And even the striking expression that Christ is the Logos, or Word, occurs in both books, though it is not found elsewhere in the New Testament, except in one of St. John's Epistles.[236] And the same may be said of another striking expression, that Christ is the Lamb, which also occurs in the Gospel and Revelation, though not elsewhere in the New Testament.[237] This similarity in doctrine is indeed so marked that it strongly suggests the same authorship; and if so, it makes it practically certain that the Fourth Gospel was written by St. John.

[236] John 1. 1; 1 John 1. 1; Rev. 19. 13.

[237] John 1. 29, 36; Rev. 6. 1; 14. 1.

On the whole, then, these objections are not serious; while, as already shown, the Fourth Gospel has very strong internal marks of genuineness. And when we combine these with the equally strong external testimony, it forces us to conclude that St. John was the author. This Gospel, then, like the other three, must be considered genuine; indeed, the evidence in favour of them all is overwhelming.

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