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date: 23 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Discussions of the authorship of the Gospel of John must answer two questions: who is the Beloved Disciple who is portrayed as the book’s primary source of information, and how is this individual related to the author, John the evangelist? On the first question, scholars are divided on whether the Beloved Disciple is a real historical individual or an ideal symbolic figure. Data from the text itself and from social-science perspectives on the reputations of key figures from the past suggest that both are correct: the Beloved Disciple was a legendary associate of Jesus whose presentation reflects his reputation as a source of information that was critical to the Johannine theological outlook. On the second question, data suggests that the evangelist was not the Beloved Disciple but rather a disciple of that individual, perhaps basing his own book on an earlier document produced by the Beloved Disciple.

Keywords: Gospel of John, Beloved Disciple, authorship of John, Fourth Gospel, reputation, legend, legendary figure, Lazarus, Apostle John, John of Zebedee

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