The Berean Expositor
Volume 29 - Page 92 of 208
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Historical Evidence and the Scope of the Book.
pp. 41 - 43
Readers of The Berean Expositor are not very much concerned with what is called the
"Higher Criticism"; for the Scriptures speak too plainly to the quickened understanding
to need external proofs. We must not, however, forget that inability to meet criticism, or
failure to bring forward evidence, may mean that, at some important moment, our witness
may be blunted and some friend or acquaintance left in darkness. We propose, therefore,
to devote one or two further articles to introductory matters before dealing more fully
with the book itself.
The Gospel of John has been more severely criticized than the other three, and its
genuineness has been denied. It is not our intention here to load our pages with ancient
names, or with many extracts from antiquity.  We give, however, a few pointed
references. Clement of Alexandria (A.D.150-215) writes:
"St. John, the last (of the evangelists), when he saw that the outward bodily facts had
been set forth in the (existing) Gospels, impelled by his friends (and) divinely moved by
the Spirit, made a spiritual Gospel."
One of the earliest and most important witnesses in this connection is Irenĉus (born
A.D.98), who knew and had conversed with Polycarp, a disciple of John himself.
Irenĉus unhesitatingly ascribes the fourth gospel to John, and speaks of this belief as of
universal acceptance in his day.
Victorinus of Pettan wrote of John and his Gospel:
"When Valentus and Cerinthus and Ebion and others of the school of Satan were
spread throughout the world, all the bishops of the nieghbouring provinces came together
to him to constrain him to commit his own testimony to writing" (Migne Patrol 5: 333).
In connection with this quotation it is interesting to note that Cerinthus taught that
Christ was a man, and nothing more, and that He was the son of both Joseph and Mary--
a doctrine that is most definitely refuted in the opening of John's Gospel. Irenĉus also
writes of John as being "willing, by the publication of his Gospel, to take away the error
which Cerinthus had disseminated amongst men". He tells us, moreover, that John
remained at Ephesus up to the time of the Emperor Trajan.
We do not propose to pursue this subject further. Those readers who are concerned
with proofs for the canonicity of John's Gospel, and are able to appreciate historical
evidence, will already be in possession of sufficient means to prosecute their studies
without our help, and those who are not will not benefit by a multiplicity of proofs.
We turn now to the book itself in relation to the other Gospels, and note first those
things which are common to John's Gospels and the Synoptics.