The Berean Expositor
Volume 53 - Page 47 of 215
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for John's early martyrdom had accumulated, but, as we have seen, the evidence is not
adequate enough or reliable enough to confute the definite statements of the man who
occupied the See of Ephesus at the close of the century" (i.e. John the Apostle) (our
Dr. John A. Robinson in his recent book, Redating the New Testament, quotes a
9th century monk, Georgius Hamartolus, who asserted John's early martyrdom and says,
"he is of interest because he claims to base the martyrdom of John on a statement made
by Papias (one of the early church fathers), but this is notoriously doubtful" (page 158).
Dr. Robinson further writes "it is necessary at this date to expose once again the
weakness of the evidence for an early martyrdom of John, for it has ceased to be
considered seriously as a factor in assessing the authorship or date of the Gospel (of
John)" (p.258 our italics).
Dr. A. T. Robertson writes "there is no early martyrdom for the Apostle John" (Word
Pictures in the New Testament, p.xii) and calls it "a worthless legend". "There is the
theory that John died as a martyr at an early age, but this is rightly rejected by the
majority of scholars" (Dr. 1: H. Marshall, Aberdeen University, New Bible Dictionary).
Dr. Donald Guthrie (who was once head of the London Bible College) writes, "the
cumulative effect of this evidence is very small, while the individual links in the chain
become even weaker on examination" (New Testament Introduction, p.237). He further
states that the monk Georgius Hamartolus "clearly did not take the Papias report
seriously since he also speaks of the Apostle John's peaceful end". He adds, "the notion
of John's early martyrdom may therefore be regarded as purely legendary".
The dating of John's Gospel.
Dr. Guthrie states "the majority of scholars are inclined to accept a date between
90A.D. and 110" (p.258). Dr. 100: K. Barrett of Durham University, a scholar with a great
reputation, gives a time between 90A.D. and 100 (ibid. p.263). Dr. J. H. Bernard in his
Critical and Exegetical Commentary, states concerning the Gospel of John, "the use
made of the fourth Gospel by Christian writers before 175A.D. enables us, therefore, to
fix the time of its appearance within narrow limits. It is hardly earlier than 90A.D. and
cannot be later than 125A.D. Probably the year 95 is the nearest approximation to its
date that can be made" (p.lxxviii).
Dr. J. A. Robinson, as we have seen, suggests an earlier date in his Redating the New
Testament, namely 65A.D., but as an honest scholar he feels compelled to write first of
all quoting Kummel, "the assumption that John was written in the last decade of the first
century is today almost universally accepted". Dr. Robinson proceeds, "the span of
90A.D.-100 is agreed by Catholic and Protestant, by conservative and radical, by those
who defend apostolic authorship, by those who believe that John used the Synoptists
(Matthew, Mark and Luke) and those who do not. It includes virtually all those who have
recently written commentaries on the Gospel, not to mention other interpreters. Indeed,
many commentators scarcely bother to discuss the issue of dating" (p.261 our italics).