I have finished reading Richard Bauckham’s tome Jesus and the Eyewitnesses and I guess it truly deserves various accolades it got. Among many things that he wrote, Bauckham argued for authorship of John the Elder or John of Ephesus for the Gospel of John and in fact the whole Johannine corpus. I guess not many of us is familiar with John the Elder, but perhaps some of us have heard about argument for authorship of John the Elder for the Revelation of John. And for 2 and 3 John: “The elder to the elect lady and her children.” (2 Joh 1) “The elder to the beloved Gaius.” (3 Joh 1)
One of the characteristics of John the Elder, Bauckham argued, is that he resided in Jerusalem in his early life, at least until Jesus was raised and exalted. Then he moved to Ephesus in his later life, probably until 90s AD or so when he wrote his Gospel. I am not sure whether Bauckham mentioned this or not, but it explained why we had a lot of narratives which was set in Jerusalem in the Gospel of John. And not so much in Galilee, the focus of the Synoptics (Matthew, Mark, Luke). It’s basically because he was not the eyewitness himself for the ministry of Jesus in Galilee, and since eyewitness testimony is an important criteria for trustworthiness, to report such events which were recorded in the Synoptics would actually reduce the trustworthiness of his Gospel. And hence it explains the stark difference between the Synoptics and the Gospel of John. The Synoptics were based on the testimony of the Twelve who followed Jesus everywhere, while the Gospel of John was based on the testimony of John the Elder who resided in Jerusalem.
Another thing which also fascinated me about Bauckham’s book is how he presented his argument about the authorship. The author of the Gospel of John presented his authorship gradually and only ‘revealed’ his identity at the very end of his Gospel. And Bauckham basically followed this approach when he presented his argument. You would read in suspense, trying to guess who the author is, and you would only get the answer at the very end (well, almost) of his book. We witness an example of good scholarship combined with superb literary style, and we know that our testimony is true.