IV
THE "ELDER" AND THE ADVANCED CRITICS

THERE is commonly supposed to be good authority for saying that there died and was buried in Ephesus a certain Elder or Presbyter John, who was not the Apostle but who, like the Apostle, was an original disciple of our Lord. It is suggested, then, that Irenæus and others, who were taught by men who had associated with this Elder, mistakenly supposed him to have been the Apostle, whereas, it is urged, the Apostle John never was in Ephesus.

I start with the disadvantage of not believing that the elder in question ever existed at all. Belief in him is derived from Eusebius, who discovers a reference to such a person distinct from the Apostle in a passage which he quotes from Papias, bishop of Hierapolis, who wrote probably between 130 and 140 A.D. Papias, as he tells us, with evident justice, was a remarkably stupid man, and the passage in question is a slightly rambling boast -- not without a sort of confused eloquence -- of the extent of his inquiries from or about the older generation, in which the name John occurs twice over. When Eusebius construes him as referring to two different Johns, I believe that, as may happen to a scholar reading the words of a less educated man, he has failed to catch his drift. But as scholars from St. Jerome to Dr. Stanton

-36-

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