Lazarus wrote John’s Gospel? says Ben Witherington III in Making a Meal of It. In under 20 pages, he makes an almost-airtight case that Jesus’ resurrected friend is the ‘Beloved Disciple.’ BWIII does so in a way that makes sense of the vastly different setting & stories of Jesus told in this gospel (versus the Synoptics), and second-century disputes about authorship. The first act of John culminates in the transformation of Lazarus, Witherington writes. The second act culminates – of course – with the transformation of Jesus. Jesus is at his most cosmic, powerful, and otherworldly, precisely because his story is told here by a friend who’d been raised from the dead – Lazarus proved to be a capable writer but one unable to have the mystery and under-statedness of, say, Mark’s gospel in its ambiguities regarding Jesus’ Messiahship. John of Patmos (not the same as John of Zebedee in the gospels) is then the editor of this work, adding the postscript about the Beloved Disciple’s death – a death that wouldn’t be expected to happen to a man raised from the dead ‘until Jesus comes.’

Showing Lazarus’ authorship of John isn’t why Dr. Ben writes Making a Meal of It, nor is it why I’m reading it. Nonetheless, its a segue that is alone worth the price of the book. Check it out!

PS: Though I haven’t read it yet, I can only imagine that this idea is the central plot device of Ben and Ann Witherington’s recently-released novel The Lazarus Effect, which Anne Rice describes as “Set against the intense, exotic, and vivid backdrop of modern Israel, yet delving into the deepest mysteries of the time of Christ, The Lazarus Effect won’t fail to entertain and inform. Highly recommended.”

8 Responses to “Lazarus wrote John’s Gospel?”

  1. 1 Ted November 17, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    Eons ago –well, okay, 20 years ago — celebrated Christian anarchist Vernard Eller made the same claim:

    I always thought it was an interesting thesis.

  2. 2 zoecarnate November 17, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    Wow Ted, I had no idea Eller had a similar hunch! Goes to show those Anabaptists are always ahead of the curve…

  3. 3 rahabsattic November 19, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Very interesting…

  4. 4 graham November 25, 2008 at 10:47 am

    I don’t know if I’d want to say that Lazarus wrote John’s gospel, but I think quite a good case can be made for saying he was the beloved disciple.

    I wrote about this a few years ago:

    What do you think of the BW book, apart from that?

  5. 5 Carrie Allen November 29, 2008 at 12:13 am

    Wow. I will definitely have to pick that book up.

  6. 6 Kathleen February 11, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    That is a really intriguing consideration about Lazarus. I did take a look at Vernard Eller’s link and tried to find how he deals with the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 26 verses 17-25, and looked at his chart. It says in the KJV in vs. 20 “he (Jesus) sat down with the twelve.” So, I’m thinking those are the same disciples as in John 13:21-26. I guess I’m really trying to see how to place Lazarus at the bosom of Jesus asking, “who is it?” in John 13:25, if he’s not placed among the Twelve at the Last Supper.

    So, to understand it could be Lazarus, we could understand that the Twelve were seated with Jesus, with other disciples including Lazarus who leaned on Jesus’ breast (Jn 13:25, 21:20), right? Tradition is a hard thing to get out of one’s mind when dealing with actual scriptural text.

    I actually want it to be Lazarus, because it ties the scene with his raising from the dead so beautifully. Great study!

    • 7 sahansdal June 7, 2012 at 3:59 pm

      It WAS “Lazarus”, but “Lazarus” isn’t Lazarus, but JAMES. He is the one who was raised from the dead by Jesus who the people were wanting to see, and the priests needed to kill as they were believing on Jesus “because of him”: John 12:10 and Hegesippus via Eusebius. See James the Brother of Jesus by Robert Eisenman, page 210.

  7. 8 sahansdal June 7, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Um, there’s a ton more to this than Lazarus writing John. Maybe he did or not, but I have determined that Lazarus, and JUDAS too, are merely cover figures for JAMES, just like Dr. Robert Eisenman showed for “Matthias” and “Stephen” of Acts. I can post the whole case (quite long) here if anyone wants to see it. Email me at sahansdal at yahoo dot come. I can post it or email it. The entire composition and compiling of the NT was expressly to write James out of history, because he was SUCCESSOR Master (savior) to Jesus.

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