Lazarus and the Fourth Gospel Community

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This study offers several important contributions to Gospel studies. First, it casts light on the Fourth Gospel's Beloved Disciple, setting forth four essential questions: 1.) Is this disciple meant as a real person who followed Jesus during his ministry? 2.) If so, who was he? 3.) What does "disciple whom Jesus loved" mean? 4.) Why does the Gospel refer to him without using his name? The author makes a thorough case that Lazarus of Bethany was the Beloved Disciple. A more significant contribution follows; Lazarus is identified as Eleazar, son of Boethus, whose sisters Miriam and Martha appear briefly in rabbinic literature. This identification is based on evidence in the Fourth Gospel, in Josephus, in second-century Christian tradition, and in the Talmud and Midrash. The assumption that the Synoptics are more reliable than the Fourth Gospel is challenged. The study raises new questions about the political situation during Jesus' ministry, and the profound theology of the Fourth Gospel is explained in view of Eleazar's background as the High Priest.


"Who was Lazarus? This last, most critical question is what Baltz devotes 109 amazingly insightful pages to answering, thereby cracking open the larger questions. . . . it is worth the effort of accessing the book. Frederick W. Baltz has opened a new door in the gospel we call John." - Sojourner

"He presents a broad range of evidence from the gospel itself and from external evidence from Josephus and from early Christian and rabbinic writings." - Theology Digest

"Dr. Baltz's clear logic and willingness to ask the difficult questions are admirable. His ability to bring new life to seemingly insignificant details is truly amazing at times. This careful exegetical approach, encompassing most of the Gospel, makes this book more than just a specialized monograph. It is a book which could easily be used in 'New Testament Introduction' courses. By pursuing an important theme throughout the Gospel, Dr. Baltz illumines many of the key literary and theological themes in John. . . . Dr. Baltz's discussion of Lazarus as the Beloved Disciple was more than just entertaining and thorough; it had, for me, the effect of significantly challenging my old views about the authorship of John. . . . his careful research, clear presentation and various new interpretations will certainly cause the Lazarus hypothesis to be considered anew by many." -- Dr. Lyle Vander Broek

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