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On the Trail of the Beloved Disciple

Traditionally, the “disciple whom Jesus loved” in the Fourth Gospel has been identified was John son of Zebedee. This is never explicit, however, in John or anywhere else. When I’m lecturing on the Gospel of John, I like to string my students along by raising other possibilities for the identity of the Beloved Disciple, especially Lazarus, who is explicitly called the one whom Jesus loves in John 11:3—and it is only after this point that we begin to hear about a disciple whom Jesus loves, starting in chapter 13.

Now I’m going to have to add another interesting possibility: that the Beloved Disciple was, in fact, the apostle Andrew. That is the argument presented by Gregory Doudna in his article, “The Case of the Purloined Apostle,” appearing today at The Bible and Interpretation.

Doudna makes an interesting case, though I still haven’t entirely shaken the theory, floated by some of the classmates back at seminary, that the Beloved Disciple is not, in fact R. Alan Culpepper. (And if he remains until Jesus returns, what is that to me?)

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