The Muratorian Tradition and the Gospel Text
C H A P T E R T W O: Irenaeus: Apologetic Ambiguity
C H A P T E R T W O Irenaeus: Apologetic Ambiguity The reason for the widespread abandonment of the full apostolic authorship of the Gospel is the clearer recognition that the external evidence is indeci- sive. It is not until we reach the last quarter of the second century that Ire- naeus provides us with our first unambiguous evidence in support of the traditional theory. Wilbert Howard, The Fourth Gospel in Recent Criticism, 1931 ut was Irenaeus’ evidence unambiguous? In fact his testimony, appar- ently so self-assured, presents persistent difficulties. About 185 Irenaeus, the Asian-born bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, wrote his book The Detection and Destruction of the Falsely-Named Knowledge, a long theological and historical treatise undertaken to maintain the truth of what he, following Ignatius of Antioch, called the catholic faith, principally against the system of those who interpreted the Gospel in a ‘spiritual’ sense. Along the way, as part of what he considered the received theology, Irenaeus defended prophecy, which he knew as part of the apostolic heritage, against those who, frightened by the outbreak of the ‘new prophecy’ in Phrygia, rejected prophecy entire.1 These proponents of a pneumatically charged millenarianism cited the Johannine doctrine of the Spirit, represented by both the Apocalypse of John, a self-proclaimed book of prophecy (Rev 1:3, 22:19), and by the discourses of John chapters 14–17, which foretold the out- pouring of the Comforter, the Paraclete, who would lead believers into all truth and promised that the...
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