Fr. Gerald O’Collins whose writing I very much like, and who I like and respect personally, is of the opinion that the “Beloved Disciple” is not the apostle John bar Zebedee. In his book, Jesus: A Portrait (which is very good, by the way, O’Collins writes:
“[There is] plausible (internal and external) evidence to rehabilitate the case for Simon Peter being the major eyewitness source behind the Gospel of Mark. The naming of Peter creates an ‘inclusion’ that holds together the Gospel from 1:16-18 right through to 16:7…the anonymous disciple of John 1:35-40 [is identified with] the beloved disciple of John 21:24, the ideal witness to Jesus who was with him “from the beginning” (John 15:27) and who “saw the glory” of the Incarnate Word of God (John 1:14). This establishes the major ‘inclusion’ in the Fourth Gospel, even though an ‘inclusion’ involving the chief shepherd, Peter, is not abandoned. He is present from Chapter 1 to Chapter 21, yet within the even wider involvement of the beloved disciple. That disciple spent hours with Jesus before Peter even set eyes on Jesus (John 1:35-42). [There exists] a strong case for the author of the Fourth Gospel being the beloved disciple, who is not to be identified with John the son of Zebedee or any other member of the Twelve. He was an individual disciple, a close follower of Jesus and is not to be dissolved into a merely representative figure.” (Bolding mine.)
Several of us in this forum think the Beloved Disciple can be none other than John bar Zebedee. Theologians and biblical scholars have put forth various theories on the identity of the Beloved Disciple. Some believe it to be John the Elder, some Lazarus, some even Mary Magdalene! I’d like to know what any other member thinks and why he or she came to the conclusion he or she did.