I agree. It seems an exercise in frustration to fix every word with the purported author.
The Oxford Companion to the Bible (ISBN0-19-504645-5, 1993, Oxford University Press) has an excellent article about the Johannine authorship tradition and evidence. The author’s conclusion (Stephen Smalley) is that John’s church in Ephesus and his community of followers, in all likelihood, committed to writing the Apostle’s teachings about Jesus and the Apostle’s views of christian theology AFTER the passing of St John in 85 to 100 AD. Smalley references the archeological and textual evidence.
That said, I think it instructive to note how Henry VIII claimed authorship of “Greensleeves.” Pity the poor Court musician, forever nameless, who wrote it and had to verify to any and all who asked that indeed His Majesty the Orotund One did in fact pen such a pleasant aire!
Whenever a person of public or artistic stature dies, there arises a flurry of lost (letters and speeches of Lincoln; plays and poems of Shakespeare) manuscripts vying for the public’s appetite. Recently (well, a few decades past!) I remember the hundreds of purported Picasso drawings and artworks the master never brought to the light of day.
The traditional Gospel authors dovetail with the understanding and beliefs of their early audiences. There are enough textual problems and (seeming?) contradictions in Jesus’ ministry accounts and attributed phrases to keep self-appointed, bible-thumping, Sole-revelation-to-me Prophets of God ministers rolling in greenbacks through to the next millennium.
Let’s avoid the Protestant pitfalls of personal exegesis and continue to understand the WHOLE context and intent of God’s Cycle of Redemption as revealed through our Church.
Good discussion here, everyone!
Happy New Year and Pax Christi (or, “Peace on earth to men of good will!”)