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The Beloved Disciple
Katherine C. Linforth
Who is the mysteriously-unnamed Beloved Disciple of Jesus, in the Gospel according to John?
Evidence from Mark’s Gospel indicates that Jesus’ brother Jacob (called “James” in the English New Testament) was a boy at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion. Following this premise, an examination of the Greek text of John’s Gospel reveals that this young brother Jacob is the Beloved Disciple – “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
Further, it is (the future adult) Jacob of whom Jesus speaks at the Supper, as the Paraclete/Spirit of Truth who will, in the following years, guide the disciples and remind them of Jesus’ words to them.
It is Jacob’s own death by stoning, in 62 C.E., which lies behind the deeply-moving story of the illness, death, and raising to life of “Lazarus.”
Implicit in John’s Gospel is a post-resurrection community, centred around, and led by, Mary Magdalene. Jacob’s own letters (1 and 2 John) to Mary Magdalene and her community reveal the tensions which arose in that community.
John, the evangelist, set out to record not only his understanding of the meaning of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, but also the significance of Jesus’ brother Jacob and Mary Magdalene for the fledgling church in the years between c30 and 62 C.E.
“I think that if anyone wants to write on the topic [the Beloved Disciple] then they have to take this book into account and give reasons for either agreeing or disagreeing with it.”
Robert Crotty - Emeritus Professor of Religion and Education
University of South Australia
Katherine C. Linforth, MTS, is a graduate of the MCD University of Divinity, Melbourne. Her current interest is the early church and the men and women who formed and influenced it, in the years between c.30 and 70 C.E.