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Classical scholar Clarence Mendell in (“The Books of Cornelius Tacitus”).This naming convention is important, since it specifically identifies Tacitus as the author of the work.
Since the Gospel was attributed to the apostle John, the son of Zebedee, early Christians concluded that he had composed employ a first person plural “we” …
That “we” probably refers to a circle of teachers faithful to the apostolic testimony of the Beloved Disciple and evangelist.
These titles normally identify the traditional author.
The standard naming convention for ancient literary works was to place the author’s name in the genitive case (indicating personal possession), followed by the title of the work.
We literally have thousands of different texts that have come down to us from antiquity, and each has its own unique textual-critical situation.
There are some general guidelines that can be applied broadly across all traditions, however, from which more specific guidelines can further be derived when assessing a particular tradition. This can include the author identifying himself, mentioning persons and events that he witnessed, or using a particular writing style that we know to be used by a specific person, etc.
To illustrate this, I will compare the evidence for the Gospels’ authors with that of a secular work, namely Tacitus’ .
Through looking at some of the same criteria that we can use to evaluate the authorial attributions of ancient texts, I will show why scholars have many good reasons to doubt the authors of the Gospels, while being confident in the authorship of a more solid tradition, such as what we have for a historical author like Tacitus. There is no single “one-size-fits-all” methodology that can be used for every single ancient text.
The traditional authors of the canonical Gospels–Matthew the tax collector, Mark the attendant of Peter, Luke the attendant of Paul, and John the son of Zebedee–are doubted among the majority of mainstream New Testament scholars.
The public is often not familiar, however, with the complex reasons and methodology that scholars use to reach well-supported conclusions about critical issues, such as assessing the authorial traditions for ancient texts.