Baltz, Frederick W. Books

Lazarus and the Fourth Gospel Community
1995 0-7734-2428-8
This study offers several important contributions to Gospel studies. First, it casts light on the Fourth Gospel's Beloved Disciple, setting forth four essential questions: 1.) Is this disciple meant as a real person who followed Jesus during his ministry? 2.) If so, who was he? 3.) What does "disciple whom Jesus loved" mean? 4.) Why does the Gospel refer to him without using his name? The author makes a thorough case that Lazarus of Bethany was the Beloved Disciple. A more significant contribution follows; Lazarus is identified as Eleazar, son of Boethus, whose sisters Miriam and Martha appear briefly in rabbinic literature. This identification is based on evidence in the Fourth Gospel, in Josephus, in second-century Christian tradition, and in the Talmud and Midrash. The assumption that the Synoptics are more reliable than the Fourth Gospel is challenged. The study raises new questions about the political situation during Jesus' ministry, and the profound theology of the Fourth Gospel is explained in view of Eleazar's background as the High Priest.