Many Christians attribute authorship of Revelation to the same human as the Gospel of John. Yet, as discussed in the article Book of Revelation on Wikipedia, citing Adela Collins' book Crisis and Catharsis (1984),

"The author names himself as "John", but modern scholars consider it unlikely that the author of Revelation also wrote the Gospel of John."

What is a general survey of the arguments, according to critical scholars, that suggest that the author of the Book of Revelation is different than the Gospel of John?

Note this similar question.

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    Instead of voting to close it, I think it should be migrated back to where it was first asked. There it should be rephrased in such a manner as to say, "What is a general survey of the arguments, according to critical scholars, that suggest that author of the Book of Revelation is different than the Gospel of John?"
    – Jess
    Mar 14, 2023 at 19:02
  • @Jess I agree - that's the intent of the question. Mar 14, 2023 at 19:06
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    @Jess I've updated the text per suggestion. Mar 14, 2023 at 19:06
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    εἷς ἐκ in Jn. 1:40; 6:8, 71; 13:23; 18:26; 20:24 and Rev. 5:5; 7:13; 17:1; 21:9. It is a syntactic construction peculiar to both books.
    – Betho's
    Mar 14, 2023 at 20:05

1 Answer 1


To understand why some think the writer of the Revelation could not be the apostle John, a bit of historical background to things that happened in and after the second century A.D. will be helpful. This is taken from an Introduction to the Bible book of Revelation in the Study Bible cited:

"Many Jewish apocalypses were written after the close of the OT canon, at a time when Jews believed that prophecy had ceased and that the word of the Lord for them was primarily to be found in the Law and the Prophets. These Jewish writers therefore wrote under the names of earlier godly persons such as Ezra, Baruch, Enoch, Isaiah and even Adam so that their writings would gain credibility and acceptance. These works are called pseudepigrapha (literally 'false writings') because they were written under pseudonyms. Similarly, in the post-apostolic era, fanciful writers and false teachers returned to this practice by using the names of earlier followers of Jesus (such as Peter, James, John, and even Mary) to gain a hearing from Christians." New Living Translation Study Bible, p. 2164, 2008

This is pertinent to the question because it shows how the earliest seeds of doubts about authorship of sacred Christian literature were sown. Whereas the belief that the apostle John was the author of those seven letters sent to seven churches in Asia was not a problem when they got their letters, once more writings appeared under the name of 'John' some might then think the Revelation could have been by this John and not the apostle. Given that the apostle likely died soon after writing the Revelation (given his advanced age) later writings by someone called John could not possibly be the apostle John, so maybe the Revelation had actually been written by this other John? Seeds of doubt slowly sprout.

By the third century such doubt began to flourish. Here is another quote in another Introduction to the book of Revelation:

"In the third century, however, an African bishop named Dionysius compared the language, style and thought of the Apocalypse (Revelation) with that of the other writings of John and decided that the book could not have been written by the apostle John. He suggested that the author was a certain John the Presbyter, whose name appears elsewhere in ancient writings.

Although many today follow Dionysius in his view of authorship, the external evidence seems overwhelmingly supportive of the traditional view." New International Version Study Bible, p.1882, 1987 edition

It would therefore seem that the earliest open challenge to the authorship matter arose in the third century, due to Dionysius having read other religious literature written by John the Presbyter. What did the early Church believe about who the author was?

"In the early church, this John was generally identified as the apostle John, who refers to himself in the Gospel bearing his name as 'the disciple Jesus loved' (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:76); in his epistles, he calls himself 'the elder' (3 John 1:1)." New Living Translation Study Bible, p. 2164, 2008

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