Gospel of St John

The fifth chapter tells of the cure of the paralytic at the pool of Bethsaida inJerusalem. According to theVulgatethe text of the second part of verse three and verse four runs as follows: . . . waiting for the moving of the water. And anangel of the Lorddescended at certain times into the pond, and the water was moved. And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water, was made whole, of whatsoever infirmity he lay under. But these words are wanting in the three oldestmanuscripts, theCodex Vaticanus(B),Codex Sinaiticus(aleph), and Codex Bez (D), in the original text of thepalimpsest of St. Ephraem(C), in the Syrian translation of Cureton, as well as in the Coptic and Sahidic translations, in some minuscules, in threemanuscriptsof the Itala, in four of theVulgate, and in some. Other copies append to the words a critical sign which indicates adoubtas to their authenticity. The passage is therefore regarded by the majority of modern critics, including the, Schegg, Schanz, Belser, etc., as a later addition by Papias or some other disciple of the Apostle.

Please help support the mission of New Adventand get the full contents of this website as an instant download. Includes the Catholic Encyclopedia, Church Fathers, Summa, Bible and more all for only $19.99…

(3) Comparison of the Gospel to the Johannine epistles

On the other hand, indirect testimony concerning this Gospel is also supplied by the oldestand the monuments of earlyChristian art. As to the former, we find from the very beginning texts from theFourth Gospelused in all parts of theChurch, and not infrequently with special predilection. Again, to take one example, the raising ofLazarusdepicted in theCatacombsforms, as it were, a monumental commentary on the eleventh chapter of the Gospel of St. John.The testimony of the Gospel itself

If we except thehereticsmentioned byIrenaeusAgainst HeresiesIII.11.9) and Epiphanius (Haer., li, 3), the authenticity of theFourth Gospelwas scarcely ever seriously questioned until the end of the eighteenth century. Evanson (1792) and Bretschneider (1820) were the first to run counter to tradition in the question of the authorship, and, since David Friedrich Strauss (1834-40) adopted Bretschneiders views and the members of the Tbingen School, in the wake of Ferdinand Christian Baur, denied the authenticity of this Gospel, the majority of the critics outside thehave denied that theFourth Gospelwas authentic. On the admission of many critics, their chief reason lies in the fact that John has too clearly and emphatically made thetrueDivinity of the Redeemer, in the strict metaphysical sense, the centre of his narrative. However, even Harnack has had to admit that, though denying the authenticity of theFourth Gospel, he has sought in vain for any satisfactory solution of the Johannine problem: Again and again have I attempted to solve the problem with various possible theories, but they led me into still greater difficulties, and even developed into contradictions. (Gesch. der altchristl. Lit., I, pt. ii, Leipzig, 1897, p. 678.)

All the early and the majority of modernexegetesare quite justified, therefore, in taking this strictly chronological arrangement of the events as the basis of their commentaries. The divergent views of a few modern scholars are without objective support either in the text of the Gospel or in the history of itsexegesis.Distinctive peculiarities

The first readers of theGospelwere theChristiansof the second and third generations inAsia Minor. There was no need of initiating them into the elements of the Faith; consequentlyJohnmust have aimed rather at confirming against the attacks of its opponents the Faith handed down by theirparents.Critical questions concerning the text

Of the second-century apologists,St. Justin(d. about 166), in an especial manner, indicates by hisdoctrineof the Logos, and in many passages of his apologies the existence of theFourth Gospel. His discipleTatian, in the chronological scheme of his Diatessaron, follows the order of theFourth Gospel, the prologue of which he employs as the introduction to his work. In his Apology also he cites a text from the Gospel.

In a far higher degree than in theSynoptics, the whole narrative of theFourth Gospelcentres round the Person of the Redeemer. From his very opening sentences John turns his gaze to the inmost recesses ofeternity, to the Divine Word in the bosom of the Father. He never tires of portraying the dignity and glory of the Eternal Word Who vouchsafed to take up His abode among men that, while receiving the revelation of His Divine Majesty, we might also participate in the fullness of His grace andtruth. As evidence of the Divinity of the Saviour the author chronicles some of the great wonders by which Christ revealed His glory, but he is far more intent on leading us to a deeper understanding ofChristsDivinity and majesty by a consideration of His words, discourses, and teaching, and to impress upon our minds the far more glorious marvels of His Divine Love.Authorship

Of still greater importance is the testimony ofSt. IrenusBishopofLyons(d. about 202), linked immediately with theApostolicAge as he is, through his teacherPolycarp, the disciple of the Apostle John. The native country ofIrenaeusAsia Minor) and the scene of his subsequent ministry (Gaul) render him a witness of the Faith in both the Eastern and theWestern Church. He cites in his writings at least one hundred verses from theFourth Gospel, often with the remark, as John, the disciple of the Lord, says. In speaking of the composition of theFour Gospels, he says of the last: Later John, the disciple of the Lord who rested on His breast, also wrote a Gospel, while he was residing at Ephesus inAsia(Adv. Haer., III, i, n. 2). As here, so also in the other texts it is clear that by John, the disciple of the Lord, he means none other than the Apostle John.

Passing over the intimate circumstances with which early legend has clothed the composition of theFourth Gospel, we shall discuss briefly the time and place of composition, and the first readers of theGospel.

Still clearer grounds for this view are to be found in the express testimony of the author. Having mentioned in his account of the Crucifixion that the disciple whomstood beneath the Cross beside themother of JesusJohn 19:26 s电话.), he adds, after telling of the Death of Christ and the opening of His side, the solemn assurance: And he that saw it hath given testimony; and his testimony istrue. And he knoweth that he saithtrue: that you also may believe (xix, 35). According to the admission of all John himself is the disciple whom the Lordloved. His testimony is contained in the Gospel which for many consecutive years he has announced by word of mouth and which he now sets down in writing for the instruction of thefaithful. He assures us, not merely that this testimony istrue, but that he was a personal witness of itstruth. In this manner he identifies himself with the disciple beloved of the Lord who alone could give such testimony from intimateknowledge. Similarly the author repeats this testimony at the end of his Gospel. After again referring to the disciple whom, he immediately adds the words: This is that disciple who giveth testimony of these things, and hath written these things; and weknowthat his testimony istrueJohn 21:24). As the next verse shows, his testimony refers not merely to the events just recorded but to the whole Gospel. It is more in accordance with the text and the general style of theEvangelistto regard these final words as the authors own composition, should we prefer, however, to regard this verse as the addition of the first reader and disciple of the Apostle, the text constitutes the earliest and most venerable evidence of the Johannine origin of theFourth Gospel.

Concerning the last chapter of the Gospel a few remarks will suffice. The last two verses of the twentieth chapter indicate clearly indeed that theEvangelistintended to terminate his work here: Many other signs also didJesusin the sight of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written, that you may believe thatJesusis the Christ, theSon of God: and thatbelieving, you may have life in his name (xx, 30 sq.). But the sole conclusion that can bededucedfrom this is that the twenty-first chapter was afterwards added and is therefore to be regarded as an appendix to the Gospel. Evidence has yet to be produced to show that it was not theEvangelist, but a

Otherexegetes, e.g. Corluy, Comely, Knabenbauer, andMurillo, defend the authenticity of the passage urging in its favour important internal and external evidence. In the first place the words are found in theCodex Alexandrinus(A), the emendedCodex Ephraemi(C), in almost all minusculemanuscripts, in sixmanuscriptsof the Itala, in most of thecodicesof theVulgate, including the best, in the Syrian Peshito, in the Syrian translation of Philoxenus (with a critical mark), in the Persian, Arabic, and Slavonic translations, and in somemanuscriptsof theArmeniantext. More important is the fact that, even before thedateof our presentcodices, the words were found by many of the Greek andin the text of the Gospel. This is clear fromTertullianOn Baptism1(before 202)],Didymus of Alexandria[De Trin., II, xiv (about 381)],St. John ChrysostomSt. Cyril of AlexandriaSt. AmbroseSt. Augustine[Sermo xv (al. xii), De verbis Evangelii S. Joannis), although the last-mentioned, in his tractate on the Gospel of St. John, omits the passage.

V. Critical Questions Concerning the Text;

In the first place from the general character of the work we are enabled to draw some inferences regarding its author. To judge from the language, the author was a PalestinianJew, who was well acquainted with the Hellenic Greek of the upper classes. He also displays an accurateknowledgeof the geographical and social conditions of Palestine even in his slightest incidental references. He must have enjoyed personal intercourse with the Saviour and must even have belonged to the circle of his intimate friends. The very style of his chronicle shows the writer to have been an eyewitness of most of the events. Concerning the Apostles John and James the author shows a thoroughly characteristic reserve. He never mentions their names, although he gives those of most of the Apostles, and once only, and then quite incidentally, speaks of the sons of Zebedee (21:2). On several occasions, when treating of incidents in which the Apostle John was concerned, he seems intentionally to avoid mentioning his name (John 1:37-4018:15, 16; cf.20:3-10). He speaks ofJohn the precursornine times without giving him the title of the Baptist, as the otherEvangelistsinvariably do to distinguish him from the Apostle. All these indications point clearly to the conclusion that the Apostle John must have been the author of theFourth Gospel.

(2) The express testimony of the author

The Gospel itself also furnishes an entirely intelligible solution of the question of authorship.

I. Contents and Scheme of the Gospel;

A short examination of the arguments bearing on the solution of the problem of the authorship of theFourth Gospelwill enable the reader to form an independent judgment.Direct historical proof

In addition to the direct and express testimony, the firstChristiancenturies testify indirectly in various ways to the Johannine origin of theFourth Gospel. Among this indirect evidence the most prominent place must be assigned to the numerous citations of texts from the Gospel which demonstrate its existence and the recognition of its claim to form a portion of the canonical writings of theNew Testament, as early as the beginning of the second century.St. Ignatius of Antioch, who died underTrajan(98-117), reveals in the quotations, allusions, andtheologicalviews found in his Epistles, an intimate acquaintance with theFourth Gospel. In the writings of the majority of the otherApostolic Fathers, also, a like acquaintance with this Gospel can scarcely be disputed, especially in the case ofPolycarp, the Martyrium of Polycarp, theEpistle to Diognetus, and the Pastor of Hermas (cf. the list of quotations and allusions in F. X. Funks edition of theApostolic Fathers).

The ancientmanuscriptsand translations of the Gospel constitute the first group of evidence. In the titles, tables of contents, signatures, which are usually added to the text of the separate Gospels, John is in every case and without the faintest indication ofdoubtnamed as the author of this Gospel. The earliest of the extantmanuscripts, it istrue, do not date back beyond the middle of the fourth century, but the perfect unanimity of all thecodicesproves to every critic that the prototypes of thesemanuscripts, at a much earlier date, must have contained the same indications of authorship. Similar is the testimony of the Gospel translations, of which the Syrian, Coptic, and Old Latin extend back in their earliest forms to the second century.

If, as is demanded by the character of the historical question, we first consult the historical testimony of the past, we discover the universally admitted fact that, from the eighteenth century back to at least the third, the Apostle John was accepted without question as the author of theFourth Gospel. In the examination of evidence therefore, we may begin with the third century, and thence proceed back to the time of theApostles.

What first attracts our attention in the subject matter of the Gospel is the confinement of the narrative to the chronicling of events which took place inJudeaandJerusalem. Of theSaviourslabours inGalileeJohn relates but a few events, without dwelling on details, and of these events only two the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (vi, 1-16), and the sea-voyage (vi, 17-21) are already related in the Synoptic Gospels.

LikeTatian, whoapostatizedabout 172 and joined theof theEncratites, several otherhereticsof the second century also supply indirect testimony concerning theFourth GospelBasilidesappeals toJohn 1:8and2:4. Valentine seeks support for his theories of the ons in expressions taken from John; his pupil Heracleon composed, about 160, a commentary on theFourth Gospel, while Ptolemy, another of his followers, gives an explanation of the prologue of theEvangelistMarcionpreserves a portion of the canonical text of the Gospel of St. John (xiii, 4-15; xxxiv, 15, 19) in his ownapocryphalgospel. TheMontanistsdeduce theirdoctrineof theParacletemainly fromJohn 15and16. Similarly in his True Discourse (about 178) theCelsus bases some of his statements on passages of theFourth Gospel.

We can therefore, maintain with the utmost certainty thatJohn the Apostle, the favourite disciple ofJesus, was really the author of theFourth Gospel.Circumstances of the composition

TheFourth Gospelis written in Greek, and even a superficial study of it is sufficient to reveal many peculiarities, which give the narrative a distinctive character. Especially characteristic is the vocabulary and diction. His vocabulary is, it istrue, less rich in peculiar expressions than that of Paul or of Luke: he uses in all about ninety words not found in any other hagiographer. More numerous are the expressions which are used more frequently by John than by the other sacred writers. Moreover, in comparison with the other books of theNew Testament, the narrative of St. John contains a very considerable portion of those words and expressions which might be called the common vocabulary of the FourEvangelists.

We find that the same conviction concerning the authorship of theFourth Gospelis expressed at greater length in theRoman Church, about 170, by the writer of theMuratorian Fragment(lines 9-34). BishopTheophilus of AntiochinSyria(before 181) also cites the beginning of theFourth Gospelas the words of John (Ad Autolycum, II, xxii). Finally, according to the testimony of a Vaticanmanuscript(Codex Regin Sueci seu Alexandrinus, 14), Bishop Papias of Hierapolis in Phrygia, an immediate disciple of the Apostle John, included in his greatexegeticalwork an account of the composition of the Gospel by St. John during which he had been employed as scribe by theApostle.

As to thedateof its composition we possess no certain historical information. According to the general opinion, the Gospel is to be referred to the last decade of the first century, or to be still more precise, to 96 or one of the succeeding years. The grounds for this opinion are briefly as follows:theFourth Gospelwas composed after the threeSynoptics;it was written after the death of Peter, since the last chapter – especially xxi, 18-19 presupposes the death of the Prince of the Apostles;it was also written after the destruction ofJerusalemand the Temple, for theEvangelistsreferences to theJews(cf. particularly xi, 18; xviii, 1; xix, 41) seem to indicate that the end of the city and of the people as a nation is already come;the text of xxi, 23, appears to imply that John was already far advanced in years when he wrote the Gospel;those who denied the Divinity ofChrist, the very point to which St. John devotes special attention throughout his Gospel, began to disseminate theirheresyabout the end of the first century;finally, we have direct evidence concerning thedateof composition. The so-called Monarchian Prologue to theFourth Gospel, which was probably written about the year 200 or a little later, says concerning thedateof the appearance of the Gospel: He [sc. the Apostle John] wrote this Gospel in the Province ofAsia, after he had composed the Apocalypse on the Island of Patmos. The banishment of John to Patmos occurred in the last year ofDomitiansreign (i.e. about 95). A few months before his death (18 September, 96), the emperor had discontinued thepersecutionof theChristiansand recalled the exiles (EusebiusChurch HistoryIII.20.5-7). This evidence would therefore refer the composition of the Gospel to A.D. 96 or one of the years immediately following.

It is thus possible, even from the purely critical standpoint, to adduce strong evidence in favour of the canonicity and inspired character of this pericope, which by decision of theCouncil of Trent, forms a part of theHoly Bible.John 21

As regards the text of the Gospel, the critics take special exception to three passages,5:3-47:53-8:11; and21.John 5:3-4

In speaking ofSt. PapiasEusebiussays (Church HistoryIII.39.17) that he used in his work passages from the First Epistle of St. John. But this Epistle necessarily presupposes the existence of the Gospel, of which it is in a way the introduction or companion work. Furthermore, St. Irenus (Adv. Haer., V, xxxii, 2) cites a sentence of the presbyters which contains a quotation fromJohn 14:2, and, according to the opinion of those entitled to speak as critics,St. Papiasmust be placed in the front rank of thepresbyters.

What is even more distinctive than the vocabulary is the grammatical use of particles, pronouns, prepositions, verbs, etc., in the Gospel of St. John. It is also distinguished by many peculiarities of style, asyndeta, reduplications, repetitions, etc. On the whole, theEvangelistreveals a close intimacy with the Hellenistic speech of the first century of our era. which receives at his hands in certain expressions a Hebrew turn. His literary style is deservedly lauded for its noble, natural, and not inartistic simplicity. He combines in harmonious fashion the rustic speech of theSynopticswith the urban phra搜索引擎优化logy ofSt. Paul.

Finally we can obtain evidence Concerning the author from the Gospel itself, by comparing his work with the three Epistles, which have retained their place among theCatholic Epistlesas the writings of the Apostle John. We may here take for granted as a fact admitted by the majority of the critics, that these Epistles are the work of the same writer, and that the author was identical with the author of the Gospel. In fact the arguments based on the unity of style and language, on the uniform Johannine teaching, on the testimony ofChristianantiquity, render any reasonabledoubtof the common authorship impossible. At the beginning of the Second and Third Epistles the author styles himself simply thepresbyter evidently the title ofhonourby which he was commonly known among theChristiancommunity. On the other hand, in his First Epistle, he emphasizes repeatedly and with great earnestness the feet that he was an eyewitness of the facts concerning the life of Christ to which he (in his Gospel) had borne testimony among theChristians: That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and our hands have handled, of the word of life: for the life was manifested; and we have seen and do bear witness, and declare unto you the life eternal, which was with the Father, and hath appeared to us: that which we have seen and have heard, we declare unto you (1 John 1:1-3; cf.4:14). This presbyter who finds it sufficient to use such an honorary title without qualification as his proper name, and was likewise an eye- and earwitness of the incidents of the Saviours life, can be none other than the Presbyter John mentioned by Papias, who can in turn be none other thanJohn the Apostle(cf.SAINT JOHN THE EVANGELIST).

This subject will be considered under the following heads:

The place of composition was, according to the above-mentioned prologue, the province ofAsia. Still more precise is the statement of St. Irenaeus, who tells us that John wrote hisGospelat Ephesus inAsiaAgainst HeresiesIII.1.2). All the other early references are in agreement with these statements.

(1) The general character of the work

It is scarcelynecessaryto repeat that, in the passages referred to, Papias and the other ancient writers have in mind but one John, namely the Apostle andEvangelist, and not some other Presbyter John, to be distinguished from the Apostle. (SeeSAINT JOHN THE EVANGELIST.)Indirect external evidence

The evidence given by the earlyecclesiasticalauthors, whose reference to questions of authorship is but incidental, agrees with that of the above mentioned sources.St. Dionysius of Alexandria(264-5), it istrue, sought for a different author for the Apocalypse, owing to the special difficulties which were being then urged by the Millennarianists inEgypt; but he always took for granted as an undoubted fact that the Apostle John was the author of theFourth Gospel. Equally clear is the testimony ofOrigen(d. 254). Heknewfrom the tradition of theChurchthat John was the last of theEvangeliststo compose his Gospel (EusebiusChurch HistoryVI.25.6), and at least a great portion of his commentary on the Gospel of St. John, in which he everywhere makes clear his conviction of the Apostolic origin of the work has come down to us.Origensteacher,Clement of Alexandria(d. before 215-6), relates as the tradition of the old presbyters, that the Apostle John, the last of theEvangelists, filled with the Holy Ghost, had written a spiritual Gospel (Eusebius, op. cit., VI, xiv, 7).

The context of the narrative seems necessarily to presuppose the presence of the words. The subsequent answer of the sick man (v. 7), Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pond. For whilst I am coming, another goeth down before me, could scarcely be intelligible without verse 4, and theEvangelistis not accustomed to omit suchnecessaryinformation from his text. Thus both sides have good grounds for their opinions, and no final decision on the question, from the standpoint of the textual critic, seems possible.John 7:53-8:11

IV. Circumstances of the Composition;

According to the traditional order, the Gospel of St. John occupies the last place among the four. Although in many of the ancient copies this Gospel was, on account of the Apostolic dignity of the author inserted immediately after or even before the Gospel of St. Matthew, the position it occupies today was from the beginning the most usual and the most approved. As regards its contents, the Gospel of St. John is a narrative of thelife of Jesusfrom Hisbaptismto HisResurrectionand His manifestation of Himself in the midst of His disciples. The chronicle falls naturally into four sections:the prologue(i, 1-18), containing what is in a sense a brief epitome of the whole Gospel in thedoctrineof the Incarnation of the Eternal Word;the first part(i, 19-xii, 50), which recounts the public life ofJesusfrom Hisbaptismto the eve of HisPassion,the second part(xiii-xxi, 23), which relates the history of the Passion andResurrectionof theSaviour;a short epilogue(xxi, 23-25), referring to the great mass of the Saviours words and works which are not recorded in the Gospel.When we come to consider the arrangement of matter by theEvangelist, we find that it follows the historical order of events, as is evident from the above analysis. But the author displays in addition a special concern to determine exactly the time of the occurrence and the connection of the various events fitted into this chronological framework. This is apparent at the very beginning of his narrative when, as though in a diary he chronicles the circumstances attendant on the beginning of the Saviours public ministry, with four successive definite indications of the time (i, 29, 35, 43, ii, 1). He lays special emphasis on the firstmiracles: This beginning ofmiraclesdidJesusin Cana ofGalilee(ii, 11), and Thisisagain the secondmiraclethatJesusdid, when he was come out ofJudeaintoGalilee(iv, 54). Finally, he refers repeatedly throughout to the great religious and national festivals of theJewsfor the purpose of indicating the exact historical sequence of the facts related (ii, 13; v, 1; vi, 4; vii, 2; x, 22; xii, 1, xiii, 1).

A second limitation of material is seen in the selection of his subject-matter, for compared with the otherEvangelists, John chronicles but fewmiraclesand devotes his attention less to the works than to the discourses ofJesus. In most cases the events form, as it were, but a frame for the words, conversation, and teaching of the Saviour and His disputations with His adversaries. In fact it is the controversies with the Sanhedrists atJerusalemwhich seem especially to claim the attention of theEvangelist. On such occasions Johns interest, both in the narration of the circumstances and in the recording of the discourses and conversation of the Saviour, is a highlytheologicalone. Withjustice, therefore, was John conceded even in the earliest ages ofChristianity, the honorary title of the theologian of theEvangelists. There are, in particular, certain greattruths, to which he constantly reverts in his Gospel and which may be regarded as his governingideas, special mention should be made of such expressions as the Light of the World, the Truth, the Life, the Resurrection, etc. Not infrequently these or other phrases are found in pithy, gnomic form at the beginning of a colloquy or discourse of the Saviour, and frequently recur, as aleitmotif, at intervals during the discourse (e.g. vi, 35, 48, 51, 58; x, 7, 9; xv, 1, 5; xvii, 1, 5; etc.).

This passage contains the story of the adulteress. The external critical evidence seems in this ease to give still clearer decision against the authenticity of this passage. It is wanting in the four earliestmanuscripts(B, A, C, andaleph) and many others, while in many copies it is admitted only with the critical mark, indicative ofdoubtfulauthenticity. Nor is it found in the Syrian translation of Cureton, in theSinaiticus, the Gothic translation, in mostcodicesof the Peshito, or of the Coptic andArmeniantranslations, or finally in the oldestmanuscriptsof the Itala. None of thehave treated the incident in their commentaries, and, among Latin writers,TertullianCyprian, and Hilary appear to have noknowledgeof this pericope.

Notwithstanding the weight of the external evidence of these important authorities, it is possible to adduce still more important testimony in favour of the authenticity of the passage. As for themanuscripts, weknowon the authority ofSt. Jeromethat the incident was contained in many Greek and Latincodices(Contra Pelagium, II, xvii), a testimony supported today by the Codex Bez ofCanterbury(D) and many others. The authenticity of the passage is also favoured by theVulgate, by the Ethiopians Arabic, and Slavonic translations, and by manymanuscriptsof the Itala and of theArmenianand Syrian text. Of the commentaries of the, the books ofOrigendealing with this portion of the Gospel are no longer extant; only a portion of the commentary ofSt. Cyril of Alexandriahas reached us, while thehomiliesofSt. John Chrysostomon theFourth Gospelmust be considered a treatment of selected passages rather than of the whole text. Among the, Sts.AmbroseandAugustineincluded the pericope in their text, and seek an explanation of its omission from othermanuscriptsin the fact that the incident might easily give rise to offense (cf. especiallyAugustine, De coniugiis adulteris, II, vii). It is thus much easier to explain the omission of the incident from many copies than the addition of such a passage in so many ancient versions in all parts of theChurch. It is furthermore admitted by the critics that the style and mode of presentation have not the slightest trace ofapocryphalorigin, but reveal throughout the hand of atruemaster. Too much importance should not be attached to variations of vocabulary, which may be found on comparing this passage with the rest of the Gospel, since the correct reading of the text is in many placesdoubtful, and any such differences of language may be easily harmonized with the strongly individual style of theEvangelist.

Leave a Reply