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ness of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his witness is true." As to which of the disciples is here meant, we find a clue in verse 20 of the same chapter, which identifies him with "the disciple whom Jesus loved," who had been previously referred to in xx. 2, and xxi. 7, in association with Peter, and in xiii. 23, where he is described as 'reclining in Jesus' bosom" at the Last Supper. The presumption that the disciple thus designated was one of the sons of Zebedee, who were admitted along with Peter (as the other evangelists tell us) to a closer fellowship with their Master than the rest of the disciples, is strengthened by the remarkable circumstance that the two brothers are never mentioned in this Gospel, except in the second verse of the last chapter where they are referred to as "the sons of Zebedee." The position there assigned to them in the list of disciples is much lower than is usual in the other Gospels, and confirms us in the supposition that it was modesty that led the author to veil his own name (i. 35-42; xviii. 15, 16; xix. 26, 27), as well as that of his brother James and his mother Salome (whom he nowhere mentions unless at xix. 25), as he is in general very precise and explicit in his mode of designation. As between the two brothers, there can be no hesitation in assigning the authorship to John, since James early fell a victim to the Herodian persecution 44 A.D. (Acts xii. 2).
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If the Gospel was not written by the Apostle John, where shall we find a writer of the first century possessed of the intellectual gifts and the spiritual elevation needed for the production of so sublime a work?1
1 The name of John Mark (Acts xii. 12; xv. 37) has been suggested, on the supposition that he was "the disciple whom Jesus loved." But there is nothing in the New Testament to support the conjecture. The Gospel has also been attributed to "John the Presbyter," whom Papias mentions as an authority on apostolic traditions. But this
Besides the allusions to the inner life of Christ and His apostles which have already been referred to, there may be discerned in this Gospel, on a close examination, many other tokens of its apostolic origin.
(1) In its account of Christ's ministry it gives a faithful picture of the Messianic expectations which existed among the Jews prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, as well as of the conflict which Christ waged with their hopes of temporal sovereignty (i. 19-28; iv. 25; vi. 14, 15; vii.; xi. 47-53; xix. 12); while we also find traces of acquaintance with the Temple arrangements of the same period (ii. 13-16; iv. 20, 21; x. 23).
(2) It shows a minute acquaintance with Jewish customs (ii. 6 ; iii. 25; vii. 22; xi. 55; xix. 7, 31), manners (iv. 9, 27; vii. 2, 37; x. 22; xi. 44; xviii. 28; xix. 40), and opinions (i. 46; vii. 35, 41, 52; ix. 2, 16; x. 19-21), frequently giving explanations as if it were written by a Jew for foreign readers.
(3) It also shows a minute acquaintance with the topography of Jerusalem (v. 2; viii. 20; ix. 7; xi. 18; xviii. 1, 15; xix. 13, 17, 41), and with the geography of Palestine generally (i. 28; iii. 23; iv. 5, 35; xi. 54).
(4) It is circumstantial in many of its statements, and graphic in its delineation of character, bearing the stamp of personal knowledge such as would be possessed by an eye-witness (i. 29, 35-43; ii. 1, 20 ; iv. 6, 40, 52; vi. 16-24, "Elder" may have been no other than the Apostle (cf. 2 and 3 John, vv. 1), and it was not till the fourth century that he was put forward (by Eusebius) as a rival to the Apostle.
"We have to go to the fourth century, to the time of Chrysostom and Augustine, before we find any Christian writer whom it would not be absurd to regard as capable, even with the help of the Synoptic Gospels, of putting together such discourses as those in the Fourth Gospel" (Peabody). The character of the Apocryphal Gospels confirms this view.
x. 40, xi. 6, 39, etc.; xii. 1, xviii. 10, etc.; xix., 25, xx. 1-10, etc.).1
(5) While written in Greek, it is Hebraic in its style and structure, abounding in parallels and contrasts, both in expression and arrangement, and being marked by great simplicity of syntax (e.g. chap. i.), and it frequently quotes from the Old Testament, sometimes directly from the Hebrew (xiii. 18; xix. 37, etc.)
All that can be alleged against the apostolic authorship of the fourth Gospel, on account of its marked divergence from the other Gospels in the representation of Christ's character and teaching, is sufficiently met by the fact that "the synoptical Gospels contain the Gospel of the infant Church; that of St. John, the Gospel in its maturity. The first combine to give the wide experience of the many; the last embraces the deep mysteries treasured up by the one."2 If we suppose the fourth Gospel to have been written about 85 A.D., an interval of more than half a century would thus have elapsed since the death of Christ. During that time Christianity had spread into many lands and furnished subjects for reflection to many minds, while the Jewish expectations and prejudices which had clung to many of the early members of the Church had been in a great measure dissipated by the fall of Jerusalem. In these circumstances it was inevitable that the truths of the Gospel should be viewed in new lights and assume more speculative forms; and in Ephesus, as the great meetingplace of Oriental mysticism and Greek philosophy, the deeper questions and more theological aspects of the new religion would naturally claim a large measure of atten
1 Speaking generally, we may say that it is to this Gospel we are chiefly indebted for our knowledge of the individualities of the apostles and other (minor) characters.
2 Westcott's Introduction to the Study of the Gospels, p. 253.
tion. (Cf. Paul's Epistles to the Colossians and the Ephesians-Chaps. XV. and XVI.).
We thus see that, as the other Gospels had reference to distinct types of thought for which they were severally adapted, so the fourth Gospel was designed to meet the demand for a more intellectual presentation of divine truth, which might serve as an antidote to the Gnostic speculations which were imperilling the recognition at one time of Christ's divinity, and at another time of His humanity. In God's providence a worthy exponent of this phase of the Gospel was found in the aged Apostle John, whose heart and mind had been so receptive of divine truth even in his youth as to win for him the place of closest fellowship with his Master, and who had since then enjoyed the teaching of the Holy Spirit for a longer period than any of his fellows, and amid more intellectual surroundings, and was thus singularly fitted for the great task which Providence had assigned to him.1
2. Date of Composition.-85-90 A.D., as indicated above.
3. Character and Contents.-Many of the remarks that might have been made under this head have already found place in this chapter, and in the general discussion of the Gospels, where a contrast is drawn between the Synoptics and the fourth Gospel. On the whole perhaps no fitter epithet can be found for this Gospel than that applied to it by Clement of Alexandria at the close of the second century, viz. the spiritual Gospel. It may also
1 The higher social position, and, presumably, better education, of John and his brother (judging from his father's circumstances, his personal acquaintance with the high priest, and his mother's request for her two sons that they might sit the one on the right hand and the other on the left hand of the Saviour in His kingdom) are perhaps not without significance in this connection as helping to account for his wider intellectual sympathies, which fitted him to be "the Plato of the Twelve."
be described as the doctrinal or theological Gospel. It represents Christ's person and work not with special reference to the Past, or the Present, or the Future; but generally with reference to Eternity, in which Past, Present, and Future are alike included.
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Its great theme is set forth in the Prologue or Introduction (i. 1-18), which strikes the keynote of the whole Gospel, representing Christ as the Manifestation of the divine Being, the only Source of life and light, in human form, and, as such, the object, on the one hand, of saving faith, and the occasion, on the other hand, of the world's unbelief. The whole book is an elaboration of this sublime thought, wrought out with a singular union of depth and simplicity in close historical relation with the Lord's visits to Jerusalem at the national feasts, when He had occasion to press His claims, as the Revealer of the Father, upon the teachers of religion, in connection with the national expectation of the Messiah. This revelation, attested by various forms of divine witnessbearing (including miracles, which are always called "signs" in this Gospel, as expressions of Christ's glory), may be said to reach a climax in xii. 37-40 ("These things spake Jesus, and he departed and hid himself from them. But though he had done so many signs before them, yet they believed not on him.") The remainder of the book depicts, on the one hand, the downward course of the world's unbelief leading to the crucifixion, and on the other, the perfecting of the disciples' faith, which attains its final and typical expression in the
1 i. 1: "the Word was God." i. 14: "the Word became flesh." It matters little how far the apostle was indebted to Philo or other philosophising Jews for the use of the word "logos as a term of theology. In any case, he gave the word an entirely new application by connecting it with the Incarnation, using it thus as a means of bringing God nearer in a personal sense, instead of speculating about Him in the region of an abstract theology.