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Gospels; but, says Dr. Farrar in his Appendix to the “Life of Christ,” vol. ii. p. 468, “In spite of the patient thought and consummate learning which have been devoted to the consideration, the data are clearly insufficient to decide convincingly how long Christ publicly taught on earth, nor shall we ever be able to attain any certainty on that deeply interesting question.'
Besides differences of time, there are those of place, Jesus teaching mostly in Galilee according to the first two Gospels—not in Jerusalem till his arrival there for the last time, and not in Samaria at all; but the fourth Gospel makes him teach in Samaria, and several times in Jerusalem, thus giving many journeys to and from Judæa and Galilee, which the first and second Gospels omit. The first appearance to the disciples, too, after the resurrection, the latest Gospel places in Jerusalem (as does the third), but the first and second place it in Galilee.
They also omit one or two marvellous acts alleged of Jesus, as the cure of the man born blind-an act, according to the fourth Gospel, of great notorietyand the crowning miracle of the raising of Lazarus ; so that, assuming these really occurred, it is astonishing how they could have been omitted by any writer conversant with the chief facts of Jesus' life.
Sometimes when the facts are given, they are assigned to different periods of the history, as, for example, the forcible clearance of the temple courtyard, relegated by Matthew and Mark to the
latter part of Jesus' public career, but placed by John at the very beginning.
Passing now from these external matters, mere adjuncts as they are in comparison, we come to other differences, more intimately affecting Jesus' life and teachings (letting alone the prominence given to Andrew and Philip in the fourth Gospel, and that to James and John in the Synoptics, the love for friends at Bethany, and for “the beloved disciple,” about which the Synoptics are silent), for example, in the Synoptics are data showing inferentially in him distinct traces of human imperfection, whereas in the fourth Gospel such marks are entirely absent.
Even to the writers of the first three Gospels the baptism of Jesus appears to have been a stumbling-block, yet they allow it to be seen that he did actually submit to “the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins," and that afterwards he was tempted (though not overcome) by the devil : but the fourth Gospel has no trace of either sin or temptation ; in it Jesus can triumphantly ask, “Which of you convinceth me of sin ?” It seems to exclude the baptism, for John states he knew not Jesus till the dove descended on him, which event is, in the Synoptics, placed after the baptism. It demands that the Son be honoured even as the Father, but in the Synoptics Jesus does not seek to be called “good,” thinking that title should be reserved for God, to whom alone it absolutely belongs. This Jesus does not know, for instance, when the destruction of Jerusalem will take
place; the Jesus of the latter Gospel knows “all things ” (see John xvi. 13-15, and 30).
The Jesus of the first Gospel does not know whether it is possible for the cup to pass without its being drunk : when the hour approached, he prayed that, if possible, he might be saved from it. But the Jesus of the last Gospel (as if it were to controvert the statements of the former), when his soul is troubled, asks, “What, then, shall I say? Shall I say, Father, save me from this hour, when it was for this cause I came to this hour?” And again, "The cup that my
Father hath given me, shall I not drink it ?" We can thus understand why the prayer in the garden of Gethsemane is omitted by the author of the fourth Gospel
And how different the scene at the arrest! In the first, Judas salutes his Master with a traitorous kiss, and the officers come forward and take him, while the disciples all fly (after the momentary valour of one of them); but in the last Gospel there is no necessity for the kiss, nor does it take place, for while Judas was with the officers Jesus approached and revealed himself, and his majestic bearing so struck them with awe, that they went backward and fell to the ground. Jesus quietly stipulates that his disciples be allowed to go.
Thus all the differences between the fourth Gospel and the others point one way: they all tend, in the fourth, to the glorification of Jesus, to his exaltation above humanity. Even at the tomb, two angels in John take the place of one in Matthew and Mark, while after the resurrection, though according to these the women to whom he appears come and hold him by the feet, in John his person is sacred—“Touch me not."
It is quite in keeping that, in the Synoptics, Jesus, who has been baptized by John, does not begin to make disciples nor to teach till after John has been sent to prison, and that his teaching should be, at first, only an echo of that of the Baptist (see Matt. iii. 1, 2): “In those days cometh John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judæa, saying, Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand ;” and Matt. iv. 12, “Now when he heard that John was delivered up, he withdrew into Galilee;" and (ver. 17) “From that time began Jesus to preach, and to say, Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
We should not expect the Jesus of the fourth Gospel to occupy such a position relative to John, but rather that in all things he would have the preeminence. Accordingly, there we do not find him following John in the simple announcement of the coming kingdom, and the consequent call to repentance (merely stepping, at first, into John's vacant place); but, while John is still baptizing, Jesus explains the second birth to Nicodemus, works many miracles in Jerusalem, and “After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judæa . . . and baptized.
For John was not yet cast into prison. . . . And they came unto John, and said to him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou hast borne witness, behold the same baptizeth, and all meny come to him (John iii. 22-26). So that before John was imprisoned, Jesus made and baptized more disciples than he (John iv. I). The discrepancy is all the greater if we look at the Synoptical account of John's success (Matt. iii. 5, 6). "Then went out unto him Jerusalem, and all Judæa, and all the region round about Jordan ; and they were baptized of him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins."
The difference between the synoptists and the author of the last Gospel in regard to the teaching of Jesus, has often been noticed.
In the judgment of our theologic statesman, “it is the works of the three synoptical writers, and not the Gospel of St. John, which exhibit to us, as far as a judgment can be formed, the ordinary and average tenour of our Saviour's life, and the true picture of its daily exhibition to the world.” " Though the strain of St. John's Gospel, and of the teaching of Christ in it, is very even, the occasions and audiences are very different." The different circumstances, then, sufficiently account to Mr. Gladstone for the difference in the teaching of the fourth Gospel, except only six chapters, of which he says, “The exceptional teaching, as I would venture to call it, of our Lord among the Jewish people . . . is really contained in the six chapters from the fifth to the tenth.” “All this portion of our Lord's teaching," he says,
profoundly charged with doctrine concerning his person. It is full and large in instruction for all times and all