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The Origins of the New Testament

The Origins of the New Testament: Chapter 7

Chapter VII


WE have already unmasked the audacious literary fiction by means of which the Gospel called John's was introduced to the Asiatic churches among which it was first published and presented as embodying the only perfect type of Gospel catechesis. Such a mode of presenting the book makes it clear that the intention of its authors was not to complete the synoptic catechesis but to supplant it outright, in which, however, this new catechesis did not succeed. It is equally certain that the Johannine Gospel owed much, in its first form, to the Synoptics, and that in order, at a later stage and in regions outside that of its origin, to render it acceptable along with them, various additions were made to it with a view to bringing it more into line with the books in opposition to which it was at first brought out, and giving it a greater resemblance to them. The first publication can hardly have been effected before 135-140; the additions and retouches on synoptic lines will have been introduced soon afterwards when Asiatic Christianity was uniting with that of other churches to make common front against the flood of gnosticism and especially against Marcion. It is none the less true that the fourth Gospel is, essentially, a gnostic document, although its structure-form proclaims it a Christian catechism: moreover it has absorbed a number of gnostic pieces, rhythmic utterances of mystic teaching, originally composed outside the Gospel framework and incorporated with it by methods to be indicated presently, just as the Synoptics have incorporated many a fragment of the earlier eschatological teaching. The result is that the Johannine catechesis is hardly less complex than the synoptic. We cannot claim to untie all its knots. At least let us see what patient analysis of the book will reveal. 

Taking it as traditionally constructed we can distinguish in it two principal parts: first, the Epiphany of the Christ, as Logos or incarnate Son of God, in his public ministry (i-xi); second, the preliminaries, teachings and circumstances of his death and resurrection (xii-xxi). 



Dissertation on the prologue to John, its origin, integrity and relation to the body of the book, has been going on for a lone time and in many quarters. Here we confine ourselves to a positive statement of what seems to us most probable. Taken as tradition presents it (i, 1-18) the prologue is not a part of the Gospel in the sense of a preface summarizing its theme, but a deeply thought out explanation of what is to follow, and this explanation, thrown into the form of a theological poem, may originally have existed independently of the book to which it is now attached. This prologue, moreover, in the canonical presentation of it, has been glossed and surcharged, as the Gospel itself has also been in every one of its parts.

The first strophe declares the origin, creative activity and life-giving manifestation of the divine Logos (1-5; in 3-4 the logical and rhythmical balance of the strophe requires the cutting of the lines thus: "And without him nothing has come into being. What has come into being, in him was life. And the life," etc.). Our prologue thus announces itself at the outset as, in substance, a piece of high gnosis, and a poem exactly rhythmical in form. But what now follows immediately is not in perfect keeping with this sublime beginning. At this point, and again later on, the sequence is broken by reference to John the Baptist, two interpolations, each striking a false note in the context and dislocating its primitive structure (6-8, 15-16). The object of these intrusions is clearly that of conforming our Gospel to the synoptic tradition freely interpreted in the sense of the Johannine gnosis. But it would be grave error to suppose, as some have done, that the prologue was originally concerned with John the Baptist himself. Whatever may have been said, the Mandean texts 'furnish not the slightest support to such a conjecture. [1]

It is in concrete terms that the author of the poem describes the manifestation of the divine Logos, made flesh that he may gather around him the children of God, these regenerated by the grace and truth which Jesus Christ procures for his own, as Moses procured Law for the Jews. But the gloss which brings John the Baptist into the poem is not solitary; others have been practised. The line "to those who believe in his name

[1] See Le Mandeism et les origines chretiennes (27-46, 148-155).


(12c) is an explanation co-ordinate to what follows in the traditional text, "they who are not born of blood," etc. At first sight one sees no need to say that the children of God are not made such by human generation: but the primitive reading is that known to Irenaeus and Tertullian: "He who was born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh (nor of the will of man) but of God," the words "nor of the will of a man" having been added to emphasize the miraculous conception of the Christ, the original text simply stating that the Christ was born of God, because the Logos had taken flesh to himself by a mode with which natural generation had nothing whatever to do (cf. Jesus' reply to Mary, ii, 4 and Hebrews vii, 3). After (i, 14): "And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us" the next words should be "full of grace and truth" continuing with 16-17, and dropping "we beheld his glory, as of the only begotten son from the Father," the last a heavy handed and prosaic gloss. Finally, the verse (i, 18): "No man has seen the Father," etc., is a theological gloss intended to explain how the Word-Son, as the sole master of the mystery and the exegete of God, is able to bring grace and truth into the world.

Restored to its original form the primitive poem would read as follows: [1]

Au commencement etait le Logos,
et le Logos etait pres de Dieu,
et le Logos etait dieu.
Il etait au commencement pres de Dieu:
tout par lui s'est fait,
et sans lui ne s'est fait rien.
Ce qui s'est fait en lui fut vie,
et la vie etait la lumiere des hommes;
Et la lumiere dans les tenebres luit,
et les tenebres ne l'ont point saisie. [  ]
La lumiere vraie,
qui eclaire tout homme
est venue dans le monde,
Dans le monde Il fut,
le monde (qui) par lui a ete fait,
et le monde ne le connut pas.

[1] As translation would destroy the rhythm of the poem as here restored by M. Loisy, his version is presented in the original. The empty brackets indicate the points at which the poem has been glossed or interpolated. Translator's note.


Chez lui il est venu,
et les siens ne le recurent pas;
Mais, tous ceux qui l'ont recu,
il leur a donne pouvoir de devenir enfants de Dieu. [  ]
Lui qui, non des sangs,
ni du vouloir de la chair, [  ]
mais de Dieu est ne.
Le Logos est devenu chair
et il a habite parmi nous, [  ]
plein de grace et de verite. [  ]
(Et) de sa plenitude tous nous avons recu,
grace pour grace,
Parce que la Loi par Moise a ete donnee,
la grace et la verite par Jesus-Christ sont arrivees. [  ]

John the Baptist has been surreptitiously introduced into the prologue by way of preparing for his express testimony to the Christ. This testimony is distributed over two major scenes (i, 19-28, 29-36) which are again subdivided into smaller. The opening scene presents, first, the question of the priests; then, the question of the Pharisees: the second contains, in the first half, John's direct and express witness to "the Lamb of God," whose precursor he declares himself to be; in the second he claims to have seen the Spirit descending upon him who baptizes in the Spirit. "The Lamb" must have been consciously borrowed from the Apocalypse; in the final phase of the Gospel we shall find the mystical relation of the Christ to the paschal lamb clearly indicated. The utmost care is taken to avoid the statement that Jesus was baptized by John, and the general outlines of the scene, in spite of apparent precision in a few details, are wavering and uncertain. The indication of the locality where John was then operating as "Bethany beyond Jordan" has the look of affectation on the part of the narrator. He seems to have known all the places he mentions, but it would be imprudent to conclude that there is any historical warrant for localizing the Baptist at Bethany. Many a marvel which never took place is localized by our narrator quite as minutely as is the incident before us.

Editorial artifice is not less apparent in representing the first disciples of Jesus as sent to him by John; but the transition to the stories (35-37) is unnatural and the indication of the return to Galilee (43) is out of place. The disciples are called up on four


occasions (35-39, 40-42, 43, 44-51), all four first conceived as preliminary to the coming manifestation of the Christ in Galilee. The anonymous disciple of the first vocation, discreetly associated with Andrew, and won to the faith before Peter, is probably he who later on will be marked out as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (xiii, 23). Peter, when his turn comes, is nevertheless allowed a certain prominence, this being the occasion on which Simon receives his surname, but without any indication of its mystic meaning. The Philip, here honoured by a call confined to himself alone (43), is probably the Philip of whom Asiatic Christianity retained some memory. Nathanael, who receives a fuller notice than any of the others, is a person unknown to the synoptic tradition.

Were these stories taken as historical, or even as pretending to be so, they would leave the reader with a hopelessly confused impression. Andrew and his unnamed companion are represented as believing, on the assurance of John the Baptist, that Jesus is "the Lamb of God"; but Andrew's statement to his brother Simon is: "We have-found the Messiah" (41) and Philip, speaking in the same sense, says to Nathanael (45): "we have found him of whom Moses in the Law, and the prophets, did write; he is Jesus, son of Joseph, of Nazareth." And Jesus himself, when his gift of second sight has caused Nathanael to recognize him as "Son of God, the King of Israel," declares that he is "Son of Man" (51):

"Verily, verily I say unto you, ye shall see the heavens open and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man"  — an assertion not clearly made good in the sequel to the stories. Certainly the writer does not wish it to be understood that Jesus was the real son of Joseph, nor that Nazareth was his real birthplace. He merely accepts the synoptic interpretation of the word "Nazorean." The true definition of the Christ lies in his qualification as Son of God in the transcendent sense established by the prologue; all the rest is intended to convey that the Christ and the Son of Man of the Synoptics are identified with this Son of God.

The sons of Zebedee seem to have been forgotten in our Gospel's account of the calling of the disciples, whence it follows that the anonymous disciple, probably the well-beloved; is not, so far as that goes, identified with the, apostle John. On the whole


our compiler has not troubled himself to be complete in his account of the vocations, for he seems -to suppose, from now on that Jesus has around him the group of Twelve.

The Miracle at Cana: the First "Sign"

All we have read up to this point is preparation for the epiphany of the Christ, which begins in the miracle at Cana. To the commentators who know exactly where Cana is to be found on the map we would say: enough if we localize it as the place where Jesus first "revealed his glory," so that, from that moment "his disciples believed in him." The epiphany apparently takes place in a domestic circle; there is a marriage at Cana: the mother of Jesus is there; Jesus arrives with his disciples; they are invited to the feast; but there is no more wine. Jesus orders six urns, placed there for Jewish purification, to be filled with water; the water is changed into wine; and this is the first "sign" given by Jesus. Observe that the miracle is a "sign"; for it is precisely in this that it diners from the same prodigy when performed in the sanctuaries of Dionysus, from which our author has borrowed it. What does the sign signify? The general meaning is that the economy of the Law with its rules of outward purification must now give way to the life-giving economy of faith in the immortal Christ, as symbolized in the Christian sacrament.

Let us pause to consider the feature of this "sign" which, from the earliest time till now, has most disconcerted the commentators. When Jesus and his disciples have taken their places among the guests the wine has given out; the supply for the marriage is exhausted. Jesus' mother then says to him, "there is no more wine." Jesus replies, "Woman, what is there (in common) between me and thee? My hour is not yet come." His mother says to the servants, "do whatever he tells you." Whereupon Jesus orders the urns to be filled and the miracle is effected. What can we make of this? Taken one by one as they stand the statements are incoherent and make up an unintelligible phantasmagory. But not so when we consider the profound meaning of the whole presentation. The mother of Jesus is not mentioned by her proper name; but the person designated is Mary who is, apparently, Jesus' mother, just as Joseph has been previously


named as, apparently, his father (i, 45). But this mother stands also for the Judaism which waited for the Kingdom of God, and it is in that character that she is made to declare "there is no more wine." Jesus begins by answering that between him and his putative mother there is nothing in common, because there is nothing earthly in his origin; his hour, which has not yet come, is the hour of his death, on which salvation depends. None the less, he does, there and then, what he has been implicitly asked to do, giving the lesson in the form of a symbol.

Second Sign: Expulsion of the Traders from the Temple

The second "sign" worked by Jesus is the expulsion of the traders from the Temple (ii, 13-17). But before coming to it we are told (12) that Jesus went down to Capernaum, he, his mother, his brothers and disciples. This is the first mention of his brothers, which we might have expected at an earlier stage; but we are beginning to understand that our evangelist is engaged upon something very different from biography. At Capernaum their stay has but a few days' duration because "the Passover of the Jews is at hand" and Jesus will seize the opportunity to manifest himself in Jerusalem. The idea is that the Christ will not preach in Galilee till after he has preached in Jerusalem and in Judea. He is taken to Capernaum only for the purpose of doing a measure of justice to the synoptic tradition (especially Matthew iv, 13), and at the same time arranging a transition to the narrative that follows. From now onwards it is apparent that our gospel editor takes the line of restricting the ministry in Galilee that he may enlarge a ministry in Jerusalem and Judea, which is almost entirely ignored by the synoptic catechesis.

As the author has previously used the expression "the purifications of the Jews," so now he speaks of "the Passover of the Jews." The reason is that his readers are Gentile Christians unacquainted with Jewish customs, and that he himself looks upon Judaism from the outside as one who himself is not a Jew. Moreover the object of Jesus in coming to Jerusalem at the time of the Feast is, not so much to take part in it, as there and then to "manifest his glory." As the synoptic tradition sees in the expulsion of the traders the first act of the messianic ministry in Jerusalem, so our evangelist attaches it to Jesus' first stay in the


holy city. But he interprets it after his own manner, not merely as an act of authority, but as a "sign."

Without pausing over details in the description of the occurrence, let us fix attention on the passage most characteristic both of the spirit of our Gospel and of its chronology (ii, 18-22 already quoted and discussed, p. 60).

The question here ascribed to "the Jews" after the expulsion of the traders is the question which, in the Synoptics, is put to Jesus by the elders of the Sanhedrim (Mark xi, 27-28; Matthew xxi, 23-24; Luke xx, 1-2) combined with the demand for a sign in the same Gospels (Matthew xii, 38; cf. Mark viii, n; Luke xi, 16). In the Christ's reply as here given a sign is actually offered, but one that would have been wholly unintelligible to his audience, as indeed it has remained for many commentators. This reply is, in effect, an enigmatic combination of Jesus' answer to the demand for a sign in Matthew (xii, 39-40) with the saying of the Christ about the temple, brought up against him in the synoptic account of the trial before Caiaphas (Matthew xxvi, 61; Mark xiv, 58). But here there is a difference in the phrasing. Instead of "I will destroy this temple," he now says "destroy it," as though challenging the Jews to destroy it themselves. For the temple of which he now speaks is his own body. His answer is thus equivalent to the refusal of a sign for the present and, for the future, to the sign of Jonah in the sense given to it by Matthew {loc. cit.}. To discuss the verisimilitude of the reply would clearly be quite superfluous, and equally so to discuss, from that point of view, what the Jews answer about the forty-six years occupied by the construction of the temple. In the final analysis, what the writer would here convey is his conception of the age of the Christ, forty-six years when he expelled the traders, forty-nine (completed) when he died, so that his jubilee year would be that of his entry on the immortal glory awaiting him on his resurrection (cf. supra., p. 61). The disciples themselves are described as unable to find the key to this symbolic riddle till after the resurrection of the Christ (22). We are, then, in presence of a second "sign" parallel to the "sign" of Cana. Like the first, it figures the renewal of the Covenant, substituting Grace for Law, and brought about by the death and resurrection of the incarnate Son of God. Let who will believe that what is here narrated really happened.


The remark on the numerous conversions which Jesus made on this occasion in Jerusalem and on the little value he attached to them, because he knew what was in man (23-25), must be understood as referring to inadequate faith or, rather, to a lower and Judaizing type of faith. This was probably aimed originally at vulgar Messianism and the notion of the Kingdom of God as purely terrestrial and eschatological. So understood the remark links on to the case of Nicodemus and brings on the discourse supposed to have been addressed to him.


The case of Nicodemus (iii, 1-12) is imagined in order to provide an apparently historical frame for the teaching about spiritual regeneration which the Son, sent from God to save the world and not to judge it, procures for the believer by baptism (5-6, 8, 11-13, 16-18). We find accordingly that this teaching contains an implied criticism of the common eschatology, even that of the Johannine apocalypse. The opening part has been broken by interruptions in accordance with the narrative framework, which almost have the effect of transforming this didactic poem into a dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus (7, 9-10, 14-15). We shall encounter other applications of the same technique, by means of which interlocutors with Jesus are made to commit blunders, or speak beside the point, in order to bring out the sequent instruction. Nicodemus is a development of the questioner in the Synoptics who asks Jesus what he must do to "inherit eternal life." In the Synoptics Jesus answers the question by laying down the moral conditions for admission to the Kingdom of God; here, the Kingdom is an inward possession of the believer, realized in the Church, to which the believer is initiated by a symbolic act effecting the spiritual regeneration of the individual performing it, and in keeping with the faith in him which the Son, come from God, claims for himself. This lesson on regeneration by water and the Spirit is the first explanation of the spiritual Gospel and comes in most aptly.

We find the lesson completed by a second witness borne by John the Baptist (iii, 26-36); it is the work of an editor, constructed by transposing elements taken from the Synoptics (Matthew xi, 2-19; Luke vii, 18-35). The setting of the scene (22-26),


in spite of its geographical precisions, is wholly fanciful. But let the fact be noted that the writer finds it quite in order to represent both Jesus and John as baptizing simultaneously and at no great distance the one from the other. (An unconvincing attempt to put this right is made later on (iv, 2) where we are told that Jesus did not baptize, but only his disciples.) An altercation arising about the matter between John's disciples and a Jew (a correction which makes nonsense; the original text was Jesus) the disciples come to John to inform him of the proceedings of a rival Baptizer, which they seem to regard as disloyal to him: whereupon John explains himself, recalling his former witness and proclaiming the transcendent superiority of Jesus (note in 28 the figure of the bridegroom and the best man at the wedding, echo of Mark ii, 19-20; Matthew ix, 15; Luke v, 34-35). John's discourse has the same look of planned construction, and of superposition, as the story introducing it.

The Woman of Samaria

From now onwards reference to John is incidental only (v, 33, 36; x, 40-41). Nevertheless the theme of water and the Spirit is not abandoned, but is taken up again in the story of the Samaritan woman, where it will be completed by the theme of the harvest (iv, 5-42). An artificial junction links this episode to the Baptist's testimony (1-4); but the narrative, taken as a whole, is not all of one piece. It looks as if an original story in which Jesus and the woman were the only speakers had been subsequently enlarged by the passages which refer to the disciples (iv, 8, 27, 31, 33, 37-38)? there are signs also that, in order to harmonize with the present context, the primitive itinerary which made Jesus pass through Samaria on his way from Galilee to Judea, has been turned round and the whole episode antedated. The setting of the scene is constructed with the same technique which set the scene for Nicodemus, and the conversation proceeds by fits and starts, as these are prompted by the irrelevant replies of the woman to Jesus' remarks. The main purpose is to develop the mystic theme of living water, the gift of the Spirit, which is also the gift of immortality, and, at the same time, to bring out the insignificance of the common eschatology in presence of this mysterious truth: "God is Spirit and it is in Spirit and truth that


worshippers must adore him" (24). What is said about the harvest (35-38) is an allegorical paraphrase of a synoptic saying (Matthew ix, 37-38; Luke x, 2) combined with the Sower of the parable; those who "have laboured" are Jesus and the apostolic generation; the reapers are the evangelist's contemporaries. Needless to say, the conversion of the Samaritans and of the Samaritan woman is no fact of history but a symbol of the Gentiles converted to the Christian mystery.

A New Series of "Signs"

After the first miracle at Cana Jesus returns to Jerusalem and appears there as master of the Temple; after the second (revival of the royal officer's son) he returns to the holy city to show himself master of the Sabbath. The first cycle of miracles and discourses concerns the superiority of Christianity, religion of Spirit, over Judaism, religion of ineffectual symbols; the second cycle, which includes the cure of the royal officer's son, the cure of the paralytic at Bethesda and the multiplication of the loaves, together with discourses interpreting the last two (v, 19-46; vi, 22-71), will reveal Jesus as the active principle and sustaining food of the true life. But first it is necessary to bring Jesus from Samaria into Galilee.

This change of place is an editorial device, the departure being explained by the saying: "prophet has no honour in his own country," which comes from the Synoptics (Mark vi, 4; Matthew xiii, 57; Luke iv, 24). But here it receives a particular application which many commentators are slow to observe. Jesus has just been recognized as "Saviour of the "World" (42) by the Samaritans; but it is not in the order of Providence that the glory of the Son of God, though revealed in the course of his earthly existence, should be recognized before his death by all men on Israelite territory, the exception of Samaria not destroying the rule.

The new series of "signs" begins at Cana, where Jesus, operating at a distance, cures the royal officer's son (46-54), a transposition to Cana of the synoptic cure of the centurion's son (Matthew viii, 5-13) or servant (Luke vii, 1-10) at Capernaum. Instead of directly prefiguring the conversion of the Gentiles, as in Matthew and Luke, the story here becomes a lesson in the true


kind of faith, that which believes on the strength of the uttered •word, the characteristic faith of mystical Christianity which ought to characterize the Gentile church, in contrast to the kind which demands miracles.

After curing the officer's son, Jesus leaves Cana and comes to Jerusalem where he cures a paralytic on the Sabbath day (v, 1-18). By this miracle an opening is made for a description of the life-giving work which the Father has sent his Son into the world to accomplish (19-30). While invoking the witness borne to him by the Father, Jesus reproaches the Jews for not hearkening to what John has said of him and for paying no heed to what Moses has written (31-47). All of it is legendary fiction, and cannot indeed be anything else. The evangelist has two reasons for allotting so large a place to the Judean mission; on the one hand, he is working a polemical theme against the Jews objecting that Jerusalem is the true place of the prophets and of the Messiah's epiphany; on the other, he partly dispossesses Capernaum in favour of Cana in order that Jesus may not appear to have preached only in one little corner of Galilee.

The text does not give the name of the feast for which Jesus "went up to Jerusalem," but calls it "the feast of the Jews," their feast par excellence, which can only have been the Passover. Irenaeus says that this Passover is the second of three he has counted in the public life of the Christ (Heresies, ii, 22, 4), and would hardly have been more positive if he had actually read the word "Passover" in the passage before us; perhaps that is what he did read. The chronological scheme of our Gospel involves a total duration for Jesus' ministry, or epiphany, of three and a half years, the messianic number (cf. supra, p. 60). This is why three Passovers are indicated before that which coincides with his death: the first follows the first miracle at Cana (ii, 13); we are now at the second; the third will be mentioned in connection with the multiplication of the loaves (vi, 4). The history of the text shows that, in order to bring John into line with the Synoptics on this point, attempts were made to suppress both the second Passover and the third. It is, however, true that the Johannine chronology is imaginary and symbolic; but so is everything that it encloses. The paralytic miraculously cured at the Pool of Bethesda is the paralytic of Capernaum symbolically


interpreted (cf. Mark ii, 9, ii; Matthew ix, 5, 6; Luke v, 22-24) and combined with the synoptic Sabbath story (Mark iii, 1-5; Matthew xii, 9-13; Luke vi, 6-11).

Discourses following the "Signs"

The attitude of the Jews in presence of this violation of the Sabbath corresponds to the conclusion of the Sabbath stories in the first three Gospels (Mark iii, 6; Matthew xii, 14) but with an addition, entirely Johannine in conception (v, 16-18), linked on to the declaration of Jesus about the everlasting joint action of his Father and himself: "for this cause the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only brake the Sabbath, but also said that his father was God, making himself equal with God." This brings on the first instruction concerning the working of God, with the Son working in conjunction. To this discourse a few additions have been made for the purpose of somehow adjusting a mystical theory of salvation to the popular conception of the Last Things, which the theory contradicts by suppressing it (v, 22; 28-30, referring to a material resurrection, opening of tombs, etc., are in contradiction with the texts which represent the resurrection as purely spiritual).

The second discourse (31-47), in which the witness of John and of the Scriptures is evoked against the Jews, seems to be entirely of secondary authorship. But it is possible that the passage: "I am come in the name of my Father and you receive, me not; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive" is aimed at the false Messiah Barkochba. In the sayings attached to the Feast of Tabernacles (vii) there are some which relate to the cure (v) of the paralytic (vii, 20-24, or rather 15-24, since 25 is exactly in sequence to 14). A transposition has obviously taken place in the text. The fact is that while the fourth Gospel, at one stage of its compilation, was constructed on an orderly plan, there has been considerable dislocation of the plan in subsequent redaction.

The sixth chapter is dominated throughout by the idea of the Christ as bread of life; the multiplication of loaves (1-14) is the symbol of it; the miracle of Jesus walking on the sea (16-21) is an aid to its comprehension; the, four discourses that follow (22-40, 41-51, 52-59, 66-71) explain it more fully. The different


impressions produced on the Jews by each of these discourses represents the Jewish attitude towards the mystery of salvation in contrast to the Christian. The general effect is to brine the mystery to summary form in the doctrine of the living and lifegiving bread and in the corresponding sacrament.

The Bread of Life

The setting for the multiplication of the loaves is copied from the Synoptics (Matthew xiv, 15; cf. Mark vi, 33) but combined with the scene of the Discourse on the Mountain in Matthew the miracle itself being constructed so as to symbolize the new faith and the mystery of salvation. The reason for saying "the Passover of the Jews was at hand" is that the multiplication of the loaves, already a figure of the eucharist in the synoptic account, is going to be presented in the same way in the coming discourse on the bread of life, and that a reminder of the Passover is a fitting introduction to the eucharistic symbolism about to be presented. Fundamentally, this is the place at which our Gospel places the institution of the Supper, the eucharist being considered throughout by the evangelist as a mystery which ought not to be offered to his readers in the direct terms used in First Corinthians (xi) and in the Synoptics.

The story of the miracle is also borrowed from the Synoptics but with a few added touches to adapt it to the Johannine conceptions; notable is the personal intervention of Philip and Andrew, whom we know already in the vocation stories (i, 40, 43), and in a conclusion all its own. The crowd, impressed by the miracle, conclude that Jesus is the Messiah and are about to carry him off and make him King: but Jesus gives their enthusiasm no countenance and withdraws out of their reach. In this both Jewish Messianism and the common eschatology of the Christians are implicitly condemned.

In the miracle of the Christ walking on the water we find the same free and symbolic adaptation of what the Synopsis has to tell (Matthew xiv, 22-27, 32-33; Mark vi, 45-52). The lesson is that the immortal Christ will never abandon his own, all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding.

By an obviously forced transition the crowd, which had been the witness and beneficiary of the multiplied loaves, is brought


back to Jesus, on the following day, to hear his discourse on the bread of life (vi, 22-58). In its original form the discourse is a didactic poem, like the discourse to Nicodemus, and quite as easy to reconstruct if we eliminate the interplay of dialogue, which breaks the poem at several points (28-31, 34, 41-42, 510-52), and omit a special instruction on predestination which someone has tried to incorporate into the main discourse, an interpolation made in order to affirm the resurrection of the dead (end of verses 39, 40, 44). Moreover it is clear enough that the last strophe of the poem (to be extracted from 53-58, dropping "I will raise him up at the last day" in 54 and 58) has been added to introduce the sacramental system taken by the synoptic tradition from First Corinthians (xi, 24-25), the symbolism, namely, of the bread-body and the wine-blood of the Christ.

Like the end of the discussion, the end of the story which frames it (59-71) is also editorial work. The intentions behind it are various; to soften down the hardest sayings of the discourse, in the last strophe, by an explanation which emphasizes their spiritual character (61, 63); [1] to create the opportunity for Peter's confession, imitated from the Synoptics but with a Johannine interpolation (Matthew xvi, 16; Mark viii, 29; Luke ix, 20), and to make room for the first denunciation of the traitor Judas (64-65, 70). The whole is intended to bring out the blindness of the Jews and of certain Judaizing Christians in presence of the mystery just explained. Even Judas is not, as some would have us think, an individual traitor on whom the apostle John vents his spite. He personifies the Jews' hatred of Jesus and of Christianity.


The scene for the second phase of the Christ's combat with the Jewish enemy is laid exclusively in Jerusalem and covers the last year of Jesus' ministry. The events and discourses of chapter vi having been dated with reference to the Passover at the beginning of this final year, those which fill the five chapters to follow, and end at the great Passover coincident with the Passion, fall into two groups attached for their placing to two intermediate festivals, that of Tabernacles and that of the Dedication. De-

[1] Verse 62, asserting the bodily ascension of the "Son of Man" is a gloss.


pendent on the first are some polemic discourses and the cure of the man born blind, with the discourse that follows it (x, 1-21) the whole dominated by the idea of the Christ as light of the world. The second group marks the definite breach between the Christ and the Jews (x, 22-42). Before the last Easter will come the raising of Lazarus, symbol of the Christ-life and greatest "sign" of all.

The preamble (vii, 1-13) introducing this second series of doings and teachings is deeply confused. Jesus abstains from going about in Judea because the Jews are resolved to kill him and confines himself to Galilee; the Feast of Tabernacles coming round, his brothers, who however do not believe in him, urge him to go to Jerusalem and reveal himself there as what he pretends to be; Jesus refuses, alleging that his hour is not yet come; his brothers then depart for the Feast; he follows them incognito; goes up to the temple in the midst of the solemnities and begins to teach. The opening of the preamble is based on the cure of the paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda (cf. v, 16-18), but the dialogue with the brothers, parallel to the remarks exchanged between Jesus and his mother at Cana, suggests that Jesus is about to show himself at Jerusalem for the first time. His brothers, moreover, personify incredulous Judaism. Instead of vainly speculating on the meaning of it all, we are content to remark once more that our Gospel must have been worked over more than once before assuming its final form. Let it be remembered also that the first words of the preaching attributed to Jesus in vii, 15-24 need to be placed at the end of the story of the paralytic in v.

The preamble analysed in the last paragraph introduces the discussion, which is placed further on (vii, 25-36), concerning the origin of Jesus, where an answer is given to an objection from the Jews. Their objection is that everybody knows where Jesus comes from, whereas, when Messiah shall appear, nobody will know his place of origin. Jesus answers that the Jews are under a great illusion in thinking they know that he comes from Nazareth and is the son of Joseph; he alone knows whence he came and who sent him. (A certain kind of critical benevolence must be applied to the matter if we are to overlook the plain contradiction of the birth stories in Matthew and Luke conveyed by these


statements.) Duplicates are not wanting in these chapters (vii and viii), for example, the discussion on the presumed origin of the Christ, the Jews maintaining that he was not to come from Galilee but from Bethlehem in Judea and would belong to the race of David (vii, 40-52), which takes us over the same ground as vii, 26-38 and implicitly repeats the contradiction of the birth stories in the Synoptics and, again, the repetition of the attempts to take Jesus prisoner, and each time with no success (vii, 30, 44; viii, 20, 59). Found anywhere else than in a book we are accustomed to venerate, and is truly worthy of veneration in many parts of it, these wranglings about the origin of the Christ would impress us as a rather tiresome academic exercise. They are the echoes of ancient controversies between Christians and Jews.

An editorial hand has inserted into the text a passage (vii, 37-39) which it is important to note, not only on account of its correspondence with another insertion into the story of the Passion (xix, 31-37), but also because it is seldom rightly understood. The passage should read as follows:

Now on the last, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood forth, and cried, saying:
If any man is athirst, let him come to me,
and let him drink, him who believes in me,
According as Scripture has spoken,
Rivers of living water shall flow out of his belly.

In applying this quotation (Zechariah xiii, i; xiv, 8) to the believer, the writer introduces a gross and incongruous image. And the more incongruous inasmuch as Jesus alone, and not the believer, can be thought of as the source of the water of life. The writer is referring to the water that burst from the side of Jesus at the stroke of the soldier's lance, and accordingly takes pains to tell us (39) that the living water is the Spirit, to be given to believers when Jesus has entered into his glory. [1]

Another interpolation which has no connection whatever with the evolution of the written Gospel is the section known as the story of the woman taken in adultery. It belongs to the late history of the Greek text and falls outside the scope of our present

[1] For the full discussion of this passage, which has many important bearings, see Le Quatrième Evangile, 270-273.


inquiry. Deliberately banished from the synoptic tradition, of which the story is a lost fragment, it has got itself, by the strangest of accidents, here tacked on to the Johannine Gospel (vii, 53-viii 11). [1]

Immediately following this intrusion, Jesus' controversy with the Pharisees resumes its broken course. He now answers the last objections raised in vii, 41, 52, although, if strict regard be paid to the ever changing mise en scene, it would seem that he cannot have heard them. After declaring himself "the light of the world," he defies his adversaries, telling them that he alone knows whence he comes and whither he goes, while they know nothing of either. By this he means that he comes from God and returns to God. Declarations of this kind afford a sure starting point for determining the conditions of his epiphany as the Christ, both as to its opening and its close, it will be seen that they exclude both an earthly existence before epiphany and a corporeal resurrection after death. Needless to say his auditors understood not a word of it (viii, 12-29).

Close attention should be paid to the following (viii, 28-29) :

When ye have lifted up the Son of Man,
then shall ye know what I am,
And that of myself I do nothing,
but even as the Father has taught me,
so speak I;
And he who sent me is with me;
He forsakes me not,
because what is pleasing to him, that do I.

This seems to be an intentional contradiction of the saying  — a quotation from Psalm xxii, 1 — which Mark (xv, 34) makes into the dying outcry of Jesus, and which might easily be misunderstood (cf. supra, p. 168). Whence we may infer that the passage is a late development in the text.

In the final phase of this dispute (viii, 20-59) a discourse on Jesus' Father, who is God, and the Jews' father, who is the Devil (viii, 26, 38, 42-47, 54-55), seems to have been broken up by the compiler and the interstices filled with an unrelated argument about Abraham (30-37, 39-41,48-53, 56-58). In connection with Abraham comes the indication about the age of Jesus (57);

[1] See op. cit., 278-286.


"Thou art not yet fifty years old, and thou hast seen Abraham!"

(An ancient variant reads: "Abraham has seen thee.") The fact is not without significance that this indication of Jesus' age is found in an editor's addition and not in a fundamental document.

The Light of the World

On leaving the temple, where the Jews had tried to stone him, Jesus reveals himself as "light of the world" by curing a man born blind, a "sign" which brings out the spiritual blindness of the Jews (ix). The interrogation of the man's parents is possibly interpolated into the original story of the miracle (ix, 18-23). A man born blind makes a suitable figure of humanity ignorant of the blessings of revelation, but the Johannine story aims primarily at intensifying the cure of blind men localized by the Synoptics in Galilee and at Jericho; moreover this evangelist times the miracle on a Sabbath day. The Pharisees, spiritually blind, as usual represent Judaism in its unbelief of the Christian gospel. But the last lines "for judgment I came into this world," etc., are the compiler's addition. There has been nothing to raise the question of "judgment" in the proper sense of the word; but in any case the Christ, as we have already been told, did not come "to judge the world, but to save it" (iii, 17-18).

The Good Shepherd

The poem of the Good Shepherd (x, 1-18) must at first have existed independently and without connection with the story of the blind man. Verse 6, to the effect that the audience did not understand what Jesus was saying, is a compiler's invention together with verse 7, which takes up the broken thread of the poem:

other additions are the lines about the Christ as the Door (9: the original must have been: "I am the shepherd of the sheep"); and the verses on the sheep outside the fold who must be brought into the flock (16). The question has often been raised as to the identity of the false shepherds who came "before" Jesus and are here stigmatized as "thieves and brigands" (8). Is the reference to Moses and the Prophets? If so, would it here be said "that the sheep heeded them not at all"? Nothing is gained by the omission, found in certain texts, of the words "before me"; that only leaves the assertion vaguer than before and does nothing to


answer the question. The Jewish teachers, then; or the false Messiahs? More probably the reference is to the spiritual powers which have hitherto taken part in governing human affairs but have not succeeded in seducing the children of God. And is there no connection with the mystical shepherd — allegory in Zechariah xi, 4-17; xiii, 7-9? The question remains. A piece of narrative is added (19-21) to complete the framework intended to link these events and discourses with the Feast of Tabernacles.

Three months afterwards comes the Feast of Dedication, and Jesus is in the midst of the solemnities. After defining once more his role of saviour of all predestined to salvation he is again threatened with stoning (22-31). He explains why he has the right to call himself the Son of God, and then evades further persecution by retiring beyond Jordan (40-42). What we are told as occurring at the Feast of Dedication forms the conclusion of the controversies that have gone before: the preamble (22-24) is certainly the compiler's work, and Jesus' words about the sheep who give heed to his voice and will never perish seem to have been originally the last strophe of the allegorical poem of the Good Shepherd (x, 25; starting from "the works that I do" but without "I and the Father are one," (30) added to make transition to the attempt at stoning).

The argument by which Jesus is made to justify his claim to divinity is the compiler's argument. Its defence of the saying "I and the Father are one" is remarkable rather for subtilty than for exactitude (31-39). It ends in another attempt of the Jews upon Jesus' person and by another escape from their clutches (39).

The account of Jesus' retreat into Perea (40-42) may be part of the frame within which the story of the resurrection of Lazarus was originally enclosed, but it has been glossed by the lines which refer to John and to the numerous conversions effected by Jesus. These believers beyond the river are another figure, after their kind, of the diffusion of the Gospel beyond the borders of Israel. When the writer of this passage makes the Jews say "John gave no sign," it is because he found no miracle of John's described in the Synoptics. But he has overlooked the passage where we are told that the tetrarch Antipas, on hearing about the miracles of Jesus, immediately made the comment: "Here is John risen from the dead," which leaves no doubt that miracles analogous


to those of Jesus were attributed to John. It would indeed be surprising if it were not so.

The Raising of Lazarus

And now, at last, the greatest of all the miracles recorded in the Gospels, the resurrection of Lazarus, supreme revelation of the Christ who is life (xi, 1-14), encounters the full intensity of Jewish unbelief and brings on the final catastrophe. The high priests and the Pharisees — such, according to our Gospel, is the composition of the Sanhedrim — resolve to put Jesus to death as the only way to prevent the conversion of the people; and Jesus, whose hour is not yet come, goes into hiding, awaiting the time of the Passover, the hour decreed by Providence as the termination of his existence on earth (xi, 1-57).

It need hardly be said that this distinctively Johannine "sign" is charged with the maximum of symbolic meaning, attained by concentrating and intensifying the resurrection of Jairus' daughter and of the young man at Nain (Mark v, 35-42; Luke vii, 11-17). Our Lazarus has a resemblance to Simon the Leper (Mark xiv, 3); but we have already seen {supra, p. 162 ) that the Lazarus of Luke's parable (xvi, 19-31) is rather dependent upon him. The two sisters in Luke (Martha and Mary, x, 38-42) are turned by the compiler into sisters of Lazarus; Mary, as a further improvement, is substituted for the sinful woman of Luke (vii, 37-38) and for the woman of the anointing in Mark and Matthew. But these combinations, which have sorely taxed the ingenuity of commentators, were not all effected at a single stroke. At the very outset (xi, 1-2) the text is visibly glossed by the notice about the sisters, whose role in the story is largely superadded to the original.

The original version seems to have contained the message of "the sister" announcing the sickness of Lazarus (xi, 3); Jesus' comment on the sickness (4); the announcement that he would go to Judea, with the disciples' objection and the Christ's reply (7-10); the dialogue between Jesus and "the dead man's sister" (21-27), Jesus having arrived not four days after the interment, but at the moment when the funeral was just over; Jesus weeping with the other mourners (33, omitting his indignant groan); the visit to the tomb and the order to remove the stone (34-39,


again omitting the repeated indignation and Martha's remark about the condition of the corpse); the removal of the stone, Jesus' prayer and the resurrection of the dead man (41-44). The later additions aggrandize the miracle, but give it the mechanical turn characteristic of supernatural magic.

The essence of the matter lies, not in the miracle as such, but in the truth it offers to belief, truth which the miracle is intended to drive home and make good. Nothing else really counts. The work of raising a dead body to life is but the guarantee of a work with importance of another and higher kind, the universal and final work of raising humanity to life in the Spirit. The resurrection of Lazarus, as it was originally conceived, was not intended either to announce or prefigure the bodily revival of all the dead, but as symbolic testimony to the spiritual resurrection, the eternal life of all who believe. Observe that not a word is said as to what became of Lazarus after he was loosed from his grave clothes and "let go" (44). The reason is, that in this miracle, as indeed in many another already encountered, the reader is invited to carry his vision beyond earthly contingencies and find in higher truth the conclusion of which the story itself seems to stop short. And what is the conclusion here? It is that whosoever believes in Jesus is in present possession of eternal life; he has escaped from a house of death to which he will never return; he is "let go" for unceasing advance, in light and life, to God, heaven and everlasting glory; and humanity, regenerated in like manner by the ever-living Christ, and so made the true Jerusalem of earth, begins to mingle with that eternal Jerusalem into which it will be wholly merged at the end.

Sequel to the Great Miracle

What we read of the effect of the miracle and the information laid before the Pharisees (46) may come from the source (omitting "which came to Mary" in 45), together with the notice of the Pharisees laying plans to put Jesus to death (53). But the deliberations of the Sanhedrim and the unwitting prophecy of Caiaphas (47-52) are editorial supplements. So, too, are the words "high priest for that year" which suppose that the Jewish high-priesthood was an annual office, like that of the Asiatic bishops, and involves an error about the conditions under which Caiaphas


held the pontificate (cf. supra, p. 151). The retreat of the Christ to the town called Ephraim (.?) and the conversations of the Jews waiting for his arrival at the Passover duplicate his previous retreat into Perea after curing the man born blind (x, 40-41), and the remarks of the Jews who waited for him at the Feast of Tabernacles. It would seem that the source-account placed a very short interval between the resurrection of Lazarus and the Passover, and that it kept Jesus at Bethany, because the Passover was approaching and his hour at hand.

The anointing in the house at Bethany is a symbolic prelude to the death of the Christ (xii, 1-8); the triumphal entry into Jerusalem (9-19) prefigures the glorious issue of his departure from the visible world; his last discourses forecast its results — the conversion of the Gentiles (20-36) and the reprobation of the Jews (37-50). The accounts of the anointing and of the triumph are fragments of the synoptic tradition, here transposed and turned in the Johannine sense by the same hand which added its supplements to the raising of Lazarus. Mark (xiv, 1; cf. Matthew xxvi, 2) places the anointing two days before the Passover; this writer says "six days before," doubtless for some symbolic reason; the sixth evening before the Passover would be that of the Sabbath before the Passion in correspondence with the Sabbath of interment, the triumphal entry next day (9 Nizan) thus anticipating the triumphal resurrection of the following Sunday. The accusation of theft lodged against Judas (4-6) replaces the betrayal for money in the Synoptics; when the hour comes for Jesus to suffer himself to be arrested, there is no bargain between the Jewish priests and the traitor, as in the Synoptics, but Satan informs them by the mouth of Judas where they can find and capture him. The qualification of Judas as a robber indicates the length to which the writer is willing to go in utilizing the synoptic tradition about him; but his putting Judas in charge of the alms-bag, in analogy with a practice of the early Christian communities, must surely be an anachronism. Notwithstanding the efforts made to bring the messianic triumph somehow into sequence with the raising of Lazarus, it is doubtful whether this piece of the synoptic catechesis (the triumph) belonged to the original economy of our Gospel.

Of secondary authorship also is the discourse in the temple


which Jesus is made to deliver about the Greeks, or Gentiles who ask to see him (20-36). Noteworthy features are the artificiality of the preamble, in which Philip and Andrew again appear and the curious transposition into the middle of the discourse (27-30) of a sublime equivalent for the synoptic scene in Gethsemane. In this equivalent the Christ's prayer is transformed from the synoptic version, in which he prays to be saved from the fate awaiting him, into a distinct refusal so to pray; instead of so praying he calls upon God to glorify his name. This better befits the Johannine conception of the Christ. After that, in place of the consoling angel in Luke (xxii, 43), comes a voice from heaven echoing the voices of the baptism and the transfiguration in the Synoptics. This miraculous interlude is not for the encouragement of the Christ, who is above all such needs, nor for the crowd who are pictured as not understanding it, but for the education of the Christian reader. The last discourse to the Jews is symbolic throughout. It is followed by a last disappearance of Jesus into hiding (36). In manner like to his disappearance, the light of the Gospel, offered to the Jews, will pass away from them into Gentile possession. Such is the design of Providence, and the Jews are powerless to hinder it.

A yet later and, if possible, a more unreal addition is the afterthought conclusion of the Jerusalem ministry (37-50), in which the compiler makes Jesus deliver a new discourse (44-50), after the Christ has been finally withdrawn from his incredulous audience. This discourse (to which 24-25, 31-32, 35-36 in the previous discourse seem originally to have belonged) may have been found ready-made and here utilized by the same editor who applies the text from Isaiah (vi, 9-10) to the reprobation of the Jews at the moment when the Christ's ministry among them comes to an end (39-41). The same use of this text is made by the Synoptics in connection with parables (Mark iv, 12; Matthew xiii, 14-15; Luke viii, 10) and the compiler of Acts gives it the same application at the end of his book (xxviii, 26-27. For the quotation in xii, 38 of Isaiah liii, 1, cf. Romans x, 16).

So ends the Johannine account of Jesus' ministry. Everything in it is governed by symbolism which all the circumstances are


constructed to suit without regard to the consistency of the narrative. The discourses, moreover, are surcharged with repetitions revealing the anti-Jewish bias which so often inspires the editorial elaboration of the source. The original miracle stories all betoken the spiritual work of Jesus which the original discourses proceed to explain. The editors, elaborating the original, have striven to show that the Jews understood nothing of the mystery of salvation and the spirituality of the Gospel: accordingly they kill a Messiah whose greatness is beyond them, and whom the death they inflict upon him renders back to the eternal glory whence he came, and so makes him the saviour of the world.


The second part of our Gospel presents the Christ's role of Saviour, the conditions in which he is to exercise it and those which he laid down as the foundation of the Christian community. The conversations at the last supper reveal to the disciples how salvation is ordered and the glory to come, together with the law of love by which they are bound for ever to the immortal Christ. This law is first illustrated by washing the disciple's feet (xiii, 1-17); it is there expressly promulgated (31-35) and placed between two predictions; the first declaring the treachery of Judas and pointing out the beloved disciple (23-26); the second announcing Peter's denial (36-38). The Christ proceeds to exhort his faithful ones, promising them a place in his Father's house, assuring them of his continued presence, even of his and the Father's immanence in them (xiv, 1-14, 18-24, 27-28). In the midst of it all he breaks in with a double promise of the Holy Spirit which the Father, in his name, will send them (15-17, 25-26). The preamble to the washing of feet (xiii, 1-3) appears to have been retouched and surcharged. What is this supper, "after" which the washing takes place? The original author probably gave at this point an account of the last meal; this has been suppressed, because a second writer, under the influence of the Synoptics, had introduced it already (xii, 1-8) in the story of the anointing. Doubtless the original account, which we are bound to believe underlies all this, seemed too unorthodox to be retained. The washing of feet, so ill-placed that its character


as a surcharge can hardly be mistaken, [1] must belong to an intermediate account into which interpolations have later been introduced, this version being related by its principle idea and the subtilty of its symbolism to those parts of the first Johannine Epistle which speak of purification from sin by the blood of the Christ (i John ii, 2; iii, 5; iv). Thus the washing of feet, in its character as memorial of the Christ as a servant, living and dying with those who were his own, must have been substituted in an earlier version for the symbolic distribution of bread and wine, that is, for the eucharistic symbols. For that reason the washing is said to be a repetitive completion of the essential purification realized once for all in baptism (6-10).

There are details in the story which would be quite unintelligible if we failed to take account of the profound meaning which attaches to the scene as it is described, not only as a whole, but in the details also. In reality the "service" which the Christ is rendering to his own is that of his death, of which the eucharistic love-feast is a figure; and for that reason Peter's opposition to the act which Jesus would perform (6-7) is the equivalent of the attitude assigned him by the Synoptics at the first announcement of the Passion (Mark viii, 32-33; Matthew xvi, 22-23). In like manner the reply of Jesus, "if I wash thee not, thou hast no part in me," is a defiance of all probability unless we understand the symbolism of it. Is Peter, then, to be damned because he has refused to have his feet washed by Jesus? The words refer directly to the Christian mysteries, baptism and the eucharist, both regarded as necessary for salvation, both inseparable from the unique symbol of life-giving water and from the unique idea of salvation procured by Jesus in the death by which he became alive for ever. There is no question here of overcoming the personal repugnance of Peter to having his feet washed by Jesus. The matter in hand is to combat the Jewish Messianism in the words attributed to Peter, which imply that he would not have Jesus lower himself to the service of a life-giving death; to which Jesus replies that by this service the sanctifying rites which

[1] Normally ablutions of this kind took place before the meal. But from the moment that the washing was made into an eucharistic symbol, it had to be presented as a pendant to the meal or, better, after it. Some manuscripts read "a meal taking place," others "a meal having taken place"; the first reading, seemingly a correction to avoid contradicting what follows in xiii, 21-30 where the meal is still in progress.


unite the Christian to the source of life are guaranteed as permanently efficacious. Already, in earlier passages of our Gospel, baptism and the eucharist have been proclaimed as necessary to salvation (vi, 53); so far is the Johannine Christ from being indifferent to these sacred and efficacious symbols. His interest in them is entirely natural. He is himself, by the definition given of him, a kind of living and ever-active sacrament and, along with this, a Master of Mystery and a God to be worshipped.

The following sayings, attributed to Jesus either during the meal or after it, and all of high mystic significance, may be considered as coming from the fundamental account: xiii, 31-32, God is about to glorify his Son; xiv, 1-3, the Son goes to prepare for his own a place near the Father; 6-7, he himself is way, truth and life; whoso knows him knows the Father and has seen him; 10-13 (after "the words which I speak unto you") his works are the Father's works and whoso believes in him will do the same, and yet greater works, because the Son goes to the Father and will do all that is asked of him; 19-21, 23-24, soon the world will see the Son no more, but those who love him and keep his commandments will see him; the Father and the Son will make their abode in them, for the word of the Son is that of the Father.

These instructions are, at the outset, twice interrupted by compilers' additions regarding the treachery of Judas in xiii, lo-n (after the words "and you are clean") and in 18-19. It might seem that the betrayal is here brought in for the purpose only of maintaining the atmosphere of darkness and death which envelops the last meal of the Christ with those who loved him; that may be so, but the writer will not lose the opportunity to recall that Jesus knew all that was in store for him; moreover the felony of Judas had been foretold in prophecy, and Jesus must cite the Scripture which announces' it (Psalm xli, 9). Of secondary origin also are the sentences, (xiii, 12-17, 20) borrowed from the synoptic tradition (cf. Matthew x, 24, 40; Luke vi, 40), the connection of which with the mystic example of the washing is not very obvious, to say nothing of their connection with the predictions of Judas' treachery.

An editor of our Gospel, perhaps the last, has given a Johannine turn to the direct announcement of the betrayal (xiii, 21-30),


in which the Christ is made to reveal the traitor's identity to the beloved disciple; a somewhat childish piece of imagination, notwithstanding the symbolism in the "sop" (mouthful) given by Jesus to Judas (26-27). This is the first occasion on which the beloved disciple is brought into prominence, and it is in his honour that our editor exploits the denunciation of the traitor in the Synoptics (cf. Mark xiv, 19; Matthew xxvi, 22; Luke xxii 23). In the perspective of the story the disciple in question can only be one of the Twelve, but his anonymity has the immediate effect of suggesting that he is a symbolic figure, type of the true disciple, even though his introducer intended him to be identified with an historical person to whom the composition of the Gospel might thereafter be attributed. The place assigned him at the Christ's side makes not only a relation of personal friendship with Jesus, but complete partnership of the well-beloved in the spiritual riches which are to overflow mankind from the breast of Jesus (cf. vii, 38; supra, p. 209). It is to this disciple that Peter turns to find out who is to be the traitor, and it should be noted that an analogous relation, in which the beloved disciple takes the lead, exists between the two every time they appear on the scene in company (xviii, 16; xx, 4-8; and again xxi, 7, 20-22) — a plain indication of the superiority claimed by the Johannine to the common apostolic tradition. The incident of the sop given to Judas must be secondary in relation to the preamble. In the preamble (xiii, 2), the devil has already entered into Judas before the meal began; here he is delivered to Satan after eating the sop, which he eats to his damnation (cf. i Corinthians xi, 29; Luke xxii, 3).

The exhortation to mutual love, conceived in the spirit and style of the first Johannine Epistle (cf. i John ii, 7-10; iii, 23) is a surcharge on the announcement of Peter's denial, which has already been borrowed from the synoptic tradition as it stands in Mark, Matthew and Luke. One feature not derived from that source is the veiled allusion to the later martyrdom of Peter, in the symbolic words "thou shalt follow me afterwards." This mysterious prediction, we must add, is far from being an indication that the passage which contains it is either primitive or of high antiquity.

The mystic allocution flows on from xiii into xiv, unmindful


of the inserted conversation between Peter and Jesus. Similarly intercalated into its continuation are the following:

The naive question by Thomas about the locality to which Jesus says he is about to go (4-5); the no less naive demand of Philip, "show us the Father," and the words in which Jesus expresses his astonishment (8-ioa); the promise of another Helper, the Spirit of Truth (15-17, 25-26); and the question of Jude (22).

The Spirit appears in our Gospel mainly as the continuator of the revelation inaugurated by the Christ, and its action is partly merged into that of the Christian sacrament. Thus, in a sense, the Spirit is a substitute for Jesus. We may recall at this point that in the Acts of the Apostles the reign of the Spirit is brought in by the miracle of Pentecost which takes place ten days after the Ascension. In the mind of the Gospel editor there can have been no thought of a human substitute, Marcion, Montanus or any other, since it is expressly stated that the Helper will "be with you for ever" (xiv, 16). In any case the discourses, in their original form, rule out the possibility of a substitute for the immortal Christ, who abides continuously in those who love him (cf. i John ii, 1 where the Christ is himself the Paraclete, the Helper). Finally, it is evident that the reflections (27-31) which follow the reiterated promise of the Paraclete, and end with the words "Arise let us go hence," were imagined by the compiler of the preceding instruction with a view to proceeding immediately with the story of the Passion. But another compilation, three chapters in extent (xv-xvii), has been inserted between this point and the opening of the Passion story (xviii, 1).

Last Instructions of the Christ

No introduction is arranged for this new collection, the reader apparently being invited to take it as the continuation of the preceding discourse. The subjects treated in it are, moreover, the same as those in its predecessor, as follows:

Allegory of the vine (xv, 1-10) urging the disciples to remain united in the Christ, the source of eternal life, and direct exhortation to abide in the love of Jesus (11-17). Condemnation of a world gone astray which will hate the disciples as it has hated their Master (18-25 and perhaps xvi, 1-4). New promises con-


cerning the Spirit which will support the disciples in persecution and condemn the world (26-27; xvi, 5-16). New announcement of persecutions to come, but the sorrow of the persecuted will be changed into joy, and the Christ himself will visit his own (xvi, 16-24). All this Jesus has spoken in plain terms, because he is about to depart; let the faithful, in the hour of persecution, be at peace in him (25-33). Finally the Christ, to crown his exhortations, offers to his Father a long prayer that all believers, present and to come, may be preserved in mystic union with himself (xvii).

Like those that precede them these last instructions of the Christ are presented as though he were giving them to his disciples while still among them but with death immediately before him; in reality they are addressed, by the immortal Christ, to his Church. But though in a manner complementary to what has gone before, they are not all to be regarded, either separately or together, as pieces of secondary composition.

The allegory of the vine, with the exhortation attached to it (xv, 1-17), may be considered as a primitive document self-contained and independent of the compilation in which it now finds a place. The allegory has an orderly development in the style of the prophets (cf. Isaiah v, 1-7; Jeremiah ii, 21; Ezechiel xv, 1-6; Psalm lxxx, 8-16). The suggestion of it comes from passages in the Synoptics where mention is made of the vine and its fruit, chiefly from what is said about wine in their account of the eucharistic institution (Mark xiv, 25; Matthew xxvi, 29; Luke xxii, 18). The first words, then, are enough to show that this new course of instruction has the same close connection with the eucharist as the two preceding chapters, always linked to the eucharist, as they are, by the conception of that highest form of love which is willing to die for the sake of the beloved. Considered from another point of view, the allegory of the vine which, in some parts, makes a fellow to that of the Good Shepherd (x, 1-18), is the less well-balanced of the two, the author pressing hard on disparate images, that of the gardener who tends the vine and that of the necessity for the branch to remain united to the main stem. As supporting the application made of them to the Christ and to the disciples, the two images are ill-matched.

"While love is the relation between the Christ and his own,


the world, on its side, is characterized by the hate it bears to both of them. The theme has already been indicated in vii, 7; cf. i John iii, 13-16 where the hatred-theme is also treated in connection with the love-theme. But here the brief discourse on the world as the enemy (18-25) comes in awkwardly. Its secondary character appears in its making a back reference (20) to a statement, lacking in originality, already made in the text (xiii, 16).

In like manner, the new dissertation on the "Helper" (the Paraclete) is of feebler inspiration (xv, 26-xvi, 15). What is said there about the judgment to be passed on the world (xvi, 8-n) is a confused rigmarole which recalls the least impressive passages in the first Johannine Epistle. One interesting statement, however, stands out from the rest: "the Paraclete shall declare unto you the things that are to come." To what else can this refer than to the Johannine Apocalypse? If that be admitted, the inference will follow that all the passages about the Helper were added by the compilers of the Johannine collection of books, and that these additions were made at the time when they were engaged in the attempt to obtain acceptance, under the same apostolic name, of the Apocalypse, the fourth Gospel and the three Epistles. Another important point to be noted is the saying in xvi, 4: "these things I said not unto you at the beginning because I was with you." These words sound strangely as coming from the Christ. Without intending to do so the author has given away the secret that the speaker has long quitted this world and that, while seemingly addressing his first disciples, he is really speaking to the Church of the second century.

The final Consolation (xvi, 20-24, 26-28, 32-33), given in view of the coming persecutions, was possibly at first an independent composition. A preamble has here been constructed for it (16-19) which might be understood as referring to the Christ's resurrection, his apparition and even his second coming; but the Consolation to which it leads on has a different theme; it is a hymn of the mystic union, spiritual and perpetual, with the ever-living Christ, a hymn of his return in that sense. An interruption by the disciples has been introduced into the Consolation itself (29-31, to which 25 is co-ordinate). Intercalated in also the remark on the parabolic, i.e. allegorical and symbolic, character of the teaching in all these discourses. But the disciples' interruption


has been inserted by an editor who wished to emphasize their lack of intelligence and to give a character of formal prophecy to the allusion made in the discourse to their abandonment of Jesus in the Passion (32).

Let it be noted that, on this point, the Synoptics in their canonical form, do not say so much, and that the Johannine account of the Passion gives it flat contradiction. With this the Gospel of Peter, which probably depends on John, is in agreement, and the version very possibly retains a primitive datum. Contrasting with the disciples' abandonment of their Master comes the saying: "but I am not left alone, because my Father is with me" which we have already encountered (viii, 16, 29). It has the same bearing here as before {supra, p. 210).

"In the world ye shall have suffering; but be of good cheer; I have vanquished the world." So the Consolation ends, in language which expresses confidence in victory to come; but the voice which speaks is, before all else, that of the Christ in glory, the Christ of the Eucharist, imparting courage to Christians everywhere. In the very act of dying, the Christ, now in glory, overthrew the world and the prince who ruled it (cf. xii, 31). Those who love him and whom he loves, his own, will conquer the world in their turn, nor will they fall into the hand of its prince when they, too, come to die.

The final prayer of the Christ (xvii) is not only the crowning utterance to the lessons taught, but the eucharistic keynote of the Last Supper, conceived as the first Love Feast (Agape). We may regard it as the first act of solemn thanksgiving, the first eucharist, a supreme utterance of Christian charity appropriate to the occasion. Jesus begins by asking that he may be glorified, because his work is done (1-8). Then he commends his loved ones, whom he is leaving in the world, to the care of the Father (9-19). Finally he prays that God, the Christ and the loved ones may all be one in love (20-26). His prayer is a lyric, constructed rhythmically and with balance of the parts. [1] Although apparently uttered in particular circumstances, it may, originally, have had no place in a Gospel story. We may take it as a type of eucharistic prayer, placed in the mouth of Jesus as master of the mystery;

[1] For the prayer with which the hymn concludes, as restored by M. Loisy, see Appendix to this chapter. Translator's note.


perhaps the oracle of some Christian prophet first recited to the community at the Easter celebration, not as the common thanksgiving but as the prophet's own. The same may be true of other passages in our Gospel, especially of the discourses after the Supper, of which the analysis is now concluded.

Two small additions may be detected in the final prayer: the profession of faith in verse 3, impersonal both in form and tone, out of keeping with the context and with nothing in it specifically Johannine; and verse 12 "except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled" evidently added to correspond with xiii, 18, 21-30, but equally out of place with the foregoing.


The arrangement of the Passion and the Resurrection stories in our Gospel has, to all appearance, an almost systematic ordering; the Christ is now returning to his Father; he goes by the way of death; he arrives by resurrection. The scenes of his arrest; of his appearance before the high-priest, with Peter's denial of him; of Pilate passing judgment; of the crucifixion; of the burial; of the resurrection — all these follow in an order and develop in a manner that furnishes a worthy conclusion to the revelation of glory, which has pursued its course from the beginning of the book. But the story is far from being all of one piece.

It may be said that the Johannine Christ himself controls the conditions of his arrest. He dispatches Judas on his errand, commanding him to do quickly what he has to do (xiii, 27). When the hour strikes, he repairs with his disciples to the place where the traitor will come to take him, a garden beyond Kedron (xviii, 1; note that the name Gethsemane is omitted). Judas, on his side, calls up the Roman cohort and the tribune in garrison at the tower of Antonia, and with them the service-men of the Sanhedrim; this last to enhance the importance of the scene about to be enacted; for we may be very sure that if the armed forces of the procurator took any part in the affair there would have been no need either of the temple police or of Judas himself; nor would Jesus have been taken before the high-priest. When the force arrives at the garden, Jesus advances to meet it, demands its business, and receiving the answer that they are looking for Jesus


the Nazorean, speaks a word that throws them all back-ward to the ground. Then he gives himself up, ordering his captors to let his companions go.

Introduced into a scene of such dignity, the sword-stroke that cut off the ear of the high-priest's servant is clearly out of place and keeping. But the compiler who mentions the incident knows that the servant was called Malchus; that his right ear was the one cut off; that the disciple who struck the blow was no other than Peter, and that Jesus rebuked him: "return thy sword to the sheath. The cup my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?" (10-11). This, surely, is the cup of Gethsemane which Jesus in the Synoptics prays the Father to remove from him. Peter's sword-stroke takes the place of the protest he raises in Mark (viii, 32) and Matthew (xvi, 22) at the first announcement of the Passion; and the rebuke he now receives is the Johannine equivalent of the terrible apostrophe: "get thee gone, Satan." From instances such as this, of which there are many in our Gospel, we may learn how to interpret its dependence on the Synoptics, and judge at the same time in what kind of relation to theirs is the treatment of Peter's prestige by the editors of John. Here, as in Mark, Peter is the man to whom the mystery of salvation is at first wholly unintelligible, and who, in his ill informed zeal, would prevent its realization. Of the remaining traits in the story of the arrest, the omission of Judas' kiss is not less significant than these additions.

The story continues (xviii, 12): "Then the cohort, the tribune and the Jews' servants laid hold of Jesus and led him to Annas." This follows on naturally after the order given by the Christ to leave his disciples at liberty, [1] and marks as a secondary addition the intervening incident of Peter's outbreak and the severed ear. But the account of Jesus before the high-priest is loaded with postscripts to a degree which has baffled interpreters from the first; even the textual history of the passage shows that it has been revised again and again, in the vain attempt to find a satisfactory reading, and the same is true of like attempts made by modem critics. The confusion arises from the fact that the primitive account knew of only one high-priest, Annas (Hanan); it knew nothing of Caiaphas as concerned in the matter, and, equally,

[1] xviii, 9 is a lame reference to xvii, 12.


nothing of Peter's denial. Caiaphas has been joined to Annas to make some sort of agreement with Matthew xxvi, 57, when it is to Caiaphas and not, as here, to Annas that his captors take Jesus; this is done by making him son-in-law to Annas, on the ground that several sons of Annas had become high-priests and that Caiaphas was presumably one of the family. His antecedents are also recalled (xviii, 1313 — 14; cf. xi, 49-50; supra, p. 214).

Peter's denial, imported from the Synoptics, we find divided into two parts (xviii, 15-18; 25-27) for the editorial convenience of finding a role for a certain unnamed disciple who is said to have been an acquaintance of the high-priest's, and can be no other than the well-beloved. This disciple introduces Peter to the high-priest's court, where he has the unpleasant surprise of encountering a kinsman of the Malchus whose ear he had cut off. All these precisions reveal the compiler of our Gospel as a man of lively invention. It is abundantly clear that in the original account not one of his disciples followed Jesus after his arrest (xviii, 8; xvi, 32).

The author of the foundation-story who knew Christianity as the religion of a sect, reduces the whole trial before the high-priest to an enquiry about Jesus' disciples and teaching (19). Jesus answers that he has always spoken openly to the world, either in the synagogues (Galilee) [1] or in the temple (Jerusalem); let the question of his teaching be asked of those who heard it. (In reality the author is replying to the Jews and pagans of his own age, who alleged that Jesus had preached only in a lost corner of Palestine and converted a few ignorant Galileans.) At this answer one of the court officials, judging it an impertinence, strikes Jesus with his hand: this is all that the author chooses to retain of the ignominious scene described in the Synoptics (Mark xiv, 65; Matthew xxvi, 67-68; Luke xxii, 63-65). Jesus answers with great dignity (23), so great indeed that the answer would be too solemn for so mean an insult were it not that the insulter stands for the unbelieving Jews, murderers of the Christ and persecutors of his followers. Thereupon the inquiry closes, and Jesus is taken away from the quarters of the high-priest (Annas in the original story, Caiaphas in the altered text) to Pilate's praetorium.

[1] It is, however, the fact that only one case of this is reported in our Gospel (vi, 59).


The author is careful to note that this happened on the morning of the day in the evening of which the paschal lamb -was sacrificed. This timing is more important to him than the imagined consequence in the development of the scene. For it results from the date indicated that Jesus died on the day and at the hour of the paschal sacrifice; in this way our Gospel represents the Christ's passion as confirming the Easter usage of the quartodecimans.

This, for him, was the essential matter; but it leads him on to imagine that the Jews must have abstained from entering the praetorium from fear of contracting legal impurity (28); nevertheless he makes Jesus go in. The tribunal is in front of the palace, a kind of open space where a crowd of Jews awaits the result of the proceedings inside, an unnatural arrangement constructed with the object of introducing a private conversation between Pilate and his prisoner, when Jesus will utter some lofty sayings which the writer will not allow him to utter in the presence of Jews. In consequence of this arrangement, the judgment scene falls into two parts, as Pilate goes away from the Jews, who are outside the building, to Jesus, who is inside, and then comes back from Jesus to the Jews.

The trial now proceeds as follows. First, the procurator receives the accusation which "the Jews" (the Jewish magistrates) refuse to withdraw and deal with themselves, on the ground (29-31) that they have no right to pronounce sentence of death (which was true at the time the evangelist was writing, but not in the time of Jesus). This happened, remarks the author (32), in order that Jesus might be crucified, as he had predicted, [1] crucifixion being a punishment which Roman authority alone could inflict. Pilate then goes inside to interrogate the accused who, on receiving the blunt question "art thou the King of the Jews?" makes the mystic answer that his "kingdom is not of this world" and is not defended by armed force; he is King "that he may bear witness to the truth." These sublime declarations are beyond Pilate's comprehension, but he concludes that there can be no harm in a king of truth, and accordingly goes back to the Jews to inform them that he finds no crime in the prisoner (38). At this the Jews break out into protest, declaring that the accused falls under the stroke of the Law for

[1] iii, 14; viii, 28; xii, 32-33.


saying he is the Son of God (this is the charge of blasphemy, which in the synoptic account, [1] is ground of condemnation by the Sanhedrim; but here "Son of God" is taken in the Johannine sense). Troubled by this, Pilate now goes back to Jesus and asks him whence he comes. No answer. Pilate insists and impresses on the prisoner that he has power to release him or to put him to death on the cross; Jesus replies that he would have no such power had not Providence conferred it upon him; so much the heavier is the guilt of Satan who has prompted Judas and the Jews to deliver him to Roman justice (xix, 7-11). Reassured on that side, Pilate makes a new effort to get the accusation withdrawn, only to meet with fresh protest from the Jews, who cry out that a pretender to kingship is Caesar's enemy, thus returning to the political charge with which they had begun. This brings Pilate to the end of his resistance. Yielding to the necessity of the situation (needless to scrutinize his psychology) he has Jesus brought out and makes him sit down on the judgment seat. The right translation here is "made him sit down," as the Gospel of Peter and Justin {Apology, 35) both understand it. If we suppose that Pilate himself sat down, the common translation, the whole scene loses the significance intended by the evangelist, who imagines it as the presentation of a king to his subjects only to be rejected instead of acclaimed. This is the meaning of Pilate's announcement to the Jews "behold your King!", of the clamour that immediately breaks out for the crucifixion of the man offered them, and of the declaration that they will have no king but Caesar. Faced with this blind obstinacy Pilate, we are to suppose, is now powerless to refuse sentence of death, and has no alternative but to hand Jesus over to them for crucifixion (13-16). It is the doing of the Jews, then, that the King of Truth is condemned to death as the King of Israel.

The picture before us, remote as it is from all reality, even from verisimilitude, is nevertheless grand in conception and in the profound irony with which, from the height of a sublime mysticism, the Jews are exhibited. To conform with the Synoptics there have been wedged into it the incident of Barabbas (xviii, 39-40) and the mockery in the praetorium (xix, 1-3), the latter symbolically dramatized and corrected as the presentation of

[1] Mark xiv, 61 — 64; Matthew xxvi, 63-66; Luke xxii, 66-70.


"the man" (4-6). But this added presentation repeats in advance the presentation of "the King" (14) and greatly diminishes its effect. Note how, at the end of xix, 6, we are back at the point where we left off at the end of xviii, 38. Note also that in xviii, 40 the Jews are made to "cry out again" though our Gospel has not mentioned any previous cry. This is a slip of the interpolator: by inadvertence he here follows Mark xv, 13, whereas for the whole of the Barabbas incident he has been following Luke xxiii, 16-19.

The Crucifixion

Having obtained the sentence they demanded the Jews lead the condemned to the place of punishment, Jesus himself carrying his cross (i6(5-i7; in contradiction to Luke xxiii, 26). The sequel, however, shows clearly (23) that the execution is carried out by Roman soldiers, Pilate himself controlling the details (19-22). The contradiction of the Synoptics on the point of Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross is deliberate, the set purpose of the evangelist being to bring out the Christ's free and sovereign control in the preliminaries of his death and in death itself. Perhaps also there was an intention to combat certain gnostics who, like Basilides, maintained that Simon was crucified in the Christ's place. They bring Jesus "to a place called the Skull, Golgotha in the Hebrew" — the synoptic designation — "where they crucified him, and two others with him, one on either side, and Jesus in the midst" (18). The author refrains from saying that these two companions were thieves; this by way of suppressing the suggestion of infamy.

The inscription on the cross gives occasion to a symbolic incident (19-22): despite the opposition of the chief priests, Pilate maintains the wording of it, "Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews." Thus Jesus keeps his Kingship and Christhood, let Jewish incredulity protest as it will. The three languages betoken the universal sovereignty of the Son of God.

In the incidents that follow, up to the original conclusion of the book (xx, 30-31), it is not easy to distinguish what belongs to the fundamental document from the secondary additions. What we are told about the division of the garments may be secondary: it is the forced interpretation of a prophetic text (Psalm xxii, 18) the fulfilment of which had to be marked, the


"garments" and the "vesture" meaning the same object. Doubtless more was intended than to mark the fulfilment of a prophecy, the robe without seam suggesting an allegory in which some of the Fathers recognized the Church. Such a symbolism, however, is not in the same current as that of the "signs" encountered at an earlier stage, such as those of the man born blind and the raising of Lazarus.

The latter symbolism returns in the incident that follows, the words spoken by the Christ to his mother and the beloved disciple (25-27). As this incident concerns only the mother and the disciple, it may be assumed that the other women whose names are given (25) have been added to achieve some sort of agreement with the Synoptics. Here again, as in the story of Cana (ii, 4), Jesus addresses his mother as "Woman"; but this time lie does not repudiate her. The meaning of the incident seems to be that converted Jews must accept hellenic Christianity as the legitimate offspring of the old Covenant, while the same Christianity, on its side, must regard as its mother the Jewish-Christian Church with its Old Testament tradition.

The last incident preceding the death of the Christ is the offer of vinegar; it marks a simple fulfilment of the prophecy in Psalm Ixix, 21. But a touch of symbolism is not wanting, for the vinegar is offered with a bunch of hyssop, in allusion to the paschal ritual (Exodus xii, 22) which prescribed the use of hyssop to splash the house-doors with the blood of the lamb. The symbolism is somewhat far-fetched. Its presentation as a fulfilment of Scripture has the look of being a surcharge. The beginning of the verse (2817) is in contradiction with the end of it, which brings in another Scripture still to be fulfilled. We should read as follows:

"Jesus, knowing that all was accomplished" — his role completely finished according to providential designs, whether expressed in Scripture or not — "in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, I thirst." The natural sequel to "knowing that all was now accomplished" comes after the presentation and reception of the vinegar (30): "he said, it is finished. And bending down his head, he poured out the spirit."

This peaceful and willing death is the Johannine substitute for the scene in the first two Gospels, in which a great cry escapes from Jesus at the moment when he expires (Mark xv, 37; Matthew


xxvii, 50). It figures the gift of the spirit which Jesus, with bent head, breathes forth in his last breath on the beloved group gathered round the foot of the cross; they symbolize his Church. The death of the Johannine Christ provides no scene of agony, ignominy and darkness, for it is nothing else than the resurrection of Jesus to his glorious and blessed eternity; his death and his resurrection are coincident. We must bear that in mind if we are to understand the meaning attached to Easter by the quartodeciman Christians of Asia.

Their Easter, coinciding with the Jewish Passover, might fall on any one of the seven days of the week, but it is a fact to be noted that up to this point our Gospel had not told us on which day the Christ's death took place. We are now going to be told, and to see how the Johannine Easter was made to fit in, by one means or another, to the synoptic framework in which Easter is celebrated on Sunday. The very first incident to follow the death of Jesus in the Johannine account informs us that Jesus died on the evening of a Friday and that he had to be buried before the Sabbath of next day. In its basic form the passage (xix, 31-37) informing us of the finishing blow administered to the victims and the prompt removal of the three bodies for common burial (31) is quite independent of the Synoptics and may well represent an important tradition, inasmuch as this tradition would contradict not only the stories of the Christ's burial in the Synoptics but those which, under synoptic influence, are now to follow in the Gospel before us. But, in the traditional form in which it comes down to us, there are features in the paragraph which class it among the latest additions to be found in our Gospel; these are, first, the symbolism of the water and the blood betokening the Christian sacraments, and, second, the calling up of a text from Exodus (xii, 46), "not a bone of his body shall be broken," which symbolically identifies the Christ with the paschal lamb, and another from Zechariah (xii, 10), surcharged upon the former, and made to predict the lance-thrust of the Roman soldier. The passage referring to the incident in the first Johannine Epistle (i John v, 6-7) is also an interpolation in that Epistle, but stands there as the authorized interpretation of the Gospel passage now before us, the two possibly coming from the same writer. According to this interpretation we are to understand


the Spirit which John the Baptist saw descending on Jesus and which Jesus, with his last breath, poured out upon his own, as connected with water and blood, the water of baptism and the blood of Calvary figured in the Eucharist, the two together bearing one inseparable witness to the immortal Christ.

There is something more in the passage as it has come down to us. The Gospel compilers attest the prodigy on the testimony of the beloved disciple who was present when Jesus died. But who are the compilers who allege this testimony? They are the same persons as those who would have it believed that the Apocalypse, the Gospel and the three Epistles are all the work of one author, and that author the apostle John (cf. xxi, 24). We may conclude that the scene in our Gospel, the witness of the beloved disciple and the attribution of the book to the apostle John are integral parts in a single fiction of late invention.

Burial, Resurrection and Apparitions

The story of the burial by Joseph of Arimathea is borrowed from the synoptic tradition. To him has been added Nicodemus who brings with him a great weight of spices to furnish the Christ with a princely embalmment. (The compiler forgets that the utmost haste was necessary to get the body buried before the Sabbath began, and that an embalmment on this scale would be a very lengthy operation.) Needless to say the "garden" in which the sepulchre is situated has a mystic meaning: it is the new garden of God where the Church, the new Eve, will be drawn from the side of the new Adam; the new sepulchre and the spices belong to the same current. But it may well be doubted whether the author of the Gospel in its original form, who understood everything in a spiritual sense, and the resurrection most emphatically so, was concerned to this extent with the dead body of Jesus, or that he is responsible for the stories in our present fourth Gospel which turn the resurrection into a miracle of the physical order, attested by material proofs.

To find a clear path through the events described in chapter xx is no easy task. The descriptions show signs of successive retouchings, and elements belonging to the fundamental document are but dimly discernible. Three apparitions of the Christ follow without a break; the first to Mary of Magdala (1-18) on


the morning of the resurrection; the second to the assembled disciples on the evening of the same day (19-23); the third again to the disciples, now including the sceptical Thomas, on the Sunday following (24-29).

The first apparition is surcharged with the news carried by Mary to Peter and the beloved disciple (1-2, after the words "she saw the stone had been turned aside from the sepulchre"); by the visit of the two disciples to the tomb, where it becomes clear that this addition, as well as the foregoing, has been imagined to the greater glory of the beloved disciple, who must be the first to believe in the resurrection of Jesus, contrary to what the primitive tradition tells of Peter; finally, by the appearance of angels to Mary (11-14, after "as she wept, she stooped") — this to make agreement with the synoptic introduction of angels, but a meaningless repetition of the apparition of Jesus himself. In tills, the message to the disciples entrusted to Mary has a solemn dignity: she is charged to inform the "brethren" that Jesus has reascended to God. But the attempt to determine exactly the original meaning of this first apparition is a vain one. The story of it must have been modified profoundly, doubtless because it differed too obviously from the other Gospels. [1]

Brief as it is, the account of the second apparition has been overlaid at several points. In the general arrangement it resembles the account in the third Gospel (Luke xxiv, 36-40, 45-49). We are inclined to think that, to the original creator of the scene, this was the one and only sensible apparition of Jesus after his resurrection, expressed in the simple statement that, the disciples being assembled and the doors closed, Jesus appeared in their midst and said: "Peace be unto you.'" Immediately after there is a surcharge, intended to prepare the way for the coming apparition to Thomas, of which that story, when it comes later, has no knowledge — "and saying this, he showed them his hands and his side" (xx, 200), the reference to the soldier's lance-thrust probably due to the compiler who has inserted that episode in the story of the Passion. As though there were nothing surprising in the apparition, the only sentiment attributed to the disciples is that of joy (20). After which Jesus repeats his salutation and

[1] On the ancient writers who substitute the mother of Jesus for the Magdalene, see Le quatrième Evangile, 504.


gives them their mission (21; cf. xvii, 18 and Matthew xxviii, 19-20). Although the repeated salutation (21) may be a surcharge, added to prevent the discourse of Jesus being only the announcement of a mission, it is probable that the words which follow, about the power to remit sins, also come from the original author, omitting those which refer to the insufflation of the Spirit.

The third apparition (24-29), made for convincing Thomas, is an appendix to the second, and due to some reviser who was concerned to demonstrate the reality of the Christ's bodily resurrection; the remarks of Thomas, "if I see not the mark of the nails," etc., makes that clear enough. Nevertheless the moral of the story is to the effect that normal faith has no need of such proofs. It is possible that the anecdote was added to combat Docetism, but what it directly contradicts is the doctrine of the original evangelist, which taught the spiritual immortality of the Christ, but not the material resurrection of his dead body. It remains to note that this third apparition is conceived by the author as definitely the last to occur. After the words "blessed are they who, not having seen, believe" any further apparition stories would be worse than superfluous.

The concluding lines (30-31), concerning the object of the book, come from the writer whom we may call the first editor of the Gospel. They give no sign that he wished to be regarded as an apostolic person. Moreover he bids farewell to his readers with the unmistakable air of having finished his work and completed the mystic instruction of the Christian. After this the chapter that follows is clearly marked as an accretion, of which the effect is to derange the primitive economy of the whole book.

The Supplementary Apparition

This supplementary chapter has the threefold object of relating an apparition of the risen Christ to Peter and six of the disciples by the Lake of Tiberias (xxi, 1-14); the rehabilitation, by a triple profession of love, of Simon-Peter to whom the Christ confides the care of his sheep (15-17); predictions of Jesus about the martyrdom of Peter and the future of the beloved disciple (20-23), an editorial invention, relatively late, and connected with the attribution of the Gospel to this disciple, in the epilogue (24-25).


To the same editor belong, without counting retouches and the arrangement of the material he is working on, the formula of introduction (i); the role of the beloved disciple in the miraculous draught, where the disciple is before Peter in recognizing Jesus (7); the statement about the number of fish and the resistance of the net, symbolic touches in the editor's usual vein; finally the number in the series assigned to the apparition (14). The whole is composed of borrowings from the synoptic tradition of apparitions in Galilee, and from the third Gospel. The general intention of it all is, beyond doubt, to make the Johannine Gospel acceptable in the churches at large, the prominence given to Peter being certain to win the approval in particular of the church in Rome. But the conglomerate of material here collected from various sources is as far as possible from holding together. It breaks up on analysis into the following borrowed elements: the miraculous draught of fishes, which is a myth of the institution of Christian propaganda, anticipated in Luke v, 1-11 (the introduction just here of this, the primordial, meaning of the miracle, is somewhat strange); the incident of Peter plunging from the boat into the sea in order to be with Jesus again, which recalls a similar incident in Matthew (xiv, 25-33, the antedating of a resurrection story); the meal of bread and fish, recalling the miraculous multiplication of the loaves (vi, 5-13), the meal with the pilgrims of Emmaus, and especially the peculiar feature of the broiled fish in the apparition to all the disciples recorded by the same Gospel (Luke xxiv, 41-43).

The solemn colloquy of the Christ with Peter (15-17), in which the primacy of the apostle is consecrated, has been consciously moulded into an equivalent of what we read in Matthew xvi, 17-19, which it imitates even to the form, and in Luke xxii, 32, though it was at first conceived independently of this Gospel. It is a safe conjecture that the prediction of Peter's martyrdom (18-19, echoing xiii, 36) was worded with an eye on the Apocalypse of Peter (supra, p. 53). All this, for better or worse, and for worse rather than better, is crowded into the same perspective. The last sayings about the beloved disciple (20-23) are of the feeblest invention, but are intended to prepare the way for the conclusion of the chapter (24-25), which is also to be the conclusion of the book. The object aimed at is to present the Elder,


John the Old, a well-known figure long resident in Asia, as author of the Gospel and to convey a hint — no more than a hint is given — that he is the same person as the apostle John, son of Zebedee. Who are the "we" who guarantee his testimony (24)? They are "the Elders" who had known this John and brought out under his name the collection of Johannine books. We thus see that this supplement to the Gospel, intended to make it acceptable to all the Churches, was also intended to give it apostolic authority and value.

Such, then, is the sublime but inconsistent book whose destiny it was to dominate Christian theology and to fix its form. How did it originate?

Towards the end of the first century or the beginning of the second there lived a mystic prophet, a master of gnosis rather than an apostle of the faith, from whom came forth the hymns and symbolic visions on which the fourth Gospel is founded. A little later, towards 135-140, his sublime meditations were collected and framed in a Gospel story, to be used as a manual of initiation into the Christian faith, like other books of similar form already in circulation among the churches. The chronological framework was probably fixed at the same time and a part of the borrowings made from the synoptic tradition. At this stage and in this form the book had no author's name attached to it and its diffusion was limited, or nearly so, to the province of Asia. Some fifteen or twenty years later, towards 150-160, the Marcionite heresy having broken out, this Asiatic book was amended, completed and more or less worked over, not only by the addition of chapter xxi, but by other retouches and additions in the main body; it was then boldly presented as the work of an apostle. But everything was welcome that gave satisfaction to faith, and the result just described was accepted by those whose will-to-believe found the truth in it. Thus it came to pass that, when the Montanist controversy broke out, the adversaries of these pretended writings of the apostle John found nobody to listen to them. When later, towards 190, the great controversy arose about the keeping of Easter, the Roman Church failed to perceive, or pretended not to perceive that, while the Synoptics supported the ritual tradition of Rome and of most other Chris-


tian churches, the fourth Gospel supported the different tradition followed by the churches of Asia.



The concluding Prayer in Chapter xvii. [1]

Holy Father, keep them in thy name,
those thou hast given me,
that they may be one as we are ...
I ask thee not to take them out of the world,
but to guard them from the Evil One ...
For them I sanctify myself,
that they also may be sanctified in truth ...
And the glory thou gavest to me, yea to me,
I gave to them,
That they may be one
as we are one,
I in them
and thou in me
that they may be perfect in unity,
That the world may know
that thou hast sent me
And that thou hast loved them
as thou hast loved me.
Father, those whom thou hast given me,
I would that where I am
They too may be with me,
That they may see my glory,
which thou hast given me,
For thou hast loved me
before the foundation of the world.
Righteous Father, the world has known thee not,
but I, I knew thee;
And they too have known
that thou hast sent me.
And to them have I made known thy name,
and will make it known,
That the love wherewith thou lovest me may be
in them and I in them.

[1] See The Birth of the Christian Religion, p. 241. (Appended here by the translator.)

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