Classic Bible Commentary Offers Profound Insights Into Holy Scripture

Practical excerpt from the commentary:

[Luke 1:26–38. Mat. 1:18–25]

The angel of the Lord was sent to Mary in order to procure this (her) consent. The time had arrived, and the Son of God was ready to descend from heaven and become Man.

It only remained for her, whom God the Father had chosen to be the Mother of His Son, to give her consent to be so. The angel of God therefore explained this great mystery, and waited for her answer, on which depended the salvation of the world.

While meditating upon that decisive moment, St. Bernard uttered this prayer to Mary: “Now, O Virgin, thou hast heard what is to be, and how it is to be. Both mysteries are exceeding joyous and wonderful. But the angel awaits thine answer, for it is time for him to return to God who sent him.

We too, O Mary, our Queen, we who are weighed down by the divine sentence, we wait for thy speech, thy words of mercy. For behold, the price of our redemption is offered to thee; and as soon as thou dost accept it, we shall be saved.

We were all created by the eternal word of God, and yet, behold, we die! But if thou wilt speak one little word, we shall live!

Speak then, Oh, speak that decisive word. Adam and his unhappy children, banished from Paradise, beseech this of thee! David and all our holy fathers—thy fathers too—beseech thee! The whole world, prostrate before thee, looks to thee and beseeches!

On thy words depend the comfort of the afflicted, the deliverance of the condemned, the salvation of the children of Adam! Hesitate not, O Virgin! Speak, O Mary, that sweet word of consent, which we who are on the earth, and under the earth, now wait for!”

Mary, as you know, did utter that decisive word of compliance: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word!” By these glorious and precious words she pronounced the longed-for consent.


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Short video makes a startling point about liberals and guns

Watch the video

Submitted by Frank V.

The Muslim Brotherhood recently destroyed 60 churches in Egypt. Why would we keep giving them money?

A comment sent in by Ed S. of Arlington Heights, IL

Doesn’t the administration realize that by giving aid in arms to those who are fighting  (in Syria) along with Al Qaeda that those  arms will end up going to Al Qaeda? We are aiding the  911 terrorists!
Just like when we gave arms to the Afghan Al Qaeda to fight the Russians; we empowered them to hurt the US.  A rifle can kill people for 100 years!
An Afghan home owner knew that his house would be destroyed by US bombs, so he asked for $600 so he could destroy his own house, saving the US a million dollars. He knew that Al Qaeda would use his house as cover, so he was willing to destroy it for $600 and live in a tent, to save the USA money.
The Muslim Brotherhood just destroyed 60 churches in Egypt. Why would we keep giving them money?

Some Interesting Traditional Bible Commentary On the Gospel of Saint John



Introduction —The Fourth Gospel has always been regarded as touching the highest peak of Christian revelation, and for this reason John the Apostle, its traditional author, is described as ‘the divine.’ and is designated by the eagle that soars high into the heavens. St Jerome wrote that John’ filled to the full with revelation, indited the heaven-sent preface “In the beginning was the Word. . . .”‘, Prol. to Comm. in Mt. Indeed it was the unique sublimity of the ‘prologue’ to St John’s Gospel, 1:1-14, that eventually gained it a permanent place in the Mass as ‘Last Gospel’. Though it has always been regarded as canonical (see § 776c) nevertheless the startling character of its teaching and style has raised doubts in modern times as to its historical reliability, on which see §§ 779b-780g.

Canonicity —That Jn has always been regarded as inspired and canonical Scripture hardly requires proof. It is to be found in the best Greek uncial codices of the 4th to 6th cent. (B, S, A, D, C, W) and considerable portions of it appear in many other uncials. The great mass (over 600) of cursives have it. The Egerton Papyrus (early 2nd cent.) contains parts of it mixed with synoptic texts for popular use, showing that at that early date it was already well known and placed on the same level as the Synoptics; cf. M.-J. Lagrange RB 44 ( 1935) 343. The Chester Beatty papyrus codex of the early 3rd cent. contains portions of it. Jn is likewise found in all ancient NT versions. Allusions to it and quotations from it are found in many 2nd cent. writings, the Epistles of St Ignatius (†115), the Shepherd of Hermas, Justin Martyr, the Odes of Solomon (early 2nd cent.), perhaps also Polycarp in his letter to the Philippians, c a.d. 115. Some presbyters mentioned by Irenaeus († a.d. 202) explained the ‘many mansions,’ Joh_14:2. Tatian embodied the Gospel in his Diatessaron ( a.d. 175). The Montanists made much of the Paraclete passages, Marcion incorporating pieces in his own arbitrary gospel; Gnostics like Valentine and Ptolemy used it and especially Heracleon who seems to have been the first to write a commentary on this gospel. We may also mention here the fragment of papyrus (rectoJn 18:31-32—versoJn 18:37-38) in the Rylands collection Manchester (P 52 Rylands 457) discovered in Egypt and dated about a.d. 130, apparently showing that the Gospel may well have been circulating at that date in that country.

Authorship —If we except the views of the Alogi, obscure 2nd cent. heretics who denied the Johannine authorship, not on historical but on doctrinal grounds, there was never any doubt until modern times, that John, the son of Zebedee and one of the twelve Apostles, wrote the Fourth Gospel. The remarkable differences that exist between the Syn. on the one hand and Jn on the other (see § 778h) are claimed by many moderns as militating against the ascription of the fatter to one of Christ’s disciples. These differences, however, were equally well known to the ancients and nevertheless they regarded the son of Zebedee as author. It is difficult to resist the conclusion that a cogent reason for the modern denial is, or at least was, the clear and even startling portrayal in Jn of the divine sonship of Christ. If it could be shown that the gospel was not in fact written by one of our Lord’s immediate followers, but by a Christian of later date, the force of the historical evidence would be weakened, thus making it easier to deny its claims. It was felt that time must be allowed for the growth of so clear a belief in Christ’s divinity as we see illustrated in Jn, and the Tübingen School, for example, assigned to it the date a.d. 160-70. Today, of course, in the light of recent research and manuscript discoveries (cf. § 77b), it is not possible to date it later than the first quarter of the 2nd cent., and since the traditional date for the gospel is a.d. 100, this motive for denying the Johannine authorship has largely disappeared.

John the Son of Zebedee —John and his elder brother James were sons of Zebedee and Salome. Zebedee, living near the Lake of Genesareth (perhaps at Bethsaida), was a prosperous fisherman, who employed paid helpers. Whether we regard Salome as a sister (cousin) of the Mother of Jesus depends on the way we read Joh_19:26 and combine the text with Mat_27:56 and Mar_15:40. In any case, Salome was one of the Galilean women who followed Jesus with their ministrations. She was present at the crucifixion. John was probably still in his teens when he placed himself with Andrew in the school of the Precursor. From the friend of the Bridegroom he passed to the company of the Divine Bridegroom himself. Then, as Andrew brought Simon his brother to Jesus, so, it seems, John brought James. In those earliest days of discipleship he saw the miracle of the marriage feast of Cana and remained with Jesus till after the first Pasch of the public life. Later he and James were called from their father’s boat to join Peter and Andrew as future fishers of men. After twelve of the disciples had been chosen as Apostles, the two brothers together with Peter formed a privileged group. Mk notes (from the mouth of Peter) that Christ called the two ‘Boanerges’ or ‘Sons of thunder’, to mark their ardent temperament, Mar_3:17. The warmth of their personal attachment, no doubt, prompted the ambitious petition which they made one day through their mother for the places of honour beside Christ in his future kingdom, Mat_20:20 ff.; Mar_10:35 ff. On an earlier occasion it was chiefly John who, through zeal for his Master’s bonour, forbade a Jewish exorcist to use the name of Jesus in driving out a devil, Mar_9:38, and again he wanted Jesus to call down fire from heaven on an inhospitable Samaritan village, Luk_9:54. The privileged three, Peter, James and John, were the only ones chosen to be witnesses of the raising of the daughter of Jairus, of the Transfiguration, and of the Agony in Gethsemani.

There is no serious reason to doubt that the anonymous companion of Andrew mentioned in Joh_1:40 was John himself. Likewise it seems certain that the same Apostle is covered by the appellation ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’, otherwise ‘this Apostle would remain without mention in the Gospel, an inconceivable omission’, Strachan. ‘The disciple whom Jesus loved’ figures at the Supper, which Peter and he had prepared, as reclining on the breast of Jesus and inquiring who was the traitor, as standing by the cross and receiving the guardianship of the Blessed Virgin, as running with Peter to the tomb on the Sunday of the resurrection, as recognizing the Lord from the boat the morning he appeared on the shore of Lake Tiberias. He is the one whose destiny Peter tried to learn, when he had been told of his own future martyrdom. All things considered, and in spite of Act_4:13, it seems difficult not to identify John with that disciple known to the high-priest, who, after our Lord’s arrest, secured Peter’s admission to the court of the pontifical residence, Joh_18:15. John’s continued association with Peter is emphasized in the early chh of Ac. In fact, the list of Apostles there given shows interestingly how in the Apostolic College the ‘Juda’ chosen for primacy and the ‘Benjamin’ chosen for special predilection by Jesus were brought together. While Mt and Lk have the order: Peter, Andrew, James, John, Mk the disciple of Peter has Peter, James, John (the sons of thunder) and Andrew. Finally Ac has the arrangement: Peter, John, James, Andrew.

Peter and John were together at the Beautiful Gate, Act_3:1, before the Sanhedrin, 4:13, and visited Samaria together, 8:14. Between a.d. 42 and 44 James was put to death at Jerusalem, and Peter, but not John, was arrested. We do not meet John again till a.d. 49, when he was present at the Council of Jerusalem, to which perhaps Paul refers when he mentions John amongst ‘the pillars’, Gal_2:9.

As Paul and his disciple Timothy took care of the Church of proconsular Asia till the last years of Paul’s life (66-7), it does not seem that John came to Ephesus before a.d. 68. Polycarp who was his disciple (perhaps from the beginning) became a Christian in 69. The tradition recorded by Irenaeus and Polycrates of Ephesus (c 190) supposes that the Apostle spent many years in Asia; that he was relegated by Domitian to Patmos, where he wrote the Apocalypse, that thence he returned to Ephesus under Nerva (96-8), and (if we trust the Syrian chronographer Elias Bar Sinaja) he died in 104, the seventh year of Trajan (98-117).

Various other things concerning John are narrated by ancient writers: his flight from the bath-house because Cerinthus the heretic was within (Irenacus), his immersion at Rome in a cauldron of boiling oil (Tertullian), his reclamation of a young brigand (Clem. Al.), his repetition in old age of the precept: ‘My little children, love one another’ (Jerome). One anecdote actually furnished a symbol of the Apostle, namely, the serpent escaping from the poisoned cup. ‘Chosen by Christ as a virgin John remained a virgin for ever’, a fitting guardian of the Virgin Mother.

External Evidence —The Johannine authorship was in pacific possession until the end of the 18th cent., when the attack was started by the English deist Evanson ( 1792) and continued by the German rationalist Bretschneider ( 1820). The traditional authorship has however found many modern supporters among nonCatholics, as for example Westcott, Zahn, Stanton, Drummond, Sanday , Feine and Büchsel. Catholic exegetes are unanimous in affirming the apostolic authorship.

We have only to move backwards from the 4th cent. along the links of the chain of testimony, to realize the strength of the Johannine claim. Eusebius of Caesarea ( HE 3, 24) writing perhaps as early as 312 and not later than 323 says summarily: ‘Let us indicate the undoubted writings of this Apostle [John]. Surely his Gospel which is read by all the churches under heaven must be the first to receive recognition’. Threequarters of a century earlier Origen, commenting on Jn, was full of the reverence due to a recognized writing of John, who reclined on the breast of Jesus and received Mary as his mother, apud Euseb. HE 6, 25.

And Origen’s Master, Clement of Alexandria, in an exegetical work entitled “Hypotyposeis”, cited by Eusebius ( HE 6, 14), joins to an account of the origin of Mk the following important testimony: ‘But John, last of all, being conscious that the exterior facts (t? s?µat???) had been set forth in the (other) Gospels, after he had been urged by his friends and divinely moved by the Spirit, composed a spiritual Gospel (p?e?µat???? . . . e?a???????). About the same time (c 200) Tertullian at Carthage urges the authority of all four Evangelists by name against Marcion ( Adv. Marc. 4, 2.5).

Passing backwards to the 2nd cent. and to the chief churches of the East and West we have Theophilus, a Mesopotamian by birth and sixth Bishop of Syrian Antioch, naming John as author of our Gospel and numbering him amongst the pneumatophoroi or divinely inspired. This was about a.d. 179. A decade later, Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus, defending the Quartodecimans in a letter to Pope Victor, appeals to the authority of Philip the Apostle and of John the Apostle, whom they follow in the date of the Pasch ‘according to the Gospel’ ( Eus., HE 3, 31). He certainly refers to the written Gospel of John which seven of his own kinsmen, who were bishops in Asia before him, had also followed. In speaking of John as ‘reclining on the breast’ of our Lord, Polycrates clearly refers to Joh_13:23 and identifies the Apostle with the Beloved Disciple.

From the same Asiatic circle and from the school of the venerable Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna and a disciple of John himself, comes Irenaeus, the Asiatic Bishop of Lyons. Polycarp is the immediate link between Irenaeus and John. Now Irenaeus wrote his famous work Adversus Haereses in the pontificate of St Eleutherus (175-89). In this work, at the beginning of that very third book which gives the list of Popes down to Eleutherus, Irenaeus adds to his account of Mt, Mk, Lk the following: ‘Then John, the disciple of the Lord, who had even rested on his breast, himself also published the Gospel, while he was living at Ephesus in Asia’. The Muratorian fragment (c a.d. 170) shows that Rome at the same time also held the Johannine authorship; see § 17g.

It seems, however, that we can invoke even more ancient explicit testimony, though scarcely more authoritative than that of Irenaeus. According to two Prologues prior to the so-called Monarchian Prologues, and found in several Latin MSS of the Bible, notably in Vat. Reginensis 14 and Toletanus, Papias of Hierapolis is a disciple of John the Apostle, and bears witness to the Johannine authorship, saying that ‘the Apostle John wrote it against heretics at the request of many bishops’. The value of this is that it quotes Papias, writing c a.d. 130. Papias would be nothing less than an immediate witness since he knew the Apostle himself. The evidence invoked in favour of its canonicity may also be cited as evidence for the Johannine authorship, for even when John is not mentioned by name, there is never any question of any other than the Apostle who is moreover so clearly indicated as such in the Gospel itself.

Internal Evidence —Jn is not at all an anonymous writing in the same sense as its predecessors, and bears distinctive marks of its authorship. Though it is written in correct Greek, and there seems to be no sufficient evidence for Burney’s theory of an Aramaic original, the thought, the rhythm of the sentences and sometimes the grammatical constructions are obviously the product of a Semitic mind. Belief in the Hebrew Scriptures is everywhere manifest whether in the words put into the mouths of others or in the Evangelist’s own comments. As examples of the latter, more significant for our purpose, we may cite the numerous texts in which the author sees the fulfilment of OT prophecy, the cleansing of the temple, 2:17, Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, 12:14, 15, the unbelief of the Jews, 12:38, the distribution of Christ’s garments and the casting of lots for his tunic, 19:24, the piercing of Christ’s side, 19:36 f. The author’s familiarity with Jewish customs is equally manifest. He understands the importance of ritual purifications, 2:6, 11:55, the Jews’ dread of contacts with Gentiles, 18:28, the widespread impression that physical misfortune was the result of sin, 9:2. The Semitic style of the narrative is unmistakable, e.g. in 3:16-21, 31-36. The author prefers to string together sentences by the use of ‘and’ rather than to use subordinate clauses. Though not unknown in Greek, this is far more common in Aramaic and Hebrew, and suggests a knowledge of these languages. There is a distinct tendency, too, to record Aramaic names of persons and places and to interpret them for Greek readers, e.g. Messias, 1:41; 4:25, Cephas, 1:42, Rabbi, 1:38, Rabboni, 20:16, Golgotha, 19:17.

The writer’s familiarity with the country is even more striking. He is familiar in detail with the topography of Jerusalem. He knows that Solomon’s Porch is part of the temple, 10:23, that by the Praetorium there is the Pavement called Gabbatha, 19:13, that the Pool of Bethzatha has five porches and is by the Sheep Gate, 5:2. When mentioning places elsewhere he shows detailed knowledge. Cana of Galilee, 2:1, 21:2, Bethany beyond Jordan, 1:28 (to distinguish it from the other Bethany), Aenon near Salim, 3:23. These and man other examples lead inevitably to the conclusion that we have here the record of one who was familiar at first hand with the country and its people.

An equal familiarity and direct acquaintanceship is shown with the actual events. Precise references to time, place, distance, remarks and reactions of persons are scattered profusely throughout the Gospel, often for no other discernible reason than that the writer knew that it so happened. Thus at the beginning of the Gospel the author gives us a day by day account and even the very hour of events, 1:29, 35, 39, 43; 2:1. He often mentions the name of the speaker even when the remark is unimportant, 6:7, 8; 11:16. He observes also that Malchus was the name of the highpriest’s servant whose car Peter cut off, a fact perhaps of importance only to one who was himself known to the high-priest, 18:15. We are told that the five loaves, 6:9, were of barley and that there was much grass at the place of the miracle, 6:10. Lightfoot has moreover noted that the author mentally crosses the Lake of Tiberias as he writes, now speaking of the eastern side, 6:1, 22, and now of the western side, 6:17, 25, as ‘across the lake’. The first-hand information is equally evident in such vivid and detailed narratives as that of the scene by Jacob’s Well, ch 4, and the healing of the man born blind, ch 9. The cumulative effect of these and other details is to induce us to conclude that we owe the narrative not merely to an eye-witness of the events but to one who was particularly receptive of impressions and of specially retentive memory.

It is not difficult moreover to identify this witness. in the narrative itself. He speaks not infrequently as from the intimate circle of Christ’s immediate followers: e.g. in ch 1, when our Lord calls his first disciples, and, even more strikingly, at the Last Supper, chh 12 ff., when, it is certain, there were none present but the twelve Apostles. Moreover he constantly shows himself acquainted with our Lord’s inmost thoughts and feelings, 2:21, 24; 11:13, 33, 38. The conclusion is forced upon us that the witness is an Apostle. Which of the Twelve is he? We note the rather singular omission from the Gospel of all mention of the sons of Zebedee by name, whereas in the Synoptics they are frequently so mentioned. Indeed with Peter they are the most favoured disciples of our Lord, cf. § 776e. It is difficult to suggest a reason for this silence in Jn, except that one of them is recording the history, and since James was put to death by Herod Agrippa I in a.d. 42 we are left with his brother John as the author.

We may briefly deal here with a pretended discovery that John was martyred together with James by Herod Agrippa, and therefore was dead before Jn was written. Mk’s vivid reproduction of Christ’s word promising the two ambitious brothers his cup and his baptism is argued to be a ‘prophecy after the event’, and should be taken to affirm their common martyrdom in a.d. 44. A fragment of Papias cited by Philip of Side, 430, and Georgios Hamartolos, c 867, is produced as confirming this supposition. It says that ‘John the Theologian and James were killed by the Jews’. Furthermore a Syriac Martyrology of 411 assigns to James and John a common feast on December 27th.

Our first remark is that this assertion demands an impcssible Pauline chronology, since it necessitates the dating of the persecutor’s conversion between a.d. 27 and 30. Secondly, with regard to Christ’s prophecy, the assumption that it refers to an event (apart from the implied denial of real prophecy) gratuitously supposes that the chalice must mean violent death for both brothers, and that their martyrdom is to be regarded as simultaneous. Thirdly, in this hypothesis the silence of Ac 12 regarding Joh?’s death would be inexplicable. Fourthly, the title ‘the Theologian’ is an anachronism, as attributed to Papias, for this title dates from the 4th cent. Such an inaccuracy in citing Papias leads us to the reasonable conjecture that the Bishop of Hierapolis most probably coupled the names of John the Baptist and James the Apostle, both killed by the Jews, one by Herod Antipas and the other by Herod Agrippa. Fifthly, the common feast of James and John does not suppose a common martyrdom. At Carthage, according to a Martyrology of 505, it was the Baptist and James who were celebrated on 27 Dec. In the Syriac Martyrology there is an evident preoccupation with the title of Apostle (Dec. 26:

Stephen the Apostle (!); Dec 27: John and James Apostles; Dec. 28: Paul the Apostle an Simon Peter chief of the Apostles) which could easily have occasioned the substitution of John the Apostle for John the Precursor. Papias, therefore, and the Syriac Martyrology furnish no solid evidence against the tradition that John drank the chalice without shedding his blood and died a natural death at Ephesus in extreme old age; cf.Joh_21:23.

Recent Non-Catholic Criticism —As stated above it is no longer possible to assign a late 2nd cent. date to the Fourth Gospel and it is now generally recognized to have been written more or less at the time allotted to it by tradition. If the Gospel were written about the end of the 1st cent. and if John the Apostle did indeed survive till then, it might be thought to make little difference to the accuracy of the narrative, whether it was written by him personally or by a contemporary. Nevertheless, though the Apostle is now generally allowed to have had a large part in providing the material of the Gospel, it is still denied by many moderns that he actually wrote it. It is suggested for example that the Gospel clearly distinguishes between the writer and the eyewitness in 19:35 and 21:24, It is allowed that in those passages the eyewitness is the Beloved Disciple, John the son of Zebedee. In 19:35, it is argued, the writer of the Gospel is testifying to the truth of the Beloved Disciple’s witness, ‘his witness is true’. ‘He knoweth that he saith true’ is a statement by the writer that the Apostle, now very old, is fully conscious of the truth of his witness (Bernard, in loc.). This interpretation is by no means obvious. Why should one who was ex hypothesi not an eyewitness testify to the truth of the witness of one who was? It would surely be more natural to invoke the eyewitness in corroboration of the writer’s own statement. As for Bernard’s interpretation of the following statement (‘He [??e????] knoweth that he saith true’), he has to admit that it is quite natural to interpret ??e???? as the actual writer of the Gospel (cf.Joh_9:37 where Christ uses ??e???? of himself). But if it does so refer, then we are more or less obliged to identify witness with writer, for otherwise we should have a needless repetition of the preceding sentence. Why should it be thought unlikely that the writer should refer to himself in the third person? After all, St Paul does so in 2Co_12:2-5. At the very least Joh_19:35 may equally well be taken in this way and since tradition has in fact always so taken it, we conclude this is the right interpretation. As for Joh_21:24, even if it be conceded that others wrote the verse, so far from weakening the Johannine claim, it is an explicit affirmation that the actual writer is the Beloved Disciple who, we have seen, must be identified with Jn the Apostle.

It is asked further how we are to account for the strange reticence of the Evangelist regarding the actual name of the Beloved Disciple—Strachan notes the traditional theory that the author, the son of Zebedee, here refers to himself, but that as author, he keeps himself in the background (p 82). ‘Yet’, he says, ‘the terms of such a reference can scarcely be called modest. It is a much simpler interpretation to suppose that the author of the Gospel is referring to someone other than himself. Then the epithet, “whom Jesus loved” becomes intelligible’. But surely Strachan has smoothed out one difficulty only to raise a greater—for while it is easy to understand why the son of Zebedee does not name himself if he is indeed the author of the Gospel, it is by no means easy to see why the son of Zebedee is not mentioned by name if the Gospel were written by someone else. Moreover, is the title ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’ in the mouth of that disciple such an offence against modesty? Given that Jesus had in fact a special predilection for the youngest of the Apostles, John would naturally be struck by the wonder of it and might explain it simply on the ground of his being the Benjamin of Christ’s immediate followers and not because of any special merits he might possess.

It is then, it seems, on such grounds as these that we are asked to distinguish between the witness to whom we owe practically all the information in the Gospel and the writer who records it for us, while at the same time rejecting a constant tradition which identifies the two. ‘Speaking generally’, says Dr Bernard, ‘one cannot distinguish by any features of internal evidence, those parts of the Gospel narrative which plainly rest upon the report of an eyewitness, and those which may be referred to the Evangelist’, p lxxviii. One should go further. Even if the evidence of the Gospel were compatible with the theory that the writer, not himself an eyewitness, gathered his information from one who was, it is clearly more intelligible on the assumption that the eyewitness wrote it himself. There are whole pages of the Gospel where it is unthinkable that anyone but the witness wrote them—or at least dictated them word for word, which comes to the same thing, cf.Jn13-17. Indeed Dr Bernard at times seems to allow to the writer’ of the Gospel a role hardly greater than that of scribe. But no Catholic would object to the suggestion that John, like Paul, Rom_16:22, used a scribe to write down his compositions.

It is further pointed out that the Apocalypse, admitted to be by John the Apostle, has no reticence like the Gospel on this point, but gives the name of John openly and repeatedly—why then not the Gospel also, if indeed the Apostle wrote it? Without pretending to solve every difficulty it may be observed that the Apoc is very different from the Gospel. It is a book of prophecy in which the identity of the prophet has considerable relevance. The Gospel on the other hand is a record of the deeds and words of Jesus Christ in which there is much less need to name the author. Indeed, one may note again (cf. § 777d) that Jn is less anonymous than the other Gospels.

The critics have gone further and attempted to identify the writer of the Gospel as distinct from the witness. It is noted that the author of the Gospel also wrote the Johannine epistles. Now 2 and 3 Jn each starts by naming the writer as ? pesß?te???, the Presbyter or Elder. This term, it is argued, is used in Act_15:4, Act_15:22 to distinguish the disciples of the Apostles from the Apostles themselves and this is the sense in which Irenaeus uses the term ?? pesß?te??? t?+?? ?p?st???? µaTðta?, Adv. Haer.5, 5, 1; 5, 33, 3; 5, 6, 2. There is no example in 2nd cent. literature, they say, of the term ‘Presbyter’ being used for an Apostle, cf. Bernard, p xlvii. Who is this ‘Presbyter’ who wrote the Gospel and epistles? The critics refer us to a statement of Papias who, while describing the sources of his information, says he tried to find out all that the ‘presbyters’ reported as being said by Andrew, Peter, Philip, Thomas, James, John, Matthew, or any other of the disciples of our Lord—and also what Aristion and the presbyter John say. It seems clear that two Johns are indicated here and this is the view of Eusebius himself, HE III, 39; cf. Bardy, DBV(S) 845. Eusebius mentions the fact that there are two tombs at Ephesus bearing the name of John, and suggests that perhaps the John, not the Apostle, wrote the Apocalypse. No one in tradition ever suggested he wrote the Gospel. Yet this is the individual brought in to fill the role of p?esß?te??? in 2 and 3 Jn, and claim authorship of the 4th Gospel, as well as the epistles. Bernard, adopting substantially the view of Harnack, sums up: ‘John the presbyter was the writer and editor of the 4th Gospel, although he derived his narrative material from John the son of Zebedee’, p lxiv.

On what grounds is based the assertion that the term p?esß?te??? is never used of an Apostle? It is necessary of course to exclude, beforehand, its use in 2 and 3 Jn and to interpret Papias’ use of the word as ‘disciple of an Apostle’ though many think he uses it also of Apostles. Moreover the total number of references to ‘presbyter’ in the literature of the first two centuries is not so large as to warrant any categoric assertion of the kind. Further, the appellation ? p?esß?te??? at the head of 2 and 3 Jn surely singles the author out in a very special way, far too special a way, one might think, for a mere disciple of an Apostle, otherwise practically unknown. Yet on the assumption that it is the Apostle himself, how suitable a name! John, the last survivor of the Twelve, and now no doubt far older than all those he lived with, is surely the Elder par excellence cf. Bardy, 846, and 1Pe_5:1.

One further question arises. If the critics are correct, then the composition of Jn was closely similar to that of Mk. As Mk was the follower of Peter and recorded his memories in Peter’s old age, so John the Presbyter, a disciple of the son of Zebedee, would have recorded his memoirs in the Apostle’s old age.But if this be so, how can one account for the startling difference in tradition? Whereas the part played by Mk has always been plain in the record of tradition, and the Gospel is under his name, not Peter’s, nothing similar is to be found in the tradition of the Fourth Gospel, cf. ‘The Replies of the Biblical Commission’, §, 51c-e. Purpose and Plan —The Evangelist himself declares his aim, ‘These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God and that believing you may have life in his name’, 20:31. He wrote, not so much to convert as to confirm the belief of those who already believed ‘that you may keep believing’ (p?ste?ðte). The Gospel was mainly meant for Christians. These were not Jewish Christians, otherwise it would not have interpreted simple Jewish terms such as Messias and Rabbi. The Jews John has in mind are not readers, but the hostile mass of the Jewish nation who rejected the Messias.

It seems clear too that the Evangelist, without expressly saying so, wrote against those who are called Antichrist in 1 and 2 Jn. These are the Docetists, who held that the divine Christ did not really have a human nature, and the Ebionitcs, who claimed that the Word of God dwelt only for a time in the man Jesus, from his baptism to his Passion. Jn demonstrates the reality of Christ’s human nature and likewise shows that the Word was made Flesh at the moment of the Annunciation. Finally, Jn’s insistence on the Baptist’s subordination to Christ (‘He was not the light’) might be taken as an answer to those followers of the Baptist who were reluctant to transfer their allegiance, 3:25-30. That the Evangelist also wrote to supplement the Synoptics appears from a comparison with them. Indeed the explanation of many difficulties in Jn lies in the fact that the author presupposes a knowledge of the Synoptics. ‘Thus he omits many things which would have served his purpose, for no other reason apparently than because they were already well known from the earlier Gospels’, MacRory, p xlv. He makes no mention, e.g., of the Transfiguration, or of Christ’s confession of divinity before Caiaphas. Again Jn’s remark ‘For John was not yet cast into prison’, 3:24, surely refers to the mention of this event in the Synoptics as indicating the start of the Galilean ministry; and its purpose is to inform the reader that Christ’s Judaean Ministry took place before the Galilean. Further, there is no account of the Institution of the Eucharist in Jn. In view of the elaborate Eucharistic discourse of Jn 6 and the whole tone of the account of the Last Supper which presueposes the Sacrament of Love, it is clear that John omits the description of its institution for no other reason than that four accounts of it existed already (Mt, Mk, Lk and 1 Cor).

We see then how an examination of the Gospel corroborates the testimony of early writers. Eusebius says Jn expressly records the events before the Baptist’s imprisonment, which had been left out by the Synoptics ( HE 3, 24) ; Irenaeus notes that John had in mind ‘the error sown by Cerinthus and earlier still by those called Nicolaites’, Adv. Haer. 3, 1.

The Gospel seems to fall into the following divisions

1:1-18 Prologue

1:19-6:72 The Public Ministry, Part I
1:19-2:12 The Messias prepares for his Mission

2:13-3:36 First Judaean Ministry

4:1-54 Through Samaria to Galilee

5:1-47 A Feast at Jerusalem

6:1-72 The Bread of Life

7:1-12:50 The Public Ministry,
Part II 7:1-52 The Breach widens
7:53-9:41 The Light of the World

10:1-11:56 The Good Shepherd

12:1-5 End of the Public Ministry

13:1-17:26 The Last Supper
13:1-38 Events in the Supper Room

14:1-31 Consolation

15:1-16:33 Exhortation.and Encouragement

17:1-26 Christ’s Sacerdotal Prayer for Unity

18:1-21:25 The Passion and Resurrection
18:1-19:42 The Passion

20:1-21:25 The Risen Saviour

Characteristics —The Fourth Gospel is an historical book with a dogmatic purpose—things as reconcilable with one another as the earthly life of Jesus of Nazareth is with the stupendous truth of his Godhead. To show that Jesus is the Messias and Son of God, John did not try to write a complete biography—he knew that was impossible, 21:25. His method was to select some of the acts which particularly revealed the divine glory of Jesus, and some of the words in which he revealed himself. The Prologue stands like a divine vestibule exhibiting a synthesis of all that the interior palace of selected history reveals. From beginning to end John sees the glory of the Only-Begotten—the glory of his life, the glory of his passion, the glory of his resurrection, a glory all full of grace and truth. Augustine constantly has recourse to two key-sentences: ‘In the beginning was the Word . . . and the Word was made flesh’. Without this key Jn is an enigma.

Since the portrait of Christ in Jn differs apparently from that in the Syn. (on account of notable differences in the discourses and the Evangelist’s elaborate use of symbolism) there have been constant attempts to maintain that Jn is in fact not a work of history at all but largely an allegorical composition designed to portray Christ, not as he actually was in life but as he was believed to be at the beginning of the 2nd cent. ‘Such a view’, notes MacRory, ‘reduces the claim to divinity made by our Lord himself in the discourses of the Gospel to claims set up on his behalf by the Evangclist 70 years or more after his death’, p xlix.

Before dealing with the difficulties it is well to note first that the Gospel presents itself as a record of fact. This is stated categorically in 20:30-31. The text of the Gospel bears this out. We find the same historical persons, the Apostles, the holy women, mentioned individually by name, Caiaphas, Pilate, Joseph of Arimathea. The events, too, generally speaking are the same, the Baptist’s testimony, Christ’s many miracles, the feeding of the 5,000 and above all the details of the Passion. That Jn relates many events not in the Syn. (and vice versa) is accounted for by his intention of supplementing, not repeating their account in detail, cf. above § 778h.

John wrote a spiritual Gospel, as Clement of Alexandria noted, but its historical guarantees are as concrete as the most critical investigator would wish. The whole is chronologically arranged according to Jewish festivals—at least three Paschs or a period of two full years, Joh_2:13; Joh_6:4; Joh_12:1, the feast of Tabernacles (15-22 Tishri) and the feast of the Dedication (25-22 Casleu). Days and hours are noted precisely, lengths of time are marked exactly, 4:40; 11:9; 12:1; 20:26, or approximately, 2:12. The geographical framework is equally solid, in fact there is more Palestinian geography and topography in the Fourth Gospel than in the other three together; cf. §

Events are described not vaguely but with attention to details and with a picturesque realism which falls little short of Mk. Many things omitted by the Synoptics are supplied. Without Jn we should not know of the part played by Philip and Andrew on the day of the first multiplication of bread; neither should we know of the appearance of Christ before Annas, nor the steps that led Pilate to surrender to the enemies of Jesus, nor the part of Nicodemus in the burial of the Lord. Similar things could be said of the dialogue and incidental details in such scenes as that of Jacob’s Well and the washing of the feet. Of miracles circumstantially described there are seven, two associated with Cana, the cure of the cripple at Bethzatha, the multiplication of bread, the walking on the water, the cure of the man born blind, the resurrection of Lazarus—to which we might add the miraculous catch of 153 fishes after the resurrection. All are regarded as signs, the first two being related to the faith which they increased or provoked, and the second pair being closely connected with the Eucharistic discourse. The symbolism of three others is declared by Jesus himself. He cures on the Sabbath to show that he is one with the Father in a coequal continuity of operation; he gives sight to the blind, to show that he is the light of the world; he raises Lazarus, after declaring that he is the resurrection and the life.

The symbolism of the Fourth Gospel is pronounced and apparently intentional. Nevertheless caution should be used in its investigation lest far more be read into the mind of the Evangelist than was actually there. The opening words of the Gospel ‘In the beginning . . .’, the reference to the Word as the Light of men, the bringing of new life to men and even the exact arrangement of events into seven days from the Baptist’s testimony to the miracle of Cana, reminds us forcibly of the details of Gen ch 1, and can hardly be anything but intentional; cf. Allo, 833. Authors have sought the perfect number seven in many other places in Jn, for example the 7 miracles, but it does not seem that any special significance attaches to it. We find that Jn gives great prominence to the ideas of Light and Life, and these appear to be constantly represented by the symbols of water and blood respectively. The Life was the Light of men, died on the Cross and from his side pierced by the lance there flowed blood and water, in which many have seen figured the Eucharist and Baptism. One should compare this with the water and blood of 1Jo_5:5 ff. Allo thinks one may discern a series of 8 events in which these two main ideas are illustrated. Thus: (1) Marriage feast of Cana, water and wine (blood). (2 and 3) Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, faith symbolized by water, proposed to a Jew and a non-Jew. (4) Healing of ruler’s son, 4:46 ff. (5) Paralytic at Pool of Bethzatha. (6) Miracle of loaves (Eucharist) implying wine (blood). (7) Man born blind. (8) Raising of Lazarus. Thus 2, 3, 5, 7 refer to Light, and 4, 6, 8 to Life, while 1 refers to both.

Granted some symbolism, to a greater or lesser degree, we have now to ask whether this is compatible with an historical work? It should be observed first that we are not here considering parables which are fictitious narratives designed to convey spiritual teaching. The symbolical or typological method is quite distinct and consists in selecting an actual historical event or fact or person and seeing in it or him a spiritual meaning; cf. § 40. Thus Paul in referring to an episode in the life of Abraham in this way, Gal_4:24, does not imply it did not happen but that it symbolizes a spiritual lesson. As Bernard says, ‘It is one thing to spiritualize history: it is quite another to put forth as history a narrative which is not based on fact’, p lxxxvi. There cannot be the slightest doubt that it was John’s express purpose and intention to record fact. At the same time he does undertake to interpret the facts, as is shown not only by his comments (e.g. 2:21; 4:2; 20:9) but also by his arrangement and selection of material, so as to present his thesis, 20:30, in the most effective way.

Different Subject Matter —If we had only the Synoptic Gospels we should conclude that Jesus spent almost all his public life preaching in Galilee—and, on the other hand, Jn concentrates mainly on the events in Judaea and Jerusalem. Yet, as said above, the reference to the Baptist’s imprisonment in Joh_3:24 indicates that the account is meant to supplement the Synoptics. Again, the Syn. accounts suggest a one-year ministry; yet in Jn, at least three Paschs are referred to, cf. § 791b, implying at least two years. But this need cause no special difficulty, because, as Temple has pointed out, ‘the Synoptists provide no chronology of the ministry at all until the last week’, p xi. The impression of a one-year ministry is due rather to an absence of chronological indications. Jn, on the other hand, is careful to give many notes of time, cf. § 779c. On the apparent difference concerning the day of the Crucifixion, see § 802b.

The Fourth Gospel indeed, far from being incompatible with the Syn., is rather their necessary complement, see § 778h. That our Lord should have ignored Jerusalem and Judaca and preached exclusively in Galilee and that he should then have journeyed to Jerusalem, where he was at once put to death, is hardly intelligible. For, seeing that Christ, on his own admission, was not come but to save the lost sheep of the House of Israel, Mat_15:24, he must surely have offered salvation officially and directly to the leaders of the people and to the inhabitants of the Holy City. Indeed how else can we explain his cry of sorrow over Jerusalem (not just Israel), How often would I have gathered thy children? . . .’, Mat_23:37. The explanation is surely given us in Jn. Moreover Jesus, as an orthodox Jew, would be bound by law to visit Jerusalem at the great feasts, and one can hardly believe he would not take such opportunities to preach to the people.

The Discourses —A special feature of the Fourth Gospel is the length of our Lord’s discourses. But even more remarkable is the difference between them and those recorded in the Syn. No one can fail to notice, for example, the difference between the Sermon on the Mount or the parables by the lake shore on the one hand, and the discourses of Jesus in the temple on the other. In the former we have elevated moral instruction, homely illustrations from everyday life, an almost complete absence of polemics. In the latter one finds a preoccupation with our Lord’s Person and Mission expressed often in difficult language and in a tone of open hostility. The matter and the language are those of crisis—the supreme crisis of acceptance or rejection of his claims. Moreover there seems to be a remarkable similarity in phraseology between what is put into our Lord’s mouth and the wording of the rest of the Gospel, so that at times it is not easy to say precisely whether it is our Lord or the Evangelist who speaks, e.g. 3:16 ff. All this has led many to ask whether we have not here the Evangelist’s developments of what our Lord originally said, rather than an exact historical record of his utterances.

To deal with the last point first. One recognizes of course that our Lord’s Aramaic has been put into Greek and that in the translation personal characteristics of the Evangelist appear. It must also be admitted that the discourses are not usually reported verbatim in any gospel, as may be seen by the differences in the records of so solemn an utterance as the Words of Institution of the Eucharist. Again, not all that Christ said on any given occasion is necessarily recorded.

It may be no more than a summary. Finally the later date of Jn’s Gospel would give further scope for the personal characteristics of the Evangelist to appear: though one might reasonably ask whether it might not rather be a case of John’s having absorbed his Master’s modes of thought and expression after so many years of profound meditation on them, to a greater extent than the other Evangelists.

As regards the different subject-matter—in the first place there is a different audience. In Galilee Jesus was speaking to the simple, unsophisticated fishermen and peasants, who had no vested interests and no malice in their hearts. In Jerusalem it was otherwise. There he came up against the leaders at once, and they from the beginning took their stand against him, Joh_2:18. This being so, the polemical note could not fail to appear in his dealings with them. Moreover, being learned in the law, the Pharisees would expect to discuss deeper matters than those set before the Galileans. Jesus met and overcame them with their own weapons. It is moreover significant that in the Synoptic Gospels the polemical note is equally prominent when our Lord is speaking directly with the Pharisees; cf.Mt 23.

It is argued further that the ‘self-assertiveness’ of Jesus in the Johannine discourses is unlike what we should expect of him, indeed unworthy of him. But surely all depends on whether it is true. That Christ speaks of himself is inevitable if his task is to offer himself for acceptance by the leaders. If his claims were false there would of course be intolerable pride. It is often conceded that Jn has entered more deeply into the mind of Christ than the other Evangelists, and that his over-all portrait of the Master may give a truer picture than that of the others. But it is maintained that Jn’s account is less historical in detail. ‘We may sometimes feel sure that this saying or that was uttered by our Lord as it is recorded; but it would be a mistake to look for original and authentic utterances as each the nucleus of a discourse’, Temple, p xvii.

It is true of course that Jn does interpret as well as record. He interprets the significance of events, 19:34-37, and also of sayings, 2:21-22. Might he not also expand our Lord’s discourses in a similar way? Some think, e.g., that in 3:16-21 we have the reflexions of the Evangelist, though there is no obvious break after our Lord’s words in the preceding verses. So also in 3:31-36 we may have Jn’s comments on the Baptist’s preceding words. But it is surely destructive of the historical character of the Gospel, so well established as the record of an eyewitness, to maintain that, in effect, we cannot be sure that Christ actually pronounced any of the discourses as recorded in Jn. To those who so readily stress John’s supposed inability in his old age to distinguish between what our Lord actually said, and what might be deduced (admittedly under the guidance of the Holy Spirit) from those sayings, we must point out that such a viewpoint does not well agree with the other evidence of the Gospel. If there is one thing which stands out more than another, it is surely the Evangelist’s minute attention to details of time, place and persons (see § 777d-e). Is it likely that the man who remembered what was said by the Baptist, Andrew, Philip and Nathanael, ch 1, and on another occasion by Andrew, Philip and Peter, ch 6, that the narrator of the vivid and circumstantial story of ch 9 or ch 12 (cf. esp. 12:12) would be unable to distinguish between his Master’s words and his own reflexions? Moreover, even if for the sake of argument, this were conceded as a possibility, we have other factors to reckon with. The readers of the Gospel were not meeting this teaching for the first time. The Gospel was in fact merely the written record of the Tradition which they had cherished continuously over the years. All the evidence shows that this Tradition was jealously guarded and any deviation would be noticed at once. There was indeed theological development almost from the beginning, as one may see from the epistles, but it was not set down as the utterances of our Lord. St Paul for example makes it perfectly clear when he is quoting the Lord directly and when he is issuing instructions on his own authority. Speaking of the Eucharistic Assemblies he says, ‘For I have received from the Lord that which also I delivered unto you’, 1Co_11:23. But ‘Concerning virgins I have no precept from the Lord’, 1Co_7:25; and again, ‘But for the rest, I speak, not the Lord’, 1Co_7:12. Is it reasonable to suppose that Jn who was more historically minded than Paul should have been so vague as to set down his own reflexions as his Master’s sayings? It may of course be granted that in reporting the discourses Jn had in mind contemporary needs and selected and arranged his material in order to provide an answer to heretics. We have already seen that this consideration must have been in his mind when arranging the Gospel as a whole.

Strachan, in attempting an explanation of the Johannine discourses, suggests a parallel with the OT prophets. ‘When a Hebrew prophet used the expression “Thus saith the Lord”, he did not usually mean that the actual words were heard by him with the outward ear, although he may have had “auditions”. He meant that he spoke with certainty and authority the mind of God on a particular situation. . . . The Fourth Evangelist feels himself to be in the same relation of communion in the Spirit with the exalted Christ as the OT prophet experienced with God’, p 17. It is difficult, however, to see any parallel such as Strachan suggests. The OT prophet is generally concerned with communicating to man the mind of God here and now on a particular situation. He is the p????tð?, the speaker on behalf of God, the mouthpiece of God. But it remains clear, generally speaking, that it is the prophet who speaks. He is used by God to communicate the message, but the people know the man through whom the message comes. His personality is not hidden as is so often the case with that of the inspired writer. When the prophet says, ‘Thus saith the Lord’ all know that the Lord is then and there speaking through him. The Evangelist is in a very different role. His task is to record what the greatest of prophets actually said in definite historical circumstances. Our Lord, the Incarnate Word, was himself the mouthpiece of God. If Jn puts into his mouth what was in fact communicated to the Evangelist at a later date we have a totally different situation. Jn was indeed also a prophet and we have his book of prophecy, the Apocalypse, where it is clear from the beginning that Jn speaks as the muthpiece of the Risen Lord.

Doctrinal Contents —The present slight sketch can only be a rough map to guide explorers on their way of discovery in the really inexhaustible riches of the Fourth Gospel. We give little more than a catalogue of the principal points.

Jesus, Messias and Son of God—with the emphasis on the Divine Person—is the theme of John. That Jesus of Nazareth is the Israelite Messias and very God is shown throughout the Gospel in an historical record of Messianic and divine self-revelation consisting of word and work, but all that truth is synthesized in the Prologue. The Prologue presents the Logos as eternal, as distinct from the Father, as himself God, and becoming man to walk amongst men as Jesus of Nazareth. This mystery of the Incarnation is the central message of the Gospel.

The divine Person is called the Logos, a term which in this sense is exclusively Johannine, being given to the conquering, bloodstained, royal Rider of the Apocalypse, 19:13, to the visible, audible, tangible ‘Word of life’ at the beginning of 1 Jn, and to him who is described as life and light in the Prologue, and appears (without the term Logos) as life and light the pages that follow.

There is no doubt that John, in presenting Jesus as the Logos, satisfied an age-old groping of the Hellenic mind. As a philosophical term, Logos had first sounded about 500 b.c. at Ephesus on the obscure tongue of Heraclitus. In general it was a principle of organization, order and harmony, and something generically similar occurs in the Nous of Anaxagoras and in the prototype ideas of Plato. Before the Christian era Stoicism had taken the Heraclitean Logos, regarding it as a productive and governing principle in a pantheistic universe. Under the influence of Platonism, but through the Stoic system, the term was ‘in the air’ of the Hellenic world into which Christianity came. It was associated with whatever men call ‘serious, reasonable, beautiful, well-ordered, fitting, lawful, musical, harmonious’. It was Logos that was conceived as making everything just what it should be. But it was neither Stoic thought nor even Judeo-Alexandrian Philonism that directly influenced St John. Between the non-Messianic intermediary abstraction which Philo called Logos and the Logos of St John there is no relationship.

The personification of God’s creative wisdom in the sapiential books of the OT is the real source of the doctrine of the Logos;cf. Prov 8; Wis 7. It was under the influence of these passages that St Paul had already called Christ ‘the wisdom of God’, 1Co_1:24, ‘the image of the invisible God’, Col_1:15, ‘the effulgence of his glory and the imprint of his substance’, Heb_1:3. Through his ‘wisdom’ God created everything, but he also created and conserves and governs everything through his ‘word’, Psa_32:6. Thus ‘wisdom’ and ‘word’ are interchangeable, and St John chose the second—a happy appellation for the Christ who is the divine light of human intelligences and the divine life of human lives. The term Logos, analytically equivalent to supernatural life and light—grace and truth—is a reminder that in Jesus is the fountain of life, and that in his light we shall see light. The ‘Word Incarnate’ satisfies the Hellenic and human desire for a force which will act on human minds and wills and make the world what it should be.

The Christology of John presents the Messiahship of Jesus in the colours of royalty—King of Israel, 1:50; 12:13, coming as Zachary predicted, 12:15, King of the Jews, 18:33 ff.; 19:19. But his kingship is not of this world; it is a spiritual kingship, to rule those who will become disciples of that truth to which he bore witness, 18:33-37. Jesus professed his Messiahship to the Samaritan woman, 4:26. Repeatedly he affirmed his mission to the Jews, referred them to the testimony of John the Baptist, 5:33 ff., and of Moses, 5:46 f., and especially to the seal with which the Father scaled him, 6:27. But cf. §§ 618d, 627a, 790f. The title ‘son of man’ occurs a dozen times, but the Gospel shows abundantly that the ‘son of man’ is also the ‘Son of God’, the Only-begotten, 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18, who has come down from heaven, who claims unity of operation with the Father, who ‘is’ before Abraham came to be, who had glory with the Father before the world existed, who even says: ‘I and the Father are one’. This transcendence however belongs to a man who on occasion was thirsty and tired, who wept at the tomb of a friend and knew disturbance of soul. His relation to the Father is also frequently mentioned. His task on earth is to glorify the Father, from whom he has divine life, divine knowledge, and—as man—his command to give his life and take it up again for the sheep which the Father has given him. The programme of his life—his food—is to do the Father’s will. His one intent is to promote his Father’s glory, and therewith is associated his unassailable sanctity. ‘Which of you can convict me of sin?’

Towards men Jesus is the Saviour, to whom he presents himself as the bread of life, as the light, as the door of the sheepfold, as the Good Shepherd, as the way and the truth and the resurrection and the life, as the true vine, a Saviour in every way, not come to judge but to save, and nevertheless appointed by God to judge men finally, because he is the son or man. The grace of faith given by the Father must draw men to Jesus, to be united to him and live by him. That drawing is very prominent in Jn, the divine attraction being exercised at its utmost by the redeeming sacrifice. ‘And I, if I be lifted up from the earth shall draw all men to myself’. It is, however, the Holy Spirit who is to realize and continue the work of Jesus in souls. The fullest theology of the Holy Ghost and therefore the greatest revelation of the mystery of the Blessed Trinity is given by John, especially in recording our Lord’s last words in the Supper-room, which promise another Paraclete, the Spirit of truth, proceeding from the Father, sent by Jesus, and therefore proceeding from both Father and Son. This spirit is to be the perpetual Guide of the Apostolic Church into all truth.

The Church also is strongly outlined by Jn. The ‘Spiritual Gospel’ does indeed insist on the interior working of grace in the individual soul, but it clearly postulates incorporation into a hierarchical organism. It is only necessary to recall the allegory of the flock and the Good Shepherd, the privileges of the Apostolic College of twelve, the primacy conferred on Simon Peter to prove that Jn proclaims a hierarchical Church. St John is also—and this is quite in keeping with the doctrine of the Incarnation—a great sacramentalist. The sacraments of baptismal regeneration, of the bread of life, of the remission of sins are vividly set before us, and even apart from these institutionally effective sacraments, the most obvious things of the material world—light, water, wind, the shepherd, the flock, the vine—are all signs of things that belong to the supernatural order of grace, cf. § 779e.

Eschatology is not a marked feature of the Fourth Gospel. The final judgement and the resurrection of the dead are indeed there, but the judgement that discerns the good from the bad is rather represented as taking place here through the attitude which men take towards the truth. In Jn truth is imperious. There can be no neutrality towards it; one is either for or against, and this attitude decides whether a man is a child of light or a child of the devil, the father of lying. The final judgement will only manifest the response which men have given to the voice of Christ.

The moral teaching of Jn is centred in the inculcation of the precept of charity. Its whole code could be summed up in the Pauline phrase: ‘Doing the truth in charity’. In all respects the Evangelist is true to his beloved Master, utterly intransigent in regard to the truth of God and with a heart full of pity towards human misery—shedding tears at the tomb of Lazarus.

The two stories told by St Irenacus and St Jerome sum up St John admirably: his horror of Cerinthus the enemy of truth’, and his insistence on the precept My little children, love one another’—because this is the precept of the Lord.

Integrity —There are only three passages of the Gospel which need discussion under this heading, but it has been considered preferable to deal sufficiently with two of them (5:3b, 4, and ch 20) in the commentary. The passage of the Adulteress, 7:53-8-11, remains. Is it by St John?

The case is briefly as follows. Most important MSS and versions omit this passage from Jn. They are B, S, A, C, W, T, etc., many minuscules, the Syriac, Sahidic and Armenian versions, many Latin MSS prior to St Jerome. The Greek Fathers do not comment on it, and it seems to have been unknown to Tertullian and Cyprian. Many MSS note it with an asterisk or insert it after Joh_21:24 or Luk_21:38 ( Ferrar Group). Moreover, it seems strangely thrown in between our Lord’s discourses and has features of vocabulary and style more like the Synoptics.

On the other hand D and six other uncials have it as well as the great majority of cursivcs, about 100 Evangeliaria, the Egyptian Bohairic, several Old Latin texts and Vg. It was known to many Greek writers who did not comment on it, even, it seems, to Papias ( Eus., HE III39). The Latin Fathers Ambrose, Jerome and Augustine give it full recognition. Jerome says ‘in multis graecis et latinis codicibus invenitur de adultera’ ( Adv. Pelag. ii. 19), and Augustine supposes it was omitted from some texts because Christ’s conduct seemed too lenient ( De Conj. Adult. ii. 6). It is mentioned in the Apostolic Constitutions, ii. 24 ( 4th cent.).

The difference of style is not conclusive against its, Johannine origin, for it is permissible to any writer when dealing with an unusual subject to use words he does not employ elsewhere. Renan even maintained that there is nothing in the passage at variance with the style of the Fourth Gospel. It seems however impossible to prove the point one way or the other.

Is the passage a genuine part of the Gospel tradition? On the assumption that it is not, no adequate reason can be found to account for its insertion in so many texts, which show that it was widely current at least by the 3rd cent. and known in the 2nd (Papias). But in an age when sins of the flesh were punished with severity by the Christian church, as a reaction against pagan licence, the pericope may well have caused surprise and even scandal (as Augustine suggests), and then have been omitted from many texts. With the milder discipline of the 4th cent. the passage would gradually have re-established itself as authentic. The decree of the Council of Trent declaring the Books of the Bible with all their parts as found in the Latin Vulgate, to be inspired and canonical is always regarded as including this passage.

Time and Place of Composition —It is clear from Jn 21:23 that the last chapter was written when the Apostle was very old; and presumably chh 1-20 were not very much prior to it. St Peter was dead, and the old Jewish world was no more. The Gospel must in fact have been written a long time after the destruction of Jerusalem. The old Prologue already mentioned, § 777c, and also the Monarchian Prologues ( 3rd or 4th cent.) assign priority of date to the Apocalypse, and as Irenaeus seems decisive on the place of writing, namely, Ephesus, we should conclude that the Gospel was written some time after 96, the year of John’s return from Patmos. It seems also posterior to the first Johannine Epistle.

Suggested Dislocations of the Text —Many modern writers have pointed out that a number of difficulties are to be observed in the text of chh 4-7, which however disappear if chapters 5 and 6 are transposed. The opening words of ch 6 ‘after these things Jesus went away to the other side of the sea’ are oddly chosen if a journey from Jerusalem is meant, which must be so if ch 6 follows ch 5. Which side in this case would be the ‘other’? But if ch 6 follows ch 4 there is no difficulty, for Jesus is at Capharnaum, on the west shore at the end of that ch, and amongst the signs referred to is the one recorded in ch 4. Again the words that begin ch 7 ‘After these things Jesus walked in Galilee’ etc, do not seem to follow naturally on ch 6 for throughout the whole of ch 6 Jesus is in Galilee. Nor is there any suggestion in ch 6 that the Jews sought to kill him. But if ch 7 follows ch 5 the retirement from Jerusalem to Galilee in 7:1 fits in perfectly after the hostility shown Christ in Jerusalem in ch 15. Thus we have a smooth succession of events if we adopt the order 4, 6, 5, 7. Further, the order of chapters has an important bearing on the identity of the unnamed feast in 5:1 (see commentary).

In view of the harmonious sequence effected by the arrangement chh 4, 6, 5, 7, it is surprising that there is no textual evidence whatever that this was in fact the original order, with the exception of Tatian’s Diatessaron which can hardly be regarded as proving more than that he also found the story ran more smoothly in the order chh 4, 6, 5, 7.

The transposition was also adopted by Ludolph of Saxony in the 14th cent.

The second decade of the present century has rallied scholars like Meinertz, Lagrange, Olivieri, Joflon, Prat, Grandmaison, Lebreton, Bernard, Braun, Sutcliffe. Others retain the order attested by all MSS

Doria2 supports indicted Bishop Finn. Doug thinks the bishop was “in over his head”.

Andy P/Doria2’s letter to the bishop:

Dear Bishop Finn,

I am writing from the Archdiocese of New York.

I must say that I thank God for good holy Bishops such as yourself. Yes you will be attacked, but remember what our Lord said, “They will hate you because of Me, but remember, they hated Me first.”

Take the slings and arrows as they are just stepping stones on your way to Paradise and know full well that there are millions of us out here who stand shoulder to shoulder with you as tug boats slowly turning the Barque of Peter back to where it belongs.

God continue to bless you, Your Excellency and keep up the good holy work you have begun.



Doug Lawrence comments:

If the case has any merit, we should expect a protracted legal battle, then a plea bargain, with a token sentence. If not, after a suitable delay, all charges will be dropped.

Bishop Finn is known as a straight shooter, but his own public statements about his personal failings in this matter made him a very easy target for the grand jury, as he admitted everything in advance, and in writing.

That was simply too much temptation for the secular authorities (who obviously DON’T BELIEVE the bishop’s account) to resist … and a very bad move, politically, on Bishop Finn’s part.

The bishop should have simply made a good confession, and kept the rest of the details to himself.

There’s good reason that Jesus, in the Bible, reminds us, “Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves. (Matthew 10:16)

The bottom line: Bishop Finn was in, over his head. One way or the other, he mishandled the matter. Now, he must deal with the consequences.

Related links:

Bishop Finn’s email address

Remnant Newspaper Article

As the article in the Remnant says: I ask you all to pray that the truth of the matter comes out swiftly and completely. St. John Fisher, pray for Bishop Finn.

Bryan J. Brown of the ArchAngel Institute: Understanding the Black Sheepdog (John Corapi)

My initial reaction to Fr. Corapi was not positive.  While I agreed with most – if not all – of what he said, and while it was great to hear a Catholic priest saying such things, something just did not seem right to me.   His affectation – the deep booming voice – seemed synthetic, seemed more akin to a stage actor’s bad rendition of King Lear than a real, live person.  His trademark “I once was so very bad”  testimonials seemed to glorify John Corapi more than glorifying God.  His claims of great intellectual prowess — immediately  followed by disclaimers that such god-like mental powers are meaningless – struck me as disingenuous at best … and more likely narcissistic.

In short, I was not impressed by Father John Corapi.  But so many others were infatuated with the gravel-voiced preacher that I decided my bad reception must be me, my cynicism, rather than a gut reaction that I should trust.

As I watched Magisterium affirming Catholics swoon over this priest in a fashion reminiscent of  teen girls during the British Invasion of the 60’s I forged  a sociological theory about the phenomena that was Father John Corapi.

He was the byproduct of Protestant envy among the Catholic faithful.

Read more

Just in case you might want to study the Bible, for Lent.

Try these links:

General information and on-line Catholic Bible

Classic traditional Catholic Bible commentary

Commentary/Bible/Catholic Catechism on The Passion

A positive movie review of “The Rite” … plus … 11 things you should know about exorcism.

I would like to say a few things about exorcism that are important to know and remember, especially when sensationalistic movies etc. take liberties. Allow these observations of mine in no particular order.

Read what Msgr. Charles Pope has to say

Father Z sets Time Magazine writer straight about the Catholic Church and how it really works.

Editor’s note:

Father Z’s stuff (in red) is great, but don’t forget to spend some time reading the viewer comments, too.

The Vatican and Women: Casting the First Stone

By Tim Padgett

What a rich coincidence we Roman Catholics got to experience at Mass on Sunday, July 18. The scheduled Gospel passage was Luke’s story about Jesus visiting the sisters Martha and Mary of Bethany (who Catholic tradition says was Mary Magdalene). Many biblical scholars believe the narrative shows Jesus encouraging Mary to assume the role of a disciple, [That’s okay.  She is sitting at the Lord’s feet in the manner of a disciple.] like Peter and the guys. [Nooo… he goes to the zoo on that.  But move along.] That notion lent some cable-news significance to the reading — coming as it did just days after the Vatican issued an avowal, as obtuse as it was malicious, [Could be a self-description.] that ordaining women into the priesthood was a sin on par with pedophilia. [Again, anyone who actually read and understood what the Holy See did by issuing the new norms, and who is honest about them, knows that that is not what happened.]

Rome’s misogynous declaration, tossed into its new guidelines on reporting clerical sexual abuse, did more than just highlight the church’s hoary horror at the idea of female priests — or its penchant of late for sticking its papal slippers in its mouth every chance it gets. [Blah blah blah… keep reading…] It also pointed up an increasingly spiteful rhetoric of bigotry. [Look in the mirror, Padgett… but keep reading…] When Argentina in mid-July legalized gay marriage, the country’s Catholic bishops weren’t content to simply denounce the legislation; they used the occasion to argue for the subhumanity of homosexual men and lesbians, the way many white Southern preachers weren’t ashamed to degrade African Americans during the civil rights movement. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio not only called the new law “a scheme to destroy God’s plan”; he termed it “a real and dire anthropological throwback,” as if homosexuality were evolutionarily inferior to heterosexuality. [I don’t think many people would consider it a dire anthropological throwback to say that homosexuality is actually evolutionarily inferior to normal sexuality.  Think about it.]

Link to more at Father Z’s site

Father Z provides some commentary on the Pope’s remarks, while in Portugal

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“It is written in the book of Psalms, … ‘His office let another take’. One of these men, then […] must become a witness with us to his resurrection” (Acts 1:20-22). These were the words of Peter, as he read and interpreted the word of God in the midst of his brethren gathered in the Upper Room following Jesus’ ascension to heaven. [Pay attention: This is, once again, Peter reading and interpreting the Scriptures in the midst of the brethren gathered. Benedict is Peter.] The one who was chosen was Matthias, who had been a witness to the public life of Jesus and his victory over death, and had remained faithful to him to the end, despite the fact that many abandoned him. The “disproportion” between the forces on the field, which we find so alarming today, astounded those who saw and heard Christ two thousand years ago. It was only he, from the shore of the Lake of Galilee right up to the squares of Jerusalem, alone or almost alone at the decisive moments: he, in union with the Father; he, in the power of the Spirit. Yet it came about, in the end, that from the same love that created the world, the newness of the Kingdom sprang up like a small seed which rises from the ground, like a ray of light which breaks into the darkness, like the dawn of a unending day: it is Christ Risen. And he appeared to his friends, showing them the need for the Cross in order to attain the resurrection.  [The Holy Father is also trying to spur a “new evangelization”.]

On that day Peter was looking for a witness to all this. Two were presented, and heaven chose “Matthias, and he was enrolled with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:26). Today we celebrate his glorious memory in this “undefeated city”, which festively welcomes the Successor of Peter. I give thanks to God that I have been able come here and meet you around the altar. I offer a cordial greeting to you, my brethren and friends of the city and the Diocese of Oporto, to those who have come from the ecclesiastical province of Northern Portugal and from nearby Spain, and to all those physically or spiritually present at this liturgical assembly. [That means you, dear reader.] […]

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Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholic Site: “Word on Fire”

Father Robert Barron knows how to get to the heart of key Catholic issues, teaching difficult and complicated subjects with authority, orthodoxy and grace.

This site provides many and various types of media, to satisfy almost any interest.

It’s definitely worth a click!

Visit the site

Health care: an alternative to ‘no’

By Matt C. Abbott

John F. Kippley, Catholic author and co-founder of Natural Family Planning International, Inc., offered the following commentary on the current health care debate.

In favor of a Personal Responsibility Insurance Act

By John F. Kippley

It certainly seems like a good idea to me that everyone should have access to health care via insurance, that health insurance should be portable, and that the wide community should share the costs of catastrophic diseases and injuries. These are the points on which the topic of health care reform solicits great sympathy on the part of many Americans. There are, however, five huge problems.

1. First, there is the role of government and the danger of another unsustainable entitlement program.

2. Second is the cost of such reforms.

3. Third is greed on the part of more than a few physicians who have learned how to milk the system to the max.

4. The fourth problem is that in all of the many words I have read about the reform of health care and insurance, I have seen nothing about reducing the cost of health care by reducing the items paid for by insurance. For example, I have seen arguments that abortion should not be paid for by insurance that is paid for by taxpayers or even by others in the same insurance plan who are opposed to this grave moral evil. But it also should not be paid for by taxpayers or by group insurance simply because it is a purely elective item. Even the pro-abortionists like to talk about it as a “choice.” The same holds true for birth control devices and drugs. These are strictly matters of choice. They are entirely different from a disease caused by uninvited bacteria or injuries caused by an accident. There is no reason why the body politic or the members of a group insurance should be paying for these matter-of-choice items.

Read more

News Headlines and Commentary fom Illinois Right to Life


July 1, 2009:
Wisconsin Abortions Drop for Fifth Straight Year, Set Record for Lowest Since Roe
Minnesota Abortions Drop for Second Straight Year, Lowest Total Since 1975
June 30, 2009:
Planned Parenthood Birmingham AL Staffer: We Bend the Rules on Sexual Abuse
Thanks to President Obama Federal Abstinence Education Funding Expires Today
First Clinical Trials Completed of Adult Cardiac Stem Cell Repair
June 29, 2009:
Researcher: Abortions Double Risk of Premature Birth in Subsequent Pregnancies
New Technology Allows Parents to Hold Life-Size Model of Their Unborn Child
Documentary Demographic Bomb Follows Demographic Winter Population Expose’
Pro-Life Group Challenges Federal Order to Sell Morning After Pill to Minor Girls
June 26, 2009:
Study Finds Adult Stem Cells, Not Embryonic, Best Suited for Repairing Muscle
Respected Physician: International Abortion-Maternal Death Data Wrong
Abortion Advocate Attacks Operation Rescue Office, Tries to Disable Security System
Abortion Advocate Nearly Runs Over Pro-Life Protestor at Planned Parenthood
June 25, 2009:
YouTube Removes New Undercover Video Exposing Planned Parenthood on Abortion
House Panel Pushes Obama Agenda for Tax-Funded Abortions in Washington, DC
June 24, 2009:
FDA Records Indicate 28 Deaths in 2008 Related to HPV Vaccine
Virginia Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Receives OK From Federal Appeals Court
Arizona Legislature Sends Pro-Life Bills to Governor Jan Brewer  (PBA, non-doctors banned)
Mother of Disabled Child Launches New Web Site to Highlight Health Care Rationing
One Solitary Child  (Fr. Frank Pavone)
Is ObamaCare the End of Roe v. Wade?  (Jeffrey Lord)
Obama promotes euthanasia in healthcare plan  (Jill Stanek)
Is Pro-Choice the New Pro-Life?  (Colin Mason)
Several New Pro-Life Films and Documentaries High in Quality, Info  (Jill Stanek)

“Guide To The Bible” Isn’t Catholic, But It’s Not Bad


Click here to view the PDF file

New Look at


They have reworked the site, and they have also given it a new look and some new features.

Lots of good Catholic stuff there, but keep your wits about you.

There’s some personal opinion, especially by some of the columnists, that only masquerades as authentically Catholic … but that’s sometimes unavoidable with commentary.

They have a good, free, daily email newsletter you can sign up for, too.

Click here to visit, and if you like what you see, why not send them a few bucks?

Catholic Day on 60 Minutes – An Interview with Justice Antonin Scalia

Justice Scalia On The Record


60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl Interviews The Supreme Court Justice About His Public And Private Life

(CBS) Not many Supreme Court justices become famous, but Antonin Scalia is one of the few. Known as “Nino” to his friends and colleagues, he is one of the most brilliant and combative justices ever to sit on the court and one of the most prominent legal thinkers of his generation.

He first agreed to talk to 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl about a new book he’s written on how lawyers should address the court. But over the course of several conversations, our story grew into a full-fledged profile – his first major television interview – including discussions about abortion and Bush v. Gore.

Click to read more, or to view the 2 part interview


Then we have an Andy Rooney commentary on the Papal visit

Catholic Perspective:

Last Sunday (April 27th) Lesley Stahl interviewed Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in what turned out to be a candid and wide-ranging look into the life of this little known, but obviously very Catholic man.

While CBS’ editing has been suspect in the past, I had no reason to believe that anything I was seeing had been over-processed, or twisted in any way. 

In fact, about half way through, I couldn’t help but notice the total lack of guile in the man, and the precise way in which he crafted his words. Not bad things for a Supreme Court Justice.

I also couldn’t help noticing that Scalia appeared to be an icon of the ideal Catholic man.

We could use a lot more just like him.

Catholic parents would do well to sit down and carefully watch the interview … first by themselves … and then with the kids.

It doesn’t get much better than this.


I am new to the Bible. How should I start?

Q: I am new to the Bible. How should I start?

A: Go here and download this free Bible commentary. It’s one of the best ever published.

Commentary, Knecht 

When you’re comfortable with scripture, go here for more.