Vincent Henry Stanton.

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of the sayings. Upon this I would observe that, little as the
point seems often to be realised, it may confidently be asserted
to be characteristic of mystical thought, or at least of one form
of it, that profound significance is seen in external acts and
events. By the mystic they are regarded as sacramental. He
often experiences the need of having something concrete to
which to anchor his thought, lest he should be altogether lost
in his sense of the vastness of spiritual realities.

I doubt, therefore, whether the three comments that have
been noticed imply that the writer who made them stood in
reality on a distinctly lower plane of thought than that of the
teaching which he interprets. There is more ground for holding
this in the remaining instance that Wendt gives, namely, xviii. 9.
Here words which refer to Christ's protection of His disciples
from spiritual dangers (xvii. 12) are applied to the request of
Jesus addressed to those who came to arrest Him, that they
would not seize His disciples along with Himself But if lack
of spiritual discernment is here shewn, this does not prove that
the interpretation could not have proceeded from the evange-
list. He may not have been able always to preserve the same

My difference from Wendt in regard to these comments
is simply that they do not seem to me to shew collectively on
the part of him who makes them such a want of appreciation
of the teaching contained in the discourses that he could not
be the writer who put the Gospel as a whole together, including
the discourses. This does not preclude the possibility of dis-
tinguishing different degrees of spiritual depth and of primitive-
ness in different portions of the subject-matter. I proceed to
discuss a few other comments, where various considerations

At iv. 2 we have a correction of a statement about the action
of Jesus. When it has been three times ^ said that Jesus

' iii. 22, 26, iv. I.

6o Parenthetic comments in the Fourth Gospel

baptized the qualification is added after the last of these
" although Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples." In
this case it seems to me clear that we can trace the hand of a
man who was revising a document that lay before him. A
writer who thought it important that Jesus should not be
supposed to have Himself baptized would, surely, if he had
composed the whole account, have avoided saying so before.
This would have been specially easy and natural, since here it
would simply have been a question of moulding a narrative
into the form which he believed represented the facts, not of
altering sayings or pieces of discourse that had reached him.
It seems probable, therefore, that the explanation at iv. 2 was
a gloss upon the Gospel by a reader, or copyist, of it when it
was virtually completed. The explanation at Jn iii. 24 — " for
John was not yet cast into prison" — may quite possibly have
a similar origin. We can well imagine it to have been intro-
duced with the object of placing the narrative in the context
in its right chronological relation to the statement at Mk i. 14
and Mt. iv. 12. The for supposing a mere gloss is not,
however, so strong here as in the last instance. The manner
in which the incidents in the contexts were related need not
have been different according as the writer knew and remem-
bered the Synoptic statement or did not do so, provided he
believed them to have taken place before the commencement
of the Public Ministry of Jesus in Galilee. Moreover, it is
quite as natural to suppose that the evangelist of the Fourth
Gospel would be aware of the statement of Mark, as that
some later '' glossator " would.

It will be suitable in this connexion to recall the explanation
at xviii. 13, 14 as to who Annas was; but any further dis-
cussion of it may be deferred, as the whole passage in which
it occurs must be considered later.

To return for a moment to the early chapters : the notes
appended at ii. 11, and iv. 54, to the miracle in Cana and the
healing of the royal official's son respectively, are by some
held to have proceeded from the hand of a reviser who largely
reshaped the Fourth Gospel. I can see no good reason for
thinking that they are not remarks by a writer who determined
from the first the main outlines of the work and embodied in

Parenthetic comments in the Fourth Gospel 6i

it the greater part at least of its present contents. He, quite
as well as a reviser, might have desired to explain why those
two miracles had been chosen for mention.

The next instance to be examined is of special interest. At
vi. 46, when Jesus has declared that those men who have
listened to the Father's teaching and have been drawn by Him,
will believe on Himself, and after He has quoted the words
of the psalmist, " they shall all be taught of God," the remark
follows which breaks the natural connexion between vv. 45
and 47, and which is at all events in a different vein from what
precedes, " Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he
which is from God, he hath seen the Father." It seems to me
clear that we have here a " parenthetic comment " by one who
is recording the discourse, but who feels that there is a danger
lest the words of Jesus should be misunderstood, to the detri-
ment of the truth that God can only be known through the Son.
Is there a point of view from which this statement can be
regarded as not really inconsistent with the preceding repre-
sentation of the Father as Himself teaching and leading men ?
That is a problem for Christian thought to occupy itself upon.
But in the present connexion we have only to observe that in the
passage before us no hint is given as to how they may be
reconciled. It is difficult not to suppose that if the man who
made the comment had himself composed the discourse, or even
had felt at liberty greatly to modify the material he had re-
ceived, he would have expressed himself otherwise. But at the
same time the thesis (so to call it) in v. 46 is insisted on again
and again in the Gospel ; so that there can be no reason for
suggesting that he who is here anxious to safeguard it is other
than the writer who has given form to the Gospel as a whole.
It has, perhaps, not generally been recognised that there is
a parenthetic comment in the passage which we have just been
considering. On the other hand, there is no question that the
words at viii. 27, to which I now turn, are of the nature of a
comment, or explanation. It may well seem a strange one.
It is difficult to understand how when Jesus spoke of One
who sent Him and declared that He uttered to the world what
He had heard from Him, those who were addressed could
be ignorant that the Father was meant. But the remark

62 Parenthetic comments in the Fourth Gospel

does not stand by itself. There are many references in the
Gospel to the spiritual dulness of the Jews and of Jesus' own
disciples, others of which, besides that just cited, strike one
as exaggerated. Moreover, these remarks, crude as some of
them may be in expression, emphasise the rejection of the Son
of God by men, which is one of the leading thoughts of the
Gospel. Here again, then, we should not be justified in making
a distinction between the evangelist and some later interpolator.

I will mention two other possible instances of comments.
In i. 14 the words koi eOeaa-ajjieda. . .rrapa iraTp6<; are by some
held to be an interpolated comment. The clause that follows,
ttXtjp'^'; etc., appears to be an epithet agreeing with the
nominative 6 \6yo<;, but the connexion is rendered difficult by
the intervening clause. But the thought in this clause is in
entire accord with the purport of the Prologue generally ; and
without knowing better than we do what the feeling of the
writer of the Prologue would be on the question of style we
can hardly be justified in saying that the parenthesis must be
another man's interpolation.

There is, again, a parenthetic comment in w. 15 if (with
Westcott and Hort) we read 6 eoTrcov instead of ou elirov.
With regard to the question whether in that case the remark
must proceed from an interpolator similar considerations apply
to those in the last example.

From these brief parenthetic comments I pass on to con-
sider passages which may be held to consist of reflections,
added at the end of, or woven into, a recorded discourse.

In Jn iii there are two paragraphs (vv. 13 (or i6)-2i, and
vv. 31-36) which have been, and I imagine still commonly are,
regarded either as in reality, or as intended for, the concluding
portions respectively of Our Lord's conversation with Nico-
demus, and of a discourse by John the Baptist, but which
several thoughtful commentators in the past^ have held to be,
as it were, meditations by the evangelist upon the words of
Jesus and of John which he has given. There seems to be a

1 E.g. see B. F. W^estcott on vv. 16-21, and 31-36. He supposes the evan-
gelist's own words in the former passage to begin at v. 16. Cp. also Westcott and
Hort's text where a space is left before v. 16 and v. 31. It is surely evident, how-
ever, that the change of style begins at v. 13. See below, p. 171, n. 2.

Reflections added to reported discourses 63

change in the point of view marked (a) by the abandonment
of the first person and the emploj'ment instead of descriptive
phrases, " the son of man " etc., '' he that is of the earth " etc.,
to designate Jesus and John respectively ; (iJ) by differences
in regard to the tenses used' Further, the doctrinal teaching
is of a more highly developed kind, such as is not likely to
have been given at that early time, and which is specially out
of character in the mouth of the Baptist. In the earlier of the
two passages also the term /ioi/0761/j;? is employed, which is not
elsewhere put into the mouth of Jesus, but is employed by the
evangelist at i. 14 and 18, while it appears also at i Jn iv. 9,
and not in any other place in the New Testament. It may be
added that z'. 1 3 appears clearly to assume that the Ascension
has taken place already.

Those who have recognised these differences, and who have
at the same time held that the Apostle John was the author
of the Fourth Gospel, must have supposed that he had in his
memory kept the conversations and discourses which he had
heard distinct from his own later thoughts; that he wrote
down, or dictated, the former as he remembered them, and
that having done so he continued in a somewhat different style,
and partly in a new vein, to dwell on the subjects suggested
by the words of the Lord, and of the Baptist — no doubt without
any intention of concealing the fact that he was now speaking
in his own person, and also without being conscious of any
necessity for indicating it in a formal manner.

If, on the other hand, we must not assume — and I have
said that I do not myself think we can — that an immediate
disciple of the Lord was the author of the Fourth Gospel, we
must still suppose that someone who knew the discourse of
Jesus as far as t;. 12 inclusive, and of the Baptist as far as v. 30
inclusive, from having heard them reported, or who had them
before him in writing, placed after each a continuation which
was the fruit of his own meditation, or else derived by him

' Westcott (see his note on the section irv. 16-21)- observes that the tenses
("loved," "were") in v. 19 "evidently mark a crisis accomplished, and belong to
the position which St John occupied but not to that in which the Lord stood, when
the revelation of His Person and Work had not been openly presented to the
world." Again, on t". 33, he writes that "the aorists describe the later experience of
Christian life."

64 Conglomerates

from some different source. For it is extremely unlikely that
if the whole of each passage from v. 3 to v. 21, and from v. 27
to V. 36 had been equally the composition of one person those
changes in point of view and expression, to which reference
has been made, would have occurred at and after v. 13 and
■y. 31 respectively.

There are passages in other discourses in the Fourth Gospel
which stand in more or less marked contrast to, and are more
or less easily separable from, their contexts. It is a question
for consideration in all such cases whether there is or is not
sufficient ground for supposing that an editor has added reflec-
tions of his own to, or has woven a passage from a different
source into, a substratum. But I do not think that in any of
these other instances, the signs point to such a conclusion so
clearly as in the two that have just been considered.

Conglomerates. I pass on to consider three passages which
may be described as conglomerates. The first of these is the
series of sayings in regard to the spiritual harvest in iv. 35-38.
Commentators have made various attempts to trace a consis-
tent sequence of thought and one suitable to the time when,
according to their present position in the Gospel, they were
spoken, but without success. The first of these sayings
(that in v. 35) suits the time and occasion admirably. The
second also (that in v. 36) may well have been spoken in the
same connexion. But if so "the reaper" must be Jesus Him-
self, since there is no hint of His disciples having been given
any share in the work in Samaria. And in the latter clause of
the verse "the sower" might be John the Baptist, part of whose
ministry was exercised not far from, and possibly within, the
borders of Samaria, so that it might well have had an influence
on her inhabitants. The common joy of the sower and the
reaper might then be compared with the joy of the friend of
the bridegroom at hearing the bridegroom's voice (iii. 29). If
it is thought that this interpretation limits too much the idea
of the sower, the prophets of Israel in former ages may be in-
cluded, and the joy to be shared with the reaper will be in the
eternal world. But difficulties arise when we take vv. 37, 38
with the preceding. There seems to be no point in the words,
"herein is the saying true. One soweth and another reapeth,"

Conglomerates 65

if taken with what precedes. How was this proverb illustrated
by the common joy of the sower and the reaper? Moreover,
it would harmonise ill with the leading ideas of the Fourth
Gospel that a distinction between the work of the Christ and
of His predecessors should be so strongly drawn. On the
other hand, the saying in v. 37 fits in well with that in v. 38,
where the disciples are forcibly reminded that the harvest,
which it is their privilege to gather in, is due to the toil of
others who were not permitted to see it. But there was not at
the time of the visit to Samaria any act of Jesus to which the
words, "I sent you to reap," could refer, according to the nar-
rative either of the Fourth Gospel or the Synoptics. Moreover,
as I have already indicated, the disciples were not employed
to reap in Samaria on this occasion. It seems probable, there-
fore, that these different sayings were not all originally con-
nected, but were subsequently brought together on account of
their similarity of subject'. If this, however, is allowed it must
still remain doubtful whether the third and fourth sayings, and
possibly even the second, were added to the first where it now
stands, or whether the whole little collection was made by the
writer who composed the narrative generally, and was placed
by him in the position which it now occupies in that narrative,
or again was found by him ready-made.

The next instance of a possible "conglomerate" which I
will consider is of a somewhat different kind. The interpre-
tation which most naturally suggests itself of the parable, or
allegory, in x. 1-6 is that which is given at vv. 1 1 ff., namely,
that Jesus Himself is the Shepherd of the sheep. But in
vv. 7-10 another interpretation is interposed; or (one is in-
clined rather to say) another, though kindred, allegory, with its
. interpretation, is inwoven. It does not seem likely that vv. 1-6
could originally have been thus dissevered from the more
obvious application in vv. 1 1 ff. It seems more probable that
two allegories, or two interpretations of the same allegory,
which were not at first thus closely connected, had been com-
bined in tradition, or in instruction given to the Christian as-
sembly, or were so by the evangelist when writing his Gospel.

1 For a couple of similar instances of "conglomerates" in St Luke, see vol. 11 of
this work, p. 230.

S. G. in. 5

66 Question of Interpolations and

Again, in xiii, vv. 6-IO, and vv. 12-17 two wholly different
lessons are founded upon the Feet-washing, while each ends up
(last words of v. 10 and v. 1 1, and vv. 18, 19) with an allusion to
the traitor. The explanation of their combination may, I think,
be similar to that in the last case. Somewhat analogous to
these last two instances would be such a combination of two
variants to form a continuous passage as Wellhausen finds in
i. 22-28, and 29-34^ But it seems to me doubtful whether
these are really variants.

Seejning dislocations. I pass now to a class of phenomena
in the Fourth Gospel which has on the whole attracted more
attention even than any one of those which have been already
discussed, namely, passages where the arrangement of the
matter does not appear to correspond well with indications,
given in the Gospel itself, of the sequence of events. Some
students of the Gospel, who maintain that in other respects the
present form of the Gospel is its original form, have, as we
have seen, explained certain instances of this kind as due to
accidental disarrangement. I have already given my reasons
for dismissing this hypothesis'-

As regards the hypothesis of intentional rearrangement to
explain what seem to be dislocations, I think it may be at
once said that it should be treated as subordinate to that of
interpolation. Some motive for a change in the original order
must be assigned, especially as ex hypothesi a worse order than
that which the critic thinks he can restore has been the result.
The introduction of fresh matter might render some recasting
of the context into which it was introduced advisable, so that
the very natural desire on the part of an editor to incorporate
additional matter with which he was acquainted might induce
him also to undertake the task of adapting thereto the form of
the original document. It is difficult to suggest any other rea-
son for a disturbance of the original order. If, therefore, a
rearrangement is suggested, it will be suitable to ask at the
same time whether there are signs of an interpolation, while
it may be that an interpolation will by itself explain the ap-
parently imperfect sequence, without our having to suppose
any further disarrangement.

^ See above, p. 38. ^ See above, pp. 32 f.

Dislocations in the Fourth Gospel 67

We will first consider some points in regard to the sequence
of events referred to in chs. v to vii. After ch. v has de-
scribed a visit of Jesus to Jerusalem, and has concluded without
any mention of His leaving it and returning to Galilee, the
opening words of ch. vi appear abrupt and strange; — "After
these things Jesus went away beyond the sea of Galilee, of
Tiberias." This reference to the localities would be natural
enough immediately after ch. iv when He was in Galilee. It
has also been held that the words at vii. i — "After these things
Jesus walked in Galilee, for he would not walk in Judaea etc."
— do not fit well with the narrative of ch. vi, when He was in

It will be well, before we consider these points further, to
refer also to the difficulties that are urged in regard to the
position of the passage vii. i S-24. At z'. 21 Jesus says, " I have
done one work and ye all marvel," yet this "one work" was
performed on the occasion of a previous visit to Jerusalem and
in the interval the events related in ch. vi had occurred, as well
as the stay in Galilee to which allusion is made in vii. i. It is
strange that the effect of that particular miracle should still be
referred to. There seem to be also inconsistencies between the
passage noted and its immediate context. At v. 20 "the mul-
titude" treat the notion that there was a plot against the life
of Jesus as a preposterous one; and yet at v. 25 "certain of the
Jerusalemites" ask, "Is not this he whom they seek to kill.'"
Again, according to v. 31, it was not merely the "one work"
which had made an impression, for "many from among the
multitude believed on him," exclaiming "the Christ when he
Cometh, will he do more miracles than this man hath done?"

On the ground of these incongruities it has been held that
the original position of the contents of ch. vi, or of such por-
tions of it as are to be retained, was between chs. iv and v, and
that of vii. 15-24 at the end of ch. v.

But in both cases and especially the former there are other
considerations to be borne in mind. I have already urged that
an interpolation is, generally speaking, more probable than a
deliberate displacement. Further, although the transference of
ch. vi to follow ch. iv would do away with the topographical
difificulty at vi. i, and also with that at vii. I, if one really exists


68 Question of Interpolations and

there, about which more remains to be said, the order would
in another respect be less satisfactory. For the account of the
crisis in the work of Jesus in Galilee given in the latter part
of ch. vi, if retained as part of the narrative and transposed
with the rest, would come too early. Where it stands at present
it is brought near to his final departure from Galilee. This is
in itself more likely, and is certainly more in accord with the
Synoptic outline, than that He should have thought it worth
while to return there after that crisis had occurred and after a
visit to Jerusalem. Accordingly, it seems necessary that this
portion at least of ch. vi, if allowed to be part of the original
Gospel, shouldbe connected, as it isbySpitta,with the beginning
of ch. vii.

It may be added that there are in the contents of ch. vi
somewhat clear indications of the hand of a compiler, who may
well not have been in such close contact with the facts as the
writer of the rest of the Gospel. In the narratives of the
Feeding of the Five Thousand and of the Walking on the
Water the Synoptics have been far more closely followed than is
usually the case in the Fourth Gospel. Moreover the discourse
on the Bread of Life that follows has been connected with
these narratives in a way that is not altogether happy^. The
multitude that witnessed the miracle are brought back to hear
that discourse in certain small boats (vv. 22-24) which after
the miracle came to the place where it had been performed ;
the difficulty of conveying so vast a number in this manner is
ignored. Again, it cannot but seem strange that those who
had just seen so great a work should have been able to ask,
"What then doest thou for a sign that we may see and believe
thee?" (V. 30).

Nevertheless, it is certainly not impossible that the abrupt
introduction of the narrative in the early part of ch. vi, and
the defects to which I have referred in the connexion between
it and the discourse that is given afterwards, may be due to
the writer of the rest of the Gospel, who was more concerned
to illustrate certain great beliefs than to narrate events with
historical precision. And in particular in view of the fact that
in the Gospel generally the centre of interest was Jerusalem

1 Cp. reference to Wellhausen on this subject, above, p. 39.

Dislocations in the Fourth Gospel ^9

and Judsea, it appears to me that the statement at vii. I, "After
these things Jesus walked in GaHlee," may quite naturally bear
the meaning that Jesus continued to walk in Galilee, instead of
departing for Jerusalem whither He might have been supposed
to be in haste to return. On the whole I am disposed to think
that the contents of ch. vi, or a portion thereof, may have been
interpolated in the original Gospel.

If ch. vi is an interpolation, its introduction might have acci-
dentally caused the omission of some matter at the end of ch. v
for which the interpolator desired subsequently to find a place;
and this may be the history of the present position of the pas-
sage vii. 15-24. But this passage might also have been an
account of the attitude of the people in Jerusalem to Jesus
when He appeared there at the time of the Feast of Taber-
nacles, parallel to that which stands in the context, and known
either to an editor, or to the original writer, which may have
been woven in with the latter. And even the discrepancies

Online LibraryVincent Henry StantonThe Gospels as historical documents .. → online text (page 7 of 30)