1986, Serial No. 00478

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Saint John

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There's a whole intermediate range of commentaries, and then there are commentaries that people don't want to study simply line by line, but they take these chunks like that, those kind of reflections out of them, like this pamphlet, those are the kind of things we'll be stocking more in the store. There's one, did you see that Nubingen, the light has come? He's actually a bishop in India. Nubingen, I know the name, but I haven't seen it. Yeah, I guess I have seen it. Yeah, I was going to say, it's like a contemporary spiritual reading of the Gospel of John, it's that kind of thing. There's different kinds of these commentaries of different purposes, and it's really important not to expect out of a commentary to accuse it of not delivering what it was in the way it was intended to deliver. That's right. As I was saying, it's different purposes, or different approaches. Generally, the people who do the line by line won't try to step back and take that more spiritual meditation, it's simply not their business.


No, it's not their business. It wouldn't be accepted in their context. No, I mean, it's the purpose of all what they're trying to do, they're trying to tell what the Greek is doing when it's revealing their weakness, that's all. And even when they focus on one of the pregnant symbols of John, like light or something like that, they'll do it in a way in which they don't pause kind of just to let it get together. That's what I was just contrasting, I remember looking at Nubingen compared to Schneiderberg. Oh yeah, those are the extremes. Yeah. So one extreme is like the New Testament for spiritual reading. That's a series. And yet, that one kind of gets into a little bit of detail with the material. So it's not really the meditative extreme. But one end is meditation, the other end is word by word exegesis. The contemporary reading, in what is known to be a meditative approach in a contemporary way, it wouldn't say...


I mean, it would point out the differences between, say, this passage and another passage somewhere else, and that there's a reason for this difference. And it would point out the consequences of it. I see. It kind of launches you off on a meditation. Yeah. It launches you off on a meditation in a particularly different way. It's interesting. How would this Christian community come together? How would that fit in? Christian community? I didn't get the connection. That set of volumes we have, we use in the Church in here. The polytheism is in the polytheism. Oh, is that the guide to the Christian assembly? The one that's always in the sacristy? Yeah. That's an interesting thing. It's an exegesis, a commentary, based on the lectionary texts, okay?


So, it takes each Gospel, each first reading in each Gospel, and for a Sunday, all of the readings. It first of all attempts to give you the exegesis, that is, what is the literal sense? What did the author mean? What does this text mean, basically? And then it strings it out and applies it, or opens up various dimensions that the preacher, the homilist, can use. For instance, certainly the ecclesial dimension, then always the Eucharistic dimension, the missionary dimension, all of those things. It's not quite as Mickey Mouse as it sounds. It's a pretty good job, often. It was done way back in the 60s, you know, late 60s. Very useful thing. It's a little more towards the preaching level than would be useful to us right here. It's in about nine volumes. What makes me very uncomfortable with the scholarly approach is that everything is so speculative, that at the end you're coming out of the womb with nothing in your hands. You know, it's just illuminations and uncertainty.


While it's not true that the Lord has said that, it's rather unlikely that he did it. So, the way I would see, personally, John's Gospel would be like a summarizing in the conclusion of the three others. An invitation to intimacy with the Father through Christ. And I think it's a lost story comparable to the Bhagavad Gita or the Upanishad. Something, a relation with the infinite, with the Father. The approach would be more intuitive, symbolical, and doesn't have to be fundamentalistic. But I think it's really the Gospel of the Spirit. You know, really, it's a strong inspiration. If you have an approach of listening at the poet, the heart understands.


And so it's not only something desiccated by the brains, but it's in the heart already. The result of maybe a friendship, intimacy between John and Christ. I agree with you. And you can't feed yourself on possibility, okay? So, when are probabilities? When the exegete tells you, well, it's a 30% probability that this or this or this is true. Somehow, there's nothing there for you in the end. As you say, you go out with your hands empty. But what is the purpose of all of that? The purpose of all of that, in the end, I think, is a service to the truth by which we actually purify our faith. On the other hand, the other treatment which you're describing is what eventually we want to do. But the trouble is, you can also get fed up on that. In other words, you can be starved or you can be fed up. That's the work that each of us has to do for ourselves.


I think that's what I'm trying to say, okay? There's a point beyond which somebody else's meditation is just repellent, is just satiating. There's a kind of work that each of us has to do. We have to be given the food at the right stage of preparation, and then we have to do the rest. I find reading somebody else's meditations is usually disagreeable. It usually seems to be inappropriate and somehow suffocating. So if we talk too much about that, if we get too quickly and stay too long in that area, we can be doing together the work that has to be done by the individual. We can point out the main lines of it and so on, but that's an individual process, just as that relationship with Christ is an individual thing. In other words, there's a danger in moving too quickly and too exclusively into the area of spirituality, even though that's where we want to go eventually. So we'll see. John himself should help us to balance that. Reverend Brown, I think, makes the big point of discussing...


I mean, every time we proclaim Scripture as the Word of God, we should use, in fact, Jesus as our model, who's both divine and human. So, in fact, it is divine Word and human Word, and therefore if it's human Word, it comes to us and interacts with us in the full complexity of human language, which means intuition, reason, and factuality. The full complexity of human language is involved in mediation of the Word of God. And, in fact, it is the contemporaries of Jesus that has salvaged the last seven centuries. I mean, it's kind of come back to show that the Gospels are not a factual statement, just one fact after another, but, in fact, a symbolic biography, a poetic thing,


and all that kind of stuff. So, in fact, it's kind of come back to that. It's like this last seven, eight hundred years have been the ones about when the Gospels were read simply as a newsreel. That long? Seven, eight hundred years? Well, you take it, I mean, or even, well, even, you could point out, even the so-called, even the so-called, you push it even further back, even the so-called intuitional reading of it was still grounded on the fact that, or it was kind of in side-by-side with looking at the Gospels as if, or at least it seemed to a lot of people later on, as if you simply had a narrative report of what happened. You see what I mean? And then slowly discover it as a masterpiece. There's a literalism in even your symbolic interpretation. The Fathers will frequently interpret something symbolically,


but with a kind of over-naive literalism as regards what the Scripture is saying. So they're doing a symbolic work over here, but they're not giving John the credit of having done a symbolic work over here, in a sense. Does that make any sense? Anyhow, we'll come to that again, I'm sure. I shouldn't take you much longer this morning. The other thing that I wanted... Those introductory questions, the author... Now, here we get into those questions that make Teresa go up the wall. Is it John who wrote it? Is it the beloved disciple, you know, and so on, who wrote the Gospel? And the commentators don't give you very much satisfaction there, okay? What they will tend to settle down to now is that there was a school of John, there was a community of John, and there was probably a beloved disciple there, in the beginning, who was the founder of that community, and who is identified somehow with that relationship with Jesus. And they don't know whether that person is the same as John the Apostle that we have in the Scriptures, or not.


And they don't quite know his relation to the final product of the Gospel itself. But they speculate that there are probably two or three authors there. Well, what do we do with that? We can't really reject it, because we don't like it, in a sense, okay? And yet, it's obviously not the kind of thing that immediately furnishes us with spiritual nourishment. So, I think we live with it, and wait for it to ripen. And when it ripens, generally, we find that we're a little better off than we were when we started. That we've got a little better, more realistic grip on that Word of God, without losing anything of it, really, than we had when we started. But these are the questions. I don't particularly like these questions either, because they can go around for hundreds of years, and they never get any certainty. And they spend pages and pages, and books and books... Let me quote Arthur J. Pink, who is... Arthur W. Pink. When Archbishop Sheen was here, he said he was his favorite exegete. When I first came here, we used to give continual commentary.


Every time we had an individual resurrection, we'd have... Arthur W. Pink? Yeah, Pink, continuously. I think it was for too many years. Who is Terzan, by the way? One up the wall, I think, one day. Here's Arthur W. Pink. We shall not waste the reader's time by entering into the discussion as to who wrote this fourth gospel, as to where John was when he wrote it, or as to the probable date when it was written. These may be points of academic interest, but they provide no food for the soul. Nor do they afford any help to an understanding of this section of the Bible. And these are the two chief things we desire to accomplish. Our aim is to open up the Scriptures in such a way that the reader will be able to enter into the meaning of what God has recorded for our learning in this part of His Holy Word, and to edify those who are members of the household of faith. Okay, but he's a fundamentalist, actually, in the end. I think he's still subscribed, because the Scripture says it. He says that the sun goes around the earth still. Actually, I have to verify that, but I remembered that.


I attached that to the name of Arthur W. Pink. Which way does it work? Does it... The date of composition, well, about 85 or 90 A.D., period. You know, nobody knows. The place of composition, they seem to be very vague about that. But evidently, it was originally a Jewish community, which was in a Gentile situation, in a Gentile city, something like that. So they speculated about Asia Minor, Syria, Asia Minor. Ephesus would be fine, but they're not sure, once again. So we get very little final satisfaction out of these studies on these questions. About the audience and the purpose, we'll have more to say, because that's connected with the whole question of the community of John, which Brown goes into, and which I'll try to digest in some way for you. I'll have to Xerox some of his summaries and things, so you can see what he's driving at. One more question is that of the integrity of the text of John.


And here you can consult the Xeroxed material from Perrin that I'll pass to you. Is it all one piece? Was it one from the beginning? And should we consider it all to be one composition? And the scholars are pretty unanimous in making two exceptions. One is chapter 21, the final chapter of John, which has always been with the Gospel of John in the manuscripts that we've had, and yet somehow doesn't quite fit, because there's an ending just before it, you'll notice. The Gospel comes to an end and then it starts up again. And there's some other reasons, reasons of style and language as well. As well as the fact that that's in Galilee, and chapter 20 has been in Jerusalem. There's been no transition between the two. The other is the episode of Jesus and the adulterous woman, which is in John chapter 8. I forget the verses. And that's pretty unanimously considered not to belong to John, not to be of John's authorship. And it's floated around, it seems, in the Christian tradition. So at one time you'd find it in the manuscript of Luke,


and another time in the manuscript of John. So those two we'll sort of put off from ourselves as we study John's Gospel, as we try to grasp the unity of its structure. I had intended this morning to go into two other questions. One is the distinctiveness of John's Gospel, which maybe you're impressed with enough already. I don't mean superiority, I just mean it's different. And the other is the four Gospels and the way that they seem to relate, because I think that there is a kind of structure that appears when you consider the four Gospels. To recognize that can be very enlightening about the meaning of any one of them, and also tells us a lot about the Church, tells us a lot about Christian life, because it begins to outline for us the basic pluralism of our Christian existence. So I'll put a mysterious figure on the board, and maybe next time. Don't erase it, I have a question for you later on. Okay, this is another...


There. There. So, I'll try to justify that next time. So, John and Mark are along that vertical axis, and Matthew and Luke are along the horizontal axis. The fourfold structure of the Gospel, and perhaps the fourfold structure of Christianity, in some mysterious way. Oh, that Irenaeus, those pages of Irenaeus that I gave you. The first page is simply about the four Gospels, and then I think it's in number eight there. This is from his Against the Heresies, book three. Then number eight gets into the fourfold structure of the Gospels, and why that's essential. You may or may not go along with Irenaeus, but if you read that next time, we can discuss this.


Read it for next time, we can go into that. Okay, questions or suggestions or laments? Victor. Oh, okay, I was going to ask after class. This is after class. The fourfold scheme, that's faith. Where interpretation really involves all four, doesn't it? Yes, 97 percent. I mean, authentic Christian interpretation involves all four. So, I was trying to understand. The interesting thing is, is that, like we're saying in the book, for example, origins, interpretation, has a background of Neoplatonic thought. Yes. And it's expressed through that language. Like, for example, existentialist thought. Right. Aquinas, from that, actually begins to interpret via a kind of Aristotelian worldview, working it out like that.


The people in the 19th century, and we probably do the worst damage in this regard, coming from the rationality of the enlightened, okay? That's right. And there the philosophical content is, what would you call it, crypto-philosophical or hidden. Yes. What I'm just trying to point out is that the act of interpretation always, always, always presupposes a philosophical worldview like that. In other words, some, it can't, I mean, the mere fact, for example, you put that down, that already is an act of philosophy. That's right. Because you said knowledge is constituted in these four ways. That's right. So, in other words, an implicit philosophical position has already been taken, it would be knowledge like that. And then we begin to explain the act of interpretation like that. So, it's like interesting. It's like you can never step out of it. That's right. So, every... We could have used a synonym for philosophical reason. We could have said worldview, conceptual expression of worldview.


No, philosophical reason is very good. I'm just saying, actually, that's already philosophy, that categorization. Yeah, yeah. It's like how... We could... Because they're always struggling how to relate faith, how to relate faith with its expression. Yes, yeah. So, do we see right away that we have to have all four of these? You can say that textual criticism, okay, not historical criticism, but textual criticism requires this. To get the right text, to get the right word even, you've got to use this. Did that right in the beginning? Yeah, you've got to criticize the manuscripts. This guy has copied it wrong, and this one is right, and so... And that's... See, that's already there, before we can get to interpretation as such. This one, Victor has just been talking about, okay, that we bring our worldview, and there's an implicit philosophy in the way that we like things that we can't help with. I suppose as soon as we start to use language, and especially the language of a certain kind, we've brought in a philosophical presupposition of some kind, which we may consider just to be faith.


I don't think it's just faith, but it's not. It's faith structured, crystallized in a certain way. What about this one? Can you get away without any intuitive or symbolic or poetic interpretation of the scriptures? If you do, you're going to be reading the scripture like a newspaper, okay? In other words, the scripture has a certain contour to it, and you're going to be reading it like this. You'll be tangential to the scripture, or reading it like this, curled around your own, let's say, worldview, your own philosophical point of view. But you will never be able to orbit around the true center of the scripture, okay? Because that's the way it's written. The word comes across in human language, and human language is essentially poetic. It's an offshoot of language, a refinement of language, a specialization of language, to make it abstract. But then it's fully a refinement, so it tends to be poetic. Does John use parables in that number too? That's a good question. I was going to bring that up earlier. There aren't any parables in John, in the usual sense, okay?


In Matthew, for instance, I think it's chapter 12, you have all these parables of the kingdom of heaven. You don't find them in John. So what does John do instead? John gives you what you could say parable realities. He gives you symbolic things, and then he interprets those things. And how does he interpret them? Jesus says, I am the light of the world. Jesus says, I am the bread from heaven. So, instead of parables, which kind of help you to see through the screen of earthly realities to a deeper reality of the kingdom of heaven, John gives you cosmic things. Not so much situations. The situations are there in the gospel, but they're not parables from the mouth of Jesus. The situation which would be like a parable is the healing of the... This goes in two directions, I'm getting it mixed up. The situation which is like a parable in John is the wedding feast of Cain. Take that one, okay? Which has a deep symbolic meaning, but which is not a parable from the mouth of Jesus. Jesus doesn't say the kingdom of heaven is like a wedding feast. There it isn't.


But you have a wedding feast, and Jesus is there. And then the other thing is that what John gets out of that is not the kingdom of heaven, but he gets sort of a centering in the person of Jesus in each case. Each time he penetrates through the surface of a symbol, either a situation or a cosmic thing like light, or something human like bread, what he ends up with is the same center which is the I am Jesus, okay? Which is the person of Jesus, the identity of Christ, as the word of God, as the direct expression of God. So, see the difference. We're going to find out that Matthew, in a sense, and the people who use parables in the Gospels, talk more about the Church than they do about Christ. Whereas John is talking always about Christ, always centering in on the identity of Jesus, and the fact that whatever you move through, if you move into it far enough, you arrive at the same center, in the center of Christ. It's interesting. There's schemes of the leading Marx scholar probably in the country right now,


John Donovan, who is a teacher to you, calls some of Marx's Gospels saying, Jesus is the parable of God, to Jesus himself. That's the way some of them, when you look at Jesus to discover who God is like, Jesus is the parable of God, right? And that's how he says, that's what Marx, the whole Gospel of Marx is that. Okay, now Mark and John are related in that way, in their Christological centering, okay? Mark and John are interested in bringing you through everything else to the identity of Jesus, through the parable which is Jesus, through the symbol which is anything else, and leads you to Jesus, okay? Whereas Matthew and Luke are a little bit different. Jesus is not in the middle of the picture in Matthew and Luke, the same way he is in Mark and John. We'll see the contrast between Mark and John next time. Whereas in Mark you've got this messianic secret, as if the identity of Jesus only gradually creeps through the surface, and you have this heavy emphasis on the passion of Jesus and everything, okay? So the identity of Jesus only comes through gradually,


as if it has to bore itself through all this thickness of humanity. Whereas in John, it flashes out right from the start, in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. So they're direct opposites, and yet they're on the same Christological line here, okay? That's contrasting with the other two. I just have a question in turn. When we have a worldview, or a philosophical viewpoint, based on faith, or we have faith based on a worldview, to me those are quite different things. They are. I don't know if one can really be based on the other, to tell you the truth. That's a difficult one. Yeah. The worldview, I would say, a lot of our beliefs, our philosophical worldview imposed upon our faith, are kind of a tentative structure, which is imposed upon faith, but faith is much more simple. Yes, that's what I was getting at. Without faith, these other categories wouldn't make much sense in a church like John, would they? No, none of them would.


No, faith is the absolutely essential. In fact, it's a little bit of a distortion to put faith in the same column, because it's on a different level. As John the Cross says, faith relates you directly and immediately to God, okay? And these others are all ways of, what would you call it, ways of dealing with faith. Ways of mediating faith, or ways, or mediations in some way, or secondary things. So can we speak of... But they're human, you know? They're a human thing. They're on our side of the thing, and we've got to use them. We have to have them. So when we speak of different authors mediating a message to us of faith, could we speak of intuitive, philosophical faith, or empirical faith? I mean, it seems like, in some way, it's based on the type that the person is, if he leans most heavily, or she leans most heavily on. Okay, good. I detect something behind this, which is familiar to all students of yours.


I don't know, I'm just curious. No, but there is something there. I protest because you have that philosophical worldview, which, in fact, he interpreted things by. In fact, this whole thing, the philosophical construct, is the same thing that's going on, for example, at Esalen. You hear people talking about the psychology takes place within a philosophical worldview. And you have that standpoint, whether you like it or not. It's a matter of making it explicit. Okay, but I think you're protesting prematurely, because he isn't saying any more than we said here that you've got to use these. And the human faculties, the intuiting, the thinking, the feeling, the sensing things, are simply disapparatus in other language, okay? And a person's personality leans in one or the other of those directions. Okay, but the point is, they're all there, regardless of whether. Even, for example, in Quartet, I have nothing to do with philosophy. Philosophy is not a part of my life. That very act is philosophy. Sure. Very active philosophy.


I agree with you. So that's just what I'm saying. I agree with all that. I just was wondering, in terms of faith, there seems to be a gift there that's separate from our own faculties. Yes, yes. And that's what I want to get to, the essence of this. And that seems to permeate and penetrate all these other things, whereas a guy like Jung, not coming from that standpoint of faith, has that kind of worldview that then interprets faith. Yes, that's right. Or a guy like Bousfensky or Goethe... So they go down the drain of this particular level. This gets swallowed up in here. Or Nicole just takes the second thing into it and he does a life of Jesus. This is a typical Gnostic thing with a certain mixture of Gnosticism. But there are different kinds of Gnosticism. You've got the philosophical Gnosticism, the symbolic, you know. But anthropologically, we've got this apparatus of thinking and feeling, of intuiting and sensing.


And so how does faith relate to those? It's beyond all of them, and yet we cannot have faith without the mediation of them, because if they do not hear the Word, how are they going to believe? Remember Paul? If they do not see Christ, if they do not hear the Word, one or the other of them. So our beginning of faith is mediated through those things. Our continuing faith is somehow mediated, and yet faith is on an entirely different level above them and deeper than they are, okay? But because we're human, there's that one mediation of the senses. And Christianity is so insistent on that. So the relation between faith and sense knowledge, basically. But sense knowledge with its ramifications, you can say, in reason, in feeling, and so on. The human equivalent. The incarnation, though, when you consider it, means that there is a unique relationship between these in Christianity, which perhaps is not found in the same way in other religions, I don't know. But the incarnation, and what we're talking about here,


are very close together, and mean that we cannot separate the two too much. We have to be very careful to keep their unity. So when Paul speaks about faith, hope, and love, even though we use that expression as supernatural, it still has to be embedded in and rooted in reality. That's right. And when we get it simplified like that, Rahner is very good on that kind of thing. The relationship between the transcendent and the historical, as you call it, and the categorical, and so on, which is sense life, is our experience in this world. I've heard in the teaching that Jesus never said, I am the way, the light, and, you know, I am the body, and unless you are, I cannot be you. But he was, I've been living as such, as being the light, and I was very distressed by that, because these, for me, are the keys of our faith. And I could live on John alone for the rest of my days. You know, I think it's very complete.


And so how do we interpret that? What do we believe? We can deny many other things that Jesus said. He might have said, I am a... Unless you will never go to the Father except through me, we can deny this also. We can deny all the very basic dogmas of our faith. Okay, I don't want to try to tackle that question completely, because it's a difficult one, and we'll have to do it more fully at another time. The whole question of history and the historical, empirical, concrete Jesus in the Gospel of John, and that other level, okay, that other level of what Jesus says in the Gospel of John and so on. So I don't want to try to take it head on down, because I can't handle it right now. But let me just say something. First of all, the way I relate to the Gospel of John is to take those sayings literally, as if John was saying them to me, okay, or as if... In other words, not to let those be conjured away at all. Absolutely not. That doesn't necessarily mean that Jesus said them literally in the same way at that time and place


from me. If I read the Gospel through John, through the heart of John, through the mind of John, it's perfectly legitimate for me to relate to those sayings of Jesus the same way that John gives them to me, okay? Because our modern scholar, we try to bring the better news. We have the good news already, but the better news, you know, I mean, in the recent decades, we may come with novelties that will be confirmed to be wrong in a minute. Sure. No, the essential thing is not to lose, what would you call it, that core of the Revelation, that core of the Gospel, which is one and which pulls everything together, that center, which pulls everything together around it and makes a one. For the Scripture makes a one of John's Gospel and of our faith itself. Not to lose that. Not to let an iota or a particle be lost in that, okay? Then, how do we do that? How do we do that in the face of the changing kind of tide of historical critical scholarship,


which one day will tend to cast a shadow on this part of it, another day on another part of it? I don't have a complete answer for that right now, but my way is just to read it simply as it is, without the historical questions at that moment, okay? And then, I haven't got the two together in a sense that I can kind of find a unique and satisfactory relationship between the two. But what I do is hold on to this one and let that one move as it wants to, the critical thing, okay? We have to, I think, solidify and have more confidence in our way of relating to Jesus as he is in the Gospel. It seems that the heart knows that it's true. The heart knows that it's true, yeah. And John knew that it was true, and so he says it. Now, how does historical fact, the photographic reality of that day, say, in Galilee, when Jesus was there, when he said what he said, how does that relate to this? That's not an easy one. Tim Nisbet,


who I was used to when he was teaching Scripture, stayed to us. He said, look, I'm sharing with you my particular way John speaks to me. Yes. But you have to find out how he speaks to you in your heart, you know. So, in a way, you know, he said, God, well, that's what you're already saying, God reveals himself uniquely to each person in a particular, through a particular word, and it's a thing that no one can figure away. But with John, there's something objective there, too, okay? When you have those sayings of John, I am the bread of life, I am the true vine, I am, and so on. Is it, or isn't it? Is it true? And if it's true, what kind of truth does it have? Can we hold on to that with absolute faith? I believe we can. No matter what happens on the other side, I believe we can hold on to that. That's theological, the deepest kind of truth, the truth of faith. And no matter what happens historically, it can't be taken away. But how to hold that


in relationship to that whole other side, that's the question. Why don't you rephrase the whole thing a little bit differently, like instead of, as it were, like you're losing something, but ask yourself, why isn't Jesus saying, I am using these words in Luke and Matthew. You're kind of on a divided scheme because you already set up a decision. Yes. In other words, that's all that a good contemporary scholar, he'd raise a question and say, you know, in other words, Luke wrote something different from John, and that brings out the meaning of John more clearly. It's very obvious the Church affirms, Raymond Brown affirms, that when the Gospel is proclaimed, Jesus is speaking in the Church. That's it. When the Word is preached, that has to be taken, it seems to me, in the contemporary church, it has to be taken


into account. I mean, what has to be taken into account is why, for example, the two parables, which we had today, I mean, in Matthew and Luke, they're very different. If you take a look at them, they're very different. Now, there's obviously, the meaning of it is, the difference is part of the meaning. And there's a different portrait of Jesus in these different Gospels. So you're not losing anything. It seems to me like you're gaining a great deal. As soon as you... I think we're talking a little bit about two different things and somewhat about one thing. As soon as you discover the pluralism of the Gospel and find that you can relate to Jesus and to God through these different, differing ways in the different Gospels, that's an enrichment. Okay? We stepped a little bit aside from the question of what did Jesus really say? What was it historical? And we may never know. What we've been given is the Gospels. And to the end, that will be enough for us.


That will be the way that we relate, essentially, to Christ, is through those Gospels. It won't be through some proof of what he probably said on a particular day. But that's not what they're trying to do in this thing, is trying to show the differences among the different things and trying to do it with that... Usually, it depends on your critic, you know, because some of them will take another line. I think we've had a kind of siege mentality sometime past with regard to critical biblical scholarship. We don't need to... It's just simply a side question. For example, if you have Jesus saying this here, and then, I mean, Jesus said such and such, and then the same kind of parallel story, but it's in different words, it's just simply a side question. Well, I mean, it's a kind of curious question. I wonder what the exact words of Jesus were because here's a different wording and a different wording. It's simply the kind of thing that the scholars... That's an ancillary kind of question. They're not saying


this is absolutely critical, but they do are saying, look at the difference. Isn't this interesting? And isn't this part of the way the Word of God is coming to us? And then the other thing is, what if you say, okay, this is what Jesus is saying to me. Well, what if you're wrong? I mean, what if... I mean, a lot of people through the centuries have said, have used Scripture with full confidence that somehow... For example, the Gospel of John is the source of a lot of anti-Semitism. The Jews this, the Jews that. How... And they're fully confident that Jesus is speaking. There's a theological criterion. Obviously, you've got to interpret that kind of thing in terms of theology, okay, from what your basic and global belief is. So certain things are ruled out, that kind of Semitism, okay. Whereas if your theological, your central theological intuition agrees with this,


which you're reading in the Scripture, like Jesus is the bread of life, Jesus is divine, and so on. Did John write the Gospel the last of the four or consider space, different space, different reasons for writing at different times? Yes. It seems that John was the last of the Gospels. They still tend to uphold that, even though you'll have one problem. I think Bishop Robinson, for instance, says that John is probably the first... And Elvis, too. Does Elvis say that, too? Or at least I think he modifies it, yeah. I'll have to look in here. It should be... So, in general, they say John wrote about 90 A.D., and that's the last of the Gospels, even though I've seen one. I think it's... Who is it that puts two Gospels? I think Luke and John both about 90 A.D. The last one, yeah. So they were quite different than the first ones for the reason that things had to change so they couldn't all that same... Yeah, that's part of it. There's a growth in the experience of the person. Obviously, there's a lot


of meditation, a lot of reflection in John, and there's also a different experience of the community. Both more time in a different place, a different scene between the, say, where Luke was and where John was, the community of John. But John seems to be the final Gospel. The last one. The first being Mark. The first Gospel that we already have being Mark. Matthew and Luke largely derive from Mark, together with another source of these. And then John comes afterwards. The funny thing is that they don't know how John relates to the synoptics. Nobody can say for sure whether John drew from Matthew, Mark, and Luke or not. So that illustrates the kind of fuzziness there is about John in the critical study. Anything else? Okay, we'll go on from there next time. Meanwhile, I'll try


to get some material to you. I just passed out a couple of things but I didn't have enough copies. I'll give you the rest of them before next time and then an additional thing. Some introductory material. And also a plan of the course. A tentative plan of the course because I like to be flexible about it. Often times things come up during the discussion that change your focus a little bit. In fact, John is so mysterious and so fascinating that it's easy for your vision of the Gospel to change quite a bit when you're studying it. When you're studying it a little bit methodically as we hope to do. I have to confess that I've been somewhat obsessed with John's Gospel for a long while. For some years now. And plowed into it in various ways. But I haven't done much with the recent scientific work. You know, the scientific critical type of thought. So I'll be confronting that a little bit along with you


as we go through. I've tried to gorge myself to swallow a lot of it the past few weeks but I don't think it's taken much to tell you the truth. So, we'll see. John is unique among the New Testament writings. It's always been considered the last Gospel, the final Gospel, the fourth Gospel. And in a way it has an ultimacy, a finality, a comprehensiveness. What would you call it? Synthetic quality about it. In which it seems deliberately to sum up what has been happening. But it seems to bring together what you find in the New Testament and the Old Testament as well. So it's a kind of a keystone. It's a kind of a capstone to the Scriptures. Now this, I'll have to try to prove to you as we go on. It's been called the spiritual Gospel by, I think, Clement of Alexandria at first. And it is that compared to the other three Gospels it simply starts out on a different level. It has another point of view. Even in looking at the same things. And it doesn't always look at the same things.


It selects other things as well. It selects other episodes from the life of Jesus. Omits a lot of the things you find in the synoptic Gospels. And it does it from a theological point of view because it has a different vision and what it wants to communicate is that vision rather than a particular historical sequence, a particular picture of the life of Jesus. You can call it, in a way, the Song of Songs of the New Testament. That is, the people who have taken a more contemplative point of view towards the Scriptures, towards the Bible have tended to focus, for instance, on the Psalms and the Song of Songs in the Old Testament. And in the New Testament it's the Gospel of John which seems to, in some way, mysteriously play that same role as the Song of Songs. This will have to become clearer as we go on. I can just kind of throw it out now. But let me give, for example, I'll say something about, for instance, Origen, or John of the Cross. There's an implicit


use of the Gospel of John even when they're talking about something else. If they're writing a commentary on the Canticle of Canticles they'll start out by telling you, well, what's the Bridegroom? The Bridegroom is the Word of God. Well, where did they get that? Where did they get the possibility of calling Christ the Word of God? They got it from the Prologue of John. So that kind of keynote of the Gospel of John is also the keynote to most of the, what would you call it, mainline mystical tradition in Christianity, in the Christian Church. And here we're talking about, of course, the old kind of interpretation, the patristic, medieval, monastic, biblical, and symbolic type of interpretation rather than the more modern type. And we'll, I think, a lot be moving back and forth between those two approaches trying to see how they relate to one another. And I'd like to get a little bit into that today because it's important what options we take. We need to realize the approach that we're taking and not do it just unreflectively because if we do that then we leave out a lot of other things. The usual thing


is to launch out on some point of view, not really having relativized that point of view in the whole scheme of possibilities. So at least try to look at the various possibilities. It's all pretty wild. You find all kinds of extremes in the interpretation of John. I was hunting this morning in the back of the library a book that had gone out of view. It's called The Christian Buddhism of John, of Saint John. It came out in 1971, written by a John scholar up at the University of Toronto, St. Michael's of Toronto. And it's an interesting kind of offbeat or far-out variant on the possibility of interpretation of the Gospel of John. And of course the Gnostics loved the Gospel of John. And so it seems that John himself or the Johannine school had to defend itself against the Gnostic interpretation. And this gets us into the question of a Christian gnosis, not a Christian Gnosticism but a Christian Gnosis. Is there such a thing? And of course the Fathers say there is. We'll come back


to that later. So John would be the Gnostic Gospel among the Christian Gospels, or the Gospel, better, of Gnosis, or, to put it better, the Sapiential Gospel, the Wisdom Gospel among the Christian Gospels. And that, in the end, will dominate my own point of view. That's the interpretation I'd like to suggest to you. The plan of the course, I'll Xerox that and give it to you. It's a very simple and partly influenced by Sandra Schneider's, by the material that I've got. She's my main opening towards the contemporary treatment of the Gospel of John. Also, the tapes of her class on the Theology and Spirituality of John are available. And if somebody would like to listen to them, I'll get a copy made so that we'll have more than one. Basically, this is the way I'd like to operate. First, touching on some of these preliminaries. And the general, what they call the material of the introduction to a New Testament study, which is things like place, date, author, and so on.


But we'll treat them very briefly. And it's more difficult to treat them with any solidity in John than it is in most of, in practically all, I think, of New Testament materials. It's just too mysterious. They can't figure it out exactly. They can't pin it down. It doesn't sort of fall uniquely within the coordinates, within the lines that you can draw from the other evidence. And so you can never... There's a bigger principle of uncertainty with respect to John than there is with respect to the other Gospels. And also with respect to the letters, of course. Letters of Paul particularly. Let me see. Where's that outline? Here we are. Okay, first, preliminary questions. Things like those questions of fact, which, in a way, we'll return to from time to time. And the question of commentaries and the distinctiveness of John. And then a particular obsession of mine, which is the four Gospels and the way that they relate to one another. Then the Johannine community and the development of the fourth Gospel. We'll treat this briefly,


mostly based on Brown, the community of the beloved disciple. Because the most fruitful way in which these critical studies seem to point now is towards finding out what's behind the Gospel of John and what it turns out to be is a particular tradition, a particular school, a particular community. So instead of pinning it down to one author and being able to say, yes, it was John, the apostle who leaned on the breast of the Lord, who was the beloved disciple who wrote the Gospel, rather it turns out to be rather fuzzy. It's a school. But the school is connected with a person named the beloved disciple who is obviously associated with John Evangelist, but we can't get it any more precisely than that. Those questions have never been answered definitively. And here we, of course, move into the area of kind of the Christian tradition, the Christian legend, the Christian myth, in a way. There's a Christian myth that holds things together in spite of the absence of historical proof. And this is especially strong in matters like this,


who wrote the fourth Gospel. Then the problem of the historicity of John, which I won't treat very extensively because I'm not very well prepared for it. And then the viewpoint, the vision, the theology of John, which is a fundamental question which will determine our whole approach, in a way. What do we think that John is doing? How do we think that John is giving Jesus to us? What does he believe that Christ is? And how does that influence what he's communicating to us? What is this story, this Gospel, that John is giving us? What does it mean to do to us and in us? What does it mean to lead us into in comparison with what the other evangelists are doing? And then the prologue of John, which is of extreme importance in this respect, in defining his outlook and it's an overture in telling us what he's going to do and the structure of the Gospel. And then the two big divisions, according to Brown, now I'm relying


on his division because it seems more convincing to me than the others, but of course I can change my idea in the middle of it. The first is the Book of Signs. Now, after the prologue, okay, which is basically Chapter 1, verses 1 to 18, then you have what's called the Book of Signs, which goes right up to the end of Chapter 12, in which you have these twelve signs or miracles of Jesus and his public ministry, basically. And then there's a radical change. The signs come to an end and he begins to talk to his disciples. And according to Brown, that's the Book of Glory. And it begins, it's all in and around Jerusalem, and it begins with the beginning of 13, the washing of the feet, and it goes through the Passion, and then death, and resurrection. And then, okay, the Book of Signs, the Book of Glory, and then we'll say something about the letters of John, principally the first letter. The others are not so important for us. And then, John's Gospel in Christian Tradition.


And that's a pretty interesting subject, to try and get the resonance, the impact, or what would you call it, the digestion, actually, of John in the church, in Christ. And then finally, the implications of John's Gospel for today. Because I think it has. It's a thing that's continually rediscovered. All of the Scripture is that way. And every time, strangely, every time that you rediscover a part of the Scripture, you enlarge your own world in some way. You discover that what's in there is bigger than your own world, and so you begin to break through, once again, the shell of your own universe. Because our universe always tends to be shrinking on us. The Word tends to open up. Of course, there are a lot of people for whom the Word doesn't enlarge their universe, but it contracts it and offers them the possibility of keeping it small and keeping it closed. And that's what you call fundamentalism. It's as if there are basically two attitudes towards the Scripture. Either an openness which permits us


to be initiated into the Word, into the mystery of God, and to grow with it. Or an attitude by which somehow our ego identifies with the Scripture and sort of the ego and the Scripture agree to stay just as they are, locked into one another without the possibility of growth. There's a hard shell around that kind of interpretation. It's fundamentalism. We'll talk more about it later. On the one end of the spectrum you've got fundamentalism which takes everything literally and, how would you say it, insists on a literalness to such an extent that you cannot find any deeper level in the Scripture and you cannot find any deeper level in yourself, but you're stuck on a kind of hard surface, on a wall. And of course the archetype for that is the legalism of the Judaism of the time of Jesus. The so-called pharisaic legalism or whatever. On the other end,


you can go in a couple of directions from there. In one direction is a kind of utterly liberal approach which dissolves the integrity of the Scriptures, the wholeness of the Scriptures into analysis and it atomizes it, fragments it, so you've got nothing left in the end but a bunch of possibility. For the fundamentalist everything is absolutely certain with a kind of preconceived certainty which seals even the details of the Scripture into one rigid corpus. For the liberal critic of say 19th century, something like that when it ran to its extremes, you dissolve everything into what it's derived from and into the kind of stages of its evolution. So in the end the kind of oneness of the Scripture which is fundamental and must remain is totally lost. We'll be talking about those things later. There's another possibility, there's another direction in which you can go from fundamentalism and that is the opposite extreme in the direction


of spiritualism or Gnosticism where you dissolve all of the historical reality and dissolve the letter of the Word the external, detailed precise content of the Word into a kind of fuzzy fantasy world which one generates out of his own intuition and own wish world. Okay. So the viewpoint that I'd like to take towards John is this one. First of all a kind of holistic or simple or unified view of John rather than a more analytical and kind of fragmenting or dissolving view of John. Now here I want to be careful however not to throw out or exclude or seem to be fighting the results of critical biblical scholarship. That's not necessary because what happens there


is that the critical scholarship sharpens the sensitivity to truth that you have when you read the gospel without actually undercutting anything of the faith at all. What it does is separate faith from, what do you call it, certain kinds of beliefs certain kinds of myths which in the end turn out to be rather destructive which in the end turn out to be obstacles rather than helps. It returns us to the poverty of faith and to the simplicity of faith but I won't talk too much in abstractions Secondly that John's gospel is composed is kind of a single pearl it's a poem you could call it an initiatory poem which is intended to initiate you into the experience of this mystery of Christ the mystery of the Logos of the Word which is the mystery of God. And therefore it's deliberately composed and therefore John takes liberties with the historical order of things with the factual scheme of things. He takes deliberate liberties and composes something


something new in order to be true not to what we would call history but to be true to what he considers to be the underlying truth the theological truth as they say now of Christ. And this is really revolutionary and creates a lot of tension in the world of interpretation a lot of tension and rightly so because this initiation can't be anything but tense painful initiation always involves stress and so the stress comes in here in the tension between say historical fact and theological truth. And the tension is reproduced kind of in biblical scholarship between this simple kind of approach of faith contemplative faith whatever you want to call it and the myth of the church whatever you want to call that tradition of the church in its unitary simple receptive contemplative sense and the work of analytical criticism


which tends to seems to go in exactly an opposite direction but in the end is not contrary to it. It's a sapiential approach therefore because I think that John is kind of the basis of Christian wisdom tradition he's deliberately based himself on the wisdom literature of the Old Testament as we'll see in his interpretation of Jesus in his rendering of Jesus and the intention of that is to bring that wisdom tradition into its fullness and in doing that he becomes perhaps the most universal of the gospels that's why somebody can write a book about the Christian Buddhism of Saint John it's because when you get into this sapiential area you go beyond the strict bounds of a particular ecclesial interpretation let us say which itself is true and valid there's a validity there for all people so the Gnostics could pick up John's gospel and be very happy with it


I'll do a lot more about that later Let me once again very briefly sketch two approaches to John which are not contrary they can be complementary but you can't do them at the same time okay you can't do them at the same time and one is the rational, critical, analytical and the other is the more contemplative sapiential or the typical monastic practice of Lectio Divina where you read in order to and now I'm putting them at their extremes you read in order to be absorbed into the word in order to move towards prayer or something like that now we're not going to be doing that you can't do that in a classroom but the sapiential interpretation is close to that it's on the border of that and that's what we're going to be skirting that area as we talk about John


but we don't just want to kind of be producing a fog and so we'll repeatedly return to the more exact side of this there's a contrast in other words between science and wisdom between science and wisdom and at first they seem to be contraries they seem to be alternative options but really they're like two legs on which we have to walk and more complementary than contrary but they cannot be simultaneous exactly so we must move from one to the other we already have to do that as soon as you start reading the scripture in a couple of ways you're already doing that as soon as you start studying the scripture over here and then reading the scripture for the sake of prayer over here you're already doing that you're doing two kinds of things that you can't really can't really do at the same time you have to alternate between them and they tend in the long run to complement one another although the well I think that's enough about that another way of putting this is a quote from Perrin


he got this wonderful introduction to the New Testament New Testament an introduction in which he's nearly got a commentary on the Gospel of John in a short space I was there to explore you the introductory material that I was talking about from Perrin and from Ellis and I've given you already Ellis that one thing that says introduction there that's Ellis the genius of John okay let's just say so you have a very brief outline or summary of that factual material and the other one I'll give you is from Perrin the New Testament an introduction I didn't get a chance to call it at this one a paginate or whatever you call that process so here's another way


of putting the same thing and this is a judgment that Perrin makes about John's Gospel the Gospel and letters of John give the impression of carefully composed wholes of being a response to the internal dynamics of the genius and vision of the author rather than to the external dynamics of a concrete historical situation and need he's putting it a little more sharply than I did and more cautiously but let me read that again so they're not kind of an aggregation of fragments which somehow got themselves together because of certain associations


between one thing and another they're not the product of successive editings which had different aims or which somehow lost the thread but they're carefully composed wholes so near the end of the editing somebody had a comprehensive vision and put it all together with one purpose with one focus in mind of being a response to the internal dynamics of the genius and vision of the author and there he's kind of suppressing the supernatural aspect that we might stress more when he talks about the genius of the author rather than to the external dynamics of a concrete historical situation and need now most of the criticism nowadays seems to interpret the Gospels in terms of the concrete historical situation in which the authors found themselves or the community found itself and that's true now also with the work on John with Brown's recent work on John for instance the Community of the Beloved Disciple so those are two alternatives does it come out of an interior experience he might have said


and vision and also literary genius of the author as a unified thing or is it the product of responses to historical stresses and factors and conflicts and we'll find that there are several of those historical conflicts within the community of John and so both of those things are present but we've got a choice as to which we allow to predominate as to how we interpret the Gospel and that's very important I think I guess the way the question would be posed as I've heard often and so is it's either the author was prior or the community was prior that's good yeah the previous view used to be stressing the author or authors but as simply kind of not too significantly yes that's right that's right


you've really got two things there two options between author and community and the other one is close to it is entangled with it but slightly different between interior experience and external response or response to external situation the shift to community is also very much if you want to score points a point in favor of the Catholic mission whereas the author's was much more stronger than the Protestant Protestant scholars are coming around on things such as tradition and the communities prior to the written text so that's quite a remarkable shift that's an ecclesial view instead of an individualistic view regarding the approaches to John let me just outline something consider the


different ways of cognition that we have and and different ways of knowing this may seem a little bit arbitrary


one way obviously of knowing in religious matters is a simple pure faith and perhaps a kind of contemplative connotation that goes along with it a second way of knowing which we find immediately in the scriptures everywhere in the bible and I think it's dominant in John is this symbolic poetic way of expression all of the narratives in the scripture and all of the symbolic things and personages are depending on this way of knowing then and this is a kind of mediated mediated faith you can say but I don't want to mix these are these are always connected always sort of mixed with one another and this and faith just naturally go along together in the scriptures like two streams then you have philosophical reason which doesn't seem to relate so easily to the first two or doesn't seem to be in the same neighborhood so easily have we got it in the scriptures yeah I think I think we have


we've got it in we've got it in in the fathers too immediately as soon as people start interpreting the gospels they're using philosophical reason already origin you know in the second and third century is putting platonism into his reading of the scriptures now it so happens that Plato and Saint John for instance have a lot in common Plato and Saint John have a lot in common so it makes a kind of natural scaffolding for interpreting the gospel of John but nevertheless something extraneous is going to be inserted some of the scaffolding is going to get stuck into the construction and will have to be maybe pulled out later on this finds its strongest well it's pretty strong in the fathers Augustine too it's full of neoplatonism you know and the stoicism and platonism and neoplatonism and very little Aristotle in the fathers and it comes out in their exegesis they can't help it that's their language and so how you read them has to be in terms of that you've got to read it sometimes as poetry as poetry as philosophical poetry sometimes based on a text


and sometimes of course they go right to the bone sometimes of course they go right through and penetrate the meaning but even when they do they have to express it in a language and the language has to be a philosophical language because they haven't got any other language except the biblical language itself that reaches its strongest and in fact reaches a level where it kind of breaks through your patience and becomes a little bit absurd in the middle ages with the scholastics when you get Aristotle and then you get a technical structured philosophy which seems so distant from the genre from the tone and the sense of scripture itself that we find it very irritating but for them at that time it was a breakthrough because something new was happening then finally and even Bultman see even Bultman in his interpretation of John is using philosophical reason he's reading it in terms of existentialism he's reading it in terms of Heidegger it's a different philosophy but it's the same level of knowing the same level of cognition which is not to say that philosophical reason is totally alien to scripture like I say you can find you read a letter of the Hebrews you wonder


whether it was written by a Platonist and there is philosophical thought in the scriptures look finally this is our modern our modern way of knowing typically modern way of knowing now I've called it empirical reason but you could also call it sense knowledge in a sense because it depends on evidence it depends on proving things okay what you can prove and that's what most of the biblical critical scholars are dealing with most of their time I think is spent with those questions and so I think it's been years over the question of who wrote the fourth gospel or where was it written when was it written those things and never arriving in absolute proof sometimes they can prove something pretty well but more so with the synoptics so there we have four ways of knowing and we're going to find that our kinds of exegesis our kinds of interpretation pass along that spectrum from one to the other and with history we notice a change that is faith is always there


okay and faith absolutely has to be behind all of this otherwise you haven't got an interpretation of scripture you haven't got exegesis anymore you've got some kind of an outsider's knowledge of scripture but the first interpretation of scripture and scripture's own interpretation of scripture when you see Jesus in the New Testament using the Old Testament when you see John using the Old Testament any of the evangelists using the Old Testament they read it this way okay of course in the light of faith but they read it this way they read it symbolically when you get to the Middle Ages well already in the Father's Essay there's a high content of philosophical reason but the reason sharpens it becomes more logical and less, let us say, intuitive because even Plato can be poetic if you read some of the Fathers the Platonism in them is is a poetic Platonism if you read Clement of Alexandria or something like that it's a mixture of these two in a way which you can easily get alien from scripture which has its own kind of poetic law this reaches its extreme


in the Middle Ages like the commentary of St. Thomas Aquinas on John or the commentary of Eckhart on John's Prologue something like that which is really abstract and translated just into another language which seems alien to it this is our modern thing so here we've got a kind of movement through a spectrum of different ways of knowing which plays itself out in history now when we read the Gospel of John we have to ask ourselves as with any piece of scripture which of these is more natural to it which of these suits it better in the end we've got to use all of them we can't help it but which is its own way of speaking which one would the author have somehow preferred and along which wavelength is he communicating himself and with John we're up here always of course he's moving always towards faith it's initiation into faith but through the symbolic through the intuitive consequently


as I say he is somewhat free with details on this level what we would call empirical historical geographical details of literature because he's he's composing it all around a center which is you now each of these of course has its own let me just point out the possible vices of these different kinds of cognition because each of them has its own traps and I'm not pointing out all of them just some of them does faith have a trap does faith have a possible excess not true faith but the fundamentalism I was talking about is a vice of faith in other words it's faith that ceased to be faith because it's closed itself and faith is essentially open faith is essentially an opening of oneself to something which is beyond oneself but fundamentalism has taken the option of reinterpreting faith around the ego reinterpreting as it were the word of god around one's own world of perception one's present world of perception which refuses to change there are probably


other excesses up in this area but what's what's the excess here well when you hear the word allegory you know right away don't you because who nowadays really has any confidence in allegory in kind of reading through the surface of something to something else beneath it B refers to A and so on allegory has a bad name and that's one of the excesses and another excess is narcissism is that the kind of spiritualism which wipes out the external sensual practical visible level the level of fact in favor of some other level but when this other level is no longer rooted here it loses its authenticity and we have to remember especially in Christianity the religion of incarnation which means that this level is of extreme importance we can't get rid of it wasn't it the kind of debate between Antioch and Alexandria in the sense that Antioch is still a permanent feature of Alexandria


kind of one in the there's a whole history of that Antiochian and Antiochian approach of insisting on that a well is a well and bread is bread don't turn it into something else before you appreciate it before it is like that Alexandria that was the place of coming of Alexandria of origin of philo and of kind of platonizing symbolic intuitive interpretation okay which went very far and which was the most powerful influence in patristic exegesis so it really prevailed and Antioch was the place of a historical hard-nosed um what do you call scientific exegesis even back at that time now we have to be fair because Origen was also a scientist he was very careful with the letter and he tried to arrive at the right text you know he wanted everything just right he'd go through manuscripts and everything looking for the exact text but basically he was an intuitive and he was this kind of symbolic interpreter Antioch was the other way they insisted


on the historical sense what happened in history Antioch practically was pushed off the scene and in the west the Alexandrian symbolic exegesis prevailed which seems to us very strange nowadays because the wind is going completely in the other direction now you see but that's the way it was up until in the Catholic tradition up until our time up until a few years ago and we know very well the dangers of that exaggerated spiritual interpretation for a long while you can go along not seeing the dangers of it I found that in my own life for a long while that seems to be the only way because the other kind is so cold and seems to yield so little fruit but if you just let that go without being rooted in fact without relating to the hard truth of the surface of the scripture but also of our life in the end you're on a cloud in the end you lose touch with reality and the abuses that we get are abuses that go right along the line I mean they're not just in exegesis


they're in the structures of the church they're in our spirituality they creep right into our own lives they're not just intellectual things okay if we've got up here we've got fundamentalism here we've got either Gnostic fantasy or this kind of allegorizing this kind of literary dilettantism here what have we got system systematization the voice of theory okay of having it all together of making unified theory which seems to fit everything together and which gradually blinds you to whatever doesn't fit into it and which in the end turns out to have a center which is not the center of scripture but somewhere else in your mind a probably the examples that were you know there's a mess you stood outside scripture scripture simply a basis for this philosophy a lot of moderns have had the courage to do that because they were not born within the tradition and so they could


kind of just do what they wanted some of the liberal protestant exegesis or interpretation were amazing how free they were in doing that kind of thing kind of losing the thread of the scripture itself and finally this one is obvious it's rationalism and empiricism reductionism the whole fragmentation of the scripture that happened in the literal criticism it happens in scientific criticism when it reaches an absurdity and when it's without faith then it just dissolves the scripture completely and it ends up to be a kind of interesting field of historical study and literary study but the unity which is here which is glimpsed through the symbols here and which is sort of simulated in a rational way here is lost here so you end up with just fragments that's the shredder okay some references here I made a list


of the books on John's Gospel oh heavens we've got we've got 69 books on John's Gospel in the library and 19 books on the letters some of these you should be aware I think probably of the major commentaries and there are about half a dozen that can be really useful a lot of them are old outmoded or biased or shallow or inferior in one way or another and of course I haven't read them all I just have to kind of guess at it go about it and the commentaries divide themselves into the recent ones and the patristic ones practically speaking and of course we rarely read the patristic ones now we might dip into one or two of them during the class but basically we have to use the contemporary ones what really surprises you is that the contemporary ones don't refer much to the old ones that there's such a big gap between the contemporary biblical studies and the patristic tradition


for most of the contemporary scholars the patristic tradition doesn't exist they never quote the patristic commentators and if they give you a history of study of John's Gospel or one of the other gospels they omit the patristic studies they start with 1800 and something so what we'll try to do a little bit and we have to do it with John is to get the two together is in some way to bring together or to see in one vision those two ends of the spectrum what we call the sapiential side which is typically patristic and the scientific side that's rather maybe an audacious hope to do that but at least we'll try to keep the two in view the most useful commentaries I made a little list of them I have lists of all kinds of things the one that we know best of course is Brown's Commentary which came out in 1966


the first volume and I think 1970 the second volume and which is it's a widely recognized commentary any contemporary exegete will rank that among the best and so the two Catholic commentaries in our time the big ones are Brown and Schnakenberg Schnakenberg which came out in three volumes enormous thing he uses more the Greek text than Brown and Brown uses the Greek but he doesn't throw it at you he doesn't quote it you know find those funny little letters on the page whereas Brown is very readable but the trouble is he's too comprehensive in other words he treats everything in infinite detail and that's the frustration with most of the contemporary books the solid books the trouble is that they review so much literature they get indigestion and before you find out what the probabilities are or what they're pointing towards you've had to go through all these different phases and study for some people that's fascinating I find it tiring though I can never get through it all


here are just a few of the principle commentaries now what I'll have to do is to separate a shelf a class shelf where we put a few books that are of interest to us rather than that welter of things that are on the the John shelf itself and then you can go back I have to warn you though there are some things that are worthwhile that are not on that shelf because there are introductions to the New Testament you see like Perrin's introduction which can be invaluable but it's not right in your John area in the libraries you have to look around a bit another section is New Testament essays you'll get an author who has written a bunch of articles on the New Testament some of them are on John some of them are on the other Gospels are on Paul but you wouldn't find them if you were just looking at the John material so you have to find out about the other ones sometimes Foyer is an example but let's see Barrett's an example and then Robbins is an example 12 New Testament essays things like that somebody can be principally a Johannine scholar but include


other things in his book and you'll find it in some other area we'll have to point those out as we go along the interesting commentaries for us are C.K. Barrett's commentary I'm not giving you the titles but they're all about the same the fourth gospel the gospel of John and so on the second edition 1978 so that's quite updated now that's a massive English commentary Brown's commentary we've got two copies of that so that means we should be free to take it out there'll be a little bit of trouble because we have so many people and it's a few books but we'll do the best we can I'll Xerox a lot of stuff for you for that reason Bultmann's commentary it's a classic which came out in about 1950 I think it was done earlier in the war but it didn't get distributed nor translated until later on so it wasn't translated into English I guess until 71 at least published in this edition that we have that's a classic of a certain it's a milestone landmark of a certain period okay and all of the contemporary exegetes quote it as


one of their principal sources Bultmann and yet it's got some really big flaws in it it's got some really big warps in it which we'll talk about one of them is that philosophical bias and then another one is that Bultmann tends to reduce John to some sources or some influences which are really extraneous to him like a Gnostic influence or this or that C.H. Dodd the interpretation of the fourth gospel 1953 he's a great British scholar too and this is halfway between a commentary and a study a topical study on John Hoskins H-O-S-K-Y-N-S 1947 Lightfoot 1956 I'm not sure whether that's a little older and was just re-edited although that was actually that's old yeah is that is it the Lightfoot of the beginning of the century yeah I mix him and Westcott up Westcott yeah there's a book


by Kaiser K-Y-S-A-R Robert Kaiser who is one of the principal Johannine scholars called The Maverick Gospel that's an introduction not a commentary really useful thing for finding kind of tasting the distinctive quality of John and then Schnakenberg three volumes 1965 to 1975 they finally got it all translated and then something just now is Peter Ellis The Genius of John 1984 which is it's a special kind of book he's got a new interpretation that bypasses all the others so I haven't been able to find a review of that book yet it's a fascinating theory we'll talk about it later of a chiastic structure in John the introductory material in Ellis is very compact and useful for that reason that's why I didn't interview him and then there are several introductory books one is his parents the new testament another one


is Kaiser as Sarah pointed out D.M. Smith and the proclamation series John that's a good book and then there's some little bitty ones which can be useful that are put out as pamphlets there's one by McRae the fourth faith in the word the fourth gospel I'll put these things on the class show afterwards among the patristic commentaries just as a matter of interest even if you don't refer to them the trouble is a lot of them are inaccessible to us because they're not translated into English probably the two big ones from the time of the fathers are that of origin which is preserved only in fragments but a lot of it probably more than half of it and it is translated into English in that anti-Nicene fathers series by intent origin is really the the father of patristic exegesis even though


he's not ranked among the doctors of the church because of certain problems he had with the police and st. augustine his homilies on john which are also in English in the post-Nicene fathers the same general series then there's a commentary by Aquinas which we have in French translation but not in English there's also one by St. Bonaventure I haven't looked to see if we've got it in English and there's one by Eckhart to the fathers but somewhat more specialized and a metaphysical insight into the depths of john is not to be displeased and then there are the commentaries on the epistles augustine wrote a commentary on the epistles for example I'd suggest that you simply read the gospel


of john the whole thing through and just let it sink into you probably do it two or three times while we're going through it and then we'll read portions of it together we'll get off the ground in that sense after about two classes we'll begin to study john himself well the