1986, Serial No. 00481

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Saint John




classical, sapiential type of exegesis, and it's Johannine, notice, that this contemplative theology of the Cistercians is typically the theology of John's Gospel, of John's Prologue. So right from the opening words he's talking about the word, Jesus' word, and for him that expresses the full divinity, and the whole thing is playing upon the paradox of the incarnation, that is the word coming down and being a little baby, and swaddling clothes, and so on. It's a real nice specimen, Garrick Avigny, who is a contemporary of St. Bernard of Corbeau. He's a Cistercian, he must have been an abbot, because this is one of his homilies. He's a friend of St. Bernard, too, so that's, what, 11th century, isn't it, or 12th century, 12th century. So this is a typical example of the other kind of exegesis, the other kind of interpretation from the historical pedagogy, okay, from a scientific point of view.


This is a homily that's not clear, I mean, listen to a Reagan-Brown homily and you'll hear about something just as beautiful, it's a different homily, it's like when you compare However, that's the way they did their exegesis, okay, they didn't have a scientific exegesis aside from their homilies. Their biblical commentaries were worked out in homiletic form very often. St. Augustine, even his commentary on John, I think, is a series of homilies, Augustine's commentary on John. So that's the only kind we have, whereas we have another kind of exegesis springing out with our new people. We have a scientific exegesis alongside and separate from their homiletics, and from their kind of pastoral preaching, pastoral work. Okay, last time what we tried to do was confront the problem of the development of the community of John, the development of the Johannine community, if you recall. And so, relying a lot on Sandra Schneider's rendition and upon Raymond Brown's reconstruction,


we follow Brown's four phases of the Johannine community. Now let me try to relate what we did last week to what I'd like to do this week. The development of the Johannine community is something that leads into what they call this hermeneutic question, or the question actually, just very simply, of the relationship of the Gospel, of the evangelist, and of the leader, to the historical Jesus, to what actually happened in literal terms, okay? Now this hits us in the face as soon as we start reading the Gospel of John. If we let it, we can repress the problem. So the two are very much related. The development of the Johannine community, that is the historical background, which is already at one remove from the history of Jesus, because here we're talking about a community after the departure of Jesus. And a lot of the Gospel is found, according to Brown and Schneider's, to be motivated, to be coming from this source, coming from a post-Jesus source, that is, not the historical


Jesus, but the historical community, so you move from history to history in a disconcerting way. That's the thing, as we've seen, that first upsets us. So we need a way, theologically, of integrating. And then we move to the larger question of the historical question itself. And what is John doing with history? He's doing something different from the synoptic Gospels, from the other three Gospels. And the thesis is that he's doing it deliberately, consciously, while the other Gospels do it partially and much less deliberately, much less consciously, more instinctively. I'll follow Schneider's here a bit. And I won't get too technical about the whole hermeneutic situation, because I'm not up on, actually, on the philosophy of hermeneutics very well. I just know a little bit of the argument, and I don't really understand the thinking very well. So I'll try to stay closer, actually, to John. Hermeneutics is the scientific interpretation, and it's usually a question of translation


between two different horizons, as they say. Now, horizon is almost the same as a world. It's a consciousness, it's a sphere, it's a world of thought. So each of us has his or her horizon, which means the limitations of our own world, limitations of our own consciousness, what we know, what we're aware of, and so on. Now, we're moving, in reading Scripture, we're bringing our horizon into touch with a horizon which is very different from our own, that of the evangelist, that of the historical Jesus, and so on. So the hermeneutic problem is to mediate between those two horizons, or to mediate between those two worlds of consciousness, or worldviews, whatever you want to call them. But the problem is obvious. Although for a long while, people can very easily skip over the problem. Now, what is fundamentalism? Fundamentalism is a refusal to recognize that problem. Fundamentalism says there's no problem. You can read the Gospel of John just as if you were reading a contemporary writer, a contemporary novelist, okay? Ignore the difference in worldviews, and interpret each word, as a matter of fact, each expression


of John, just as if it were written by yourself, practically speaking, or by someone who shares your own worldview. And you get to see after a while what happens when you do that. You can take a biblical text and read it very simplistically, as we usually have for centuries, and then you can read it with a hermeneutic. A typical example is, an example which is very much scrapped over, is in Matthew 16, where it's a question of Peter's confession of Jesus, remember? Now, there are two things there that can be read very simply, or can be read hermeneutically. The first one is Matthew's confession itself, where Jesus is asking them, who do they say that the Son of Man is? And they say, well, some John the Baptist, some Elijah, one of the prophets. Peter says, you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Now, you can hear that coming from Peter's mouth. A lot of the exegetes, however, will tell you, well, that's impossible that he could


have said that, with the understanding that we have of it, that is, the divinity implied in the Son of the living God. And also, there are different versions of this in the different Gospels. So, the hermeneutic approach will be more complex than the simple approach of understanding the Son of the living God in the same terms that a Christian understands it, with the full tradition of Christianity behind it. Now, there's something else there, though. Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death will not prevail against it. I'll give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and so on. The binding and the loosing. Now, lots of people will say, well, that must come from the later experience of the church, or from the later thinking of the church, or whatever, but Jesus couldn't have said it to Peter. Okay? Now, I'm not trying to decide that question. I haven't even studied it. But there are two approaches to that. The simple one, which we've usually taken in the past,


and the more complex one nowadays. Because people up to a little while ago would have said, there's no problem there. At least Catholics would have said, there's no problem there. It's obvious what that means. Protestants would say differently. You can also take a papal text or a conciliar text and do the same thing. An example is that expression, extra ecclesia nulla solis, remember? No salvation outside the church. Where'd that come from? Was it a council text, or just a pope? That's a council text. Yeah. So that's 15th century Florence. Okay, you can take that literally, but if you do, it's fierce, isn't it? That nobody is saved outside the Roman Catholic Church. How do you like that? See, people, I think, skated along for centuries, more or less taking it for granted that that sort of thing could be true. But nowadays, it's almost impossible to accept it. So what do you have to do? You have to make a canutica. You have to interpret it, then, in the sense in which it must have been meant in that situation. All right? So suppose it was a tussle between the Roman Catholic Church and some heretical group that first brought that about.


Like Saint Ignatius of Antioch, who was at a time when there was a lot of heterodoxy, a lot of heresy, a lot of gnosticism, and so on. You can say something in a fight like that, which may have truth and sense in that particular controversy, but which does not have truth and sense if you universalize it. So that people who never heard of Christ are in some way culpable for not being part of the Catholic Church, which is absurd, of course. So there you absolutely have to bring a hermeneutic to bear on it if you don't want to have a savage kind of interpretation, a savage doctrine. There are plenty of other cases. The documents of the Council of Trent, for instance, have to be interpreted now hermeneutically. What was the intention of the Council of Fathers when they said that? They do the same thing with the Vatican II text. If you take a text just in an isolated sense, you can interpret it wrongly. Because the things that are said usually are not meant to apply universally and forever. But if we do it simple-mindedly,


in a fundamentalistic way, see there's a Catholic fundamentalism as well as a Protestant. There's a dogmatic and institutional fundamentalism as well as a biblical fundamentalism. And that's what applies text in a uniform and universal manner. I had another example there. Well, a lot of the pronouncements of the Biblical Commission, for instance, which have gradually had to be revised and revised and revised. So it means that every one of them you have to interpret hermeneutically in terms of the age in which it was. And there there's a much greater erosion than there is in these other things. Same thing with what Paul said about women. Exactly. Very good. And that's a hard one because there you've got a major shift in moral vision, right? That is, when Saint Paul says that women should keep quiet in church, should cover their heads and so on. Things that evidently were extremely important for him and seem not very reasonable to us. So we have to interpret them in terms of the mind of the times, in terms of the social norms of the time.


And also where he says slaves remain slaves. As if it didn't make any difference whether you're a slave or a free. Serve your masters and so on. Ignoring the whole possibility of a social change. Now, if we look at the Gospels in this way, we find that immediately, especially with John, there's a problem of literal history versus a kind of theological composition. In other words, is the Gospel giving us simply what happened if a cameraman had been there and recorded and photographed everything that happened? Is that what the Gospel is attempting to give us? Or does the Gospel deliberately compose things in order to say something which is more, which is other, than what appears and is heard on the surface? Now, when you run up against the Gospel of John, then it becomes very acute. Then you're forced to make a decision. Particularly because the difference between John and the Synoptic Gospels is so great. So you better, if you want to be consistent, if you have an exigent mind, then you have to come to some decision about what John's doing.


Who's giving in to historical truth? And then what accounts for the difference in John? If it's not John that's doing it. Now, about the Gospel of John. We've seen that there's a bigger difference between John and the Synoptics than there is between any of the other Gospels. And there's the evidence of a greater influence of theological composition. That is, John is deliberately doing something. Now, our whole hermeneutic approach to John is going to turn around this. Because the thesis is that John actually is giving you a hermeneutic. In other words, John is giving you an optic with which to read history. He's giving you a way of interpreting the life of Jesus. He gives you the life of Jesus, but he's already got it wrapped and transformed, transfigured, some say, in this optic, in this vision, in this way of looking, this way of interpreting. So that we have to kind of work back and see how he did it. So John's is the hermeneutic Gospel, I would say.


The one that offers you an interpretation. It offers you, in fact, a way of reading the other three Gospels. And it turns around the fact that John calls Jesus and sees Jesus as the Word of God. Now, that has immense significance. The significance of tradition, just take a look at that homily which I passed out to you, and it completely turns around that. That has become the Catholic Christology, basically. Christology of incarnation, which is not what you find in the other Gospels. It's not the same thing. A terrifically high Christology. That's kind of been the Christological banner of the Church for all these centuries. And in that particular kind of writing, the whole thing turns around it. Jesus as the Word. Now, the Word is typically the kingpin, or the axis, of the sapiential approach. Because remember, Word is hearing, Word is understanding. Word is for the mind. You have that other language in the Bible, the first recorded cross from the angel. How is it that God has made this man, Jesus, Lord and Savior?


It's like we get from the other end, but here's one of us who God has raised up for us, and through him, and through his name, salvation. Now, last time, the big mystery for us, I skipped, I was going to reveal those conclusions of last time, but the big mystery for us last time was, where did that come from? See, if you examine the development of the community of John, what they say is, what Bram says, for instance, is that it began with a community which had a low Christology, very much like what Victor was saying there. Perhaps a man from among us who is the Messiah, and who was elevated to a certain divinity, a certain anointing. Whereas, what you have a little bit later is this tremendously high Christology of incarnation. So, where does X come from? Where does that quantum leap come from? And we saw this hypothesis of the Samaritans last time, which is interesting, because it seems to bring together the two halves of the biblical inheritance,


that is, Israel and Judah, for instance. At the same moment that this key Christology, in our tradition, crystallizes, the two are brought together. There's an interesting passage in Ezekiel 30, Where is it? Anyhow, it's the one about the two sticks, remember, that are brought together? Ezekiel 37. The coming of the Messiah will be the time of the bringing together of the two kingdoms. And it's almost like the Samaritan hypothesis allows you to begin to interpret it in that way. So, what immediately strikes me in John is this historical problem. Even though we can repress it or dismiss it, not recognize it, but we've got to ask sooner or later, is John telling us what actually happened, or is he doing something else?


And this forces upon us the hermeneutical question. We had lots of examples already. When we consider the difference, the distinctiveness of John's Gospel, we've already had examples, but consider these. First, Teresa's question. When Jesus says in John's Gospel, I am the light of the world, did Jesus really say it, or did John say it? Fundamentally, there's our question. Now, Musner, who is Schneider's chief source in this section, talks like this. The John on Christ speaks differently from the Christ of the synoptics. He speaks John's language. All right, that's already saying it, isn't it? It's already begging the question, isn't it? He speaks John's language. That'd be one thing if it were just a matter of words, but it's not a matter of words. It's a matter of fundamental ideas. It's a matter of the message itself. It's John's theology that he's speaking. Not only John's language, but from the outset, on the most kind of empirical level, it's language. I am the light of the world. Other language examples. All of the I am statements in John are like that.


And when he speaks I, whoever comes to me, you know, I'll give you living water and so on. John 4, John 7. I who speak to you am he. I am the bread of life. All of that language, which is centered on the person of Jesus. In contrast to the synoptic gospels, especially in Mark in which you have actually concealment of the identity of Jesus, in John you tend to have a proclamation, an assertion of that which is hidden in the other gospels. And remember when Jesus hushes people up and hushes up the demons so that they're not to say who he is until the time has come. It's not so in John. Right from the outset there's this proclamation. Nearly the outset. For my flesh is food indeed and my blood is drink indeed. Where do you find that in the other gospels? Only at the point of the institution of the Eucharist. Before Abraham was I am. I and the Father are one. The discourses, the bulk of Jesus' speech in John is different from the synoptics. We've talked about that before. But if you read it, if you read both and compare them,


it impresses you very much. There's a style. There's a characteristic tone in John which we must conclude in the end is John's tone, John's style. But it's not just an unconscious thing, it's deliberate and it's done with full responsibility. What he does, he does with full responsibility because he has a purpose. Now we're going to try to see what the purpose is. And then the different chronologies and so on. What's fascinating for me is to look at the things in John which recall to you something that happens in another gospel and which looks like John derived what he has from something in one of the other gospels or in a tradition common to the gospels and then see what he did with it. It's a kind of very crude redaction criticism, I would say. Let me give you some examples. Because you're able to see the artistic work of John almost as if you watched him in his studio as it were, as he's forming one thing from another. And it allows you to speculate on exactly what he had in mind and also even on the kind of inspiration that went into it, the kind of thinking that went into it,


moving from one thing to another. There are some things, a lot of things in John that are not in the other gospels. The wedding feast of Canaan is the American woman. Lazarus raising. Important things, too. But here are some that are. Now, among the signs of Jesus in John's gospel, the healing at the pool of Bethsaida. Okay? If you look in Mark, chapter 2, remember the episode of Jesus talking in the house and they've got a paralytic, the guy at the pool is a paralytic, too. They take him up on the roof, they lower him down. Well, there are some uncanny resonances between the two. Remember, the man at the pool had nobody to lower him. Nobody to lower him down into the pool. It's as if John has taken that episode, taken that actual historical occurrence and deliberately transformed it for his purpose. And what is his purpose? Symbolism. Okay? It's to say something very deep and which moves us towards the center, the center being Jesus, the Word, by means of symbolism. And, of course, the baptismal symbolism.


When we get to that episode, we can think more about what that might be. But this is a method, this is a process that you see kind of uniformly happening among a number of these things. Let's look at some more of them. Another example, if anybody wants to volunteer to take one of these, for instance, and just work through it and just present for us what's in common and what's happening between the episode in the earlier Gospels or in history, as far as we can see, and the episode in John, you'd be very welcome to do it. Another is the anointing of Mary and Bethany. Remember when Mary anoints Jesus' feet after the raising of Lazarus at that supper? Well, there are several anointings and washings of feet by women in the other Gospels. And as if John has picked among them and synthesized, composed this symbolic event, which is much richer than any of the other ones, okay? It's much richer in its depth resonance and its symbolism than any of the synoptic episodes. So John's made a synthetic one here, I believe. Other examples. The healing of the nobleman's son also resembles too much


the healing of the centurion's son. They both happen at Capernaum. This is a little sign in John which is short, which doesn't have any discourse following it, and which is different in that way from the other signs in John, but it's one of the seven signs. It's the second sign around Cana, near Cana, and it's at Capernaum. And so is the healing of the centurion's son. And there's a similar dynamic that happens there. So it seems obvious to me that he's taken that historical event, transformed it for symbolic purposes, and when he does that he puts before us the task of interpreting the symbolism. It's as if he says, well, here it is. It's almost as if he presumed that we knew the other Gospels. I don't know about this, but now here it is. Here's what I've done. Now, what do I mean? That's the task that's put before us for readers of his own time. It might be different if there was a whole oral tradition and so on. Probably a traditional interpretation in the community. The feeding of the multitude is pretty similar, except for the discourse that John puts on it. The walking on the water


is almost the same. The healing of the man blind from birth. Here's another one. The resemblance with something that happens in the synoptics is just sufficient to make you pretty sure that they're related. Do you remember what the resemblance is there? Remember the fellow that's in Mark 8. There's also something in Matthew, but Mark 8 is close. 8.22. The fellow that Jesus finds a blind man and he leads him outside of town and he spits on the earth, makes mud, puts it in his eyes. He does the same thing in John 9 for the man born blind. Now otherwise, John 9 goes up on a whole different track. You know, the dialogue and the controversy with the Jews and everything. There's a whole theological thing. Even a debate between the Jews that John gets into there afterwards. But I believe that he's taken this and also adapted this for symbolic purposes. And the pool of Siloam, the whole thing. So it's up to us to try to find out what he means by that. What he's done


and what he means by it. The miraculous catch of fish also, I think, is an obvious adaptation. And this is rather interesting because that's in the last chapter of John. That's in John 21. John 21. It's in Luke 5. And it happens in the beginning, very early in the career of Jesus and Luke. And I forget about the other synopsis, it's early. And it happens right at the end for John. Now why? We have to ask ourselves, why does he do that? Why does he take, then, the cleaning of the temple from the end and put it at the beginning? Another question. So the conclusion, roughly, is that John knows the same history and he alters it, he transforms it for a purpose. And his purpose is to be illustrated as we treat each sign. So there's a shock to our sense of historical truth.


And that's the problem here. Can this transformation, can this alteration be justified? Well, we've pretty well got to accept it when we come to the conclusion that he did it. In other words, that John is stepping away from history. Now, as he steps away from history, where does he go? What direction does he go? Schneider puts it in the form of these four questions. She says the hermeneutic problem in John is a complex of these questions. One, what's the relation between the historical Jesus and the Gospel of John? Now, we've just been asking that question, right? As we say, well, the historical Jesus evidently did this, but then John has transformed that and gives us this plus a discourse. That kind of thing. Secondly, the relation between the Gospel of John and the reader. Thirdly, the relation between... That's a more, maybe, theological, speculative question, technical question. Thirdly, the relation between the reader and the historical Jesus, and that's the big question for us, in a way. Finally, and this is a kind of transcendent question, she says,


the question, the Christological question, what is the relation of the historical Jesus and the glorified Christ? Now, her answer comes towards this, in the end. That in John, and it's mostly his answer too, in John, the historical Jesus and the glorified Christ are the same. And what John is really trying to present us with is contact, his immediate relationship to the glorified Christ. Okay, so he moves us to another level. And so, instead of bringing us back to a point, a remote point in history, he deliberately brings us in by bringing us towards the glorified Christ, who is within, the writer, who is, in some way, within the text, who is in the Johannine community, and who is also within us, and that's the bridge. So this, in some way, is the key to John's hermeneutic. Now, our question has to be, does it justify it? Does that kind of tampering, if you will, with history,


is it borne out, is it justified by the effect that John is able to achieve? Now, that effect, of course, isn't infallible. It depends on our cooperation, our disposition. But you see, what it presents us with is a kind of invitation to encounter that mystery of the glorified Christ which John is presenting to us in quite a different, more deliberate, and more head-on way than the synoptic Gospels are. To put this in another way, the history changes in the sense that it moves towards us, and the Gospel of John makes the history point right into our own lives in two ways. First of all, as we found last time, the history of Jesus tends to merge and in some way get confused with the history of the Gelanine community. Now, what does that mean? It means you're beginning to move out on an axis from the life of Jesus to the life of the Gelanine community, but the axis continues into our lives. So, what is contained there


is the theological reality that the life of Jesus that participated is reproduced not only in the life of the Gelanine community, but in our own lives. So what we first see is a kind of lack of focus, a kind of out-of-focusness of John's Gospel, or a kind of tampering, a kind of manipulation of history, turns out to be the deeper theological truth of that history in the sense that it becomes our own history. And so we find that the same form keeps repeating itself in the history of Jesus, in the history of the Gelanine community, in our own history. I contended that that can be expressed in this kind of thing, two tensions. The tension between the higher and the lower, the tension of faith between what comes to us in the Word made flesh, and everything that that means for the Church and for our own lives, and the tension between the center and the periphery, but the tension between the institution, the structure, the visible center, and movement outwards. The tension between law and freedom, and so on. These two tensions. That shape,


being in the life of Jesus here, is also found in the life of the community here, and is also discovered in our own life. In a contemporary form, which will have different languages, very clearly turns out to be the same thing. It's as if there's a simple pattern, a simple cross in the life of Jesus, which is found at each stage of our own life. That's one side. Now the other side of this thing is the direct contact with the Word, with the glorified Jesus, which is what John is aiming at. This is something that happens that's there, that he's interested in. But what he's most interested in has to be called a kind of mysticogy. Mysticogy is the initiation into a mystery. The liturgy is made up in this way. We've got the liturgy of the Word, okay? The liturgy of the Word, which gives us certain readings, certain texts, Gospel, first reading leads into the Gospel. Gospel, where does the Gospel lead? What is the homily supposed to do in the liturgy, in the Eucharist? It's supposed to bring you into touch with the mystery which is realized in the Eucharistic part


of the liturgy, okay? So it's a mysticogy. The homily is supposed to be mysticogic. Mysticogy comes from what? Mystery, and then that again, verb in Greek, to lead, to lead into the mystery, an initiation. That's what the liturgy does, that's what the homily is supposed to do, and that's what John is trying to do. He's trying to bring it into a medium, you can say, mystical contact with that Word who for him is identical with Jesus. So he moves you very quickly in this direction from the history of Jesus out into your own life, and he moves you up from the level of the historical Jesus to this level of the Word, or the glorified Christ, or the level of glory, whatever you want to call it, the level of God, the presence of God there, which doesn't mean that you're dispensed from living, but he wants you to be in contact with that mystery. He's got a mystical purpose in what he's doing. Now, when we talked


about the four senses of Scripture, we talked about two senses by which the Scripture, two of the four, by which the Scripture moves into your own life. One of them, you remember, is what we call the trophological sense, or the historical sense. That's this one. That's what happens, what's happening already in what you see, the conflicts that you see in John's community, and then the conflicts in our own lives. Then we talked about the anagogical sense, or the mystical sense, which is that by which we're in direct contact with God, the immediate contemplative, if you will, or mystical contact with Christ, with the Word, with God. That's this, this here. Now, John is doing both of those. His purpose lies largely here, but this is also there. Whereas with Paul, I think this predominates. John and Paul are the two places in the New Testament where those two senses are presented most strongly, where the Scripture is brought most deliberately into our own lives. With Paul you see the historical thing most powerfully asserted, but John is the mystical thing that's most powerfully asserted,


that vertical line. Here's Schneider's. The heart of the theology of John is the hermeneutic position of the evangelist with respect to Jesus. Here she puts it very concisely. The logos, that is the Word, the glory of God, the presence of God dwelling in the flesh of Jesus manifested there. That is in the historical Jesus manifested there. So that's what John is trying to get it across. But he's getting it across not just as kind of a theological proof asserting the divinity of Christ. What he's trying to do is put you in touch with it. There's a very personal, existential purpose in the Gospel of John, which is, I think, more deliberate. The same thing is in the other Gospels, but in John it's deliberate and you can say it's artistic. You can say the reason for his theological composition is that. It's a poem, in a sense, which is intended to put you into contact with the Word of the glorified Christ, which is the only real Christ. The historical Christ doesn't exist anymore.


So when you think about it that's the only place to go is towards the glorified Christ. We have to keep asking ourselves does what's happening in us justify that meddling with history, if you will? The Syntactic Gospel seems to me to speak to us about the visual Christ, while John and Paul are two giants, very similar, speaking to us about the unseen, the mystery of Christ. And in our time we have Theodosia which is giving us the same challenge to the completion of time in the Cosmos. So I think it's just something like we have the practical, but that we have seen in what is mystic, unfathomable. They're both leading you beyond the senses. They're both. Even though they insist on the senses too. But faith is through hearing, and John insists that we've seen, we've touched, we've heard, right? He insists on the senses. And yet,


he's continually leading you beyond. He's leading you inward and he's leading you upward. I'll just take this I remember raising this question and it's not this question but I never really deal with it adequately. I have to reflect on it while raising it. What is a gospel? It's like a way that we presume that a gospel, I mean, what is a gospel? There's no other, I mean it's not, Mark introduces a new form of literature into the room. See, we assume right away we assume that a gospel is supposed to be biography or history. That's right. But in fact, none of them anywhere have been able perfectly well to say this is the life of Jesus. Well, Luke comes close to it. Yeah. But they don't say that or this is the history of Jesus. There's plenty of biographies already being written. So it's exactly what you're saying there. But the question is, Rick, what kind of text


will put me in touch with this living reality that historically existed? That's right. It's not by giving the factual historical detail in the right chronological order, but precisely through an inspired and artistic presentation of this reality. And of course, so we've got two elements, the work of the Holy Spirit and the fact that the thing has to be presented in a certain way. And I heard it said for me it was very illuminating that in all four Gospels you cannot distinguish between the life of the community and the life of the historical Jesus. In all four Gospels, the fundamentalist reading or the scientific reading can go in an extremely two ways because on the scientific reading the extreme of it is you can actually perform a surgical task and carve it out. And the best thing today is that you can't do that.


And it begins to be an integration, whereas at first it was kind of appalling, frightening, a yawning abyss is opening under you, and that history of Jesus disappears. Now, it begins to be an integration by which you say, well, of course, theologically, that's the illustration, the first illustration of the participation of ourselves in the historical life of Jesus, which Paul talks about when he says, remember in Philippians, in many places, his participation in the life of Jesus. He means it very realistically. On the other hand, the other way of reading was missing the fact that the people who gave us these words were really writing their experience. So the whole thing, so Mark's very much the discipleship thing and the whole critique of a glorious Christ that was coming out of the real problematic, the real question,


the real experience, and so on. And so the writing of each gospel is already almost like an account of that particular community's journey. It just so happens that the Holy Spirit guides the process so that each gospel then, for all time, puts immediately in contact and guides in all the ways to. So it's not just a four-fold vision of the history of Christ, it's a four-fold experience of the history of Christ in the life of the believer and the life of the disciple, which is precious because from that to our experience is a very short jump. That means that the gospel is turned towards us in the same way so that we read our own experience as we read about Jesus. Right, that's exactly it. Okay. From seeing to hearing. This is another little theme here, which I won't go into philosophically or deeply, but the first eyewitnesses


saw Jesus, they saw his signs, they heard his words, of course, but generally we think of it as seeing. If you read that homily by Gerard, the word now that we've heard for all this time, now we're going to see it, he's talking about another part of it. He's talking about the Old Testament when the word of God was spoken, okay, and it was the word of the law, the word of the prophets and so on, but now you see it because he's become incarnate. The word has become flesh, he's become visible. Now here we're talking about something else. The word which was visible and was seen by the eyewitnesses, seen by John, seen by Peter, seen by Paul, seen by the twelve, seen by all the others, now has been put into a form in which we hear it instead of seeing it. We are the ones who come after it and we don't see what we hear. Remember, Jesus says to Thomas right at the end of the gospel, blessed are those, Thomas, who believe without seeing, okay. Now this is the point also which John says in 20, 19 approximately, when he says, now we have written these things so that you may understand, so that you may know, in other words, you're going to hear these things, you're going to hear this gospel and you're going to know


that Christ is the Son of God so you may have eternal life. I've forgotten the exact word, but that's the point. That's the point at which the gospel winds up at the end of chapter 20 and that's the point at which it's said to Thomas, blessed are those who do not see but believe. They don't see, what do they do? They hear. So, from the signs and the words of Jesus, thinking of the Jesus now that's seen, the vision of seeing as words, pardon that, we have a text which we hear, and we think of it as a written thing for most of Christianity, especially for early centuries of Christianity as a heard thing. The gospel is something that they heard. That mediates to us now that text which we hear instead of the signs and words of Jesus directly, mediates to us the same thing. Mediates to us what? Jesus. And what does Jesus mediate? Jesus mediates the word. And what does the word mediate? The word mediates God. There's a chain there and we're going to have to talk about it as a chain of symbols in the end.


That's what we get down to. She goes at some length into a couple of examples and I didn't bone up on those examples well enough to be able to go through them in detail, but the first one is a man born blind. Now here she contends that you've got a foreground and you've got a background. This is John 9. The healing of the man born blind by Jesus. We saw already that there's a precedent to that in the synoptic gospels in the man that's healed by the clay made of spittle, okay? But we're not going to deal with that now. That's in Mark 8, 22 and the following. Mark 8, 22. Now what she's interested in here is what's happening to history. And this is in keeping with what we had about the development of the Johannine community last time. She says there's a background and there's a foreground. In the foreground what you have is Jesus dealing with a blind man. In the background what she says is the experience of the Johannine community with the experience


of the disciple, his experience of Christ in baptism, the illumination of baptism, the realization of the identity of Christ and then the conflict with the scribes and the Pharisees. The conflict with official Judaism. And then the fact of the Christians who, the so-called Jewish Christians who are afraid or Christian Jews who are afraid to confess Christ for fear they'll be thrown out of the synagogue. Those are the parents of the blind man. Remember? They say, well we don't know who healed him. We know, we see that he's seized but we don't know who healed him. Go and ask him, he's open. And John says that they said this because they didn't want to be thrown out of the synagogue. Now the exegetes some of them at least say it was impossible for that to happen. Schneider says that's an absurdity at the time of Jesus. It was never decreed that anybody who confessed Jesus during his own lifetime would be thrown out of the synagogue. That was later on, they say. After that point we were talking about last time, that decision at Jamnia, remember, and the inclusion of that 12th benediction when the Christians were heretics as it were and were excluded


from the synagogue. So she sees that as an experience in the life of the Jewish community which is then seen back in into the life of Jesus. So you've got the merging of these two things. You've got the merging of the original healing, the original miracle. You've got John's spiritual message there and his contact, his illumination in contact with Jesus with the word. And then you've got the experience of the Jewish community which is especially expressed in the controversy with the Jews and the parents sort of vacillating and hovering in between. She says something else which is interesting here. In verse 9, the man has been healed. He went and he washed and he came and he sees. And that's typical baptismal symbolism. Some said, is not this the man who used to sit in bed? Some said it is he. Others said, no, but he's like him. And he said, I am the man. Guess what that is in Greek? They go, eh, I am. That's Jesus' language. Do you think that's


deliberate on the part of John? It could very well be. Even though there are some spots where you'll find it where it's not intended in that deep theological sense. It's as if, not only in his baptism did he receive his sight, but he received his identity in a sense. And this identity in some way is undistinguishable from the identity of Jesus himself. In other words, as if there's been a unitive experience of some kind there together with the illumination of baptism. It's the best thing. It's a comic episode, actually, because the trying to kind of suppress, it's like when they want to kill Lazarus after he's risen, they kind of suppress the truth, the simple reality of this miracle. And it's like trying to suppress the simplicity of the light, trying to fight the light, you see, which has come into the world and pretends it doesn't exist. The typical contest of the darkness and the light, the way John the fair point here is the reading of the experience


of the Johannine community back into the life of Jesus. She does the same thing with John 20, 19, that's the resurrection appearance of Jesus that day, and she does it with John 20, also the story of Thomas, Thomas' encounter with the risen Jesus. But I won't go into this because we don't have time, and also because I have to prepare it. So what happens to history in all of this? All of these conflations of merging of the experience of the community with the life and experience and action of Jesus. History, she says, is not abolished but is carried forward so that it becomes the history of the reader. It's become universalized, opened in some way. The text is transfigured. John is most consciously literary of the Gospels and most consciously theological. So he's doing something on purpose which the other evangelists may be more or less conscious and more or less deliberate in doing. But John's doing it


in a very conscious artistic way. He's both literary and he's... they're all literary, but this means something special. He takes liberties in composing at the end of time. And he's also most consciously theological. So you'll find history seeming to be stretched way out of its original form in order to outline a theological truth. And in fact, it's as if there's only one theological truth in the end of God's Gospel. And what is that? Simply the identity of Jesus, who he is. Now this is a truth that is expressible. It can't be translated in any other words. He is the Word, okay? So here's the truth that simply is itself and is impossible to be paraphrased, this identity of Jesus. You can say he's the Son of God, that he's the Word, but actually it's as much a light as an expression. When Jesus says, remember, how does it go, in a dialogue, actually a debate with the Pharisees or somewhere, he says, I'm the light of the world. They say, well, you witness to yourself, so what you say isn't true. And he says,


well, I don't need any other witness. See, the light doesn't have to be witnessed to by anything else. Nothing outside it can either express it adequately nor really contest it. And so it is with this one truth of John's Gospel, which is the identity of Jesus. If we fix it in a phrase as if we could circumscribe it, Jesus is the Son of God, or even Jesus is the Word, the most far-reaching of phrases, we still haven't got it. It's an experience. It is itself, as it were, the experience of the risen Christ. And it is itself the thing that the man-born mind experienced, okay? That global experience which then can't be rendered in any other words. You can only say, I see. You can only say, I am. Something like that. Okay? Like being born. And yet it has an objective value too because it's not only an experience of ourselves, it's an experience of who Jesus is, that identity, which in some ways communicable. Okay. Schneider says, and I think we have, we'll probably have to agree, is the key to the relation of the text to the historical Jesus is symbolism.


Now here we could go back once again to the four senses of Scripture and talk about the literal sense and the three others. Now the three other senses are symbolic senses, okay? The literal sense, that is the historical sense of the literal word, the biblical word, which is over here, and then there are three other ones. Your so-called allegorical sense, now allegory is obviously symbolically. Then your topological sense and then your anagogical sense. Those are all symbolic senses whereas this is the literal or historical sense. Now that's what we're talking about. Now before we talked about the movement between the history of Jesus and the history of the community and our own history. That's out here. That's this topological sense or historical sense. Then we can talk about the movement of, how shall we put it, bringing us into contact with the risen Christ, the glorified Christ or the Word. Now that's this anagogical sense which moves up towards the unitive experience, towards the knowledge


of God and the contemplative or mystical sense, okay? Those are the two symbolic senses in which we're most interested here. For John, in John, the history is so close to the identity of Christ that this nearly disappears into this and almost everything that Jesus says and does is like in a circle in John. Everything that, every expression of Jesus here points towards one truth in John. And that one truth is simply who he is. It's simply his identity, okay? If you take, for instance, the symbols that are used, you have a lot of natural symbols in John. Those expressions of Jesus seem to collect them together. I am the light of the world. I am the bread of life. I am the resurrection of the world. Light, bread, life, okay? Symbols like that. Now, this is how you should identify and change yourself to the people of Israel. I am he who is. That I am


which has been carried on all the way from there. You hear it also in Isaiah and a lot of those readings of Peter and Adam in the Eucharist. Everything points to that. So, all of the predicates to the I am, the bread, the life, the light are in a circle that point toward the center. The center is I am. Period. That's it. That's the light. That's the identity of Jesus. That's the word himself which in some way is the fire into which all other words or the light into which all other words are drawn and which somehow contains them all together. That, too, is a kind of sapiential bias which I think, is borne out by John's Gospel. Now, about symbolism. I'm reading a few things that I've garnered from her tapes there and then I'll comment on them and carry on further. Particularly a little bit with Rahner's Theology of Symbolism which is very rich and I think this brings us to a great ideological depth. The text


has the same role for the reader as Jesus signs for the eyewitnesses and this role is symbolic. So through the surface of the text, through the surface of the sign that Jesus does, you discern something and that's a symbolic interpretation. What you discern is simply this person of Jesus, this identity of Jesus. That's the one thing that the whole Gospel insists on. Now, it's in the other Gospels, but it's in there in a concealed and much less persistent way. In John, it's continuous. In comparison and contrast with Mark, you're in a You get implicated in the text if you read the whole thing not just by electionaries but you get drawn into this kind of dynamic of viewing of different people. It's like the way the text draws you into itself and it leads you into a certain There's much more of a developmental thing in Mark


than in Jesus. Yeah. So now, Mark, for example, Matthew, getting into this period of time of infancy narratives, they're real, very Jewish, midrashic thing, historical event, but the presentation is to put you in touch right away with the meaning of Jesus, the meaning of the Christian identity. That's what the text What's the purpose of it? It's nothing like what you said. What's the function of the text? It's very important to have that in mind in listening to the text. That's right. Now notice, in John, as soon as you get started in the history of the gospel, that is, after the prologue, you get into this magnetism of Jesus. You see, the disciples are drawn after Jesus and they say, Rabbi, where do you live? There's this terrific center in effect right there on the identity of Jesus. And that's where it starts and it goes right throughout the gospel. I'd say, let me say it here


and then pick it up later on. There seem to be two kinds of movements in the gospel of John. One I would describe as a centering movement. Now these are a couple of geometrical notions. One is a centering movement by which you move from the periphery to the center, okay? Two kinds of languages it was. And the other is the movement from a lower level to an upper level. Now, here it's to discern Jesus in something that he says or does. So this is sacramentality, obviously. Or to discern the real identity of Jesus through the opaqueness of the surface. Here, it's the same thing but it's expressed in vertical and linear language. I started to make a survey of the gospel of John going down, putting them in two columns. You can go through it and find, in every chapter you can find both of these. And sometimes you find both of them together. My favorite example is where he says in chapter 12, And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all unto myself. Okay? Will draw unto myself. There you've got the centering and the elevation at the same time. The elevation being always paradoxical. We'll get back


to that later. But sometimes this kind of thing is more helpful in interpreting John than a lot of purely verbal kinds of analysis. Because you have a sense, as you read John, that there's something very simple happening here, which determines the whole of the thing. That it's all one and that it's really got a very simple movement to it, which is hard to put into words. The whole of the gospel is symbolic. Not just this or that. This is Schneider's theory of freedom. The whole of John's gospel is symbolic. And if you try to interpret one thing or another and say, what's this a symbol of? What's that a symbol of? You don't get very far in John. Because everything converges on the center, which is Jesus. And the fact is that the whole gospel is symbolic as it were, a shell around that identity of the person of Jesus. There's not a question of history or symbolism in John, but both. The history itself is symbolic. Now, in the classical scheme of the senses of scripture, that's the way it is. The history is symbolic. Historical sense and then three


symbolical senses. So she's not saying anything different. Except that's fixing meaning, though. I think symbolism doesn't work in terms of two, three, and four. That's the big critique of the patristic four senses of scripture. They don't always do that. Okay, these can be three different worlds, actually. They're not three levels. It's not the simple Jerusalem thing, you know, where you just have four levels of interpretation. It can be a very subtle thing. So it can be three symbolic directions of interpretation, rather than three simple tags, or three simple, what do you call it, equivalents. So it's not three allegorical equivalents, not at all. This one here is where you discern the identity of Jesus. That's your Christian brother. His John is deeply attached to. This is where you find some kind of transition into your own life experience, your own history of life, and therefore your response. Now that's very fluid. It's very flowing and


multiple. That is not fixed by any means. And this, once again, is a zeroing in on the identity of Jesus, but in an experiential way, and in a kind of open, uncircumscribed way, which is directly contemplative. Now that, neither is that fixed and circumscribed symbolic meaning. It's three worlds, actually. It's three spheres of existence and experience, rather than three fixed worlds. Sometimes they're playing. Sometimes it's a music. If you're looking at Pete Gregory the Great, he's a musician, often. And they don't mean it as seriously as it seems, like they're going to nail it down and that's it for all time. He's playful. A lot of people, afterwards, I mean, for example, I take a look at the 20th Testament, because the Testament said such and such, it's very slavish afterwards. The Martha and Mary thing, for instance, you know, it gets original interpreted and everybody imitates it for 1,500 years.


Now, that's, at a certain point, that can be a valid interpretation, but you can't fix it for later generations. But this thing is very rich, actually. Whatever text you have, I'd like to see it, because it could be useful. Whatever, you know, criticism. It's obvious enough the faults of it, because it's repetitious and slavish. And where it gets mechanical and, like, you know, the books of dream interpretation and so on, look up this dream and it means that, look up this dream, that kind of thing. You get the same thing in this. Exegesis, when it gets corrupt. All the symbols converge on the person of Jesus as the word, which is therefore a center. And that's why I think you need a kind of centering exegesis in John, a kind of centering, hermeneutic if you will. An interpretation which in everything that happens is continually seeking that center. Now, that means it's continually seeking this direct contact with the word, which is what John is trying to bring about. The stuff about


symbols, I don't know how much you read or know about symbols, but often we distinguish a symbol from a sign, depending on how you define a sign. But a sign understands something else like the traffic or like any kind of formal representation. But a symbol is something much more deep, which doesn't signify something separate from itself, but signifies another level in which itself it is involved usually. The best example that they bring out is the body. The body is a symbol of what? It's the symbol that we carry around of ourselves. It's the symbol for the person, for the whole person. You can say for the soul, for the spirit, whatever you want to call it, but it's the symbol for something which is not visible. And yet it itself is part of that which is not visible. It's not distinct from it. Your body is your person, is yourself, but its visible aspect symbolizes, signifies, more than the visible aspect. So the face, the facial expression, body language as they say, the expression to the hands, all of those things are symbolic for something which is one with them and yet


goes in some way beyond the visible aspect. So a symbol is like that. It's very deep and very rich. A symbol is perceptible and it has to be something you can see in order to stand or convey anything, anything, but also render something present. Now this, not everybody would accept that, would say that a symbol has to render something present. This is a theological and somewhat loaded interpretation of symbol, that it renders something present. Take the icon, okay, the theology of the icon in the Eastern Church is that it really renders present whatever it represents, the mystery or the saint or the Lord. For us, the Eucharist renders present. We used to fight about whether the Eucharist is a symbol or is it the real presence of Jesus. It's both. It's the same old dilemma. It's not a dilemma, it's an artificial one. It's not a question of reality or symbol, it's a question of the reality itself, besides


being reality, being symbolic as well, as Jesus himself is. Jesus, the Word made flesh, is the fundamental symbol in John. Okay, and then a lot of other things are symbols of Jesus. And we'll see that there's a kind of chain of symbolism which goes up there. Here's something from Rahner. He's got a beautiful theology of symbolism, which not everybody, I'm sure, would accept. It's in the fourth volume of Theological Investigations. For anybody's interest, it's rather long and complex, but here are a couple of gems from it. First, all beings are by their nature symbolic because they necessarily express themselves in order to attain their own nature. All beings are essentially by their nature symbolic because they necessarily express themselves in order to attain their own nature. Now, don't ask me about rocks, please. But this obviously includes ourselves, okay? This is very existential. We find that we


realize ourselves, we come into being by expressing ourselves. Now, that can be an interior expression as well, like thought and so on, but it's fullest when it's an external expression as well. The fundamental symbol for him that underlies all symbols is the Word, the Logos. Now, this is Joanna, but it's wrong. The Logos is the symbol of the Father. The Word is the symbol of the Father. Now, this is a symbol which is, even before it's spoken, as it were, outside, it is in the Father. The Word within the Father is the expression of the Father. This is the Trinitarian theology that comes actually from John comes from John's Proverbs. So, here's our fundamental symbol. Now, if that's true, you begin to see how the whole Gospel of John can be built upon this one truth, and John's saying, identifying Jesus as the Word, is identifying him as the Ark symbol, as it were. As Irenaeus puts it, the Son is the visible


of the Father, the Father is the invisible of the Son. Son and Word are interchangeable here. Do you see? The Father, God, is invisible. The Son is the invisible of the Father. the early Christian tradition, for the Fathers, and for the Scriptures. God is invisible, he becomes visible in the Word. For us, in the Word made flesh, but already in some way in the Word. So, the Word is the visible of that mystery, that invisible mystery which is the Father. The Father is the invisible of that visible expression which is the Word. Now, there's a confusion here, because often people are talking about the Word made flesh already, but this is already true before the Incarnation. Visible, audible expression, in some way, even within God. Then, the Word becomes flesh, and Jesus is the symbol, as it were, the visible Jesus is the symbol of that Word, and thereby the symbol of God. So, in the visible Jesus, the Word incarnate, the Word made flesh, is the Word which is equal to God, and God


Himself, and is visible for John, the glory of God. He is present, the glory of God. So, it's the So, we see this continual movement between our two levels here. Any questions about that before we go on? Is there a kind of case study? It's not a question, but I was reading recently that symbols create us, and I like that turning it around, because for me it was a further enlightenment of symbols. Symbols create us. Symbols can create us, and we do come to a fuller realization, and we are becoming new, and we are more and more enlightened. Yeah, but we need to deal with concrete examples to make it more cogent. Actually, it's both. Because we are like thought, I mean, the human being is a symbol-making creature, and then in fact, we create


our world, and then our world creates us. So, that's the thing about that kind of thing. I think a critique of what's out there is so important, because insofar as we are, we project our own sinfulness to everything good and bad, and that becomes, that works and shapes us. So, we create a society, for example. Society is not like, we confuse everything around us with the nature, but it isn't like a social reality we live in is created by a, and we forgive it, we can change it. So, everyone in the community, we create a community, but then it creates us. We're better able to realize both of them. So, if you surround yourself with bad religious art, that's going to have an effect on your spiritual life. It starts creating you, your life. So, it isn't like, oh, if you have bad liturgy, it's going to have an effect on you, and


see, we create the liturgy, but then the liturgy creates us. So, because of the works that we do, we can have a good life. Okay, Rana goes on about the natural depth of things, that is, that all things in some way are symbolic, that all natural things are symbolic, and in their very simple natural selves, they have a depth level, which is oriented towards God. And when the Incarnation happens, this symbolic resonance of natural things takes on a new intensity, a new richness and depth, because these things become the environment, they become, as it were, the body of the word himself. So, the word, which is the archetype of all of these symbolic things, comes in, dwells within these symbolic things, and as it were, shines from within them. I won't quote him on that, because we don't have time, but it's a very fascinating kind of study. Remember the, once


again, these natural symbols are I am the light of the world, I am the bread of life, I am the preservation and the life. These things already had a God, a God reference to them. They were already symbolic, but when Jesus becomes incarnate, they take on a new symbolic richness, and as it is, as it were, he wears them, you know, they surround his person. Now, remember, too, that the church, as a symbol, is a sacrament, is a symbol, is a mode of presence, an extension of the incarnation of the word, even though we have to be careful there. For a long time, that could be taken not critically, now it has to be taken critically. The church is not simply an extension of Christ, because it also contains sin, and sinners, and error, and so on. So, here are the levels of symbolism as we come now. I don't want to, I sure don't want to keep you much longer with this. First of all, the word is the symbol of God the Father. What's the other language for that?


Symbol, image and likeness, remember? Now, man was, the human person was created in the image and likeness of God, but Christ is the arch image and likeness of God. I've seen a couple places in the tradition, Colossians, Hebrews, and so on. Symbol, image, word. They all mean just about the same thing in this respect. Then the word incarnate, Jesus, is the physical, audible symbol of God, and the word in this world. The words and signs of Jesus render Jesus and the word present. The gospel renders Jesus and the word present for later believers, and here we're moving from sight to hearing, remember? And the disciples and the church become the symbolic locus of Jesus' ongoing presence in the world. So, you've got that chain. Now, then she talks, and I just talked about John's Gospels being the best basis probably for sacramental theology. For a long while, we had kind of a mechanical or magical sacramental theology, which the


sacraments were things that were instituted, but you didn't go beyond that. And you had seven sacraments, and you didn't see how they fit together or anything. And there was room for a lot of faith there, but it called for a kind of heroic faith, which didn't very often blossom into gnosis, into understanding. But suppose you consider Christ to be the fundamental sacrament, right? Skillevich wrote a book, must be 25 years ago now, Christ, the Sacrament of the Encounter with God. If Christ is the fundamental sacrament, then the other sacraments are just extensions of his incarnation. And he's sacrament because, why? Because he is divine and because he is visible, tangible, and so on. And then these things as being his extensions into the present, into our lives. So history becomes symbolic, but remains history. It is symbolic, but it still is. John's symbolic transformation intensifies and universalizes the history, but it remains history. Somebody asked her a question about symbol and metaphor. Metaphor, she says, is linguistic, whereas symbol has one foot


in reality and one foot in language. Metaphor, as it were, has both feet in language. We'd have to read up on that further to talk about it. So metaphor is based on symbol. The literary medium of a metaphor is based on the symbolic depth of things, whereby the language is able to follow that, that progress. And the So she would say that Jesus is symbol and the gospel is parable. She wouldn't say that Jesus is parable. Sometimes when we preach or talk, we use that language roughly, about Jesus or the life of Jesus being a parable. She would say symbol because it's reality, whereas the gospel is parable. It's a parable about that, which follows the curvature of that symbolic reality, which is the life of Jesus. But symbol has a potential for many metaphors. And she talks about poetry and art and the way this releases the universal in the particular, which is


obviously what John is doing. He's taken the particular history of Jesus and he's altered it, formed it, composed it, in such a way that the universality sort of radiates out through at every point, so that there are hardly any obscure places where this universality or depth dimension doesn't shine out. Now, what is universality? What does universality mean? For one thing, it means the movement into our own lives. For the other thing, it means, and therefore, universality because not just the disciples who were there in the time of Jesus, but each one of us. The universality here, and we can drop the word in a moment, is the movement into our own lives, but it's also the movement into the center, which is the word, the movement from the simply historical Jesus into, put it, the universal Jesus. The word, which is the center of universality, which is the hub at which even all the religious traditions converge, accounting for the universality of John's Gospel, especially if we look at the prologue. If you look at the


way that John has transformed those historical episodes, the healing of the blind man, the man born blind, or the encounters with women, especially in John's Gospel, you see how they've been universalized. given a symbolic meaning which goes far beyond what you would probably get from the synoptic version of the same thing. And how, for instance, each of the women that encountered John in John's Gospel and the beloved disciple as well, seem to stand in our place. They stand in the place of whoever encounters Jesus, of whoever is a disciple, a believer. Complete universality, I suspect, universality as far as believers. I think the beloved disciple stands for each of us. And so, I think, what does each of the women who encounter Jesus? The men who are mostly lame or blind or whatever, or dumb in John's Gospel, have no doubt the same role, but the universality doesn't shine through because it's not as clear as it is with


the women, because of their different ailments and so on. Whereas with the women, what's in question is the relationship itself with Jesus, the relationship itself with the Word. And that's the center of the wheel, you see. Not particular problems, particular ailments, but itself with the So, she contends that there are two symbolic modes of Jesus, of the Word made flesh. The first is history and the second is literature. The first is the words, the signs, the things that Jesus does in his life. The second is the Gospel and that they're equivalent. And therefore, the Gospel is able to be a medium of eternal life, of communicating eternal life. That's what John claims, just as the historical life of Jesus was. That's the movement from seeing to hearing and so on. You can ask, are there any other sacramental modes of Jesus, after all, or symbolic modes of presence of Jesus? I think there are, I think. The sacraments themselves we think of immediately. Okay, those are symbolic modes of presence. And then the church itself, or the


disciples, okay, the human beings are the other form. And there are others which are more remote, like natural things themselves before they've been sacramentalized. Of course, Paul is writing before these texts, which we call Gospel, really, and choosing their final form. So he doesn't really have, he uses the word Gospel, but he's actually referring to it immediately. He's referring to the character, I like. Yes, right. So the fact that he's using the word Gospel, like I preach the Gospel, he's not preaching a text. There's nothing, it's like he's encountering, appearing something like this, it's like the human nature of immediacy is there. And secondly, though, he is never just simply a one-way thing, but it's like you see his communities, the community immediacy is communal, like that.


And yes, he's finding different ways of expressing it. Of course, it comes out of his own religious experience, soul, soul, why are you persecuting me? That's right, his personal encounter. The thing that is hard for us is the connection of the immediacy with the communal dimension. Because for us, immediate experience is usually personal, individual, isolated experience. Yes, that's right. So in any case, that's really interesting that even for us, I think that ultimately comes down to this, that the text of the Gospel is meant to lead us from into it's not like that we throw the thing away, but it's like it puts us in touch. That's right. That immediacy is still, which was right through the religious core. That's right. As you say, we don't throw it away, it's like a companion. A companion who continually mediates to us something, it's like somebody


is walking with you, and within that person that's walking along with you is this reality. To be contacted repeatedly as you go along the road. A little like the Emmaus thing. Okay, I had any questions or comments at this point, and I'll try a little bit to synthesize briefly, I hope. I'll try not to take too long on that. Because this is meant to be, to furnish us with a way of looking at John, a kind of preliminary insight into what John is trying to do, so that we may verify it and also kind of stake it out for ourselves as we go through the Gospel. It's really exciting, because he's trying to do a very personal thing for us. I see John more and more like a man who has had many revelations but also about the mystery of Christ. Yes. But these revelations continue all


the time. Beside the tradition, there is a revelation. And to study in fasting, we are not at the end of it. There seems to be a kind of qualitative difference in revelations. There's something about the apostolic revelation, which makes it like a solid basis or a solid medium permanently for the Church, whereas the other revelations seem to have their time very often. They seem to be valid for a certain time, and then, in a way, to have something else take their place. I think there is a fragmented interpretation of the principle. Do you mean revelation kind of directly? Revelations are more, like you said, for our times, like John of the Cross was definitely more public at this time, and now something else may come. But still we can be fair. Well, when you speak of these now, what we have is a tradition which keeps accumulating, keeps opening new facets. So John of the Cross opens up, actually, what


he opens up very often is a new insight into something like John's Gospel. A new window opens of interpretation into John's Gospel with a very interior focus, which is urgently necessary in his time, is also important for our time, but requires something else in our time. Otherwise it gets us too introverted. So the tradition continually accumulates and often tends to submerge or bypass what went earlier. But if it's not so, who retains its value? I think he hasn't. Well, that's another hermeneutic question. John of the Cross needs a real hermeneutic. Okay. Just a few notions which are intended to be synthetic, which are intended to recall how this all holds together. I didn't have time to structure these, to put them in order so they may seem kind of random. Victor was talking in the monasticism course about God's self-communication.


Okay. Well, that's what's happening here. God's self-communication. And in John, it's in terms largely of revelation. It's along a cognitive line. Now, faith means it's always that way in the Gospels, but John persists. I mean, it's a kind of Gnostic Gospel in a valid sense. So the self-communication of God is through seeing and through believing, through knowing that kind of language. And this happens through a chain of symbols, as we've seen. There are two levels in play all the time, the divine and the human, the word and the history, and so on. And there's a passage, there's a verticality, and at the same time there's a centering. It's as if we move through the Gospel of John continually being drawn by Jesus towards a center which is himself, which is moving through the Gospel at the same time. And that's accompanied on another level, on a kind of more outward level, by the geography of John's Gospel, the movements from Galilee


to Jerusalem and so on, from Samaria to Jerusalem, the passovers which are central, and at the same time a transition. They move you towards the center and they move you out at the same time. The passovers of Jerusalem, that movement, he goes to Jerusalem before the passovers, that movement towards the center and then a movement out again. And in there is a paradox because Galilee is where he gets listened to more, and Jerusalem is where he's refused, rejected, and killed. So in the centering there's a paradox. And it's shown forcefully by the fact that Jesus, for example, goes into the temple and then he's going to replace the temple. They're going to destroy his body and his body's going to rise in three days and replace that. So the center, the physical center, is to be supplanted with a new center, and that new center is the body of Jesus. Meanwhile, the body of Jesus in the Gospel is the central symbol, which all the other symbols converge on. The key to the whole thing is Jesus as the word. That's the decisive and distinctive thing for John. Now, when we talk about the prologue of John, we'll see the


kind of sapiential background of that, and how it integrates itself into a sapiential tradition. We could have made a diagram for those hermeneutic relationships between the reader and the evangelist and the Johannine community and so on, but let's skip it this time. There's one thing that is forced upon us by John's Gospel that would not be urged upon us in the same way by the synoptics, and that is the assert some kind of contemplative experience, some kind of gnosis. We find it in John, and we find it explicitly in Paul. And if I were to look for the passages in Paul, which are most Johannine, or the passages in Paul particularly, which seem to me to point to an experience, which is on the level of what John is talking about, although, you see, John doesn't talk about experience. He doesn't talk that language. It's simply there, and he's simply inviting you to it. Those passages I think would be


in 2 Corinthians 4 and 3, where Paul talks about having seen the light of the glory and the knowledge of God upon the face of Christ Jesus, and this being within the heart. And that the person moves through life with this contact with the risen Christ, this contact with the Word, if you like, and at the same time, all these struggles on the outside, which are in 2 Corinthians 4 and 5 particularly. If you read those couple of chapters, you'll see a very great example of a great kind of resonance with what we're talking about in John. Now, what I'm pointing towards here is that experience, that necessity, that unavoidability of talking about some kind of contemplative experience when we're reading John's Gospel. That's what he's leading me to. This experience of the risen Christ, this experience of the Word, cannot be other than that. Paul talks in terms of gnosis. He usually means something quite different, but sometimes he talks directly of the experience of the risen Christ, and often in terms of interiority, as he


does in 2 Corinthians 3 and 4. So, for John's hermeneutic, John's way of reading the history of Jesus, the Word turns towards you through the Gospel, from history, from something in the past, from fact to encounter. And the encounter is not just a personal encounter, it's an encounter with this transcendent mystery of the Word, who is God. There's no way around it in John, with the total mystery. And the mystery also which indwells you, this is what comes out later in the Gospel. You don't just meet the mystery, but the mystery is living in you. That's in John 14, number 16, and when he talks about the paraclete. So, we can talk about John as being a hermeneutic Gospel, as being an initiation, an initiation to the mystery, and therefore, a mysticogy. It's a nice word, which has been revived nowadays. Maximus Confessor had a work called Mysticogy, which was an introduction


to the liturgy, an introduction to the mysteries. But what John is doing is introducing us to the mystery, but in an experiential way, not just in an intellectual way, a rational way. So we move from words to the Word. The words of John's Gospel, which have, as we've seen, taken the place of the paraclete, the words and actions and signs of the historical Jesus, are intended to lead us to the center of the circle, which is the Word, with a capital W, who is somehow identical with God. And this would be the answer that I would propose to Teresa's question about, did Jesus really say it, you know, I am the light of the world? John leads us to the point where we would perhaps say that Jesus is saying it, that Jesus says it, that the risen Christ is it, that the Word says it, that the words, we've seen all of those, the words of Jesus, as


it were, as a great circle, and his actions, which contract to a smaller circle, which is a series of sayings, I am this, I am that, I am and so on. And then in the center we have this I am, which is the Word. And that's the experience which John is trying to lead us to. Somehow we seem to recognize these words. There is an echo. That's right. We are speaking them since the beginning of the Word. It seems so logical that when someone asks that he is God, you are overwhelmed. All of those words I would say correspond to these two things, which are very different. One thing is the fact that we have a center of ourselves. Remember Pentecost, actually, the center. We have a heart. There's a point, there's a metaphysical point in us, which is waiting for, as it were, a Word, or waiting for the light to come, or waiting to be turned on. But I don't want to stray too much with this language. What I mean is, the center is a reality, experiential reality


for us. When somebody uses that language, I am the light of the world, he is making direct reference to that center, even though I'm not mentioning center. That language is the language of the center, and so it has a resonance in it. But the second thing is our baptism, the fact that he is dwelling within us, and so that kind of language recalls us immediately to the center which he is within us, to that indwelling presence, okay? And that's why it resounds so forcefully for us. But I don't want to carry that too far because it resounds also for a lot of people who are not Christians, who have never been baptized to certainly have the word dwelling within them, as every creature does, but not in the same sense theologically. Okay, that's all I have for today. Next time I'd like to go on to talk about say something about the structure of John's Gospel, and there I'd like to put before you a couple of different theories. We'll work on one basically, but keeping another one in mind. And then the prologue of John, where we come


to the core actually of this theological vision of John, this mystagogic vision of John, when he asserts that Jesus is the Word, identifies the Incarnate Word with Jesus. I ought to give you before that time a couple of things to read, I think, from Brown's Gospel, John's commentary on the meaning of the Word and also the wisdom, for instance, of John. The thing with the structure, the avenue, I suppose, that we can follow is the most, perhaps most widely accepted one now, of the Book of Signs and then the Book of Glory. So, you've got the prologue, you've got chapters one to twelve of the Book of Signs, and thirteen through twenty, the Book of Glory, and then twenty-one is an epilogue. But keeping somewhere in mind Ellis's proposal of the which is really fascinating, that the whole thing is built chiastically, that is, the whole thing is centered, is deliberately theologically composed from head to foot, from the prologue right through chapter one, twenty-one even, and


that it's all built in terms of these centered structures which are chiasms, chiasms. A chiasm being like this. A, B, C, D, K. We'll give some examples here. So, the whole of John's Gospel has a center to it, which would be C, and then you'll find that the beginning reflects the end, and then the second part here would reflect its symmetrical equivalent on the other side, and so on. All pointing you towards the center, which should be a center of significance, a center of meaning. So, we'll go along and we'll see if that verifies itself for us. I can give you that scheme. It's been schematized very briefly. Check it out yourself. Yeah, yeah. The tunnel at the


center, that's almost a Passover symbol, you know. It's an exodus. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. That's right. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Also, it's got a lot more heart to it, you know. You follow, you identify with the characters. If you try to write something deliberately, there is a certain chiastic thing that's almost inevitable, because in the end you're going to want to recall the beginning, right? And also in music, musical composition is... Yeah. Yeah. An assertion, a theme, a development, and then a recapitulation. So, there's a


fundamental thing, and then it gets kind of rigidified and elaborated, and we'll check it out as we go along. It's quite fascinating, because if that's true, then you can read the theology of John from the structure of John, you see. If that's true, then you can get the intention of John very clearly. And this is the other side from considering John as to be a kind of aggregate come about through successive experiences of a community. The kind of thing we were talking about last time. Okay. Thank you. Thank you. I couldn't get you to


explain to him why. He said, he called again, he said, just tell you this. He had a dream about you and the Lord. He said it was a very good dream, and it came to mind what you were doing. So I wanted to tell you. Well, that's better than that. Yeah. He just had to tell you. That's it. [...] Done that. Well, yeah. And then I don't know what next. Alberto has gone to the hospital in Salinas. Who's the doctor? O'Neill. So Carolyn talked to O'Neill. You're probably busy. Did Carolyn finally get in touch with him? Yeah, he called back, but he wasn't very helpful.


No, what about Father Lee? He just wouldn't tell her anything, you know. No? No, she was trying to find out, you know, the ifs and buts and whys, and he just wouldn't tell her, so... Oh, my goodness, well... Could you explain to him, I mean, Father Lee's not going to get any better with that cast? Sure, yeah. She couldn't say too much, because you can't just fight it, you know, but she may have to take it off if it starts swelling a little bit. I mean, psychologically it will affect him if he can't get around, too. Remember, I came back from the hospital just by the... So they're working on a massage, a homoeopathic person down in this one. I'm trying to get in touch with him. Yeah. That's true. Do you want to take a look at that one? Yes. I wanted to show you. It's a naked disciple's model, okay? It's not a thigh, it's a wheel. Yes, all right. It's a curl wheel, you turn it around. Give it a spin. See, you can fit in so many of the things you said,


and you can also fit in the rule of St. Dominic, of St. Benedict. What are the SSCs? Here's the SSC. Oh, those are too big. They should be raised, not dispelled. They're not quite the same. These are the essential points. Fellowship, work, service, study. That's good, you know. That's good. Well, it's in this case. I like these. I think they kind of do express the legs of monasticism. What's interesting is that, for example, of course, it's like Christ who's the center of the community. Just like you say, everything should draw to Christ. If it doesn't, you know. You could try to draw a structure like this for other models, but then, like in the institutional model,


you put the abbot here, I think. No, so the abbot is here. That's anything. No, he wouldn't. That's community in a way. But then if you only have those, which are... And then those, you know. But then if you only have those, which are...