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Saint John's depth and simplicity.
is refuted by an exhibition of the true. The true is set forth for the sake of Christian souls. These things are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His Name P.'
We may perhaps have wondered how a Galilean fisherman could have been the author of a subtle and sublime theosophy, how the son of Zebedee could have appropiated the language of Athens and of Alexandria to the service of the Crucified. The answer is that St. John knew from experience the blessed and tremendous truth that his Lord and Friend was a Divine Person. Apart from the guidance of the Blessed Spirit, St. John's mental strength and refinement may be traced to the force of his keen interest in this single fact. Just as a desperate moral or material struggle brings to light forces and resources unused before, so an intense religious conviction fertilizes intellect, and developes speculative talent, not unfrequently in the most unlearned. Every form of thought which comes even into indirect contact with the truth to which the soul clings adoringly, is scanned by it with deep and anxious interest, whether it be the interest of hope or the interest of apprehension. St. John certainly is a theosophic philosopher, but he is only a philosopher because he is a theologian; he is such a master of abstract thought because he is so devoted to the Incarnate God. The fisherman of Galilee could never have written the prologue of the fourth Gospel, or have guided the religious thought of Ephesus, unless he had clung to this sustaining Truth, which makes him at once so popular and so with the differing mental peculiarities of the Apostles who report our Lord's words, will account for the difference of style. The phrases assumed to be peculiar to, and really of frequent occurrence in St. John are by no means unknown to the Synoptists. E. g. The antithesis between Light and darkness.
4. As to the matter of Christ's teaching :-Baur begs the whole question by saying that 'the discourses in St. John could not be historical, since they are essentially nothing more than an explanation of the Logos-idea put forth by that writer. This might be true if the doctrine of the Logos had been the product of Gnostic speculations. But if Jesus was really the Divine Son, manifesting Himself as such to men, such language as that reported by St. John is no more than we should expect Him to use at certain times. St. John never represents our Lord as announcing His Divinity in the terms in which it is announced in the Prologue to the Gospel; he would have done so, had he really been creating a fictitious Jesus designed to illustrate a particular theosophic speculation. This is discussed hereafter, p. 272. See Pressensé, Jésus-Christ, p. 244; Luthardt, das Johanneische Evangelium, pp. 26-35.
p St. John xx. 31.
profound. For St. John is spiritually as simple, as he is intellectually majestic. In this our day he is understood by the religious insight of the unlettered and the poor, while the learned can sometimes see in him only the weary repetition of metaphysical abstractions. The poor understand this sublime revelation of God, the Creator of the world, as pure Light and Truth. They understand the picture of a moral darkness which commits and excuses sin, and which hates the light. They receive gratefully and believingly the Son of God, made Man, and conquering evil by the laying down His Life. They follow, with the experience of their own temptations, or sins, or hopes, or fears, those heart-searching conversations with Nicodemus, with the Samaritan woman, with the Jews. In truth, St. John's language and, above all, the words of Christ in St. John, are as simple as they are profound. They still speak peace and joy to little children; they are still a stumbling-block to, and a condemnation of, the virtual successors of Cerinthus.
II. If there were nothing else to the purpose in the whole of the New Testament, those first fourteen verses of the fourth Gospel would suffice to persuade a believer in Holy Scripture of the truth that Jesus Christ is absolutely God. It is a mistake to regard those fourteen verses as a mere prefatory attack upon the gnosis of Cerinthus, having no necessary connexion with the narrative which follows, and representing nothing essential to the integrity of the Apostle's thought. For, as Baur very truly observes, the doctrine of the prologue is the very fundamental idea which underlies the whole ‘Johannean theologyq.' It is not enough to say that between the prologue and the history which follows there exists an intimate organic connexion. The prologue is itself the beginning of the history. It is impossible, says Baur, 'to deny that “the Word made flesh r" is one and the same subject with the Man Christ Jesus on the one hand, and with the Word Who 6 was in the beginning, Who was with God, and Who was God,” on the other 8.'
Taking then the prologue of St. John's Gospel in connexion with the
verses which immediately succeed it, let us observe that St. John attaches to our Lord's Person two names which together yield a complete revelation of His Divine glory. Our Lord is called the Word,' and the Only-begotten Son. doubtless true, as Neander observes, that the first of these
St. John i. 14. • Baur, ubi sup., St. John i. 1.
9 Vorlesungen, p. 351.
in the Prologue of Saint John's Gospel.
names was' put prominently forward at Ephesus, 'in order to lead those who busied themselves with speculations on the Logos as the centre of all theophanies, from a mere religious idealism to a religious realism, to lead them in short to a recognition of God revealed in Christ t.' It has already u been shewn that the Logos of St. John differs materially from the Logos of Platonizing Jews in Alexandria, while it is linked to great lines of teaching in the Old Testament. No reason can be assigned why St. John had recourse to the word Logos at all, unless he was already in possession of the underlying fact to which this word supplied a philosophical form. If the word did express, in a form familiar to the ears of the men of Ephesus, a great truth which they had buried beneath a heap of errors, that truth, as Bruno Bauer admits, must have been held independently and previously by the Apostle v. The direct expression of that truth was St. John's primary motive in using the word; his polemical and corrective action upon the Cerinthian gnosis was a secondary motive.
By the word Logos, then, St. John carries back his history of our Lord to a point at which it has not yet entered into the sphere of sense and time. In the four Gospels,' says St. Augustine, or rather in the four books of the one Gospel, the Apostle St. John, deservedly compared to an eagle, by reason of his spiritual understanding, has lifted his enunciation of truth to a far higher and sublimer point than the other three, and by this elevation he would fain have our hearts lifted up likewise. For the other three Evangelists walked, so to speak, on earth with our Lord as Man. Of His Godhead they said but a few things. But John, as if he found it oppressive to walk on earth, has opened his treatise as it were with a peal of thunder; he has raised himself not merely above the earth, and the whole compass of the air and heaven, but even above every angel-host, and every order of the invisible powers, and has reached even to Him by Whom all things were made, in that sentence, "In the beginning was the Word x.")
Instead of opening his narrative at the Human Birth of our Lord, or at the commencement of His ministry, St. John places himself in thought at the starting-point (as we should conceive
+ Neander, Kirchengeschichte, p. 549; quoted by Tholuck, Ev. Johan. kap. 1.
Kritik der Evangel. Geschichte des Joh. p. 5; quoted by Tholuck, ubi supra.
* St. Aug. tr. 36 in Johan.
it) of all time y. Nay rather, it would seem that if n'en at the beginning of Genesis signifies the initial moment of time itself, év ápxî rises to the absolute conception of that which is anterior to, or rather independent of, time, Then, when time was not, or at a point to which man cannot apply his finite conception of time, there was—the Logos or Word. When as yet nothing had been made, He was. What was the Logos ? Such a term, in a position of such moment, when so much depends on our rightly understanding it, has a moral no less than an intellectual claim upon us, of the highest order. We are bound to try to understand it, just as certainly as we are bound to obey the command to love our enemies. No man who carries his morality into the sphere of religious thought can affect or afford to maintain, that the fundamental idea in the writings of St. John is a scholastic conceit, with which practical Christians need not concern themselves. And indeed St. John's doctrine of the Logos has from the first been scrutinized anxiously by the mind of Christendom. It could not but be felt that the term Logos denotes at the very least something intimately and everlastingly present with God, something as internal to the Being of God as thought is to the soul of man. In truth the Divine Logos is God reflected in His own eternal Thought; in the Logos, God is His own Object. This Infinite Thought, the reflection and counterpart of God, subsisting in God as a Being or Hypostasis, and having a tendency to self-communication, such is the Logos. The Logos is the Thought of God, not intermittent and precarious like human thought, but subsisting with the intensity of a personal
Meyer in loc., note: Völlig unexegetisch ist die Fassung der Socinianer (s. Catech. Racov. p. 135, ed. Oeder): év åpxî heisse in initio evangelii.'
* Meyer in loc. : 'Johannes parallelisirt zwar den Anfang seines Evangel. mit dem Anfange der Genesis; aber er steigert den historischen Begriff nuna, welcher (Gen. i. 1) den Anfangsmoment der Zeit selbst bedeutet, zum absoluten Begriffe der Vorzeitlichkeit.' This might suffice to refute the assertion of a modern writer that St. John does not teach the Eternity of the Divine Word. • Une des thèses fondamentales de la spéculation ecclésiastique, c'est idée de l'éternité du Verbe. Depuis que le concile de Nicée en a fait une des pierres angulaires de la théologie Catholique, sa décision est restée l'héritage commun de tous les systèmes orthodoxes. Eh bien ! les écrits de Jean n'en parlent pas.' Reuss, Théol. Chrét. ii. 438. The author is mistaken in attributing to èv dpxị a merely relative force, and thence arguing that if the Word is eternal, the world is eternal also (Gen, i. i). Besides, Oeds liv & nóyos. How is the Word other than eternal, if He is thus identified with the ever-existing Being ? Cf. Döl. linger, Christenthum und Kirche in der Zeit der Grundlegung, p. 169.
in the Prologue of Saint John's Gospel. 231
form. The very expression seems to court the argument of Athenagoras, that since God could never have been ädoyos å, the Logos must have been not created but eternal. It suggests the further inference that since reason is man's noblest faculty, the Uncreated Logos must be at least equal with God. In any case it might have been asked why the term was used at all, if these obvious inferences were not to be deduced from it; but as a matter of fact they are not mere inferences, since they are warranted by the express language of St. John. St. John says that the Word was in the beginning.' The question then arises : What was His relation to the Self-existent Being? He was not merely παρά τω θεώb, along with God, but προς τον Θεόν. This last preposition expresses, beyond the fact of co-existence or immanence, the more significant fact of perpetuated intercommunion. The face of the Everlasting Word, if we may dare so to express ourselves, was ever directed towards the face of the Everlasting Father. But was the Logos then an independent being, existing externally to the One God? To conceive of an independent being, anterior to creation, would be an error at issue with the first truth of monotheism ; and therefore Ocòs nv ó Móyos d. The Word is not merely a Divine Being, but He is in the absolute sense God e. Thus from His eternal existence we
Athenag. Suppl. pro Christ. 10 (46 D. ed. Otto): Elxev aŭrds év éauta τον Λόγον, αϊδίως λογικός ών. b St. John xvii. 5.
Meyer in loc. : 'após bezeichnet das Befindlichsein des Logos bei Gott im Gesichtspunkte der Richtung der Gemeinschaft.' Bernhardy, Syntax,
& The omission of the article before cós is explained by Meyer in loc. : Die Nichtsetzung des Artikels war nothwendig, weil ocós nach dem vorherigen Tods Tov Oeóv dem Logos die Identität der Person zugesprochen hätte, was aber eben, nachdem apòs Tòv ©eóv die Verschiedenheit der Person gesetzt hat, ungereimt wäre, dagegen das Nichtartikulirte deós auf diese persönliche Verschiedenheit der Einheit des Wesens und der Natur folgen lässt.' This is a sufficient reply to Winer, Gr. N. T., iii. $ 19. I.
• Here is the essential difference between the Logos of St. John and the Logos of Philo. Meyer, who apparently holds Philo to have definitely considered his Logos as a real hypostasis, states it as follows, in his note on the words kal Oeds nv 8 Aoyos: _Wie also Johannes, mit dem nich. tartikulirten Beós kein niedrigeres Wesen, als Gott Selbst hat, bezeichnen will; so unterscheidet sich die Johanneische Logos-Idee bestimmt von derjenigen bei Philo, welcher Geós ohne Artikel im Sinne wesentlicher Unterordnung, ja, wie Er Selbst sagt, èv kataxphoei (i. p. 655, ed. Mangey) vom Logos prädicirt ;-wie denn auch der Name ó deỦtepos Beós, welchen er ihm giebt, nach_ii. p. 625. Euseb. præp. Ev. vii. 13, ausdrücklich den Begriff eines Zwischenwesens zwischen Gott und dem Menschen