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Chapter 7, Great Gospel of John, Book 1
35. The next day again John was standing (at the river Jordan) with two of his disciples.
1. The original text, for instance, of verse 35 reads: ‘The next day John was standing again with two of his disciples.’ Here arises the question: Where was he standing and were the two disciples together with him or were they standing in a different spot, only at the same time? - One must notice right away that neither the place nor the action of the two disciples has here been stated.
2. Why has the evangelist failed to mention this?
3. The reason why has already been indicated for, especially at he time when it was customary to write like this, it would have been quite certain and obvious that John was standing at the river Jordan under a willow waiting form someone to come to be baptised. And since he had several disciples who listened to his teaching and also recorded it, usually two, but when there was much work more were with him, assisting with the baptisms and probably also baptising in his name and in the way he did it.
4. Since at that time all these circumstances were only too familiar to the people around John, they were not recorded. It was then customary to write like that, but also necessary due to the lack of writing material, wherefore only the main point was recorded and by beginning a sentence with ‘and’ it was indicated whether the apparently separate sentences were related to each other or not. For this reason such conjunctions were seldom put in letters before the main sentences that had reference to each other, but certain known signs were used.
5. Although this explanation is as such not an evangelical one, it is still necessary since without it the Gospels would today be hard to understand; not only their external, historical meaning, but even less their inner spiritual meaning and least of all the prophetic books of the Old Testament in which instead of completed sentences only corresponding metaphors are given and there naturally cannot be any question of stating whatever circumstances there might have been. Now that we are acquainted with these rules of ancient times, we should have no difficulty in connecting the following verses and texts, reading them more correctly and at least throwing more light upon their natural, historical part. We will make a short analysis of verses 36 and 37 and the principle in question will become quite clear.
36. And as he again saw Jesus walking (on the bank of the Jordan, he said: ‘Look, there is the Lamb of God.’
6. The original text of verse 36 reads: ‘And as he saw Jesus walking, he said: ‘Look, there is the Lamb of God.’’. The ‘And’ here indicates that this text has some connection with the previous one and historically states that Jesus, after He had received the baptism with water, for a while still remained in the neighborhood of John and was therefore seen by John’s two disciples as well as by John himself walking on the bank of the Jordan.
7. As John catches sight of Him, he immediately concentrates all his thoughts upon the one subject and speaks with great enthusiasm as if to himself: ‘Behold, there is the Lamb of God!’ Today he would have expressed himself roughly like this: ‘Look over there! On the bank of the river the supreme God-man is still today walking as unassuming and humble as a lamb.’ But John omits all these details and says only what we read in the verse.
37. And the two disciples heard John speak thus (and left John forthwith), and followed Jesus.
8. Verse 37, actually representing the continuation of the two previous ones, for the above mentioned reason, begins again with ‘And’ and simply states what happened, just referring briefly to the reason why.
9. The original text reads simply like this: ‘And two of his disciples heard him speak and followed Jesus.’ In our time its meaning - read as follows: As the two disciples who were with him (John) heard their master speak thus, they left him forthwith and joined Jesus, and since Jesus was now leaving this place, they followed Him.
10. All that was mentioned in this expanded text must also have taken place on this occasion since otherwise the action could not have been carried out. However, as already said, in accordance with the then customary style of writing, only the two concepts ‘hearing’ and the ensuing ‘following’ are mentioned whereas all connecting sentences were omitted as self-evident. Whoever understands this given procedure will at least be able to better understand the historical part of the original text and thereby find it also easier to comprehend the spiritual meaning.
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