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Aug 13, 2010

Wendt on the PA

Excerpt from: H.H. Wendt, Gospel Acc. John: An Inquiry into its Genesis..., (1900), Eng. , (London, 1902) pp. 92 fwd

Page Index

Wendt - The Disconnection between Jn 7 and Jn 8

Use of a Source in the 4th Gospel

4. Severance of Connected Passages in Ch.7 and 8

Contrary to what other 'Source' Critics were finding, Wendt discovered that the Pericope Adulterae did not interrupt the flow of John's gospel between Jn. 7:52 and Jn. 8:12.

These verses are not the real cuplrit, or rather, they are only part of the interpolated material interrupting the connections in the original source material John used.

Like Bultmann, Wendt discovers rather that the pieces (7:52 and 8:12) cannot be simply joined together satisfactorily, even if the PA is removed.

Wendt's solution however, is more intelligent than Bultmann's. He finds that 7:28, 33, 37 has deep and original connections to the material in 8:12 fwd.

Instead of deleting more pieces from the beginning of chapter 8 (as Bultmann attempts, see our article here) , Wendt finds that the earlier sections (7:40-52) are also interpolations, which continue to separate and disrupt the connection originally intended between 7:28, 33, 37 and 8:12 fwd.

The solution according to Wendt, is to remove all of the material between 7:40 and 8:11, restoring 8:12 fwd to its context immediately after 7:28-37.

"In the further course of ch.7 certain sayings of Jesus appear (Jn. 7:28 sq., Jn. 7:33 sq., Jn. 7:37 sq.), which according to the evangelist were uttered in three distinct sets of circumstances. They appear also to deal with quite different themes. In the first Jesus is replying to the objection that His earthly origin is notorious (Jn. 7:27): His real origin, as known to Himself, He says, is quite other than that which is known to men (Jn. 7:28 sq.).

The second occasion is the attempt of the chief priests to arrest Him (Jn. 7:32), on which Jesus says that in a little while He will depart, and be sought in vain (Jn. 7:33 sq.).

On a later day of the Feast of Tabernacles He calls to Him all those who thirst, and promises to them an ever flowing spring of water (Jn. 7:37 sq.). After a report of what the populace said about Jesus (Jn. 7:40-44) comes a sketch of the discussion in the Sanhedrin, when the officers who were to have arrested Jesus announce the failure of their mission (Jn. 7:45-52). This is immediately followed, without any definite indication of a change of scene, by a new discourse of Jesus (Jn. 8:12 sq.). 1

The introductory formula is merely παλιν ουν αυτοις ελαλησεν ο Ιησους. It is quite clear that this word αυτοις cannot mean either the members or the servants of the Sanhedrin, with whom the preceding notice is concerned. It can only refer to the Jewish multitude which Jesus had addressed before. In other words, the introductory phrase in Jn. 8:12 is worded as if the narrative in Jn. 7:45-52 did not exist, and therefore no special reference were needed to the circumstances of the preceding passage, Jn. 7:37-44. At first we may be tempted to call this a piece of literary slovenliness on the part of the evangelist, but we must take into account the very significant fact that the thought of the discourse which begins in Jn. 8:12 is connected as closely as possible with the isolated utterances of Jesus in Jn. 7:28 s;., Jn. 7:33 sq., Jn. 7:37 sq. The ideas of these sayings in chapter 7 are not only taken up again in Jn. 8:12 sq., but definitely explained and set in relation to one another.

1. The incident of the woman taken in adultery (7:53-8:11) may be left out of account, as it is not an original portion of the Gospel. If it were taken into consideration the difficulty to which attention is called would be in no wise diminished.

These words in Jn. 8:12, "I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life," is a reiteration of Jn. 7:37 sq., " If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of water."

Jesus expresses under two different figures the same thought, that He offers to those who come to Him in faith a life which is life indeed. This idea is expounded in the further course of the speech in chapter 8: while those that will not believe in Jesus shall remain, He says, in their sins, and die, those who receive His teaching shall obtain the αληθεια (truth) which maketh free, and the eternal life (Jn. 8:31b-36, 51). Similarly, these words in Jn. 8:14, "I know whence I came, and whither I go ; but ye know not whence I come, or whither I go," are a repetition of Jn. 7:28 sq.

In contrast to the arrogant assumption of the Jews, who judge after the flesh (Jn. 8:15), that they "know whence he came," He sets His own true knowledge of His origin, of His Father who sent Him, and to whom He returns. Then in Jn 8:23, 42 seq. He goes on to declare what is the unknown origin, and who the unknown Father, to which He lays claim : His opponents are from beneath, but He is from above ; their father is the devil, but His Father is God. Finally, the words (Jn. 8:21), "I go away, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sin : whither I go, ye cannot come" repeat what has been said in Jn. 7:33 sq. These thoughts, taken from chapter 7, are here in chapter 8 set in mutual relation.

Jesus' knowledge of His origin is the foundation of His claim to saving power (Jn. 8:12-14); But since He is soon to depart, and will be sought in vain, it follows that they who will not now believe in Him shall then die in their sins (Jn. 8:21, 24). The announcement, therefore, that He is soon to depart, gives reason for the exhortation that men should lay hold now, while He is still here, on that salvation which His divine origin enables Him to offer.

When we consider this mutual connection of the thoughts in Jn. 7:28 sq., Jn. 7:33 sq., Jn. 7:37 sq., and the discourse in Jn. 7:12 sqq., we cannot regard the present state of our Gospel, in which those sayings are separated from one another and from that discourse, as natural or original. In the mind of the original author those utterances must from the first have held that relation to one another which is now made evident by the discourse in Jn. 8:12 sq.

But there never was any speaker or writer who, having certain thoughts which he intended to support and elucidate each other, artificially separated them and distributed them among different scenes. That would be to obscure exactly what he wished to make clear. The severance must be ascribed to some secondary worker, who was not alive to the original sequence of thought.

We have here, then, another indication that our evangelist made use of an older document. In that document the sayings in Jn. 7:28 sq., Jn. 7:33 sq., Jn. 7:37 sq., and the discourse in Jn. 8:12 sqq., belonged to one and the same situation. The scene described in Jn. 7:45-52, to which Jn. 7:32 serves as introduction, cannot have been found in the source.

It follows that the abrupt reversion in Jn. 8:12a to the circumstances of Jn. 7:37 sqq., without reference to the change of scene that had happened in the meantime, is not merely literary slovenliness on the part of the evangelist, but arises out of his use of a source. We have already seen (pp. 67 fin. sq.) that a further indication of the employment of a source appears in Jn. 7:39.

How, then, did the evangelist come to break up the connected whole which this discourse exhibited in his source ? Exactly in the same way in which he was led to separate Jn. 7:15-24 from the discourse in v. 17-47. The insertion in the source of the popular judgment concerning Jesus, Jn. 7:40-43, led him to assume that the following words, Jn. 8:12 sqq., were the beginning of a new and independent discourse.

The fact that a new figure, that of the light, is here begun, confirmed him in this assumption. But when the introductory clauses of the original discourse, the sayings in Jn. 7:28 sq., Jn. 7:33 sq., Jn. 7:37 sq., no longer stood in their proper contextual relation with its continuation in Jn. 8:12 sqq., their mutual connection was no longer apparent, for it is only in the process of the discourse that it clearly comes out.

It seemed therefore justifiable to take these clauses, which may in the original have been separated by interjectory remarks of the Jews, as independent of one another. 1

1 A synoptic analogue is afforded by the way in which Luke provides a new setting (i.e. a dinner, xi. 37 sq.) for the discourse against the Pharisees in xi. 39 sqq., whereas in the source it certainly followed immediately after the speech in xi. 17-36, which is prompted by the taunt inxi. 15. The metaphor (vv. 34-36) of the eye as the light of the whole body, which cannot itself be dark, must have served in the source as an introduction to what Jesus went on to say, as Matthew s parallel shows, about the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees (Matt, xxiii. 16, 17, 19, 24, 26). Compare also the way in which, after the discourse on the second advent (Luke xvii. 22-37), a new passage appears to begin in xviii. i, with a new theme, "pray without ceasing" ; though it appears from xviii. 7 sq. that the injunction is especially to pray for the salvation that shall dawn at the second advent, and therefore that in the source this section, xviii. 1-8, formed the continuation of the discourse upon that theme.

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