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9. CARELESS DESCRIPTION IN JN.

The matter is much simpler. As we found in the case of the misunderstandings, it is not Jesus but the Evangelist who enlarges upon the ideas and spins out the discourses. He imagines Jesus as having always the same hearers, because he has no real recollection of actual cases in which Jesus confronted the people. It is his fault, and not the fault of Jesus, that no account is taken of the intervals which must have elapsed between two of Jesus utterances which could not have been so close together in actual life as they are on paper.

This explains further how it is that the discourses of Jesus and the remarks of the Evangelist himself are often so 77much alike that the one might be taken for the other—they are even amalgamated with the discourses of the Baptist. In the midst of one of these a number of utterances begins in iii. 31, of a kind that only Jesus himself makes elsewhere in the Fourth Gospel, and yet it is not said that Jesus is the speaker. The expositors are therefore quite at a loss to know whether to ascribe them to the Baptist or to regard them as remarks of the Evangelist himself. Even the well-known saying, “And this is life eternal, that they should know thee the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, even Jesus Christ,” is in Jn. (xvii. 3) an utterance made by Jesus himself, though, were it his, he would surely have said, “and know me whom thou hast sent,” especially as he is using the words in a prayer addressed to God.

In these cases there is certainly a considerable amount of carelessness on the part of the Evangelist. But the most friendly critic cannot deny that there is evidence of it in other places as well. At the beginning of the story of the raising of Lazarus, Jn. mentions (xi. 1 f.) Lazarus sisters Martha and Mary, and adds: “And it was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair.” We ask in vain where Jn. has already narrated this. There would perhaps be some excuse—though it would still be strange—if he thought he might refer to Mary in this way because the description of the anointing was known to his readers from the older Gospels (cp. i. 15, p. 52). In that case his purpose would be to add, as a new point, that the woman who is mentioned in the Synoptics but is not named was no other than this same Mary. But we do not find in any of the Synoptics what seems to be recalled here. According to Mk. (xiv. 3) and Mt. (xxvi. 7), a woman in Bethany, near Jerusalem, pours the contents of a flask of precious nard, having according to Mk. 78broken it for the purpose, on Jesus head. According to Lk. (vii. 37 f.), when Jesus was invited in Galilee to sup at the house of a Pharisee, a sinful woman of the town moistened his feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with ointment. Which of these accounts does Jn. wish to recall to us? Neither meets the case. On the other hand, the puzzle is solved at once when we reach the 12th chapter of his own Gospel. Here in v. 3 we are told for the first time something which is already referred to in chap. xi. as a past event (see further, below pp. 81-83). Here Jn. tells us distinctly that what is narrated in the 12th chapter happened later than what he has reported in the 11th chapter. If a modern writer were to tell us something like this, we should think ourselves badly treated, and would not easily forgive him.

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