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13. JN.’S LEANING TO THE TEACHING OF THE CHURCH.

When the author of the Fourth Gospel takes up another position, different from that of the Gnostics and more 165akin to the faith of the Church, arid yet in many points agrees with them we would like much to know whether this mingling is due entirely to a want of clearness or whether it admits of a more satisfactory explanation. At that time, when so many competing ideas were brought to the notice of the individual, it is not inconceivable that many persons might appropriate something of one and some thing of another, without being able really to blend the two. Many other persons, however, will have attached themselves entirely to the one at first, and afterwards have had a leaning to the other, without having given up everything that at an earlier time they had accepted as true. We may suppose the author of our Gospel to have been in this position. Not that he was in process of passing from the teaching of the Church to Gnosticism, but, on the contrary, of passing from Gnosticism to the teaching of the Church. This, of course, is merely a conjecture. It, however, strikes us as probable, because we may presume that the Gnostic ideas would be more prominent and not so strongly combated if the author had been by way of attaching himself to them. Instead of this, they appear, in the main, sporadically; and are withdrawn or made harmless by other utterances. If this consideration be correct, the easiest explanation would be that the author was attached to the Gnostic ideas at an earlier date, and at the time he wrote had not succeeded in banishing them entirely from his mind, but to all intents and purposes had now passed beyond them to where he now stands.

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