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CONCLUSION.

There still remain many important ideas in the Fourth Gospel that would repay discussion. But we cannot take 166them up here. In Part II. of this book we shall discuss them from a new point of view.

We trust that readers who have followed us so far will also give their attention to the briefer investigations to be undertaken there. Not only have we still to deal with the whole question, when and by whom the Fourth Gospel was really composed—which we shall deal with in connection with the same question as regards the three Epistles and the “Revelation” of Jn.—but we propose to add a few words as to the value of these remarkable writings for the time of their authors and for all times.

Whoever desires to know no more than this, whether the Fourth Gospel gives us correct knowledge of the Life of Jesus, might stop at this point. He would then throw the Gospel on one side like an instrument which for any definite purpose is useless. But a book is not a mere instrument. It is the work of some man who, if he does not dryly add one note to another without being really interested in his work, introduces into it, perhaps unconsciously, but to a more delicate mind unmistakably, a part of his own soul. And from what we have already said it should be clear that, in the case of the Fourth Evangelist, this was so to a quite specially high degree. The more we have so far found him to be wrong, when he differs from the Synoptics, the more anxious we become to read his soul, by finding out the ideas and needs by which he was actuated, and to search lovingly for what it is that exercises such undeniable power of attraction over even the strictest of his critics.

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