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8. FURTHER WITNESS OF THE AUTHOR TO HIMSELF
(Jn. xix. 35).

The most characteristic instance of the author testifying to himself—an instance in which there is a real idea of bearing testimony—is held to be that in xix. 34 f.: “one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side (the side of the crucified Lord), and straightway there came out blood and water; and he that hath seen hath borne witness, and his witness is true, and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye also may believe.” We must remember here that we were told in verse 26 that the beloved disciple stood at the foot of the cross; it is he therefore who is meant when reference is made to one who saw the flowing of blood and water. But is it he himself who pens the words?

Searching inquiries have been instituted as to whether, in speaking of himself in Greek, any one could say “he.” But this is not the point. Once the Apostle had begun by saying, instead of “I,” “he that hath seen,” there was no other way to continue than by saying “he.” So that the question is: When the writer says “he that hath seen,” does he mean himself? This in itself would be quite possible, if he wished to avoid the use of “I.” Throughout the whole description of his wars (58-48 B.C.), Julius Caesar has never said “I did this and that,” but always “Caesar did this and that.” But, if he wished to express himself similarly, it would have been far more correct for the Fourth Evangelist 182to say: “he that hath seen it, bears witness” (now, as he writes it down). The expression, “he hath borne witness” would be far more appropriate if the observer of what occurred told it orally and another person recorded it in writing afterwards. Yet according to Greek Syntax the expression might also mean: he wishes (hereby) to have testified; and in this case it is still possible that what we read in this passage was written down by the observer.

It is decisive here that blood and water cannot by any means have flowed separately from Jesus’ wound so soon after his death (it was at most two hours, but probably much less; see p. 127). It is therefore doing no honour to the Apostle to insist that he is here bearing personal testimony. On the other hand, we can very well under stand a later writer, who had been orally assured that it really happened, noting it down in good faith.

We should add further, that in any case the flowing of water and blood has some deeper mysterious meaning. It was a common Christian belief that the blood of Jesus shed at his death was the means of bringing salvation to man kind. Now, the individual Christian can partake of the blood of Jesus in the Supper, and is reminded of the redemption which has through his blood been granted to men. And water is used in baptism for the purpose of initiating people into communion with those who have been redeemed by the death of Jesus. Accordingly, the idea that the two things which are necessary for the most important and holy of the Christian ceremonies came into being at the death of Jesus is an ingenious one. We can easily imagine that a preacher may have expressed the idea in a veiled form, just as was done, if we have conjectured rightly (p. 113 f.), in the case of the story of Lazarus, and that some one in the audience jumped to the conclusion 183that it might be recorded as an actual fact that blood and water flowed from Jesus wound.

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