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ONE of the first points on which one wishes to be clear, if one would obtain a general view of the stories of Jesus’ life, is this—How long did Jesus’ public ministry last? As regards this, Jn. gives us information which is quite clear. The expulsion of the dealers and money-changers from the fore-court of the Temple, which was only preceded by the presence of Jesus at the marriage feast at Cana in Galilee, took place when Jesus had gone up (ii. 13) to Jerusalem to keep the Passover feast, our Easter Festival. Shortly before a second Passover festival, in Galilee by the Lake of Gennesareth he fed the five thousand (vi. 4). At a third Passover feast (xi. 55; xii. 1; xiii. 1) Jesus met his death. Between these there is mention of three other feasts. Between the first and second Passover, a “feast of the Jews,” which is not more closely identified (v. 1); between the second and third Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles in October (vii. 2), and the Feast of the Dedication of the Temple in December (x. 22). The references being so definite, it is quite unlikely that a Passover feast has been passed over. We may therefore 10calculate that the public ministry of Jesus lasted, according to Jn., somewhat over two years (not, as is commonly said, three years).

The Synoptics, on the other hand, do not allow us to fix its duration. They know of no festival except that of the Passover on which Jesus died. The natural thing to do of course would be to supplement them on this point from Jn. But they tell us just as little of any one of the journeys which Jesus is supposed to have made at so many of these festivals. So that if we wished to bring them into agreement with Jn., the effort to do so would give rise to a complaint all the more serious, that they are silent about such important matters. If we are bent on discovering, by means of a calculation which is quite uncertain, how long the public ministry of Jesus is supposed to have lasted, we shall hardly find that it lasted more than one year; in fact, a few months would perhaps suffice to cover all that the Gospels relate.

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