« Prev 10. Chapter XXI. An Appendix from Another Pen. Next »


We could not, it is true, seriously impute this obscurity to him, if the twenty-first chapter were due to the same author. But this is not the case. For the same concepts quite different words are used here from those found in the first twenty chapters. The appearance of the risen Lord in chapter xxi. (14) is said to be the third; but three others have already been mentioned in chapter xx. Peter is a fisher, as in the Synoptics (Mk. i. 16), whereas Jn. (i. 35-41) knows him only as a disciple of the Baptist. But, most important of all, in chapter xxi. Peter appears in a much more favoured light than before; he even receives the commission to feed Jesus sheep, that is to say, to guide the Church, and is told that he is likely to have the honour of dying a martyr’s death. The beloved disciple, on the other hand, who has always taken precedence of him in chapters i.-xx. (xiii. 24; xviii. 16; xix. 26; xx. 2-10), in chapter xxi. (22-24) has to content himself with a humbler role: he is promised a long life, and is given the task of writing the Gospel. This striking recognition of Peter is in all likelihood due to the fact that offence had been taken because in chapters i.-xx. he was made subordinate to the beloved disciple. Peter had already won high esteem in the Christian Church, especially at Rome, and the friends of the author of the Gospel must have feared, or, as we shall see shortly, must have found, that for this reason the book was gaining slight recognition. One of them therefore decided to reckon with these circumstances by adding an appendix.

And because the Gospel had gained such slight recognition, he took occasion at the same time, in the appendix 187which he added, to assure its readers once more that the author was the famous John. This he does (xxi. 24) with more clearness and emphasis than the author himself: “this (that is to say, the long-lived beloved disciple) is the disciple which beareth witness of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his witness is true.” We? Who? Here we have a hint that the author of the appendix has perhaps been commissioned by a whole number of the party of the Evangelist to write, or at least writes to voice their sentiments and to promote the idea that the Gospel was composed by the beloved disciple and for that reason deserves to be trusted absolutely. But his very zeal has been the means of discrediting him in the eyes of a serious critic. A witness, whose evidence must itself be witnessed to in turn, cannot seem a very trustworthy person.

« Prev 10. Chapter XXI. An Appendix from Another Pen. Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection