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Vocabulary (1879), "There are more ambiguities in the Fourth Gospel than in all the Three taken together, and it is easy to put one's finger on the cause of many of them.” One object of Johannine Grammar is to classify, with the view of ultimately explaining, these ambiguous passages?. For example, what Browning calls Hoti on my title-page may mean “that” or “ because." Browning extols his Grammarian -alas! an ideal—who " settled Hoti's business." This work tries to help to “settle” it—unquestionably it has not yet been" settled ”—for passages in the Fourth Gospel, in some of which our translators halt between “that” and “because."
Again, Johannine commentators of repute disagree as to who is speaking in certain portions of the Gospel. Take, for example, i. 16–18 “For he was before me. For of his fulness we all received ......the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared [him].” Origen attributed the italicised passage to the Baptist. So did Irenaeus. Heracleon, and many critics in Origen's time, maintained that it proceeded partly from the Baptist, partly from the evangelist. Alford and Westcott assert that the whole of it proceeds from the evangelist.
Next take iii. 15—21 “...that whosoever believeth may in him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he
1 See Index, “Ambiguity,” pp. 666-7.
gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God sent not the Son...that they have been wrought in God." Concerning the italicised passage Westcott says “It contains the reflections of the evangelist and is not a continuation of the words of the Lord.” Alford says that this view—although held by many commentators—is “as inconceivable as the idea of St Matthew having combined into one the insulated sayings of his Master.” Westcott maintains that his own conclusion is consistent with the tenor of the passage and “appears to be firmly established from details of expression.” Some of these details—such as “only begotten Son," " believe in the name of," "do truth," which are characteristic of the evangelist-belong to vocabulary rather than grammar. But in favour of Westcott's view there is a small point of grammar to which attention might have been called, as will be seen from the two passages to be next quoted.
One of these, according to Westcott, follows-or, according to Alford, is part of—the last words of the Baptist, thus : iii. 30—36 “He must increase, but I must decrease. He that cometh from above is above all...For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God; for he giveth not the Spirit by measure...the wrath of God abideth on him." Concerning the whole of these six verses (“ He that cometh...abideth on him ") Westcott says that the section “contains reflections of the evangelist"; and he calls attention to the use of the title “Son” absolutely, and to other details, as well as to the tenor of the passage, as justifying his conclusion. Alford calls this view (which is not peculiar to Westcott) an “arbitrary proceeding”; but he himself abstains from any argument based on grammatical or verbal detail.
The next instance occurs in the Dialogue between our Lord and the Samaritan woman, iv. 9 (R.V.) “How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a Samaritan woman ? (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans).”
Chrysostom takes the italicised words as uttered by the woman. The meaning would then be," Jews as a rule do not condescend to have dealings with Samaritans: yet thou askest a favour from me!” But some authorities omit the italicised words. Alford and Westcott (the latter, with the caveat “if genuine ") say that they are an explanatory note of the evangelist.
In favour of this last conclusion (that “Jews... Samaritans” is an evangelistic explanation) is the following grammatical argument. There are two words, őtt and yáp, used by John' to express the conjunction "for.” For the most part, in Christ's words, he uses the former; in his own comments, the latter (2066). The latter occurs not only in the Samaritan Dialogue but also in the two previously quoted passages. It is a matter of minute detail; but, so far as it goes, it confirms Westcott's view—favoured also by other grammatical considerations — that all three
are evangelistic comments (1936).
The labour has been much greater, and the book longer, than I anticipated or desired. But the more fully I studied the Gospel and its most ancient Mss., versions, and commentators, the more necessary it seemed to give the evidence, if at all, at full length. Conclusions stated confidently, and with abundance of references, frequently assume an entirely different complexion when the references are verified and quoted accurately with their complete contexts.
As to the lines on which the book is constructed, they are the same as those of my Shakespearian Grammarpublished nearly forty years ago but presumably still found useful as it is still in demand. Besides many points of
By "John” is meant, throughout the whole of this volume, the writer of the Fourth Gospel, of which the originator may have been (as the Gospel suggests) John the son of Zebedee, but of which the writer, the exact nature of the origination, and the exact extent to which the writer paraphrased, commented, and blended allegory with fact, are (in my opinion) at present unknown.
similarity in detail, the two works have two broad assumptions in common.
The Shakespearian Grammar assumed that Shakespeare wrote, with a style of his own, in English that he read and spoke. Hence North's Plutarch, Florio's Montaigne, the Elizabethan dramatists—and especially his own works compared with one another—were treated as safer guides to his meaning than Milton, Dryden, and Pope. A similar assumption is made in the Johannine Grammar.
. The Johannine language in general has been carefully classified with a view to the elucidation of particular passages; and the LXX, the Synoptists, the New Testament as a whole, Epictetus, and the Papyri of 50—150 A.D. have been recognised as safer guides than writers of the third century and far safer than those of the fourth. This assumption is even truer about John than about Shakespeare, to whom was given, in some measure, the very rare privilege of anticipating, or shaping, the language of posterity.
My Shakespearian Grammar also assumed that Shakespeare was a great poet. About John, I have tried to subordinate strictly to grammatical inferences my conviction that he, too, is a master of style and phrase, as well as an inspired prophet; but I have felt bound to assume that he did not at all events misuse words like the author of “the Second Epistle of St Peter,” or “use one word for another” like a modern journalist describing a cricket-match or a boat-race. For example, where John is represented by our Revised Version as saying that Jesus "bowed his head" upon the cross, I argued, in “ Johannine Vocabulary," that it must be rendered "laid his head to rest," and that, if so, the expression mystically implied “rest on the bosom of the Father." This rendering was based entirely on dry hard grammatical evidence shewing that the phrase had no other meaning in the Greek language. I have subsequently