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prophet, so that it might have seemed, and many might have almost feared, that the last of these had arrived *.
* Philostratus (Vita Apollonii, l. 4, c. 45), relates a miracle as performed by Apollonius, which is evidently framed in imitation and rivalry of this. (See what has been said on this rivalry, p. 61, and in Baur's Apollonius und Christus, p. 40.) Apollonius met one day in the streets of Rome a damsel carried out to burial, followed by him to whom she was espoused, and a weeping company. He bade them set down the bier, saying that he would stanch their tears, and having enquired her name, whispered something in her ear, and then taking her by the hand, he raised her up, and she began straightway to speak, and returned to her father's house. Yet Philostratus does not relate this as probably having been more than an awakening from the deep swoon of an apparent death, (ápútvloe Triv kópnu του δοκούντος θανάτου,) and suggests an explanation that reminds one of the modern ones of Paulus and his school,—that Apollonius perceived in her a spark of life which had escaped the notice of her physicians and attendants; but whether it was this, or that he did really kindle in her anew the spark of an extinguished life, he acknowledges it impossible for him, even as it was for the bystanders, to say.
15. THE HEALING OF THE IMPOTENT
MAN AT BETHESDA.
John v. 1–16. One who is perhaps the ablest among the commentators of the Romish communion begins his observations on this act of healing with the expression of his hearty wish that the sacred historian had added a single word to his narrative, and told us at what "feast of the Jews" it was wrought*. Certainly an infinite amount of learned discussion would so have been saved; for this question has been greatly debated, not merely for its own sake, but because of the important bearing which it has upon the whole chronology of St. John's Gospel, and therefore of our Lord’s life ; for if we cannot determine the duration of his actual ministry from the helps which are supplied by this Gospel, we shall seek in vain to do it from the others. If it can be proved that this “ feast of the Jews" was the feast of the Passover, then St. John makes mention of four distinct Passovers, three besides this present, ii. 13; vi. 4; and the last; and we shall get to the three years and an half, the half of a week of years, for the length of Christ's ministry, which many, with just reason as it seems, have thought they found intimated and designated beforehand for it in the prophecies of Daniel (ix. 27). But if this feast be that of Pentecost, or, as in later times many have been inclined to accept it, the feast of Purim, then the view drawn from the prophecy of Daniel, of the duration of Christ's ministry, however likely in itself, will yet derive no proof or confirmation from dates supplied by St. John ; nor will it be possible to make out from him, with any certainty, a period
* Maldonatus, who seems almost inclined to fall out with St. John that he has not done so: Magnâ nos Joannes molestiâ contentioneque liberâsset, si vel unum adjecissit verbum, quo quis ille Judæorum dies fuisset festus declarâsset.
of more than between two and three years from our Lord's baptism to his death.
And first with regard to the history of the passage, we have no older view than that of Irenæus. Replying to the Gnostics, who pressed the words of Isaiah, “the acceptable year of the Lord,” to make them mean literally that our Lord's ministry lasted but a single year, he enumerates the Passovers of our Lord's life, and expressly includes this *. Origen however and the Alexandrians, who held with the Gnostics that our Lord's ministry lasted but a single year, resting upon the same phrase, “ the year of the Lord,” did not, as indeed consistently they could not, agree with Irenæus; nor did the Greek Church generally; Chrysostom, Cyril, Theophylact, take it for the feast of Pentecost. At a later period, however, Theodoret, wishing to confirm his view of the half week in Daniel, refers to St. John in proof that the Lord's ministry lasted for three years and an halft, implying that for him this feast was a Passover. This, too, was the view of Luther, Calvin, and it derived additional support from Scaliger's adherence to it; and were the question only between it and the feast of Pentecost, the point would have been settled long ago, as now on all sides the latter is given up.
But in modern times another scheme has been started, which at present divides the voices of interpreters, and has not a few in its favour, namely, that this feast is a feast of Purim ; that namely which went immediately before the second Passover of our Lord's ministry I, for such in that
* Con. Hær., l. 2, c. 22 : Secundâ vice ascendit in diem festum Paschæ in Hierusalem, quando paralyticum qui juxta natatoriam jacebat xxxviii annos curavit.
+ Comm. in Dan. (in loc.)
# This view was first suggested by Kepler. Hug has done everything for it that could be done to make it plausible; and among the valuable later German commentators on St. John, Tholuck and Olshausen are decidedly, and Lücke somewhat doubtfully, adherents to this opinion. So, too, case would be the one named John vi. 4. But the view of Irenæus that this present “ feast of the Jews" is itself a Passover, and the second—that other consequently the thirdthough not unencumbered with difficulties, yet is not, I think, to be exchanged for this newer theory. It is perplexing, as must be admitted, to find another Passover occurring so very soon (vi. 4). Nor may we press the argument, that St. John making mention of "the feast” without further addition, means always the chief feast, the Passover; for the examples adduced do not bear this out; he does indeed use this language, yet always with allusion to some mention of the feast made shortly before*. But the argument which mainly prevails with me is this—the Evangelist clearly connects the Lord's coming to Jerusalem with the keeping of this feast; it was to celebrate the feast he came. But there was nothing in the feast of Purim to draw him thither. It was no religious feast at all; but only a popular; of human, not of divine institution. There was no temple service pertaining to it; but men kept it at their own houses. And though naturally it would have been celebrated at Jerusalem with more pomp and circumstance than anywhere besides, yet there was nothing in its feasting and its rioting, its intemperance and excess, which would have made our Lord particularly desirous to sanction it with his presence. As far as Mordecai and Esther and the deliverance wrought in their days stand below Moses and Aaron and Miriam and the glorious redemption from Egypt, so in true worth, in dignity, in religious significance, stood the feast of Purim below the feast of the Passover; however a carnal generation may have been inclined to exaggerate the importance of that,
Neander, (Leben Jesu., p. 430,) and Jacobi, in the Theoll. Stud. u. Krit., v. ll, p. 861, seq. Both he and Lücke enter very thoroughly into the question. Hengstenburg (Christologie, v. 2, p. 561,) earnestly opposes it and maintains the earlier, as does Paulus.
* Moreover, the article before èoptij should most likely find no place. Our translators have not recognized it.
in the past events and actual celebration of which, there was so much to flatter the carnal mind. There is an extreme improbability in the hypothesis that it was this which attracted our Lord to Jerusalem; and these considerations strongly prevail with me to believe that the earlier view is the most accurate, and that this feast which our blessed Lord adorned with his presence and signalized with this great miracle, is “ the feast,” that feast which is the mother of all the rest, the Passover.
The scene of this miracle was the immediate neighbourhood * of the pool of Bethesda t. It has been common for many centuries to point out the large excavation near the gate now called St. Stephen's gate, as the ancient Bethesda 1. It is true that its immense depth, seventy-five feet, had perplexed many; yet the incurious ease which has misnamed so much in the Holy Land and in Jerusalem, had remained with
* It was wrought émi tñ tpoßa tikỹ, which should be completed, not as we have done it with dyopā, but with múly (see Neh. iii. 1; xii. 39, LXX., Túln apoßatikri,) and translated “by the sheep gate,” rather than “ by the sheep market.” The transcribers were unacquainted with the localities of Jerusalem, and the construction of the passage was not very clear, and thus a considerable number of variations have crept in; but the commonly received reading has been adopted as the best founded by all later critics. KolumBríepa= natatoria, (cf. John ix. 7,) from kolumbów, to dive, or swim. We meet the word Eccles. ii. 6, LXX., for the reservoir of a garden. It is used in ecclesiastical language alike for the building in which baptisms are performed (the baptistery), and the font which contains the water. (See SUICER's Thes., s. vv. Bantiotiplov and kol vußnopa.)
+ Bndegoá = domus misericordiæ. This word also, which was strange to the transcribers, has been written in many ways. Some have appealed, as Bengel, for instance, to this passage, as important for fixing the date when this Gospel was written, as proving, at least, that it was written before the destruction of Jerusalem. Yet in truth it does not prove anything. St. John might still have said, “There is at Jerusalem a pool,” while that had remained, surviving the destruction; or might have written with that vivid recalling of the past, which caused him to speak of it as existing yet. The various reading in for éoti is no doubt to be traced to transcribers, who being rightly persuaded that this Gospel was composed after the destruction of the city, thought that St. John could not have otherwise written.
# Röhr, in his Palestina, p. 66, does so without a misgiving,