Sunday, September 24, 2017

Father Callan's Introduction to 2 Corinthians Parts 4-6

Characteristics and Style.

In no other letter of St. Paul have we such a variety of thoughts and feelings as in Second Corinthians. It is one continuous alternation of "joy and depression, anxiety and hope, trust and resentment, anger and love" (Weizsacker). At one time we see the Apostle's eyes flash with indignation, then fill with tears; at one time he lifts his head with dignity and independence, then bows down with sorrow and humility; now he is flushed with righteous anger, now pale with anxiety; first he moves with might and vehemence against his enemies, then he gives way to tenderness and love for his children in the faith. "The letter exhibits a tumult of contending emotions. Wounded affection, joy, self-respect, hatred of self-assertion, consciousness of the authority and the importance of his ministry, scorn of his opponents, toss themselves like waves on the troubled sea of his mind. . . . Strong language . . . figurative expressions, abrupt turns, phrases seized and flung at his assailants, words made up, iterated, played upon, mark this Epistle far more than any other of the Apostle's letters" (Davies).

This is the most personal of all the Apostle's writings. Here we learn how much he suffered for the Gospel; how he was beaten, shipwrecked, and in perils; how he labored, fasted, and prayed (2 Cor 11:24 ff.). Here also we are told of the marvelous divine favors that were accorded him, how he was rapt into the third heaven to hear unearthly words which mortal man is not allowed to utter (2 Cor 12:2 ff.). In this Epistle we see the Apostle's "ardent love for Jesus Christ, his sense of personal weakness, his pride in his Apostolic authority, his contempt of temporal sufferings, his faith in the eternal, his anxiety for the poor, his tender love for his spiritual children, his burning indignation with those who sought to corrupt them, his withering sarcasm, his fearless courage, his melting compassion" (MacRory).

The style is in keeping with the thought. In the first part it is generally calm and peaceful, but vehement and polemical to an extreme degree in the four closing chapters. The language, like the thought, is like "a river which sometimes flows in a gentle stream, sometimes rushes as a torrent bearing all before it, sometimes spreads out like a placid lake, sometimes loses itself, as it were, in the sand, and breaks out in its fulness at some unexpected place" (Erasmus). On the whole it is doubtless true that "the style of this Epistle has not been so universally admired as that of the first. The Greek is rough. The account and the reasoning are often involved and broken, and there is a lack of ease and smoothness throughout. The thoughts, as beautiful in general as in the First Epistle, are not so well expressed; there is not one passage which in loftiness of eloquence equals the first letter. Nevertheless, in spite of the faults of the language, the eloquence of this Second Epistle is powerful. The intensity of the contending sentiments under the influence of which it was written has broken the rhythm and the arrangement of the phrases, but it gives an impression of life and of power which a more polished diction would be unable to do. One feels at each phrase that the writer is speaking from the bottom of his heart, of that heart on which Corinth is inscribed" (Plummer).

Relation Between First and Second Corinthians.

From what has been said above it is clear that the first letter was much more carefully done than the second. The latter was written in a hurry, and under high tension of thought and feeling, and hence is lacking, not only in the grace and polish, but also in the orderly arrangement of the former. In the second letter there is such a jumble of emotions, passions and feelings that, turning to it from the first letter, "one feels like passing from a park with paths intersecting but easily discernible into a pathless or tractless forest" (Schmiedel). In this letter St. Paul is concerned only with his personal defense and the collection for the poor in Jerusalem; whereas First Corinthians treats a larger number of topics of varied and great importance than perhaps any of the Pauline Epistles. As no other book of the New Testament tells us so much about the inside history and practices of the early Church as First Corinthians, so there is no book that gives us such a concrete and personal view of the character of St. Paul as Second Corinthians. In the one we behold the internal activities of the great Christian society, in the other the internal working of the ardent soul of the great Apostle.

 Division and Analysis.

Besides an Introduction and Conclusion, this Epistle contains three distinct parts: (a) A defense of the Apostle; (b) an exhortation regarding the collection for the poor in Jerusalem; (c) proofs of St. Paul's Apostolic authority.

The Introduction (2 Cor 1:1-11)  contains (a) the salutations of St. Paul and Timothy to the Church of Corinth (2 Cor 1:1-2); (b) acts of thanksgiving for consolations received in the midst of afflictions (2 Cor 1:3-10); (c) a request that the Corinthians will lend their prayers (2 Cor 1:11).

The First Part (2 Cor 1:12-7:16) is a general apology for the Apostle's life. St. Paul defends himself against the accusation of inconstancy and fickleness, in particular with regard to his intended visit to Corinth (2 Cor 1:12-17), and shows that his firmness of purpose is based on the faithfulness of God and the grace of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 1:18-22). He explains the reason for his change of plan to go directly from Ephesus to Corinth (i. 23-ii. 17).

The Apostle's enemies had accused him of arrogance and pride, because he spoke with authority and at times alluded to himself. This he did only on account of the greatness of the ministry committed to him. He says that he is in need of no recommendation to the Corinthians; they are his commendation (2 Cor 3:1-3). His trust is in God, who has made him a minister of the New Testament (2 Cor 3:4-6). The Apostolic ministry is far superior to that of the Mosaic Law, and gives the right to speak with liberty and authority (2 Cor 3:7-18). Having this higher ministry the Apostle speaks with assurance and clarity; there is no obscurity in his Gospel, except for those who are blind, because he preaches only Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4:1-6). Apostles must be prepared to suffer (2 Cor 4:7-12), but in their trials they are sustained by the hope of the resurrection (2 Cor 4:13-18). Borne up by this glorious hope St. Paul seeks only to please Jesus Christ, his future Judge (2 Cor 5:1-10). It is the fear of the judgment of God that makes him defend himself (2 Cor 5:11-13) ; it is his love of Christ that moves him to seek, not his own interest, but only the glory of God (v. 14-21). His conduct has been in imitation of Christ (vi. 1-10). The Corinthians are exhorted to avoid the vices of the pagans (2 Cor 6:11-7:1). St. Paul protests his affection for them; he has joy over the good effects of his letter (2 Cor 7:2-16). 

The Second Part (2 Cor 8:-9:15) treats of the collection for the poor in Jerusalem. The Apostle reminds the Corinthians of the generosity of the faithful of Macedonia (2 Cor 8:1-5). He sends Titus to take their gifts which, because of their many virtues, he is sure will be bountiful (2 Cor 8:6-7). Remembering Christ, who became poor for their sakes, the Corinthians will give willingly and generously according to their means (2 Cor 8:8-15). St. Paul recommends to them Titus and two others, who are charged with making the collection (2 Cor 8:16-24). The faithful of Corinth ought to give liberally, first, because the Macedonians who are coming with the Apostle understand that they are generous (2 Cor 9:1-5), and secondly because of the great reward attached to almsdeeds (2 Cor 9:6-15). 

The Third Part (2 Cor 10:1-13:10) contains the Apostle's personal defense of his Apostolate against his inveterate opponents, the Judaizers. He knows how to conquer all his adversaries (2 Cor 10:1-6), and at his forthcoming visit he will vindicate in person the Apostolic authority in which he glories (2 Cor 10:7-1 1). He will not imitate those who glorify themselves, for he is glorified by God and his own labors (2 Cor 10:12-16); it is God who must praise and recommend (2 Cor 10:17-18).

The Apostle affirms his superiority to his adversaries. He asks to be borne with while he commends himself and his labors (2 Cor 11:1-6). His disinterestedness among the Corinthians is proved by the fact that he refused recompense for his spiritual work (11:7-15). He again begs to be excused if, like his enemies, he glorifies himself (2 Cor 11:16-21); like them, he is a Jew, a servant of Christ (2 Cor 11:22-23); but he has suffered much more than they for his Apostolic ministry (2 Cor 11:24-33). He has enjoyed marvelous visions and revelations wherein he might glory (2 Cor 12:1-5), but he prefers to glory only in his infirmities (2 Cor 12:6-10). If he has had thus to commend himself, it is because the Corinthians have not defended him as they should have done (2 Cor 12:11-18). He is not trying to justify himself before the Corinthians; he is speaking before God for their edification, so that they may not be found back in their former sins when he comes to them (2 Cor 12:19-21). Upon his third visit he will be severe against those who are found impenitent (2 Cor 13:1-6), and he writes these things as a warning, hoping severity may not be necessary (2 Cor 13:7-10).

The Conclusion (2 Cor 13:11-13) consists of a brief exhortation (2 Cor 13:11), mutual salutations (2 Cor 13:12), and an Apostolic Benediction (2 Cor 13:13). We may observe here that there are some authors who make the conclusion of this Epistle begin at 2 Cor 12:19 (cf. Coghlan, St. Paul, p. 16

Father Callan's Introduction to 2 Corinthians Part 3: Authenticiyty and integrity

Authenticity and Integrity of Second Corinthians 

Authenticity.

That St. Paul was the author of this Epistle is admitted not only by all Catholic scholars, but also by the vast majority of non-Catholic authorities. It is true that external wit nesses for its genuineness are somewhat later than for the First Epistle, but from the middle of the second century we find abundant testimonies in its favor. The supposed allusions to it in the writings of Clement of Rome and of St. Ignatius are too vague and uncertain to be of any great value. In Polycarp, however, there are passages which seem clearly to prove that he was familiar with this letter, as well as First Corinthians. "He that raised Him from the dead will raise us also" (Poly., Ad Philip, ii. 2) is evidently a quotation from 2 Cor. 4:14. Also "providing always for that which is honourable in the sight of God and of men" (Poly., op. cit. vi. 1) is very much like 2 Cor. 8:21. Again, "among whom the blessed Paul laboured," etc. (Poly., op. cit. xi. 3) doubtless refers to 2 Cor. 3:2. St. Irenaeus explicitly cites our Epistle several times (Adv. Haer. iv; xxviii. 3; xix. 1 and iii, vii. 1; v, iii. 1; xiii. 4). Sometimes this is done by name: "The Apostle says in the second epistle to the Corinthians" (op. cit. iv, xxviii. 3) ; "in the second to the Corinthians saying" (op. cit. v, iii. 1), after which he quotes from 2 Cor. 2, 3, 4, 5, 13. Clement of Alex, quotes this letter more than forty times (cf. Strom, iv. 16), and Tertullian over seventy times (cf. Adv. Marc, v, xi, xii; de Pud. xiii). St. Cyprian quotes from every chapter of it, excepting 1 and 10. The Epistle was known to the heretic Basilides, and Marcion included it in his own canon. It is also found in the Muratorian Fragment.

Many other authorities might be cited, but the above are some of the principal ones.

The internal evidence in favor of the authorship of this Epistle is as strong as it could be. First of all here we see the person ality, the style, and the peculiar characteristics of St. Paul plainly stamped on every page. Here we find expressed in a very high degree his entire devotedness to the cause of Christ, his intense love for his children in the faith, his burning zeal and that fire of temperament which are so peculiar to the great Apostle. "In its individuality of style, intensity of feeling, inimitable expression of the writer's idiosyncrasy, it may be said to stand at the head of all the Pauline Epistles, Galatians not excepted" (Rob ertson, in Hastings Diet, of the Bible, I. p. 491). Furthermore, so numerous and evident are the similarities between this letter and the Acts of the Apostles and other letters of St. Paul, especially First Corinthians, Romans and Galatians, that no critic could, with out stultifying himself, pretend to deny that the author of all these Epistles was one and the same. This Second Epistle is, in fact, the natural and logical sequel to First Corinthians, either directly or indirectly. The conditions and evils which occasioned the first letter had simply increased and developed at the time when this one was deemed necessary.

Integrity.

That this letter with all its parts was written by St. Paul is, therefore, so universally admitted as to remove all question thereof. As we have seen, both the internal and the external evidence in this regard is overwhelming. And until modern times the integrity of the Epistle has been quite as certain as its authenticity, so far as external evidence goes. All MSS., versions and Fathers are for the entirety of our Epistle as we have it. But some recent scholars, looking carefully into the contents of the letter, have concluded that it contains portions of two or more Epistles, joined together at a very early date, perhaps by some copyist. This conclusion was first drawn by Semler (fi79i), but was little heeded until Hausrath of Heidelberg published a pamphlet in 1870 on "The Four Chapter Epistle of St. Paul." Since that time two portions of the letter especially (2 Cor 6:14-7:1 and 2 Cor 10:1-13:13) have been suspected by many authorities of belonging to some other letter or letters of St. Paul. The reason for regarding the first section (2 Cor 6:14-7:1) as out of place are, (a) because it seems to interrupt the natural flow of the letter, and (b) because 2 Cor 6:13 joins so well with 2 Cor 7:2. Of the authors who hold that this portion does not belong to our present letter some (like Hausrath, McGiffert, Pfleiderer, etc.) think it is a fragment of some other Pauline letter that has been inserted here; while others (such as Sabatier, Hilgenfeld, etc.) believe it to be a part of the letter mentioned in 1 Cor. 5:9.

But the reasons given for this opinion are of little weight, and are against all textual evidence 1 The section is found here in all MSS. How could a fragment of one roll get inserted into the middle of another roll? (Plum.). Many letters and chapters of books contain abrupt paragraphs which do not fit in smoothly with the rest, but no one would therefore necessarily conclude that they are out of place. Moreover, the exhortation of 2 Cor 6:14 ff. follows not unnaturally on what is said in 2 Cor 5:10 and 2 Cor 6:1-2.

The case with x-xiii is not so easily settled. In the first part of the letter (2 Cor 1:12-7:16) St. Paul defends himself against his enemies, in the second part (2 Cor 8:1-9:15) he speaks about the collection for the poor in Jerusalem. Then suddenly in chapter x, without any apparent reason, he opens fire anew on his enemies. The commencement of the chapter is like the beginning of a letter: "Now I Paul myself beseech you," etc. (2 Cor. 10:1). The reasons, therefore, that have led many scholars to regard this section (10-13) as not belonging to 2 Cor. are mainly the notable differences between what is said here and in the first part of the Epistle. For example, here he fears that when he arrives among them he will find them guilty of all kinds of sins and vices (2 Cor 12:20) ; there he recognizes the abundance of their faith and charity (2 Cor 8:7). Here he speaks with harshness and violence (2 Cor 3:1-10) ; there he is so full of sweetness as to feel almost obliged to apologize for it (2 Cor 2:4; 7:8).

But notwithstanding these and other marked differences be tween the first and last parts of this Epistle there seems to be hardly sufficient reason for denying the integrity of the letter. If we take what seems to us probably a more correct view of the matter, we shall find that the last chapters follow pretty naturally upon those that precede.

In the first part of the Epistle the Apostle is speaking more directly to that portion of the Corinthian community which has remained faithful to him, or at least has returned to him; and to these he explains, in calm and moderate language, the events and circumstances that have occasioned the misunderstanding between him and them. But toward the end of the letter, while still addressing the whole Church, he is speaking of his deter mined enemies, and therefore he uses more vigorous language and takes occasion to show his adversaries how superior to them he really is. The last part appears to suppose the first part and could not very well have been written before it, at least in its entirety. There seems to be a rather necessary and natural connection between the two. For instance, we find the same ideas expressed in 2 Cor 1:15 and 2 Cor 10:14; in 2 Cor 2:2; 7:9; 13:10; in 2 Cor 3:1; 5:12; 10:18; 11:16. 2 Cor 13:11-13. are evidently addressed to the readers of the first chapters, whom they presuppose. And even within the last section (10-13) a marked distinction is made at times between different readers. Some are addressed in terms of affection (2 Cor 11:2, 11; 12:19), while others are objects of extreme severity (2 Cor 11:4, 13, 21).

We are well aware that opponents of the integrity of the Epistle point to a great number of passages in Chapters 1-9 which, they say, suppose the previous writing of many things contained in the last four chapters. Thus they tell us that 2 Cor. 1:23, "To spare you, I came not any more to Corinth," etc., and 2 Cor. 2:1, "I determined this with myself, not to come to you again in sorrow," find their natural explanation only in 2 Cor. 10-13, where it is explicitly stated, "If I come again, I will not spare" (2 Cor. 13:2). Also 2 Cor. 2:4, "Out of much affliction, and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears," cannot be understood aside from reference to the affliction and anguish that are expressed in 2 Cor. 10-13, which, therefore, must have been written beforehand. Again 2 Cor. 3:1 says, "Do we begin again to commend ourselves?" and 2 Cor. 5:12, "We commend not ourselves again to you," etc. Now when do we find St. Paul commending himself, except in the closing chapters of 2 Cor., where there is question of "boasting" seventeen different times? Likewise 2 Cor. 7:8-9, "Although I made you sorrowful by my epistle," etc., does not apply to 1 Cor., but is very natural if referred to the last chapters of 2 Cor. Furthermore, in 2 Cor. 7:15 St. Paul, speaking of the report made to him by Titus, upon the latter's return from Corinth, says, "He remembereth the obedience of you all," etc. How, we are asked, can this be made to harmonize with 2 Cor. 10:6, where the Apostle says he is "in readiness to revenge all disobedience," etc., unless the latter was written before the former?

Finally, to sum up, we are asked how it is possible that St. Paul, in the same letter, could speak with so much confidence and approval in the first nine chapters, and then with such distrust and fear in the closing chapters. For example, "In faith you stand" (2 Cor 1:23) ; "my joy is the joy of you all" (2 Cor 2:3) ; "You are the epistle of Christ" (2 Cor 3:3) ; "great is my glorying for you" (2 Cor 7:4) ; "your zeal for me" (2 Cor 7:7) ; "in all things you have shewed yourselves to be undefiled in the matter" (2 Cor 7:11); "remembering the obedience of you all" (2 Cor 7:15); "I rejoice that in all things I have confidence in you" (2 Cor 7:16) ; "in all things you abound in faith, and word, and knowledge, and all carefulness," etc. (2 Cor 8:7). And after all these commendations to say towards the end: "I fear lest perhaps when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found by you such as you would not. Lest perhaps contentions, envyings, animosi ties, dissensions, detractions, whisperings, swellings, seditions, be among you. Lest again, when I come, God humble me among you : and I mourn many of them that sinned before, and have not done penance for the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness, that they have committed" (2 Cor 12:20-21). To speak at the close of a letter so harshly, and in tones so contrary to what has preceded in the first part is, we are reminded, an incongruity and a want of tact which can hardly be supposed in St. Paul.

These are some of the passages cited and some of the arguments adduced by those who think the last four chapters of our Epistle preceded, in time, the writing of the other chapters. But in view of what we have said above we are not convinced that there is sufficient reason for departing from the traditional position regarding the integrity of this letter. St. Paul in the closing chapters was speaking of his inveterate enemies, and it would be only natural if there he repeated many things he had already said in the severe intermediate letter written previously from Ephesus. It is to this intermediate letter, now lost, that the above passages from 2 Cor. 1-11 doubtless refer. Cf. Jacquier, in Diet, de la Bible, torn, ii, col. 1000 ff.

Father Callan's Introduction to 2 Corinthians, Parts 1 and 2


INTRODUCTION

The Occasion and Purpose of this Letter.

Although the present Epistle is the only extant source from which we may gather the events and causes that called it forth, scholars find in the information which it affords reasons for two opposing conclusions. All are agreed that it immediately followed upon knowledge communicated to St. Paul in Macedonia regarding conditions in Corinth (2 Cor. 2:12-13; 7:6). But what in particular was it among the faithful there, reported by Titus, that gave rise to this Epistle? Was it the reception of First Corinthians, or of a letter subsequent to First Corinthians? Certainly whatever Paul had written thither had much to do with the situation as observed and reported by Titus.

The opinion universally accepted until recently held that this second Epistle was occasioned by information brought to St. Paul from Corinth, perhaps by Timothy first (1 Cor. 4:17; 16:10) but later certainly by Titus (2 Cor. 7:6), shortly after the Corinthians had received our first canonical letter. In recent years, however, the opinion has been gaining adherents which believes that the present letter was occasioned by the report that followed a letter written by St. Paul to the faithful of Corinth after their reception of First Corinthians. According to this latter opinion, then, St. Paul addressed four Epistles to the Corinthians : (a) that mentioned in 1 Cor. 5:9, which has been lost; (b) our First Corinthians; (c) this intermediate Epistle, which has also been lost; (d) our Second Corinthians.

    1. Patrons of the first opinion explain as follows: St. Paul sent Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia and Corinth (Acts 19:22; 1 Cor. 4:17; 16:10) shortly before he dispatched our first canonical letter. Whether Timothy ever reached Corinth or not, we do not know. If he did, his arrival there likely took place about the same time that First Corinthians was received. At any rate, St. Paul, perhaps fearing for the certainty, or for the success, of Timothy's visit to Corinth, soon sent Titus thither with instructions to take account of conditions among the Corin thians, to observe the effect of the letter recently sent them, and to report to him at Troas (2 Cor. 2:12-13; x12:18). The Apostle was intending to remain at Ephesus until Pentecost (1 Cor. 16:8), but the unexpected tumult stirred up by Demetrius (Acts 19:23) caused him to hasten his departure. Arriving at Troas earlier than he had calculated and not finding Titus there, he went immediately to Macedonia (2 Cor. 2:13). Shortly the envoy arrived, and gave the Apostle a complete account of con ditions and affairs at Corinth. The report was, on the whole, consoling (2 Cor. 7:6). The letter had been well received and had produced salutary results, causing many of the faithful to feel real sorrow for their misdeeds and to grieve for having offended the Apostle, whose authority they now admitted without question (2 Cor. 7:7 ff.). They had expelled the incestuous man from their number, thus bringing him to repentance; and now they asked St. Paul how they should conduct themselves towards this repentant sinner (2 Cor. 2:5 ff.).

But Titus also had something unpleasant to report. There were still in the Corinthian community those who refused to acknowledge St. Paul's Apostolic authority. While his letter had saddened some of the faithful unto repentance, it had turned others against him and had greatly aroused the fury of his enemies, who now seemed to belong to the faction of the Judaizers, but who pretended to be Apostles of a very superior order (2 Cor. xi. 5; 12:11). They redoubled their bitter attacks on St. Paul, accusing him of fickleness and vacillation (2 Cor. 1:15-17), and of commending himself because no one else had recommended or would recommend him (2 Cor. 3:1-2). They said his preaching was most obscure and full of veiled meanings (2 Cor. 4:2-3) ; when present he was grovelling in his humility, but when absent he was full of pride and arrogance (2 Cor. 10:1-2) ; his appearance was weak and insignificant (2 Cor. 10:10) ; he acted like a fool, an insane man (2 Cor. 11:1, 16) ; he was too proud, or too uncertain of the reality and truth of his Apostolate, to accept support from the faithful (2 Cor. 11:16-21) ; his pretended visions and revelations were only the ravings of his own disordered brain and imagination (2 Cor. 12:1-10) ; he was a nobody (2 Cor. 12:11) ; he was crafty, a deceiver full of guile (2 Cor. 12:16-18) ; and he seemed to realize that he was a self-appointed, untimely Apostle (1 Cor. 15:8-9). Titus had further to report that the collection for the poor Christians in Jerusalem was not making sufficient progress (2 Cor. 8:1 ff.), and that there was grave danger of a new outbreak of dissension and trouble (2 Cor. 12:20-21; 13:1-10).

These tidings, partly pleasing and partly saddening, announced by Titus to Paul in Macedonia were, according to the first opinion explained above, the occasion of the present Epistle. The Apostle wished, first of all, to express his satisfaction that so many of the faithful were now true to him, to explain why he had written the previous letter, and to give definite instructions for the collection in behalf of the poor of Jerusalem. Secondly, he wished to reply to the attacks of his adversaries, and thus to establish, on a final and unshaken basis, his Apostolic authority.

2. The opinion which is more popular to-day gives a different explanation of the cause which was chiefly responsible for the information that provoked our Second Corinthians. The effect of our first canonical Epistle to the Corinthians seems to have been disappointing. Paul's authority and influence at Corinth appeared to be waning. The letter which he had hoped would promote a spirit of peace and harmony between the various factions, while doing some good, stirred up among his enemies a new and violent storm. His excommunication of the incestuous man (1 Cor. 5:1-13) had so enraged the Judaizers that Timothy, who had been sent to Corinth (1 Cor. 16:10), was unable to handle the situation, and so returned to Ephesus, bringing to Paul a sad report of the state of affairs. Straightway the Apostle set out for Corinth in person (2 Cor. 12:14). Upon arriving there his reception was very humiliating. Being unprepossessing in appearance and inelegant in speech he availed but little by his presence against his powerful enemies (2 Cor. 10:10). On the contrary, he seems to have sustained some severe public insult or injury (2 Cor. 2:4-11; 7:12). In affliction and sorrow of spirit he therefore returned to Ephesus; but from there he soon addressed to the Corinthians a letter so terrible in its tone and contents that he afterwards repented having written it (2 Cor. 2:4; 7:8). Anxious to learn the effect of this letter he sent Titus to Corinth, perhaps as bearer of the letter, with instructions to observe effects and investigate matters, and report to him at Troas. As said above, the Apostle was obliged to leave Ephesus sooner than he had first planned, and so met Titus in Macedonia, before the latter could arrive at Troas (2 Cor. 2:13). The tidings brought by Titus relative to the general situation, and in particular with regard to the effect of this severe letter sent by St. Paul, occasioned the writing of 2 Corinthians, which, according to this opinion, was in reality the fourth Epistle addressed to the Church of Corinth. The force of this opinion depends upon the establishment of three points: (a) that St. Paul visited Corinth before leaving Ephesus; (b) that a letter intervened between our First and Second Corinthians; (c) that the offender of 2 Cor. 2:5 ff. was other than the incestuous man of 1 Cor. 5:1 ff.

(a) That St. Paul paid the Corinthians an unexpected visit before writing our present letter seems certain from his own words. He says he will not come to them again in sorrow (2 Cor. 2:1). But his first visit to them, when he came as a stranger to announce the glad tidings of the Gospel, was surely not in sorrow ; it must have been in great joy, with high anticipations of the harvest he would reap there. Again he says: "Behold, now the third time I am ready to come to you" (2 Cor. 12:14) ; "this is the third time I am coming to you" (2 Cor. 13:1). If this second visit to Corinth had preceded the writing of First Corinthians, as some have suggested, there would cer tainly be some mention of it in that Epistle; but such a thing is not even hinted in that letter.

(b) To the supporters of this second hypothesis it seems that the terms used by St. Paul in 2 Cor. relative to the Epistle that had immediately preceded it cannot be applied to 1 Cor., and hence they must refer to an intermediate letter. Referring to that letter the Apostle says (2 Cor. 2:4) that he wrote it "out of much affliction, and anguish of heart, and with many tears," etc. He not only flayed his adversaries, but he delivered, as it were, an ultimatum to the faithful themselves that he might test their spirit (2 Cor. 2:9; 7:11). The letter was so severe that he was afterwards sorry he had sent it (2 Cor. 7:8). Such passages as these, as well as those of 2 Cor 7:12; 10:1, 9, 10, can only with greatest difficulty be made applicable to First Corin thians; they postulate an intermediate letter. This conclusion is made still more likely when we reflect that St. Paul could hardly have sent Titus to Corinth where he was unknown without some letter of recommendation, some sign of authorization. Influenced by the force of these arguments some scholars have gone so far as to say that the last part of our Second Corinthians (2 Cor 10:1-13:10) constitute that intermediate Epistle, or at least a part of it. This, however, we cannot well admit, although there is doubtless a very sudden break in the continuity of thought at x. 1, and the tone of the following chapters is very different. We must remember that this letter throughout is one of many different, swiftly changing and contrary moods.

The defenders of the first opinion, explained above, say that the expressions of rebuke, denunciation and sorrow alluded to in the passages just cited from 2 Cor. can find their explanation in certain sections of our first canonical letter. The severe words referred to as addressed to the Corinthians, they maintain, are found in 1 Cor. 4:18-21; 5:1-2; 6:8; 11:17-22; while others, which the Apostle's enemies regarded as proud and arrogant, are in 1 Cor. 2:16; 4:1; 9:11; 14:8; 15:8.

(c) The references in 2 Cor. 2:5-1 1 to some offender cannot very well apply to the incestuous man. They seem rather to refer to some bitter member of the Judaizing party. It does not appear at all likely that the "indignation," the "fear," the "revenge," etc., of 2 Cor. 7:11-12 could refer to what is said of the incestuous person of 1 Cor. 5:1 ff. In 2 Cor. 7:12 the Apostle seems to be utterly careless of the destiny of the transgressor: "I wrote to you . . . not for his sake that did the wrong . . . but to manifest our carefulness that we have for you" ; whereas in 1 Cor. 5:5 he says that his action against the offender was in order that his "spirit may be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." Against the traditional view, then, it would seem that the great transgressor of 2 Cor. 2:5-11 was not the incestuous man of 1 Cor. 5:1, but some outrageous and personal opponent of the Apostle himself.

No matter which of the two hypotheses just exposed we prefer, it still remains true that St. Paul wrote our Second Corinthians in response to information given him by Titus in Macedonia upon the latter's return from Corinth. The Apostle expresses his satisfaction at the good tidings reported, but turns all the fire and force of his wrath upon those who were trying to destroy his Apostolic authority and his work.

Date and Place of Writing.

The first Epistle was written at Ephesus in the spring of perhaps the year 57. Around Pentecost of the same year St. Paul left Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:8) and went to Troas. Not finding Titus there he passed over to Macedonia where he was soon met by Titus and informed of the conditions in Corinth (2 Cor. 2:12-13; 7:5-6). It was there in Macedonia, perhaps at Philippi, as the Vatican MS. and the Peshitto version indicate, that this letter was written probably some time in the autumn of the same year 57. This would allow about four or five months between the writing of the First and Second Epistles. At least so much time would seem to be necessary for the developments that took place at Corinth after the reception of the first letter. But if we accept the second opinion explained above, which to many now seems more probable, a longer period would be required between our first and our second canonical Epistle. Enough time would have to be granted for the intervening visit of St. Paul to Corinth, for the intermediate

letter which is supposed to have followed upon that visit, and for the ensuing developments in the Corinthian Church. Prob ably, therefore, this second letter was not written before the first part of the year 58.

The bearer of the Epistle was perhaps Titus, accompanied by those companions who were to assist in organizing the collection for the poor of Jerusalem (2 Cor. 8:16-24). Who the brother was, "whose praise is in the gospel through all the churches" (2 Cor. 8:18), we do not know. Perhaps it was Barnabas, or Silas, or Luke, or Mark. Likewise we do not know who is meant in verse 22 of the same chapter by the brother who had been "proved diligent in many things." Probably the reference is to Timothy, or Apollo, or Sosthenes, or St. Luke

Sunday, September 03, 2017

RSM Notes on John 19:31-42

BLOOD, WATER AND THE BURIAL OF JESUS

Read Jn 19:31-33.

Recall that the Jewish leaders had initially wanted Jesus to be condemned for violating the Law of Moses (Jn 19:7), but failing in this they accused Jesus of breaking Roman law (Jn 19:12). Now, their concern for the Law of Moses returns as they want to preserve the sanctity of the approaching Sabbath and also avoid the penalty of desanctifying the land (Deut 21:22-23).  The Jewish leaders had shouted, "Away [aron] with him! Away [aron] with him! Crucify him" (Jn 19:15). Now they demand that his body and that of the two others be taken down,better, "taken away"[arthosin]. Both Greek words are derived from airo.

The reference to the preparation day [paraskeue] is widely interpreted by modern scholars as indicating that the death of Jesus--and the Last Supper--each took place a day earlier than what is recorded in the Synoptic Gospels. According to this alleged johannine chronology, Jesus celebrated the Last Supper the night before the actual Feast, and died on its eve, in the late afternoon as the lambs were being slaughtered in the temple. On the Passover eve, preparations were indeed made for the Feast (Mt 26:17-19; Mk 14:12-16; Lk 22:7-13), however, these passages all use various forms of the word hetoimos to refer to these activities; paraskeue always has reference to the Sabbath eve; this is especially clear not only in this verse of John, but also in Mk 15:42 and Lk 23:54. Jn 19:14 is not in contradiction to this since "paraskeue [preparation] of the Passover" is simply a way of saying it was Sabbath eve within Passover time. Modern scholars ignore the fact that in the first century the word "Passover" was applied to the entire eight days stretching from the actual day of Passover to the end of the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread. This usage no doubt developed due to the fact that the daily sacrificial Peace Offerings offered during Unleavened Bread are called "Passovers" in the Old Testament. These were to be eaten with the unleavened bread (2 Chron 35:8-9; Deut 16:2-3). For more on this issue see this interview of Catholic biblical scholar, Dr. Brant Pitre (the hosts are non-Catholic, so other videos they produce should be used with caution).

John describes the Sabbath as megale hemera, literally, "the great day," so called because "this was the sabbath within the octave of the Passover, and for this reason a more solemn day than other sabbaths" (Cornelius a Lapide).

It was the general practice of the Romans to leave the crucified corpses hanging in order to provide a warning to would-be criminals According to the 1st century Jewish scholar, Philo [in Flaccum, 10 #83], the Romans usually catered to Jewish religious sensibilities and did not let the crucified remain hanging. the practice of breaking the legs of the crucified was called crurifragium and was done with an large iron hammer. In 1968 an ossuary (bone box) was found in the Holy Land containing the bones of a crucified man, both his legs had been broken.

Read Jn 19:34-37.

The piercing of Jesus side. Some see an allusion to the Targum Johnathan (also called the Palestinian Targum) on Numbers 20:11, which reads: "And Mosheh (Moses) lifted up his hand, and with his rod struck the rock two times: at the first time it dropped blood; but at the second time there came forth a multitude of waters. And the congregation and their cattle drank."

St Augustine compare the opened side of Christ to the gate of life, the door of the ark through which its inhabitants were saved, and the side of Adam, whence came Eve. He sees all as figures of the Church: The Evangelist has expressed himself cautiously; not struck, or wounded, but opened His side: (ἔνυξε, aperuit V.) whereby was opened the gate of life, from whence the sacraments of the Church flowed, without which we cannot enter into that life which is the true life: And forthwith came thereout blood and water. That blood was shed for the remission of sins, that water tempers the cup of salvation. This it was which was prefigured when Noah was commanded to make a door in the side of the ark, by which the animals that were not to perish by the deluge entered; which animals prefigured the Church. To shadow forth this, the woman was made out of the side of the sleeping man; for this second Adam bowed His head, and slept on the cross, that out of that which came therefrom, there might be formed a wife for Him. O death, by which the dead are quickened, what can be purer than that blood, what more salutary than that wound!

Blood and Water. Water is quite obviously an important theme in John's Gospel and is often associated with themes of purification/forgiveness of sins/salvation. Indeed, the body of the Gospel opens at the Jordan River where John is performing a baptism which does not effect purification/forgiveness. He does, however, declare Jesus to be "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29). Significantly, the Gospel closes at the Sea of Tiberius (Galilee) with Peter entering the water to get to Jesus who offers him a threefold reconciliation for his threefold denial (Jn 21:7, 15-19).

Jesus' revelation of Himself as the giver of "living water" at the well of Samaria set in motion a series of events that led the Samaritans to hail Him as "Savior of the world" (see Jn 4:1-14, 42).

It was Jesus, the giver (and source) of living water, rather than the waters of the Sheep Gate Pool, that healed the ill man. After the healing, Jesus said to the man, "do not sin any more" (Jn 5:2-9, 14).

The most obvious connection to the blood and water is the episode of Cana (Jn 2:1-11). Water used for purification was made--the Greek text literally says "born"--into wine. There is obvious baptismal imagery here for latter Jesus speaks to Nicodemus of the necessity of being born from above of water and the Holy Spirit. Both episodes allude to Jesus' death: at the Cana episode with reference to Jesus' "hour"  and His "glory"(Jn 2:4, 11); and at the Nicodemus episode with reference to his being "lifted up" and the Father giving His only Son (Jn 3:14-16). These two episodes surround Jesus' statement concerning His death (Jn 2:13-22): "Destroy this temple," i.e., my body, "and in three days I will raise it up." The "lifting up" of Jesus on the cross inaugurates His hour of glory and sets in motion the process by which we are "born from above." Thus the crucifixion itself is baptismal: "The soldier's lance thrust was meant to demonstrate that Jesus was truly dead; but this affirmation of death is paradoxically the beginning of life, for from the dead man there flows living water that will be the source of life for all who believe in him in imitation of the Beloved Disciple" (Fr. Raymond Brown, The Anchor Bible, The Gospel According to John XIII-XXI, pg. 950). See Rom 6:1-11.

Water and blood  flowing from the temple-body of Jesus also recalls some Old Testament prophecies, notably Ezekiel 47. Dr. John Bergsma writes:  "Ezekiel 47 and other passages from the OT prophets foresaw a river of life which one day would flow from the heart of the New Temple in the age to come. Our Lord identifies himself as the New Temple (John 2:20-21) and as the one from whom the river of life will flow (John 7:38). John 19:34 is a sign of the fulfillment of that promise.

"Ancient Jewish readers would have recognized the significance of the bloody flow from the side of Christ as Temple imagery. During festival seasons prior to the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in AD 70, huge amounts of animal blood were generated by the Temple sacrifices. The blood was ducted out of the Temple precincts by a plumbing system which emptied out of the side of the Temple Mount, creating a stream of blood that flowed down and joined the Brook Kidron that flowed along the ravine between the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives. This bloody brook had to be crossed if one entered Jerusalem near the Pool of Siloam. So a “stream of blood and water” would evoke the image of the Temple and the Temple city to the ancient Jewish reader. This phenomenon helped identify the body of Jesus as the New Temple" (source).

An eyewitness has testified. Testimony is an extremely important theme in this gospel but time does not allow me to go into it. I'll merely note that the Greek text indicates that the testimony of the witness (Beloved Disciple) is ongoing. Many translations state that the purpose of the testimony is "so that you may believe," thus taking the Greek word for "believe" as an aorist subjunctive. The best manuscripts have the word in the present tense: "so that you may continue to believe." According to Fr. Raymond Brown, "This tense implies a continuation and deepening of faith rather than a conversion. The immediate object of faith involves the death of Jesus on the cross and its effects--a truth in which is subsumed the whole revelation of Jesus. The readers are asked to have faith not only in what the eyewitness saw, but also in its theological implications" (Anchor Bible, John XIII-XXI, pg 936).

 For this happened. A better translation would be, "these things happened." Everything that's happened since verse 31 was ordained to fulfill the Scripture and ensure that it was made known.

So that Scripture might be fulfilled. John quotes two passages, the first is difficult to pin down; it reads, "not a bone of it shall be broken." The phrasing appears in both Ex 12:46 and Num 9:12, both relating to the Passover lamb. Some see instead an allusion to Ps 34:21 which speaks of the God's protection of the righteous man: "He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken." Here it should be remembered that in previous posts I have spoken about Jesus as the righteous servant who was led like a lamb to the slaughter. Fr. Brown notes that allusions to both Ps 34:21 and Ex 12:46/Num 9:12 might be intended.

The second text he quotes is taken from Zech 12:10. Much could be said here about the broader context of this prophecy and about its both here and in Rev 1:7 but space and time do not permit it. O these matters one can profitably consult the Protestant reference work Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament.

They shall look [opsantai] on him. The Greek word means to see or behold. What the Beloved Disciple has been an eyewitness to will be beneficial to all who cast they eyes of faith on it. As is often the case in John, sight is here a symbol of believing, just as blindness or a refusal to see is a symbol of unbelief. Fr. Heil writes: This quote brings to a climax the theme of invitations to see and accept...(Jn 19:14-16, 26-27), as it corresponds to the narrator's invitation to accept and believe based on what the beloved disciple has seen (Jn 19:35). That they will look [ophantai] on the one whom they have pierced means that they will see what he has seen [heorakas]--the Life-giving blood flowing from the pierced side of the crucified Jesus (Jn 19:34). This scripture thus invites not only the Jews who asked Pilate that the legs of those crucified be broken and they be taken away (Jn 19:31), but also the soldiers who saw [eidon] that Jesus was already dead so that one of them pricked his side (Jn 19:33-34), to look upon the Life-giving blood and water flowing from the pierced Jesus in order to believe. Readers who already believe will continuously 'look upon the one they have pierced,' contemplating the abundant, inexhaustible rivers of blood and water flowing from the dead Jesus, in order to sustain and renew the eternal life they enjoy by believing" (Jn 4:14, 6:63; 7:37-39). Blood and Water, pg. 112.

Read Jn 19:38-42.

"John wrote his Gospel primarily for Jewish Christians whose faith was wavering, who were under attack by the synagogue for believing in Jesus, and who, because of this persecution , were tending to either remain in or return to the synagogue and thereby apostasize from their faith in Jesus. In brief, John's primary audience was that group of Christian Jews who were straddling the fence between the Christian community and the Jewish synagogue." (The Genius of John, pg. 5. Peter F. Ellis). In other words, the Gospel was written for people like Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus in the hope that they might imitate these two men.

By taking and caring for Jesus' body the two men are preforming an important act of Jewish piety; an act of righteousness that ought to be performed even if it endangered one's own life (Tobit 1:18; 2:1-8).

Jesus, the righteous sufferer's zeal for the temple consumed Him (Jn 2:17, quoting Ps 69:9), and led to the establishment of his dead and risen body as the Temple (Jn 2:13-22). When the temple of Jesus' body was destroyed on the cross, were these two disciples there to look upon the pierced one? Is it the spirit of grace and petition that was to be poured out as a result of that event (Zech 10:12) the reason they overcame their fear and petitioned Pilate for the body? Whatever the case may be they were certainly running a risk in their zeal to care for the temple of Jesus' body. Like the righteous sufferer of the Ps 69 they ran the risk of losing kith and kin (Ps 69:8-13).

The Passion Narrative opened in a garden and we saw Jesus abandoned by His most prominent and public disciple, Peter. Recall also that as Jesus and the most prominent disciples made their way to the garden, He had predicted that they would be scattered "each to his own" (Jn 16:32).  Now as the narrative closes it is two secret disciples who find courage, perhaps as a warning to Church leaders and other faithful Christians not to presume too much concerning themselves, and not to be too heavy handed towards the weak in faith.

The huge amount of spices witnesses to Jesus status as king (2 Chron 16:14); as does a garden tomb (2 Kings 21:18, 26; and the Greek text of Neh 3:16).






Thursday, August 24, 2017

RSM Notes on John 19:23-30

Scripture quotations are from the Lexham English Bible. Copyright 2012 Logos Bible Software. Lexham is a registered trademark of Logos Bible Software. Scripture passages are linked to the NABRE. The LEB has not been approved for Catholics to use for the purpose of private bible study, I use it here because of its broad copyright license.

In my last post we saw that the gentile Pialte, over the objection of Jewish leaders, had an inscription placed on the cross of our Lord, written not only in the Hebrew language, but also in the dominant languages of the then known world, namely,  Greek and Latin. By that act Pilate was unwittingly witnessing to the worldwide dominion of our Lord's kingship. That theme of universality continues in the present passage, but now primarily in relation to Jesus' priestly office.

Jn 19:23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified [estaurosan] Jesus, took [elabon] his clothing [ta himatia] and made four shares [meros]—for each soldier a share [meros]and the tunic [chitona]. (Now the tunic [chiton] was seamless, woven from the top in a single piece.)Jn 19:24 So they said to one another, “Let us not tear [schisomen] it apart, but cast lots for it, to see whose it will be,” so that the scripture would be fulfilled that says,They divided my garments among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.” Thus [men oun] the soldiers did these things. Text in square brackets [..] are my additions.

There is a connection between verse 23 and Jn 19:16-18. In the previous verses it was stated that the Jewish leaders "took" [parelabon] Jesus and "crucified" [estaurosan] him. In verse 23 we see that the act of crucifying Jesus was actually done by the Roman soldiers, thus John indicates that both Jews and Gentiles were active in the death of Jesus. But whereas the Jewish leaders "took" Jesus to crucify Him, the Roman soldiers who effected the crucifixion "took" [elabon] His clothing [ta himatia], and His tunic [chiton]. The former they divided into four shares [meros]; the latter they refused to tear [schisomen]. This recalls the footwashing scene (Jn 13:1-20).

In that scene Jesus "took off [literally, 'laid down'] his outer clothing [ta himatia]" and washed His disciples feet. When Peter objected, the Lord said to him: "Unless I wash you, you do not have a share [meros] with me." Clothing was highly symbolic in the Bible and in the Mediterranean world; it could indicate a favored status (Joseph, Gen 37:3); a function or office (Priests, Exodus 28; Chief Steward, Gen 41:38-45; Isa 22:19-21); familial status (the Prodigal, Lk 15:21-24); a radical change in one's life situation (the demoniac going from naked to clothed, Lk 8:27, 35).  Jesus' clothing is symbolic of His life. When he "laid down" (tithesin, not simply, 'took off', Jn 13:4) his garments during the supper He was committing His life to death in service to "His own" whom he loved (Jn 13:1), the sheep of His flock for whom He would lay down [tithesin] His life (Jn 10:11, 15, 18). Speaking as the Good Shepherd he had indicated that He had other sheep who would become part of His one flock (Jn 10:16), indicating the inclusion of Gentiles. As Jesus is in the very act of laying down His life (which He will take up again Jn 10:17), the soldiers each took--or better, 'received' [elabon]--a share [meros] of that life, symbolized by the clothing, thus foreshadowing the inclusion of non-Jews into the one flock.

Now the tunic was seamless, woven from the top in a single piece [di holou].  This garment identifies Jesus as High Priest. Concerning the tunic the first century Jewish historian, Josephus, who was also a priest, writes: “The high priest is indeed adorned with … a vestment of a blue color. This also is a long robe, reaching to his feet …  Now this vesture was not composed of two pieces, nor was it sewed together upon the shoulders and the sides, but it was one long vestment so woven as to have an aperture for the neck …”  (Josephus, Antiquities 3:159-161). The fact that it was "seamless" and thus of "a single piece" was widely interpreted by the early Church Fathers as a symbol of the Church's unity resulting from Jesus' priestly sacrifice of His life. The first century Jewish scholar, Philo, in his Life of Moses says that the High Priest "represents the world" (2:135), and that his robe is "a representation of the universe" (2:143), thus it is fitting that sharing of the garments, and the non-destruction of the tunic is here associated with non-Jews. 

The fact that this high priestly tunic of Jesus was "in a single piece," or, literally, "of a whole" [di holou] is intended to call to mind the prophecy of the High Priest Caiaphas, who said, "it is profitable for you that one man should die for the people, and the whole [holou] nation not perish.” Commenting on these words the Evangelist wrote: "(Now he did not say this from himself, but being high priest in that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also that the children of God who are scattered would be gathered into one). See Jn 11:50-52.

Let us not tear [schisomen] it apart. Schisomen is from the Greek word schisma. The tearing of a garment symbolized the division of God's people into warring factions (1 Kings 11:29-31). In John's gospel we see several times that their was division among the people (Jn 7:43; 9:16, 10:19, using schisma). According to Leviticus 21:10 the high priest was not to rend his garment. According to Matthew, Caiaphas rent his garment as he declared Jesus guilty of blasphemy, but John says nothing of this. Fr. John Paul Heil notes: "By deciding not to tear or divide Jesus' tunic, the gentile soldiers are symbolically yet unwittingly promoting the communal unity that Jesus' death as the shepherd-king and unique high priest will effect (Blood and Water, pg. 91). They are also promoting the fact that gentiles will be included in that communal unity.

Jn 19:25 Now [de] his mother and the sister of his mother, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene were standing near the cross of Jesus.
Jn 19:26 So Jesus, seeing his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing there, said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son!”
Jn 19:27 
Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took [elaben] her into his own home.

The previous episode ended with the statement "thus [men oun] the soldiers did these things." The current episode opens with the adversative de. The Greek construction establishes the following sense: as the soldiers were dealing with Jesus' garments, Jesus himself saw his mother, etc. In other words, the two event unfold simultaneously. As the gentile soldiers unwittingly fulfilled the prophecy of Ps 22:18, and prophetically foreshadowing the fact that the gentiles would have a share [meros] in the life giving significance of Jesus' death, Jesus was Himself engaging in an act of revelation. Fr. Francis J Moloney writes: "A careful reading fo the passage shows that the Fourth Evangelist has the crucified King address his Mother and the Beloved disciple in a way that specifically  calls upon a pattern of revelation. This pattern comes to him from the biblical tradition. Jesus saw his mother and the disciple, he said to his mother: 'Behold!', and he said to the disciple, 'Behold!'. This pattern is used by the prophets when they speak authoritatively in the name of the Yahweh (see, for example, Isa 49:18; 60:4; Bar 4:36-37; 5:5; Ezek 1:4-3:11; 37:7-14; Dan 2:31-45). In the prophets and in this scene at the Cross in the Fourth Gospel the same elements appear: sight, address, a command, 'Behold', leading to a revelation of the ways and the will of God. For the Fourth Evangelist, the crucified Son of God is revealing the will and the ways of God by means of this formula as he solemnly establishes a new relationship between his mother and his disciples." (Mary, Woman and Mother, pgs 45-46).

The revelatory nature of this episode, mention of the Mother of Jesus, His calling her "woman," and the use of the word "hour" clearly call to mind the miracle of Cana where Jesus first "revealed his glory" (Jn 2:1-12). Most manuscripts of the Cana miracle begin by describing the mother of Jesus, Jesus, and the disciples as attending the wedding at Cana; and they end by stating that these same people, along with Jesus' brothers, left Cana for Capernuam. The oldest and best manuscripts however, are somewhat different. They begin with the same people, but the disciples are not mentioned at the end, where the brothers are introduced. In my opinion these older manuscripts are correct, and that we are to understand that the disciples and brothers are one and the same. They came to Cana as disciples, but seeing the revealing of of Jesus glory and believing in Him established them as His brothers. In other words, they came to Cana as disciples, but they left as brothers. The Beloved Disciple (representing all believers) came to Calvary as a disciple and became a brother. 

The disciple took [elaben] her into his own  [ta idia] home. Throughout John's Gospel various forms of the word lambano (such as elaben) have been used to refer to the reception or non-reception of a divine person (Jesus, Jn 1:10-11; Holy Spirit, Jn 14:17; 20:22); or of a divinely given gift such as teaching (Jn 3:11, 32-33), or, as here, the Virgin Mary as mother. 

Ta idia has a fairly broad range of meaning and could indicate a home, but Greek has a specific word for that (okia). Basically the words designates one's cares, concern, business, etc., (1 Thess 4:11). The Good Shepherd knows His own (Jn 10:3-4). Jesus lays down His life for the sheep that are His own (Jn 10:14-15). Jesus loved His own unto the end (Jn 13:1). Jesus came unto His own (Jn 1:11). John received Mary as a divinely given gift into all his cares and concerns; an intimate parent-child relationship. 

Jn 19:28 After this, Jesus, knowing (eidos) that now at last everything (panta) was completed, in order that the scripture would be fulfilled (teleiothe), said, “I am thirsty.”
Jn 19:29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a branch of hyssop and brought it to his mouth.
Jn 19:30 Then when he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, “It is completed
(tetelestai),” and bowing his head, he gave up his spirit
.



 Father John Paul Heil captures the significance of these verses and their connection with the beginning of the Passion (chap, 18), and with the beginning of the Last Supper (chap. 13). He writes: The Jesus who knew (eidos) everything (panta) that was coming upon him when he went out to meet those who arrested him (Jn 18:4) now knew (eidos) that everything (panta) had already been accomplished (Jn 19:28). When Jesus knew (eidos) that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father, having loved those who were his own in the world, he loved them unto the end (telos)--not only to the end of his "hour' but to the "perfection" or "completion" of his love (Jn 13:1). The love demonstrated by the death of Jesus has been brought to its perfection or completion now that the Beloved Disciple the representative recipient of that love, has accepted the Mother of Jesus, the model of authentic faith, to form the community of those who love one another in faithful response to the great love Jesus has manifested for them to the 'end' (Jn 19:27).  Consequnetly, the Jesus who knew (eidos) that the the Father had given everything (panta) into his hands (Jn 13:3) so that he could love his own to the end now knew (eidos) that everything (panta) had been accomplished (tetelestai), that is, brought to completion, its perfect end (Blood and Water, pg. 99)."

A jar full of sour wine was standing there...when he had received the sour wine... he gave up his spirit. These words are another recall of the episode of Cana.  In that episode it was indicated that there were six stone water jars set there. These, in obedience to Jesus' word were filled with water which He then made into good wine. This act was an initial manifestation (one might say foreshadowing) of the glory that would be revealed by the Paschal mystery. Concerning the connection between Cana and Calvary Professor Joseph A. Grassi writes: "The emphasis [at Cana] in on perfect obedience to Jesus' word. This is noted three times: by Mary's word, by the waiters filling the jars as Jesus directed, and by their obedience to his command to bring the jars to the chief steward. We note the parallel to the seventh sign [for Grassi this is the crucifixion], where Jesus obeys the scriptures and God's plan by taking the imperfect bitter wine as the cup of suffering prepared by the Father (Jn 19:28-30). Thus Mary directs the community to obey Jesus' word, just as he obeyed his Father's....The episode at Cana may then mean that the choice wine of the new age can only be prepared in obedience to Jesus' words, just as the parallel blood/water/spirit from Jesus' side was only made possible by his acceptance of the imperfect, bitter 'blood of the grape' in obedience to his Father. The community must participate in Jesus' hour and its meaning if they wish to receive the choice wine and Spirit made possible by his death" (Mary, Mother & Disciple: From the Scriptures to the Council of Ephesus, pg 86. Text in square brackets are my additions).