Tractates on the Gospel of John - Vol. 3

By St Augustine; John W. Rettig | Go to book overview
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TRACTATE 29

On John 7.14-18

LET us also look next at what follows in the Gospel and was read today, and from it let us say what God has bestowed. Yesterday it had been read up to this point: that, although they had not seen the Lord Jesus in the temple during the festival day, they still were talking about him. "And some were saying, 'He is a good man.' But others were saying, 'No, but he seduces the crowds.'" 1. For this was said for the solace of those who, later on, preaching the word of God, would be as seducers and yet truthful men. 2. For if to seduce 3. is to deceive, neither was Christ a seducer nor were his Apostles, nor ought any Christian be a seducer; but if to seduce is to lead someone from one position to another by persuasion, it must be asked from what and to what. If from evil to good, the seducer is good; if from good to evil, the seducer is evil. Therefore, on this side, where men are seduced from evil to good, may all of us both be called and be seducers!

2. Afterwards, therefore, the Lord "went up" to the festival day, "when the feast was half over, and taught. And the Jews wondered, saying, 'How does this man know letters since he has not learned?"' He who was hiding taught and spoke openly, and he was not seized. For that act, his hiding, was for the sake of example; this one [served to show his] power. But when he taught, "the Jews wondered." All of them indeed, I think, wondered, but not all were converted. And why this

____________________
1.
Jn 7.12.
2.
Cf. 2 Cor 6.8.
3.
The Latin verb seducere has several connotations, including the neutral "to lead aside" and the pejorative "to lead astray." The English "seduce" seems entirely pejorative, but no synonym occurred to the translator which adequately expresses Augustine's point.

-14-

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