Tractates on the Gospel of John - Vol. 3

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

TRACTATE 36

On John 8.15-18

IN THE four Gospels, or rather the four books of the one Gospel, the holy Apostle John, not unjustly compared to an eagle 1. because of his spiritual understanding, has elevated his preaching more highly and much more sublimely than the other three. And in this elevation of his, he also wanted our hearts to be elevated. For the three other evangelists, as though they were walking on earth with the Lord, a man, said few things about his divinity; but this [evangelist], as if he loathed to walk upon the earth, as he thundered at the very beginning of his discourse, elevated himself not only above the earth and above all the circuit of air and sky, but also above even the whole host of angels and above the whole hierarchy of invisible powers; and he came to him through whom all things were made, saying, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him and without him was made nothing." 2. Harmonious to such a sublime beginning as this, he also preached the rest and he spoke about the divinity of the Lord as has no other man. He uttered what he had imbibed. 3. For not without reason is it told about him in this very Gospel that at the supper he reclined upon the Lord's bosom. 4. From that bosom he imbibed secretly; but what he imbibed secretly he has uttered openly that there may come to all nations not only

____________________
1.
Cf. Introduction, FOTC 78, note 2, and Tractate 15.1.
2.
Jn 1.1-3.
3.
Augustine's language is much more concrete, as is usual in Latin, but the resultant English has a tone of vulgarity that the Latin lacks: he belched out what he had drunk.
4.
Cf. Jn 13.23.

-81-

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