Tractates on the Gospel of John - Vol. 5

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

TRACTATE 1
On 1 Jn 1.1-2.11

"THAT WHICH was from the beginning, which we have heard and which we have seen with our eyes and our hands have handled: the Word of life." Who is he who handles the Word with his hands except that "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us"?1. Now this Word that was made flesh that it might be handled by hands began to be flesh from the Virgin Mary. But the Word did not then begin; for [ John] said, "That which was from the beginning." See if his Epistle does not confirm his Gospel where just a little while ago2. you heard, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God."3. Perhaps concerning "the Word of life" one might so take it as a kind of speaking about Christ, not as the very body of Christ which was handled by hands.4. See what follows: "And the Life itself was manifested." Therefore Christ is the Word of Life. And in what way was [the Life] manifested? For it "was from the beginning," but it was not manifested to men; it was, however, manifested to the angels, seeing [it] and feed-

____________________
1.
Cf. Jn 1.14.
2.
modo. The gospel reading for Easter Sunday on which the Tractate was delivered was Jn 1, and it was read at the morning service. S. Poque has clearly established, as was discussed in the introduction above, that there were two assemblies of Augustine's congregation on each day of Easter Week and that this sermon was given at the evening service, while the Gospel was read at the morning service. Hence the translation. See Poque, Les Lectures, 222-26.
3.
Cf. Jn. 1.1.
4.
Augustine seems to be indirectly offering an explanation of the brachyological syntax of this sentence which lacks a main clause and in which the phrase, "of the Word of life," ( 1 Jn 1.1) is semantically ambiguous. He seems to take the "sentence" rather as a title of this epistle: "On the Word of life which we. . . ." Likewise he equates the Word of life with Christ and sees a clear reference to Jn 1.1. For a thorough discussion of this complex sentence see R. E. Brown, The Epistles of John, in The Anchor Bible (Garden City, New York, 1982) 30. 152-66. In the prologue and the opening sentence of this tractate Augustine calls this work an epistle and raises no questions about its genre; a good summary of modern views is given by Brown, 86-92.

-121-

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Tractates on the Gospel of John - Vol. 5
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Abbreviations vii
  • Select Bibliography for Tr in Ev ix
  • Select Bibliography for Tr in Io Ep xi
  • Tractates on the Gospel of John 112-24 1
  • Tractate 112 on John 18.1-12 3
  • Tractate 113 on John 18.13-27 9
  • Tractate 114 on John 18.28-32 16
  • Tractate 115 on John 18.33-40 21
  • Tractate 116 on John 19.1-16 27
  • Tractate 117 33
  • Tractate 118 39
  • Tractate 119 45
  • Tractate 120 50
  • Tractate 121 on John 20.10-29 56
  • Tractate 122 on John 20.30-31, 21.1-11 62
  • Tractate 123 74
  • Tractate 124 - On John 21.19-25 82
  • Tractates on the First Epistle of John 1-10 95
  • Introduction 97
  • Prologue 119
  • Tractate 1 on 1 Jn 1.1-2.11 121
  • Tractate 2 on I Jn 2.12--17 141
  • Tractate 3 on 1 Jn 2.18-27 159
  • Tractate 4 on 1 Jn 2.27-3.9 173
  • Tractate 5 on 1 Jn 3.9-18 185
  • Tractate 6 on 1 Jn 3.18-4.3 198
  • Tractate 7 217
  • Tractate 8 on I Jn 4.12-16 228
  • Tractate 9 on 1 Jn 4.17-21 246
  • Tractate 10 on 1 Jn 5.1-3 262
  • Indices 279
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