The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

St Augustine’s Tractate 120 on John 20:1-9

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 3, 2012

The following is an excerpt from St Augustine’s Tractate 12o on the Holy Gospel According to St John. The entire tractate is on John 19:31-20:9 and can be read here.

“And on the first of the week came Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and saw the stone taken away from the sepulchre.” The first of the week is what Christian practice now calls the Lord’s day, because of the resurrection of the Lord. “She ran, therefore, and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid Him.” Some of the Greek codices have, “They have taken my Lord,” which may likely enough have been said by the stronger than ordinary affection of love and handmaid relationship; but we have not found it in the several codices to which we have had access).

“Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and that other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.” The repetition here is worthy of notice and of commendation for the way in which a return is made to what had previously been omitted, and yet is added just as if it followed in due order. For after having already said, “they came to the sepulchre,” he goes back to tell us how they came, and says, “so they ran both together,” etc. Where he shows that, by outrunning his companion, there came first to the sepulchre that other disciple, by whom he means himself, while he relates all as if speaking of another.

“And he stooping down,” he says, “saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and saw the linen clothes lying, and the napkin, which had been about His head, not lying with the linen clothes, but folded up in one place by itself.” Do we suppose these things have no meaning? I can suppose no such thing. But we hasten on to other points, on which we are compelled to linger by the need there is for investigation, or some other kind of obscurity. For in such things as are self-manifest, the inquiry into the meaning even of individualdetails is, indeed, a subject of holy delight, but only for those who have leisure, which is not the case with us.

“Then went in also that other disciple who had come first to the sepulchre.” He came first, and entered last. This also of a certainty is not without a meaning, but I am without the leisure needful for its explanation. “And he saw, and believed.” Here some, by not giving due attention, suppose that Jn believed that Jesus had risen again; but there is no indication of this from the words that follow. For what does he mean by immediately adding, “For as yet they knew not the scripture, that He must rise again from the dead”? He could not then have believed that He had risen again, when he did not know that it behoved Him to rise again. What then did he see? what was it that he believed? What but this, that he saw the sepulchre empty, and believed what the woman had said, that He had been taken away from the tomb? “For as yet they knew not the scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.” Thus also when they heard of it from the Lord Himself, although it was uttered in the plainest terms, yet from their custom of hearing Him speaking by parables, they did not understand, and believed that something else was His meaning. But we shall put off what follows till another discourse.

4 Responses to “St Augustine’s Tractate 120 on John 20:1-9”

  1. […] St Augustine’s Tractate 120 on the Gospel of John 20:1-9. […]

  2. Beautiful. I have been reading some of St Augustine’s Confessions. Quite interesting reading.

  3. […] St Augustine’s Tractate 120 on the Gospel of John 20:1-9. […]

  4. […] St Augustine’s Tractate 120 on John 20:1-9. Posted on Easter. […]

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