St. John must have been familiar with the teaching of traditional interpretation respecting the Meymera as contained in the Chaldee paraphrases; indeed, the more “unlearned” and “ignorant” he was, the more he must have relied upon the Chaldee paraphrases for the knowledge of the Old Testament, the Hebrew having been for centuries a dead language. We have a Chaldee paraphrase of great antiquity on so early and familiar a chapter as the third of Genesis, explaining the voice of the Lord God by the voice of the Meymera, or Word of the Lord God (Genesis iii.).
The natural rendering of this word into Greek would be Logos. I repeat, then, that, humanly speaking, if he had never entertained the idea before, a very short conversation with an Alexandrian Jew would have furnished him with all the “philosophy” required to make the four statements in which he simply identifies the Logos with the Divine Nature of his Lord.
Of course, I do not for a moment believe that the Apostle was enabled to write the exordium of his Gospel by any such inspiration. There is not a more direct utterance of the Holy Spirit in all Scripture than that which we have in the prelude to the Fourth Gospel.
But in the eyes of a Christian the grace of the Holy Spirit is shown in the power and explicitness, and above all in the simplicity of the assertions which identify the human conception, if such it can be called, of Platonism, or Judaism, with the highest divine truth.
I believe that if the Apostle wrote those sentences at the time handed down by the Church’s tradition, that is, when Cerinthian and other heresies respecting our Lord’s nature were beginning to be felt, the power of the Holy Spirit was put forth to restrict him to these few simple utterances, and to restrain his human intellect from overloading them with philosophical or controversial applications of them, which would have marred their simplicity and diminished their power. [117:1]
EXTERNAL PROOFS OF THE AUTHENTICITY OF OUR FOUR GOSPELS.
We have now shown that Justin Martyr, the principal witness brought forward by the author of “Supernatural Religion” to discredit the Four Evangelists, either made use of the very books which we now possess, or books which contain exactly the same information respecting our Lord’s miraculous Birth, Death, Resurrection, and moral teaching. We have seen, also, that Justin gives us, along with the teaching of the Synoptics, that peculiar teaching respecting the pre-existent Divine nature of Jesus which, as far as can be ascertained, was to be found only in the Fourth Gospel, and which is consequently called Johannean; and that, besides this, he refers to the history, and adopts the language, and urges the arguments which are to be found only in St. John.
We have also shown that there are no internal considerations whatsoever for supposing that Justin did not make use of the Fourth Gospel. Instead, for instance, of the doctrine of St. John being a development of that held by Justin Martyr, the facts of the case all point to the contrary.