Lectio notes for John 18: 1-18

Giotto

With Chapter 18 of St John's Gospel, the scene now moves to the Garden of Gethsemane, and Jesus' betrayal by Judas.

The text

The Greek, Latin and Knox translation can be found on the New Advent page.  You can listen to it read in Latin and/or the Greek.   Here is the Latin:

Hæc cum dixisset Jesus, egressus est cum discipulis suis trans torrentem Cedron, ubi erat hortus, in quem introivit ipse, et discipuli ejus. 2 Sciebat autem et Judas, qui tradebat eum, locum: quia frequenter Jesus convenerat illuc cum discipulis suis. 3 Judas ergo cum accepisset cohortem, et a pontificibus et pharisæis ministros, venit illuc cum laternis, et facibus, et armis. 4 Jesus itaque sciens omnia quæ ventura erant super eum, processit, et dixit eis: Quem quæritis? 5 Responderunt ei: Jesum Nazarenum. Dicit eis Jesus: Ego sum. Stabat autem et Judas, qui tradebat eum, cum ipsis. 6 Ut ergo dixit eis: Ego sum: abierunt retrorsum, et ceciderunt in terram. 7 Iterum ergo interrogavit eos: Quem quæritis? Illi autem dixerunt: Jesum Nazarenum. 8 Respondit Jesus: Dixi vobis, quia ego sum: si ergo me quæritis, sinite hos abire. 9 Ut impleretur sermo, quem dixit: Quia quos dedisti mihi, non perdidi ex eis quemquam. 10 Simon ergo Petrus habens gladium eduxit eum: et percussit pontificis servum, et abscidit auriculam ejus dexteram. Erat autem nomen servo Malchus. 11 Dixit ergo Jesus Petro: Mitte gladium tuum in vaginam. Calicem, quem dedit mihi Pater, non bibam illum?12 Cohors ergo, et tribunus, et ministri Judæorum comprehenderunt Jesum, et ligaverunt eum. 13 Et adduxerunt eum ad Annam primum: erat enim socer Caiphæ, qui erat pontifex anni illius. 14 Erat autem Caiphas, qui consilium dederat Judæis: Quia expedit unum hominem mori pro populo. 15 Sequebatur autem Jesum Simon Petrus, et alius discipulus. Discipulus autem ille erat notus pontifici, et introivit cum Jesu in atrium pontificis. 16 Petrus autem stabat ad ostium foris. Exivit ergo discipulus alius, qui erat notus pontifici, et dixit ostiariæ: et introduxit Petrum. 17 Dicit ergo Petro ancilla ostiaria: Numquid et tu ex discipulis es hominis istius? Dicit ille: Non sum. 18 Stabant autem servi et ministri ad prunas, quia frigus erat, et calefaciebant se: erat autem cum eis et Petrus stans, et calefaciens se.

The Douay-Rheims:

When Jesus had said these things, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where there was a garden, into which he entered with his disciples. [2] And Judas also, who betrayed him, knew the place; because Jesus had often resorted thither together with his disciples. [3] Judas therefore having received a band of soldiers and servants from the chief priests and the Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. [4] Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said to them: Whom seek ye? [5] They answered him: Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith to them: I am he. And Judas also, who betrayed him, stood with them. [6] As soon therefore as he had said to them: I am he; they went backward, and fell to the ground. [7] Again therefore he asked them: Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. [8] Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he. If therefore you seek me, let these go their way. [9] That the word might be fulfilled which he said: Of them whom thou hast given me, I have not lost any one. [10] Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it, and struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. And the name of the servant was Malchus.[11] Jesus therefore said to Peter: Put up thy sword into the scabbard. The chalice which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? [12] Then the band and the tribune, and the servants of the Jews, took Jesus, and bound him: [13] And they led him away to Annas first, for he was father in law to Caiphas, who was the high priest of that year. [14] Now Caiphas was he who had given the counsel to the Jews: That it was expedient that one man should die for the people. [15] And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. And that disciple was known to the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the court of the high priest. [16] But Peter stood at the door without. The other disciple therefore, who was known to the high priest, went out, and spoke to the portress, and brought in Peter. [17] The maid therefore that was portress, saith to Peter: Art not thou also one of this man' s disciples? He saith: I am not. [18] Now the servants and ministers stood at a fire of coals, because it was cold, and warmed themselves. And with them was Peter also, standing, and warming himself.

Commentary

Today's section of the Gospel focus on betrayal: first Judas' then Peter's.  The Catena Aurea anthology of commentaries points to the spiritual interpretation of the garden, the night, and more:

ALCUIN. Over the brook Cedron, i.e. of cedars. It is the genitive in the Greek. He goes over the brook, i.e. drinks of the brook of His Passion. Where there was a garden, that the sin which was committed in a garden, He might blot out in a garden. Paradise signifies garden of delights.

CHRYS. That it might not be thought that He went into a garden to hide Himself, it is added, But Judas who betrayed Him knew the place: for Jesus of often resorted there with; His disciples.

AUG. There the wolf in sheep's clothing permitted by the deep counsel of the Master of the flock to go among the sheep, learned in what way to disperse the flock, and ensnare the Shepherd.

The passage makes it clear that Jesus handed himself over voluntarily:

CHRYS. They had often sent elsewhere to take Him, but had not been able. Whence it is evident that He gave Himself up voluntarily; as it follows, Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon Him, went forth, and said to them, Whom do you seek?

THEOPHYL. He asks not because He needed to know, for He knew all things that should come upon Him; but because He wished to show, that though present, they could not see or distinguish Him: Jesus says to them, I am He.

CHRYS. He Himself had blinded their eyes. For that darkness was not the reason is clear, because the Evangelist says that they had lanterns. Though they had not lanterns, however, they should at least have recognized Him by His voice. And if they did not know Him, yet how was it that Judas, who had been with Him constantly also, did not know Him? And Judas also which betrayed Him stood with them. Jesus did all this to show that they could not have taken Him, or even seen Him when He was in the midst of them, had He not permitted it.

AUG. As soon then as He said To them, I am He, they went backward. Where now is the band of soldiers, where the terror and defence of arms? Without a blow, one word struck, drove back, prostrated a crowd fierce with hatred, terrible with arms. For God was hid in the flesh, and the eternal day was so obscured by His human body, that He was sought for with lanterns and torches, to be slain in the darkness. What shall He do when He comes to judge, Who did thus when He was going to be judged? And now even at the present time Christ says by the Gospel, I am He, and an Antichrist is expected by the Jews: to the end that they may go backward, and fall to the ground; because that forsaking heavenly, they desire earthly things.

St Peter's first reaction is armed resistance:

CHRYS. Peter trusting to these last words of our Lord's, and to what He had just done, assaults those who came to take Him: Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant. But how, commanded as he had been to have neither scrip, nor two garments, had he a sword? Perhaps he had foreseen this occasion, and provided one. 

THEOPHYL. Or, he had got one for sacrificing the lamb, and carried it away with him from the Supper.

CHRYS. But how could he, who had been forbidden ever to strike on the cheek, be a murderer? Because what he had been forbidden to do was to avenge himself, but here he was not avenging himself, but his Master. They were not however yet perfect: afterwards you shall see Peter beaten with stripes, and bearing it humbly. And cut off his right ear: this seems to show the impetuosity of the Apostle; that he struck at the head itself. 

AUG. The servant's name was Malchus; John is the only Evangelist who mentions the servant's name; as Luke is the only one who mentions that our Lord touched the ear and healed him. 

CHRYS. He wrought this miracle both to teach us, that we ought to do good to those who suffer and to manifest His power. The Evangelist gives the name, that those who then read it might have the opportunity of inquiring into the truth of the account. And he mentions that he was the servant of the high priest, because in addition to the miracle of the cure itself, this shows that it was performed upon one of those who came to take Him, and who shortly after struck Him on the face. 

AUG. The name Malchus signifies, about to reign. What then does the ear cut off for our Lord, and healed by our Lord denote, but the abolition of the old, and the creating of a new, hearing in the newness of the Spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter? To whomsoever this is given, who can doubt that he will reign with Christ? But he was a servant too, has reference to that oldness, which generated to bondage: the cure figures liberty.

THEOPHYL. Or, the cutting off of the high priest's servant's right ear is a type of the people's deafness, of which the chief priests partook most strongly: the restoration of the ear, of ultimate reenlightenment of the understanding of the Jews, at the coming of Elias. 

AUG. Our Lord condemned Peter's act, and forbade him proceeding further: Then said Jesus to Peter, Put up your sword into the sheath. He was to be admonished to have patience: and this was written for our learning. 

Peter's second reaction is denial:

AUG. The temptation of Peter, which took place in the midst of the contumelies offered to our Lord, is not placed by all in the same order. Matthew and Mark put the contumelies first, the temptation of Peter afterwards; Luke the temptation first, the contumelies after. John begins with the temptation: And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. 

ALCUIN. He followed his Master out of devotion, though afar off, on account of fear. 

AUG. Who that other disciple was we cannot hastily decide, as his name is not told us. John however is accustomed to signify himself by this expression, with the addition of, whom Jesus loved. Perhaps therefore he is the one. 

CHRYS. He omits his own name out of humility: though he is relating an act of great virtue, how that he followed when the rest fled. He puts Peter before himself, and then mentions himself, in order to show that he was inside the hall, and therefore related what took place there with more certainty than the other Evangelists could. That disciple was known to the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. This he mentions not as a boast, but in order to diminish his own merit, in having been the only one who entered with Jesus. It is accounting for the act in another way, than merely by greatness of mind. 

Peter's love took him as far as the palace, but his fear prevented him entering in: But Peter stood at the door without. 

ALCUIN. He stood without, as being about to deny his Lord. He was not in Christ, who dared not confess Christ. 

CHRYS. But that Peter would have entered the palace, if he had been permitted, appears by what immediately follows: Then went out that other disciple who was known to the high priest, and spoke to her who kept the doors, and brought in Peter. 

He did not bring him in himself, because he kept near Christ. It follows: Then says the damsel that kept the door to Peter, Are not you also one of this Man's s disciples? He says, I am not. What say you, O Peter? Did you not say before, I will lay down my life for your sake? What then had happened, that you give way even when the damsel asks you? It was not a soldier who asked you, but a mean porteress. Nor said she, Are you this Deceiver's disciple, but, this Man's: an expression of pity. Are not you also, she says, because John was inside. 

AUG. But what wonder, if God foretold truly, man presumed falsely. Respecting this denial of Peter we should remark, that Christ is not only denied by him, who denies that He is Christ, but by him also who denies himself to be a Christian. For the Lord did not say to Peter, you shall deny that you art My disciple, but, you shall deny Me. He denied Him then, when he denied that he was His disciple. And what was this but to deny that he was a Christian? How many afterwards, even boys and girls, were able to despise death, confess Christ, and enter courageously into the kingdom of heaven; which he who received the keys of the kingdom, was now unable to do? Wherein we see the reason for His saying above, Let these go their way, for of those which you hast given Me, have I lost none. If Peter had gone out of this world immediately after denying Christ, He must have been lost. 

CHRYS. Therefore did Divine Providence permit Peter first to fall, in order that he might be less severe to sinners from the remembrance of his own fall. Peter, the teacher and master of the whole world, sinned, and obtained pardon. that judges might thereafter have that rule to go by in dispensing pardon. For this reason I suppose the priesthood was not given to Angels; because, being without sin themselves, they would punish sinners without pity. Passible man is placed over man, in order that remembering his own weakness, he may be merciful to others. 

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't have a specific comment other than to say thank you for this fabulous treasure! I do have a question. Can you tell me about the English translation of the Monastic Diurnal that you use on your site? I usually pray using the Douay Rheims and am used to that language. I know the Latin is the Vulgate but from what I can see in the tiny views given for the English it is not the Douay. I want to be careful that the translation will be something I can live with before I make a purchase. When was this translation promulgated? and by whom? Any help will be appreciated. Thanks, Barbara

Kate Edwards said...

The English translation used in the Monastic Diurnal is an early twentieth century one by two Collegeville monks.

As a tool to understand the Latin, and a rather nicely poetic one at that, I think you will find that it is fine. But it is not, as far as I can discover, officially approved for liturgical use. Mind you, for the purposes of the Divine Office, none of the older translations are - the Douay-Rheims (in any of its many versions) for example does have an imprimateur but that doesn't mean it can officially be used as a substitute for the Latin in the Office.

Hpe that helps.