Christian texts are not only useful for Christians; they form part of the cultural heritage of Western civilisation. I suspect many of you, even if you are Christian, will not have read the actual texts themselves, or only segments of them. Many useful Latin study tools, such as this Hamiltonian example used here, have been developed using religious texts.
I highly recommend you make use of these materials, whether your interest in them is religious, or purely anthropological.
In the beginning was the Word. All was made through the Word. In Him (the Word) was life, which was the light of men. John bore witness to the Light. The world was made through him, but the world knew it not. He has the power to make those who believe in Him the sons of God. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The law comes from Moses, but grace and truth through Jesus Christ. John declares, referencing Isaiah, that he is the voice of one crying in the wilderness. When John sees Jesus, he declares that he is the Son of God, who takes away the sins of the world. A spirit like a dove descends on Jesus when he is baptised. Jesus accrues some disciples – Andrew, Simon Peter (renamed Cephas, ‘rock’), Philip and Nathaniel (to whom Jesus promises that he will see the heavens opening and the angels ascending and descending upon the Son of Man).
Jesus is initially reluctant to do anything about the lack of wine at the wedding at Cana, saying his hour has not yet come. Water is converted into (good quality)wine. Jesus drives the moneychangers out of the temple. Jesus says, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ He actually speaks of his own body. Jesus does not entrust himself to the adoring crowds, because he knew what was in man.
Jesus tells the Pharisee Nicodemus that unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. One must be born of water and the Sprit. As Moses lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, so shall the Son of Man be lifted, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. The Son is sent not to condemn, but to save. Light has come into the world, but men love the darkness more. John defers to the pre-eminence of Jesus. He who believes in the Son shall have everlasting life.
Jesus travels to Galilee via Samaria. Jesus asks a Samaritan woman at a well for a drink. The Samaritan woman is surprised, as Samaritans have no dealings with Jews. Jesus says that whoever drinks water from this well will thirst again, who whoever drinks living water shall never thirst. Jesus confronts the woman for having five husbands. A time is coming when God will be worshipped neither on a mountain nor in Jerusalem, but in spirit and truth. Jesus tells the woman that he is the Messiah. The woman tells her neighbours, and spreads the news. Jesus says his food is to do the will of Him who sent him. Through Jesus, his disciples may reap that for which they have not laboured – fruit for eternal life. Jesus heals a nobleman’s son at Capernaum.
The sick hope to be cured by bathing in the pool of Bathesda. Jesus heals a man who has been infirm for 38 years who is never quick enough to get into the pool before another. Jesus tells him to take up his bed and walk – some take offence that this has been done on a Sabbath. Jesus speaks to them. The Son can do nothing of himself. The Father commits all judgment to the Son. The dead will be raised to the resurrection of life or of condemnation. Jesus does not bear witness of himself (which would be invalid in a court of law) – another bears witness to him. If you do not believe the Son, you do not have the word of the Father dwelling within you. Moses wrote of Jesus, and rejects those who reject Jesus.
Jesus feeds the five thousand with five barley loaves and two small fishes. The crowd want to force him to be their king, but he slips away. The disciples go out on the sea of Galilee, and a storm is whipped up. Jesus walks on water. Do not labour for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to everlasting life. Jesus says he is living bread from heaven, and the bread of life. Everyone who sees the Son and believes will have everlasting life. The bread is his flesh – Eucharistic language about abiding in the Son (and the Son abiding in us) by eating the Son’s flesh and drinking his blood. Noone can come to Jesus unless it has been granted by him by the Father. Jesus knew from the beginning that Judas would betray him.
Jesus brothers advise him to carry out his ministry at Jerusalem, at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles. Jesus says his time has not yet come. Jesus goes secretly to Jerusalem, where all the time is about whether he is good or a deceiver. Jesus teaches in the temple, stressing his doctrine is that of He who has sent him. (Jesus talks very times about being sent and not acting on his own authority in John.) Some try to seize him, but they do not, because Jesus’ hour had not yet come. ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.’ The crowds are divided as to whether Jesus is a true prophet or not.
The scribes and Pharisees ask if they may stone a woman accused of adultery. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. ‘I am the light of the world.’ Jesus does not bear witness of himself; He who sent him bears witness. The Father is known through the Son. Jesus will go to glory, they (unless they turn) will die in their sins. They are of this world, Jesus is not of this world. ‘He who sent me is with me…The truth shall make you free.’ Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin, despite being a descendant of Abraham. ‘Before Abraham was, I am.’
Jesus heals a blind man. The Pharisees cast him out when the blind man declares that Jesus’ power is from God. The blind man worships Jesus. Jesus comments on the Pharisees’ spiritual blindness.
Jesus is the true, legitimate shepherd, who enters in the way that is proper and prepared (by Old Testament prophecies). ‘I am the door of the sheep’ – others are thieves and robbers. Jesus has come that men might have life, and that abundantly. Jesus is the good shepherd, who gives his life for his flock. Jesus speaks of other flocks, ie gentile believers. Jesus claims power over life and death. Jesus is accused of being demon-possessed, but asks whether a demon-possessed man can open the eyes of the blind. During Hanukkah, Jesus says that his sheep respond to his voice, whereas those who are not his sheep do not. ‘I am my Father are one.’
Mary of Bethany, who had anointed Jesus’ feet with oil, has a brother, Lazarus, who is sick. Jesus arrives in Bethany when Lazarus has died and been buried for four days. Jesus says he is the resurrection and the life. Jesus comes to the tomb. Jesus wept. Jesus commands the stone of the tomb to be rolled away. Jesus thanks the Father for hearing him, then commands Lazarus to come forth. The Jewish rulers plot Jesus’ death, so Jesus no lober openly walks among them.
Jesus comes to Bethany, where Martha serves him, and Mary anoints his feet with expensive oil. Judas Iscariot objects that Mary might have sold the oil and given the money to the poor (in actual fact, he embezzled the money that he received). Jesus replies, ‘the poor you have with you always’. The Jews plot to kill both Jesus and Lazarus. Jesus enters Jerusalem on a colt, lauded by crowds with palm leaves. Jesus says that the hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. A grain of wheat that is buried produces life. A troubled Jesus prays: ‘Father glorify your name.’ A voice from the heavens answers: ‘I have glorified it and will glorify it again.’ Jesus says the voice is not for his benefit, but for onlookers. Jesus says he will lifted up from the earth, and draw all people to him. ‘While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.’ People do not believe, despite signs – a fulfilment of Isaiah. ‘He who believes in me, believes not in me but in Him who sent me.’
Jesus washes his disciples’ feet. Peter objects to Jesus washing his feet. Jesus says that if he doesn’t wash his feet, he will have no part with him. Peter then asks Jesus to wash his feet, hands and head. Jesus says that not all of the disciples are clean, for he knows who will betray him. Jesus says that as he has washed his disciples’ feet, so they should wash each others’. ‘He who receives me, receives Him who sent me.’ Jesus gives bread to Judas to indicate that he is the one who will betray. Satan enters Judas. ‘The Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in him.’ Jesus commands his disciples to love one another. Jesus tells Simon Peter he is going somewhere where he cannot immediately be followed.
‘In my Father’s house are many mansions.’ ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ To know Jesus is to know the Father. He who has seen Jesus has seen the Father. Jesus is in the Father, and vice versa. The Father will send another Helper (Paraclete – the Holy Spirit). If people love Jesus, then both he and the Father and the Son will make their home with them. The Holy Spirit will be sent in Jesus’ name. Jesus is going to the Father – a cause for rejoicing.
‘I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away.’ The branch cannot bear fruit in itself, but only as it abides in the vine. Jesus enjoins love and obedience. ‘Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.’ The disciples can expect persecution from an antagonistic world. The Holy Spirit, sent by the Son from the Father, will witness testify of the Son. (This is the passage cited by defenders of filioque.)
The disciples will face certain persecution. When Jesus departs, the Helper will come. The Helper will help the world to understand sin, righteousness and judgment. Jesus assures the disciples that their sorrow will be turned into joy. Whatever is asked of the father in Jesus’ name will be given. Jesus has come from the Father, and now returns to the Father.
Jesus prays: ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You’. To know God is to have eternal life. Jesus has given to the world what the Father has given to him. ‘Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me.’ Like Jesus himself, his followers are not of this world. Jesus prays that his followers may be kept in joy and sanctified, and be unified in belief. The glory the Father has given the Son, the Son may then give to those who believe in Him.
An army arrests Jesus. Jesus rebukes Simon Peter for cutting off the ear of Malchus, the high priest’s servant. Peter denied Jesus three times. Jesus is sent to Caiaphas the high priest, then to Pilate. Jesus explains to Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world. Jesus says that everyone who is of the truth hears his voice. Pilate replies ‘What is truth?’, giving voice to a sceptical humanism. Pilate can find no fault with Jesus, and attempts to get the crowd to release him, but the crowd want the release of Barabbas instead.
To appease the mob, Pilate has Jesus scourged, put in a purple robe, and made to wear a crown of thorns. Pilate says ‘Behold the man!’, but the crowd still demand Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus is crucified. Pilate places a sign that says ‘The King of the Jews’ on the cross. The soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ seamless garment. He says, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ to Mary. Jesus receives the sour wine, says ‘It is finished’, and dies. Soldiers pierce the dead Jesus’ side, and water and blood issues forth. Jesus is buried by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.
Mary Magdalene comes upon Jesus’ tomb, finds it empty and tells the disciples about it. Peter and John investigate the empty tomb. Mary, stricken with grief, sees two angels dressed in white in the empty tomb. Mary meets Jesus, but mistakes him for a gardener. Jesus tells Mary not to touch him. Jesus appears to the disciples. Jesus breathes on his disciples and tells them to receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus convinces the previously absent disciple, Thomas, by inviting him to push his finger into his wound.
Peter and six other disciples return to fishing. Jesus appears to them, whereupon they catch a miraculous amount of fish. Jesus has breakfast with them. Jesus asks Peter to feed his lambs, and Simon to tend his sheep. Jesus hints at the manner of Peter’s death, saying his hands will be stretched out and he will be led where he does not want to go. Jesus does not say what the fate of John is. John is the person who wrote this gospel – if John had written everything that Jesus had done, the whole world could not contain the books that they would need to be written in.