Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Monk Chronicles: John 1:19-34

Urg. It irks me that that blasted man is making me do this after first staring me down when I attempted to present my first report to him. My “simple” little examination of the Gospel of John has now turned into this nightmare of a punishment, all because those cold blue eyes refused to blink while I stumbled and mumbled an explanation of the first eighteen verses of the first chapter. That blasted man is now requiring me to carefully record all of my thoughts concerning the book, and to make my weekly reports to him, and to do all of my weekly chores as well! And, to add insult to grievous injury, the man threatened to have me clean out the stables for a month if I didn’t do my study this time! I did it last week, I swear it! Its just that man… ooh, he makes me so mad!

But I must not let such emotions concern me so. Brother Franz saw my ink splatters and scolded me for being messy and for letting my emotion show too much in my handwriting. Its only a little shaky, and still perfectly legible, but he is right. I must not allow such a base passion like unrighteous anger to take over me so. Therefore, on my lesson I will concentrate.

That blasted man has assigned to me this week the almost impossible task of studying all of chapter one, verses nineteen through thirty-four. Now how am I supposed to find time to study all of that in a mere week? I barely have enough time to get the required six hours of sleep as it is. Brother Franz just rebuked me again, he heard me call the Abbot “blasted man” for the first time. I must learn to not recite what I am writing. Now I have to go scrub the dishes without supper for penance. O, why did I ever want to be a monk?

Because of the length of this passage, I have separated the verses into two groupings, the first being verses nineteen through twenty-eight, and the second verses twenty-nine through thirty-four. If you read carefully these Scriptures, you can see a clear separation, for the beginning of verse twenty-nine reads, “The next day…” This clearly indicates a span of time that passes, therefore I see it as a convenient separation point for the verses.

Verses nineteen through twenty-eight seem to be wholly concerned with John the Baptist and the answers he gives to some who have been sent to question him. Although it does not say who has sent these messengers, the reader is led to assume someone very involved with the temple and spiritual matters, because one of the questioners (in verse twenty-four) is a Pharisee. The second grouping of verses seems to talk about Jesus’ first encounter with John, and then John’s odd testimony concerning what he saw concerning Jesus. I say odd because although John says that he saw Jesus earlier, there is no indication of how he saw Jesus. Was it in a dream or was it in person? Or, as indicated in Mark and Matthew, is John the one that baptizes Jesus? I have all these questions, but that blasted man told me that answers would only come with “meditation on the word of God.” Dash it all, its in studying the Word that all of these questions are generated! There goes my nemesis, smirking at me as he walks past. That blasted man takes pleasure in my torment, I swear it. Now if only I could figure out why he targets me so specifically.

Anyway, I was assigned to study applications of the holy Word to the general assembly here in the monastery. What I see in the first section of particular use is the questioners focus on John. I say this is useful because the analogy could be made that we are like them, in that we study the nature of spiritual matters looking for tailored answers that will fit nicely with the questions we have presented to the Word in our minds. Thus, we focus so much on finding supports for our theories that we bypass the true answers that will lead us to the path of salvation. These questioners were so focused on putting John into their view of what needed to happen before the Christ came that they did not question the alternative that he was the precursor to the Christ, as he himself indicates in verse twenty-seven. Although the text does not say, I am curious to know what further questions were asked of John, as the questioners most likely would not let John’s statement stand without being examined.

I am still not sure what to make of the second portion of verses, verses twenty-eight through thirty-four. No practical application needs to be pulled from these, as I already did it up there, but that blasted man is likely to question me about these verses if I don’t mention them in my report and describe how they are crucial to the Christian faith. I am sure that John’s revelation of Jesus as the Son of God is an important step in the opening of Jesus’ ministry, I just want to know who John is talking to when he is saying these words. Is he by himself? There is no indication that anyone is with him, but then why does it matter that he speaks such words if there are no witnesses? I wonder if the same questioners from the day before are there, and if that is who he is speaking to, because it says in verse thirty-five that he is with his disciples the next day and calls Jesus the Lamb of God then. But the text does not indicate who, if anyone, was with John during this revelation, so it must just be another matter that is beyond human knowledge until we join with God in the heavens above.

That blasted man just walked by again, still smiling his little smirk. Well, I will show him with my report this time! “Not prepared”, he called me last time. Well we will see who gets the last laugh this time. I will show him I am not slacking in this penance, just like I have not slacked in any other penance given to me. If I get caught, then I deserve the punishment. My only wish is that he had not been the one to catch me this time. There goes the bell for vespers, now I’m late again.

Brother Henrich,
17 of September
This Year of our Lord 1507

Author's note: There should be more to come, and although the character may rant about the length of passages, this author feels no stress at the lengths currently being assigned.

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