“Objects of Comparison”: St. John the Evangelist’s Method

One marked characteristic of the mind of the Evangelist, or of the Beloved Disciple, is worth mention.  He often records argument in debate, but he does not argue from premises to conclusions as a method of apprehending truth.  Rather he puts together the various constituent parts of truth and contemplates them in their relations to one another.  Thus he seems to say “look at A; now look at B; now at C; now at B C; now at A C; now at D and E; now at A B E;  now at C E”, and so on in any variety of combination that facilitates new insight.  It is the method of artistic, as distinct from scientific, apprehension, and is appropriate to truth which is in no way dependent on, or derived from, other truth, but makes its own appeal to reason, heart and conscience.

William Temple, Readings In St. John’s Gospel, xxi-xxii

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