“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe[b] that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31)
There are approximately 770,000 words in the Bible overall, and approximately 138,000 in the New Testament. In some bibles, the words directly spoken by Jesus are in red to underscore their importance. The “many other signs” referenced in John’s Gospel that were not “written” have remained a mystery throughout the centuries. The process of canonization, usually referring to Saints, also applied to the letters and books that had circulated in the early church. By the end of the fourth century, the “canon of scripture” was finalized. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:
“It was by the apostolic Tradition that the Church discerned which writings are to be included in the list of the sacred books. This complete list is called the canon of Scripture. It includes 46 books for the Old Testament (45 if we count Jeremiah and Lamentations as one) and 27 for the New. (CCC 1117)”
In the process of making a documentary, all the archived footage available is carefully considered before the editing process takes place. Multiple hours are distilled and arranged to tell a story, leaving a wealth of material on the “cutting room floor”. In sacred scripture, the “many other signs” could be viewed as material that didn’t make it into the final production, but remained, nonetheless.
The Gospel According to Mark is the shortest of the four Gospels and believed to be the first written. Unlike Luke and Matthew, Mark leaves the “infancy narrative” and childhood of Jesus out and begins with the adult Jesus “hitting the ground running”. Some of the “many other signs” recounted elsewhere in Scripture remained hidden from Mark’s audience initially, only to be understood later in the broader context of the canonized Bible.
Let us pray for the grace to follow the true course of theological pursuit: faith seeking understanding, one pericope at a time.