And the Jews marveled, saying, How knows this man letters, having never learned?
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Cornelius a Lapide
And the Jews wondered, saying, &c. "They marvelled," says Cyril, "when they saw in Him such unheard-of wisdom and power of speech;" for, as Theophylact says, "He spake wondrous words, restraining and changing their minds in a wondrous manner," so that their fury was changed into love and admiration of Christ. "For they heard Him," says S. Augustine, "disputing about the law, and adducing its testimony," and explaining it with such grace and manner as was not human but divine. For, as he adds, "Many knew where He was born, and how brought up, but had never seen Him learning anything." And hence the Scribes ought to have inferred that His great learning and wisdom had not been acquired by study, but infused by God. But blinded and stupefied by hatred they stand still in wonder, and proceed not to investigate the origin of that which surprises them. So S. Chrysostom. And for this very cause God willed that Jesus should leap up into the chair of learning, not from the schools, but from the...
Not unreasonable is the wonder of the Jews, but there is something subtle in their argument. For it was likely that they would be astonished at seeing Him strangely excel both in word and knowledge, Who could not have been rich from instruction. For the mind of man is recipient of wisdom, and even though one do not as yet seem wise, yet is his nature exceedingly well adapted to the attainment of wisdom and knowledge on some subjects. But in the case of those who are not well exercised in learning, the natural advantage gets somehow stopped up and dulled; in that of those who are accustomed to go through such toils, and to revel in literary exercises, it is very clear, and apt for good practice, and is found to have no mean store of letters and wise contrivances. The Jews then are astonished, giving heed to the Saviour Christ, not yet as being by nature God, but still as a mere Man, and they marvel that He abounds in wisdom, not having the provider hereof, i. e., practise in reading, fo...
Whilst the Jews proceeded no farther than to admire the wisdom of our Saviour, when they could easily have seen that what he taught he knew by the power of God, Christ himself reveals to them the source of his wisdom, saying: My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. (St. Chrysostom, hom. xlviii. in Joan.)
St. Thomas Aquinas, the great doctor of the schools, and styled the angelic doctor, informs us that in all the scriptural difficulties he met with, he uniformly had recourse to prayer, and that he acquired greater light and knowledge at the foot of his crucifix than from any books or masters. (Haydock)
Observest thou how the Evangelist shows here also their marveling to be full of wickedness? For he says not, that they admired the teaching, or that they received the words, but simply that they marveled. That is, were thrown into a state of astonishment, and doubted, saying, Whence has this man these things? When they ought from this very difficulty to have known that there was nothing merely human in Him. But because they would not confess this, but stopped at wondering only, hear what He says.