I vividly remember my meeting Prof. Vanhoye with my request to be my guide. After listening to me attentively, he said to me, “You know that I am not a Johannine scholar.” I was touched by his humility. “But you are a structural expert,” I replied, “so please help me to discover the literary structure of John’s Gospel and its captivating Christology.” Although he was very busy, willingly he agreed to be my guide.
He was a man of few words and a no-nonsense person. He told me that the first thing to do was to read carefully the Greek text of the Gospel of John many times with a view to detect the criteria used by the author. Although doing this was no easy task, I gradually realized the wisdom of my guide which helped me to discover about thirty different criteria. Next he instructed me to do a critical survey of the structures of John’s Gospel proposed by different scholars based on the criteria used by them. It gave me the insight that only convergence of diverse kinds of criteria will guarantee objectivity in establishing the literary structure of the Fourth Gospel.
At that critical stage in my doctoral work I fell seriously sick (suspected leukaemia) and I had to interrupt my studies for treatment in India with an uncertain future! When I shared my fears with him, he was very concerned as a true elder brother and assured me of his prayers and requested me to trust in the Lord. He kept in contact with me through his loving letters during my prolonged treatment and convalescence. On my return to Rome after a year, he listened to my sharing with rapt attention and encouraged me to complete my doctorate. I experienced how kind and compassionate, loving and caring, he was. At the successful defence of my thesis he rejoiced as much as I did. I realized how selfless and saintly a Jesuithe was with Magis as his motto and A.M.D.G. as his aim in ministry. May he be the patron of Professors and students of the Sacred Scriptures!