So far questions are light today. So I'd like to urge all Seminar
subscribers to put their thinking caps on to keep the discussion with
Prof. Crossan rolling. Politeness is admirable, but silence can be mind
numbing. To sustain interest we'll need a new batch of pointed questions
and/or challenges by this evening.
If the Seminar will allow me to step momentarily out of the moderator's
chair: there is one point, Dom, that I've wanted to probe you on since
our brief exchange regarding the source of the Passion Narratives at the
end of the JS debate. It has to deal with your argument for dependence
of 4G's PN on Mark.
Let me preface it by saying it isn't easy to find fault in public with
the thinking of a long-time colleague & friend, particularly one with
whom one basically agrees & from whom one has learned so much. But I
raise this in the interest of historical clarity regarding materials &
consistency regarding method, two points which you yourself regard as
basic & concerning which this e-Seminar was convened.
In BoC (114) you write: "Hence my third major presupposition about the
intracanonical gospels is that John is dependent on the synoptic gospels
*at least and especially* for the passion narratives...and for the
resurrection narratives....Once again, if that is wrong, everything that
I build on it is invalid."
I would agree. While I have no desire to prove your monumental
historical edifice invalid, I would like you to reexamine & clarify the
basis for your "third major presupposition" regarding the relation of
the contents of the intracanonical gospels. You yourself write (BoC 113)
that you are "*not yet* convinced about the dependence of the
[Johannine] miracle/discourse sections" parallel to the synoptics. And I
think rightly so, given the difficulties in demonstrating 4G's version
of this material represents redaction of any synoptic text. Therefore,
you characterize your views thus (BoC 112): "My own position presumes
both independence and dependence."
Now it seems to me that if one is prepared to grant the substantial
independence of one work from the contents of another, then any
suspicion of dependence of any section must be supported by more than
one observation about one point in the text. Otherwise one would be
forced to conclude with Farrerites & Griesbachians that Luke knew & used
Matthew because of the not so minor non-Markan agreement at the
conclusion of *their* PN accounts of the Sanhedrin trial when the judges
ask a blindfolded J: TIS ESTIN hO PAISAS SE? (Matt 26:68//Luke 22:65).
Now I take it that neither you nor I think that this parallel is
sufficient evidence to demonstrate Lukan dependence on Matthew or reason
to discard Q, given the demonstrable independence of Matthean & Lukan
narratives at other major points. Yet in the case of John, as far as I
can tell, you rest your whole argument for dependence on the synoptics
on the single claim of finding "Markan DNA" in the Johannine account of
In the abstract this argument seems impressive;
1. Mark typically intercalates originally independent scenes - granted.
2. *Like* Mark 4G frames J's interrogation by the high priest with
elements of the story of Peter's denial [A1-B-A2] - also granted.
What I question, however, is whether these general observations are
sufficient evidence to identify the DNA in 4G as "Markan." To identify
DNA one has to match minute particulars of extended chains of elements.
And that is precisely what is lacking here. You yourself recognize that
4G divides the account of Peter's denials differently than Mark (BoC
113, 565). Therefore, admittedly the DNA in these pericopes is *not*
identical but a mutation. Johannine A1 & A2 is demonstrably not the same
as Markan A1 & A2. But the direction of any mutation can only be
determined by sampling other material.
Here what you have apparently overlooked -- or at least failed to
mention -- that Johannine element B (an informal interrogation in the
house of the high priest) is totally different from Markan element B (a
formal trial before the council of priests & elders concluding in a
formal condemnation for blasphemy). It seems to me anyone who maintains
that 4G's PN is dependent on the synoptics has to be prepared to explain
why the author of 4G (of all people) would have suppressed the synoptic
account of a formal Jewish trial of Jesus which finds him guilty of the
charge that 4G twice earlier identified as "the Jews" reason for seeking
J's execution (Jn 5:18 & 10:33). Isn't it more plausible that the
synoptics would have turned an original midnight interrogation *before*
Passover in the Johannine source (=SG expanded to include PN) into a
formal trial *during* Passover than vice versa?
So your argument seems to rest solely on your a priori conviction that
literary intercalation of two scenes is a "peculiarly or even uniquely
Markan literary-theological structure" (BoC). I would grant that it is
"typically" Markan. But not "peculiar" or "even unique" since it also
appears in 4G's PN & there is no text of 4G from which it is absent. The
fact that Mark makes more use of it is not adequate proof either that he
invented it or that anyone else who used this structure knew the gospel
of Mark. For repetition of a verbal or structural pattern can be & often
is interpreted as a sign of dependence of one text on another, as in the
case of Matt's duplication of material from both Mark & Q.
Thus, I have trouble granting your claim of "Markan" DNA in 4G & even
more trouble viewing the Johannine PN as a whole as dependent on the
synoptic PN given its demonstrable differences in both chronology &
content. Yet, I do think it plausible that both PN performances are
traceable to a single common source. And my hunch is that in many
particulars the Johannine version is closer to the original than the
I eagerly await your response.
Mahlon H. Smith, http://religion.rutgers.edu/mh_smith.html
Department of Religion Virtual Religion Index
New Brunswick NJ
Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
A Synoptic Gospels Primer
Jesus Seminar Forum