I have wanted to engage in dialog with you since receiving your
post of last February, but have not arranged enough time to do so
> >Dear Paul, Ramsey, Tom and Others,
> > I am intrigued by your comment, Paul, that "...even if John's
> >stylistic unity is assumed, someone might still go along with a
> >signs gospel theory or an assumption that alien sources underlay
> >the Johannine Gospel."
> > Given that "signs" are found extensively in the Pentateuch,
> >have you or others (Ruckstuhl?) considered the possibility
> >that the "stylistic unity" in the Fourth Gospel could be the
> >result of a common semiotic source (the Pentateuch?)
> > Wouldn't such an analysis explain why the FG appears to
> >share some similarities with the JEDP analyses of the OT?
> >Would it not also address the question of a single or multiple
> >source(s)? In your opinion would the Pentateuch be
> >considered "an alien source," or might not the author(s) of
> >the FG reasonably have assumed that it would be an obvious
> >and familiar source from which to draw (at least) signs?
> On Thu, 07 Feb 2002 09:00:48 -0800 "Paul Anderson"
> Good questions here, Tom.
> I think the evidence that the Pentateuch does indeed contain
> a collection of perspectives is stronger than inferring the same
> about John. I do believe that John's tradition is engaged
> dialectically with other perspectives and parallel (synoptic)
> renderings of Jesus' ministry, but this is different from assuming
> a more extended thesis that the Fourth Evangelist
> a) incorporated alien material with which he disagreed,
> b) changed the thaumaturgical nuance toward his own reflective tones,
> c) constructed his narrative on these works because his work
> was late-and-only-late.
> Again, such may have been the case, but the facts do not
> support such a reconstruction. As I've put it elsewhere, to
> de-Johannify a narrative, only to re-Marcanize it, does not
> a semeia source make.
Paul, it is not necessary to assume that the author(s) of the Fourth
Gospel recognized "a collection of perspectives" in the Pentateuch.
Isn't it more likely that they saw the "signs" (oracles) as coming
from a single source, (ie: Moses)? Clearly the Torah was seen as
an authoritative source from which to draw religious language.
I agree with you that the writer(s) of the Gospel apparently engaged
in a dialectic with material from "other and parallel (synoptic)
renderings of Jesus' ministry," but I am not suggesting that the
Fourth Gospel's use of the Mosaic materials was in any way
"dialectic." What I see is a very careful effort to preserve the
fundamental elements of the Mosaic oracles while composing
a narrative of the Jesus tradition.
I do want to dialog with you regarding the assumptions that you
seem to be assuming that I am making:
a) I see no reason to suggest that the Fourth Evangelist(s)
incorporated alien material with which he/she/they disagreed.
In fact, I doubt that the author(s) considered any of the material
incorporated from oral or written sources in the new Jesus
tradition or the material taken from the sacred texts of the Jewish
tradition as "alien." They were, for the most part, faithful Jews
who considered Jesus to be the fulfillment of the Law and the
Prophets. They were writing a text to be used with the Torah
(at least) in the context of worship.
b) I'm still trying to find the correct term to describe the process
that I believe was used in the development of some of the more
unique elements of the Johannine narrative, like the raising of
Lazarus story or the foot washing story. I have earlier called it
a midrash process and have been taken to task because the
process known by that name is not known to have been used
until at least a century later. What I see is a process that, if it is
not midrash, is very much like it.
There are elements in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man
in the Gospel of Luke that appear to have been used in the
Johannine story of the raising of Lazarus (ie: the name of Lazarus,
the question of resurrection, more obscurely - the identity of the
rich man and his house, to name only a few). Though clearly
they are not the same story.
You suggest that I am assuming that the Fourth Evangelist(s)
"changed the thaumaturgical nuance toward his own reflective
tones." If I am correct in this incidence, more has been changed
than "the thaumaturgical nuance." The parable in Luke appears
to have been mined for a few literary gems, but what the
Johannine author(s) has (have) done with them is far more than
an elaboration or subtle shift in nuance; its a different story.
Simply noting the commonalities between these two stories can
prompt a rich variety of reflections on theological themes.
From Luke's story:
Who is Lazarus; what if anything, does he represent?
Who is the rich man; where and how does he live?
What happens to Lazarus that he should die from it?
What is death? What follows death?
Who are the rich man's brothers and why won't they listen?
What is resurrection?
From John's story:
Who is Lazarus; what relationship does he have to Jesus?
Who are Mary and Martha; what relationship do they have
to Lazarus and to Jesus?
What is it that causes Mary and Martha to be so concerned
about Lazarus that they would send a message to Jesus?
What does it mean that Lazarus has died, and why does Jesus
wait to respond to the message until Lazarus is surely dead?
What is the role of the Jews in this story?
What is resurrection?
c) You suggest that I am assuming that the Evangelist(s)
"constructed his narrative on these works because his work
Do you mean to say that you are assuming that I am assuming
that the author(s) of the Fourth Gospel didn't have the resources
to construct a narrative on any other basis than borrowed material?
I do not assume this. Does any serious scholar of the Fourth
Gospel? (I suspect you were just trying to get a rise out of me.
OK. You did.)
I will say that the Evangelist(s) make creative use of the material
borrowed from oral and written sources in the Jesus tradition and
the written material from the Hebrew (specifically Mosaic)
tradition. Their use of this material was not, however, "because
his work was late-and-only-late." It was carefully and very
intentionally used to support a unique theological perspective, one
that is clearly different from the Synoptics and one that clearly grows
out of the Mosaic tradition.
Yours in Christ's service,