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John and the Synoptics

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: GPG Cc: WSW, Synoptic On: John and the Synoptics From: Bruce The question of how the Gospel of John relates to the earlier Gospel tradition seems to me a
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 6, 2009
      To: GPG
      Cc: WSW, Synoptic
      On: John and the Synoptics
      From: Bruce

      The question of how the Gospel of John relates to the earlier Gospel tradition
      seems to me a valid, and is in any case a recurring one; I find that it gets
      different answers (some of them vehement; few of them decisive) in the
      commentarial literature. The lists in (eg) Schnelle 1994 (tr 1998) 497f are
      little to the point; they give Johannine contacts which have several Synoptic
      parallels, and are thus not distinctive. I want instead to know, given (what
      any reader will sense) that John is meant as a final improvement on the whole
      of the Gospel tradition, which its author or authors have swallowed down and
      emitted in transmuted form, are there places where we can say, of this word or
      passage in gJn, that it is aware of *this and no other* Synoptic precedent? A
      distinctive word like "pallet" or "spit" (both specific to Mk) or "with her
      hair" of the anointing scene (of the three versions, this detail is only in Lk,
      though the preceding "pure nard" detail is only in Mk).

      To construct a working list de novo, I have gone to the Aland synopsis, which
      blessedly includes all four Gospels, and have looked therein for strictly
      distinctive contacts, adding a few (eg "spit") from my own recollection. The
      result is surely not complete, but I hope and believe that it is sound as far
      as it goes. There are 34 items, 9 each from Mk and Mt, and 16 (almost twice as
      many) from Lk. The list follows, for those who may find it useful. I myself
      find that it documents the previously given reader impression, restated below.
      Comments and corrections welcome as always.


      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst

      ---34 John/Synoptic Distinctive Contacts------

      1:42 (Mt 4:17) Son of John (bar Jonah)
      5:8 (Mk 2:11) take up your pallet
      5:29 (Mt 25:46) life/judgement (life/punishment)
      6:7 (Mk 6:37) two hundred denarii
      6:42 (Lk 4:22) son of Joseph (Joseph's son)
      8:2 (Lk 21:38) early in the morning . . all the people
      9:5 (Mk 7:33 ~ 8:23) spit (spat)
      10:39 (Lk 4:30) escaped from their hands (passing through . . )
      12:3 (Mk 14:3) pure nard
      12:3 (Lk 7:38) with her hair (with the hair of her head)
      12:5 (Mk 14:5) three hundred denarii
      12:7 (Mk 14:6) let her alone
      12:13 (Mk 11:9) crying (cried out)
      12:40 (Mt 13:15) see with their eyes [Isaiah quote]
      13:16 (Mt 10:24) servant not greater than (above) master
      13:20 (Mt 10:40) he who receives me
      13:38 (Lk 22:34) will not crow
      18:10 (Lk 22:50) cut off his right ear
      18:13 (Mt 26:57) Caiaphas
      18:25 (Lk 22:58) I am not
      18:38 (Lk 22:4) I find no crime
      18:39 (Mk 15:9) The King of the Jews
      19:2 (Mt 27:29) put it on his head
      19:30 (Mt 27:50) gave up (yielded up) his spirit
      19:38 (Mk 15:43) Joseph of Arimathea
      19:41 (Lk 23:53) had ever (yet) been laid
      20:3-4 (Lk 24:12) Peter . . . ran
      20:5 (Lk 24:12) stooping to look in (and looking in)
      20:19 (Lk 24:36) stood among them
      20:20 (Lk 24:40) showed them his hands
      20:23 (Mt 16:19 = 18:18) retain the sins (bind on earth)
      21:3 (Lk 5:5) caught (took) nothing
      21:6 (Lk 5:4) cast the net (let down your nets)
      21:8 (Lk 5:9) the net full of (the catch of) fish

      Conclusion: aJn is aware in detail of all three earlier Gospels. Given his
      concern to digest them down to one workable and concinnitous narrative, it is
      perhaps interesting that this text may have been written not that long previous
      to Tatian's efforts at Gospel merging. The thing was in the air.
    • keith_yoder
      Bruce- I don t know if this is the sort of connection you wanted for your list of distinctive synoptic precedents in John, but I would suggest considering
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 9, 2009
        Bruce- I don't know if this is the sort of connection you wanted for
        your list of distinctive synoptic precedents in John, but I would
        suggest considering this set of echos from the Lazarus story in Luke
        16:19-31 that can be heard in John's account of Jesus resurrecting
        another Lazarus in John 11--
        1. The name LAZAROS is used nowhere else in the synoptics except Luke
        16:19-31; as an aside the sisters Mary and Martha also appear only in
        Luke 10:38-42 and John 11:1-12:8.

        2. In both accounts Lazarus "died" (APOTHANEIN in Luke 16:22, APETHANEN
        in John 4:14)

        3. Both narratives recount a prayer-conversation with heaven in which
        the initiator "lifted-up his eyes" (Luke 16:23, John 11:41) and then
        began his petition with the word "Father" (PATHR - Luke 16:24, John

        4. Both petitions of the "father" involve asking for Lazarus to be
        raised or sent back from the dead (explicitly in Luke 16:27-31,
        implicitly in John 11:41-43).

        5. The request is denied in Luke 16 because the people "would not
        believe" (OUD'...PEISTHHSONTAI - Luke 16:31) even someone who came back
        from the dead -- but the request is granted in John 11 with the result
        that "many of the Jews...believed in him" (EPISTEUSAN EIS AUTON).
        6. A final parallel from Luke 16 to an earlier passage in John compares
        the reaction of people to Moses to their reaction to someone "from the
        dead" (Luke 16:29-31) or to Jesus (John 5:46-47) -- if the audience does
        not believe Moses neither will they believe Lazarus/Jesus. One other
        simpler precedent is the verb "take-over" (PARALAMBANW) from Matthew
        27:26-27 to be found in John 19:16-
        Matt 27:26-27 -- but Jesus he scourged and gave-over (PAREDWKEN) to be
        crucified (hINA STAURWQH). Then the governor's soldiers took-over
        (PARALABONTES) Jesus...

        John 19:16 -- Then he gave-over (PAREDWKEN) him to them to be crucified
        (hINA STAURWQH); so they took-over (PARELABON) Jesus
        Mark 15:15-16 also has the first two of these three verbal expressions
        (PAREDWKEN and hINA STAURWQH), but the third array element "take-over"
        (from PARALAMBANW) is distinctive to Matthew. I've suggested
        elsewhere that in John 19:16 and context the author subtly leads the
        reader to infer that Jesus was crucified by "the Jews", rather than by
        the soldiers as explicitly stated in Mark and Matthew. I argued in
        <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/johannine_literature/message/5582> that
        the author used a rhetorical strategy here similar to what you suggest
        in your "Coy John" posting in regard to the identity of the beloved
        Keith Yoder

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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