I hate to muddy the waters even further :) but I feel compelled to make my
own comment on this very interesting discovery. This is my first post here,
so I hope I don't overstep the rules and guidelines.
Let me first say that I strongly encourage Mr. Yoder to pursue this line of
research, even though his (and Mr. Brooks') conclusions turn out to be
somewhat different from mine.
At any rate, this is a marvelous piece of evidence for a hypothesis I have
been working towards for some years now: that all four gospels derive from
an earlier version of Mark's gospel, which was not only responsible for the
chiastic structures still discernible in canonical GMk, both at the pericope
level, and also perhaps the larger narrative level, but was also responsible
for the synoptic narrative structure--a Galilean ministry followed by a
single visit to Jerusalem--as well as most of the Passion Narrative--largely
followed in GJn, despite his deviations from the Markan narrative in the
ministry chapters of his gospel.
The following is going to sound a little baroque, but it is actually rather
straightforward. Try and bear with it--I will be using Jn 18:3 as a perfect
illustration of what I'm talking about.
What I actually think happened is that there were three layers of Mark:
1) a proto-Mark (pMk), with a narrative structure much more like that found
in the earlier chapters of GJn;
2) a deutero-Mark (dMk), in which our familiar Markan narrative was
3) canonical Mark (GMk), which edited dMk for mostly theological reasons,
but sometimes for narrative problems ensuing from the theological
There was also
2a) a proto-Matthew, derived from 2) dMk, and used by both Matthew and
Luke. This proto-Matthew is the Q-gospel--it contained the Q material, but
was also a full-fledged gospel.
Now, both GJn and GMt prominently feature anti-Semitisms. But GJn shows
almost no signs of following GMt, so how could this anti-Semitism have
carried over from one to the other? But it's possible if they shared a
source, and I argue that source was deutero-Mark. So, John's anti-Semitism
is actually not original--he is merely following the lead of one of his
We also see this anti-Semitism reflected in the Gospel of Peter; GPet is
clearly related to GMt, though there isn't space here to show how. Brown
describes in Appendix I to *Death of the Messiah* if you'd like to start
looking into it--suffice it to say that despite Brown's opinion, GPet had to
be a source of GMt. GPet in turn used dMk as a source, from whence it
derived its anti-Semitism.
And, GPet is also how the anti-Semitism of dMk entered GLk in part--because
Luke used GPet--though Luke was just trying to solve a textual problem he
faced. Matthew solved it differently, by favoring the Markan language
here. Luke in general was a bit more deft at splicing his different sources
together than Matthew was.
Here's how it works, using the example of Jn 18:3 that you provided:
--John used primarily 2) dMk here.
--Matthew used primarily 3) GMk here, though he elsewhere used 2a) dMk via
--Luke used both 2a) dMk via GPet and 3) GMk here.
--We see how GJn is not familiar with the canonical Markan account; he
retains older language of a band of soldiers with a leader, in this case
including the anti-Semitic Judas Iscariot.
--GMt derives from the canonical Markan account, where Judas has been
removed as the leader of the soldiers, though Judas does make an
appearance. The account has been rationalized.
--GLk, on the other hand, tries to balance the older account (from
deutero-Mark) with the new one (from canonical Mark). The result is hints
of language from both.
See how neatly this explains the differences?
As for the progression, you see motion from Matthew/Mark's more benign
Judas, to Luke's more suspect Judas, to John's totally culpable Judas. But
it turns out it's the other way around:
--John retains the anti-Semitism of his older sources, because he favors 2)
--Luke preserves it partially, because he balances the 2a) dMk via GPet
version with the 3) cleaned-up version of canonical GMk.
--but it became eliminated in GMk and GMt, because here, Matthew favors the
3) cleaned-up account of canonical GMk. Matthew does preserve some
anti-Semitisms elsewhere via 2a) dMk via GPet.
Chronologically, the sequence actually runs:
1) the proto-Markan version, probably not involving Judas at all
2) the deutero-Mark anti-Semitic original of GJn 18:3, a rewriting of pMk
3) GPet's version of dMk's anti-Semitic version, whatever it was (btw, this
is Cerinthus' gospel)
4) GJn's use of dMk (a reaction to Cerinthus, but retaining the
5) canonical GMk's cleaned-up version (perhaps to make more sense out of
6) GMt, favoring GMk's account here
7) GLk, blending GPet's and GMk's accounts
Fwiw, the Jesus Trajectory, the Baptism Trajectory, the Mary Trajectory are
all likewise misunderstood, but I'll leave that aside for now :) Basically
GJn, as some have suspected, preserves traditions more primitive than the
On a related note, I think the chiastic structure you've identified in GJn
also derives from dMk. Michael Turton's excellent online
>on chiasms in
Mark indicates that an underlying chiastic structure in the
Markan gospel was tampered with; my dMk was that chiastic author, and my
canonical GMk is the redacted version of dMk. I'm quite pleased to discover
a chiasm here in GJn.
In fact. I think we already know of dMk; it's the Secret Gospel of Mark. I
realize this is a highly controversial claim, but it is the solution to a
myriad of problems. (Fwiw I also think we actually have fragments of pMk,
but I haven't written on this yet.) An important part of my methodology is
the principle that we already have all the texts; in other words, I actually
hypothesize no new gospels. I use only what we already know of, though some
contents must be guessed at, based on the evidence.
Still more controversially, I think the evidence shows that this author
ultimately derived much of his information from a historical source,
reflected one way or another in what is commonly refered to as the Slavonic
Josephus (though should be more properly termed the Old Russian Josephus).
Please note that this is a very different idea than the crazy sort
promulgated by Robert Eisler many decades ago; I am simply arguing for a
Greek (not Aramaic) source for the Slavonic Josephus, redacted from
authentic Josephus (whether Greek or Aramaic) by an early quasi-Christian
author. Whether the author of pMk used this pseudo-Josepus, or whether both
were derived from a similar text, is difficult to say. But I think we can
say with some certainty that they are linked. (BTW, I am not alone in
arguing for an ancient Greek original of the Slavonic Josephus.)
Compare John's account to the Slavonic Josephus' version:
[The Jewish leaders] assembled to the chief priests and said
"Let us go and inform Pilate what we have heard;
And they went and informed Pilate
And he sent and killed many of the people
No Judas at all--and the language echoes the military assault that is
incongruously described in GJn. How else can this be accounted for?
Pseudo-Josephus is obviously not using any canonical gospels. This link may
also explain the odd detail in Jn 18:6 that the soldiers "fell to the
ground" (aphlqon eiv ta opisw kai epesan camai).
Either the canonical account must derive from this account in
pseudo-Josephus, or from an intermediate but related source. If the latter,
I argue this source was pMk, but both may have been used.
I think the anti-Semitic author of dMk, rewriting pMk, simply substituted in
Judas into 18:3 as a scapegoat ringleader of this attack the followers of
the pseudo-Josephean prophet (who is unnamed in the text). I strongly
suspect this same author of dMk invented the character of Judas Iscariot
from the disciple Judas (whom we now call Jude), who played a role in pMk as
interlocutor of Jesus (as hinted at in GJn, with the mention of "Judas--not
Iscariot"). Judas Iscariot represented the Jewish leaders who the dMk
author believed (for whatever reason) betrayed Jesus.
I humbly present more details (including fwiw a critique of Carlson and
Jeffery's work on Secret Mark, as is necessary to defend my hypothesis) on
my small website Synoptic Solutions <http://synopticsolutions.blogspot.com
where I continue to roll out what I call the Hyper-Synoptic Solution: a new
solution to the synoptic problem, encompassing not only the synoptics, but
also GJn and apocrypha as well. Ultimately I will be connecting the
synoptics to Josephus, and further on to history.
Readers' comments and criticism there are more than welcome. I can promise
many more website posts there on these matters.
Again, Mr. Yoder, this is an excellent finding, whatever conclusions it
Michael T. Zeddies
Ann Arbor, MI
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