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RE: [Synoptic-L] Out of Luke Into John: A Centennial Observation

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  • Matson, Mark (Academic)
    This is, as those who know me might guess, of great interest. But there is a ton of material that has been written on this since then, and the issue is fairly
    Message 1 of 5 , Apr 28, 2010
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      This is, as those who know me might guess, of great interest. But there is a ton of material that has been written on this since then, and the issue is fairly complex.

      A central question, and one raised in some very interesting papers by Lamar Cribbs and Pierson Parker, is the directionality. Certainly there are significant relationships between John and Luke (to really appreciate all of them, one might explore the series of tables I assembled in Chapter 3 -- Pattern of Luke-John Relationships -- of my dissertation (In Dialogue with Another Gospel?? --SBLDS 178)). But to simply conclude the John used Luke is perhaps (in my opinion certainly) too facile. There is much more going on here that resists an easy answer.

      One interesting feature is that where John and Luke are similar, often this is in material that Luke does not a direct Markan matchup (sometimes this difference is in a significant detail, sometimes in a major periscope). In which case it almost seems that Luke has perhaps inserted "Johannine material" in preference for Markan material. In this case, perhaps it is Luke taking over Johannine material, not the other way around. The test, of course, must be at the level of language patterns -- which I tried in a very controlled way to do with the passion narrative.

      I agree with Keith that the "accumulation" is much more impressive than individual issues. I tended to be cautious about some of the passages studied below (i.e. Lazarus, and the anointing of Jesus) because they are somewhat disconnected in some significant way in either Luke or John, and thus provide little specific control. I still tend to be doubtful that John used Luke. I am more positive that Luke used John.


      Mark A. Matson, Ph.D.
      Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean
      Milligan College

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Synoptic@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of keith_yoder
      Sent: Monday, April 26, 2010 7:50 AM
      To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [Synoptic-L] Out of Luke Into John: A Centennial Observation

      B.W.Bacon suggested in his book "The Fourth Gospel in Research and Debate" (published 100 years ago in 1910) that when John recasts narrative material from Mark he sometimes also adds in characters from Luke "either as separate individuals or as supplementary traits in a composite whose basis is from Mark" (p.368). In the footnote, he cites as example that John took the Mary and Martha characters from Luke 10:38-42 and Lazarus from Luke 16:19-31 when composing his narratives of the raising of Lazarus and the anointing of Jesus in John 11-12.

      To test this suggestion I will compare the texts of Luke and John to see if there are any literary echoes from Luke to be found in John's Bethany Family narratives. As a shorthand, I refer to the four texts in question as follows:
      "MM" = Luke's Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42)
      "L" = Luke's Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31)
      "BF1" = John's Raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-44)
      "BF2" = John's Anointing of Jesus (John 12:1-8)
      Of course then, "BF" is simply BF1 + BF2

      As a preliminary lemma, I submit that John's Raising of Lazarus (BF1) and his Anointing of Jesus (BF2) are two scenes of a single narrative unit. John himself invites us to tie these two together as one when he inserts at the beginning of each scene a "hook" that attaches and points us to the other scene:

      BF1: "it was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair whose brother Lazarus was sick" (John 11:2 referring forward to BF2)
      BF2: "...Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead" (John 12:1 referring back to BF1).

      Dorothy Lee cites this phenomenon to support her finding of a chiastic structure in John 11:1-12:11 (Flesh and Glory, 2002, p.199). I will use it more narrowly in what follows to legitimize the finding of echoes of Luke's MM and L texts distributed throughout both BF1 and BF2.

      1. Opening the scene
      MM: Jesus came to a "certain village" (KWMHN TINA) - Lk 10:38
      BF1: the "village" (KWMHS) of Mary and Martha - Jn 11:1,30
      Luke uses KWMH 12 times, John only 3 times - twice here and once in 7:42

      2. Introducing the sisters
      MM: "Martha and her sister Mary" - Lk 10:39
      BF1: "Mary and her sister Martha", "Martha and her sister" - Jn 11:1,5
      This name pair is found in the four gospels only in MM and BF

      3. Mary sitting
      MM: Mary was "sitting-by" (PARAKATHIZW) Jesus - Lk 10:39
      BF1: Mary was "sitting" (KATHIZW) in the house - Jn 11:20

      4. Martha serving
      MM: Martha was "serving" (DIAKONIAN, DAKONEIN) - Lk 10:39, 40
      BF2: Martha "was-serving" (DIHKONEI) - Jn 12:2

      5. Martha speaks
      MM: Martha speaks first, and says:
      "Lord/does it not matter to you/that my sister has left me..." - Lk 10:40
      BF1: Martha speaks first, and says:
      "Lord/if you had been here/my brother would not have died..." - Jn 11:21
      Note the identical sentence structure: <Lord> + <if you...> + <my sister/brother...>

      6. Mary at Jesus' feet
      MM: Mary sat "at the feet of" (PROS TOUS PODAS) Jesus - Lk 10:39
      BF1: Mary fell "at the feet of" (PROS TOUS PODAS) Jesus - Jn 11:32
      This is the only echo in John that does not follow Luke's temporal sequence.

      7. Mary silent
      MM: Mary does not speak at all
      BF1: Mary speaks once (Jn 11:32) but simply repeats (almost) the exact same words as Martha's complaint of 11:21--
      BF2: Mary does not speak at all

      8. Opening scene
      L: opens with "and there was a certain" (DE TIS HN) rich man - Lk 16:19
      BF1: opens with "and there was a certain" (HN DE TIS) sick-man - Jn 11:1
      The use of the singular indefinite pronoun TIS in the subject of the sentence, set at the opening of a narrative or parable, is much more common in Luke than John, by my count 23 times in Luke to 4 times in John.

      9. Lazarus died
      L: it happened that poor Lazarus "died" (APETHANEIN) - Lk 16:22
      BF1: Lazarus "died" (APETHANEN) - Jn 11:14, 11:10
      In the four gospels, the name "Lazarus" is used only in L and BF.

      10. Lazarus passive
      L: Lazarus never speaks and is a totally passive character
      BF: Lazarus never speaks and is a totally passive character

      11. Lifting up the eyes
      L: the rich-man "lifted up his eyes" (EPARAS TOUS OFTHALMOUS) - Lk 16:23
      BF1: Jesus "lifted up his eyes" (HREN TOUS OFTHALMOUS ANW) - Jn 11:41

      12. A prayer spoken
      L: the rich-man "said, father" (EIPEN PATER) Abraham - Lk 16:24
      BF1: Jesus "said, father" (EIPEN PATER) - Jn 11:41
      Both L and BF1 both use these words to open a conversation with heaven.

      13. Five brothers
      L: the rich-man said "I have five brothers" (PENTE ADELFOUS) - Lk 16:28
      BF1: John uses the word "brother" (ADELFOS) exactly five times - 11:2, 11:19, 11:21,
      11: 23, 11:32. John also uses the word "sister" (ADELFH) exactly five times as well - 11:1, 11:3, 11:5, 11:28, and 11:29. For the curious, "Lazarus" is used 10 times in BF, "Mary" and "Martha" 9 times each.

      14. Request for Lazarus' resurrection
      L: the rich-man asks Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead - Lk 16:28,30
      BF1: Jesus thanks God that He always "hears" what Jesus asks, and then he commands Lazarus to rise from the dead - Jn 11:41-43 (11:22)

      15. Response to request
      L: rich-man's request denied because "even if one would rise from the dead, they will not be convinced" - Lk 16:31
      BF1: Jesus' request granted and "many of the Jews...believed in him" - Jn 11:45

      I know some of these literary echoes have been pointed out many times before (especially 2, 9, 14, and 15), but I am not aware that anyone has previously set out a detailed survey. I do not have access to a university or seminary library, so if anyone happens to know that somebody has already done this, please let me know.

      Conclusion: Even though some of the echoes above may not individually carry much weight, I believe the sum of the evidence added together indicates that there is a conscious literary dependency between the Lazarus and Mary-Martha texts of Luke and the Bethany Family text(s) of John. The simplest explanation of that dependency is that John used and adapted Luke's prior text when he was composing his Bethany Family narrative(s). Thus, B.W.Bacon's 100-year old suggestion would be confirmed.

      Keith Yoder
      Carmel, Indiana


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