[XTalk] Re: Johannine dependence (was: Disinterested Science)
- Steve Davies wrote:
>I don't. Dom & I have agreed to disagree on this one. Crossan is
> How are these multiply attested if John (and Mt and Lk) is dependent
> on Mark? Crossan, for example, insists that John is dependent on Mark
> (WKJ 100 ff) and I thought you agreed.
basically a synoptic scholar. I have done much of my work on 4G & agree
with the major 20th c. Johannine scholars C.H. Dodd, R. Brown, D. M.
Smith, R. Fortna, et al. when it comes to the question of 4G's
dependence on synoptic texts or tradition. Brown discusses the
alternatives on pp. xliv-xlvii of the intro to his massive Commentary &
"If one were to posit dependency [of 4G on the synoptics] on the basis
of similarities alone, one would have to suppose that the fourth
evangelist knew all three [synoptic] Gospels and chose in an eclectic
manner, now from one, now from another. However, even this suggestion
does not hold up when one examines the *dissimilarities.* In parallel
scenes, most of the details peculiar to John, some of which make the
story more difficult, cannot be explained as deliberate changes in the
Synoptic tradition. If one cannot accept the hypothesis of a careless
or a capricious evangelist who gratuitously changed, added, and
subtracted details, then one is forced to agree with Dodd that the
evangelist drew the material for his stories from an independent
tradition, similar to but not the same as the traditions represented in
the Synoptic Gospels." [GJn p xlv].
Fifteen years of analysis of the composition of 4G & comparison with
synoptic parallels has led me to conclude that for the most part the
proto-Johannine (=Signs/Passion) tradition is not only independent but
earlier than synoptic equivalents.
Insofar as the differences between 4G & the synoptic accounts are
obvious to even a casual reader, the case for Johannine dependence must
be proven by scholars who propose this hypothesis just as much as
Farrerites have to demonstrate Lukan dependence on the text of Matthew.
And those who argue for Johannine dependence have an even harder time
than Farrerites since the material shared by 4G & any other gospel text
is even less & the degree of difference even greater than the tradition
common to Matt & Luke. To dismiss the Johannine differences as evidence
of John's "creative reinterpretation" of synoptic passages is circular
reasoning, since it presupposes textual dependence, which is precisely
what has to be demonstrated. The proper redactional question is: Why
would Jn have introduced the changes he did IF he knew the synoptic
Crossan has 3 arguments his case for 4G's dependence on the synoptics:
(1) the similarities in content & structure between the synoptic &
Johannine passion narratives are better explained by positing a common
written source than oral tradition; &
(2) the scene of Peter's denial is the sandwich surrounding the scene of
his interrogation/trial in both 4G & Mk; &
(3) such sandwiching of scenes is typical of Mark.
Therefore, he concludes John was dependent on Mark.
I granted his first point, but countered that the identity of the base
text has to be established by thorough literary comparison of all
possible redactional scenarios including the priority of the Johannine
passion account. I also granted his next 2 points but pointed out
differences between 4G & Mark that he overlooked:
(1) the fact that 4G has NO council trial comparable to the synoptics is
a difficulty for the theory of Johannine dependence, since 4G regularly
blames OI IOUDAIOI for trying to get rid of J;
(2) Peter's presence in the "courtyard" (AULH) of the high priest makes
more sense in the Johannine representation of an informal interrogation
than a full council trial as in the synoptics;
(3) Only if the literary sandwiching of 2 scenes were a uniquely Markan
device & 4G split the Peter's denial at exactly the same place as Mark
would the case for Johannine dependence be demonstrated. But John does
not split the scene of Peter in the courtyard at the same place as Mark.
And it is impossible to prove that the so-called "Markan sandwich" was
invented & patented by Mark.
Therefore the case of direct literary dependence of 4G on any or all of
the synoptics remains unproven & improbable.
The possibility of secondary scribal harmonizing of 4G in the direction
of synoptic texts is another issue altogether.
Mahlon H. Smith, http://religion.rutgers.edu/mhsmith.html
Department of Religion
New Brunswick NJ
Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus