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[XTalk] Re: Johannine dependence (was: Disinterested Science)

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  • Mahlon H. Smith
    ... I don t. Dom & I have agreed to disagree on this one. Crossan is basically a synoptic scholar. I have done much of my work on 4G & agree with the major
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2000
      Steve Davies wrote:

      >
      > 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.
      >

      I don't. Dom & I have agreed to disagree on this one. Crossan is
      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 &
      concludes thus:

      "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
      texts?

      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.

      Shalom!

      Mahlon

      --

      *********************

      Mahlon H. Smith, http://religion.rutgers.edu/mhsmith.html
      Associate Professor
      Department of Religion
      Rutgers University
      New Brunswick NJ

      Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
      http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/
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