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Re: [XTalk] Markan "Fabrications"-Essay: the Johannine question

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  • Ron Price
    ... Bob, Yes, as I said, the story would have to be shown to have been invented by Mark . But your second assertion, whilst logically correct, is
    Message 1 of 13 , Jul 3, 2000
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      I wrote:

      >>if it can be shown that "Mark" invented the denial story (and
      >>I believe the case for this is strong), then the Johannine
      >>question will have been answered. For John must then be dependent
      >>on Mark.

      Bob Schacht replied:

      >for your statement above to be true, you not only have to make a strong
      >case for Markan fabrication, you have to *prove* it at a level of certainty
      >so high as to exclude the possibility that the Petrine denial story existed
      >prior to Mark. Even then, Johannine dependence is not assured, because
      >there always exists the possibility that "John" invented the Petrine denial
      >independently (for whatever reasons.)

      Bob,
      Yes, as I said, the story would have to be shown to have been invented
      by "Mark".
      But your second assertion, whilst logically correct, is
      statistically dubious. For although it is *possible* that "John"
      invented his version of the denial story independently, it is unlikely
      in the extreme. There are too many similarities: "Peter followed
      [Jesus]"; "into the courtyard of the high priest"; "warming himself [at
      the] fire"; "one of the [servants] of the high priest"; "he denied it";
      "the cock crowed". On top of this is the interleaving with other parts
      of the passion story, an unusual literary feature which the author would
      have had to have adopted independently.

      Ron Price

      Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK

      e-mail: ron.price@...

      Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
    • Mahlon H. Smith
      ... If an interested lurker may butt in, I have a few observations that may clarify this debate. I have refrained from commenting partly because my own
      Message 2 of 13 , Jul 5, 2000
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        Ron Price wrote:

        > Bob,
        > Yes, as I said, the story would have to be shown to have been invented
        > by "Mark".
        > But your second assertion, whilst logically correct, is
        > statistically dubious. For although it is *possible* that "John"
        > invented his version of the denial story independently, it is unlikely
        > in the extreme. There are too many similarities: "Peter followed
        > [Jesus]"; "into the courtyard of the high priest"; "warming himself [at
        > the] fire"; "one of the [servants] of the high priest"; "he denied it";
        > "the cock crowed". On top of this is the interleaving with other parts
        > of the passion story, an unusual literary feature which the author would
        > have had to have adopted independently.
        >

        If an interested lurker may butt in, I have a few observations that may
        clarify this debate. I have refrained from commenting partly because my
        own schedule has prevented the type of tightly reasoned arguments that
        this topic deserves & partly because I found that others (notably
        Stephen C. & Bob S.) were already making points that I fully agreed with
        on the issue of the improbability of direct Johannine literary
        dependence on the text of Mark. But since today is a holiday, I have a
        few minutes to put in my 2 cents as we await the arrival of
        guests for our family barbecue. I hope these remarks prove worthy of our
        commemoration of another fight for Independence ;-)

        As Stephen has pointed most astutely, the textual evidence in the
        stories of Peter's denial in our extant gospels of Mark & John does not
        *prove* direct dependence of the author of one text upon the *written
        text* of the other. For there is no pattern of *sustained* verbal
        agreement between the two accounts similar the synoptic accounts. The
        phrases Ron quotes above may look like impressive evidence in English,
        but they are less so in Greek & when seen in their respective narrative
        settings:

        1. "Peter followed [Jesus]": Aside from the name Petros & the use of the
        verb AKOLOUQEW there is no verbal or word order agreement between Mark
        14:54 & John 18:15. Unlike the synoptics John calls the subject Simon
        Peter (without the nominative article) & places verb before subject.
        Like Matt & Luke but *not* Mark, John uses the imperfect indicative of
        the verb & a DE conjunctive construction (Mark uses the aorist and his
        typical KAI conjunction). Moreover, John does *not* use the synoptic
        word MAKROQEN ("at length"), which is the key word for proving that all
        three synoptic versions of the opening lines of this pericope derive
        from the same narration rather than independent observations.

        2. "into the courtyard of the high priest": True, the prepositional
        phrase EIS THN AULHN TOU ARCIEREWS of Mark 14:54 has an exact parallel
        in John 18:15. But in John this phrase is used to locate the "beloved
        disciple" rather than Peter, whom John expressly locates EXW ("outside")
        by the door. When Peter enters, the prepositional phrase is not repeated
        to expressly locate him where Mark does. Moreover, the ARCIEREUS in
        question in John is Annas (= Hanan I) who is not mentioned in the
        synoptic accounts. Further, unlike Mark, who has Jesus taken upstairs
        into the high priest's residence where Peter would have needed an
        electronic bug to hear what transpired, John has Jesus & the high priest
        in the same courtyard with the disciples. Presumably the AULHN TOU
        ARCEREWS was either a well known place in Jerusalem or at least a common
        1st c. architectural setting that any 1st c. storyteller might choose to
        stage this scene in which Jesus is taken to the house of a high priest.
        Thus, John's use of the phrase "into the courtyard of the high priest"
        hardly proves *literary* dependence on the text of Mark. *If* John used
        Mark's awkward adjectival construction (EWS ESW) before this
        prepositional phrase, then his dependence on the gospel of Mark would be
        evident here. But since he doesn't, it isn't.

        3. "warming himself [at the fire]": Actually the only verbal agreement
        here is one participle QERMAINOMENOS used to describe Peter in Mark
        14:54 & John 18:18 & again in John 18:25 (after the interrogation by
        Annas & Jesus' departure). Unlike Mark, John does not refer to a "fire"
        (FWS) but rather to "burning coal" (ANQRAKIAN) & he has Peter standing
        instead of sitting as in all the synoptics. What does anyone do around a
        heat source? The coincidental use of a single participle in otherwise
        diverse descriptions of a scene is hardly convincing evidence of textual
        dependence.

        4. "one of the [servants] of the high priest": This alleged parallel
        borders on absurdity since in Greek it is virtually non-existent. Mark
        14:66 has ERCETAI MIA TWN PAIDISKWN TOU ARCIEREWS. The use of the
        feminine form of "one" shows that Mark envisions a woman as Peter's
        first inquistor. Likewise in John 18:17 the first to question Peter is
        described as hH PAIDISKH (a female servant). But neither the numeral
        "one" nor the genitive construction specifying her relation to the high
        priest is used by John. And unlike Mark, John locates this female
        servant's question *before* the scene of Jesus' interrogation by the
        priests. To have gotten the word PAIDISKH from Mark, John would have had
        to jump to the end of the synoptic trial scene (which he ignores) & move
        this single word into his description of Peter's admission to the
        courtyard even though Mark made no mention of any female servants at
        that point. Later in John 18:26, John introduced the third interlocutor
        thus: LEGEI hEIS ek TWN DOULWN TOU ARCIEREWS. Note that in John, unlike
        anywhere in Mark, this person is called a "slave" rather than a
        "servant." Moreover, this slave is a *male* (indicated by the masculine
        form of the numeral), whereas in Mark it is the same female servant --
        only Matthew makes her "another" (ALLH) -- who has followed Peter *out*
        into the forecourt to publicize his presence to others. John seems
        totally oblivious to this part of the Markan narrative.

        5. "he denied it": Now this is not only absurd but plain ridiculous.
        What other verb would you expect to find in a story about Peter's
        "denial" of Jesus? True Mark 14:68 & John 18:25 both use the 3rd person
        aorist form HRNHSATO. But in Mark it describes Peter's response to the
        female servant's first recognition. In John 18:25 it describes Peter's
        2nd reply, this time to unspecified *plural* interrogators (EIPON). And
        in neither case are the accuser's words or Peter's answers at all
        similar.

        6. "the cock crowed": True Mark 14:72 & John 18:27 both have ALEKTWP
        EFWNHSEN. But the whole point of the story is Peter's denial took place
        before dawn. The whole Johannine clause looks "Markan" because it begins
        with a typically Markan construction (KAI EUQEWS). But unfortunately for
        advocates of literary dependence on Mark, here Mark has a variant EUQUS
        & specifies that the denial came before the *second* cockcrow (EK
        DEUTEROU). John's failure to mention the distinctively Markan "second"
        is accentuated by his failure to mention the Markan conclusion that this
        fulfilled a prediction by Jesus.

        Thus, while it is clear John is reporting the same incident as Mark it
        is far from clear that he is echoing Mark's report. So, contrary to
        Ron's claim that it is "unlikely in the extreme" that John "invented his
        version of the denial story independently" from Mark & the other
        synoptics, the very paucity of common wording between these accounts
        makes John's independence of the synoptic narratives highly likely,
        *unless* one assumes that Mark or another synoptic author invented the
        whole incident. But that claim has to be proven.

        The case for Johannine independence of the synoptic story of Peter's
        denial is bolstered by the fact that 4G does not structure the account
        as Mark does. Unlike Mark, 4G (a) reports 1 denial *before* reporting
        the scene of Jesus' interrogation & (b) does *not* use the story to
        frame a formal trial of Jesus by the Judean council. Thus, there is no
        substantial evidence to supports a theory of literary plagiarism -- at
        least not of the kind that a teacher would have to present to a dean to
        convict a student of cheating. *If* there were no
        *prior* history of claims by fathers & modern biblical scholars that
        John knew the synoptics, one could not prove that case on comparison of
        these passages alone.

        Therefore, any theory of Johannine dependence on the material presented
        here by Mark (or the other synoptics) must rest on *a priori*
        convictions of both
        (a) the absolute historical priority of synoptic tradition in relation
        to the Johannine *and*
        (b) the creation *ex nihilo* of this material by Mark or another
        synoptic source.
        For if Mark (or Matt or Luke) did not create this material, then it is
        possible & even more probable that John got it from some source other
        than the synoptics. For that is what non-verbatim agreement in reporting
        the
        substance of an incident usually is interpreted as indicating in either
        literature or a court of law. In fact, this is the very basis of the
        criterion of multiple independent attestation. And multiple independent
        attestation is usually granted to be good evidence of a prior state of
        affairs.

        In this case, that "prior state of affairs" is not what really happened
        after Jesus' arrest but a common literary source for both the synoptic &
        Johannine stories of Jesus' arrest & execution: the so-called "passion
        narrative." When two different authors independently edit a common
        source, either can & probably does paraphrase material in that source &
        adapt it to his/her own perspective. (So I will find different echoes of
        the contents of my course in the exam papers of students who have
        independently studied their notes from my lectures or the class texts).
        But there is bound to be some evidence of substantive agreement in
        content (unless of course someone misinterpreted what he/she heard or
        read).

        Ted Weeden & Dom Crossan will probably disagree, but I suggest that the
        gospel stories of Peter's denial are precisely evidence of this type of
        phenomenon & that this explanation is *more* probable than the
        conclusion that John was directly dependent on Mark. And in this case I
        think that Mark has edited the common literary source more than John.

        Aside from the lack of any evidence of direct plagiarism in these
        parallel accounts, I come to this conclusion because of the absence of
        the lengthy synoptic trial scene from the Johannine account of Jesus'
        arrest. *If* the author of 4G -- who regularly blames "the Judeans" for
        Jesus' execution -- had *any* evidence that a Judean court (a) held an
        (illegal) after hours trial during Pesach & (b) formally sentenced Jesus
        to death for blasphemy, he is
        unlikely to have transformed it into a perfectly legal midnite
        interrogation by just two Sadduccean high priests on the eve of Pesach.
        While I'm perfectly comfortable with the notion of John's creative
        rewriting of his source(s), I can never be convinced that his editorial
        tendencies worked in the direction of reducing formal Jewish
        responsibility for Jesus' execution. Thus, I am convinced that it is
        more probable that Mark was personally responsible for creating the
        trial scene as an elaboration upon a less damaging interrogation in a
        prior passion narrative than that John deliberately suppressed such a
        trial scene.

        It would take an exceptionally strong argument favoring John's
        suppression of a Jewish trial scene for me to consider Johannine
        dependence on this section of the synoptic narratives even plausible.
        The arguments advanced in favor of Markan priority in the case of
        Peter's denial (notably, Crossan's argument for Markan DNA in an
        intercalated narrative & Mark's pejorative portrayal of Peter) can be
        adequately explained without presupposing John's literary dependence on
        the synoptics. But my arguments in that regard will have to wait for
        another day, since this post is already far longer than I planned & I
        have more urgent responsibilities calling.

        Shalom!

        Mahlon

        --

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

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

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

        A Synoptic Gospels Primer
        http://religion.rutgers.edu/nt/primer/

        Jesus Seminar Forum
        http://religion.rutgers.edu/jseminar/
      • Ron Price
        ... Mahlon, In your haste to get to the barbecue, you don t seem to have read my last post carefully enough. ... In other words I was presenting evidence that
        Message 3 of 13 , Jul 6, 2000
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          Mahlon Smith wrote:

          > ....... the textual evidence in the
          >stories of Peter's denial in our extant gospels of Mark & John does not
          >*prove* direct dependence of the author of one text upon the *written
          >text* of the other. For there is no pattern of *sustained* verbal
          >agreement between the two accounts similar the synoptic accounts. The
          >phrases Ron quotes above may look like impressive evidence in English
          > .......

          Mahlon,
          In your haste to get to the barbecue, you don't seem to have read my
          last post carefully enough.
          This is what I wrote:

          >> [the assertion that "John" invented the Petrine denial
          >> independently] ....... is statistically dubious .......
          >> For although it is *possible* that "John"
          >> invented his version of the denial story independently, it is unlikely
          >> in the extreme. There are too many similarities .......

          In other words I was presenting evidence that the Markan and Johannine
          versions of the story are related in some way (not that one text is
          directly dependent on the other), and that we can therefore rule out the
          idea that the two stories were invented independently. You appear to be
          in agreement with this when you write:

          > ... while it is clear John is reporting the same incident as Mark ...

          My argument is:
          (1) The Markan and Johannine denial stories are related in some way.
          (2) "Mark" invented the story of Peter's denial in order to denigrate
          Peter.
          (3) Therefore John is dependent on Mark.

          Mahlon added:

          >1. "Peter followed [Jesus]": Aside from the name Petros & the use of the
          >verb AKOLOUQEW ....... [much snipped] .......
          >6. "the cock crowed": True Mark 14:72 & John 18:27 both have ALEKTWP
          >EFWNHSEN .......

          Mahlon,
          Your detailed exposition is admirable. You rightly picked me up on one
          or two questionable assertions. But it still leaves a common framework
          which supports assertion (1) above:
          1. PETROS
          2. AKOLOUQEW
          3. EIS THN AULHN TOU ARCIEREWS
          4. QERMAINOMENOS
          5. TWN ..... TOU ARCIEREWS
          6. HRNHSATO
          7. ALEKTWR EFWNHSEN

          >While I'm perfectly comfortable with the notion of John's creative
          >rewriting of his source(s), I can never be convinced that his editorial
          >tendencies worked in the direction of reducing formal Jewish
          >responsibility for Jesus' execution.

          In the extant text of John no less than two High Priests play their
          part in Jesus' condemnation.
          But all through John's gospel we see "the Jews" as Jesus' primary
          antagonists, as opposed to the scribes and Pharisees in Mark. Thus it is
          not surprising that it is "the Jews", according to John's account, who
          would have put Jesus to death if they had had the authority to do so,
          and who later cried "Away with him, away with him, crucify him." (John
          19:15)
          Thus I would argue that John's tendency wasn't so much to reduce
          formal Jewish responsibility, but rather (as compared to Mark) to
          broaden the responsibility to Jews as a whole. Doubtless the Evangelist
          had his reasons within his own 'Sitz im Leben' for allocating the blame
          in this way. The reduction in formality of the hearing(s) before the
          High Priest(s) could even be because the Evangelist knew from another
          source that there never had been a formal Jewish trial.

          Ron Price

          Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK

          e-mail: ron.price@...

          Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
        • Mahlon H. Smith
          ... Ron, I read what you wrote but was challenging the logic of your claims of John s dependence on *Mark s* version of the narrative. I grant your point (1)
          Message 4 of 13 , Jul 6, 2000
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            Ron Price wrote:

            > Mahlon,
            > In your haste to get to the barbecue, you don't seem to have read my
            > last post carefully enough.
            > This is what I wrote:
            >
            > >> [the assertion that "John" invented the Petrine denial
            > >> independently] ....... is statistically dubious .......
            > >> For although it is *possible* that "John"
            > >> invented his version of the denial story independently, it is unlikely
            > >> in the extreme. There are too many similarities .......
            >
            > In other words I was presenting evidence that the Markan and Johannine
            > versions of the story are related in some way (not that one text is
            > directly dependent on the other), and that we can therefore rule out the
            > idea that the two stories were invented independently. You appear to be
            > in agreement with this when you write:
            >
            > > ... while it is clear John is reporting the same incident as Mark ...
            >
            > My argument is:
            > (1) The Markan and Johannine denial stories are related in some way.
            > (2) "Mark" invented the story of Peter's denial in order to denigrate
            > Peter.
            > (3) Therefore John is dependent on Mark.
            >

            Ron,

            I read what you wrote but was challenging the logic of your claims of
            John's dependence on *Mark's* version of the narrative. I grant your
            point (1) but deny points (2) & (3), because

            [A] your point (2) is a thesis that remains unproven & therefore cannot
            serve as a minor premise in a syllogism until it has been proven beyond
            reasonable doubt. Until one demonstrates that the author of Mark could
            not have gotten the story of Peter's denial from some other source, one
            cannot take the claim that he personally invented it for granted. No
            matter how strongly someone believes point (2) to be a fact, believing
            won't make it so. It is only an allegation based on a hunch. And, as I'm
            sure Stephen C. would be quick to point out, in building an argument
            about historical fact allegations & hunches can never convict unless
            supported by substantial evidence.

            Mark certainly had reason to like the story of Peter's denial because it
            fits well with his use of Peter as the fool vis-a-vis Jesus. But how do
            we know that this particular author personally *invented* this story,
            when others report it & one of those who reports it demonstrably does
            *not* use the wording, structure or details of the version of the report
            that is found uniquely in the text of Mark? Until one demonstrates that
            *only* Mark among all voices in early Xnity could have created a story
            of Peter's denial, there always remains the possibility that someone
            else really did. E.g.:

            a. Mark might have gotten it from John -- or at least the
            proto-Johannine signs source; or
            b. Mark & John -- or the author of SG -- might have gotten from some
            other text (the PN); or
            c. Mark & John could both have gotten the story -- if only thru indirect
            oral channels -- from Peter himself (don't laugh, during the JS debate
            on the denial Crossan himself suggested that Peter could have invented
            the story as part of a post-crucifixion confession/testimonial).

            Until these other possibilities are shown to be impossible or at least
            improbable your thesis (2) is nothing more than a plausible guess. And
            conclusions based on guesses are not very firm.

            [B] your point (3) is a thesis that can be shown to be dubious simply by
            detailed textual comparison. That was the whole point of my nit-picking
            critique of your verbal parallels. Therefore, a more syllogistically
            sound permutation of your points would be:

            (1) The Markan and Johannine denial stories are related in some way.
            (2) John's denial story does not follow the formulation of Mark or the
            other synoptics; & vice versa.
            (3) Therefore, the story of Peter's denial can be to some other source
            than the authors of our canonical gospels.

            Since the major & minor premises in that syllogism are *both* based on
            demonstrable observations, that conclusion is verifiable, even if the
            exact identity of the person who actually fabricated the denial story
            may never be.

            I wrote:

            > >While I'm perfectly comfortable with the notion of John's creative
            > >rewriting of his source(s), I can never be convinced that his editorial
            > >tendencies worked in the direction of reducing formal Jewish
            > >responsibility for Jesus' execution.
            >

            Ron replied:

            > In the extant text of John no less than two High Priests play their
            > part in Jesus' condemnation.

            But what is 2 high priests against the synoptic Sanhedrin & crowd? Mark
            14:53 reads: "They took Jesus to the high priest; and *all* the chief
            priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled." Then Mark 14:55
            reiterates: "Now the chief priests and the *whole council* were looking
            for testimony to put Jesus to death..." And Mark 14:64 concludes: "*All*
            of them condemned him as deserving death."

            Compare the parallel points in John. John 18:13: "First they took him to
            Annnas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that
            year." Then after introducing Peter, the author continues in 18:19:
            "Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his
            teaching." And after John's version of Jesus' reply -- which isn't at
            all related to the interrogation by the high priest in Mark's parallel
            scenario -- we read (18:24): "Then Annas sent him bount to Caiaphas the
            high priest."

            Strange, I don't find any mention of a council or "all the chief priest,
            elders & scribes assembled" in my copies of John. Nor do I find a claim
            that "*All* condemned him as deserving death." *If* John was dependent
            on Mark, as your point (3) concludes, then John must have deliberately
            eliminated these elements from his reworking of the Markan narrative. Or
            do you know of *any* copy of Mark that lacks these details? But why
            would John, of all people, eliminate an account of Jesus being formally
            sentenced to death for blasphemy by the "whole" Sanhedrin when he
            himself wrote this (without any synoptic precedent) 8 chapters earlier:
            "The IOUDAIOI answered: 'It is not for a good deed that we are going to
            stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being,
            are making yourself God" (John 10:34).

            It is hardly plausible that John dropped Mark's account of a formal
            Jewish conviction of Jesus on charges of blasphemy at Pesach because he
            wanted to avoid redundancy. For John more than any gospel writer loves
            being redundant! And John more than any gospel writer -- with the sole
            exception of Matt 27:25 -- blames all IOUDAIOI in general for seeking
            Jesus' death. So why does he leave the council at home in bed when Jesus
            is delivered to the high priest's house?

            Produce a convincing argument for John's suppression of this portion of
            the synoptic narratives & then maybe I'll reconsider your conclusion
            that John was dependent on Mark.

            But no hurry. I have to get some sleep for a long trip to my sister's
            place in Mass. for a week-end of concerts at the opening of the
            Tanglewood season.

            Shalom!

            Mahlon

            --

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

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

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

            A Synoptic Gospels Primer
            http://religion.rutgers.edu/nt/primer/

            Jesus Seminar Forum
            http://religion.rutgers.edu/jseminar/
          • Jazz324@aol.com
            In a message dated 7/7/00 1:29:42 AM Central Daylight Time, ...
            Message 5 of 13 , Jul 6, 2000
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              In a message dated 7/7/00 1:29:42 AM Central Daylight Time,
              mahlonh.smith@... writes:

              > ubj: Re: [XTalk] Markan "Fabrications"-Essay: the Johannine question
              > Date: 7/7/00 1:29:42 AM Central Daylight Time
              > From: mahlonh.smith@... (Mahlon H. Smith)
              > Reply-to: <A HREF="mailto:crosstalk2@egroups.com">crosstalk2@egroups.com
              </A>
              > To: crosstalk2@egroups.com
              >
              > Ron Price wrote:
              >
              > > Mahlon,
              > > In your haste to get to the barbecue, you don't seem to have read my
              > > last post carefully enough.
              > > This is what I wrote:
              > >
              > > >> [the assertion that "John" invented the Petrine denial
              > > >> independently] ....... is statistically dubious .......
              > > >> For although it is *possible* that "John"
              > > >> invented his version of the denial story independently, it is unlikely
              > > >> in the extreme. There are too many similarities .......
              > >
              > > In other words I was presenting evidence that the Markan and Johannine
              > > versions of the story are related in some way (not that one text is
              > > directly dependent on the other), and that we can therefore rule out the
              > > idea that the two stories were invented independently. You appear to be
              > > in agreement with this when you write:
              > >
              > > > ... while it is clear John is reporting the same incident as Mark ...
              > >
              > > My argument is:
              > > (1) The Markan and Johannine denial stories are related in some way.
              > > (2) "Mark" invented the story of Peter's denial in order to denigrate
              > > Peter.
              > > (3) Therefore John is dependent on Mark.
              > >
              >
              > Ron,
              >
              > I read what you wrote but was challenging the logic of your claims of
              > John's dependence on *Mark's* version of the narrative. I grant your
              > point (1) but deny points (2) & (3), because
              >
              > [A] your point (2) is a thesis that remains unproven & therefore cannot
              > serve as a minor premise in a syllogism until it has been proven beyond
              > reasonable doubt. Until one demonstrates that the author of Mark could
              > not have gotten the story of Peter's denial from some other source, one
              > cannot take the claim that he personally invented it for granted. No
              > matter how strongly someone believes point (2) to be a fact, believing
              > won't make it so. It is only an allegation based on a hunch. And, as I'm
              > sure Stephen C. would be quick to point out, in building an argument
              > about historical fact allegations & hunches can never convict unless
              > supported by substantial evidence.
              >
              > Mark certainly had reason to like the story of Peter's denial because it
              > fits well with his use of Peter as the fool vis-a-vis Jesus. But how do
              > we know that this particular author personally *invented* this story,
              > when others report it & one of those who reports it demonstrably does
              > *not* use the wording, structure or details of the version of the report
              > that is found uniquely in the text of Mark? Until one demonstrates that
              > *only* Mark among all voices in early Xnity could have created a story
              > of Peter's denial, there always remains the possibility that someone
              > else really did. E.g.:
              >
              > a. Mark might have gotten it from John -- or at least the
              > proto-Johannine signs source; or
              > b. Mark & John -- or the author of SG -- might have gotten from some
              > other text (the PN); or
              > c. Mark & John could both have gotten the story -- if only thru indirect
              > oral channels -- from Peter himself (don't laugh, during the JS debate
              > on the denial Crossan himself suggested that Peter could have invented
              > the story as part of a post-crucifixion confession/testimonial).
              >
              > Until these other possibilities are shown to be impossible or at least
              > improbable your thesis (2) is nothing more than a plausible guess. And
              > conclusions based on guesses are not very firm.
              >
              > [B] your point (3) is a thesis that can be shown to be dubious simply by
              > detailed textual comparison. That was the whole point of my nit-picking
              > critique of your verbal parallels. Therefore, a more syllogistically
              > sound permutation of your points would be:
              >
              > (1) The Markan and Johannine denial stories are related in some way.
              > (2) John's denial story does not follow the formulation of Mark or the
              > other synoptics; & vice versa.
              > (3) Therefore, the story of Peter's denial can be to some other source
              > than the authors of our canonical gospels.
              >
              > Since the major & minor premises in that syllogism are *both* based on
              > demonstrable observations, that conclusion is verifiable, even if the
              > exact identity of the person who actually fabricated the denial story
              > may never be.
              >
              > I wrote:
              >
              > > >While I'm perfectly comfortable with the notion of John's creative
              > > >rewriting of his source(s), I can never be convinced that his editorial
              > > >tendencies worked in the direction of reducing formal Jewish
              > > >responsibility for Jesus' execution.
              > >
              >
              > Ron replied:
              >
              > > In the extant text of John no less than two High Priests play their
              > > part in Jesus' condemnation.
              >
              > But what is 2 high priests against the synoptic Sanhedrin & crowd? Mark
              > 14:53 reads: "They took Jesus to the high priest; and *all* the chief
              > priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled." Then Mark 14:55
              > reiterates: "Now the chief priests and the *whole council* were looking
              > for testimony to put Jesus to death..." And Mark 14:64 concludes: "*All*
              > of them condemned him as deserving death."
              >
              > Compare the parallel points in John. John 18:13: "First they took him to
              > Annnas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that
              > year." Then after introducing Peter, the author continues in 18:19:
              > "Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his
              > teaching." And after John's version of Jesus' reply -- which isn't at
              > all related to the interrogation by the high priest in Mark's parallel
              > scenario -- we read (18:24): "Then Annas sent him bount to Caiaphas the
              > high priest."
              >
              > Strange, I don't find any mention of a council or "all the chief priest,
              > elders & scribes assembled" in my copies of John. Nor do I find a claim
              > that "*All* condemned him as deserving death." *If* John was dependent
              > on Mark, as your point (3) concludes, then John must have deliberately
              > eliminated these elements from his reworking of the Markan narrative. Or
              > do you know of *any* copy of Mark that lacks these details? But why
              > would John, of all people, eliminate an account of Jesus being formally
              > sentenced to death for blasphemy by the "whole" Sanhedrin when he
              > himself wrote this (without any synoptic precedent) 8 chapters earlier:
              > "The IOUDAIOI answered: 'It is not for a good deed that we are going to
              > stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being,
              > are making yourself God" (John 10:34).
              >
              > It is hardly plausible that John dropped Mark's account of a formal
              > Jewish conviction of Jesus on charges of blasphemy at Pesach because he
              > wanted to avoid redundancy. For John more than any gospel writer loves
              > being redundant! And John more than any gospel writer -- with the sole
              > exception of Matt 27:25 -- blames all IOUDAIOI in general for seeking
              > Jesus' death. So why does he leave the council at home in bed when Jesus
              > is delivered to the high priest's house?
              >
              > Produce a convincing argument for John's suppression of this portion of
              > the synoptic narratives & then maybe I'll reconsider your conclusion
              > that John was dependent on Mark.
              >
              > But no hurry. I have to get some sleep for a long trip to my sister's
              > place in Mass. for a week-end of concerts at the opening of the
              > Tanglewood season.
              >
              > Shalom!
              >
              > Mahlon
              >
              > --
            • Ron Price
              ... Mahlon, This is a gross distortion of the truth. Have you forgotten that this thread was started by Ted Weeden posting a 6 or 7 part message arguing the
              Message 6 of 13 , Jul 7, 2000
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                I wrote:
                >> (2) "Mark" invented the story of Peter's denial in order to denigrate
                >> Peter.

                Mahlon Smith replied:
                > your point (2) ....... is only an allegation based on a hunch.

                Mahlon,
                This is a gross distortion of the truth.
                Have you forgotten that this thread was started by Ted Weeden posting
                a 6 or 7 part message arguing the case in detail, and providing
                references to other scholars who support this view?
                Are you expecting me to repeat the whole argument?

                >building an argument
                >about historical fact allegations & hunches can never convict unless
                >supported by substantial evidence

                In my view, Ted *has* supplied substantial evidence. I would add that
                a recognition that 14:28 and 16:7 are interpolations into the text of
                Mark (argued in a message to GMark on 20 Mar 2000 and mentioned in a
                message to XTalk on 28 May 2000) should add considerable weight to the
                thesis that "Mark" invented the story of Peter's denial.

                > your point (3) [Therefore John is dependent on Mark]
                > is a thesis that can be shown to be dubious simply by
                >detailed textual comparison.

                No it can't. You're ignoring the "Therefore". What your detailed
                textual comparison showed was that *considered in isolation* it seems
                more likely that Mark and John had a common source than that John copied
                from Mark here. But Mark's invention of the Denial (if accepted) rules
                out a common source and changes the pass mark for recognition of
                copying. In this scenario it is more probable that John copied Mark than
                that the two stories were invented independently.
                Of course your primary claim is that Ted's thesis is incorrect. This
                should be the nub of the debate.

                >why does ["John"] leave the council at home in bed when Jesus
                >is delivered to the high priest's house? .......
                >Produce a convincing argument for John's suppression of this portion of
                >the synoptic narratives & then maybe I'll reconsider your conclusion
                >that John was dependent on Mark.

                Perhaps "John" knew that a night trial by the Sanhedrin would have
                been against their rules and that the Markan account must therefore have
                been unhistorical.
                Anyway, judging by the number of references in John to "the Jews", it
                is clear that they as a whole were the main scapegoats in John's gospel,
                and not leading figures in Judaism such as the scribes and Pharisees in
                Mark. I suggest that ca. 70 CE Mark, although addressed primarily to
                Gentiles, was still hopeful of attracting some Jews to Christianity and
                therefore studiously avoided blanket criticism. However by ca.100 CE
                when John was written, Christianity had made a clean break with Judaism,
                so the Evangelist had little to lose by criticizing "the Jews", and from
                the viewpoint of a Christian evangelist he probably had a lot to gain
                from doing so.

                In my opinion you are underestimating the creativity of both Mark and
                John, just as those who deny that Luke knew Matthew are (amongst other
                things) underestimating the creativity of Luke.

                Ron Price

                Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK

                e-mail: ron.price@...

                Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
              • Mahlon H. Smith
                ... Didn t mean to get your dander up, Ron. I am perfectly aware that your post was in line with Ted s extensive development of his thesis that he has most
                Message 7 of 13 , Jul 13, 2000
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                  Ron Price wrote:

                  > >> (2) "Mark" invented the story of Peter's denial in order to denigrate
                  > >> Peter.
                  >
                  I replied:

                  > > your point (2) ....... is only an allegation based on a hunch.

                  To which Ron retorted:
                  >
                  > Mahlon,
                  > This is a gross distortion of the truth.
                  > Have you forgotten that this thread was started by Ted Weeden posting
                  > a 6 or 7 part message arguing the case in detail, and providing
                  > references to other scholars who support this view?
                  > Are you expecting me to repeat the whole argument?

                  Didn't mean to get your dander up, Ron. I am perfectly aware that your
                  post was in line with Ted's extensive development of his thesis that he
                  has most graciously posted for us Xtalkers to critique. Unfortunately my
                  schedule these past too months prevented me from responding directly to
                  him. I still have all his posts in my in-box, so there is no need for
                  you to repeat the "whole argument." I have not had time to reflect on
                  them as carefully as they deserve. But from what I have read, I don't
                  think my characterization of the thesis that Mark invented the Petrine
                  denial as "only an allegation based on a hunch" is a "gross distortion
                  of the truth" as you allege. After all, Ted has himself used such
                  language time & again to characterize his conclusion of Markan
                  fabrication. E.g., on June 1, Ted wrote regarding his tracing of a
                  connection between John 20:31 & Mark 1:1:

                  "I am at this point branching out on a hypothesis I am considering. At
                  present I only have interesting leads and a *strong hunch* guiding me in
                  this hypothesis."

                  Then he goes on to conjecture:

                  "Since *I think* John was dependent upon Mark, *it could be* that John
                  scripted the Marian confession to Jesus [in John 11:27] under the
                  influence of both the Signs Source and Mark."

                  As a cautious scholar Ted was careful to frame his assertion of
                  Johannine dependence on Mark as a personal opinion & suggest that -- if
                  this opinion is accepted -- then it is not impossible that John wrote
                  under the influence of *both* Mark & the Signs Source. But to come to
                  that conclusion one first has to be convinced that John was in fact
                  dependent upon the text of Mark.

                  Twenty years of teaching courses in the gospel of John, however, has
                  convinced me otherwise. Every spring I take an unsuspecting group of
                  undergraduate upperclassmen through a semester long literary dissection
                  of the Fourth Gospel in which we analyze every conceivable parallel to
                  the synoptics & debate the question of the probable direction of
                  dependence if any. This discipline has convinced me that there is
                  probably no direct line of influence of one canonical text upon the
                  other. The common ground between these texts is better & more simply
                  explained by the mutual influence of no longer extant common sources,
                  chief of which is the Signs Gospel, which I am convinced (with Fortna &
                  contra Crossan & Weeden) included its own passion narrative that
                  differed in significant details from the version developed by the
                  synoptics. I haven't had time to develop a detailed written defense of
                  my thesis, but I am confident that I can show that the SG narrative
                  followed by John, including its passion section, is more primitive than
                  that in the synoptics. For John's account of a parallel incident is
                  often more coherent or "simpler" than Mark's version. I'm preparing to
                  argue in print that Mark wrote in part to refute the image of Jesus
                  developed in the SG. Therefore I am with Ted 100% when he suggests that
                  the SG was the common source of material in both Mark & John. Where we
                  part company is when he suggests (with Crossan et al) that John also
                  used the text of Mark.

                  >
                  > >building an argument
                  > >about historical fact allegations & hunches can never convict unless
                  > >supported by substantial evidence
                  >
                  > In my view, Ted *has* supplied substantial evidence.

                  I'm glad you expressed that as a personal opinion. Fifteen years of
                  debate in the JS has convinced me that scholars can honestly disagree
                  vehemently over the interpretation of the evidence & still respect those
                  who hold opinions with which they disagree. I admire Ted's marshalling
                  of evidence to support his thesis, but I remain unconvinced of two of
                  his conclusions: (a) that John is dependent on Mark & (b) that Mark
                  personally invented the story of Peter's denial. That does not mean that
                  I think the accounts of Peter's denial reflect an actual historical
                  event. It may very well be a fabrication. I just don't think that the
                  author of the gospel of Mark is the one who invented it. That honor *I
                  think* belongs to the author of the SG, although he may have gotten it
                  from an even earlier editor of the original PN.

                  Stephen Carlson in his post of 5/27 pointed out that the SG as
                  reconstructed by Fortna & the seminar of Johannine scholars who worked
                  on it for years includes the story of Peter's denial. The SV committee
                  (of which I was a member) translated the SG from a reconstructed Greek
                  text of SG that Fortna presented as a consensus document -- consensus of
                  Johannine scholars who supported the SG hypothesis, that is [recognizing
                  that in a committee consensus is never 100% on every detail]. Fortna did
                  groundbreaking work on the SG; but he was not the only scholar who
                  contributed to its reconstruction. Of course, other scholars are free to
                  disagree & many still dispute the existence of SG as a pre-Johannine
                  source. But in March '92 69% of the JS voted the thesis that the author
                  of 4G used a written collection of signs probable (pink) or higher.

                  Of course some scholars (like Crossan & Weeden) think that the signs
                  source falls short of being a complete gospel (largely because they
                  doubt that it included a passion & resurrection narrative). But in Oct
                  '95 55% of the JS voted red on the following thesis: "The Fourth
                  evangelist depended on a pre-Johannine passion source that was
                  independent of and older than Mark" -- giving this thesis a pink
                  weighted average. When it came to voting on specific pericopes in the PN
                  the JS several times found the Johannine account more historically
                  probable than Mark on major points where they differ (e.g., the dating
                  of the the last supper & crucifixion & the lack of a formal Jewish
                  trial). How are we to explain that? Either the author of John personally
                  had more reliable historical information regarding these aspects of the
                  PN or he better represented the original PN than did Mark & the other
                  synoptics. I suspect the latter is more likely to be the case.

                  So whether the Johannine PN was part of the SG (as Fortna & I think) is
                  a moot point here. The JS overwhelmingly agreed that at key points
                  where the Johannine PN diverges from the synoptic, it better represents
                  primitive data. Since the story of Peter's denial frames one of those
                  pericopes (the priestly interrogation of Jesus in John vs. the formal
                  trial in the synoptics), I think it is far from certain that *Mark*
                  created the story of Peter's denial (especially since John's account
                  demonstrably differs verbally & structurally from Mark's narrative
                  syntax).

                  As far as I can tell most of Ted's argument for Markan fabrication of
                  Peter's denial is directed against the likelihood of this report being
                  based on historical fact. I have no problem with most of what he says in
                  that regard. But in his response of 5/27 to Bob Schacht he wrote:

                  "So I conclude that there is no convincing evidence that the Petrine
                  denial
                  is a historical fact. Someone made it up. *My candidate* for the
                  creation
                  of the denial de novo is Mark. *I do not know* of anyone else in the
                  early
                  church who had such an axe to grind in the interest of debasing Peter
                  but
                  Mark."

                  Note again that Ted, cautious as he always is, presents this thesis as a
                  personal opinion based on his dismissal of arguments that the denial is
                  a historical event. His argument represented syllogistically runs:

                  1. Someone fabricated the story of Peter's denial.
                  2. Mark had a greater interest in debasing Peter than any other
                  identifiable figure in the early church.
                  3. Therefore, Mark must have fabricated this story.

                  This type of logic is useful for identifying a prime *suspect* (or
                  "candidate" to use Ted's term). But unfortunately, as any prosecutor can
                  tell you, it is not always the prime suspect who committed the crime.
                  Ted *suspects* Mark fabricated the story of Peter's denial because *he*
                  hasn't been able to identify a more likely candidate. That is the
                  factual state of this case. You may agree with his suspicion. But there
                  is a huge gulf between an allegation that someone has done something &
                  demonstrating that this is the case. If absence of a more likely suspect
                  was sufficient to convict an alleged perpetrator of a crime then OJ
                  Simpson would not be a free man today.

                  I agree with Ted that Mark is a likely suspect. He seems to have had
                  motivation enough to have invented the story of the denial to smear
                  Peter. The problem is he may not have been the only early Christian who
                  wanted to undermine Petrine prestige.

                  I have come to the conclusion that the author of the SG is a very likely
                  candidate for the role of fabricator of this incident. True, s/he was
                  not as persistently anti-Peter as is Mark. But many scholars have noted
                  that Peter plays virtually no role in John. In SG it is Andrew, not
                  Peter, who first identifies Jesus as Messiah (John 1:41) -- and Andrew
                  actually tells big brother Simon that Jesus is the Messiah before the
                  latter has even met Jesus. Note that John has not the slightest hint
                  here of a Markan messianic secret. And contra Matthew the person who
                  reveals Jesus' messianic identity to Peter is very much flesh & blood,
                  in fact he is his own flesh & blood. Moreover, throughout John (&
                  especially in signs material) it is Andrew & Philip who are Jesus'
                  dialog partners during his active ministry.

                  Peter emerges from the shadows in GJohn only at the last supper when he
                  tries to prevent Jesus from washing his feet. John has so reworked the
                  last supper account, however, that there is no scholarly consensus on
                  the exact reconstruction of the SG narrative. Thus, Fortna suggested
                  that this incident be left out of the text of SG in _The Complete
                  Gospels_ [although he included the last supper in the text he prints in
                  his own books].

                  Without the last supper the first act of Peter in SG is in the "garden"
                  [which is not identified as Gethsemane as in Mark] when Jesus is
                  arrested, when it is he who wields the sword that cuts off the ear of
                  the slave of the high priest [Mark ascribes that act only to an
                  anonymous bystander].

                  Thus, the sole role of Simon Kephas -- the "Rock" -- in SG is to be
                  perpetrator of the felony that directly precipitates Jesus' execution. I
                  wouldn't say that the author who wrote this was a faithful partisan of
                  Peter. Even Mark does not go so far as to allege that Peter maimed the
                  official deputy of the the high priest. That act would be akin to high
                  treason & in 1st c. Roman occupied Palestine would merit execution of,
                  not just the perpetrator, but the leader of the band of which he was a
                  part [on the theory that a teacher was held personally responsible for
                  the behavior of his disciples]. Thus it is only the Johannine PN that
                  supplies the motive for Peter to follow Jesus into the high priest's
                  house: be it bravado or self-interested concern about what Jesus might
                  tell once he is in custody. The synoptic narratives for all their
                  advertisement of Peter's denial fail to give him a plausible motive for
                  doing what Jesus predicts he will.

                  Moreover the Johannine PN alone accounts for Peter going into the AULHN
                  of the *high priest* (which is in all the accounts), whose slave *he*
                  has himself maimed. In the synoptic gospels this scene is totally out of
                  place as the frame for a formal trial. For in 1st c. Judaism trials
                  before the whole Sanhedrin most certainly did not take place in the high
                  priest's house.

                  I find the Johannine combination of
                  (a) Peter's rash act of violence against the high's priest's delegate
                  that precipitates the high priests' hasty decision to turn Jesus over to
                  Pilate as dangerous political revolutionary & demand his immediate
                  crucifixion &
                  (b) Peter's subsequent cowardly denial when he is identified by the high
                  priest's slave's relative as one who was seen in the garden
                  to be a far more powerful indictment of Peter than anything in the
                  synoptics. In Mark Peter comes across as a bumbling fool. In John Peter
                  is personally responsible for getting Jesus crucified but does not even
                  have the courage to admit his own crime.

                  Now who could have fabricated such an account? Sara Winter thinks that
                  the signs gospel comes from the partisans of Andrew, who is strangely
                  dropped from the inner circle of Jesus' disciples in the synoptics.
                  Others have suggested the partisans of Mary Magdalene who claimed she --
                  rather than Peter -- was the first to see Jesus raised [as the Johannine
                  resurrection narrative stresses]. I haven't decided yet. But that does
                  not matter for the argument at hand. The point is there were plenty of
                  candidates in the early Xn movement other than Mark who might plausibly
                  have fabricated a story to debunk Peter's post-crucifixion claims of
                  being the resurrected Jesus' designated heir as leader. Thus, it is not
                  at all clear to me that Mark *must* have been the one to fabricate the
                  story of Peter's denial & I think I have plenty of good reasons to think
                  that that Johannine version of this incident is more primitive than the
                  Markan account.

                  Whether you think I'm right or not, I hope this clarifies why I said
                  that the thesis that the author of Mark fabricated the story of Peter's
                  denial is "only an allegation based on a hunch." Perhaps time will prove
                  that Ted's hunch is correct. But as of now the jury is still out.

                  Shalom!

                  Mahlon

                  --

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

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

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

                  A Synoptic Gospels Primer
                  http://religion.rutgers.edu/nt/primer/

                  Jesus Seminar Forum
                  http://religion.rutgers.edu/jseminar/
                • Ron Price
                  ... Mahlon, Thanks for the clarification. ... In this as in all such NT problems we should look at the probabilities. The author of Mark s gospel had the
                  Message 8 of 13 , Jul 14, 2000
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                    Mahlon Smith wrote:

                    > ....... [much snipped] .......
                    > I hope this clarifies why I said
                    >that the thesis that the author of Mark fabricated the story of Peter's
                    >denial is "only an allegation based on a hunch."

                    Mahlon,
                    Thanks for the clarification.

                    >it is not
                    >at all clear to me that Mark *must* have been the one to fabricate the
                    >story of Peter's denial .......

                    In this as in all such NT problems we should look at the
                    probabilities. The author of Mark's gospel had the opportunity
                    (Christians in Rome ca. 70 CE were in no position to contradict the
                    story), the skill (he invented other stories) and the motivation (which
                    you admit) to invent the story. In my book this makes him almost
                    certainly 'guilty'. (We are not of course conducting a modern trial
                    here. The standards for 'convicting' a long dead person should be much
                    lower than those used in a modern court.)

                    >in March '92 69% of the JS voted the thesis that the author
                    >of 4G used a written collection of signs probable (pink) or higher.

                    Very interesting. All I can say is: "Bravo!" to the 31% who were
                    skeptical.
                    You put a lot of reliance on the Signs source. As I noted in a reply
                    to Ted Weeden (29 May), I don't believe there was any such source. In my
                    opinion it was a figment of Bultmann's imagination. I can explain John's
                    gospel perfectly well without it. In particular I can see nothing
                    improbable in the assessment that the Evangelist himself invented the
                    idea of seven signs. The "Revelation of John shows that the number seven
                    was significant in the circles within which the Gospel of John was
                    written" (U.Schnelle, _The History and Theology of thet New Testament
                    Writings_, London, SCM, 1998, p.495). Any improvements in historical
                    accuracy as against Mark could have derived from oral tradition.

                    > Note that John has not the slightest hint
                    >here [John 1:41] of a Markan messianic secret.

                    This is true. But there are hints elsewhere (7:4-9; 12:36c).

                    >In Mark Peter comes across as a bumbling fool.

                    But this is largely because someone saw how bad it looked for Peter
                    and inserted 14:28 and 16:7 in order to make it look as if Peter had
                    been forgiven. (Further justification for this assertion can be provided
                    if required.)

                    Perhaps it would be useful to set out the main points of the case for
                    John's dependence on Mark as I see them now.
                    (1) Mark created the gospel genre. John is in the same genre. It is
                    improbable that both writers invented it independently. Also, both
                    gospels start with John the Baptist. We moderns are used to this idea.
                    But I doubt whether this choice of a starting point would have been so
                    obvious to two *independent* biographers in the first century.
                    (2) There are some close verbal resemblances (listed by C.K.Barrett).
                    (3) Peter's denial was (I contend) invented by Mark and the version in
                    John contains Mark's 'DNA', as Crossan described the interleaving.
                    (4) The first publication of John was ca. 100 CE. Anyone who places John
                    within 10 years of this date presumably acknowledges at least around 20
                    years since the publication of Mark.
                    The Evangelist was reasonably well educated, understood Greek, was a
                    keen Christian, and lived in a sizeable Christian community judging by
                    the extent of the Johannine literature. To my mind it is totally
                    inconceivable that such a person would not have been familiar with
                    either Mark or at least one of the synoptics which followed it. (With
                    the former being generally admitted as the stronger case.)
                    Notwithstanding the difficulties of book production and distribution in
                    the first century, the alternative is like saying that Billy Graham
                    wouldn't have acquired a copy of the New Testament before he first wrote
                    a book promoting Christianity. After all we surely agree that both
                    "Matthew" and "Luke" had copies of Mark when they wrote *their* gospels.
                    Why, historically, should "John" have been any different?

                    Ron Price

                    Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK

                    e-mail: ron.price@...

                    Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
                  • Mahlon H. Smith
                    ... I don t see why? As a historian who has spent the past 15 years weighing every shred of evidence about Jesus & rejecting much of it as historically
                    Message 9 of 13 , Jul 14, 2000
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                      Ron Price wrote:

                      > In this as in all such NT problems we should look at the
                      > probabilities. The author of Mark's gospel had the opportunity
                      > (Christians in Rome ca. 70 CE were in no position to contradict the
                      > story), the skill (he invented other stories) and the motivation (which
                      > you admit) to invent the story. In my book this makes him almost
                      > certainly 'guilty'. (We are not of course conducting a modern trial
                      > here. The standards for 'convicting' a long dead person should be much
                      > lower than those used in a modern court.)

                      I don't see why? As a historian who has spent the past 15 years weighing
                      every shred of evidence about Jesus & rejecting much of it as
                      historically unreliable, I am not prepared to lower the bar when it
                      comes to standards of assessing the source of any Jesus tradition. As I
                      said: Mark is a likely suspect who had the motive & the skill to invent
                      a story of Peter's denial. He might even be the first person who comes
                      to mind. But that does not mean that the researcher should be so fixated
                      with Mark that s/he becomes blind to the fact that there were other
                      likely perpetrators, whom the evidence might prove to be the real
                      culprit.


                      > You put a lot of reliance on the Signs source. As I noted in a reply
                      > to Ted Weeden (29 May), I don't believe there was any such source. In my
                      > opinion it was a figment of Bultmann's imagination. I can explain John's
                      > gospel perfectly well without it.

                      It's your prerogative to try. I tried but found I couldn't. As an
                      exegete I was trained to give priority to the literary evidence of any
                      text rather than impose my personal brainstorms upon it. I am not prone
                      to imagining hypothetical sources & I was myself a reluctant convert to
                      recognizing Q as an isolatable synoptic source. A similar evolution took
                      place in my study of John. When I began teaching, I critiqued Bultmann's
                      hypothesis. But like many other Johannine scholars, the more I wrestled
                      with the difficulties -- the *aporia* -- of the text of our current 4G,
                      the more I became convinced that Bultmann was on the right track in
                      claiming that the canonical evangelist was editing at least one previous
                      written source that was similar to the canonical synoptics but which had
                      a viewpoint quite distinct from theirs. So, IMHO, I doubt that 4G can be
                      explained "perfectly well" without reference to some non-synoptic
                      documentary source.


                      > In particular I can see nothing
                      > improbable in the assessment that the Evangelist himself invented the
                      > idea of seven signs.

                      There is nothing wrong with this as an idea. The problems come with the
                      way in the author of 4G constructs his narrative & uses this signs
                      material [BTW John himself never makes a big deal of 7 signs -- that
                      number is identified by later interpreters -- so the author of 4G could
                      not have invented this "idea"].

                      You wrote:
                      >
                      > Perhaps it would be useful to set out the main points of the case for
                      > John's dependence on Mark as I see them now.
                      > (1) Mark created the gospel genre. John is in the same genre. It is
                      > improbable that both writers invented it independently. Also, both
                      > gospels start with John the Baptist. We moderns are used to this idea.
                      > But I doubt whether this choice of a starting point would have been so
                      > obvious to two *independent* biographers in the first century.

                      Comment. The idea that Mark "created" the gospel genre is a modern
                      judgment by synoptic scholars who accept the 2 source hypothesis. It is
                      based exclusively on study of the synoptic materials & therefore is a
                      relative judgment that is valid only insofar as one is limiting one's
                      historical comparison to the synoptics. It is not an acceptable point of
                      departure for weighing the relative antiquity of materials beyond the
                      synoptics. Unless you can prove that Mark created the genre of telling
                      stories about Jesus, then you have allow for minds prior to Mark
                      creating Jesus narratives of various shapes & sizes. Since the human
                      mind is very adept at combining isolated elements there is nothing at
                      all improbable about two Xn story tellers who did not know each other's
                      work independently coming up with the idea of composing an epic-like
                      chain of stories focused on Jesus. There were certainly plenty of models
                      of such compositions available in Hellenistic & Jewish tradition. Which
                      composition was more likely the earlier can be determined only by a
                      meticulous comparison of their elements. The Johannine signs source does
                      not identify itself as a gospel & its contents are not demonstrably
                      dependent on the *Markan* narrative in either structure or rhetoric.


                      > (2) There are some close verbal resemblances (listed by C.K.Barrett).

                      The key word here is "some." Most of John is quite independent of Mark.
                      The verbal similarities testify to *some* type of relationship of the
                      contents of these text. They are not sufficient to demonstrated literary
                      dependence in either direction.

                      > (3) Peter's denial was (I contend) invented by Mark and the version in
                      > John contains Mark's 'DNA', as Crossan described the interleaving.

                      Crossan has not demonstrated that the technique of intercalating stories
                      was invented by Mark, therefore the *similar but non-identical*
                      structures of the synoptic Johannine stories of Peter's denial is
                      misrepresented as "Mark's DNA." In scientific DNA testing matches must
                      be exact before they can be produced as evidence of a genetic
                      relationship. Crossan came up with a compelling metaphor. But his
                      argument falls short of proof, since he fails to show that Mark could
                      not have learned the technique of intercalating stories from a prior
                      text such as the original passion narrative.

                      > (4) The first publication of John was ca. 100 CE. Anyone who places John
                      > within 10 years of this date presumably acknowledges at least around 20
                      > years since the publication of Mark.

                      We don't know this. Where's the publication date printed? As evidence of
                      the tentativeness of the dating of NT materials let me just remind you
                      of the work of his eminenence, J.A.T. Robinson [Redating the NT &
                      Priority of John]. Robinson may not have persuaded many to stop echoing
                      chronological scales published in NT Intros, but his sharp critique of
                      popular assumptions regarding the relative & absolute dating of any NT
                      text should give a cautious scholar pause about asserting the
                      publication date of any NT work as an absolute fact. For me the most
                      telling part of Robinson's critique of the late dating of GJohn was his
                      demonstration that there is nothing in GJohn that presupposes the
                      destruction of the temple & that the theology & Sitz of GJohn is akin to
                      ideas & situations paralleled in Paul's earliest letters. This convinced
                      me that the persistent late dating of John & Johannine materials is a
                      modern residue of 2nd century polemics of 2nd c. orthodox writers who
                      sought to minimize the influence of a gospel that was the favorite of
                      gnostics. Since Robinson has shown that there is nothing axiomatic about
                      the view that John wrote last, the dating of John & his sources has to
                      start from scratch.

                      Pardon the correction, but your claim that John "the first publication
                      of John was ca. 100 CE" does not represent the current opinion of most
                      Johannine scholarship. In fact 100 CE is generally conceded to be the
                      *terminus ad quem* rather than the *terminus a quo* of John since the
                      fragment p52 found in Egypt has been dated to 125 CE. Unless this is a
                      fragment of the Johannine autograph -- a thesis that I don't think any
                      scholar is prepared to argue -- the canonical text of John must have
                      been composed before 100 CE. If canonical John is an edited text, as it
                      demonstrably is, then any earlier edition or source material must have
                      been composed earlier in the 1st c.

                      > The Evangelist was reasonably well educated, understood Greek, was a
                      > keen Christian, and lived in a sizeable Christian community judging by
                      > the extent of the Johannine literature.

                      Communities develop & most scholars grant that the Johannine literature
                      was composed by several different authors who used the gospel as their
                      scripture. As Ignatius of Antioch & Justin Martyr (a Samaritan) prove
                      the "Johannine" style of expression was widepread by the early 2nd c.
                      There are even many passages of Paul that sound Johannine. So the
                      Johannine sources & influence may have been far more mainstream from the
                      middle of the 1st c. on than traditional synoptic scholarship has
                      allowed.

                      > To my mind it is totally
                      > inconceivable that such a person would not have been familiar with
                      > either Mark or at least one of the synoptics which followed it. (With
                      > the former being generally admitted as the stronger case.)

                      To my mind the author of 4G was not "such a person." Rather that author
                      was several persons: the author of SG (an evangelistic Greek-speaking
                      Jewish Xn who used prophetic signs material to convert fellow Jews), the
                      original author the PN (a Jewish Xn apologist who sought to prove that
                      Jesus's execution did not prevent him from being the Messiah), the
                      author of the debates (a skilled dramatist & controversialist who
                      developed stinging rebuttals to Pharisees & temple authorities & placed
                      them on the lips of Jesus) & the author of the prologue & monologues (a
                      theologian with a limited vocabulary & cosmic focus & hostility to Jews
                      who envisioned an open mission to non-Jews). Now if you think the author
                      of all these different kinds of material were one & the same person, you
                      can imagine a genius who was adept at composing alternately in a wide
                      variety of styles & addressing a wide variety of implied audiences. I
                      afraid I have a hard time locating such a creature anywhere in the early
                      Xn world.


                      > Notwithstanding the difficulties of book production and distribution in
                      > the first century, the alternative is like saying that Billy Graham
                      > wouldn't have acquired a copy of the New Testament before he first wrote
                      > a book promoting Christianity. After all we surely agree that both
                      > "Matthew" and "Luke" had copies of Mark when they wrote *their* gospels.
                      > Why, historically, should "John" have been any different?
                      >

                      Partly because John does not give sustained convincing evidence that he
                      has in fact read Mark & partly because on the basis of detailed
                      comparison of texts I am convinced that most if not all of the Johannine
                      signs & passion passages are more primitive than the parallels in Mark.
                      I don't expect you or anyone else to take that on faith. But I'm
                      working on a ms. that I hope to finish before the next millennium. Until
                      then I respect your right to disagree.

                      Shalom!

                      Mahlon

                      --

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

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

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

                      A Synoptic Gospels Primer
                      http://religion.rutgers.edu/nt/primer/

                      Jesus Seminar Forum
                      http://religion.rutgers.edu/jseminar/
                    • Ron Price
                      ... Because modern Western legal systems rightly go to artificially extreme lengths to avoid mistakenly convicting an innocent person. Otherwise in the worst
                      Message 10 of 13 , Jul 16, 2000
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                        I wrote:

                        >> In this as in all such NT problems we should look at the
                        >> probabilities. The author of Mark's gospel had the opportunity
                        >> (Christians in Rome ca. 70 CE were in no position to contradict the
                        >> story), the skill (he invented other stories) and the motivation (which
                        >> you admit) to invent the story. In my book this makes him almost
                        >> certainly 'guilty'. (We are not of course conducting a modern trial
                        >> here. The standards for 'convicting' a long dead person should be much
                        >> lower than those used in a modern court.)

                        Mahlon Smith wrote:
                        >I don't see why?

                        Because modern Western legal systems rightly go to artificially
                        extreme lengths to avoid mistakenly convicting an innocent person.
                        Otherwise in the worst case scenario in e.g. the USA, an innocent person
                        could be executed by mistake.
                        I was referring to a historical judgement, in which the consequences
                        of a mistake are microscopic in comparison. To convict a criminal one
                        needs, let's say, a 99.9% probability that the accused committed the
                        crime. To arrive at a historical judgement, a 75% or even a 51%
                        probability is adequate.

                        >there were other likely perpetrators .......

                        I don't consider the author of an entirely hypothetical document such
                        as the supposed "Signs source" to be a likely candidate for inventing
                        the story of Peter's denial, or any other story for that matter.

                        >> I can explain John's
                        >> gospel perfectly well without [a Signs source].

                        >It's your prerogative to try. I tried but found I couldn't.

                        Ah, but then I bet you didn't realize the help that a little simple
                        mathematics could provide in isolating possible sheet displacements!

                        > ....... the more I wrestled
                        >with the difficulties -- the *aporia* -- of the text of our current 4G,
                        >the more I became convinced that Bultmann was on the right track in
                        >claiming that the canonical evangelist was editing at least one previous
                        >written source that was similar to the canonical synoptics but which had
                        >a viewpoint quite distinct from theirs.

                        Actually we may not be that far apart here if we can interpret
                        "canonical evangelist" as "Redactor".
                        I agree that the aporia in the canonical text point to a previous
                        written source, but I label this previous written source the "First
                        Edition of John's gospel". I have made an attempt to reconstruct this
                        First Edition on my Web site. My reconstruction resolves the most
                        prominent aporia, together with one or two which have not normally even
                        been counted as serious problems (such as the ambiguity of "On the third
                        day" in 2:1 following no less than three "The next day"s).

                        >So, IMHO, I doubt that 4G can be
                        >explained "perfectly well" without reference to some non-synoptic
                        >documentary source.

                        So here I agree, if the First Edition is counted as a "documentary
                        source".

                        >[BTW John himself never makes a big deal of 7 signs -- that
                        >number is identified by later interpreters -- so the author of 4G could
                        >not have invented this "idea"].

                        But the Evangelist wrote with great subtlety at times, so we should
                        not deduce too much from the fact that he doesn't explicitly refer to
                        "seven" signs.

                        > The idea that Mark "created" the gospel genre is a modern
                        >judgment by synoptic scholars who accept the 2 source hypothesis.

                        This statement is imprecise. The judgement is made by scholars who
                        accept that Mark was the first written gospel, which is not the same
                        thing at all.

                        > ....... there is nothing at
                        >all improbable about two Xn story tellers who did not know each other's
                        >work independently coming up with the idea of composing an epic-like
                        >chain of stories focused on Jesus.

                        It's not as simple as you make out.
                        Firstly many Christians of the period thought that Jesus was soon to
                        return in triumph, and that it therefore wasn't worth writing things
                        down.
                        Secondly the gospel genre is more than just "an epic-like chain of
                        stories focused on Jesus". I have already mentioned the common starting
                        point of Mark and John, namely John the Baptist. There are many other
                        similarities. C.K.Barrett lists some of them (in addition to his list of
                        verbal similarities).

                        >Crossan has not demonstrated that the technique of intercalating stories
                        >was invented by Mark .......

                        You seem to think Mark copied it from a pre-Markan written source. But
                        in my opinion there is insufficient evidence for such a source,
                        nothwithstanding Crossan's claims to the contrary. Many of the key
                        details in Mark's passion account, e.g. Judas' betrayal, Peter's denial,
                        the trial before the Sanhedrin, the portrayal of Pilate as a weakling,
                        the release of Barabbas, were probably invented by Mark. There's not
                        much left for any pre-Markan written source.

                        Nor is intercalation the sort of thing that one would expect to be
                        transmitted orally.

                        >> (4) The first publication of John was ca. 100 CE. Anyone who places John
                        >> within 10 years of this date presumably acknowledges at least around 20
                        >> years since the publication of Mark.

                        >We don't know this. Where's the publication date printed?

                        It's in 20:28, where Thomas says of Jesus: "My Lord and my God!" This
                        direct equation of Jesus with God marks out John as a post-synoptic
                        composition. :-)

                        O.K., I agree I can't prove that. But at least I've put my cards on
                        the table in proposing an actual date. What's your date for it?

                        >As evidence of the tentativeness of the dating of NT
                        >materials let me just remind you
                        >of the work of his eminenence, J.A.T. Robinson [Redating the NT &
                        >Priority of John].

                        I am amazed to find a critical scholar quoting these books with
                        apparent approval. How can a modern NT critic take serious note of
                        someone who wrote: "I have never really doubted the Pauline authorship
                        of Ephesians" (Redating, p.63), who took the end of Acts as implying
                        that the book was written before Paul was executed, who claimed 2 Peter
                        could have been written ca. 62 CE, who believed the historical Pilate
                        considered Jesus innocent (Priority, p.260) and who contended that
                        no-one seriously doubts the historicity of Joseph of Arimathea
                        (Priority, p.284)?

                        >In fact 100 CE is generally conceded to be the
                        >*terminus ad quem* rather than the *terminus a quo* of John since the
                        >fragment p52 found in Egypt has been dated to 125 CE.

                        This statement implies a dating accuracy which far exceeds the
                        evidence. It is especially surprising because in the previous paragraph
                        you had criticized others for treating the dates of NT works as
                        "absolute fact".
                        Recent evidence casts even more doubt on this date. (See U.Schnelle,
                        _The History and Theology of the New Testament Writings_, ET: London,
                        SCM, 1998, p.477 fn. 119.)

                        >> The Evangelist was reasonably well educated, understood Greek, was a
                        >> keen Christian, and lived in a sizeable Christian community judging by
                        >> the extent of the Johannine literature.
                        >> To my mind it is totally
                        >> inconceivable that such a person would not have been familiar with
                        >> either Mark or at least one of the synoptics which followed it. (With
                        >> the former being generally admitted as the stronger case.)

                        >To my mind the author of 4G was not "such a person." Rather that author
                        >was several persons: the author of SG ....... the
                        >original author the PN ....... the
                        >author of the debates ....... & the author of the prologue & monologues

                        The first two people are hypothetical. I don't see any distinction
                        between the third and fourth. However I confess that the idea that the
                        debates and monologues were written by different people is new to me. I
                        suspect it's tied up with a belief in the Signs source. Am I right or
                        wrong? Is there any stylistic evidence to distinguish them?

                        Ron Price

                        Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK

                        e-mail: ron.price@...

                        Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
                      • Ted Weeden
                        To List Members: I returned from my vacation in Europe to find the posts of Bob Schacht, Stephen Carlson, Bob Price and Mahlon Smith raising important critical
                        Message 11 of 13 , Jul 19, 2000
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                          To List Members:

                          I returned from my vacation in Europe to find the posts of Bob Schacht,
                          Stephen Carlson, Bob Price and Mahlon Smith raising important critical
                          questions and challenges and engaging each other in response to my initial
                          essay which laid out the parameters for my argument for the Johannine
                          dependency on Mark, with specific focus on the Petrine denial. I have
                          found the responses and exchanges between one another both provocative and
                          helpful in formulating my forthcoming essay in which I plan to show by
                          careful examination of the texts of Mark and John that a strong case can be
                          made for such Johannine dependency. With such dependency established, I am
                          convinced that I can make it clear that Mark is, to use Stephen's language,
                          "the culprit" who created de novo the Petrine denial.

                          Unfortunately, it is taking me far longer than I had realized to develop the
                          essay. Several reasons are causing this delay. I am trying to create a
                          very carefully reasoned argument for my position. To do so I have had to
                          spend a lot of time with the intricacies of the various texts (along with
                          consulting secondary sources), as well as formulating more definitively the
                          methodology that can make the best and soundest case for Johannine
                          dependency on Mark. In addition to that cause for delay, when I returned
                          from vacation I suffered what many of us suffer when taking vacation. I
                          had all my work responsibilities unattended during vacation to deal with,
                          along with jumping back into my normal work responsibilities. In addition,
                          I have developed a health problem of potentially serious nature that has
                          required medical attention.

                          I regret that I am not prepared to send my essay as yet. I am not sure how
                          soon I will be able to do so. I am diligently working on it. But I will
                          need time. I am sorry to leave you all in the lurch at this point.
                          Hopefully, when I finish it, it will be substantiative and provocative
                          enough, and hopefully sufficiently convincing in its argument, such that
                          the wait for it will have not been unworthwhile.

                          I also want at this time to apologize for sending my last essay without
                          making necessary corrections in it so that it was a finished, polished
                          essay. I was working on the corrections to send the essay on the day of
                          our evening flight out of the country. Unexpectedly, we were forced to
                          change our flight to an early afternoon flight because of serious
                          thunderstorm weather. Thus to get the essay off before literally running
                          out the door, I had to send it without the corrections needed. Otherwise, I
                          would have had to wait until I returned. Since I was already late in
                          responding to Stephen Carlson, I decided to sent it then rather than waiting
                          until my return.

                          Ted Weeden
                        • Mahlon H. Smith
                          ... No need to apologize, Ted. Take time to get your own house & yourself in good working order. Heartfelt wishes for a speedy recovery. Shalom! Mahlon --
                          Message 12 of 13 , Jul 19, 2000
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                            Ted Weeden wrote:

                            > Unfortunately, it is taking me far longer than I had realized to develop the
                            > essay. Several reasons are causing this delay. I am trying to create a
                            > very carefully reasoned argument for my position. To do so I have had to
                            > spend a lot of time with the intricacies of the various texts (along with
                            > consulting secondary sources), as well as formulating more definitively the
                            > methodology that can make the best and soundest case for Johannine
                            > dependency on Mark. In addition to that cause for delay, when I returned
                            > from vacation I suffered what many of us suffer when taking vacation. I
                            > had all my work responsibilities unattended during vacation to deal with,
                            > along with jumping back into my normal work responsibilities. In addition,
                            > I have developed a health problem of potentially serious nature that has
                            > required medical attention.
                            >

                            No need to apologize, Ted. Take time to get your own house & yourself in
                            good working order. Heartfelt wishes for a speedy recovery.

                            Shalom!

                            Mahlon

                            --

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

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

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

                            A Synoptic Gospels Primer
                            http://religion.rutgers.edu/nt/primer/

                            Jesus Seminar Forum
                            http://religion.rutgers.edu/jseminar/
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