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

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  • 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 1 of 13 , Jul 5, 2000
      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 2 of 13 , Jul 6, 2000
        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 3 of 13 , Jul 6, 2000
          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 4 of 13 , Jul 6, 2000
            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 5 of 13 , Jul 7, 2000
              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 6 of 13 , Jul 13, 2000
                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 7 of 13 , Jul 14, 2000
                  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 8 of 13 , Jul 14, 2000
                    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 9 of 13 , Jul 16, 2000
                      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 10 of 13 , Jul 19, 2000
                        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 11 of 13 , Jul 19, 2000
                          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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