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

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  • Jazz324@aol.com
    In a message dated 7/7/00 1:29:42 AM Central Daylight Time, ...
    Message 1 of 13 , Jul 6, 2000
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      In a message dated 7/7/00 1:29:42 AM Central Daylight Time,
      mahlonh.smith@... writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Ron Price

        Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK

        e-mail: ron.price@...

        Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
      • Mahlon H. Smith
        ... Didn t mean to get your dander up, Ron. I am perfectly aware that your post was in line with Ted s extensive development of his thesis that he has most
        Message 3 of 13 , Jul 13, 2000
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          Ron Price wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

          Then he goes on to conjecture:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          Shalom!

          Mahlon

          --

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

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

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

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

          Jesus Seminar Forum
          http://religion.rutgers.edu/jseminar/
        • Ron Price
          ... Mahlon, Thanks for the clarification. ... In this as in all such NT problems we should look at the probabilities. The author of Mark s gospel had the
          Message 4 of 13 , Jul 14, 2000
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            Mahlon Smith wrote:

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

            Mahlon,
            Thanks for the clarification.

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

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

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

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

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

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

            >In Mark Peter comes across as a bumbling fool.

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

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

            Ron Price

            Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK

            e-mail: ron.price@...

            Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
          • Mahlon H. Smith
            ... I don t see why? As a historian who has spent the past 15 years weighing every shred of evidence about Jesus & rejecting much of it as historically
            Message 5 of 13 , Jul 14, 2000
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              Ron Price wrote:

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

              Shalom!

              Mahlon

              --

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

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

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

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

              Jesus Seminar Forum
              http://religion.rutgers.edu/jseminar/
            • Ron Price
              ... Because modern Western legal systems rightly go to artificially extreme lengths to avoid mistakenly convicting an innocent person. Otherwise in the worst
              Message 6 of 13 , Jul 16, 2000
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                I wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                Ron Price

                Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK

                e-mail: ron.price@...

                Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
              • Ted Weeden
                To List Members: I returned from my vacation in Europe to find the posts of Bob Schacht, Stephen Carlson, Bob Price and Mahlon Smith raising important critical
                Message 7 of 13 , Jul 19, 2000
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                  To List Members:

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

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

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

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

                  Ted Weeden
                • Mahlon H. Smith
                  ... No need to apologize, Ted. Take time to get your own house & yourself in good working order. Heartfelt wishes for a speedy recovery. Shalom! Mahlon --
                  Message 8 of 13 , Jul 19, 2000
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                    Ted Weeden wrote:

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

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

                    Shalom!

                    Mahlon

                    --

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

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

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

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

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