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5534Re: [John_Lit] 4G redactions

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  • Tom Butler
    Dec 28, 2006
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      At last I have some time to reply to your comments
      regarding the redaction theory of the Gospel of John.
      I very much appreciate this opportunity to reply to
      your list of reasons for supporting the redaction
      By way of dialogue, I'll weave my replies into the
      text of your list of reasons.

      --- Fabbri Marco <mv.fabbri@...> wrote:

      > I share Jack's inclination to think that John 21 is
      > not written by the same person that wrote John 1-20.
      > I find the following reasons:
      > 1. Chapter 20 ends in vv. 30-31 with a fully-fledged
      > conclusion, that refers back to the SHMEIA (signs),
      > that can be found in John 2-12. Therefore, unless >
      the contrary is proved, I understand John 20,30-31 >
      as the conclusion of John 1-20 (whether you include >
      the Prologue or not).

      Marco, the logic of your argument suggests to me that
      Jn. 20: 30-31 should be considered the conclusion of
      the Gospel of Signs, which as you indicated is found
      in Jn. 2-12. (I would argue that the Signs component
      of the Fourth Gospel begins at Jn. 1: 19 (after the
      Prolog) and ends at Jn. 13: 20 (with the account of
      the footwashing and before the Farewell Discourse or
      what Brown calls the Book of Glory begins - though I
      differ with Brown as to when that book begins: at Jn.
      13: 21, not at Jn. 13: 1, but that's another issue.)

      The rationale for such a conclusion being, as you
      suggested, the reference to signs in those concluding

      I see no reason to assume, if we are going to put
      forth a theory that the work of a redactor is evident
      in the Fourth Gospel, that Jn. 20: 30-31 belongs at
      the end of chapter 20. Why not at the end of chapter
      12 (or as I have suggested after 13: 20)?

      If the redaction theory is related in any way to what
      may be observed in the Gospel of Mark (where there are
      at least two different endings) as, for example, a
      struggle by first century Gospel writers to provide an
      appropriate ending for the Gospel story, then might it
      not be appropriate to suggest that 20: 30-31 could be
      placed at the end of chapter 19, supporting the idea
      that the resurrection narratives are all the work of
      one or more redactors?

      My point is that those two verses (Jn. 20: 30-31) can
      stand alone. They may be placed where they are at the
      end of chapter 20 or virtually anywhere else we might
      want to suggest is the "earliest ending" of the
      proto-gospel or first draft of the Gospel or whatever
      we end up calling what we believe to be the oldest
      part of the text.

      Is it not more sound from a scholarly point of view to
      challenge the redaction theory than to challenge the
      text as we have it? I stand with Culpepper (Anatomy,
      p. 49), Brown (Introduction p. 86) and Barrett (citing
      Lindars in The Gospel According to John Second
      Edition, p. 25) on this. Each of these scholars has
      theories about how the Gospel may have been redacted,
      but none of them conclude that it is possible to
      discern the earliest form of the text with any degree
      of certainty.

      The redactor theories serve to explain how or why some
      of the material may have been incorporated into the
      Gospel, but they remain theories and cannot be used to
      isolate some of the material in the Gospel as we have
      it today from the rest of the material. These
      theories, therefore, are best used AFTER the text has
      been studied as a whole, not as a way of organizing
      the material BEFORE the study begins.
      > 2. John 21,24 says the the beloved disciple wrote
      > TAUTA. It is reasonable to think that TAUTA refers >
      to what comes before, that is to the Gospel as a
      > whole down to the first conclusion in John 20,30-31.

      I'm afraid I don't see your point. What you suggest
      is that the use of TAUTA makes it reasonable to say
      that this verse is the conclusion to the entire
      gospel, which you say ends with chapter 20. How do
      you conclude that TAUTA in 21: 24 refers to the
      material that ends at 20: 30-31 but not to the
      material preceding it in Jn. 21?

      As I see it Jn. 21: 24 is referring to Jn. 21: 23c,
      explaining that when Jesus is quoted saying, "If it is
      my will that he (IE: the disciple whom Jesus loved
      identified in 21: 20) remain (continue to abide) until
      I come, what is that to you?"

      It is as though the author(s) has (have) placed
      parentheses around the phrase (this is the disciple
      who is testifying to these things and has written
      them). The TAUTA, in other words, refers to Jesus'
      statement in 21: 23c, not necessarily to the entire

      I see 21: 24 as the kind of language found at 19: 35.
      It is an assertion that the Beloved Disciple is the
      source of this witness. 21: 24 is not necessarily
      written BY that witness, but appears to have been
      written ABOUT the witness, who is the subject of a
      discussion between Peter and Judas in Jn. 21: 20 and

      This goes to the theory as to the role of the BD in
      the composition of the Gospel. It seems right to me
      that the BD may have been the SOURCE of much of the
      material or could have been the AUTHORITY that
      influenced an entire community to develop the Gospel
      as we now have it, but that does not necessarily mean
      that a single author, the BD or anyone else, wrote the
      original manuscript or even the proto-gospel which was
      later redacted by one or more other writers.
      > 3. I find six reasons to think that Chapter 21 is
      > not written by the beloved disciple who wrote John >
      1-20. I list them so:

      I'm assuming that you DO think that the material
      before Chapter 21 WAS written by the beloved disciple.
      Is that correct?
      > 3.1. John 21,24 says that "we know that his witness
      > is true". The verb is in first plural, so that who->
      ever is speaking can be easily distinguished from
      > the beloved disciple, that is referred to in third
      > person: "he".

      As I've just pointed out, Jn. 19: 35 can be given that
      same value. If 21: 24 is evidence that a different
      hand wrote Chapter 21, is 19: 35 evidence that a
      different hand wrote Chapter 19 or Chapters 18 AND 19?
      If so, should we consider that a redactor wrote the
      passion narrative?
      > 3.2. If the person speaking were the same as the
      > author of John 1-20, he would be a person who >
      testifies on his own behalf. As John 5,31 says:
      > "If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony cannot
      > be verified".

      Jn. 5: 30-38 presents Jesus' own defense against the
      legal charge of blasphemy (Jn. 5: 18 "calling God his
      own Father, thereby making himself equal to God.") In
      5: 30-38 Jesus points his accusers to John the Baptist
      as a witness, but says that he does not need human
      testimony, because the works (that the Father had
      given Him to complete) testify on his behalf and the
      Father who sent Him "has himself testified on my
      behalf." In other words, Jesus sites two unassailable
      witnesses as required by Hebrew law to refute the
      legal charges against him.

      If we understand that the beloved disciple has played
      an important role, even a central role in the creation
      of the Fourth Gospel, it would seem that the BD does
      not fall into the trap of testifying on his/her own
      behalf, because Jesus affirms the BD's testimony, even
      the BD's abiding presence in 21: 23 and the gospel
      itself is evidence of that disciple's faithfulness to
      the task entrusted to him (or her - as I have
      suggested in an exegesis of Jn. 12: 7 - See Let Her
      Keep It pp 247-252). Thus the witness of the BD has
      an authority similar to that of Jesus Himself!
      > 3.3. John 21,20-23 says that Jesus didn't say that
      > the beloved disciple wouldn't die, contrary to the >
      word spread among the brothers. These verses make >
      sense if they were written after the death of the >
      beloved disciple: the author seems worried that >
      some brothers might think that Jesus was wrong.
      > Therefore the beloved disciple didn't write these
      > verses.

      As indicated above, I don't think one must attribute
      authorship of chapter 21 to the beloved disciple in
      order to consider chapter 21 to have been woven into
      the entire Gospel in a manner similar to the skillful
      way that other material was woven into the Gospel. My
      theory is that an entire community of scholars
      (probably under the leadership, inspiration and
      authority of the beloved disciple) were involved in
      the composition and refinement of the gospel. You
      have found evidence that supports my theory. Thank
      > 3.4. The fact that we find a conclusion in John
      > 20,30-31 make it plausible that once the Gospel
      > ended there, and chapter 21 was added subsequently.
      > The fact that the conclusion in 20,30-31 is not >
      modified when chapter 21 is added leads to think >
      that the author of John 21 didn't think he could >
      change what was already written. This doesn't
      > happen in John 1-20, whenever the test is modified.
      > For instance, in chapter 4,2 a correction is
      > inserted within the text. The author of John 21 >
      doesn't take the same liberty.

      I understand you to be asserting that Jn. 4:2 is a
      redaction of an earlier text. Is there a manuscript
      extant of this pericope that does not include what I
      assume you see as the inserted phrase (vs. 2)? I'm
      not aware of one (which doesn't mean there isn't one);
      are you?

      Absent such a manuscript, why couldn't this be a style
      used by the original writer: a clarification for the
      reader offered to prevent any confusion caused by what
      Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, a rumor
      (namely: "Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples
      than John")?

      The clarification is consistent with the theology of
      the gospel, namely that as the disciples were abiding
      in Jesus, as he was abiding in them, they were able to
      bear fruit. Otherwise they were not able to do
      anything (Jn. 15: 4-5).

      The verse above can be understood by readers of the
      Gospel to mean "The Disciples of Jesus are making and
      baptizing more disciples than John," but it would not
      be expected that the Pharisees would have understood
      that fine theological point.

      When the disciples bring people to Jesus and those
      people become disciples, Christ abides in them. When
      they baptize others, it is the Christ abiding in them
      that baptizes. That's confusing if not explained.

      This of course is meaning that the reader of the
      gospel gains after contemplating the meaning of the
      entire text; it would not be expected that a Pharisee,
      hearing the rumor, would have been able to "see" this
      meaning. The writer is helping the reader distinguish
      between what the words appear to mean to the
      uninitiated reader and what they can mean to those who
      have expounded upon the meaning of each part of the
      text and upon the gospel as a whole.
      > 3.5. Chapter 21 names some disciples that are never
      > named before: that is, the sons of Zebedee. It is >
      striking that they are never named in John 1-20.
      > Whatever the reason, it no longer stands when John
      > 21 was written.
      You may have noted that the Gospel of John does not
      list twelve names to identify the disciples. The
      names of James and John are not listed in the Gospel
      of John specifically. Only Peter, Thomas, Judas and
      Nathaniel are mentioned more than once. The fact that
      the Sons of Zebedee are mentioned only in Chapter 21
      does not suggest that chapter 21 was written by a
      redactor or that this chapter was necessarily added to
      the corpus of the text after all of the other chapters
      were written. Philip is only mentioned in Jn. 1: 45.
      Should we consider that reference an indication that
      the pericope in which he is named (Jn. 1: 43-51) is
      the work of a redactor?

      > 3.6. Chapter 21 uses 174 different words. 27 of them
      > are not existent in John 1-20. For instance, in >
      chapter 6 fish is OPSARION. ICQUS is never
      > used. Chapter 21 uses ICQUS. It is unlikely that
      > the author of John 21 is the same as the author of >
      John 1-20.

      Chapter 21, you say, uses 174 words. 147 of those
      words (nearly 98%)are also used in John 1-20. Again,
      you are assuming that the entire Gospel was written by
      a single hand and is the witness of a single soul.
      Consider the possibility that the Gospel is the
      product of a community of faithful scholars inspired
      by the witness and authority of one beloved disciple
      of Jesus. Some differences are to be expected as the
      work of separate scholars is woven into the text,
      perhaps by the leader or leaders of the community (the
      BD and others).
      > I think that 3.1-2 are the strongest reasons, that
      > give me certainty. I recognise that the following >
      reasons are indiciary. If consiered separately,
      > they make it more likely that the author is
      > different. All together, they make a strong case >
      against identity of author.

      They make a case against the identity of a single
      author having written the entire Gospel. I would
      argue that there are several parts of the Gospel that
      would illustrate that same point.

      Barrett, for example, has wondered about the
      authorship of chapters 11 and 12 in which Lazarus
      appears, though he appears nowhere else in the Gospel
      of John or in any other Gospel except in one of Jesus'
      parables in The Gospel According to Luke. This is the
      only parable in which Jesus names a character. (Does
      that suggest that a redactor added it to the Gospel
      According to Luke?)

      The Prologue is widely accepted as a different kind of
      writing than is found in other parts of the Gospel
      (but then the farewell discourse material is different
      from the Gospel of signs and the passion narrative
      seems to have more in common with the Synoptics than
      any other part of the Fourth Gospel.)

      In short, the Gospel of John defies categorization.
      If we are looking for a single author, or hoping to
      separate the work of one author from that of others, I
      suspect the effort will be largely fruitless, even
      though we can see that there are differences. Those
      differences are woven into a single fabric which
      cannot be unraveled without harming or even destroying
      the tapestry that proclaims our faith so powerfully.
      > I would be very interested to read a refutation of
      > any of the given reasons.
      Marco, I have found responding to your reasons to be a
      stimulating exercise. I look forward to your response
      to my refutations and the continuation of our
      dialogue. I hope others on the list will contribute
      to the dialogue as well.

      Yours in Christ's service,
      Tom Butler

      <DIV><STRONG><EM><FONT face=system color=#0000ff>Yours in Christ's service,</FONT></EM></STRONG></DIV>
      <DIV><STRONG><EM><FONT face=System color=#0000ff>Tom Butler</FONT></EM></STRONG></DIV>
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