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[John_Lit] Re: Sources for John

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  • Ron Price
    ... Brian, This may seem like a simple question, but it is not. For there is abundant evidence that the text of the gospel has been extensively edited since it
    Message 1 of 6 , Dec 27, 1999
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      Brian Tucker wrote:

      >
      >What do you understand as the source(s) that John used?
      >

      Brian,
      This may seem like a simple question, but it is not. For there is
      abundant evidence that the text of the gospel has been extensively
      edited since it was first composed. The author of the first edition is
      usually called "the Evangelist". The person responsible for the second
      edition is usually called "the Redactor". There were also, I believe, a
      dozen or so later interpolations. Thus the name "John" in your question
      is ambiguous.
      C.K.Barrett (_Peake's Commentary on the Bible_ , 1962) indicated that
      there is a strong case that the author of the gospel knew Mark, and a
      fairly strong case that he knew Luke. I agree with this, as long as we
      think in terms of "the Evangelist" here rather than the ambiguous "the
      author".

      But there is also a case that the Redactor was influenced by Matthew.
      The evidence is presented on my Web site.,

      Some of the later interpolations (12:8, 20:23 and 21:1-25) were
      probably also influenced by Matthew. Ch. 21 is especially interesting
      because, unlike the earlier editions of John which implied the primacy
      of the 'beloved disciple' (20:4), it imitates Matthew in asserting the
      primacy of Peter.

      Brian added:
      >
      >Signs Source as narrative foundation of 1-12.(2:11; 4:54)Fortna, etc.
      >

      Brian,
      I am not at all convinced by the arguments for a Signs Source. Many
      scholars who posit such a source do so without first getting to grips
      with the stages in the formation of the gospel. This is putting the cart
      before the horse. How can we expect to find the sources of X without
      first discovering what constituted X ? One of the most recent
      introductions to the New Testament (U.Schnelle, _The History and
      Theology of the New Testament Writings_ , ET London, SCM, 1998) points
      out that: "In recent exegesis the existence of a 'Semeia Source' has
      been vigorously disputed." (p.493)

      Ron Price

      Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK

      e-mail: ron.price@...

      Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
    • Paul Anderson
      Thanks, Brian, for your question, and Ron, for your response. My analysis (1997) of John s relation to sources and the Synoptics is as follows: a) There is
      Message 2 of 6 , Dec 27, 1999
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        Thanks, Brian, for your question, and Ron, for your response.

        My analysis (1997) of John's relation to sources and the Synoptics is as
        follows:

        a) There is absolutely no evidence of the existence of, or subsequent use
        of, alien sources in John. After testing ALL of Bultmann's, and most of
        other scholars' evidence regarding sources underlying John, the stylistic
        results came out statistically non-differentiated, other than to confirm
        the stylistic work of a narrator. Likewise, contextual and theological
        "evidence" for identifying alien sources in John. We do have apparently
        at least two editions of John, so some of the contextual aporias are
        accounted for by inferring 1:1-18, chs. 6, 15-17, 21 and a few other
        touches to have been added during the finalization of the gospel, but the
        material appears to be earlier and later Johannine rather than
        non-Johannine (see chapters 3-7 of my book). Likewise, we have
        theological tension in John, but rather than infer the origin of such
        tensions was between the evangelist and written sources, a better model
        (with Barrett, and bolstered by the religious anthrpological work of
        James Fowler and Jame Loder) is to see the evangelist as working
        dialectically, perhaps even with his own tradition. Also, one can indeed
        engage dialectically other prevelant traditions and interpretations
        whether or not they were confined to written form. John 6:25, for
        instance, seems to challenge the narrative valuation of the feeding in ALL
        FIVE Synoptic accounts (they ate and were satisfied), and this seems far
        more extensive an agenda than the mere correcting of a back-water Semeia
        Source.

        b) Gardner-Smith was correct regarding John's nondependence on the
        Synoptics, but this does not imply non-engagement with the traditions.
        Further, just because John is finalized latest (ca. 100), this does not
        imply the Johannine tradition does not go back to the ministry of Jesus in
        some independent way. Against the view Barrett and others in the last
        decade or more, I found 45 contacts between John 6 and Mark, but 0
        identical contacts (see respective tables), making John's dependence on
        written Mark an impossible view to hold. Nor are there any entirely
        identical references between Mark and John suggestive of documentary
        dependence. Rather, the sorts of contacts unique to Mark and John
        represent the sorts of things (obviously) that Matthew and Luke omit in
        their redactions of Mark, which involve largely non-symbolic, illustrative
        detail and theological asides. While Matthew and Luke add traditional
        material of their own, this sort of material may suggest Marcan and
        Johannine proximity to oral traditions, and in that sense, contact is
        likely to have been during the oral stages of the pre-Marcan and early
        Johannine traditions. But which direction did the influence go? Perhaps
        it went from the Johannine tradition to the pre-Marcan, especially if we
        have two or more preachers involved here. Therefore, I call the
        Johannine/Marcan connections an "interfluential" set of relationships
        between the early (and probably oral) stages of the traditions. A second
        phase of Johannine/Marcan contacts emerged, in my view, upon the
        finalization of Mark, but these appear to have been more corrective than
        dependency oriented, and they may suggest one of the motivations for the
        production of the first edition of John (ca. 80).

        c) Why do we assume John borrowed from Luke when few of the really central
        parts of the Lucan tradition are present in the Johannine/Lucan contacts.
        Inferring a common source is equally problematic, as there is no evidence
        of such. The fact is that over 3 dozen times Luke DEPARTS from Mark and
        SIDES with John, suggesting, Luke has access to the Johannine tradition --
        probably in its oral stages (see Appendix 8). Further, Luke gives us a
        clue to Johannine authorship which scholars appear to have missed.
        Therefore, Luke appears to have employed Johannine material in what he has
        gleaned from "eyewitnesses and servants of the LOGOS" and may even have
        drawn aspects of his views on the Holy Spirit, Women and Samaritans from
        the Johannine tradition.

        d) Contacts with Matthew appear to be less tradition oriented and gathered
        more around the practical issues of interpreting the mission of Jesus
        within Jewish/Christian contexts and dealing with matters of organization
        and the ongoing work of Christ within the community of faith. Perhaps
        catylized by the effects of the proto-Ignatian structuralization of
        Diotrphes and his kin (III John), the Johannine Elder (after the death of
        the Beloved Disciple) finalizes the gospel and circulates it as a
        representation of Jesus' intention for the church. One infers at least 7
        ways in which Matthew 16:17-19 is represented in parallel-yet-different
        ways in John (see table 20). Does this imply a corrective to rising
        institutionalism in the late first-century church -- in the name of Jesus'
        original intention? That may be a bit strong, but Käsemann's
        sensitivities here are worthy of considering more fully. And, the issue
        was not simply a matter of organization, but one of how the risen Christ
        continues to lead within the community of faith. This happens through the
        Spirit, and Jesus' commissioning is extended to all, not just a few.

        So, in response to your original question, John may have used sources, but
        there is no compelling evidence for them, and it appears the Johannine
        tradition was itself early as well as late. John did not use the
        Synoptics as sources, but appears to have been engaging some of the
        pre-Marcan and Matthean traditions in their oral forms, while Luke appears
        to have used the Johannine tradition as one of his sources.

        Thanks for the opportunity to share,

        PA


        Paul N. Anderson
        Associate Professor of Biblical and Quaker Studies
        George Fox University
        Newberg, OR 97132
        503-554-2651
      • Thatcher, Tom
        This is a good string. In re Paul s last message, Fortna and I are editing a volume to come out in 2001 on the Johannine Jesus tradition which will include
        Message 3 of 6 , Jan 3, 2000
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          This is a good string. In re Paul's last message, Fortna and I are editing
          a volume to come out in 2001 on the Johannine Jesus tradition which will
          include perhaps the most sophisticated "stylometric analysis" of FG to date.
          The article is being developed by an expert in computers and statistics. I
          believe that his conclusions support, in his view, Fortna's data.
          Personally, I would not be inclined in that direction.

          In my view, the problem with the whole "source issue" in John relates to
          methods, not conclusions. Specifically, such research is forced to depend
          on "aporias," which is perhaps the most subjective method known to any form
          of literary research. It has been especially the case that many of the most
          important "aporias" in FG are "problematic" only when looked at from a
          particular exegetical perspective, and the entire enterprise presupposes
          what it is trying to prove--that there are written sources. An interpretive
          model based on oral composition, or a more narrative-critical approach,
          would obliterate most of these "tensions." The so-called "theological
          aporias" which scholars such as Brown have depended upon so heavily are the
          most dangerous of all, because they assume: a) that we understand John's
          theology well enough to know what diverged from it; b) that John's theology
          was coherent in the first place. Both of these issues are highly
          questionable.

          Respectfully,
          --tom

          "The Truth Will Set You Free"
          tom thatcher
          cbs&s
          (513) 244-8172
        • Paul Anderson
          Thanks, Tom, for your favorable response. It was good hearing more about your project from you and Professor Fortna at the Boston meetings, although it became
          Message 4 of 6 , Jan 3, 2000
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            Thanks, Tom, for your favorable response. It was good hearing more about
            your project from you and Professor Fortna at the Boston meetings,
            although it became evident he had not considered my analysis. I am
            appreciative of Fortna's outlining of stylistic, contextual, and
            theological evidence for alien source material in John, which is why I
            dedicated a chapter to each of those categories using Bultmann's own
            evidence for them (and some of Fortna's as well, see pp.48-169). I trust
            this analysis will be drawn into the project as deemed appropriate?

            On methodology, the form-critical approach, so helpful in analyzing the
            development of the pre-Marcan material and Q material, does not work as
            well with John. There is no evidence to suggest that signs and
            interpretations/discourses ever had separate histories in the earlier
            tradition. Neither is there any compelling reason to infer the commentary
            is upon alien, non-Johannine material. The methodology, however, of
            de-johannifying a narrative, and re-marcanizing it with fictive wonder
            attestations, does not a semeia source make.

            Likewise weak are the evidentiary outcomes. What I found in my analysis
            was not so much a failure of methodology, but an absolute failure of
            indicativity. I drew together all Bultmann's source-critical designations
            from his entire commentary and applied them within John 6, where four of
            the five hypothetical sources should be evident, and the distribution came
            up absolutely non-indicative! There was an equal smattering of all the
            stylistic evidence thoughout John 6 except for two categories: there were
            more abstract nouns in the discourses, and more action verbs in the
            narrative. That does not mean, however, that one part was Greek and the
            other was Semitic; it simply reflects the character of the material
            itself. What else would one expect from discourses and action narrative?
            Also, traits of narration are telling, but this does not imply the
            evangelist was not using his own material. John indeed has a narrator,
            some of the earlier material is commented upon reflectively, and there
            probably was at least one later editing of the material, but that is all a
            stylometric analysis will indicate, as far as I can tell.

            On contextual and theological analysis, the source-inferring results were
            also non-compelling. We do have theological tension, but the evangelist
            was a dialectical thinker. And, contextual aporias, as you say, Tom, are
            variously problematic. Again, look at the findings; I cannot do justice
            to 120 densely written pages here. You might also look at Robert Kysar's
            and Sandra Schneiders' responses to Parts I and II of the book in the
            latest Review of Biblical Literature. Kysar expresses appreciation for
            the opportunity to declare his change of mind regarding the issue of
            John's hypothetical sources. Schneiders and others have also concurred;
            I'd be interested to know what others think.

            On the other hand, in solid agreement with your project, I believe there
            is far more historical material in John than has been imagined in the last
            century of scholarship, and I would locate it within the Johannine
            tradition which was independent from its earliest stages. Mark and John
            are the "bi-optic gospels," each with their own perspectives on the
            ministry of Jesus.

            I'm excited about your project, Tom, thanks for your reflections!

            All the best!

            PA


            Paul N. Anderson
            Associate Professor of Biblical and Quaker Studies
            George Fox University
            Newberg, OR 97132
            503-554-2651
          • Maluflen@aol.com
            In a message dated 1/4/2000 2:29:29 AM Eastern Standard Time, panderso@georgefox.edu writes: [writing to Tom Thatcher]
            Message 5 of 6 , Jan 4, 2000
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              In a message dated 1/4/2000 2:29:29 AM Eastern Standard Time,
              panderso@... writes:

              [writing to Tom Thatcher]
              << On the other hand, in solid agreement with your project, I believe there
              is far more historical material in John than has been imagined in the last
              century of scholarship, and I would locate it within the Johannine
              tradition which was independent from its earliest stages. Mark and John
              are the "bi-optic gospels," each with their own perspectives on the
              ministry of Jesus.>>

              Since I hold a view almost diametrically opposed to the above (namely, that
              John is primarily a literary development, obviously within the framework of a
              specific and new philosophical horizon, of Synoptic material found in all
              three Synoptic Gospels, with no special favoring of Mark, and with virtually
              no independent connection with the historical Jesus), I wonder if you could
              state in a few sentences what reasons you would give against my alternative
              view.

              Also, on the question of historicity, I wonder precisely what you mean by the
              position taken above? Let me put it this way: to what (if any) extent would
              you allow that much of John is also "fictional" in the broad sense of that
              term, confected or theological narrative? In other words (or perhaps, in
              addition), how significant, in the end, is a possible, occasional rootedness
              of the Johannine data in the hard facts of the Jesus of history? How
              irreconcilable are our two points of view?

              Leonard Maluf
            • Paul Anderson
              ... Dear Leonard, Thank you for your question, I m sure you are aware you are not alone in your view, as I would consider it the prevalent opinion among
              Message 6 of 6 , Jan 4, 2000
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                johannine_literature@egroups.com writes:
                >Since I hold a view almost diametrically opposed to the above (namely,
                >that
                >John is primarily a literary development, obviously within the framework
                >of a
                >specific and new philosophical horizon, of Synoptic material found in all
                >three Synoptic Gospels, with no special favoring of Mark, and with
                >virtually
                >no independent connection with the historical Jesus), I wonder if you
                >could
                >state in a few sentences what reasons you would give against my
                >alternative
                >view.
                >
                >Also, on the question of historicity, I wonder precisely what you mean by
                >the
                >position taken above? Let me put it this way: to what (if any) extent
                >would
                >you allow that much of John is also "fictional" in the broad sense of
                >that
                >term, confected or theological narrative? In other words (or perhaps, in
                >addition), how significant, in the end, is a possible, occasional
                >rootedness
                >of the Johannine data in the hard facts of the Jesus of history? How
                >irreconcilable are our two points of view?
                >
                >Leonard Maluf

                Dear Leonard,

                Thank you for your question, I'm sure you are aware you are not alone in
                your view, as I would consider it the prevalent opinion among scholars in
                recent years. I'll probably be working on these matters for some time,
                but in addition to The Christology of the Fourth Gospel (see esp. ch. 8),
                a couple of other essays on my approach you might consider include
                "Cognitive Origins of John's Christological Unity and Disunity" in
                Horizons in Biblical Theology, June 1995; and "The Sitz im Leben of the
                Johannine Bread of Life Discourse and its Evolving Context" in Critical
                Readings of John 6 (ed. Alan Culpepper, Leiden, 1997).

                In reference to your question, the literary advances made on analyzing
                John over the last two decades are very significant. They show how its
                narrative functions rhetorically and theologically, and offer something
                solid the interpreter can engage meaningfully. However,
                historical-critical issues remain to be addressed precisely because the
                genre of John is not fictional, but interpretive history. At least, the
                redactor claims it is, and it shows many signs of historical consciousness
                as well as being spiritualized. In that sense, John is a dramatized
                history rather than an historicized drama (see my treatment of that in the
                book, for instance). Then again, such a view has real problems too, but
                proving something is fiction is far more difficult than acknowledging the
                literary aspects of a passage, whether or not it may have been rooted in
                an event.

                Here are some of the ways John's historicity (when compared with the
                Synoptics) seems plausible and implausible:

                -- Did Jesus minister only one year and travel to Jerusalem once, and then
                get killed, or did he mininster over several years and go to Jerusalem
                several times? The latter is likely, supporting John versus the
                Synoptics. Likewise, no historical knowledge is required to connect the
                Temple cleansing with the arrest and death of Jesus; Mark probably put all
                the Jerusalem material at the end, and what a great "explanation" (was it
                fictional or conjectural?) for why Jesus was put to death! He created a
                disturbance in the Temple. Conversely, people being threatenned by the
                raising of Lazarus and wanting to put Jesus (and Lazarus!) to death would
                have been an unlikely set of events to concoct.

                -- Was the supper moved to Thursday in John for imagined "theological"
                reasons, or was it crafted within Mark (followed by Matthew and Luke) to
                support a Christianized Passover meal, complete with words of the
                institution, in support of emerging Christian traditions? Using the
                criterion of dissimilarity, John's rendering seems more authentic
                (likewise, the confession of Peter and views of ministry).

                -- Were markers of time and non-symbolic detail in John added for
                "realism" reasons, or do they reflect content from oral traditions which
                have been retained in the material and at times (but often not!) expanded
                upon theologically? The Marcan material omitted by Matthew and Luke often
                is precisely this sort of illustrative material, so, given Marcan
                priority, this fact suggests the proximity of at least some of John's
                material to the oral tradition (which may have enjoyed an interfluential
                relationship with the pre-Marcan material), and thus its primitivity.
                Scholars' failure to notice degrees of symbolization and theologization in
                John often leads to the unsupported explanation: "For theological reasons,
                the evangelist did x or y."

                Then again, the Synoptics seem more plausible on these matters:

                -- Jesus spoke on the Kingdom of God and in parables, but John has only
                two Kingdom sayings (chs. 3 and 18), and both of them are corrective.
                Further, John's Jesus speaks in long, I Am discourses rather than in
                parables, leading one to conclude (with Müssner) that the Jesus in John
                speaks in Johannine paraphrase rather than in the language of the
                historical Jesus. I agree, largely. Then again, look at Linda Bridges'
                work and the many aphorisms in John within the larger discourses; there is
                some Jesus material there.

                -- Jesus is presented as doing no exorcisms in John, contra the Synoptics,
                and the Synoptic material is probably more representative of Jesus'
                ministry. I agree. Then again, if the Fourth Evangelist was aware of
                Mark, perhaps his material was crafted so as to not be duplicative, which
                might explain not only those absences, but the addition of two miracles
                before those mentioned in Mark 1, as well as some other material felt to
                be missing (transfiguration, agony in Gethsemene, etc.). John certainly
                corrects the other gospels (not just a back water signs source, see Jn.
                6:26) theologically, and perhaps an augmentation-of-Mark theory might
                account for some of the differences rather than assuming too facilely
                John's ahistoricity.

                -- Three against one causes John to lose out on historical matters, and
                besides, the Synoptics give us the facts, whereas John's presentation is a
                "spiritual" one. Right? Not so fast...if Matthew and Luke used Mark (as
                I believe they did) what we have is a difference between the Marcan
                perspective and the Johannine (two bi-optic traditions). Further, Mark is
                a collector (Papias said Mark got down his material correctly, but in the
                wrong order; why does he make that statement?) of material and an
                organizer of it according to his narratorial and theological (not
                necessarily historical) purposes. Given the epistemological origins of
                John's theology of encounter (see ch. 7 of the book), John's spiritualized
                perspective may reflect radically its proximity to the events narrated,
                rather than distance, even though it is finalized late.

                Given the facts that a) evidence for sources in John is absent, b) that
                contact with Mark seems interfluential rather than derivative, c) that
                much of the detail in John appears to have a root in history rather than
                literary interest, d) that the dialectical character of the material is
                suggestive of first-order thought rather than second-order transmission of
                material (the epistles), e) and given the fact that Luke appears to have
                been dependent on the Johannine oral tradition, a fresh look at the
                historical character of the Johannine tradition seems due.

                Thanks so much for the good questions, Leonard; sorry to be laborious.

                PA

                Paul N. Anderson
                Associate Professor of Biblical and Quaker Studies
                George Fox University
                Newberg, OR 97132
                503-554-2651
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