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[John_Lit] Re: Sources for John

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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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