Re: [John_Lit] 4G redactions
I had to interrupt quite abruptly my answer before I had time to discuss
properly your remarks. I thank you for you work, and for the opportunity
that we are now sharing to check the soundness of our ideas.
My previous post coped with general issues, this one will be dedicated to
particular points. My answer will be interspersed.
On 12/29/06, Tom Butler <<mailto:pastor_t@...>pastor_t@...>
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 <<mailto:mv.fabbri%40gmail.com>mv.fabbri@...> wrote:
> I share Jack's inclination to think that John 21 isthe contrary is proved, I understand John 20,30-31 >
> 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 >
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.
Not so. I am not trying to separate from the rest of Gospel a so-called
"source of signs" or Semeiaquelle. I am taking the Gospel as it stands, and
assuming that it is consistent, until the contrary is proven.
I am just observing that John 20,30-31 is a conclusion, and that it speaks
about the "signs" that are written in the book (the book that we call the
Gsopel). I search for the signs, and see that they are concentrated in
chapters 2-12. This means that if the Gospel has a structure, at this point
I still need to understand the function of chapter 1, and the function of
chapters 13-20. It is all too easy to wipe away those parts of the Gospel
whose function is not understood at first glance. If I did that, I would be
a reader that is not prepared to learn anything that he doesn't know
already. A bad reader indeed.
(I would argue that the Signs component
of the Fourth Gospel begins at Jn. 1: 19 (after the
The Gospel as it stands declares at 2,11 that the sign of Cana is the
beginning of the signs. The sign itself is narrated in John 2,1-11. I don't
dare to say that John 1 tells any sign: I am unwilling to pretend that I
know better than the Evangelist.
This doesn't mean that a so-called original Gospel started at 2,1. I agree
that there never was a Gospel that didn't include chapter 1. It would be
absurd indeed: what could the reader make of the "third day" mentioned in
Rather, the art of telling a tale requires an introduction. The reader needs
to be drawn into the story. I believe that this is the function of John 1.
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.)
I agree that this is another issue. Most scholars think that the second part
of the Gospel begins with chapter 13. Some think that chapters 10-12 are
If we prefer to draw on the point that have already been made, I think that
we can't ignore that the last mention of the signs is at 12:37, where it
says: TOSAUTA DE AUTOU SHMEIA PEPOIHKOTOS EMPOSQEN AUTWN OUK EPISTEUON EIS
Here it is: the signs should lead to faith, but they dind't win the faith of
the many. There are many who believe, but then they relinquish Jesus. Then
the people disappear from the account: the twelve remain. It seems to me
that it is impossible to divide the meal told in John 13 between the two
parts of the Gospel. The character are the same along chapters 13-17, and
they are the sole witness of the revelation of the AGAPH.
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)?
Simply because it is at the end of chapter 20. But I think this objection
dependes on the misunderstanding that I tried to to solve in my previous
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?
The ending of Mark is a different problem. From start there is a problem of
text criticism: the best manuscripts end at Mark 16,8. So a problem arises:
16,8 is an abrupt ending. Could Gospel end saying that the women told
nothing, EFOBOUNTO GAR? We miss a conclusion. Was this intentional?
And yet we know for certain that the Gospel once existed without Mark
16,9-20. Later Mark 16,9-20 was written, and also another alternate ending.
Then there is also a literary problem, which is a difference of style in
Mark 16,9-20, and, more importantly, the fact that Mark 16,9-20 knows about
waht is told in John 20, Matthew 28 and Luke 24.
But this a list devoted to Johannine Literature, and I will refrain from
pressing an interpretation of Mark. I rather want to point to the fact that
when studying Mark and John we face opposite problems: the oldest
manuscripts of John witness to a Gospel with two endings; the oldest
manuscripts of Mark witness to a Gospel that lacks an ending.
My point is that those two verses (Jn. 20: 30-31) can
I would disagree to this particular point. As a rule, a conclusion can never
stand alone: it needs a text before it.
This particular conclusion states that it is a conclusion to a book, and
that the book tells signs made by Jesus. Therefore it is the conclusion to a
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.
To this I hearthily agree. I think it is now clear that I am not interested
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
I agree with your last sentence and with the scholars that you quote, Brown
I would like to note that I say a different thing when I say that chapter 21
is a later addition. I can't think that any scholar would say that John 1-20
is "the earliest form of the gospel". According to the scholars that you
quote, we don't know with certainty about the earliest form of the Gospel.
We know with certainty about the latest form, that is all of the Gospel. And
I think that we can go back one step from that, to a Gospel that ended at
Please note that Brown agrees with that, even if doubts that the earliest
Gospel can be reconstructed.
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.
I agree. My students first here about the process of redaction of the Gospel
after some 12 classes about the structure of the Gospel as it stands.
>to what comes before, that is to the Gospel as a
> 2. John 21,24 says the the beloved disciple wrote
> TAUTA. It is reasonable to think that TAUTA refers >
> 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.
I don't say that the Gospel that we now have ends at chapter 20.
I rather say that there is a conclusion at the end of chapter 20, and that
we have to explain why the Gospel has two conclusions. Even more, John 21,25
repeats that Jesus did more than what is told. From this I draw that John
21,24 know John 20,30-31. This is true whether we hold that the same author
wrote all of John or a different author wrote John 21.
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?
There are reasons for that I presented as my points 3.1 to 3.6.
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
I can't see the parenthesis. Would could that mean, if not that you suggest
that 21,25 is by the same hand that writes 21,23? You may suggest it, but I
see no reason to separate 21,24 from 21,25. According to the methodological
reasons staed in my previous post, whoever affirms that part of a text
belongs to a different author has to prove that. It is not enough to speak
figuratively of parenthesis. I need a prove that 21,24 is from a different
author than 21,25.
Until a proof is given, I won't separate 21, from 21,25. And this lead to
another strong reason to recognize that TAUTA refers to John 1-20 and not to
21,23c. It is impossible to conceive that John ever ended in 21,23. We
started with a Gospel with two conclusions, we can't go all the way to a
Gospel that ends without a conclusion. This is why I think that we need to
think of John 21 a unit that stands together. It comes after the first
conclusion, and it ends with the second conclusion.
The TAUTA, in other words, refers to Jesus'
statement in 21: 23c, not necessarily to the entire
My position is not that it refers to the entire Gospel, but rather to John
1-20. I already noted that John 20,30-31 refers to Joh 1-20 as "this book"
that contains "signs". The signs are called TAUTA in 20,31. If, as noted
above, John 21,25 knows John 20,30-31, it is consistent to interpret the
reference to TAUTA as to the same things that are named TAUTA in 20,31.
I see 21: 24 as the kind of language found at 19: 35.
The two passages have similaritites, I concede that. If you can prove that
they are from the same hand, then I will have to accept that they are an
insertion from the author of John 21. But please note that 19,35 make no use
of the first person plural, as John 21 does. I find in the use of the first
person plural a reason to distinguish the author of John 21 from the author
of John 1-20. That reason does not stand for 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
You say that is not necessary that 21,24 is written BY that witness. I say
it is impossible. If my statement is true, then it follows logically that
also your statement is. It is impossible to hold my statement and deny your
statement. I accept it.
On the contrary, it is possible to maintain your statement and reject mine.
This is why I took pains to prove that it is impossible that 21,24 could be
written by that witness. See my 3.1-3.2.
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.
John 21,24 says indeed that the BD is the witness, and therefore the source
of the account, in our language. But it goes on and says that he is the one
who wrote these things: hO GRAPSAS TAUTA. I can't see how you could take at
face value the the BD is the witness, and not that he is the writer. I
understand that you have in mind a theory according to which the Gospel is
written by many people. But I suggest that you should recognize that John 21
doesn't share that theory. He could have said that HE witnessed and WE
wrote. But he didn't.
Of course, the "we" that speaks in chapter 21 also writes something,
otherwise we couldn't read it. It writes chapter 21. I think my view is
proved consistent. Whatever view we have if the BD and of the WE that write
chapter 21, they are different voices. For "US" the BD is HE. The BD is
dead, and WE are alive when writing. Yet the BD wrote, WE say. He wrote
while he was still alive, of course.
I'm assuming that you DO think that the material
before Chapter 21 WAS written by the beloved disciple.
Is that correct?
>ever is speaking can be easily distinguished from
> 3.1. John 21,24 says that "we know that his witness
> is true". The verb is in first plural, so that who->
> the beloved disciple, that is referred to in thirdIn my reasoning, there would still be room for maintaining that the BD did
> person: "he".
not write materially 1-20, as long as hO GRAPSAS is accounted for. One
should prove that the subject of the verb GRAFW could be the person who
dictated a text, as Paul used to do, or the person that had it written, even
if he didn't write that himself.
The advocates of this position quote Pilate in John 19,22: hO GEGRAFA
GEGRAFA. Now, Pilate would hardly write the titulus crucis himself. He would
order somebody to write it.
Is it likely that this happened with John 1-20? Whatever stance we take,
what I staed above does not depend on it.
This said, I would note that in John 19,22 or in the Pauline letters, the
person who orders the text to be written is contemporary to the person that
put the order into effect. Therefore I wouldn't subscribe to a theory that
the redactor of the Gospel is later than the BD.
And I wouldn't subscribe to any theory of a collective writer. Whatever
secretary helped Paul, or whatever clerk or soldier wrote the inscription on
the cross, he was not a group.
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
First: John 19,35 makes no use of the WE that is the mark of chapter 21, and
that distinguishes the author of chapter 21 from the BD, who is referred to
Second, I tried to prove that 21,24 is NOT a parenthesis.
It is still possible to maintain, as some scholars do, that John 19,35 is an
insertion in the passion narrative. In my opinion, the solution to this
depends on how tightly 19,35 is connected to what comes before and after it.
I am still uncertain. I miss the WE form to be sure. Its absence makes it
possible to maintain that 19,35 belongs to the texture of chapter 19.
>testifies on his own behalf. As John 5,31 says:
> 3.2. If the person speaking were the same as the
> author of John 1-20, he would be a person who >
> "If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony cannotJn. 5: 30-38 presents Jesus' own defense against the
> be verified".
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.
This doesn't change the need for two witnesses. Rather, the whole argument
implies that two witnesses are needed, as one cannot bear witness to
Those who understand Jesus can see from his answer that the Father and Jesus
are two persons.
Those who do not understand Jesus have the witness of John the Baptist,
which is stressed in John 1,19-34, and then again later.
Therefore, until now, my point stands.
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
He doesn't indeed. It's the author of John 21 that says that WE know that
his witness his true, so that even after the BD is dead the readers of
Gospel can hear two witnesses.
because Jesus affirms the BD's testimony, even
the BD's abiding presence in 21: 23
Here I don't understand: do you mean that the discussion about the opinion
spread among the disciples that the BD wouldn't die is written before or
after he died?
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!
Raymond Brown did not think that we could know who the BD was. But the year
he died I listened to a conference he gave in Rome, and he said that he
didn't believe that, according to the Gospel, the BD could be a woman,
because of John 19,26. Anyway, I am ready to recognize that this has no
bearing on the discussion on the redaction of the Gospel. It is one thing to
see in the BD the writer of the Gospel, hO GRAPSAS TAUTA, and another to
pretend to know who the BD was.
>word spread among the brothers. These verses make >
> 3.3. John 21,20-23 says that Jesus didn't say that
> the beloved disciple wouldn't die, contrary to the >
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 theseAs 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.
Does this mean that you agree that the BD didn't write John 21?
As to the similar way, it all depends on what you mean by similar. If you
mean that the author of John 21 draws on John 1-20 and take some expressions
from it, I agree.
If you mean that the relationship is the same, then it is already apparent
that I disagree.
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
I can't see that evidence. Even more, I can't see that books in the
antiquity were written by a community. A text has an author, until the
contrary is proven. I took pains to prove that John 21 is written by
somebody else, and you find iut hard to believe. How can you believe that
the authors are not only two, but rather an entire community?
> 3.4. The fact that we find a conclusion in Johnmodified when chapter 21 is added leads to think >
> 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 >
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.doesn't take the same liberty.
> For instance, in chapter 4,2 a correction is
> inserted within the text. The author of John 21 >
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);
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
I never wrote that I maintain that John 4,2 is by a different author. I
won't believe it is by another hand until that is proven.
The text is a correction, granted. I take it as a prove that John 1-20
underwent a process of redaction. Nothing more than that.
We are familiar with such correction in dissertations: the authors feels the
need to clarify what he had previously written, and add a corrections
instead of rewriting entirely his paragraph. He should do, because he has a
computer. Even so, I don't accuse the author of having somebody else write
As for the ancient authors, we can hardly blame for adding some expalantory
notes to their own text. They couldn't rewrite entirely their text without
wasting much time and much money.
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.
I agree with that.
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.
My first language is Italian, and I am uncertain as to your meaning. Do you
mean "expounded" or "expanded"?
For the rest, it poses no problem to me, and can be maintained whether the
author is one or many.
>striking that they are never named in John 1-20.
> 3.5. Chapter 21 names some disciples that are never
> named before: that is, the sons of Zebedee. It is >
> Whatever the reason, it no longer stands when JohnYou may have noted that the Gospel of John does not
> 21 was written.
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?
Not indeed. I can't follow you here. Philip is mentioned in John 1:43; 1:44;
1:45; 1:46; 1:48; 6:5; 6:7; 12:21; 12:22; 14:8; 14:9.
But let us suppose a character is named only in chapter 1, as Nathanael is.
We have agreed to take the Gospel as it stands. If so, the reader starts in
chapter 1, and is acquainted with Nathanael since the beginning. The
exchange between Jesus and Nathanael leads directly into the signs, and
announces them. Jesus says to Nathanael: MEIZW TOUTWN OPSHi. The following
scene has Nathanael see the first sign together with the other disciples. So
Nathanael is woven into the narrative and can't be taken away from it.
On the other hand, when the reader reaches the conclusion in 20,30-31, he
still hasn't heard of the sons of Zebedee. Either they are unimportant to
the writer and he forgets about them, or he avoids them on purpose, or both.
Depending on your answer, you will have to recognize that either they are
important to the writer of John 21, or he mentions them on purpose, or both.
> 3.6. Chapter 21 uses 174 different words. 27 of themchapter 6 fish is OPSARION. ICQUS is never
> are not existent in John 1-20. For instance, in >
> used. Chapter 21 uses ICQUS. It is unlikely thatJohn 1-20.
> the author of John 21 is the same as the author of >
Chapter 21, you say, uses 174 words. 147 of those
words (nearly 98%)are also used in John 1-20.
My mathematics is different. To me, 147 is 75-76% of 174. This means that
24-25% of the words of John 21 are not used in John 1-20.
An example of what these words are can be significant: fish is called in
John 6 OPSARION. ICQUS is never used in John 1-20. John 21 quotes the same
word OPSARION, but also adds the word ICQUS, that in the meanwhile has
become significant for Christians.
you are assuming that the entire Gospel was written by
a single hand and is the witness of a single soul.
I assume this, because it is correct to assume this until the contrary is
I understand that your hypothesis is dear to you, and I don't want to
inflict pain, but isn't it possible that you grew accustomed to look at the
Gospel from that standpoint, and take it for granted?
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).
In my opinion, you need to make a choice.
If there is one redactor, or another natural number of redactors (whose
existence you will need to prove), then as long as he writes (or n redactors
write), what he writes will reflect his idiolect and his style.
If there is no finite number of redactor, than not only some differences are
to be expected, but no idiolect or style can be recognized at all. If you
take this position, then whatever inconsistency arises can be solved saying
that this depends on the multiple authors. And you can't avoid a paradox:
whether you like it or not, your interpretation will fall into subjectivism,
just as those scholars that split the Gospel into hypotethical sources.
One example: did Jesus baptize or not? Some of your author thought he did.
Some thought he didn't. Both group wove their opinion into the Gospel. Who
are we to say who's right? Because if somebody corrected somebody else, then
we can accept the first opinion as well as the second.
>reasons are indiciary. If consiered separately,
> I think that 3.1-2 are the strongest reasons, that
> give me certainty. I recognise that the following >
> they make it more likely that the author isagainst identity of author.
> different. All together, they make a strong case >
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.
>Marco, I have found responding to your reasons to be a
> I would be very interested to read a refutation of
> any of the given reasons.
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,
I thank you, too, for this opportunity. It very interesting to challenge our
own assumption, and try to reason them.
Yours in Christ
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Thank you for your eloquent and rapid reply to my
response to your list of reasons for asserting that
Jn. 21 was written by a redactor. Like you, I will
respond with a brief note, perhaps to be followed by a
more careful and systematic defense of my assertions
when time allows.
Thank you for clarifying your intention and
understanding of the role that source criticism plays
in the study of the Gospel of John. I appreciate your
watch analogy very much. It works well as a defense
against the fairly common assumption or practice that
disassembling the Fourth Gospel is a necessary first
step toward understanding it.
Your analogy of the watch gives rise in my mind to
the effort made by physicians to understand how the
human body works by studying cadavers. While being
able to describe the relationship between the organs
and pose theories about how each one functions,
physicians have long been frustrated in trying to
describe what it is that makes the whole organism
I suspect much more will be learned as the study of
the human body continues into the future by those who
have developed ways to see the live organs
functioning, even down to the cellular level.
Studying the Gospel of John as a whole and living
document is much more satisfying than trying to reduce
it to a skeleton, then replacing its parts as their
function becomes clear or as a theory develops that
offers an explanation of why each part is where it is
in the body of the text as we have it.
A brief word of explanation is due regarding my
contention that multiple authors have contributed to
The Fourth Gospel. I am fascinated by Culpepper's
theory that the Gospel emerged as a work in progress
from a school. The most likely first century school,
in my opinion, from which such a product as the Fourth
Gospel could have emerged is a rabbinical school using
the Midrash method.
I begin from the assertion that the first generation
of Christians were almost entirely Jewish, and that
the first Christian theologians were most likely
trained in rabbinical schools, using the method most
popularly used to develop the ability of student
rabbis to expound upon the meaning of the Hebrew
Scriptures: the Midrash method, which I define simply
as the challenge of expounding on the meaning of
scripture by using the language of scripture.
The source material most often used in this method
is the Torah. I suspect, given that the Gospel is
written in Greek, that the Septuagint version of the
Torah was the primary source.
The challenge to the school would have been to
expound upon the meaning of the Jesus tradition using
the (Greek version) language of the Torah. That is
where the signs originate.
My burden of proof, as you have reminded me, is to
show that numerous different authors have contributed
to the content of the Fourth Gospel. I believe that
the "different hands" that can be identified in the
text are not necessarily the work of a final redactor,
but simply indicators that multiple authors
contributed to the document we now have. (In other
words, I am moving in a direction opposite to the one
being taken by those who are trying to identify the
hand of the redactor in order to "see" the "original"
text, assuming that this "original" text was a whole
organism before the redactor began tinkering with it.
My starting point is the assumption that the various
components of the text were separate units, originally
composed by different authors before being linked
together as one Gospel.)
The Jesus tradition was, at the end of the first and
beginning of the second century CE, both written and
oral. I can imagine that the Midrash reflections upon
that tradition began as oral commentaries (like oral
finals in a modern graduate school), but that they
were written as the community, under the inspired
leadership of the Beloved Disciple, recognized the
profound level of truth being revealed in them. These
written components would have been carefully guarded,
studied and used by the community of scholars as they
worked together to refine each component before
writing that edited component, tentatively, into the
body of the emerging text, a role most likely
carefully overseen by, if not actually composed by the
small number of key leaders of the community,
including the Beloved Disciple and an Elder of the
community. The emerging text then became the basic
tool used to train students in what we would now call
The easiest place to begin to offer the proof for
this theory is with the Lazarus story, recognizing
that its inspiration most likely comes from the
parable told by Jesus according to the Gospel of Luke.
The Johannine Lazarus story, of course, is an
elaboration that goes far beyond the parable, while
still addressing the basic themes of death and
resurrection. In the Fourth Gospel this story plays a
pivotal role as a sort of denuement, making the
transition from the Book of Signs to the Book of
You ask why there are no signs in the Book of
Glory. I believe there are signs in the Book of
Glory, but they are not as obviously placed as in the
Book of Signs. Essentially the Book of Signs is a
primer for the community, designed to train students
to find the signs, understand the context from which
they were taken (usually the Torah, but occasionally
from other parts of the Septuagint) and then apply
their meaning to the Johannine context in order to
offer a theological reflection on the meaning of that
part of the Jesus tradition.
The Book of Glory requires that the students have
already completed that basic course in expounding upon
the meaning of the tradition themselves, so that their
minds and souls can receive the reflections offered by
Jesus (according to the witness of the Beloved
Disciple?) to His own (followers) on the meaning of
His ministry and passion.
I have done some work on the use of the word "hour"
in the text of the Gospel. I believe that the 24
places where that word is used constitute markers at
the end of portions of the material where readers were
encouraged to contemplate the material they had just
read in order to discern the signs therein and
therefore to delve more deeply into the meaning of
what they had read. With some trepidation I find
myself disagreeing with Brown, who contends that there
is no reason to believe that the use of "hour" (ora)
is a component in the structure of the Gospel!
My study will be called "A Day with Jesus," because
I believe the 24 "hours" constitute one mystical day
in which those who seek to abide with Jesus may come
to know that Christ abides within them.
Well, I said I would be brief. Apparently my
intention to be brief has failed. Obviously defending
my thesis will require much more detail and scholarly
effort. I appreciate your challenge to bear the
burden of proof. A critical ear is an essential tool
to the shaping of any theory. Your time and attention
are extremely valuable to me. Thank you for offering
what you have offered so far. If you choose to
continue the dialogue, I pray that we will both grow
through the exchange, and that others may choose to
engage in the discussion with us.
Yours in Christ's service,
--- "Marco V. Fabbri" <mv.fabbri@...> wrote:
> Tom,<DIV><STRONG><EM><FONT face=system color=#0000ff>Yours in Christ's service,</FONT></EM></STRONG></DIV>
> thank you for your reply. You promised it, and you
> kept your promise.
> I will write a short anwer, first, because there was
> some misunderstanding.
> I am not trying to divide the Gospel into a number
> of preexisting
> documents. I am just trying to understand the
> Gospel as we have it. There
> is no need to persuade me of the shortcomings of
> documentary theories,
> because I am already persuaded.
> When I teach John, I start by studying the Gospel as
> a whole, in order to
> find its structure. Only when I know the structure,
> I am able to recognize
> some part of the text as not belonging to the
> The man that opens his watch and separates his
> components can learn
> something about how it works. However, if he wants
> the watch to work, he
> needs to know how to put the pieces together again.
> If he thinks that some
> pieces have no purpose, it doesn't mean that they
> haven't, but that he
> doesn't know what their purpose is. And if he is not
> prepared to learn that,
> his watch wont't ever work as it was meant to work,
> or it won't work at all.
> When I look at John 20,30-31, and notice that it
> speaks about signs, and
> look for the signs in the Gospel, and noticed that
> they are confined to John
> 2-12, I am not saying that the rest does not belong
> to the original Gospel.
> I am trying to understand the Gospel as it stands,
> and I as a legitimate
> question: why are there no "signs" in John 13-20?
> What is the function of
> those chapters? Here I accept the contributions from
> Dodd, who noticed the
> importance of the coming of the "hour" of Jesus, and
> from Brown, who
> recognizes the importance of "glory" in those
> chapters, and calls them "the
> book of glory".
> That being my stance, I think that whoever affirms
> that a part of the
> Gospel, whether it be a verse or a chapter, has been
> added later, he takes
> on himself the burden of proof. If he also maintains
> that the added part has
> been written by a different author, he takes on
> himself an additional burden
> of proof. This is why I took pains to prove a later
> origin of John 21. We
> can discuss my reasons, but I think that we agree
> that I need to prove my
> point. If I can't, then I have to admit that John 21
> is by the same hand as
> the rest of the Gospel, until somebody else can
> prove the point.
> As to the content of the reasons, you say that you
> refuted them. On my part,
> I don't agree, and I still think that the point is
> proved, as do the
> commentaries that you quote. But there are no
> discussions that are closed on
> the authority of anybody. Therefore, I wont' try to
> defend my option and
> pass judgement at the same time. Maybe I will engage
> in discussion later.
> Before that, I will raise a more general point. I
> think we agree that
> whoever affirms that different authors are at work
> has to prove that. If so,
> how can you assume that the Fourth Gospel is the
> work of a plurality of
> authors? It seems to me that you take on yourself a
> heavy burden of proof.
> Since the time I wrote the text you are answering
> to, I wrote on this same
> list that I don't believe that written texts in the
> antiquity were written
> by many people at the same time. There was no way
> that a text could be
> shared by many unless it was first written by one,
> then copied, then
> distributed, then read. And again, any intervention
> by others wouldn't be
> known unless it was copied by hand, then
> distributed, then read.
> Mind me, I don't deny that an author can draw from
> oral tradition, of from
> the decisions of a council, or whatever else. I
> maintain, however, that
> writing was a job that was done by one person at a
> time. This is why,
> whenever a scholar affirms joint authorship, he has
> to prove it. He can't
> assume it. So, I believe that I am right when I
> assume that John has been
> written by an individual, until the contrary is
> proven. I never read a proof
> that a group wrote the Gospel. I read some proofs
> that a different author
> wrote chapter 21, as is maintains by most modern
> Marco Fabbri
<DIV><STRONG><EM><FONT face=System color=#0000ff>Tom Butler</FONT></EM></STRONG></DIV>