Religion 317 Gospel of John Dr. Donald N. Penny I. Relationship to the Synoptics A. Synoptic problem 1. Why are Synoptics so similar while John is so different? a. Synoptics: similar chronologies; much overlapping content; very similar wording. b. John: very different. 2. Two-source theory of Synoptics: a. Mk. and Q are sources for Mt. and Lk. b. Literary interdependence explains similarities. 3. Jn. is independent of this process. The Two-Source Theory Mark Q (M) (L) Matthew Luke John B. Differences between John and Synoptics Synoptics 1. Chronology 1 Passover (1-yr. min.). 1 journey to Jerusalem. Mainly in Galilee. Temple-cleansing at end. Last Supper is Passover. John 3 Passovers (3-yr. min.). 3 journeys. Mainly in Judea. Temple-cleansing at beg. Last Supper not Passover. 2. Style Brief scenes/sayings strung together. Many miracles, exorcisms. Many parables. Long thematic discourses. Only 7 miracles, no exorcisms. No parables. 3. Content Few stories in John also in Omits key Synoptic events: Synoptics (90% of John has baptism; temptation; Peter’s no close parallel). confession; transfiguration; institution of Lord’s Supper; agony in Gethsemane. B. Differences between John and Synoptics –cont. Synoptics 4. Language Down-to-earth language of everyday Palestine (sowing, plowing, making bread, Pharisees, tax collectors, etc.). John Cosmic, philosophical language (in the beginning; above/below; light/darkness; descending/ascending; truth/knowing; etc.) Kingdom of God hardly mentioned. Explicit christological claims (Son of God; heavenly Revealer; “I am” sayings; etc.) Divine, heavenly envoy with super-human powers. 5. Jesus’ teaching Main theme is Kingdom of God. Reservation about his own person. 6. Depiction of Jesus Jewish rabbi or prophet (with mysterious added dimension). C. Similarities between John and Synoptics 1. John the Baptist at beginning. 2. Passion narrative – same basic structure. 3. Stories in common: a. b. c. d. a. Feeding the 5,000 (Jn. 6; Mk. 6 par.). Walking on the Sea (Jn. 6; Mk. 6 par.). Healing the official’s son (Jn. 4; Mt. 8 par.)? Anointing in Bethany (Jn. 12; Mk. 14 par.; Lk. 7; 10). “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (Jn. 12:25; cf. Mt. 10:39 par.). “He who receives any one whom I send receives me; and he who receives me receives him who sent me” (Jn. 13:20; cf. Mt. 10:40). “Rise, take up your pallet, and walk” (Jn. 5:8; cf. Mk. 2:11 par.). “All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (?). Mt. 11:27 par. – “a thunderbolt fallen from the Johannine sky.” 4. Similar sayings: b. c. d. D. Conclusions about Origin of John 1. Differences show that John is basically independent of Synoptics. 2. Similarities raise possibility that John knew one or more of Synoptics. a. Ancient fathers assumed John knew Synoptics and wrote to supplement. b. Some 19th-cent. scholars argued John wrote to correct Synoptics. 3. Prevailing 20th-cent. consensus: John did not know Synoptics at all. a. P. Gardner-Smith (1938): established view that John need not have known Synoptics. b. Similarities are due to a common oral tradition. 4. Recent scholarship has challenged consensus. a. Some: John knew Mk. or Lk. b. Some: leave issue open. Jesus Oral tradition E. Implications for historicity 1. Either John or Synoptics. a. Differences force historian to choose. b. D. F. Strauss (1835): first to insist that historical Jesus is to be found in Synoptics rather than John. a. Jn. has put church’s theology in narrative form. Synoptic portrait is closer to historical Jesus than John’s. Quest for historical Jesus must be based on Synoptics. 2. John’s account is more heavily theologized. b. c. a. b. c. d. Clement of Alexandria: after Synoptics gave “bodily facts,” John wrote a “spiritual gospel.” More interested in theological interpretation than mere recollection. Difficult to isolate historical traditions and sayings. 3. Mixture of history and theology in both John and Synoptics. Can’t say Synoptics purely historical; John purely theological. Redaction criticism: Synoptics are edited to reflect theological interests of authors. C. H. Dodd (1963): John is based on early tradition which may preserve historical information. Still, historical Jesus is closer to surface in Synoptics; theological interpretation is more explicit in John.