Monday, April 02, 2007

John and the Synoptics

I am in the process of preparing some course material on the Fourth Gospel and have been wrestling with the relationship between John and the Synoptics. I found this taxonomy helpful:
  • John wrote a spiritual Gospel to interpret or harmonize the other Gospels (Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius).
  • John intended to displace the Synoptics (e.g. Windish)
  • John is essentially independent of the Synoptics (Dodd, Gardner-Smith)
  • John has access to Synoptic-like material (Bultmann)
  • John has Synoptic and non-Synoptic sources (Neirynck)
  • John knew Mark and had to cater to public knowledge of Mark (Bauckham)
  • John rewrites the Synoptics along the lines of midrash or reinterpretation (Brodie)

See further: MacKay, Ian D. 2004. John’s Relationship with Mark (WUNT 2.128; Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck).

Following up on Bauckham's proposal, to what extent do John 1.32, 3.24, 6.70, and 11.1-2 presuppose or clarify Mark? Or do they simply reflect common knowledge about Jesus and his ministry?


Ken Olson said...


In response to critics of his attempts to explain the composition of John on the theory that it had the Synoptics as sources, Neirynck has said that he does not deny the possibility that John also had non-Synoptic sources. But as far as I know, he’s never actually advocated John’s use of non-Synoptic sources or tried to identify what those might have been. Or has he? Maybe Crossan would be a better example of someone who thinks John used both the Synoptics and non-Synoptic (Signs, Cross Gospel) sources.



Michael F. Bird said...

Ken, my data on Neirynck comes from Ian MacKay's book on the topic. In a 2001 article, Neirynck endores the approach of Crossan about Johannine dependence on Mark in John 18 so he might follow Crossan on the other sources bit as well.

Michael Barber said...

While people have discussed at length the relationship of John and Mark, another interesting area is the relationship between John and Luke. What really struck me tonight during the liturgy was the way the account of the footwashing in John 13, which describes Jesus' example of "serving" others at the "table", evoked Jesus' words in Luke 22:27: "For which is the greater, one who sits at table, or one who serves? Is it not the one who sits at table? But I am among you as one who serves." Also see John 13:16: "... a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him."

Not only are the words similar, but the context in both places is the Last Supper.

What is the relationship between Luke and John here?

Ben said...

I think that Paul Anderson in The Christology of the Fourth Gospel (WUNT 2.78, 1996) has an appendix or a section on the relationship between John and Luke, but I don't have the book in front of me to verify that.

Ken Olson said...

Michael, the quotation in Mackay is from a supplementary note to an earlier article that is reprinted in the third volume of Evangelica, the series where Neirynck’s articles are collected. Neirynck is arguing that there is an inconsistency in Joel Marcus’ position regarding the Markan interclations. But this should not be taken as a general endorsement of Crossan. While Neirynck allows in theory that John may have had sources besides the Synoptics, throughout his career he has been a severe critic of the proposals scholars have actually put forward for such sources. He has gone after Crossan’s take on GPeter in Evangelica 2 Ch. 38 and Evangelica 3 Ch. 32, and the Signs Source in several articles. The most thorough attack on the Signs Source is by Neirynck’s Leuven colleague and former student Gilbert Van Belle, The Signs Source in the Fourth Gospel, which is dedicated to Neirynck and published in the BETL series edited by him. By the way, another volume of the BETL series, Studia Neotestamentica, where the articles of the late Leuven scholar M. Sabbe are gathered, has an article on the composition of the Footwashing in John 13 on the theory that John knew and used the Synoptics.

Michael F. Bird said...

Michael, I have seen a monograph of a Ph.D thesis where a female scholar does some stuff on Luke and has a section on Luke and John (I think it might have been a dissertation supervised by Mark Goodacre).

Ken, I'll take your word for it. Neirynck does not go for non-Johannine sources accept in allowing the possibility. MacKay (p. 45) then puts him in the wrong category.