The Gospel of John
A Hypertextual Commentary
Table Of Contents
- About the author(s)/editor(s)
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- The Fourth Gospel and the Synoptic Gospels
- Literary independence of the Fourth Gospel from the Synoptic Gospels
- Literary dependence of the Fourth Gospel on the Synoptic Gospels
- The Fourth Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles
- The Fourth Gospel and other writings
- Date of composition
- Sequential hypertextuality
- Chapter 1. Jn 1 as a sequential hypertextual reworking of Acts 1
- 1.1. Jn 1:1-18 (cf. Acts 1:1-8b)
- 1.2. Jn 1:19-34 (cf. Acts 1:8c-10b)
- 1.3. Jn 1:35-39 (cf. Acts 1:10c-13c)
- 1.4. Jn 1:40-51 (cf. Acts 1:13d-26)
- Chapter 2. Jn 2–4 as a sequential hypertextual reworking of Acts 2–8
- 2.1. Jn 2:1-12 (cf. Acts 2)
- 2.2. Jn 2:13-22 (cf. Acts 3:1-4:4)
- 2.3. Jn 2:23-25 (cf. Acts 4:5-5:33)
- 2.4. Jn 3:1-2 (cf. Acts 5:34-39)
- 2.5. Jn 3:3-9 (cf. Acts 5:40-7:1)
- 2.6. Jn 3:10-21 (cf. Acts 7:2-53)
- 2.7. Jn 3:22-36 (cf. Acts 7:54-8:1a)
- 2.8. Jn 4:1-42 (cf. Acts 8:1b-25)
- 2.9. Jn 4:43-54 (cf. Acts 8:26-40)
- Chapter 3. Jn 5–12 as a sequential hypertextual reworking of Acts 9:1-15:9
- 3.1. Jn 5:1-18 (cf. Acts 9:1-6a)
- 3.2. Jn 5:19-47 (cf. Acts 9:6b-29)
- 3.3. Jn 6:1-24 (cf. Acts 9:30-11:1)
- 3.4. Jn 6:25-71 (cf. Acts 11:2-24)
- 3.5. Jn 7:1-39 (cf. Acts 11:25-13:4)
- 3.6. Jn 7:40-8:20 (cf. Acts 13:5-12)
- 3.7. Jn 8:21-32 (cf. Acts 13:13-25)
- 3.8. Jn 8:33-59 (cf. Acts 13:26-46f)
- 3.9. Jn 9 (cf. Acts 13:46g-14:1a)
- 3.10. Jn 10 (cf. Acts 14:1b-7)
- 3.11. Jn 11:1-32 (cf. Acts 14:8-13)
- 3.12. Jn 11:33-45 (cf. Acts 14:14-23)
- 3.13. Jn 11:46-57 (cf. Acts 14:24-15:4b)
- 3.14. Jn 12:1-11 (cf. Acts 15:4c-7a)
- 3.15. Jn 12:12-19 (cf. Acts 15:7b-g)
- 3.16. Jn 12:20-50 (cf. Acts 15:8-9)
- Chapter 4. Jn 13–17 as a sequential hypertextual reworking of Acts 15:10-20:38
- 4.1. Jn 13:1-17 (cf. Acts 15:10-12)
- 4.2. Jn 13:18-30 (cf. Acts 15:13-39)
- 4.3. Jn 13:31-14:7 (cf. Acts 15:40-16:11)
- 4.4. Jn 14:8-14 (cf. Acts 16:12-32)
- 4.5. Jn 14:15-20 (cf. Acts 16:33-17:34)
- 4.6. Jn 14:21-25 (cf. Acts 18:1-8)
- 4.7. Jn 14:26-31 (cf. Acts 18:9-21)
- 4.8. Jn 15:1-8 (cf. Acts 18:22-27g)
- 4.9. Jn 15:9-17 (cf. Acts 18:27h-19:8)
- 4.10. Jn 15:18-27 (cf. Acts 19:9-16)
- 4.11. Jn 16:1-15 (cf. Acts 19:17-20:2b)
- 4.12. Jn 16:16-24 (cf. Acts 20:2c-18a)
- 4.13. Jn 16:25-33 (cf. Acts 20:18b-31)
- 4.14. Jn 17 (cf. Acts 20:32-38)
- Chapter 5. Jn 18–20 as a sequential hypertextual reworking of Acts 21–26
- 5.1. Jn 18:1-18 (cf. Acts 21)
- 5.2. Jn 18:19-32 (cf. Acts 22:1-23:11)
- 5.3. Jn 18:33-19:3 (cf. Acts 23:12-24:27)
- 5.4. Jn 19:4-15 (cf. Acts 25:1-12)
- 5.5. Jn 19:16-24 (cf. Acts 25:13-26:8)
- 5.6. Jn 19:25-42 (cf. Acts 26:9-17)
- 5.7. Jn 20:1-18 (cf. Acts 26:18-20)
- 5.8. Jn 20:19-31 (cf. Acts 26:21-32)
- Chapter 6. Jn 21 as a sequential hypertextual reworking of Acts 27–28
- 6.1. Jn 21:1-8 (cf. Acts 27)
- 6.2. Jn 21:9-14 (cf. Acts 28:1-10)
- 6.3. Jn 21:15-25 (cf. Acts 28:11-31)
- General conclusions
- Primary sources
- Early Christian: New Testament
- Secondary literature
- Index of ancient sources
- Series index
The present monograph is a continuation and development of the ideas presented my earlier book concerning the Fourth Gospel.1 Consequently, the present work presupposes, corrects, and improves the analyses which were described in that book.
Since the time of the publication of my earlier monograph on the Fourth Gospel, I have published three monographs on the Synoptic Gospels. I came to the conclusion that the way in which these Gospels illustrate the ideas contained in their main hypotexts (Paul’s letters in the case of the Gospels of Mark and Luke, and the Acts of the Apostles in the case of the Gospel of Matthew) is much more detailed than I had previously thought. My analyses revealed that the sequentially arranged, hypertextual connections between the Synoptic Gospels and their hypotexts can be counted not in tens, but in hundreds.2 Therefore, I supposed that my previous, somewhat superficial, thematic description of the hypertextual relationship between the Fourth Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles as consisting of 43 sequentially arranged, hypertextual links3 should likewise be significantly revised. This monograph shows that my supposition was true.
Since the publication of my earlier monograph on the Fourth Gospel in the year 2010, the number of scholars who postulate some kind of direct literary dependence of the Fourth Gospel on the Synoptic Gospels has significantly increased. Moreover, even the scholars who generally argue for literary independence of the Fourth Gospel from the Synoptic Gospels usually allow for some kind of ← 11 | 12 → acquaintance of the author of the Fourth Gospel with at last some of the Synoptic Gospels, especially the Gospel of Mark and possibly also the Gospel of Luke.4 Therefore, the review of the present state of research on this subject will be presented in two categories: (a) literary independence of the Fourth Gospel from the Synoptic Gospels, including some kind of acquaintance of the author of the Fourth Gospel with the Synoptic Gospels, and (b) literary dependence of the Fourth Gospel on the Synoptic Gospels.
The hypothesis of the literary independence of the Fourth Gospel from the Synoptic Gospels still has its strong supporters. They emphasize the evident literary and theological differences between the Fourth Gospel and the Synoptic Gospels. The similarities between the Fourth Gospel and the Synoptic Gospels are usually interpreted by these scholars with the use of the hypotheses of the evangelists’ common use of oral traditions and/or written pre-Gospel sources, especially a hypothetical pre-Johannine passion narrative, as well as the postulated ‘secondary orality’.
The Polish exegete Stanisław Mędala has argued that the differences between the Johannine and synoptic descriptions of Jesus’ miracles and passion are so great that the tradition underlying the Fourth Gospel must have been independent from the synoptic tradition.5
According to Gonzalo Rojas-Flores, the differences in symbolic language between the predictions of destroying and rebuilding the temple in three days in Jn 2:19 and in the Synoptic Gospels argue against the dependence of Jn 2:19 on its synoptic parallels, but rather suggest the dependence of Mk 15:29 on a pre-Johannine saying of Jesus.6 However, the Chilean scholar’s argument that Mk 14:58; 15:29 are later developments of more primitive sayings, which are witnessed in Acts 6:14; 7:48,7 is highly questionable. ← 12 | 13 →
Paul N. Anderson develops his ‘bi-optic’ model of both the Fourth Gospel and the Marcan Gospel as reliable sources in the quest for the historical Jesus.8 In Anderson’s opinion, since some events (the calling of the disciples, the temple incident, and the events related to the feeding of the multitude) are described as cohering in John and dispersed in the Synoptics, the first edition of the Gospel of John should be regarded as an independent witness of the Jesus tradition.9 However, the American scholar himself admits that ‘one could surmise that the Fourth Gospel has harmonized other traditions into a whole’.10 Moreover, his argument that ‘the fact that there are no identical similarities between John and the Synoptics argues strongly against a derivative literary relationship in either direction’11 is in fact rather weak because a derivative literary relationship does not necessarily involve creating ‘identical similarities’.
In his recent article, Anderson postulates the existence of ‘some variability between orality and literacy’ in the relationship between the Fourth Gospel and the Synoptic Gospels,12 but on the other hand he claims that ‘the dependence on Synoptics for the bulk of John’s material is unlikely in the extreme’.13 Anderson also argues that the first edition of the Fourth Gospel was an augmentation of and correction to the Gospel of Mark.14 However, the scholar’s claim that John’s placement of the temple cleansing at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry is historically more ← 13 | 14 → plausible that its Marcan placing shortly before the arrest and trial of Jesus15 is highly questionable.16
Hermann-Josef Stratomeier, considering both similarities and differences between Jn 18:28-40 and its synoptic parallels, has argued for the dependence of this Johannine text on a pre-Johannine passion narrative, whose general outline was similar to that of the postulated pre-Marcan passion narrative, but its detailed content and wording was different from it.17
In the opinion of Peder Borgen, John’s use of pre-synoptic tradition resembles Paul’s use of pre-synoptic tradition.18 However, in the logical construction of his argument, the Norwegian scholar uncritically assumes the independence of the Synoptic Gospels from Paul’s letters. Moreover, his argument that since Jn 13:16 has a parallel in Mt 10:24-25 and Jn 13:20 has a parallel in Mt 10:40, ‘the two gospels probably drew on sayings of Jesus which were clustered together in the tradition’19 is unconvincing because this phenomenon can also be explained by the hypothesis of John’s systematic use of the Matthean Gospel. Likewise, the fact that Jn 3:3.5 displays several agreements with Mt 18:3 (cf. Mk 10:15 par. Lk 18:17) and it exceptionally contains the synoptic phrase ‘kingdom of God’ (and not the usual Johannine phrase ‘eternal life’) is best explained not by Borgen’s hypothesis that ‘John uses a traditional logion’,20 but by the hypothesis of John’s dependence on the Gospel of Matthew and possibly also other Synoptic Gospels.
Tom Thatcher has argued that the complex pattern of similarities and differences between the Johannine story Jn 4:43-54 and the parallel synoptic saying (Mk 6:4 parr.) and episodes (Mk 7:24-30 par. Mt 15:21-28; Lk 7:1-10 par. Mt 8:5-13), if analysed in the context of first-century media culture, is best explained by the hypothesis that the material in Jn 4:43-54 was not directly borrowed and ← 14 | 15 → copied from the Synoptic Gospels, but it was influenced by oral performances of the parallel passages which can be found in the Synoptics.21
James D. G. Dunn is of the opinion that the absence of passages closely identical to those in the Synoptic Gospels is the decisive argument against John’s knowledge of the Synoptic Gospels. Therefore, assuming without further proof that John worked in a predominantly oral society and predominantly oral Christian community, Dunn postulates John’s use of the oral tradition concerning Jesus.22 However, the British scholar passes over in silence the relatively long strings of verbal agreement between, for example, Jn 12:8 and Mt 26:11, Jn 13:21 and Mt 26:21, Jn 18:39 and Mk 15:9, as well as Jn 19:2 and Mt 27:29. Moreover, he notes that the Fourth Gospel shares its particular Gospel format (a passion narrative with an extended introduction, beginning with John the Baptist and climaxing in Jesus’ passion and resurrection) with the Gospel of Mark, although John’s interest in Jesus as a revealer could easily have pushed him in the direction of a form which is known from the apocryphal and Gnostic presentations of Jesus, a fact which points to some acquaintance of John with the synoptic literary framework.23
According to Yao Adingra Justin Kouamé, the text of Jn 3:3.5 may have been in some contact with the linguistically similar text Mt 18:3, but the Johannine text displays features of independence and originality.24
Stanley E. Porter argues that since a number of sections of the Gospel material are unique to the Fourth Gospel, and the Fourth Gospel often differs from the Synoptic Gospels in their common material, then even if the Fourth Gospel is at times dependent on the synoptic or synoptic-like material, it is generally not dependent on the same sources as the Synoptic Gospels are.25 However, the scholar’s assumption that virtually every section of the Johannine synoptic-like ← 15 | 16 → material must have some hypothetical tradition or source behind it26 is highly questionable.
In the opinion of Craig L. Blomberg, it can be argued that in at least ten cases the Marcan version of Jesus’ sayings was dependent on pre-Johannine tradition.27 However, Blomberg’s arguments rely on merely intuitive claims, like the one that a concise version of a proverb is more original than an elaborate one.28
Ulrich Busse argues that the differences between the Johannine accounts of the cleansing of the temple and the baptism of Jesus and their synoptic counterparts can be explained by pointing to John’s literary aims. On the other hand, according to the German scholar the differences in wording between these Johannine and synoptic accounts are too great to postulate verbal literary dependence. Therefore, Busse argues for John’s acquaintance with the synoptic material in the oral form of liturgical readings.29
Michael Labahn is known for his application of the theory of ‘secondary orality’ to the studies on the Fourth Gospel. In a recent article, the German scholar argues that his hypothesis is confirmed by Jn 20:30 and by his analysis of the ancient media world, which was apparently mainly an oral one. Moreover, analysing the relationship between Jn 6 and the thematically corresponding accounts in the Synoptic Gospels, Labahn argues that the differences in the distinct settings and individual wordings show that that the relationship between these texts is not directly a literary one.30
Michael Theobald has recently argued that the passion narrative of the Fourth Gospel is based on a pre-Gospel passion narrative, which was significantly reworked by Mark, so that Mk 11:17c-e is redactionally reworked in comparison to its more original version in Jn 2:16b-d.31 However, his argument is largely based ← 16 | 17 → on the allegedly evident, but in fact highly questionable use of Zech 14:21 MT in Jn 2:16d.32
The hypothesis of the literary dependence of the Fourth Gospel on the Synoptic Gospels has recently become persuasive to a significant number of scholars. They point to evident similarities between numerous fragments of the Fourth Gospel and the Synoptic Gospels. Moreover, they usually argue that literary dependence does not necessarily consist in faithful copying of the source material, but it can also include significant literary reworking thereof. On the other hand, they usually argue for literary dependence of only some fragments of the Fourth Gospel on their thematic and/or linguistic counterparts in the Synoptic Gospels.
According to Urban C. von Wahlde, who postulates the presence of three editions in the Fourth Gospel, the author of the third, latest edition of the Fourth Gospel knew and used the Synoptic Gospels. The scholar argues that synoptic-like passages in the Fourth Gospel often do not relate well with their surrounding Johannine contexts, whereas their meaning and relevance is much more evident in their synoptic contexts.33
Steven A. Hunt in his monograph concerning the relationship between Jn 6:1-15 and the Synoptic Gospels has found evidence for John’s use of not only vocabulary and word order, but also redactional tendencies of the Synoptics. On this basis, he has argued that the author of the Fourth Gospel read all three Synoptic Gospels.34
Zbyněk Garský (who previously used the surname Studenovský) in his monograph concerning the relationship between the Fourth Gospel and the Synoptic Gospels argues for a ‘poetic’ or ‘allegorical’ dependence of the Galilean sections of the Fourth Gospel (Jn 2:1-12; 4:43-54; 6:1-7:10; 21:1-25) on all three Synoptic Gospels.35 The Czech scholar performed his intertextual analyses in a mathematically controlled way, based on structural-quantitative linguistics and its ← 17 | 18 → procedures of hierarchic denotative text analysis and latent semantic analysis.36 Accordingly, he described Johannine allegorical reworking of a given synoptic text in terms of reworking of not all its elements, but rather its linguistically defined ‘core’.37 Such a mathematically controlled way of analysing intertextual transvalorization of another text is certainly better than using the rather vague terms ‘quotation’, ‘allusion’, and ‘echo’, especially if ‘echo’ is defined as reproducing neither the elements nor the structure of the pre-text.38 However, this procedure can be applied to relatively small fragments of a given text, and its semantic component cannot be strictly controlled. Therefore, analyses of larger textual sequences remain more or less intuitive as concerns defining the main themes of their constitutive elements (for example, ‘old’ vs. ‘new’).39
In his commentary on the Gospel of John, Johannes Beutler has argued for the dependence of the Gospel of John on all three Synoptic Gospels, particularly in the fragments concerning John the Baptist and some miracles (esp. Jn 4:46-54), Jn 6, and the passion and resurrection narrative.40
According to Mark Jennings, Jn 13:31-33 is a thematic reversal of Mk 13:24-27, Jn 13:33-38 is a thematical reversal of Mk 13:27-31, and Jn 14:1-3 is a thematical reversal of Mk 13:24-27; 13:1-2. In the opinion of the Australian scholar, these correspondences, even if taken separately they are evidently rather weak, taken cumulatively they could point to John’s knowledge of Mark at least from memory.41 Jennings’s argument from the number of the postulated parallels is certainly persuasive. However, the logic of considering a set of thematic oppositions as pointing to literary dependence can hardly be regarded as convincing, unless the Fourth Gospel is interpreted as a kind of systematic correction or parody of the Gospel of Mark.
Wendy E. S. North is of the opinion that John’s reworking of the thematically corresponding Marcan and Lucan accounts in Jn 12:1-8; 20:3-10 is consistent with his creative reworking of earlier materials in his Gospel. Therefore, she argues that ← 18 | 19 → the hypothesis of John’s dependence on the Synoptic Gospels is more plausible than the hypothesis of his independence from them.42
Manfred Lang has suggested that John marked his dependence on the synoptic material in Jn 6:10-11.13-15 with the use of the particle οὖν (‘so’).43
Tobias Nicklas has argued that the Johannine accounts Jn 5; 10:22-39 are not simply literary borrowings, but rather ‘new inscenations’ of the thematically corresponding synoptic passages. In the opinion of the German scholar, John verbatim copied some elements of the synoptic accounts, but he also reorganized them, placed them in new contexts, and supplemented them with new elements.44
John Painter, following C. K. Barrett, has noted that the Fourth Gospel begins in a way which resembles that of the Gospel of Mark: with the noun ἀρχή, the verb ἐγένετο, and a reference to John as sent by God. This fact is best explained by the hypothesis of John’s familiarity with the Gospel of Mark.45 On the other hand, Painter has argued that the Fourth Gospel is not a patchwork of fragments of the Synoptic Gospels, and it may also include elements of oral tradition.46
James W. Barker has recently argued for John’s literary dependence on the Gospel of Matthew, which was hitherto regarded as the least plausible candidate for being one of John’s synoptic sources. In Barker’s opinion, the bipartite formula concerning forgiving and retaining sins (Jn 20:23) is a reworking of the structurally and thematically related bipartite Matthean formula concerning binding and loosing (Mt 18:18), together with its Matthean redactional context concerning church discipline (Mt 18). Likewise, in his opinion the scriptural quotation in Jn 12:15 was in fact borrowed from Mt 21:5 because of the common pattern of similarities and ← 19 | 20 → dissimilarities of Mt 21:5 and Jn 12:15 in comparison to Zech 9:9 LXX.47 However, in his discussion of Matthew’s and John’s different attitudes to Samaria,48 the American scholar does not take into consideration the possibility of John’s use of Acts, in which the mission in Samaria is an important element of the Lucan story.
In his recent article, Roland Bergmeier argues that numerous particular details of various literary characters in the Fourth Gospel (Mary of Bethany, Nicodemus, etc.) were borrowed from the Synoptic Gospels.49
In the opinion of Michael Chung, John’s use of the literary technique of intercalation in Jn 12:1-2.3-8.9-11 reflects its Marcan use in the thematically corresponding text Mk 14:1-2.3-9.10-11, a fact which points to John’s familiarity with the literary form of the Marcan Gospel.50 Alas, Chung’s argument concerning thematic correspondence between the curious Jewish crowd (Jn 12:9-11) and the Jewish betrayer Judas (Mk 14:10-11)51 is rather unconvincing.
Chris Keith has recently presented an interesting argument for John’s literary dependence on the Synoptic Gospels. The British scholar has argued that the intentionally competitive rhetoric of the ‘colophons’ Jn 20:30-31; 21:24-25 suggests that their author was familiar with earlier, similar, book-size textualizations of the Jesus tradition, which were most probably known to him in the form of the Synoptic Gospels.52
In his recently completed and translated commentary on the Gospel of John, Jean Zumstein has argued that the dependence of John on Mark and possibly also Luke does not resemble that of Matthew or Luke on Mark, but it should rather be explained in terms of literary hypertextuality. In the opinion of the Swiss scholar, the implied author of the Fourth Gospel assumed the implied reader’s knowledge of at least the Gospel of Mark.53 ← 20 | 21 →
Udo Schnelle argues that the common literary genre of the gospel, as well as composition analogies (especially in the passion narrative) point to John’s acquaintance with the Synoptic Gospels, especially the Gospels of Mark and Luke. However, according to the German scholar, John used the synoptic traditions in a highly selective way, reworking them according to his theological aims and supplementing them with other traditions.54
The issue of the possible literary relationship between the Fourth Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles has, alas, attracted attention of only few scholars. This fact is really surprising in view of the growing scholarly recognition of John’s dependence on the Synoptic Gospels, including the Gospel of Luke.
Stanisław Mędala has argued that there are intriguing similarities in the changing geographic framework of the opening parts of the Fourth Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles (Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria, Galilee, and the ends of the world). In the opinion of the Polish scholar, these similarities suggest that John resolved to inscribe the history of early Christianity into the history of Jesus. However, in Mędala’s opinion it is also possible that a primitive Johannine document concerning the spreading of Jesus’ teaching was used by Luke in Acts to show the continuity between the activities of Jesus and the Church.55 If, as is consistently argued in this monograph, it was John who used the work of Luke, and not vice versa, then Mędala’s former hypothesis is certainly very insightful.
According to Andreas J. Köstenberger, John thematically developed (‘transposed’) many motifs from the Gospel of Mark and possibly also the Gospel of Luke. Moreover, John reworked the two volumes of Luke-Acts into his own two-part work, which consists of the Book of Signs (Jn 1–12) and the Book of Exaltation (Jn 13–20). Accordingly, he reworked the pattern of the Church’s mission in Acts into the pattern of Jesus’ own ministry.56 The latter idea is particularly interesting, ← 21 | 22 → although, contrary to Köstenberger’s intention to present John as an eyewitness of Jesus’ life,57 it seriously undermines the historicity of the Johannine story of Jesus.
- ISBN (PDF)
- ISBN (ePUB)
- ISBN (MOBI)
- ISBN (Hardcover)
- Publication date
- 2018 (October)
- Fourth Gospel Synoptic Gospels Acts of the Apostles Intertextuality Historical Jesus Gospels Historicity
- Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2018, 258 p.