Friday, July 31, 2009

[JesusMysteries] The Large Scale Structure of the Christian Gospels

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Introduction
A very important clue of how the Five Gospels relate to each other is the patterns of their parallels. Jesus Seminar Cf's are parallels to just about everyone else, they usually add a bunch more, so I'm using that definition for the Jesus Seminar Parallels and Cf's. One pattern that leaps out at you is if you look at the parallels to Mark, is that the sayings of Jesus in Mark and John are almost always very different, then, all of a sudden, at the end of Mark, starting just before the Last Supper, and going all the way to the real end of Mark, there's 10 parallels in a row. Before that, there's never more than 2.
The Sordid Details
So, why, all of a sudden, at the end, does John dance to Mark's tune? Did John copy them out of Mark or vice versa? Was there a common source(s) they both used?
Worth noting that P52, all the way back to 120CE is in the middle of it, showing it had gotten into John at least that far back.
Now, Crossan and others think there's a Cross Gospel, close to the Gospel of Peter, but that's only part of those 10 sayings, the Cross Gospel only goes back to P52, by coincidence, and this goes back before the arrest. It doesn't go all the way back to the Thomas sayings, Mark put all the Thomas sayings in the first part of his Gospel for whatever reason.
And worth noting that it starts, right about where some, such as Crossan, believe the historical Jesus ends.
The simple solution is Mark is first, and one of the many editors of John used that part to fill in the details between the teaching part of the Jesus story and the "Doubting Thomas" so dear to it's heart. Seems it's such a perfect match, that John just using all of it makes more sense than a common Jerusalem/arrest/trial/cross gospel. But then, why did John not use the other parts of Mark too, the parts with the Thomas sayings, or the latter part of Mark with no Thomas sayings.
And of course, looking at the distribution of the Thomas sayings, it sure looks like Stephan Davies is right, Mark had a list of Thomas sayings and dropped them in, in certain spots. No common oral period produced that rather non-random pattern.
[Because of formatting difficulties for this forum, I've limited the list to Mark and John, and combined the JS Cf's and Parallels. Those with a parallel have an "X - " in front.]

By what authority
The leased vineyard
The rejected stone
Emperor & God
On the resurrection
Most important commandment?
Son of David
Scholars' privileges
Those who prey on widows
Widow's pittance
Temple's destruction
Deception & strife
Persecution & testimony
Gospel & eschaton
X - Spirit under trial
Hatred & patience
Time for flight
When & where
Coming of the son of Adam
Fig tree's lesson
My words eternal
Only the father knows
Readiness & return
X - A woman annoits Jesus
Passover preparation
X - Better not born
X - Supper & eucharist
X - Peter's betrayal foretold
X - Prayer against temptation
X - Jesus arrested
X - Temple & Jesus
X - Priest's questions
X - A rooster crows
X - Pilate's question
X - Jesus' dying words
Jesus & Galilee
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