John’s use of Mark: a study in light of ancient compositional practices
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date29/11/2020
Corsar, Elizabeth Jane Buchanan
This study seeks to explore the perennial New Testament question concerning John’s use of Mark’s gospel by setting the fourth gospel within the ancient literary culture in which it was written, and interpreting John’s use of the Mark in light of ancient compositional practices,. The study is comparative in form and is presented in two parts. Part one explores the theory and practice of source adaptation in ancient compositional practice. It firstly examines the theory of source adaptation set out in the first century CE pedagogical handbooks of the Greek rhetorician Theon and the Roman rhetorician Quintilian. Secondly, this part takes passages from four representative authors whose works are contemporaneous with the fourth gospel and compares the authors’ material to their extant source material in order to demonstrate the manner in which they adapted written source material. Firstly, the Greek biographer Plutarch’s Life of Fabius Maximus will be compared to the source material in Livy’s History of Rome and his Life of Nicias will be compared to the source material in Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War. Secondly passages concerning Claudius’ speech and the admittance of the Gauls into the Senate in the Roman historian Tacitus’ Annals shall be compared to the source material form the Acta Senatus, now preserved on bronze tablets. Thirdly, the character portrayals of Saul and Mattathias in the Jewish historian Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities will be compared to the source material in 1 Samuel and 1 Maccabees. Thirdly, the early Christian author’s Gospel of Peter shall be compared the source material in the canonical gospels. From these comparisons it will be shown that these four authors demonstrate a range of techniques to freely adapt source material. These approaches and techniques are collected and catalogued for use in part two. Part two of the study then takes John 1:1-2:22 as a test case and compares the five pericopae within this section of text to the similar material in Mark’s gospel and the results of the comparison are explored in light of the results gathered in part one. Following this, the study also accounts for John’s use and adaptation of Mark in light of his wider authorial aims. Therefore, the study seeks to positively show that John used and adapted Mark’s gospel in a manner in keeping with his literary contemporaries and the literary culture within which they were all writing.