Other Gospels

So far as testimony to earliest memories of Jesus' teaching and life is concerned, the value of the other Gospels cited by Crossan and Koester becomes progressively slighter.

a. The appropriately named 'Dialogue Gospel 'isplausibly deduced to be a source for the Nag Hammadi document known as the Dialogue ofthe .Saviour139

135. The debate continues as to whether John knew and used any of the Synoptics; see the review of the debate by D. M. Smith, John among the Gospels: The Relationship in Twentieth-Century Research (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992). In my own view, Dodd was right: the indications of John's knowledge of earlier Gospels are as readily or better explained by John's knowledge of an oral tradition which shared those features.

136. Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels 256-67, argues that John knows and refutes the pre-Johannine Gnostic understanding of these sayings (263-67), but all that the evidence indicates is a different interpretation of similar material; and, once again, 'different' does not mean 'earlier'.

137. The Gospel of John itself is usually dated to about 100 CE; see, e.g., Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels 267; Schnelle, History 476-77; Brown, Introduction 374-76. Few have been persuaded by the attempt of J. A. T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament (London: SCM, 1976) to date John's Gospel prior to 70 CE.

138. See further my 'Let John Be John: A Gospel for Its Time', in P. Stuhlmacher, ed., Das Evangelium und die Evangelien (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1983) ET The Gospel and the Gospels (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991) 293-322.

139. Translation of the Coptic by H. Koester and E. H. Pagels, in Robinson, ed., Nag

The Dialogue Gospel is itself clearly Gnostic (particularly §§26, 28, 55, 84) and draws on material known to us only through the Gospel of Tuckett finds clear evidence that the Dialogue Gospel shows awareness of Matthew's and probably also Luke's finished Gospels.141 More interesting are the parallels with John's Gospel, not only in content but also in the implication that the Dialogue Gospel also constituted developing reflection on earlier tradition of Jesus' sayings (most clearly evident in §§8, 9, 53). But Koester once again betrays his Tendenz when he argues that John knew 'the more traditional Gnostic dialogue, which the Dialogue of the Savior has preserved in its more original form'.142 For the evidence suggests rather that the Dialogue Gospel (source of the Nag Hammadi Dialogue of the Saviour) is already a well-developed reflection on earlier tradition, whose earlier form is only occasionally visible. Rather like the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of John, therefore, the Dialogue Gospel provides evidence of the different ways the sayings tradition was developed. But even more than in the case of Thomas it is doubtful whether the distinctive features of the Dialogue Gospel provide earlier or more original versions of Synoptic traditions. And much less than in the case of the Gospel of John does it provide evidence of rootedness in the earliest forms of the Jesus tradition.

b. The case regarding the Apocryphon (or Letter) of James143 is similar but even less strong. Koester again pushes the evidence too hard when he argues that Jas. represents an earlier stage in the sayings tradition presupposed in the discourses of John's Gospel.144 The document is clearly Gnostic in character

Hammadi Library 244-59, and by B. Blatz in Schneemelcher and Wilson, eds., New Testament Apocrypha 1.300-11; also Cameron, Other Gospels 38-48; Miller, ed., Complete Gospels 34356. The codex is badly damaged and the text often fragmentary, but the dialogue between the Lord, Judas, Matthew, and Mary suggested by Koester makes a coherent whole and accounts for about two-thirds of the Nag Hammadi document (§§4-14, 19-20, 25-34, 41-104; Dial. Sav. 124.23 127.19; 128.23-129.16; 131.19-133.21 [?]; 137.3-146.20).

140. Catalogued in Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels 176-85, and see his conclusion (186-87).

141. C. M. Tuckett, Nag Hammadi and the Gospel Tradition (Edinburgh: Clark, 1986) 128-35, referring particularly to §53 (Matt. 6.34; 10.10, 24) and §§3, 16, and 90 (Luke 21.8; 17.20-21; 11.1).

142. Ancient Christian Gospels 180.

143. Translation by F. E. Williams in Robinson, ed., Nag Hammadi Library 29-37, and D. Kirchner in Schneemelcher and Wilson, New Testament Apocrypha 1.285-99; Elliott, Apocryphal New Testament673-81 (with bibliography); analysis in R. Cameron, Sayings Traditions in the Apocryphon of James (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984), and Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels 187-200.

144. Ancient Christian Gospels 191-96, 200, largely following Cameron, Sayings Traditions. Since the earlier tradition cannot be separated out as a unified first-century source, Crossan includes Apoc. Jas. only in his fourth stratum (120-150 CE) (Historical Jesus 432).

(e.g. 10.1-6; 12.4-9) and the parallels could very well be explained as echoes of tradition known from the canonical Gospels.145

c. 'The Secret Gospel of Mark'146 refers to a version of Mark's Gospel which Clement of Alexandria regarded as a 'more spiritual' elaboration of canonical Mark, and which the Carpocratians (a second-century Gnostic sect) further amplified.147 The two extracts follow Mark 10.34 and 10.46a respectively: the former and longer recounts the raising of a young man and appears to be a variation of the raising of Lazarus in John 11; the latter recounts briefly Jesus' encounter with the young man's sister and mother and Salome. Crossan and Koester, however, both argue that canonical Mark is derived from Secret Mark, the two extracts adding to the store of Gospel tradition and con firming the diversity of that earlier tradition.148 On the parallels between the Secret Gospel and John Koester thinks it 'impossible that Secret Mark is dependent upon John 11';149 but he does not even consider the possibility that the Secret Mark version is an allusive echo of John's account. With such logic, the recognition of any allusion to earlier documents would be equally 'impossible'. On the several parallels between Secret Mark and phrases from different parts of Mark, Crossan thinks it probable that 'canonical Mark scattered the dismembered elements of those units throughout his gospel'. But that is a highly implausible scenario; it is much more likely that Secret Mark is a composition drawing on remembered phrases from other stories in canonical The

145. Tuckett, Nag Hammadi 88-97. Cf. particularly 4.23-30 with Mark 10.28-30 and Matt. 6.13. The echoes of John's Gospel are strong: the ascending-descending motif in 14.19— 15.35; and cf. Apoc. Jas. 7.1-6 with John 16.29 and Apoc. Jas. 12.41-13.1 with John 20.29. Is there an echo of Gal. 3.13 in Apoc. Jas. 13.23-25?

146. H. Merkel, in Schneemelcher and Wilson, New Testament Apocrypha 1.106-9; Elliott, Apocryphal New Testament 148-49 (with bibliography); also Cameron, Other Gospels 67-71; Miller, ed., Complete Gospels 408-11; analysis in Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels 293-303.

147. See Crossan's helpful account in Four Other Gospels 98-100.

148. Crossan, Historical Jesus 328-32, 411-16.

149. Ancient Christian Gospels 296, despite Crossan's recognition of the unwisdom of such an emphatic and unyielding term ('impossible'), citing R. E. Brown, 'The Relation of "The Secret Gospel of Mark" to the Fourth Gospel', CBQ 36 (1974) 466-85 (here 470, 474) (Four Other Gospels 104-105).

150. Crossan, Four Other Gospels 108; further Historical Jesus 415-16; there are parallel phrases in Mark 10.47; 10.13-14; 14.51; 1.41; 5.41; 9.27; 10.21, 22;9.2; 14.51-52; 4.11; 3.33-34.

151. Similarly F. F. Bruce, The 'Secret'Gospel ofMark (London: Athlone, 1974): 'an obvious pastiche ... a thoroughly artificial composition, quite out of keeping with Mark's quality as a story-teller' (12); Merkel, New Testament Apocrypha 1.107; Charlesworth and Evans, 'Jesus in the Agrapha' 526-32. Nor is it self-evident that the absence of some of these phrases from Matthew and Luke indicates that they appear in Mark as 'secondary redaction' (Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels 298); Matthew and Luke regularly omit or qualify phrases and motifs in their use of Mark.

fallacy here, as elsewhere, is to assume that what is in view must be some kind of literary editing process, whereas many traditions even when already written down would still have been remembered orally.

d. As for the so-called 'Cross Gospel' disinterred from the Gospel of Peter by Crossan and regarded by him as a source for all four canonical Gospels and combined with an 'intercanonical stratum' to make up the Gospel of Peter itself,152 very little need be said. Crossan's failure to persuade Koester has already been noted,153 and his response to Raymond Brown's critique of his own earlier treatment154 does not change the position much at all.155 It is certainly true that the Gospel of Peter itself156 may bear witness to accounts of Jesus' Passion which circulated orally apart from the canonical Gospels and on which both the canonical Gospels and Peter were able to draw, each to retell in his own way and with his own variation and elaboration.157 On the other hand, Ron Cameron's suggestion that 'the document as we have it antedates the four gospels of the New Testament and may have served as a source for their respective authors'158 pushes the 'independent therefore earlier' fallacy to an extreme.159

152. The Cross That Spoke 17, 20.

154. R. E. Brown, 'The Gospel of Peter and Canonical Gospel Priority', NTS 33 (1987) 321-43, in response to Crossan, Four Other Gospels 123-81; also Brown, The Death of the Messiah (New York: Doubleday, 1994) 1317-49. See also J. B. Green, 'The Gospel of Peter: Source for a Pre-Canonical Passion Narrative?', ZNW78 (1987) 293-301; F. Neirynck, 'The Apocryphal Gospels and the Gospel of Mark', BETL 86 (1989) 123-75, reprinted in Evangelica II (Leuven: Leuven University, 1991) 715-62 (here 744-49); A. Kirk, 'Examining Priorities: Another Look at the Gospel of Peter's, Relationship to the New Testament Gospels', NTS 40 (1994) 572-95; Charlesworth and Evans, 'Jesus in the Agrapha' 503-14.

155. Crossan, Birth 55-58, 481-525.

156. Translations by C. Maurer in Schneemelcher and Wilson, New Testament Apocrypha 1.223-7, and Cameron, Other Gospels 78-82; and by Elliott, Apocryphal New Testament 154-58 (with bibliography 151-54); Miller, ed., Complete Gospels 399-407; analysis in Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels 216-40; the Greek text is appended in Neirynck, Evangelica II 763-67.

157. Cf. Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels 220-30, 240, with reference to the Passion narrative; Brown, 'Gospel of Peter' 333-38, whose reminder of 'a second orality', when knowledge of already written Gospels would still depend on hearing and oral communication (335), is apposite. On the suggestion of a common old tradition, note the hesitations of Schnee-melcher, New Testament Apocrypha 1.219. Neirynck, Evangelica II 735-40, is confident that dependence on Mark can be demonstrated for the resurrection narrative (Gospel of Peter 5057), a conclusion from which Koester does not demur (239).

158. Cameron, Other Gospels 78. Crossan's earlier suggestion that literate Galilean Christians might have assumed that Herod Antipas could be responsible for ordering a crucifixion in Jerusalem and the people (not soldiers) be responsible for carrying it out (as the Gospel of Peter narrates) is hardly credible (Historical Jesus 287).

159. Two phrases have usually been regarded as docetic (10 — at his crucifixion Jesus e. Other sources dealt with by Crossan and Koester can be mentioned briefly. It is difficult to assess the significance of Papyrus Egerton 2 with its striking parallels to John 5.39-46; 9.29; and 10.31, 39 and Mark 1.40-44; 12.13-15; and The parallels to Mark and John may be explained in several ways, of which use of traditions earlier than and independent of Mark and John is only one.161 Certainly Pap. Eg. 2 may provide further witness to the different versions in which stories about Jesus were circulated; but it is equally possible that the parallels are the result of hearing these Gospels read or of oral circulation of what these Gospels narrated.162 Once again, we must take care lest we unconsciously assume a literary interdependency or a deliberate scissors and paste redaction.

f. For completeness we should also mention the often canvassed possibility that collections of miracle stories lie behind Mark163 and John.164 Other questions, as to whether Mark was able to draw on further pre-formed tradition, for example, groupings of parables (Mark 4) and apocalyptic material (Mark 13), as also the question of an already extensive Passion narrative prior to Mark, are

'was silent, as if he felt no pain'; 19 Jesus' final cry on the cross, 'My power, power, thou hast forsaken me!'); but here too note the hesitations of Schneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha 1.220-21.

160. J. Jeremias and W. Schneemelcher in Schneemelcher and Wilson, New Testament Apocrypha 1.96-99; Elliott, Apocryphal New Testament 37-40 (with bibliography); analysis in Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels 205-16.

161. Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels is too confident that the direction of influence is more likely to have been from Pap. Eg. 2 to John than vice-versa {208-11); e.g., talk of Jesus' 'hour . . . not yet come' is distinctively Johannine (John 7.30), and reference to the 'hour' in Mark 14.35 is much more remote (211). Similarly overconfident is Cameron, Other Gospels 71-73.

162. Schneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha 97; Elliott, Apocryphal New Testament 38; Charlesworth and Evans, 'Jesus in the Agrapha' 514-25 (here 521-22); Miller, ed., Complete Gospels and particularly F. Neirynck, 'Apocryphal Gospels and Mark' 753-59 (with additional notes (771-72); also 'Papyrus Egerton 2 and the Healing of the Leper', ETL 61 (1985) 153-60, reprinted in Evangelica II773-79 with additional notes (1985 and 1991) added (780-83). The suggestion that Pap. Eg. 2 indicates a combination of Johannine and Synoptic materials (Crossan, Four Other Gospels 75) is much less likely.

163. See particularly P. A. Achtemeier, 'Towards the Isolation of Pre-Markan Catenae', JBL 89 (1970) 265-91; also 'The Origin and Function of the Pre-Markan Miracle Catenae', JBL 91 (1972) 198-221; Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels 201-203, 286-87.

164. Crossan, Historical Jesus 429-30; Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels 203-205, 251-53, 286-87. Miller, ed., Complete Gospels 175-93, attempts a reconstruction of the Signs Gospel hypothesized to lie behind John, based on the work of R. T. Fortna, The Fourth Gospel and Its Predecessor (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988). The significance of such collections (aretalogies) as early ways of presenting Jesus ('Jesus as the Divine Man') was already signalled by Koester in his 'One Jesus and Four Primitive Gospels' 187-93.

matters which may be noted here but are best held for consideration until we look more closely at the traditioning process (§8.6).

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