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More on John from a Comparative Perspective

Continuing my thread on methods for studying the Gospels. In yesterday’s post I began to talk about the “Comparative method” and showed how, in comparison with the Synoptics, just how different John is, purely in terms of contents. But even when John and the Synoptics contain similar stories (e.g., miracles; teachings; passion narrative) they are very different. That’s what I try to show in this excerpt today. ************************************************************ Comparison of Emphases The differences between John and the Synoptics are perhaps even more striking in stories that they have in common. You can see the differences yourself simply by taking any story of the Synoptics that is also told in John, and comparing the two accounts carefully. A thorough and detailed study of this phenomenon throughout the entire Gospel would reveal several fundamental differences. Here I will emphasize two of them, differences that affect a large number of the stories of Jesus' deeds and words. First, the deeds. Jesus does not do as many miracles in John as he does in the Synoptics, but the ones [...]

2017-12-25T12:31:27-05:00March 13th, 2014|Canonical Gospels|

The Gospel of John from a Comparative Perspective

So far in my discussion of John’s Gospel I have tried to show how different methods of analysis can tell us different things. And so I’ve talked about the literary-historical method, which determines the literary genre of a work and asks how that genre is used in its historical context, and the thematic method, which ignores genre and simply looks for outstanding themes of a work, for example in its opening chapters and in its speeches. Now I move on to a comparative method, to which I will devote two posts. After this I will post on how a redactional method also can be applied to John, and then end this thread with a brand-new method, that I have not yet talked about, explained, or justified – the socio-historical method. So there is still more fun to come. Here is what I say in my textbook about John from a comparative point of view, part one. ********************************************************* The Gospel of John from a Comparative Perspective One of the most striking features of the Fourth Gospel [...]

2020-04-03T17:16:55-04:00March 12th, 2014|Canonical Gospels|

Jesus’ Birth: Some Comparisons

Here is another illustration of how the Comparative Method works with Luke, as described in my textbook on the New Testament. A personal anecdote. It was precisely the differences between Matthew and Luke in the birth narratives that led me to formulate the comparative method. Unlike the other methods I discuss in my book, this is one that is not widely discussed in scholarship. In fact, I had never heard of it until, well, I came up with it. But it occurred to me while thinking of the birth narratives (and genealogies) that it didn’t *matter* if Matthew and Luke had the same source for their narrative. If they did have, one could do redaction criticism on them; but they don’t have. Does that mean comparing their two accounts cannot yield results? I decided that in fact interesting results *did* matter. Their similarities and differences were important in and of themselves, and that this could be formulated into a method of study. (It may be that others had come up with a similar approach before: [...]

2020-04-03T17:17:48-04:00March 5th, 2014|Canonical Gospels|

The Comparative Method

With this post I am returning to my discussion of methods available for studying the Gospels. I will devote probably three posts to a method that I call the “comparative method.” Like the other two methods I’ve discussed (the literary-historical method and redaction criticism) this method is not *at all* concerned with establishing what really happened in the life of Jesus. It is a method meant to help one understand a Gospel as a piece of literature, to see what its *portrayal* of Jesus is. In my textbook on the New Testament I show how the method works by applying it to the Gospel of Luke. It could obviously be used for any of the Gospels – or for any other literature, for that matter. Here is how I describe it in the book, in relation to the method that it most resembles, redaction criticism (remember: in redaction criticism one sees how an author has changed his source – by what he has added, deleted, or altered – so as to determine what his overarching [...]

2020-04-03T17:18:01-04:00March 3rd, 2014|Canonical Gospels|
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