(Apocryphal) Farrer Theory in Practice — No Sign’s Gospel: John’s Use of Luke as Seminal Structural

This blogging project is meant to focus on the Synoptics. This post does not really do that; however, it does involve Luke, so you’ll have to forgive me. 

A few things we have to note first. ]]’s work in mimesis has established a few points of methodology, namely that any sources used by the author should be noted early on. Second, only a few scholars that I know of have suggested a Synoptic basis for John’s Gospel. Bultmann was among the first (if not the first) to suggest a Sign’s Gospel that predated John’s Gospel, acting as a redactionary source.

R. Bultmann, from the very first edition of his great commentary (1941 ), gave the classical statement to the Signs Source hypothesis (together with both another prose source, that recounting the passion of Jesus, and a highly artificial poetic Revelation-Sayings Source). Especially in the case of SQ Bultmann acknowledged several precursors, most notably Faure (1922).

Instead of tackling those objections, I want to show you what I think is the origin of the so-called Sign’s Gospel. John, I contend, pulls directly from Luke’s glory structure.

To start, I want to note the first sign of Jesus as found in John:

αύτην ⸀ἐποίησεν ἀρχὴν τῶν σημείων ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐν Κανὰ τῆς Γαλιλαίας καὶ ἐφανέρωσεν τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἐπίστευσαν εἰς αὐτὸν οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ

This is followed by six more sign-events. This first one though is rather unique. It includes the key connection of signs and glorifying (doxa) God. John 9.3 comes the closest to blatantly tying the sign to the act of glorifying and gives away his intention, I think.

Peter Doble has identified a similar structure in Luke. Throughout Luke, the author ties certain events (healings, /an/miracles, etc…) to Scripture (LXX, of course). In fact, Doble has identified eight instances (2.20; 5.25; 5.26; 7.16; 13.13; 17.15; 18.43; and 23.47) where an event is tied to a passive action of glorifying God, leading to a recapitulation to the Old Testament. If the reader refused to divide the scene in 5.25 and 5.26 into two events, then you have the same amount of signs/glorifying God in Luke as you do in John.

Therefore, I would propose that John is using Luke’s theological structure for his signs with no real need for an independent narrative tradition (or /an/Christianity?). In order to alert his readers to his use of Luke, he “cites” the previous author during the first sign-event (John2.11). While John’s overarching theology may be different, his underlying pattern is the same as Luke. Thus, we have eliminated any need for an independent trajectory from the Synoptics, especially if John has embedded Luke (and Mark) into his Gospel not as a polemic witness, but one that gives his Gospel authority.

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