Proving Jesus’ Authority In Mark and John: Overlooked evidence of a synoptic relationship

by Gary Greenberg

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Book Description

In this innovative study of the Fourth Gospel, Greenberg introduces important new perspectives on synoptic problems and challenges many theories about the nature of John’s sources and composition practices. His analysis shows that the author of John knew a written version of Mark’s gospel, had strong theological objections to how Mark depicted the nature and story of Jesus and the gospel message, and composed his gospel as a theologically corrected rewrite of Mark, using the latter’s gospel as a narrative guideline for his own composition.

By focusing on several seemingly different stories in Mark and John that deal with issues relating to how Jesus proved his authority, Greenberg places each of the incidents in their narrative, sequential, and theological context, demonstrating that John knew Mark’s specific stories in the same sequential order that appeared in Mark, and that John’s stories represented theologically altered rewrites of the ones in Mark. The study examines the nature of John’s objections to Mark, what changes John would want to make to Mark, and the formulaic editorial techniques John used to transform Mark’s gospel into John’s gospel. Of particular interest, Greenberg shows how John transformed Mark’s stories about proof through exorcisms into Johannine stories about proof through words.

From Theological Studies 80(3)

The result is a fine inquiry which. . .represents a positive contribution to Johannine and Synoptic scholarship. . . .

The organization of G.’s inquiry is logical and does his thesis justice by arranging the discussion into four clear case studies. Methodologically, G. should be commended for attempting to provide a nuanced framework. . . .

Some of G.’s keen observations are well taken and should generate further discussion. In fact, their presence makes the book recommended reading for serious students of John’s Gospel. . . .

For bringing renewed attention to this crucial data the author deserves credit. As for his readers, both the general audience and specialists will be treated to a well-written, provocative, and informative inquiry into a lingering mystery in New Testament studies.

Academic comments

Gary Greenberg is a superb intellectual detective, following up on tantalizing clues in ancient texts to uncover sources and insights that others have missed. In this latest work, he traces similarities between the Gospel of John and the earlier Gospel of Mark. In so doing, he makes a remarkable discovery about the relationship between these two texts. Carefully crafted, well written, based on historical and literary analysis, Greenberg’s book enhances our understanding not only of the Gospels of John and Mark but the process whereby the gospels themselves came to be. Barrie Wilson, Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar, Religious Studies, York University, Toronto. Author, How Jesus Became Christian; co-author, The Lost Gospel.

Greenberg offers a fresh and compelling study on the literary relationship between the Gospels of Mark and John. The study offers striking parallels between these two Gospels as well as a comprehensive and compelling explanatory theory for them. This careful and erudite comparison of Mark and John should be read by any engaged in the field of comparative gospel studies. Adam Winn, Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor

In an engaging new approach to the problem of John’s literary relationship to Mark, Gary Greenberg explores ways that the Gospel of John may actually represent an augmentation of Mark, with a bit of corrective engagement along the way. And if so, such a thesis has profound implications for understanding more clearly the Jesus of history, not simply the Christ of faith.” Paul N. Anderson, Professor of Biblical and Quaker Studies at George Fox University and author of The Riddles of the Fourth Gospel