One source criticism problem I explore in The Case for a Proto-Gospel: Recovering the Common Written Source Behind Mark and John concerns the known but surprisingly under-analyzed matter of the numerous synoptic-style parallels between Luke and John that not only agree with each other but which occasionally agree with each other against Mark or contain information missing in Mark. To cite just a few examples out of many:
- Both show a crowd asking John the Baptist if he is the messiah, a detail missing in Mark.[i]
- Both show Jesus enabling Peter to catch a large load of fish, a miracle missing from Mark.[ii]
- Both include only one miracle of the loaves, referring to the same episode, but Mark has two such episodes.[iii]
- Both have a story about sisters named Mary and Martha interacting with Jesus but Mark has no such story.[iv]
- Both contain an episode where a synagogue congregation knows Jesus’ father, Joseph, by name but mentions no other family members by name; in Mark’s parallel to Luke’s version, the congregation exhibits no knowledge of Jesus father and names only Jesus’ mother and brothers.[v]
- Both show that in the course of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry to Jerusalem the Pharisees complained about the crowd’s behavior, a detail missing in Mark.
- Both show Jesus lamenting the blindness of the Jewish authorities after the Triumphal Entry scene, a detail missing in Mark.[vi]
- Both show Jesus predicting that Peter will deny Jesus three times before the cock crows.[vii] Mark says the cock will crow twice.[viii]
- Both show Jews asking Jesus if he is the messiah and Jesus giving similar answers. In Luke, Jesus says, “If I tell you, you will not believe.”[ix] In John, Jesus says, “I have told you, and you do not believe.”[x] Mark has no such reply.
- Both show Pilate making three separate declarations declaring Jesus innocent of any wrongdoing but Mark has no such declarations.[xi]
- Both show that the first time Jews called out for crucifixion they used the word “crucify” twice but Mark only has the word once.
These agreements at least hint at some sort of connection between Luke and John but we are left with no satisfactory explanation for how they come about or why Luke would depart from Mark’s language and somehow agree with John. One scholar who attempted to address this issue was F. Lamar Cribbs, who wrote a lengthy article on the Luke-John parallels. [xii] His solution, however, has been found wanting. He proposed that Luke was influenced by early Johannine traditions, and possibly knew an earlier draft of John, and attempted in his own gospel to reconcile differences between John and Mark. [xiii]
In The Case for a Proto-Gospel, I argue that the author of Luke is unlikely to have known John, and Luke’s departures from Mark in favor of John were due to Luke’s use of the proposed proto-gospel and his attempts to reconcile differences between Mark and the earlier source.
[i] Luke: 3:15; John 1:19–20.
[ii] Luke 5:1–11; John 21:1–8.
[iii] Luke 9:10–17; John 6:1–14.
[iv] Luke 0:38–42; John 12:1–8.x
[v] Mark 6:3; Luke 4:22; John 6:42.
[vi] Luke 19:41; John 12:40.
[vii] Luke 22:44; John 13:38.
[viii] Mark 14:30.
[ix] Luke 22:67.
[x] John 10:25.
[xi] Luke 23:4, 14, 22; John 18:38, 19:4, 6.
[xii] Cribbs, F. Lamart. 1971. “St. Luke and the Johannine Tradition.” Journal of Biblical Literature, 422-450.
[xiii] Cribbs, 450.