As in all fields of research, progress opens up further opportunities for speculations and hypotheses. Some are outlined here.
1). The Contemporary situation
In our main book, it was explained that the most of John’s Gospel was written before 70 AD and the last chapter added about 96 AD. We may speculate that the contemporary situation could explain a further aspect of this last chapter.
Nineteen of the twenty-five new verses refer to Peter who had been dead for thirty years. Three bishops ordained by Peter had succeeded to his Roman bishopric: Linus in 65 AD, Cletus in 81 AD and Clement from about 93 ((EH 3: 13, 1)). According to archaeological finds and legends, Clement was sent to the stone quarries in the Crimea, where he was martyred in 100 or101 AD ((BC 214-5 and 234)).
His exile would have produced a vacuum in leadership and a constitutional crisis in the Church. Christ had promised to appoint the Apostles as leaders of his Church under the headship of Peter (Mt. 16: 18-20). The Gospel records Christ actually commissioning the apostles as a group (Mt. 28: 16-20), but does not report the formal commissioning of Peter in his special position.
The long enforced absence of Peter would have raised two questions. Firstly, could the successors of the Apostles (the bishops) replace a successor of Peter without obtaining his agreement? Secondly, if John was not going to die, why not elect him?
At this point John intervenes. He informs his readers of the words used by Christ when he did in fact commission Peter (John 21: 15-17).
John is here supporting the position that Clement was not dependent on the continuing approval of the bishops. He then says there is no foundation for the rumour about him not dying. This would be another example of John supplementing and clarifying.
2). Why didn’t Mark correct the Scriptural errors before duplicating the document for distribution?
It is possible to suggest several answers, but the following could be considered.
Extremists among the Judaizing Party would not have been pleased at the acceptance by Peter of Luke’s Gentile gospel. Today, when a religious or political leader makes a statement on a disputed subject, some in the losing party will be suspicious that the speaker has been misquoted. They will demand to know precisely what the leader said.
Diehard members of the Judaic party, who had not been at the talks, would want to read an unedited verbatim record of the exact words of Peter. An edited, ‘improved’ version would not have been acceptable. So Scriptural misquotation and poor grammar had to be left unchanged in the distributed document.
The early Christian communities already had two long carefully designed gospels. So the literary style of a transcript of a few talks would not have been seen as of great importance or an embarrassment for the Church.
The problem of why the poor Greek of Mark was not ‘improved’ is more acute for the upholders of Markan priority. They claim it was the only gospel in existence for 20 or more years. As the key document of the new dynamic religion, it would have presented a very negative portrait of the intelligence, education and capability of its leaders. So why did the Christian Community leave the obvious misquotations and grammatical errors uncorrected?
[G 313] This version: 2nd April 2016