"Come and See": A Web Commentary on the Gospel of John

Appendix 3: The "Interleaving" of John with Mark


For several generations scholars have concluded (correctly I think) that there is no literary dependence between John's Gospel and the other three gospels, the Synoptics. Many have gone on to assume that this shows that John did not know any of the other three. This seems a difficult claim to defend, given the late date at which John likely wrote, the popularity of the Synoptics, and the circulation of Christian writings and Christian preachers and teachers in the Mediterranean area. Instead, I think that we should look for signs that John not only knew one or more of the Synoptics but was also writing in dialogue with them, reacting by contradicting or supplementing what had already been written.

It is possible to demonstrate associations between John and Mark in particular by using John to provide a chronological framework for Mark. I have worked from Richard Bauckham's suggestions in “John for Readers of Mark” (pp 154-58; found in Bauckham 1998) to do so, while also adopting the arguments of Barry D. Smith, (discussed both in the commentary on Jesus' washing of the disciples' feet and part 3 of my essay on Gospel Chronology). Following the rough dating given in that essay, and Smith's and Bauckham's arguments, we can read John as supplementing, and occasionally attempting to correct, the earlier gospel, especially with respect to its chronology. This is in keeping with a long-standing ancient and mediaeval Christian tradition that John the Evangelist wrote his gospel at least in part to correct omissions and fill up gaps left by the Synoptics. (Bauckham not only argues that Mark and John can be effectively combined in this way, but that the Fourth Evangelist intended that readers familiar with Mark would readily fit the two gospels together and that two passages in John in particular were intended as clues for the Markan reader (Jn 3.24 and Jn 11.2). The latter argument has proven the more controversial of the two.)

Following these chronological arguments and indications, I have produced the table shown below. I have assumed for the purpose of the table that the Johannine dating of the Cleansing of the Temple is correct, and it was misplaced by Mark, and that the annointing of Jesus shortly before his death is correctly dated by John to six days before Passover and that the annointer was Mary of Bethany. It seems possible, however, that Mark is right that the location was the house of Simon the Leper (see the discussion of John 12.1-11). Passages whose interpretation seems particularly relevant to this "interleaving" of the Gospels of John and of Mark are discussed in the comments sections of the commentary.


Mk 1.1-8 & Jn 1.1-18 Prologue and Introduction of John (the Baptiser)
Mk 1.9-11 John the Baptiser baptises Jesus
Mk 1.12-13 Wilderness Temptations
Jn 1.19-34 Witness of John the Baptist (post-Baptism of Jesus)
Jn 1.35-51 Calls of Disciples, beginning with disciples of John
Jn 2.1-11 The First Sign (Wedding at Cana)
Jn 2.12 Travel to Capernaum
Jn 2.13-25 Cleansing of the Temple - Passover 28 CE
Jn 3.1-21 Nicodemus visits Jesus
Jn 3.22-36 Baptismal ministry; further witness by John the Baptist
Jn 4.1-43 Jesus in Samaria (woman at the well) and returns to Galilee
Mk 1.14-15 Arrest of John the Baptist, beginning of Jesus’ public preaching in Galilee
Jn 4.44-54 Second Sign (Royal Official’s Son), supplements Mkan account of Galilean Ministry
Mk 1.16-6.13, 30 Galilean Ministry
Jn 5.1-47 Jesus in Jerusalem while the Twelve were on mission (Mk 6.1-13)? Unnamed Festival (either Weeks or Booths 28 CE)
Mk 6.14-29 Mkan “flashback” explaining death of John the Baptist
Mk 6.31-44 & Jn 6.1-15 Feeding of the 5000 - Johannine dating Passover 29 CE (Jn 6.4)
Mk 6.47-52 & Jn 6.16-24 Jesus Walks on Water
Jn 6.25-71 Aftermath of Feeding; Eucharistic preaching
Mk 6.54-9.50 Ministry in Galilee Subsequent to Feeding &c
Jn 7.1-9 Summarises 6 mos covered in Mark 7-9 & adds conflict betw Jesus and his brothers - occ of trip to Jerusalem in Booths in fall 29 CE (see Jn 7.2)
Jn 7.10-10.39 details of ~3mos in Jerusalem & Judaea alluded to in Mk 10.1a - Johannine dating Hanukkah 29 CE (Jn 10.22)
Mk 10.1-31 fills in what is alluded to in Jn 10.40-2
Jn 10.40-2 Jesus returns to Peraean Bethany
Jn 11.1-44 Healing of Lazarus
Jn 11.45-53 The Plot against Jesus
Jn 11.54 Jesus withdraws to Ephraim
Jn 11.55-7 Approach of Passover
Jn 12.1-11 Jesus stays in Bethany for the festival; Mary’s annointing (6 days bef Passover, or 9 Nisan 30 CE)
Mk 10.32-52 Jesus journeys toward Jerusalem; healing of Bartimaeus in Jericho
Mk 11.1-11 & Jn 12.12-19 Entry into Jerusalem (Johannine dating 10 Nisan)
Mk 11.12-19 Cursing of the fig tree & cleansing of Temple (“next day”=?11 Nisan)
Jn 12.20-50 Gentiles come to Jesus & end of Public Ministry (day unclear but 10-14 Nisan)
Mk 11.20-26 Fig Tree 2 & teaching abt prayer (?next morning?-12 Nisan?)
Mk 11.27-13.37 Teaching in the Temple
Mk 14.1-11 annointing at dinner at the house of Simon the Leper; afterwards Judas visits the chief priests to betray him (annointer is “a woman”; 2 days bef Passover - 13 Nisan?)
Mk 14.12-25 & Jn 13.1-17.26 Last Supper (15 Nisan 30 CE; Th night) - Eucharistic institution in Mk; foot-washing in Jn
Mk 14.26-72 Gethsemane, arrest, incident of boy clad only in robe, trial, Peter’s betrayal
Jn 18.1-27 Arrest (inc Malchus’ ear), trial bef Annas, Peter`s betrayal, trial before Caiaphas [John dovetails his 2 hearings (before Annas and Caiaphas) with Mark’s 1 hearing bef the “high priest”: 2 accounts join at Mk 14.53 / Jn 18.24]
Mk 15.1-15 & Jn 18.28-19.16a Jesus before Pilate
Mk 15.16-47 & Jn 19.16b-42 Crucifixion and Burial
Mk 16.1-8 & Jn 20.1-18 Resurrection
Jn 20.19-21-25 Post-resurrection appearances (to Thomas & by the Sea of Galilee)



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