The Second Edition

CHAPTER : VERSE RANGE LETTERS PAGES BOOK STRUCTURE, WITH SECTION TITLES
Act 1 The messengers of God come down from heaven
1:1 - 34 2344 3 John the Baptist's testimony
35- 42 678 1 The call of the first two disciples
43- 51 802 1 The testimony of Nathanael
2:1 - 11 847 1 Jesus turns water into wine
13- 22 818 1 The cleansing of the house of God
2:23- 3:36 3186 4 Eternal life from above
4:1 - 42 3207 4 The Samaritan woman
4:43- 5:18 2320 3 Two healing miracles
5:19- 47 2339 3 Testimony to Jesus
6:1 - 21 1640 2 By lake Tiberius
22- 71 4023 5 Eating the bread of life
Act 2 The light of the world
7:1 - 52 3939 5 Controversy at the Feast of Tabernacles
8:12- 20 769 1 Jesus argues that his testimony is true
8:21- 30 811 1 Jesus is to go away
31- 59 2394 3 Sons of Abraham
9:1 - 41 3263 4 The blind man
10:1 - 18 1491 2 The good shepherd
19- 42 1665 2 In the hand of God, not of the Jews
11:1 - 44 3222 4 The raising of Lazarus, brother of Martha and Mary
45- 53 755 1 Jesus is to die for the nation
12:1 - 11 821 1 In Bethany, the home of Lazarus who has been raised
12- 50 3195 4 The entry into Jerusalem
Act 3 Jesus' return to the Father
13:1 - 20 1621 2 Jesus washes the disciples' feet
21- 30 727 1 Betrayer is revealed by a piece of bread
13:31-14:31 3147 4 Jesus' gifts to his disciples
15:1 -16:4a 2381 3 The lasting fruit of the vine
16:4b- 33 2403 3 Your grief is but temporary
17:1 -18:14 3152 4 What the Father gave to the Son
18:15 - 19:1-16a 3933 5 Jesus is tried and condemned, while Peter fails his master
19:16b- 42 2449 3 The crucifixion of Jesus
20:1 - 1 781 1 The empty tomb
11- 18 784 1 The message about the risen Jesus
19- 29 863 1 The risen Jesus inspires faith


Page summary

The above table represents a document with 66770 Greek letters occupying 84 pages, thus having an average of 794.9 letters to the page.

The label "Second Edition"

We have now arrived at a version of the gospel in which each episode is close to a whole multiple of about 800 letters. It is here called the second edition because most of the aporias (apparent inconsistencies in the order of the text) have yet to be resolved.

The major structure

Without doubt there were 84 pages (84 sheets with the writing on one side only). The author chose to write each episode on a separate set of between 1 and 5 pages. But the 33 episodes must have been structured in some way.
Moffatt suggested a threefold division: chs. 1-6, 7-12 and 13-20. [1] Applying this to our model produces three major sections or 'acts', each occupying 28 pages. The acts have 11, 10 and 12 scenes respectively. Additionally there is a symmetry of content between the first and last major sections. For the first is characterized by the use of καταβαινω (11 occurrences, none elsewhere) mostly indicating the descent of the spirit/Jesus from heaven, whereas the last is characterized by the phrase προς τον πατερα (9 out of 10 occurrences) mostly indicating Jesus' impending return to the Father. What is more, the central section is framed by the strange hiding/crying-out-loud ambivalence in both 7:1-39 and 12:36-50, which is reminiscent of Mark's 'messianic secret'.

Scenes which cross popular boundaries

Two of the scenes presented here need explanation because they extend across what many commentators consider to be clear boundaries at 1:19 and 18:1 respectively.
  1. It may be that 1:1-18 is based on some earlier source, now lost, and this could be the underlying reason why many consider it to be a distinct section.
    However the coherence of 1:1-34 as a section held together by the testimony of John the Baptist is evidenced by the references in 1:7,8,15,19,32,34.
  2. Commenting on 18:1-11 in relation to Mark 14:32-48, Duling remarks: "John omits any reference to the prayer of Jesus, but then he has just completed the great prayer for the church."   [2] But there is no need to see it as an omission. Rather, John seems to have re-ordered Mark's unit. This is confirmed by the use of δεδωκα(ς), 13 times in 17:1-18:14 (the first in 17:2 and the last in 18:9) and nowhere else in the gospel.

Confirmation of the validity of the structure

I have developed a mathematical technique for assessing how well a structure fits the text of a given document. [3]
Using the technique, this structure has been compared with every two-level structure I could find in published commentaries (amounting to about 30) and found to be more than 20% better than its nearest rival.

Notes for this page

1. J.Moffatt, An Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament (Edinburgh; T&T Clark, 3rd. edn., 1918), p.519
2. D.C.Duling & N.Perrin,   The New Testament: Proclamation and Paranesis, Myth and History (Fort Worth, Texas; Harcourt Brace, 3rd. edn., 1994) p.437
3. The method is not described here as I am still hoping to find a way of publishing it on paper.