The Second Edition of John's Gospel

The text of the gospel

The text used here varies from the standard Nestle-Aland text by the changes identified on the previous page, and indicated in the following table by [...].

Act 1 Jesus has come down from heaven
1:1-42 3093 4 John the Baptist: the witness sent from God
1:43-51 802 1 The testimony of Nathanael
2:1-11 847 1 Jesus turns water into wine
2:12-22 854 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 Tiberias
6:22-29 802 1 Looking for Jesus
6:30-71 3221 4 The bread from heaven
Act 2 The light of the world
7:1-39 3106 4 Controversy at the Feast of Tabernacles
7:40-52 833 1 Can a prophet come from Galilee?
8:12-30 1580 2 Sent by the Father
8:31-59 2394 3 Sons of Abraham
9:1-41 [...] 3263 4 The blind man
10:1-18 [...] 1517 2 The good shepherd
10:19-42 1665 2 In the hands of God, not of the Jews
11:1-53 [...] 3985 5 The raising of Lazarus
12:1-11 [...] 821 1 The anointing at Bethany
12:12-50 3195 4 The entry into Jerusalem
Act 3 Jesus returns to the Father
13:1-20 1621 2 Jesus washes the disciples' feet
13:21-30 727 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
17:1-18:12 3103 4 What the Father gave to the Son
18:13-19:1-16a [...] 3982 5 Jesus is tried and condemned
19:16b-42 2449 3 The crucifixion of Jesus
20:1-10 781 1 The empty tomb
20:11-18 784 1 The message about the risen Jesus
20:19-29 [...] 809 1 The risen Jesus inspires faith

The number of letters in the first scene

This includes 71 extra pseudo-letters, which is one third of the size of the prologue (1:1-5) because I have reason to believe that the author/scribe used larger letters for this impressive start to his gospel. [1]

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. These episodes must have been structured in some way.

Moffatt suggested a threefold division: chs. 1-6, 7-12 and 13-20. [2] Applying this to our model produces three major sections or 'acts', each occupying 28 pages. According to my analysis the second act has 10 scenes and the first and third acts each have 11 scenes. There is a symmetry of content between the first and third acts. 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 middle act 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 1:1-42 as a section held together by the witness of John the Baptist is evidenced by the references in 1:7,8,15,19,32,34,35,40.
  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."   [3] 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 or δεδωκας , 13 times in 17:1-18:12 (the first in 17:2 and the last in 18:9) and nowhere else in the gospel.

Notes for this page

1. After positing several interpolations, my page analysis based on letter counts is remarkably consistent throughout the gospel except right at the beginning. The four pages in the subsection 1:1-42 are short of the expected size determined from the rest of the gospel by about 158 letters. This shortage is way above my expected tolerance of +- 1/8 of a page, i.e. about 100 letters in the case of this gospel. The prologues of Luke (1:1-4) and John (1:1-5) are very impressive and could well have been written in slightly larger letters. The only certain NT example of a section of text with writing larger than the rest (noticeably bigger!) is Gal 6:11-18 (c.f. Gal 6:11), and judging by my page analysis of this epistle, Paul's writing occupied about 4/3 more space than that of his scribe. Hence the 71 pseudo-letters for a prologue of 213 letters.
2. J.Moffatt, An Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament (Edinburgh; T&T Clark, 3rd. edn., 1918), p.519
3. D.C.Duling & N.Perrin,   The New Testament: Proclamation and Paranesis, Myth and History (Fort Worth, Texas; Harcourt Brace, 3rd. edn., 1994) p.437