The Redactor


Some of the proposed dislocations may have been accidental. A few sheets fell out of the insufficiently secured manuscript and an editor (the Redactor?) put them back in the wrong position.
But the insertions were obviously deliberate and require a powerful motive if our argument is to hold water. Such a motive is not hard to find. Ch. 5 contains the clearest indication of a last judgement (5:28-29). Ch. 15 has the metaphor of branches being thrown into the fire and burned (15:6). Ch. 16 describes a second coming of Jesus ("..... a little while and you will see me, 16:16,17,19). It begins to look as if the Redactor was introducing an element of final judgement into a text which advocated a "realized eschatology". By further positing εν τη εσχατη ημερα (12:48) as an insertion by the Redactor [1] the proposal achieves consistency. In the First Edition the only judgement was that already taking place (3:18; 9:39; 12:31; original 12:48). The Redactor disagreed and amended the gospel to incorporate the theme of future judgement. The change is well illustrated by the occurrences of κρισις ("judgement"). The bulk of the references have been added by the Redactor: 5:22,24,27,29,30, 7:24, 16:8,11. The Evangelist's "has come" (3:19) and "Now....." (12:31) portrayed the judgement as already present. His only other mention of the word was in "I judge no one. Yet if I do judge....." (8:15-16).
That the Redactor was influenced by Matthew, both in regard to the coming judgement and in other matters, can be seen from the table below.

John Matthew common theme
4:44 13:57 a prophet has no honour in his own country
5:28b-29a 27:52 people will come out of graves
5:29b,c 25:46 those who have done good will have life, those who have done evil will be condemned
12:48c 10:14-15 [judgement] on the last day [for rejecting words]
15:6 7:19 [tree/branch] is thrown into the fire
15:7 7:7 ask, and it will be done
15:8 5:16 the Father will be glorified
15:18 10:22 you are hated by all [the world]
15:20 10:24 a servant is not above the master

A further motive can be discerned in connection with the number of notable signs. The Evangelist described seven signs. These are listed below, with references indicating where a miracle is actually  called a sign.
  1. water into wine (2:11)
  2. the healing of the official's son (4:54)
  3. the feeding of the five thousand (6:14)
  4. the walking on water
  5. the healing of the man born blind
  6. the raising of Lazarus (12:18)
  7. the resurrection of Jesus (2:18-21)
It seems that the Redactor either misunderstood this plan, or preferred not to count the last event as one of the signs, so he introduced another sign (5:2-18) to make the number up to seven. Similarly the Evangelist probably intended seven "I am"s, the seventh being the enigmatic "I am" without a predicate. But the Redactor ignored the latter, making the number up to seven by adding "I am the true vine....." (15:1).

The Redactor and the author of 1 John

A number of features are shared exclusively by the Redactor and the author of 1 John. For example:

Feature In John's gospel In 1 John
ο + εαν 5:19; 15:7 3:22
".....passed from death to life" 5:24 3:14
αδικια 7:18 1:9
δικαιοσυνη 16:8,10 2:29; 3:7,10
νικαω 16:33 2:13,14; 4:4; 5:4,5

Also μενω as "abide" (RSV) occurs 12 times in redacted material, 22 times in 1 John and only once (at 6:56) in the work of the Evangelist.
Consequently it is tempting to suggest that the Redactor was also the author of 1 John. But if the Redactor was accustomed to creating and handling episodes in standard sizes (approximate multiples of 800 letters), does 1 John divide up in this manner? As it stands it does not.

But (1) 5:13 looks like the end of a letter, c.f. Jn 20:21 which at one time ended the gospel; (2) the idea of a 'mortal sin' contradicts 1:7; (3) 5:14-21 contains several features foreign to the rest of the epistle; c.f. Schnackenburg [2] c.f. also Schnelle's summary of the arguments for the secondary character of 1 John 5:14-21. [3]

Now the και αυτη ("And this") in 2:25, 3:23, 5:4 and 5:11 (twice) looks like the initial phrase of a sentence or clause indicating the end of a section, in which case 2:26, 3:24 and 5:5 each introduce a new section. This would produce the following sections:

Sections in 1 John, based on "And this ..."

range posited theme size (letters) pages
1:1 - 2:25 Abiding in the Father 3156 4
2:26 - 3:23 We should have confidence before God 2405 3
3:24 - 5:4 Right belief 2414 3
5:5-13 The true witness to life 769 1

This represents a mean of 794.9 letters to the page, which is within about 0.1 percent of the mean page size of the second edition of the gospel, whether or not the posited larger writing in John 1:1-5 is taken into account. [4] This observation confirms my conviction that 1 John 5:14-21 was not in the original archetype of 1 John. Also it complements my earlier linguistic observations, making the hypothesis of common authorship of 1 John and the Second Edition of John more credible.

Notes for this page

1. The hypothesis of a standard unit of size is no use in this case as the relevant scene (12:12-50) is very close to the 'correct' size with or without the 15 letters of the phrase. Of the many interpolation proposals put forward here, this is the only one based solely on theological content.
2. R.Schnackenburg,  The Johannine Epistles (ET: Tunbridge Wells, Kent; Burns & Oates, 1992) p.16
3. Udu Schnelle, "The History and Theology of the New Testament Writings" (ET: M.E.Boring, SCM, 1994, p.461
4. According to the analysis presented here the second edition of the gospel had a mean page size of 795.9 letters (or 795.1 letters without the addition of 71 pseudo-letters to reflect the posited larger writing in John 1:1-5).