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3. USE OF THE SYNOPTICS BY JN.

We may set aside such palpably impossible attempts to deny that there are contradictions between the Synoptics and Jn., and give attention to such as are really worth discussing. But before we do this, it should be said that it is almost universally agreed that the author of the Fourth Gospel had the other three before him when he wrote.

To prove this we are not of course at liberty to cite at our pleasure all kinds of things in which Jn. agrees with them, for these he might himself have noted as an eye witness. We must specify passages which he would not certainly have written, if he had not derived them from the Synoptics. Thus, for example, it is very remarkable that Jesus ascends the mountain before the Feeding of the Five Thousand (Jn. vi. 3) and ascends the mountain after it (vi. 15), though we have not been told in the meantime that he came down, or been given any clue that would lead us to conjecture that he did so. The matter admits of a simple explanation: when the author was about to relate the beginning of the Feeding, he had before him the beginning of the second Feeding in Mt. (xv. 29), “and he went up into the mountain and sat there.” He tells us almost word for word: “And Jesus went up into the mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.” At the second place, however, when he was about to pass from the Feeding to Jesus’ walking on the sea (vi. 15) he remembered that Mk. and Mt., in their first story of the Feeding, said that between the two acts Jesus ascended the mountain (his language agrees very closely with Mt. xiv. 23), and so he added this and overlooked the fact that he had said nothing about Jesus coming down. For another 52example see xx. 2 (chap. iii., 26). In i. 15, in the words, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He that cometh after me is become before me,’” the Baptist actually recalls something he has said about Jesus at an earlier date, but which is not found in the Fourth Gospel but only in the Synoptics Mt. iii. 11), though there the language and meaning are different.

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