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An ideal method of studying the sayings of Jesus with reference to His death would be to examine them in their historical context in the story of His life, to consider them in the light of events, and to relate them to any development it may be possible to trace in the progress of His thought concerning His mission and destiny. Unfortunately, our sources are such that only in part can we do this; some of the most important sayings have come down to us without any historical context, and the Markan order is itself a subject of controversy and debate. It is true that Form-criticism, which rightly emphasizes the fact that much of the earliest tradition circulated in the form of isolated units, has treated the Markan order in much too cavalier a fashion; but even when this criticism is admitted, the fact remains that it is no more than an outline in which many gaps are visible, and within which it is impossible to insert all the separate sayings in question. In these circumstances, it is better to study them in the order in which they appear in the sources.

Most of the sayings are found in Mark and in the L tradition which is peculiar to Luke; no Passion-saying can be traced to the M source, and probably the same is true of Q. This distribution of the evidence is not surprising if we have regard to the nature of M and Q. These sources are, in the main, collections of ethical and religious precepts bearing on life and conduct; and it is not in such collections that we should expect to find sayings of Jesus relative to His Passion. Sayings of this kind naturally appear in Pronouncement-stories, Passion-narratives, and 92 Stories about Jesus; and this means that we must find them in Mark and in the tradition peculiar to Luke. Of course, nearly all the Markan sayings have parallels in Matthew and in Luke, and these too must be considered, in order to see what changes have taken place in the course of transmission; but primary consideration must obviously be given to the sayings in Mark. Those peculiar to Luke are fewer in number; some of them are parallel versions of Markan sayings, others are new traditions of great importance to the inquiry.

Besides the Synoptic sayings, those preserved in the Pauline narrative of the Last Supper, in 1 Cor. xi. 23-5, must be considered, for these are some of the most important utterances of Jesus relative to His Passion. The Johannine sayings also call for investigation. Their peculiar character is well known, but even as 'interpretations' and as utterances expressed in another 'idiom', they cannot safely be neglected by any one who seeks to know how Jesus viewed His death. We shall consider then: (1) the Markan sayings; (2) the sayings in the L tradition; (3) the sayings in 1 Cor. xi. 23-5; and (4) the Johannine sayings.

One point regarding method is worthy of special notice. It not infrequently happens that Passion-sayings appear in two or more sources in a rudimentary narrative framework, and that a saying, or a portion of one, is found in one source but is wanting in another. Very often this fact is looked upon as a serious disqualification. Rashdall's treatment of the narratives of the Supper furnishes a good example.11   The Idea of Atonement in Christian Theology, 41, 43. He points out that the phrase 'which is for you', attached to the words: 'This is my body,' in 1 Cor. xi. 24, is wanting in Mk. xiv. 22 and in the shorter text of Luke (cf. xxii. 14-9a). On this ground he rejects 93 the phrase. Similarly, he questions the words: 'which is shed for many' (Mk.xiv. 24), 'as these words are not found in St. Paul or in the shorter text of St. Luke'. This was never a good argument, and the principles of Form-criticism ought to render it less cogent still, for it assumes that the narratives are reports and that only the common element is genuine. If, however, as the new criticism is emphasizing, narratives owe their form to the special interests of those who shaped them, this assumption is baseless. A phrase wanting in an original narrative may not be original, but this cannot immediately be assumed; it may fail to appear in a particular account simply because it does not lie on the high-road of the narrator's interest, or because its substance is taken for granted. In other words, without neglecting 'omissions,' narratives must be judged mainly by what they contain, and not by what they omit. Even if a peculiar phrase is an addition, it needs to be considered, whether it merely 'brings out' what is already implied, or whether it adds something alien to the meaning of the original saying. A gloss may be a valuable comment which it is folly to ignore, and a textual variation indicates how the original was understood at an early time. These considerations enhance the delicacy of Synoptic Criticism and are a salutary warning against the perils of doctrinaire assumptions.

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