Passion-Resurrection Narrative

II. Dating: A dynamic process of oral tradition that began in the 30's CE and continued into the post-apostolic era.


The Passion-Resurrection narrative consisted of six scenes:

The seeds of these scenes began to develop early on; they developed through the lens of Scripture well beyond the following half century.

A. Historical data from the early 30's CE.

Was Jesus really crucified? Modern scholars measure proof for the historical event in Scripture with certain criteria. In the case of the Crucifixion, they appeal to the criteria of embarrassment. If the Romans did execute the Nazarene, the foreign soldiers employed penalty meant to shame the prisoner, especially a Jewish one. Deu 21:22-23 cursed the man hung from a tree (the cross); Lev 18:24-27 and Num 35:3-4 did not allow the body to remain on display overnight. Honoring a crucified man seemed at least counter-intuitive at best, illogical at worst.

Yet, disciples did more than honor the memory of their executed leader; they made his death the core of their movement. They insisted his demise turned shame into glory. Jesus was, then, really crucified based upon the criteria of embarrassment simply because, as Luke Timothy Johnson stated, the "cognitive dissonance" it caused.

Where did the narrative originate? Both the historical and geographic details pointed towards Jerusalem. Three known historical persons from the early 30's CE stand out: Pilate, Caiaphas and Annas. The story contained a general description of the region's power structure at the time; political and social influence flowed between the procurator and the council of Jewish leaders, the Sanhedrin. The narrative described the city's topography accurately, from the Temple and praetorium to the Kidron Valley and the Mount of Olives outside the walls. Therefore, it could not address both the politics and the landmarks of Jerusalem without some connection to that city.

When was Jesus crucified? The narrative dated the Roman crucifixion of Jesus in the early 30's CE. The gospels have two possible days for the execution: Passover (Synoptic view) or Preparation Day (Johannine view). Based upon analysis of texts and calendars, most scholars determined that a Grand Passover (where the holy day landed on the Sabbath) could not have happened during Pilate's or Caiaphas' tenure, while the Synoptic dating was possible for the death of Jesus on a Passover Friday, either April 7, 30 CE or April 3, 33 CE (I prefer the former).

Why was he crucified? From 1 Corinthians 15:3, we can also surmise the reason for the crucifixion. The Romans employed this form of execution against slaves, pirates and state enemies from the lower classes. They used this slow, torturous punishment on public display to shame the condemned and to act as a social deterrent. Pilate, the local Roman official (26-36 CE), crucified Jesus of Nazareth for a charge against the state, like "King of the Jews," a title the Roman Senate originally bestowed on Herod in 39 BCE. We can then reasonably imply the Roman Pilate condemned Jesus not merely for social disorder as a religious "rabble rouser" but as a traitor; this meant the religious elite of Jerusalem and imperial authorities together moved against the Nazarene.

So, we can date the beginning of three scenes to the 30's CE: 1) legal proceedings between the religious leadership and the Romans (either formal or informal) against Jesus (scenes 3 and 4) and his crucifixion itself (scene 5)

B. First definitive dating
of existence in late 40's CE.

The first historical mention of the Passion-Resurrection narrative came from Paul's first letter to the community at Corinth. 1 Cor 11:23-36 related an overview of the Last Supper; 1 Cor 15:3-7 told us about the death and resurrection of Jesus.

In his discourse on the Lord's Supper, St. Paul stated: "Now, what I received from the Lord, I give to you. On the night Jesus was arrested..." (11:23ab) Here, he implied the Last Supper narrative was part of the tradition he brought with him when he first evangelized the Corinthians in 49-50 CE. The meal did not celebrate the Passover theme of past liberation from Egypt; it marked the ritual dining of the future Kingdom through fellowship with the Messiah.

Paul explicitly referred to the same tradition in 15:1a, 3-4: "1 I told you about the Good News. I preached it to you. You believed in it...I passed along the most important thing I received. Christ died for our sins, according to Scripture. He was buried and rose again three days later, according to Scripture..." In the apocalyptic arch, the Resurrection was the finale of the end times. Both beginning (the Last Supper) and end (Passion and Resurrection) symbolized the Day of YHWH. The narrative, then, represented the personal Tribulation of Jesus.

Did St. Paul have this insight in mind when he wrote 1 Corinthians? After he related the words of Institution to the community, he wrote, "Whenever you eat this bread and drink from this cup together, you tell everyone about the death of the Lord, until he returns from heaven." (11:26). In Paul's discussion of the Resurrection (1 Cor 15:3-8), he focused on the appearances of the Risen Jesus, since his encounter constituted the starting point of his faith. For this apostle, the Last Supper and Resurrection marked two events that colored his apocalyptic world view. What happened to Jesus would soon occur on a cosmic scale.

So, Paul brought the message of the Risen Lord to Corinth and established a community of believers that celebrate the Lord's Supper in the same time frame. With some confidence, then, we can date scene one (the Last Supper) and scene six (the Resurrection) from the narrative to Paul's missionary efforts, at least the late 40's CE.

This left scene two (Mount of Olives) in question. Its place depended upon the apocalyptic tone of the narrative (1 Cor 11:26) which leaned primarily upon the prophet Zechariah. Zech 14:3-5 specifically mentioned the mount top garden as a place for heaven's final battle against evil (see the commentary below); like the rest of the narrative, this scene foreshadowed the Tribulation personalized in the Passion of Jesus. So, the apocalyptic seeds of scene two were implicitly present by the time Paul preached to the Corinthian community.

C. Continuing evolution into the post-apostolic era.

How did believers flesh out the six scenes of the Passion-Resurrection?

The disciples saw Jesus as the fulfillment of Scripture. Again we turn to 1 Corinthians 15:3-4: "Christ died on behalf of our sins according to the Scriptures; that he was buried and he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." St. Paul stressed "according to the Scriptures" twice, once for the death of the Christ, once for his Resurrection. In other words, disciples told and retold the story of the Passion-Resurrection as the means to interpret the Hebrew Scriptures. Here, Jesus fulfilled "the Law and the Prophets."

The New Testament authors employed a method of interpretation called "pesher." This method applied a Scriptural passage directly to the situation at hand, without any concern for the historical and cultural context in which the passage was written. Found in 20 Dead Sea Scrolls, it was used commonly in the inter-Testamental period.

Which verses did these followers apply to Jesus of Nazareth? While there were many, they clustered about three sources: apocalyptic passages in Zechariah, the so-called "Suffering Servant Songs" in Isaiah and suffering Psalms (22, 69).

1. Zechariah

Most modern scholars divide the book of Zechariah in two and assign authorship of these sections to different people. Our concern lies with the so-called "Second Zechariah" who penned the Messianic Oracle (chapter 9), the Allegory of the Shepherd (chapter 11) and (possibly) the Day of the Lord (chapters 12-14). In the oracle of chapter 9, the prophet saw warfare as the prerogative of YHWH; he, not the armies of men, would defend the people. This culminated in the famous entrance of the Judah's king (quoted in Matthew 21:5 and John 12:15):

Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King comes to you! He is righteous, and having salvation; lowly, and riding on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (9:9)

The chapter continued with the promise of peace for the nation and condemnation for its enemies; its dominion would spread through out the earth based upon the power of heaven. Against this apocalyptic backdrop, all of the evangelists presented the entrance on Jesus into Jerusalem on a donkey (Mark 11:1-11, Matthew 21:1-11, Luke 19:28-44 and John 12:12-19).

In the Allegory of the Shepherds, the author painted a dismal picture for the nation. Like Ezekiel 34, he saw the leaders of the land as corrupt shepherds who exploit their flocks, the faithful; unlike Ezekiel, he envisioned only destruction (Zech 11:4-6). YHWH broke the two shepherd staffs that represented the covenants he had with Israel and Judah (one called "Favor" which he broke in Zech 11:10-11; the other called "Union" between the two kingdoms, which he broke in Zech 11:14). He sold the people for slave's wages:

I said to them, "If you think it best, give me my wages; and if not, keep them." So they weighed for my wages thirty pieces of silver. YHWH said to me, "Throw it to the potter, the handsome price that I was valued at by them!" I took the thirty pieces of silver, and threw them to the potter, in YHWH's house." (11:12-13).

Matthew 26:14-15; 27:3, 5-7 portrayed the fulfillment of this passage in the person of Judas Iscariot.

In the final battle of chapters 12-14, the nations will gather against Jerusalem in a great siege but YHWH will rescue both the city and Judah itself. However, the calamity will leave the city scarred:

I will pour on David's house, and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they will look to me whom they have pierced. (12:10)

John 19:34 envisioned the fulfillment of this verse when the soldier pierced the side of Jesus with a lance. Zechariah 12 continued with the mourning of the people; this sentiment reflected the reaction of those around Jesus as he died (Luke 23:48).

In Zechariah 13, the author predicted an end to prophecy and a fall of the leaders:

"Awake, sword, against my shepherd, and against the man who is close to me," says YHWH of Armies. "Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; and I will turn my hand against the little ones." (13:7)

Mark 14:50 and Matthew 26:31 saw the disciples of Jesus abandon him; the Galilean stood alone against his opponents.

At the apex of the battle, Jerusalem will fall to its enemies and will face plunder, but the Lord will not abandon the residents:

Then YHWH will go out and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. His feet will stand in that day on the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in two, from east to west, making a very great valley. Half of the mountain will move toward the north, and half of it toward the south. You shall flee by the valley of my mountains. (14:3-5a)

We cannot underestimate the importance of the olive garden across from the old city. This place, where Jesus sought solitude and moments of prayer, took on apocalyptic significance as the arena for his betrayal and arrest (Mark 14:43-50, Matthew 26:47-56, Luke 22:47-53 and John 18:1-11).

The prophet ended his vision with the promise of salvation and glory for Jerusalem, a curse on those enemies who do not recognize its status.

Clearly, the evangelists applied bits and pieces of Zechariah in the Passion-Resurrection narrative to Jesus, intending to pour the spirit of the writing into his role. He represented the nation; he personalized the day of YHWH for the people in his suffering. We will see this magnified as we turn to the Suffering Servant Songs of Isaiah.

2. The Suffering Servant Songs

Bernhard Duhm identified the so-called Suffering Servant Songs in his 1892 commentary on Isaiah. Since that time, scholars have fought over the notion that the author of Second Isaiah edited external four songs into his prophecy. This controversy does not concern us; the verses within them do capture our attention.

The songs can be broken down thus:

a. First Song: Isaiah 42:1-4 described the God's chosen servant as Spirit-led ruler who spoke softly, yet, whose leadership resulted in justice.

b. Second Song: Isaiah 49:1-6 told of the servant's call by YHWH in utereo; while he toiled to do God's will, he would act as a "light to the nations."

c. Third Song: Isaiah 50:4-9 created a short outline of the servants struggles. 50:5-7 summed up his fight:

The Lord YHWH has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious. I have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, and my cheeks to those who plucked off the hair. I didn't hide my face from shame and spitting. For the Lord YHWH will help me. Therefore I have not been confounded. Therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be disappointed.

Mark 15:15 and Matthew 27:13-14 described the flogging Jesus received before his crucifixion.

d. Fourth Song: Isaiah 52:13-53:12 portrayed the servant's role in detail:

1) 52:12-53:3 described the servant as unattractive, even to the point others felt repulsed by his presence.

2) 53:4-6 saw the servant as a representative for the people; their sins and suffering became his. Because he bore their inquiries and punishment, he was seen as accursed. 53:5 encapsulated this theme: "But he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought our peace was on him; and by his wounds we are healed." John 19:34 recorded the pierce of the soldier's lance. Luke 24:39 and John 20:20 mentioned the wounds in the Risen Jesus.

3) 53:7-9 presented the silent lamb led to slaughter, the innocent man to his execution:

i. 53:7 described the lamb metaphor in poetic fashion: "He was oppressed, yet when he was afflicted he didn't open his mouth. As a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is silent,so he didn't open his mouth." In like manner, Mark 15:5, Matthew 27:14 and John 18:9b recorded his silence to the questioning of Pilate.

ii. 53:9 envisioned the death of the servant: "They made his grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in his death; although he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth." Mark 15:27, Matthew 27:38, Luke 23:33 and John 19:18 placed the crucifixion of Jesus between two criminals; Mark 15:43, 45, Matt 27:57, Matt 27:59, Luke 23:50-51, Luke 23:53 and John 19:38, 41 had Jesus buried by a rich man, Joseph of Arimathea, in the tomb of a wealthy family (only the wealthy could afford a newly hewed shelf in a family crypt).

4) 53:10-12 described the reward of the faithful servant, both personally and for the community. He would share in the spoils on the day of YHWH (53:10b, 12a) because he bore the punishment due to the nation (53:10a, 11, 12b). 53:12 spoke to this relationship between the personal and corporate: "Therefore I will give him a portion with the great, and he will divide the plunder with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was counted with the transgressors; yet he bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." Like 53:9, the servant would fall among criminals, but he would die for the good of the people (Luke 23:33-34).

The Suffering Servant Songs presented a figure who endured shame and punishment for the good of the people. He acted as an intercessor, a representative who suffered on behalf of those he led. As such, he was a symbol for his group. While he might be innocent, he willingly underwent persecution so others would not face the same fate. The evangelists saw Jesus as that Suffering Servant.

3. Psalms of Suffering

Psalm 22 heavily influenced the Passion narrative. It spoke about the righteous man who faced ridicule for his faithfulness to YHWH (Psa 22:1-18), yet dared to pray for rescue (Psa 22:19-31). Mark 15:34 and Matthew 27:46a placed 22:1 in the mouth of Jesus: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" 22:7-8, 17b recorded the disdain of his neighbors: "All those who see me mock me. They insult me with their lips. They shake their heads, saying, 'He trusts in YHWH. Let him deliver him. Let him rescue him, since he delights in him.' They look and stare at me." These verses echoed the mocking of Jesus by the religious leaders, the bystanders and the criminals (Mark 15:29-32, Matthew 27:39-44, Luke 23:35, Luke 36-37, 39). 22:16-17a described the torture the man would endure: "For dogs have surrounded me. A company of evildoers have enclosed me. They have pierced my hands and feet. I can count all of my bones." Luke 24:39 and John 20:20 mentioned the wounds in the Risen Jesus. 22:18 saw the ultimate shame one might face, the gambling away of one's own clothing: "They divide my garments among them. They cast lots for my clothing." Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24 and John 19:23-24 detailed the games of chance that the soldiers played to win the clothing of Jesus.

Like Psalm 22, Psalm 69 presented someone crying out for rescue. When seen through the lens of the Passion, two verses stood out. First, 69:19-20 marked the loneliness of the righteous man facing the reproach of his neighbors: "You know my reproach, my shame, and my dishonor. My adversaries are all before you. Reproach has broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness. I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; for comforters, but I found none." Mark 15:29-32, Matthew 27:39-44, Luke 23:35-37, Luke 23:39 marked the rejection of Jesus. Second, the man's neighbors insulted him by offering him bile for food and sour drink in 69:21: "They also gave me gall for my food. In my thirst, they gave me vinegar to drink." The soldiers offered Jesus vinegar at the crucifixion (Mark 15:36a, Matthew 27:48, Luke 23:26 and John 19:28); in Mark 15:23, they offered him vinegar mixed with gall.

We could add Psalm 31 into this mix, especially Psa 31:9-20. In Psa 31:9-13, the psalmist made a plea to God for relief from old age and the increase in enemies; in Psa 31:14-20, he placed his trust in YHWH, reminding the Lord of his loving kindness found in the covenant and his power to deliver the faithful from adversity. 31:5 summed up the hymn: "Into your hand I commend my spirit. You redeem me, YHWH, God of truth." In Luke 23:46, Jesus quoted the 31:5a with his dying breath.

These psalms, primarily Psalm 22, saw the godly man facing venomous detractors. In the presence of evil, he placed his faith and fate in the hands of the Lord. These hymns painted the backdrop for the crucifixion event in the eyes of the gospel writers.

Hence, Early Christians viewed Jesus of Nazareth through three lens. They portrayed him as the apocalyptic figure who endured the Tribulation in micro, thus foreshadowing the day of YHWH when divine judgment would fall upon the earth. They also saw him as Isaiah's Suffering Servant who acted as intercession for the nation, taking upon himself the sins of the people and suffering for their sake, thus freeing them from punishment. Finally, they envisioned him as the righteous man in the Psalms (22, 69 and 31) who remained faithful to the Lord despite persecution by his enemies.

Yet, they also saw the resolution to these three images in the Resurrection. It was the final act of the apocalyptic journey through a personal Tribulation. It represented God's reward to his suffering servant in Isaiah 53:10-12. It ultimately fulfilled the wish of the righteous man under attack, eternal life in the presence God. In Luke's Acts, Peter summed up the fulfillment of Scripture by quoting Psalm 16:8-11:

I keep seeing the Lord always before me,
since he is at my right side so I might not be shaken (up).
Because of this, my heart is cheerful and my tongue exults,
even more so, my flesh lives on in hope.
For, you will not abandon my soul in the afterlife
and will not allow your Holy One to see decay.
You made know the ways of life to me,
and you will fill me with gladness by the presence of your face.

4. Other Reasons for the Narrative Flow

While the six scenes had some form by the late 40's CE, they needed some impetus for development. In other words, why did early Christians feel the need to retell (and reinterpret) the Passion-Resurrection narrative over and over? It was the primary story of the faith, but were there other reasons?

Early disciples passed on the narrative through a certain cultural lens. These believers related the communal memory of the Crucifixion, interpreted through pesher (as mentioned above). Missionaries and faithful alike retold the narrative through religious-historical glasses. They did not just witness historical events then added Scripture quotes to make sense of what happened; instead, they assembled the narrative with Scriptural themes in mind. Consider the logic of rejection found in the arrest in the garden, Peter's denials and the trial before Caiaphas. Here, we must turn to the Scriptural images of Isaiah's Suffering Servant Songs and Psalms (22/69/31). They portrayed an single figure who represented the people, indeed, upon whom the people depended. To heighten the drama, the figure needed to stand in isolation. He and only he could suffer for the corporate good. But, why would he endure such pain alone? Zechariah's apocalyptic passages entered the scene. He would experience the Day of YHWH in micro to fulfill that event in the Resurrection.

Next, consider the plight of Judas and Peter in the narrative. These figures caused criticism from outsiders; if their Christ was so great, why did leadership abandon him? This shame pointed towards the criteria of embarrassment. In other words, Judas' betrayal and Peter's denials could have found their source in historical events. But, Jesus rooted his ministry in an outreach to the weak and rejected. So, it made thematic sense the sinners existed within his own inner circle, both the unrepentant betrayer (Judas) and the repentant denier (Peter). These figures personalized the problem of apostates that early Christians faced within their own communities. So, in large part, Scriptural background, as much as internal logic, drove the narrative progression from meal to death and Resurrection.

The scenes of betrayal, rejection and persecution also resonated with the community itself in the later part of the first century CE. In many ways disciples did experience what happened to Jesus. Internally, they had to address the problem of apostasy, both those who abandoned the community (like Judas) and those who repented (Peter). Externally, early Christians faced opposition and expulsion from synagogues (John 16:2), just as Caiaphas condemned the Galilean for blasphemy; they endured misunderstanding and prejudice in the greater pagan culture, just like Pilate gave up on the fate of an innocent man; a few were even martyred for their faith, parallel to the Crucifixion (St. Stephen in Acts 7; St. James in Josephus' "Antiquities of the Jews: Book XX, Chapter 9). Yet, they felt called to evangelize those, like Pilate in the narrative, who did not condemn the faith out of hand. So, the community had a personal investment in the narrative of Jesus' death and rising. Six scenes, then, related on a small scale what the leadership and the community of the early Church periodically experienced.

D. Oral Tradition

The various forms of the Passion found in the four gospels give us hints of a developing oral tradition. Yet, some scholars explain the six scenes by positing Mark's authorship in the 40's CE, thus cutting short the narrative's growth. I've addressed my opposition to this theory in the "Dating of the Synoptics" section of the web site. Other scholars insisted that, despite an evolving oral tradition and authorship in the early 70's CE, Mark the evangelist originated the six scene format of the Passion-Resurrection. Several reasons exist that argue against this theory. We have already considered the thematic (from Paul) and historical reasons for a pre-Marcan Passion. Structure presented the another reason. If we compare the four gospels together, we find very few passages that bind their structures together into a common narrative until the Passion-Resurrection; the latter contained six common scenes that form a shared arc.

The gospels share surprising few passages that frame the flow:

To this list we could add the baptism of Jesus (Mk 1:9-11, Mt 3:13-17, Lk 3:31-22, Jn 1:29-34 implied) the Cleansing of the Temple (Mk 11:15-19, Mt 21:12-17, Lk 19:45-58, Jn 2:13-16) and the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish (Mk 6:31-44, Mt 14:13-21, Lk 9:12-17, Jn 6:1-14). We could also other passages with multiple Synoptic-Johnanine attestations like Jesus' walking on water (Mk 6:45-53, Mt 14:22-34, Jn 6:15-21).

Besides the Baptist's Ministry, Beginnings in Galilee and the Entry into Jerusalem, each evangelist redacted his gospel according to his own theological vision and input stream from oral tradition. The Synoptics followed a shared flow of Galilean ministry, journey to Jerusalem and Jerusalem ministry; John mixed the Galilean and Jerusalem ministries together. Within the Synoptic flow, Mark created various structures within the flow to organize his material; Matthew arranged his material around five extended discourses; Luke emphasized a narrative flow with little use of structure. John, however, arranged his narrative into two overlapping themes, the Book of Seven Signs and Seven Discourses (revolving around "I AM" statements).

But the Passion-Resurrection narrative possessed a stricter narrative flow in six overall scenes. The sudden break between the Passion-Resurrection narrative and the rest of each gospel strongly indicated a separate oral source for the death and resurrection of Jesus. And, this narrative pre-dated Mark.

Another item argued the narrative had oral roots: variability in many sub-scenes. Oral tradition theory posited a group spokesperson entertained his or her audience with its cultural history and shared stories, many times in the form of an epic poem. Within the confines of the poem, the person relating the group's narrative could improvise the placement and description of details. While the Passion was not poetic by any standard, many of its sub-scenes could shift within an overarching passage to heighten dramatic effect. For example, Jesus' prophecy about Peter's denials did not depend upon its relation to the Words of Institution for its place in the narrative, as long as it lie within the Passover scene. Luke shifted Peter's denial to the conclusion of the trial before the Sanhedrin for a smoother flow. John took the mocking passage from the way of the Cross and made it the center piece of the trial before Pilate. Luke took the Anointing at Bethany (scene seven; Mk14:3-9, Mt 26:6-13, Lk 7:36-40,, Jn 12:1-8) completely out of the flow. Note, these changes did not alter the impact of the Passion, but they did give the narrator some license within the overall scene-to-scene arc.

How did the Passion-Resurrection narrative develop post-Mark? Since John wrote his gospel decades after Mark, did he adapt the first evangelist's narrative for his own? This question requires far more nuance than the problem above for one could answer it in three different ways. First, some scholars claimed John possessed a written copy of Mark for correction and inspiration. This theory is dubious simply because the flow of the Synoptics differed so greatly from John's. In Mark, Matthew and Luke, Jesus began his ministry in the Galilee, journeyed to Jerusalem then taught in the Temple before his Passion. In John, Jesus front loaded his public ministry with the cleansing of the Temple (2:13-25) and reappeared in Jerusalem periodically throughout the bulk of the Fourth Gospel. The direct influence of Mark upon John appeared to be non-existent.

The other two theories depended upon oral tradition. Either Mark added to the oral tradition that John adopted or the Fourth Evangelist employed sources independent of Mark. Let's consider several factors when we compare Mark and John. First, while Mark and John remained true to the narrative flow of the Passion-Resurrection, John employed chiastic structures in the trial before Pilate and the Crucifixion. Second, John redacted his sources freely to bolster his different theological vision; the Synoptics focused upon the Passion-Resurrection narrative as the fulfillment of Scripture (Mk 14:49, Mt 26:54-56, Lk 24:44), but John concerned himself with divine revelation (Jn 12:23-28). Finally, as I mentioned in the "Dating the Synoptics" section, a tension existed between transmitting the tradition faithfully and adding to the tradition. All four gospels shared some "word-for-word" phrases, emphasizing faithful transmission. Hints of a Luke-John tradition (Lk 22:3, Jn 13:27; Lk 23:4, Jn 18:38; Lk 24:2, Jn 20:3; Lk 24:36, Jn 20:19, Jn 20:21, Jn 20:26; Lk 24:38, Jn 20:27; Lk 24:41-43, Jn 21:9, Jn 21:12-13) and a Matthew-John tradition (Mt 26:55, Jn 18:11; Mt 27:57, Jn 19:38; Mt 28:9-10, Jn 20:14-17) existed post Mark, thus highlighting growth in the tradition. In the end, we might never know whether Mark had a direct influence on John's passion or if the fourth evangelist employed an independent source. But, no doubt, John used a developing oral source and put his own "spin" on the Passion-Resurrection narrative.

E. Summary

We can sum up our investigation of the Passion-Resurrection narrative this way:

1. The six scenes of the Passion-Resurrection narrative had some form by the time of Paul's second missionary journey (49-50 CE): scenes three, four and five based upon historical events, scenes one and six from the apostle's comments in 1 Corinthians and scene 2 implied by his apocalyptic reading of the community's liturgical meal and his own encounter with the Risen Christ (Gal 1:15, Acts 9:1-9, Acts 22:6-10, Acts 26:12-18).

2. The geographic source of the tradition was Jerusalem.

3. Three Scriptural images helped to explain how the intermediary scenes of narrative developed:

a. The apocalyptic figure who endured the Tribulation in micro from Zech 9, Zech 11 and Zech 12-14.

b. Isaiah's Suffering Servant who acted as intercessor for the nation.

c. The righteous man in the suffering Psalms who remained faithful to the Lord despite persecution by his enemies.

These images bolstered the logic of rejection from the abandonment of Jesus' disciples at his arrest, to his condemnation by Caiaphas and, finally the acquiescence of Pilate to his execution. Jesus stood alone to heighten his role as the sole intercessor.

Yet, all these images found hope. The apocalyptic figure would live before God on the Day of YHWH. The Suffering Servant would be rewarded for his efforts with long life and the forgiveness of the people's sins. The persecuted faithful would find rest with the defeat of his enemies. From the viewpoint of the early Christians, the Resurrection realized the aspirations found in these images.

4. The oral tradition of the narrative developed as the community remembered historical events through a Scriptural framework based upon a "pesher" interpretation. And it also developed as the community applied that interpreted memory to its experience in a hostile culture, even into the post apostolic era; believers identified the isolation and persecution suffered by Jesus with their own.

5. Several factors pointed towards a pre-Marcan oral tradition. The structure of six sequential scenes differed from the freer flow of the gospels. Yet, variability of the sub-scenes allowed whoever related the narrative to shift these passages within each scene without losing its dramatic impact.

In the many decades between the appearance of Mark and John, the oral tradition transmitted some key phrases word-for-word, indicating care in passing along the faith. It also encouraged growth in the narrative; early Christians might have wanted to fill in detail in the life of Jesus.