Just one more update on my discussion of the history of the proposal that the Gospel According to John circulated in a twenty-chapter version: Thanks to Jeff Cate for pointing out the Amsterdam Database of New Testament Conjectural Emendation has an entry for John 21:1-25 that contains several authors who have argued both for and against the view that the twenty-first chapter of John is a later addition. Hugo Grotius (1641) does seem to be the earliest author to discuss the matter in detail.
I’m pleased to learn that the Amsterdam database has an entry for John 21, because it once again helps me identify one of my own blind spots. I didn’t think to check the excellent Amsterdam database in this instance because I didn’t really regard a twenty-chapter version of the Gospel According to John as a “conjectural reading.” In my mind, that kind of issue probably fell under the heading of “redaction” history. But, as I discussed in a series of posts earlier this year, that theoretical distinction (between “redaction criticism” on the one hand and “textual criticism” on the other) presumes a notion of “finished” text that does not really reflect ancient practices of composition and dissemination of texts.
In a related note, a report on the publication of a new book: What first prompted me to reflect on that artificial distinction between redaction criticism and textual criticism was a provocative article by Matthew Larsen, “Accidental Publication, Unfinished Texts, and the Traditional Goals of New Testament Criticism.” Larsen’s related monograph, Gospels Before the Book (Oxford University Press, 2018) is now out. I’ve read it and can say that it really is a game-changing book for the study of gospel composition. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Don’t tell Larry.
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