Part 2: A Markan Sandwich in John’s Gospel
Scholars have long noted that both the gospel of John and the gospel of Mark interrupt the story of Peter’s denial with Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin (Mark) or interrogation before Annas (John). Both authors begin with Peter in the courtyard of the high priest late at night, pause the story to describe Jesus’ initial questioning before the Jewish authority, then resume the denial narrative. In other words, the author of John’s gospel has apparently used the same literary device found in Mark.
For New Testament scholars who think that John knew the Synoptics, especially Mark, this situation poses no problems. However, scholars who believe John did not know Mark must explain this evidence, which tends to indicate literary dependence. For example, they might argue that John and Mark:
- independently chose to use the intercalation (sandwich) technique to tell the two stories,
- used a pre-gospel Passion narrative in which this literary device existed,
- or knew the same oral tradition, which happened to contain the sandwich.
For the purposes of discussion, it’s helpful to see the sandwiches side by side.