In this post I will compare 3 versions of that famous incident of Jesus turning water into wine -- the canonical version, the Magdalene Gospel version, and also a very interesting version as found in the Dutch Diatessaron (the Liege Gospel). This Liege Gospel was of course the text that WL Petersen has extensively compared with the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew (Shem-Tob's text), and found lots of special and sometimes unique parallels between the two.
These comparisons aim to establish, among other things, that MG and the Liege share a large number of textual parallels against the canonical text. And this seems to indicate that these similarities come from a shared common source, which was most likely an Old Latin Diatessaron, now lost. (Of course, these similarities may also go even further back, and so they may even be resulting from common dependence on a very ancient Semitic-language source, now lost.)
First, here's the canonical version for reference.
John 2:1-11 :: Revised Standard Version (RSV)
1 On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; 2 Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples. 3 When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." 4 And Jesus said to her, "O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come." 5 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." 6 Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast." So they took it. 9 When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now." 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him. (221 words)
And now, the Magdalene Gospel version of this story. Here, I put MG Special Material in capitals letters.
THE MAGDALENE GOSPEL 10 # How Jesus Made Wine Out Of Water.
1 On the third day Jesus CAME TO Galilee, and was LED to a FEAST, with his disciples. And his mother was there. 2 And IT CAME TO PASS that THERE failed wine. 3 And his mother said to him that they had no wine. 4 And Jesus said that the hour (ms?) has not yet come THAT [he] SHOULD SHOW HIS POWER. 5 And then his mother said to the servants that they should do all that he tells them to do. 6 Now, there were six jars that the GOOD MAN AND ALL THE MEN WASHED FROM, each holding THREE gallons. 7 And Jesus told them that they should fill them full of water. 8 And they filled them full RIGHT AWAY. 9 And Jesus told them to take THEM UP, AND TO CARRY THEM TO HIM WHO WAS THE CHIEF OF THE FEAST. 10 And they took THEM UP, AND CARRIED THEM OVER. 11 And as soon as THE GOOD MAN had drank thereof, he called the BUTLER, and said to him, "Every wise man serves the BEST wine first, and when men are [already] drunk, then HE SERVES the one that is NOT AS GOOD. 12 And you have kept the BEST wine even until now." 13 This WAS the first MIRACLE that Jesus did. 14 And BECAUSE OF THAT his disciples believed in him. (215 words)
As we can see, the Magdalene version is very similar in length to the canonical version (221 words vs. 215 words). There's a lot of shared material there, as well as some seeming expansions, although these expansions tend to be quite different in the two versions.
The biggest and the most striking difference in MG is that, in this text, this is not a wedding, and it's not taking place at Cana. So this is just a feast that Jesus has been invited to.
Also, the harsh words that Jesus uses in the canonical version to address his mother are absent in MG.
The size of the water jugs is also different, of course, however is this to be explained. In MG 10:6, they are 3 gallons, while in the canonical Jn 2:6 they are "20 or 30 gallons". Normally, this more modest size of the jugs should be counted as an indicator of primitivity for the Magdalene version.
In connection with this, also to be noted is the detail that, in MG, the servants take the jugs together with the wine to be tasted by the "chief of the feast". While, in the canonical Jn, only some wine is taken to be tasted. This seems to indicate that the smaller size of the jugs is an integral part of MG narrative, and not just some sort of a mistake in the manuscript.
Another striking difference in MG is that it's the "chief of the feast" who is in charge of this whole affair, and not merely a "steward/headwaiter", like in the canonical Jn. The importance of this detail is that, as a result, in MG, the story appears to be a lot more coherent and logical. Indeed, logically, how can it be that the "headwaiter" can chide the groom for keeping the best wine for the last? Shouldn't this be the other way around, since it is the headwaiter, himself, who should have normally been in charge of the wine? And so, in the Magdalene text it is indeed the "chief of the feast" who chides the butler/headwaiter for keeping the best wine until later. And, importantly, this narrative detail is also supported by the Dutch text. (Of course, since in MG the feast is not a wedding, there is no "groom" involved in this story at all.)
And now, here's the Middle Dutch text of this story. This medieval Liege Diatessaron is a lot better studied, compared to the Magdalene Gospel. It is also included in the apparatus of the standard Nestle-Aland Greek gospels. Two English translations of this gospel have been published.
I have now counted 10 special parallels between MG and the Liege. They are numbered in the text below, and then commented upon later.
THE LIEGE DIATESSARON; the English translation as printed in D. Plooij edition, Koninklijke Akademie Wetenschappente, Amsterdam, 1929-1970, pp. 99-103. (This monumental work can be found in most large academic libraries, although it's not listed under "Plooij". Rather, it came out as part of the Proceedings of the Royal Dutch Academy, vol. 31.)
One day there was a wedding feast in a city which was called Chana, in the land of Galilee, and there was Mary, Jesus' mother. Jesus and his disciples were also called there to the feast. (1) It happened at this wedding that (2) there lacked wine. Then Jesus' mother spoke to him and said, "They lack wine". And Jesus answered her, "Woman, what have I in common with thee? Mine hour is not yet come".
[Omit an 11 line theological expansion about the right interpretation of this remark, and about Jesus' humanity vs. his divinity.]
Then his mother spoke to those that were serving there and said, "Whatever he says to you, do that". There stood six stone jars, which had been set there after the manner of the Jews, (3) who used to do their purification in such vessels. Those held as much as two or three measures. Then Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water". And they did so, and filled them to the brim. "Now scoop and (4) carry it to (5) the master of the house", and they did so. And when the master of the house tasted of the wine that had been made of water, and knew not how it had happened, (but the servants knew it well, who had filled the jars with water), the master of the house asked for the bridegroom and said to him thus, "Every man is wont to give first the (6) best wine, and after that, when they have drunk of this, he gives wine of his which is weaker. But thou has kept thy (7) best wine until now". (8) This was one of the first (9) miracles that Jesus did in Chana of Galilee, and there he revealed his divine power. And (10) therewith his disciples were strengthened in the faith. (280 words)
So here are these 10 parallels, together with some comments.
MG: And IT CAME TO PASS LIEGE DT: It happened at this wedding
This sort of a detail is a very conventional detail as used by traditional storytellers. It looks like this may have been quite a primitive detail.
MG: that THERE failed wine LIEGE DT: that there lacked wine
Exact parallel in these two passages with the word "there". In his notes, Plooij does draw attention to this MG variant. And he also supplies a parallel for this in Ephrem the Syrian.
MG: the GOOD MAN AND ALL THE MEN WASHED FROM LIEGE DT: the Jews, who used to do their purification
Although the parallel is not exact here, still, these two expansions seem to be in parallel overall. The canonical version lacks any of these details.
MG: CARRY THEM (used twice in MG) LIEGE DT: carry it
A pretty close parallel here with this specific word "to carry". In the canonical version, we find "to take".
MG: THE CHIEF OF THE FEAST LIEGE DT: the master of the house
A very important parallel. For some reason, Plooij omits this parallel between the Liege and MG in his notes.
MG: the BEST wine LIEGE DT: the best wine
An exact parallel here. Again, Plooij omits this parallel with MG in his notes. And yet he comments that the Liege version of this story does not really involve any drunkenness. (In the Liege, this seems like one of those later encratistic/ascetic expansions that the Diatessaron is believed to feature, as noted by numerous scholars.)
MG: the BEST wine LIEGE DT: thy best wine
Again, an exact parallel with the word "best". Not noted by Plooij.
MG: This WAS LIEGE DT: This was
Again, like in #1, we have a much simpler grammatical construction here both in MG and in the Liege. Such a turn of phrase seems more primitive than what we find in the canonical version.
Plooij does cite MG here, and also notes a number of additional parallels with some Old Latin mss.
MG: MIRACLE LIEGE DT: miracles
This parallel seems quite important (not noted by Plooij). In my view, the more primitive version of this story didn't yet have this rather odd word "sign".
MG: BECAUSE OF THAT LIEGE DT: therewith
This parallel is pretty close (not noted by Plooij). Such a turn of phrase, i.e. saying that the disciples believed _because_ of the miracle, seems quite simple and rather primitive. __________
In his notes, Plooij also cites plenty of other parallels between the Liege and various ancient sources, such as versions of Ephrem's COMMENTARY, a wide variety of gospel and Diatessaron mss, Irenaeus, the COMMENTARY by Zacharias Chrysopolitanus, etc. To me, this indicates that the Liege is based on a version of an Old Latin Diatessaron that had plenty of parallels with the texts that were quite common in the Ancient Near East. And yet, most likely, this was a more developed version of the Old Latin Diatessaron, compared to the one which served as the basis for the Magdalene Gospel.
MG is cited by Plooij very often indeed (perhaps hundreds of times) throughout this whole edition of the Dutch Diatessaron. And yet, as we have seen, he also misses plenty of still other parallels between the Liege and MG.
These close textual parallels between MG and the Liege seem to indicate that both texts ultimately derive from some mysterious pre-canonical version of the Gospel of John. And the same can of course be said in regard to the other 3 NT gospels.
Yuri Kuchinsky -=O=- http://www.trends.ca/~yuku
What are the things of long ago? Tell us, that we may reflect on them, and know their outcome; or declare to us the things to come -=O=- Isaiah 41:22
This is to follow up on my previous post of Mar 26, where I brought up the subject of the Persian Diatessaron, and the version of Jn 2:1-11 that is found there, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/johannine_literature/message/2470
And also, "3 versions of Jn 2:1-11" (Mar 9), http://groups.yahoo.com/group/johannine_literature/message/2419
I have now located 10 agreements between the Persian DT and the Magdalene Gospel -- some of them also attested in some other Western DTs. So it's quite likely that in these instances the pre-canonical text of Jn is now identified.
Here, once again, is the canonical text, followed by the Persian version.
John 2:1-11 :: Revised Standard Version (RSV)
1 On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; 2 Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples. 3 When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." 4 And Jesus said to her, "O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come." 5 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." 6 Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast." So they took it. 9 When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now." 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
The Persian Diatessaron. (DIATESSARON PERSIANO, ed. G. Messina, "Biblica et Orientalia" 14, Rome, 1951, p. 47, as translated into the Italian; translation from the Italian is mine.) The 10 parallels are numbered, and then analysed one by one. _________
On the third day there was a wedding feast at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding feast. The wine was running out. The mother of Jesus said, "They have no wine." He said, (1) "WHY DO YOU SAY THIS, MOTHER? [Perche (lo) dici, o madre?] The time has not yet come." The mother said to the servants, "Whatever he tells you, do it." And there were six stone jars there, that they had placed there for the ablutions of the Jews [che avevano posto per l'abluzione dei giudei], each holding two or three (2) MEASURES. And the people were seated in the banquet room [E la gente eran seduti nella sala del banchetto].
Jesus said to them, "Fill these jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. (3: omission) "And give [this] to (4) THE HEAD OF THE ASSEMBLY." [E date al capo dell'adunanza.] They (5) CARRIED and gave [this] to the head of the assembly. He tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the mixers [i mescitori] who had filled the [jugs with] water knew).
The head of the assembly (6) CALLED the bridegroom, and says to him, "Every man brings out the good wine first; when men have drunk freely, then he (7) BRINGS OUT inferior [cattivo] wine. You have kept the good wine until now." This (8) WAS the first (9) MIRACLE, that Jesus did in Cana in Galilee, and [he] manifested the (10) POWER of God; and his disciples believed in him. ___________
And now, here's the analysis.
1. While MG completely lacks the harsh words that Jesus says to his mother, as found in the canonical Greek Jn 2:4, the Persian DT includes some generally kind words instead.
2. The size of the jugs seems smaller in the Persian version. There's a parallel with the Dutch DT here. In connection with this, in his apparatus for the Dutch DT, Plooij supplies the following Latin version as found in Zacharias Chrysopolitanus, "binae vel ternae mensurae".
3. The Persian DT omits "Now draw some out". This seems to indicate that, just like in MG, rather than just a sampling of the wine, the jugs themselves are being carried over to be tasted by the "head of the assembly" (since they are smaller and more portable).
4. The "head of the assembly" seems pretty close to both MG and the Dutch.
5. The word "to carry" is pretty close to both MG and the Dutch.
6. The past tense is used here in all three of our DT texts (CALLED the bridegroom), as opposed to the present tense in both Greek and Latin canonical versions. Normally, I wouldn't have picked up on such a small parallel, but Plooij also lists in his apparatus a whole range of additional support for this in the Syro-Latin tradition.
7. The words "to bring out" are used twice, unlike in the canonical version. A similar construction is also found in both MG and the Dutch.
Quispel also lists a few more witnesses for this repetition of "to bring out/to set forth" in this verse, including the Arabic DT, and the following Latin version from Ludolph of Saxony, "tunc apponit id quod deterius est" (TATIAN AND THE GOSPEL OF THOMAS, 1975, p. 169). Plooij missed this parallel in his apparatus.
8. In the Persian text, "this WAS the first miracle". The same expression is found both in MG and the Dutch.
9. Just like the Persian DT, both MG and the Dutch use the word "miracle", rather than the canonical "sign".
10. The word "power" is, again, found in all three of our texts, the Persian DT, MG, and the Dutch DT.
Thus, we have 10 parallels altogether between MG and the Persian DT; 8 of them are also shared by the Dutch, at least to some extent.
NOTE: The parallels here numbered 6, 7 and 9 have not been mentioned before. These are some additional parallels between MG and the Dutch, in addition to the ten that I have already itemised in my previous article on the subject. So this brings to 14 the total number of the parallels between MG and the Dutch in this pericope (also one additional parallel in the Dutch wasn't specifically numbered in my previous analysis).
In regard to #10 above, the word "power" is found in MG in connection with Jesus towards the beginning of the story, so this is why I overlooked it before. (In the canonical version it is "glory = doxas" instead.)
Also to be noted is the expression in the Persian DT, "and [he] manifested the _power of God_". (In the Dutch DT, it is "his divine power".) This seems like an additional indication that Persian DT sees Jesus in a Jewish-Christian Ebionite sort of way, or, in other words, there's a leaning towards the low Christology in the Persian text.
There's one more very interesting parallel there that can be noted. This is a very clear parallel between the Persian and the Dutch in the phrase "but the servants who had _filled the jugs with water_ knew". In the canonical version, it is,
"the servants who had _drawn the water_ knew".
So, in Latin, this would be hauserant/to draw out against impleverant/to fill up.
This parallel is noted by Plooij in his apparatus. Of course he didn't yet know about the Persian DT when he produced his analysis, but he noted the parallels here between the Dutch DT and the Syriac, Arabic, Sahidic, and Bohairic versions. And yet the Magdalene Gospel lacks this whole long passage, that seems like a later expansion.
The two parallels that are shared by MG and Persian (#1 and #3) seem very primitive. The few parallels that may be found between the Persian and the Dutch against MG generally seem less primitive.
Yuri Kuchinsky -=O=- http://www.trends.ca/~yuku -=O=- Toronto
I doubt, therefore I might be.