Let's keep going in John's Gospel, but this week at the beginning and not at the end.
One of the great scholarly questions about John's Gospel is,
What did John know about the other gospels?
Answers stretch from "maybe nothing at all" to "something, but not a lot, it would seem." That something, some think, could particularly come from knowledge of Mark's Gospel.
The reason for these answers is that
1. there is s o much difference between John and Matthew/Mark/Luke (e.g. the teaching of Jesus in John is almost wholly different from teaching recorded by the other three);
2. even where there is similarity between John and Matthew/Mark/Luke (some events, miracles, Passion and Resurrection Narratives), only a comparatively few words suggest knowledge by John of text of other gospels.
Might he only have known of one or more of the other gospels through hearsay?
Yet John is, if nothing else, a very clever man. (For one example, relating to yesterday's Gospel, John 15;1-8, see Ian Paul's exegesis here.)
Could he have cleverly "covered his tracks", that is, known the other gospels well, yet taken another compositional path than one which betrays that knowledge?
Here is a hypothesis, based on John 1.
Knowing the other Gospels:
A. John takes Mark's "beginning of the gospel" (1:1), Matthew's genealogy (going back to Abraham, 1:1-16); and in John's Gospel, Abraham is important), and Luke's genealogy (going back to "Adam, son of God", 3:23-38) and pushes the concept of the beginning of Jesus Christ to pre-existence.
B. Matthew makes a particular point of Jesus being the fulfilment of the law and the prophets. In various ways, Mark and Luke do this also. In John 1:45 we read that Philip finds Nathanael and says to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." In that report there is a nod to the human patrilineage of Jesus through Joseph, something Matthew majors on (chapters 1-2).
C. The high point of Mark's Gospel, or, if you like, the central fulcrum on which the story Mark tells in his gospel is Peter's confession that Jesus is the Messiah/Christ (8:29-30). In Matthew's Gospel this confession of faith leads to Simon son of Jonah being nicknamed Peter/the rock (16:15-19). In John 1:41-42 this confession and naming sequence is set down by John. In verse 41 Simon's brother Andrew says to Simon, ' "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated the Anointed/Christ.' In verse 42 Andrew brings Simon to Jesus who promptly says, ' "You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter/Rock)'.
D. The great theme of John's Gospel, the relationship between God the Father and the Son of God Jesus Christ is introduced in John 1:14-18. But this is a theme found in Matthew 11:25-27/Luke 10:21-22 - verses which could summarise John's Gospel, or be the catalyst for the composition of John's Gospel.
In other words, according to this hypothesis: John does know the other three gospels (but conceals this knowledge in terms of, say, direct citation) and makes those three gospels the starting point for his gospel. Within his first chapter John demonstrates that he starts from those three gospels but is going to move on from the stories they tell and the theological reflections they have offered their readers to dig deeper into the meaning of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.