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Dale Allison on the Passion Narrative

Dale C. Allison offers a defense that there was some kind of a Passion Narrative that preceded the Gospel evangelists in chapter 5 “Death and Memory” in Constructing Jesus: Memory, Imagination, and History (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2010). First, Allison agrees with Goodacre on the Passion as “history scripturalized” instead of “prophecy historicized” and that it is very unlikely that the disciples of Jesus would not have learned about what happened to Jesus (388-91). Second, he proceeds to argue that there were oral memories and interpretations of the circumstances surrounding Jesus’s death from early on. This is based on how much we can reconstruct from Paul’s Letters alone (e.g. the wording of the Last Supper, the “handing over” of Jesus, the involvement of imperial Roman and Judean authorities, the crucifixion and the wounds on Jesus’s body, the burial of Jesus), the traditions that were available to John independently of Mark’s Gospel even if the former knew the latter, and the intriguing parallels between Paul’s letters and the Gospels. Ken Schenck has a great review of Allison’s argumentation in six parts (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6).

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