When I wrote about Form Criticism, I noted that the oral traditions incorporated into the gospels may have originally circulated independently (though there may have been some pre-Markan groupings, such as the sea & feeding miracle chains or conflict stories in Mk 2:1-3:6), with the major exception of the Passion. Unlike some editorial seams connecting individual stories that seem a little artificial (e.g., “and immediately,” “one sabbath”, “again he began to teach by the sea”), the form critics noticed the Passion Narrative is a interconnected, smooth-flowing narrative. Was this account largely written by the author of Mark, though there may have been some oral or written sources (e.g., Paul passes along a tradition on the Lord’s Supper in 1 Cor 11:23-25), or did Mark incorporate a largely pre-existent passion narrative? This involves larger questions: what aims might an account of the final days of Jesus serve as the early church attempted to justify to themselves and to outsiders their paradoxical belief in a crucified Messiah, does Mark exhibit signs of redacting an earlier source (e.g., references to the Caligula crisis in Mk 13 that may no longer reflect the immediate circumstances of the evangelist), do the bare references in Paul’s situational letters presuppose knowledge of a larger passion narrative, are the passion accounts in the gospels of John or Peter (or special traditions in Matthew and Luke) independent of Mark and so perhaps rooted in an earlier account or all dependent on Mark’s account? I want to explore some scholarship on this in the next posts but let me know what you think at this point.