The variances of the Old Testament quotations in John’s gospel from their source texts have been explained as John’s theological re-appropriation of these sources. However, this paper identifies within these variations what David Carr calls “memory variants,” ultimately showing that John was recalling the ot from memory. Furthermore, the verbatim quotations are usually taken from Psalms, which contain poetic constraints that enhance memory recall. These observations correspond strongly to the fact that the gospel of John, like other ancient documents, was produced in a culture that was predominately oral, wherein the handing on of tradition depended primarily on memorization.
Birger GerhardssonThe Origin of the Gospel Traditions (Philadelphia: Fortress Press1977) 22. So also Karel van der Toorn Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible (Cambridge: Harvard University Press 2007) 12.
BartlettRemembering68 81 125 175; Carr “Torah on the Heart” 25 29; Carr Writing on the Tablet of the Heart: Origins of Scripture and Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2005) 40-46; Rubin Memorypassim. Emanuel Tov Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress Press 2012) 126 acknowledges the difficulties in explaining such differences: “one often gropes in the dark when encountering differences in number (singular/plural) the tenses of the verb pronominal suffixes prepositions the article etc.”.
BarrettThe Gospel558; F.F. Bruce The Gospel of John: Introduction Exposition and Notes (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1983) 377; von Wahlde The Gospel and Letters 3:315; R.E. Brown The Gospel (ab 29a; New York: Doubleday 1970) 953.
Cf. BarrettThe Gospel444; Freed Quotations 89; A.T. Hanson The Prophetic Gospel: A Study of John and the Old Testament (Edinburgh: T&T Clark 1991) 173; Rudolf Schnackenburg The Gospel according to St John (3 vols.; New York: Crossroad 1972) 3:26; Westcott The Gospel 193.