Dear Ken Olson,
Thanks for a good line of questions.
What has always impressed me about Bailey's stories is the 'fit' they provide with the Synoptic tradition. I hope I have indicated sufficiently that I am well aware that Bailey's evidence is anecdotal and not scientific. A St Andrews dissertation hopes to remedy that lack, but I am not in a position to do so.
I must pursue with Bailey the matter you raise regarding the 'Hogg traditions'; I wonder how far what Rena Hogg says calls in question the actual account Bailey gives at this point (which I quote). If you have further info, I would welcome it.
What has impressed me regarding the Synoptic tradition is what we might call the unevenness of agreement. It is not that there are some passages which are 90% close, and others only 10%. It is rather that in the 10% passages, there are regularly elements (the core) which are 90%, while the rest it would often be hardly appropriate to speak of much agreement at all. All that is to say that the evidence of the Synoptics seems to me again and again to indicate the greater likelihood of the oral paradigm than of the literary paradigm.
The apocryphal gospels show a process which for one reason or another has lost its cohesion or been subverted.
I hope this helps - and makes some sense.
Ken Olson wrote:
> Dear Professor Dunn,
> I'd like to thank both you and all those who submitted questions for a very interesting seminar. I hope you'll forgive me for waiting until the end of the seminar and throwing you two questions at once.
> 1) I'm a little bit skeptical of the anecdotal evidence cited by Bailey. For instance, I've been reading Rena Hogg's book _A Master Builder on the Nile_ and it seems to me that she has a much less favorable opinion of the reliability of the oral traditions concerning her father than Bailey does (a good example of an uncontrolled tradition may be found on pp. 214-217 of her book). I'd like to ask how much you feel your understanding of oral tradition depends on Bailey's work and whether you've made efforts to verify Bailey's model of informal controlled oral tradition.
> 2) In your paper, you frequently allow that the different ways the gospels tell the "same" story may be explained either as a product of different oral performances or of the evangelists treating their written sources as "oral" storytellers would treat theirs. You also allow the basic correctness of the two document hypothesis.
> In comparing the evangelists' use of their sources on the 2DH to Josephus' use of his written sources, F. G. Downing concluded: "It is not the divergences among the synoptics (or even between them and John), in parallel contexts that are remarkable: it is the extraordinary extent of the verbal similarities. The question is Why were they content to copy so much? rather than, Why did they change this or that?" [_JSNT_ 9 (1980) 29-48; p. 33].
> Further, Bailey recognizes that not all traditions are passed on in the way he describes as "informal controlled oral tradition." He suggests that the apocryphal gospels, for instance, were written after the destruction of the controlling communities [_Asia Journal of Theology_ 5 (1991) 34-54; p.50].
> My question, then, is this: even given that Bailey's model of informal controlled oral tradition works as he says it does, and that it is applicable to the first century, and even that Jesus and his disciples used this method, how can we tell from the final form of the gospels that they are the product of this tradition and not of literary retelling (as described by you and Downing) or the "uncontrolled" tradition that (as I take it Bailey means to imply) produced the gospels of Peter and Thomas?
> Thanks again for your time and attention,
> Ken Olson
> Graduate Student
> Department of History
> 2115 Francis Scott Key Hall
> University of Maryland
> College Park, MD 20742
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