David Mealand wrote:
Luke 16.17 is, however, more intriguing. It could
well be an example of exasperated irony in prophetic
mode - objecting to opponents insisting on every
last mark on the text of the torah. If we hear
the tone of the saying that way then one could
put forward an argument like Casey's _Sitz im Leben_
arguments for it fitting the first stage of the
Jesus tradition. (Casey's arguments do not rely
solely on reconstructing Aramaic, but do also invoke
claims about likely _Sitz im Leben_, some more
persuasive than others.)
We might then reconstruct the series as follows:
a) a prophetic utterance ironically denouncing
excessive insistence on every last mark in the torah.
b) an early Christian modification that the words
of Jesus do have lasting significance - no controversy
over that within the community, so hardly altered in
the triple version.
c) A rival version of a) in a torah affirming line
preserved in Matthew (5.18) upholding rather than
ironically criticizing the smallest points of the torah.
If this is right then there is a further irony in
people who insist on proposition b) but use it
to miss the tone in which the words of Jesus were
uttered. His wit and humour are often also missed.
I just wanted to add how this passage would be seen to evolve, given the synoptic solution I favor. I like Ron's 3SH, with the exception that I think the saying source is subsequent to the gospel of Mark, and a conservative response to it. It is essentially a sayings-list precursor to the gospel of Matthew. I see the saying source and the gospel of Matthew emerging out of the same community, with similar agendas. So the scenario is as follows:
1) Mark develops in stages
2) A conservative response sayings list emerges. (Probably Aramaic)
3) The gospel of Matthew is written based on sources 1 and 2
4) Shortly after this Luke is written. Luke is aware of all 3 of the above, but dislikes Matthew's Theology, and regards it as a contemporary rival work, not as a source, and thus makes limited use of it.
Then for the saying in question, I would suppose that there is no version going back to the historical Jesus. The first occurrence would be in Mark 13 (then copied by the other synoptic authors). Next, as the status and authority of Torah starts to become controversial a version of this saying emerges from a conservative community, modifying the version from Mark to have Jesus support the full authority of Torah. This is then incorporated into the gospel of Matthew in that same community. Finally we have Luke, who (mistakenly) believes the saying list to be authentic words of Jesus. Luke thus incorporates this saying into his gospel, but lessens its force by prefacing it by saying that "until the time of John the Law and the Prophets were preached".
In support of this scenario I would again bring up a point I have made here before. Statements pro or con regarding something we know was controversial at some point in history should preferentially be dated to that period. My example has been that a future scholar coming across the statement "Marriage is only between a man and a woman" would realize that such a statement could have been made at many points in history. But it was more likely made today than in say 1933, given that it was not controversial then and is now.
In the same way, Jesus could have made a statement about the authority of Torah, but probably didn't need to. They were all Jews. But by the latter half the 1st century, this was a controversy, and thus we should prefer to suppose that the saying regarding the status of Torah originated during this time, rather than with the historical Jesus.
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