In Response To: Chuck Jones
On: Lk 1:5f
CHUCK: I thought I was clear that the birth narrative of Lk is a different
kind of literature than the "synoptic" portion.
BRUCE: I find it clear from the text itself that Lk 1:5f is different from
the rest of GLk. One commentator calls it ALk in his "omniscient" mode. I
think that's rather apt. ALk in this section tells us things neither he nor
anyone else could have known via witnesses, and, what to my mind is more
important, tells us things of which no one else later in GLk seems to be
aware. They frame the story, but they don't equip the story. The story, once
properly begun in Lk 3:1, goes its way quite self-sufficiently, supplying
its own material as it goes, and neither relying on nor referring to
anything in Lk 1-2. It's like a play before the curtain, for the edification
(the pre-edification) of the audience. Not the first act of the play.
The question is what that difference may mean for the place of the
John/Jesus background narratives in the overall schema of Lk. Conzelmann
separated those narratives off from his discussion of Lukan theology.
Nolland finds it "not necessary to engage" that decision. I think it is
necessary to at least engage the differences that led Conzelmann to that
There is a framework, a score or so of events in the life of Jesus plus
their relative order, that is more or less common to the Synoptics, and,
especially for the Jerusalem portion of that life, common to GJohn also. If
my recent suggestions about rearrangement of material within the
compositional history of Lk are accepted, the degree of agreement about that
underlying sequence becomes significantly greater. That is, the further back
we get on the compositional trail, the greater the agreement on the
narrative core. I think that's interesting in itself, and that it also
focuses attention on the points of significant divergence from the core
outline within any one Gospel - whether in rearranging its units, or in
adding new units to it. If we were beginning Gospel study from scratch,
these divergences from narrative core are the points that I think would
immediately invite attention as possibly new material, material in which the
purpose of that particular Evangelist is most clearly seen.
One of the big divergences is the Jesus birth narrative in Mt, another is
the John/Jesus birth narrative in Lk.
If, as Conzelmann and others have suggested, the birth narratives are alien
to the earliest Lk, and were added (perhaps along with other changes) only
at a later stage in the formation of that text (thus producing a more
recognizable Lk, and as earlier noted, if people want to reserve the name
"Lk" for that last stage, I see no objection), then we would have a
relatively sharp window into the ideas and influences that shaped the
eventual Canonical Luke.
To me that would be a valuable addition to our knowledge.
CHUCK: I don't even know how to start the dialog when you're not convinced
Lk used sources....
BRUCE: No need for any one dialogue, and probably a given dialogue isn't
profitable without some degree of background agreement. My problem with the
word "sources" is that it tends to imply that the material thus explained
existed before the compilation of GLk, and thus is older, and thus has
higher scriptural authority, than the rest of GLk. I don't think this is
warranted as an assumption; I feel it needs to be argued. And the arguments
or implications I have seen, admittedly few, don't persuade me (Conzelmann
was too hasty; what was first needed was a study of the theology of the
unique portions of GLk, not the whole thing on the assumption that it *was*
a whole thing).
My hypothesis, offered simply to get the topic going, my suggestion made in
order to see if it can be refuted, would be that all unique material in Lk
is Christologically or otherwise later, not earlier, than the rest of Lk.
Quite possibly the unique material would divide itself into earlier and
later subcategories under scrutiny; we don't know until we make an
examination, and I don't recall seeing anyone make exactly that examination.
But maybe they have. Can anyone supply a reference? If so, it might move the
topic forward faster.
Another way is to test Taylor's interpolation thesis for his proto-Luke. Has
anyone seen a report on that exercise, and if so, can they share the
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst