On 10 September 2006, Dave Gentile wrote:
>>Dave: Let's try a word other than "respect", that might capture my
meaning better. Does Luke regard the gospel of Matthew as an older
source with better knowledge of actual events than Luke himself has?
Or does Luke regard Matthew as a contemporary with an actual
knowledge of events similar to Luke's own? I think Luke, in general,
can only have one opinion of the author's position to know. I
suppose that we might make a rather special exception for the birth
narrative, but other than that, I think Luke's view has to be fairly
consistent regarding Matthew's ability to know.<<
It's not the word I'm objecting to, it's the method. You make a bunch of
initial assumptions and then you propose a bunch of hypothetical sources to
fit them and you wait for everything to click into place. When your
assumptions are criticized, you restate them and hypothesize new and
different hypothetical sources to do away with the difficulties. It doesn't
seem to have dawned on you that you may just be using the wrong approach.
Perhaps you could read Jubilees and then tell me whether the author
considered the Torah an "authoritative" text or not. Or make a list of
biblical quotations in John and then tell me if John regarded the OT as an
"authoritative" text. Or tell me why Plutarch assigns certain sayings to
different characters in his Lives. Not everything can be accounted for by
assuming variant source texts. Mark Goodacre has used the ways modern
filmmakers adapt the gospels to film to illustrate the different ways that
purpose and medium affect the final product. He's been criticized for using
an anachronistic analogy. But that is much of the point--we may be
committing anachronisms ourselves if we assume that the gospel authors went
about their business with the same purposes and the same methods modern
>>Now could Luke have regarded Matthew as an authoritative source and
still rewritten him? Yes. Although I think we would want to see
argument as to why he would want to, before we considered this the
most likely possibility. In other words, this does not strike us as
the most probable apriori.<<
If by "we" you mean contemporary systems analysts and statisticians who try
to reduce the synoptic problem to a multivariable equation, project modern
ideas of historiography and investigative journalism onto first century
authors, and have not engaged in study of how ancient authors used their
sources or what the term "authoritative source" might mean in an ancient
context, I might agree.
>>Could Luke have viewed Matthew as
relatively unauthoritative and still used his wording for quotes?
Yes, although this last idea seems somewhat unlikely to me.<<
Can you give the reasons that it seems unlikely to you? Or do you mean for
us to take the fact that it seems unlikely to you as having probative value?
At least you're using the first person here.
>>Dave: Maybe I can improve that slightly. The fact that Matthew and
Luke present the material in different orders, in pieces the size of
individual sayings and pericope, suggests, on the face of it, that
the material does not have any authoritative order. This in turn
brings to mind a saying source, which could have authoritative
wording, without authoritative ordering.<<
Explain to me how you know that sayings source (and only sayings sources),
have authoritiative wording but not authoritative order. Do you mean this
is intuitively obvious to you, or have you done a study of ancient
literature that shows authors kept the wording of order and sayings found in
narrative sources but kept the only the wording but changed the order of
sayings sources? Which literature shows this? While you're at it explain
to me why Luke departs from the Markan order for most of the so-called
Mark/Q overlaps (everything after the Temptation).
>>Of course one could argue that Luke chose to change what he regarded
as an authoritative order. But, then this does need argumentation in
order to contradict the face-value suggestion.<<
Aaaargh! The meaning of the word "authoritative" needs to be
contextualized. It does not have a "face-value" applicable to all times and
>>Ken: To use a (somewhat) common expression, you are assuming a
Dave: O.K. that's not completely inapt here. The arguments above are
extremely high level and not at all detailed. I would argue they are
empirical, but at a universal level rather than a detailed one.<<
The assumptions you make are neither empirical nor universal.. You state a
bunch of a priori principles that you expect the evangelists to have
followed. When problems with these assumptions are pointed out to you, you
try hypothesizing new lost sources that don't have to face them rather than
admit that your assumptions may be wrong. Your "universal" level is not
universal, it grew up in a particular time and place. I do not mean to
suggest that modern epistemological methods are bunk--I'm kind of fond of
them. However, you seem to be assuming not just that modern epistemological
methods work, but that ancient authors used them in the same way you would.
And you're wrong.
>>Without looking back at your original post, your position seems to
me to have been that the idea of a saying source has no merit at
all. I do think my high level arguments are enough to contradict
Actually, it's the "high level arguments" to which I am objecting.
>>You also seemed to be saying that Luke could have done what he did
without a saying source, and I agreed.<<
Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.
>>Now, if you are saying that based on detailed study of Luke's
behavior in all cases, you think there is enough evidence to do away
with a saying source as a serious contender, then I'm certainly
willing to accept that as your view based on your study of those
OK. I have, in fact, put these arguments to you before. When I point out
that Luke may have rearranged Matthew's order in response to the conditions
he faced in trying to combine Markan and Matthean material, your response
has invariably been to try to do away with the conditions I describe by
hypothesizing further lost sources for which those conditions did not exist.
But I'll give it one more shot. I should, perhaps, add that I can speak only for myself and other proponents of the Farer theory may well disagree with me.
Luke has two main written sources, Mark and Matthew. He and the Christian
community he knows have had Mark for a while before Matthew comes along.
Luke knows Mark well and can tell where Matthew has changed it by adding,
omitting, or recasting material. Some of the additional material he likes a
great deal, particulary some of Jesus' ethical teachings (which Mark does
not have a lot of), other material is less pleasing, and some of it is
awful. Where Matthew has recast Mark, he generally, but not always, prefers
the original that he and his church have used for a long time. But he
recognizes the potential of what Matthew has done in rewriting and
"updating" Mark and making it fit the needs of his target audience better.
He decides to do the same thing.
Luke decides he's going to follow Mark, the older and usually fuller [in the
overlapping material] source for as far as Mark goes, taking over its basic
narrative and keeping it in its Markan order. He will use Matthew's
additional material primarily to supplement Mark. The question is: how will
he go about adding the supplementary material to his Markan framework?
There are two considerations that must be made before addressing this
First, close conflation of two different written sources at the level of
wording is a diffiuclt procedure. The consensus among classicists is that
that most ancient authors did not attempt close conflation but wrote with
one source in front of them at one time. In The Four Gospels, Streeter
notes that Luke follows Mark and his other source (which Streeter took to be
Proto-Luke, a combination of Q and L) in fairly large alternating blocks for
a few chapters at a time. He also noted that Luke's sources overlapped (the
so-called Mark-Q overlaps) and that when this happened, Luke followed one or
the other and didn't try to conflate them. Streeter noted that in the case
of the Mark-Q overlaps Luke chose to follow the version in his non-Markan
source instead of that of Mark. He admitted that he could not tell where
the reverse might have happened (i.e., if Luke was following Mark's version,
how would we tell if there were also a version in his non-Markan source?).
So if Luke's sources are Mark and Matthew we might reasonably expect that he
would use them in alternate blocks and not try to conflate them closely.
Second, one of the most widely acknowledged characteristics of Luke is his
dislike of doublets. He does indeed have about ten doublets, all sayings
and none more than two verses in length. Whether he did not care enough to
take the the time to edit them out, or he especially liked these sayings
enough to use them twice I don't know. But in general, he does not like
doublets. We do not have two Temptations, two Beelzebul pericopes, two
Parables of the Mustard Seed, or two Feeding Miracles in Luke, despite te
fact that he would have had more than one version of each in his sources.
So we might reasonably expect a Luke who knew Mark and Matthew generally not
to reuse the same material in both its Matthean and Markan forms.
Now if Luke follows these two principles (as major scholars who accept the
2DH argue he does) it will be almost impossible to follow Matthew's order,
and undesirable to try. Matthew's order depends on Mark. His settings for
his five sermons are taken from Markan settings, which Luke has already used
and doesn't want to repeat. He also isn't going to attempt close conflation
by trying to stick all of Matthew's additions into the closest possible
Markan parallel location. Further, except for the Sermon on the Mount,
Mathew's sermons are expanded versions with a core of Markan material, which
Luke has already used. This leaves Mark with a bunch of Matthean material
removed from its Markan context, and Luke arranges it as best he can. The
Sermon on the Mount is a special case, being more than twice as long as any
speech in Luke-Acts. It is a "masterpiece" when read by one studying it at
his leisure, but a horror to anyone forced to listen to it read aloud from
beginning to end (something no modern lectionary attempts). Luke, like
modern filmmakers who have portaryed the Sermon, keeps a trimmed form of the
Beatitudes and a few other things in nearly the same location and
redistributes the rest to other parts of his gospel. When combined with
Luke's other Matthean and special material, the final result is one that "no
one has ever doubted may make good (Lukan) sense." Or so Tuckett says.
Kenneth A. Olson
MA, History, University of Maryland
PhD Student, Religion, Duke University
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