In Response To: Ron Price
On: Alternating [Mt/Lk] Primitivity (#11-12)
CASE 11 (Lk 17:6, moving the sycamine tree). I had suggested Mk 17:20, which
includes both a tree and a mountain as objects for faith to move.
Ron: Mt 21:21 is dependent on Mark, and I posit that it was Mark who first
introduced the "mountain" into the saying on faith, using the mountain to
replace the sycamine tree. Matthew later remembered and preferred the vivid
"mountain" when editing the 'faith-can-move-a-tree' saying.
Bruce: Ron here assumes that his prior source, whether Q or his own variant,
not only precedes Mt/Lk, which is the usual formulation, but also precedes
Mk. I am not prepared to go that far. I rest content with the use made of Mk
by Mt/Lk, a fact which puts their different examples (one a tree, the other
a mountain) in a new and useful perspective. Mk introduced the topos; Mt
took one branch of it, and Lk, ever the perverse and unwilling learner, took
the other. It is futile, in such a three-way situation, however construed,
to try to decide matters with a two-way model.
Ron [on my suggestion to look at Matthean doublets]: Not a bad idea!
Doublets, along with Alternating Primitivity, constitute two of the
strongest arguments for the existence of an early sayings source behind the
Bruce: I would need to see that demonstrated. As for alternating
primitivity, as far as my results on this list of Twelve goes, I am still
looking. And thus we come to the last of them:
CASE 12 (Lk 17:24 || Mt 24:27, Lk OUTWS ESTAI O UIOS TOU ANQRWPOU EN TH
HMERA AUTOU, "the day of the Son of Man'). Another Son of Man saying, and I
am with difficulty withholding my analysis of that phrase in all the
Synoptics (plus once in Acts).
Ron: . . . and the main choice here is between Matthew's "coming" and Luke's
"day". The former is the generic description of the expected phenomenon. The
latter is the poetic metaphor, and therefore seems more likely to be
Bruce: As before, I doubt that there is any reliable directionality
indicator as between more or less poetic. If we find Lk to be a poet, and
certainly some have been willing to testify in his behalf, then we will see
the poetic metaphor as typical of Lukan processing of more pedestrian
Matthean originals. Or, with almost equal ease, vice versa. I don't trust
these isolated single-bit determinations, especially when decided by very
general criteria, without regard to the information lying next door to the
saying(s) in question. Who has written a paper on Poetic Quality in Luke's
Parallels to Matthew? Who has a book about to be published on the logic of
Luke's travel narrative? I, for one, would like to hear from those people.
Luke is here nearing the end of his Travel Narrative, such as it is, and we
have gotten to the end of Ron's list of proposed Lk > Mt examples. I must
confess that I end as I began, finding that none of them is very
consequential, and that some of them are downright indeterminate. I think
that the question of Synoptic priority needs to wait for a decision on more
decisive, less gossamer, materials, and with less general, more specific,
But such as the twelve cases here considered may be, and to the best of my
doubtless limited ability in looking for directionality indications among
them, I don't see anything that would seriously challenge or threaten to
modify the FGH view of things: Mk > Mt >> Lk.
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst