On Monday, July 13, 1998 4:27 AM, Viola Goodacre
> What I would like to know is: is there enough verbatim agreement
> between Thomas and the Synoptics to warrant some kind of theory of
> partial literary dependence one way or the other? In this context,
> the following agreement between Thomas and Matt / Luke is striking:
Normally, literary dependence requires more than verbatim agreement in a
few instances, impressive as such agreement may be. Common order and
parallel sequence are also variables in the equation. Despite the fact
that 37 out of 132 units in GThomas have parallels in Q (37 out of 101),
there is as yet no discernible common pattern.
And apart from redactional activities in subsequent editions, there is
also the possibility of some verbatim agreement being attributed to the
proverbial nature of the sayings. Thom 26 not only has parallels in
Matthew and Luke but also in the Babylonian Talmud, 'Arakin 16b: "If
someone says to him, 'Remove the chip from between your eyes,' he would
say to him, 'Remove the beam from between your eyes.'"
OK, the Talmudic scholars could have made the saying their own. The
bottom line is still the remarkable bulk of parallel material, verbatim or
not, without common order or parallel sequence. Crossan argues (and we
started with him, after all) along with Stephen Patterson that the best we
can argue for currently is a Common Sayings Tradition (Patterson's Common
Tradition). There is nothing persuasive enough, unless Mark and others
can continue, to convince these scholars at least of a written text or
documentary source for the parallels.
For Crossan, it is the inventory, the redactional directions of Q and
GThomas, and the typology of the parallel units in either that occupies
and supports a good portion of his most recent work. (Personally, I still
find 37 units a remarkably high number *not* to discern some kind of
literary dependency at work, but until we have new documentary evidence, I
think we've gone about as far as we can go.)
But as he draws towards his conclusions, Crossan puts the Common Sayings
Tradition into perspective, "Continuity [between Jesus and early Christian
communities] was in memetics rather than in mnemonics, in imitating life
rather than in remembering words." _The Birth of Christianity_, p.404.
"Blessed are the destitute", even if it were a direct quotation from the
lips of Jesus, could easily have been redacted towards apocalypticism (a Q
tendency) or gnosticism (a Thomas tendency). Instead the common lifestyle
incarnated in the earliest Christian communities created the context in
which the Common Sayings Tradition could flourish with relatively little
redactional activity. It was imitation rather than oral memory which was
the primary mode of continuity.
Is this a cop out on your original question, Mark? I don't know.
"A high proportion of what I say is probably wrong...The only problem is
that I do not know which bits are wrong."
N. T. Wright