In Response To: John Lupia
On: Lk < Mt 5:39-48?
Omitting as much as possible from previous messages:
1. [Lk om Mt 5:38 and similar passages]
JOHN: Perhaps Luke does not omit at all, and that it is Matthew who writes
"you have heard that it was said" referring to Luke's Gospel that he
(Matthew) based his text on.
BRUCE: That's the other possibility. Either Mt put these previous-law
references in (a Lukan original) or Lk left them out (from a Mt original).
Both posited behaviors are consistent for their respective authors. So
expressed, it's not strong enough to count as a directionality indicator,
and I note that McNicol et al, Luke's Use of Matthew (1996) does not take
this sequence as an example. But Tim's challenge was to show that an
intelligible picture of ALk could be proposed for this passage, and I think
that has been met. Personally, I find it the more likely case that a
legalistic Mt (with his vision of a New Law being handed down on a Different
Mountain), who inconsistently urges avoiding litigation but still speaks
largely in terms of judicial procedure, would be simplified and generalized
by Luke for small bodies of the faithful, living increasingly outside Jewish
law and also probably without access, on favorable terms, to Roman law. But
I wouldn't go to SBL with nothing more than that in my pocket.
2. [Mt "right cheek," Lk om "right"]
JOHN: Luke's text appears more primitive. Matthew appears to be writing
"right cheek" in accordance with the Roman ritual of manumitting a slave,
something that would seem to be a latter development.
BRUCE: If Lk took "right" this way, no wonder he dropped it. But I frankly
can't see what a manumission ritual would be doing where the context
requires not freedom, but insult. The older commentators took it as such
(walking past "right," or lamely suggesting that it is natural to mention
"right" first, though no explicit "left" follows). More recently, Davies and
Allison (1988) 1/543 give references to show that a slap was an insult as we
would have expected, and that a slap on the right cheek (necessarily a
backhanded slap, assuming a right-handed assailant) was especially
offensive; so also Gundry (2ed 1994) 95: "But surpassing righteousness
requires meekness even in the face of the worst insult." If this was Mt's
sense, then it might well have worked better for readers equally acquainted
with such authorities as m. B. Qam. 8:6, but less well for a wider audience,
such as I suspect Lk to have been addressing.
3. [Lk takes away < Mt would borrow from]
JOHN: It is MT who specifies "borrow" as a criteria. Luke leaves the term
broadly expressed that includes borrowing with or without permission
(perhaps assumed by the borrower) and includes those who take away goods by
force (not to sue for the return of the goods). This appears more primitive
as a text compared to Matthew's, that addressed what appeared ambiguos in
Luke. In other words, the Church raised questions about Luke's text and
Matthews later text answered them.
BRUCE: It's always possible that later believers required a more detailed
code of procedure, and that development can certainly be seen at many points
in the Pauline corpus. And it is agreed that Mt is here more specific, and
Lk more general. But I can't see that this necessarily makes Lk "more
primitive." Whether he was well advised or no, he seems to be concerned,
here as in the previous two cases, to take the rules out of the specific
Occupied Palestine context, and put them in broader terms. I can imagine
that being a workable agenda for an early Gospel writer, without prejudice
to the parallel need of the faithful for more elaborate rules of procedure.
Those rules of procedure seem to have been rules of self-governance or local
governance, and echoes of Jewish or Roman law would not necessarily have
been relevant. Thus, I don't see the Matthean specificity here as plausible
answers to procedural questions likely to have been raised by the early
Church about a formulation such as that of Lk. I see the Mt version as a
plausible first attempt to define Christian law adversatively, against the
explicit precedent of formerly applicable codes. Luke relies more on natural
law and sensibility.
4. [Lk om Mt 5:43 "love your neighbor"]
JOHN: Compare Luke 6:27-28, the apparently more primitive text.
BRUCE: No, Lk 6:27 (in parallel to Mt 5:44) is the more revolutionary text.
See next. The point here is that, as in all other cases, Mt has, and Lk
lacks, these adversative references to earlier codes. All those differences
are certainly one difference, and they certainly have a single explanation,
and that explanation must make consecutive sense with other explanations.
5. [Lk 6:27 < Mt 5:44; q Fitzmyer]
JOHN: In this case Matthew appears to rewrite what Luke had already
BRUCE: That is certainly how Fitzmyer, a staunch advocate of the Two Source
Hypothesis, himself consciously took it. I was merely concerned to point out
that his wording is at war with his advocacy; he speaks of Luke "adding"
(never mind from where) to the parallel Matthew. This is not an envisionment
that the 2SH allows. Silent slippage into the opposing view. I suspect there
is quite a bit of this going around, and that it tends to show that the 2SH
is really not tenable, in detail, as a sufficing account of Synoptic
6. [Lk transfers "love your enemies" maxim to head of section]
JOHN: [No comment]
BRUCE: I venture to reiterate my point, that the repositioning of this
passage illumines a previously less consecutive order in Matthew, and that
it is therefore plausible as an improvement on Matthew. Commentators,
without necessarily mentioning Synoptic implications, have frequent praise
for this positioning (see my original note). They do not step forward
equally to point out virtues in the Matthean placement. If better, than
presumptively later. Anything is possible, but it is hard to see Mt burying
the Lukan theme statement in the midst of a bunch of examples and
illustrations of it, if the Lukan version was what Mt had to work from (or,
what is equivalent, if Lk under the title "Q" was what he had to work from).
Here, I suggest, Lk is not only omitting Mt's recurring adversative-context
legal statements, but replacing one of them by a deep principle from which
the following examples can be seen as flowing. Two changes, not one. If
there is a directionality indicator anywhere in this basket, I think this is
And I will add that a general study of Lukan repositionings seems to me to
be fruitful in directionality indications, of which the few I have so far
scrutinized all point in the same direction. They show Luke not as a clumsy
copyist of Mt, but as a reactor to and critic of Mt, shaping (and reshaping)
Matthean doctrine and its presentation with his own consistent style and
agenda. Not that Mt *lacked* an agenda, but that Lk is concerned to one-up
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
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