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1000Re: Alternating Primitivity (Method)

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  • gentile_dave@emc.com
    Mar 24, 2008
      CHUCK: Are you suggesting that there was development of these texts
      other
      than that which is documented in variant readings in the ancient MSS?

      BRUCE: That is exactly what I am suggesting.

      Here I might add my own argument for this position -

      I like to make an analogy to evolutionary biology. New varieties arise
      by mutation. Assuming the mutation survives, a question can be asked. -
      "How long before every member of the population carries this mutation?"
      There are a number of factors at work and with certain assumptions you
      can write exact equations, but here two factors are important.



      1) The smaller the population, the shorter the time until full
      replacement. It takes less generations for the trait to be passed to a
      population of few individuals than one with many.

      2) The strength of selective pressure will influence how fast
      replacement takes place. Mutations that provide substantial advantage
      will achieve full replacement faster than those that only provide
      marginal advantage.



      Now relating this to texts. Scribal errors and deliberate changes,
      however motivated, might be described as mutations to the original text.
      Early on in the history of Christianity there were far fewer adherents,
      and one would therefore imagine far fewer copies of any given text. In
      this environment any changes would be expected to achieve full
      replacement in a shorter time frame than in later periods. Also, given
      that the early history of Christianity was more diverse, and involved
      more changes than in later periods, we would expect selective pressures
      on documents to have been greater then than later. In later ages a text
      variant acceptable in one century would almost certainly be acceptable
      in the next. In the early history, decade to decade changes in attitude
      would have put more pressure on the texts.

      We have surviving evidence of the evolution of the texts from later
      periods, and based on this it is reasonable to assume that the changes
      in earlier periods were more substantial, and we do not, in fact, have
      the original texts. In most cases of course, this means the text is
      lost. In a few cases, however, with the synoptics, evidence of a lost
      variant of one text may survive in another.

      Some examples -

      Recently we noted that the narrative portions of "Q" stand out in a
      statistically significant way. They contain long passages of exact
      agreement, also they occur outside of the two main blocks where Luke
      located his non-Markian material. I think this indicates there were
      earlier versions of Luke without the narrative bits of "Q", and this
      represents assimilation to the text of Matthew. Additionally we can note
      that some of these involve John the Baptist and we know Marcion had a
      version of Luke without Some John the Baptist material.

      A second such addition would be Mark 3:22-30. This material breaks up
      references to the family of Jesus, and thus looks as if it could be an
      insertion. There would be a motivation for this as well, if we read the
      text without these lines. His family thinks he is insane, and he appears
      to disown them. Luke follows neither the order nor the text of Mark
      here. He groups this with his "Q" material and follows Q and/or Matthew
      for the text. There is no reason a priori that Luke has to do both of
      these things together. He could for example have left it in Mark's
      position, and followed the Q text, or the other way around. But this
      combination of actions supports the idea that Luke never even saw this
      text in his copy of Mark, and this is a late addition.

      One final example:

      One surviving version of Luke 3:22 reads "You are my son, today I have
      fathered you". Normally it is argued that "You are my son, the beloved,
      with you I am well-pleased" is the original. This argument rests on the
      idea that Luke would hardly have altered Mark and said "today I have
      fathered you", while at the same time adding a birth narrative. However,
      if we suppose a lost version of Mark also read "today I have fathered
      you", and Luke merely preserved Mark's text, then we have a logical
      progression of textual changes. The original text of Mark then would
      have echoed Psalm 2 "I will proclaim the decree of Yahweh. He said to me
      'You are my son, today I have fathered you'". This also might be echoed
      in Mark 1:38 - "Let us go elsewhere...so I can proclaim the message
      there too, for this is why I came". And of course being 'fathered' at
      the baptism is at home in Mark's gospel where there is no birth
      narrative.

      Dave Gentile

      Riverside, IL











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