1000Re: Alternating Primitivity (Method)
- Mar 24, 2008CHUCK: Are you suggesting that there was development of these texts
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
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
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