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1142Re: [Synoptic-L] the sources of Matt 4:1-11 according to Griesbachians

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    Jun 11, 2008
    • 0 Attachment
      To: Synoptic
      Cc: GPG, WSW
      In Response To: Leonard M (and thus Jeffrey G)
      On: Matthew's Temptation Narrative (Mt 4:1-11)
      From: Bruce

      It seems to me that Leonard's suggestion (the thesis of Gerhardsson about
      this passage) is very much in the right direction, though it might do with
      some supplementation, and I suggest some in what follows.

      First, I note that Davies and Allison (1988) mention Gerhardsson's (1966)
      thesis about the Deuteronomic and indeed rabbinic origin of Matthew's
      Temptation Narrative, but feel he goes too far in seeing "haggadic
      exposition of the Shema" behind this and several other Matthean bushes. That
      the temptations of Jesus in Matthew are generally patterned on the Exodus of
      Israel seems however very convincing; D & A instance respectively Deu 8:3,
      6:16, and 6:13 as the sources for the respective stages of the Temptation
      dialogue, and add: "This is the key to the narrative; we have before us a
      haggadic tale which has issued forth from reflection on Deut 6-8. Jesus, the
      Son of God, is repeating the experience of Israel in the desert (cf
      Tertullian, De Bapt 20). All important for a right understanding of our
      pericope is Deu 8:2-3 . . ."

      Notice that the order of the Deuteronomic passages does not determine that
      of the Matthean temptations, which, as I would put it, are given in a
      climactic order, from low to high ending with a vision of the entire world,
      but in Deuteronomic terms also a reverse order. Mt 4:1-11 is a schematic
      construction made by someone very familiar with OT texts and with the
      rabbinic way of handling them, but also with freedom to give the new
      construction narrative force of its own. As has now and then been pointed
      out, Lk may convincingly be seen as altering the Matthean sequence in order
      to have, not an altitude climax as in Matthew, but rather a Jerusalem
      climax, in keeping with the Galilee > Jerusalem, Jerusalem > Rome groundplan
      of Luke-Acts as a whole. The Lukan changes are thus explainable in terms of
      Luke's overall design. As for the Matthean prototype, it would seem to be
      intelligible in terms of Matthew's pervasive tendency to Scripturalize the
      life, or anyway the deeds, of Jesus. The order of the two, Mt > Lk, agrees
      with the overall Trajectory sequences among the four Gospels and Acts, whose
      implication is that the order of these five texts, in terms of increasing
      development and divinization of Christian theory, is Mk > Mt > Lk > Ac > Jn.
      I don't see any great trouble with any of this.

      It seems to me that the moral of this exercise is that in working up the
      Markan hint in his own way, Matthew had no usable historical tradition to
      operate on, and is here freely inventing on a Scripture basis. The result is
      controlled to quite an extent by the specific Scripture, or it would not
      have the intended Exodic resonance for its audience, but it is not
      *narratively constrained* by that scripture. It would seem to follow that,
      as far as Matthew invites us to suppose, there existed in the previous
      traditions of the church no fuller narrative of the Temptation interlude
      than Mark's, which, narratively, is as near as you can get to blank. The
      "source" for the Matthean Temptations is then not a text at all, it is a
      rabbinically informed creative effort by Matthew. Matthew is not a
      historian, nor the heir of an earlier historian, but a mythographer. (See
      below for previous suggestions along this line).


      So far so good. I then turn to my IQP TOC, and find that the 6th of the 102
      items in that inventory is "The Temptations of Jesus, which are defined as
      "Q 4:1-4, 9-12, 5-8, 13." So also Fleddermann. The Q people thus assert that
      there was a written narrative prior to Matthew (they apparently concede that
      the Lukan version which they generally favor for their Q stood in Matthean
      order). I do not think that the Q claim can stand. The Matthean version is
      the precedent for the Lukan version, and is thus indeed primary in that
      relationship, but the Matthean version is not copied from a verbally close
      previous text; it is an emblematic new invention by Matthew out of


      In terms of the six scholarly solutions so far catalogued by Jeffrey Gibson
      in his original query, it would seem that the fifth, namely

      "Luke's version is derived from Matthew's version which is something that
      Matthew himself composed as midrash on the Biblical stories of Israel's
      Wilderness testing (a position advocated by )"

      has the most going for it. Perhaps Leonard's offer of Gerhardsson, with the
      further if partial support of Davies and Allison, and (what the heck) a nod
      to Tertullian, will help to fill in Jeffrey's parenthesis. Awareness of the
      Deuteronomic parallels is of course wider than that, among recent
      commentaries going at least as far back as:

      1907 Allen (3ed 1912). A few other partial or total dissents from the pure Q
      solution, or a few useful if tacit departures from that solution, are:

      1951 Johnson (in IB v7). ". . . therefore it is usually supposed to be from
      Q. But its theology is not identical with that of other Q material, and some
      form of the incident is known to Mark (see Intro, p237). Similar stories are
      told of the testing of founders of religions and prophets, eg Zoroaster (H P
      Houghton, Anglican Theological Review v26 [1944]; Mary E Andrews ibid v24
      [1942]). This highly stylized anecdote, in which each temptation is answered
      by a quotation from the LXX, could easily be derived from Christian

      1981 Beare. "The story of the temptation continues to move in the realm of
      myth which was introduced in the aftermath of the baptism. Apart from Jesus,
      there are no human actors. . . What we have before us is a dramatic dialogue
      in three acts. The dialogue is central; the scenery is nothing more than a
      setting for the debate. It would be absurd to think of the discussion
      between Jesus and the devil as the record of an actual conversation . . . "
      And if not, then it has no place in a "sayings source" as the genre "sayings
      source" is usually conceived.

      1974. Michael Goulder, Midrash and Lection in Matthew p245ff cites Farrer,
      but without accepting Farrer's chiastic suggestion ("I know of no other
      instance of Matthew reversing the order of scripture by intent"). Goulder
      cites three of Gerhardsson's NT studies (of date 1964, 1968, 1972), but
      appears not to know the 1966 study abovementioned. Goulder's discussion
      brings in other OT sources, including Exodus, whose order of presentation
      Goulder feels is dominant in the Matthean construction.

      I like Goulder's comment on p245, "The midrash virtually writes itself."
      Well, maybe it does once you are far enough into the tradition on which
      Matthew here seems to have been drawing. But I think Goulder is right. The
      idea that Matthew was here not struggling and striving, with bookmarks
      sticking out of two or three Scripture scrolls, and stuff falling off the
      other end of the table, to get this portion of his commentary on Mark
      written down, seems to be to be a salutary one. We in the here and now may
      have trouble recovering a given Evangelist's compositional process, but it
      does not follow that in our troubles we are replicating that compositional
      process itself.

      All in all, in the Temptation Narrative in Mt and soon after in Lk, I think
      we may clearly see the tradition, not remembering itself, but expanding
      itself to accommodate more adequately the larger-than-life Jesus which was
      at the center of current theological thinking at the time they wrote. This
      particular instance of the myth process is not "wild;" it has a basis in
      Scripture and it expects its recipients to recognize and to accept as
      validational its echoes from Scripture. But however impressive and even
      edifying the result may be (and Goethe would probably be the first to
      acknowledge both traits), it is still a myth process.


      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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