4419The Achilles heel of the Farrer Theory?
- Aug 1, 2012The aphorisms constitute the Achilles heel of the FT.
For the FT deals very well with narratives and lengthy parables.
But it fails to provide satisfactory explanations for the aphorisms, many of
which have versions in more than one of the synoptic gospels. In particular,
it fails to account for the following observations:
(a) Most aphorisms in Mark have more primitive parallels in the much later
gospels of Matthew and/or Luke (c.f. H.T.Fleddermann, "Q: A Reconstruction
and Commentary", p.182).
(b) Many aphorisms in Matthew have more primitive parallels in Luke.
(c) Mark, Matthew and Luke each contain blocks of aphorisms. This suggests
that each writer was making use of a written collection of aphorisms, for if
they had been in the author's memory, they would probably have been better
integrated into the story of the respective gospels.
(d) Aphorism doublets occur in Matthew and Luke, but hardly at all in Mark
(c.f. Udo Schnelle, "The History and Theology of the New Testament
Writings", p.181). As Mark was a source for these later gospels, and as one
member only of each doublet is generally derived from Mark, this
distribution of doublets suggests that most of them were created by the
later author copying one member from Mark and the other from an early
(e) There are a few peculiar variations in wording between Matthew and Luke
in aphorisms common to both which are best explained as translation errors
(e.g. "give alms" in Lk 11:41 & "you build" in Lk 11:48). This explanation
is incompatible with the Farrer Theory, which only recognises Greek
Goulder mentioned many of the synoptic aphorisms in the course of his "Luke:
A New Paradigm", but his defence of Lukan dependence on Matthew is much
weaker in the case of the aphorisms than for other literary forms in the
Double Tradition. (Where scholars support the 2T and are thus 'free' to
argue that all or part of Luke's version of an aphorism is the more
primitive, then in very many cases they do so most convincingly.)
Diagrammatically the problem would be solved by simply adding to the Farrer
diagram a box labelled e.g. "sayings source" or even "logia", with arrows
pointing to each of the other boxes. But then, of course, it wouldn't be
called the Farrer Theory. ;-)
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