4832RE: [Synoptic-L] How many verses in the Songerguts, Triple or Double Traditions, etc.
- May 7, 2013To: Synoptic / GPG
In Response To: David Inglis
On: Counting Verses
David Inglis asks if there is a consensus on verse counts for single,
double, or triple tradition verses. I should suppose that the only real
consensus in this area consists in the (Eusebian?) numbering of verses, and
gets vaguer when one goes higher up. (And even that numbering is sometimes
problematic). If Rick Hubbard can supply what David is looking for, David
should grab it, and with my blessing. I wouldn't mind seeing that count
myself, if it comes to that. Perhaps Rick will post it.
But I would still object to the term "triple tradition," as coming from the
time when the Gospels were regarded as independent witnesses, and thus as
collectively confirmatory of the historical reality of that which they
recount. Instead (and here, I should think, *is* something of a modern
consensus), the Gospels are literarily interconnected, and any multiple
attestation amounts, in the end, to single attestation. Consensus or no,
that original meaning definitely survives in modern discourse; I might
mention again the debate at Holy Cross between William Craig and Bart
Where the Deuteronomic sense of "three witnesses" not only occurs, it occurs
unrefuted. But notwithstanding its durability, I find the concept
pernicious, and not to be encouraged. At least in critical circles, it does
not apply to matters for which the Gospels may be cited as evidence.
As for "double tradition," are there not in fact, analytically speaking,
three "double traditions?"
a. Only in Mk/Mt, absent in Lk: the Ransom passage (Mk 10:45 || Mt 20:28)
b. Only in Mk/Lk, absent in Mt: the Strange Exorcist (Mk 9:38-39 || Lk
c. Only in Mt/Lk, absent in Mk: the Lord's Prayer (Mt 6:9-13 || Lk 11:1-4)
And is it even that simple? Lk does not simply lack Mk 10:45, he rewrites it
*without the ransom clause* as Lk 22:27, converting the concept "ransom,"
which on other evidence Luke abhorred, into the concept "service," which on
other evidence was basic to Luke's idea of Christlike behavior.
And what weight is to be attached to Mt's lack of the Strange Exorcist? The
more perceptive commentaries note that the idea of an independent Christian
mission not under the control of the authorized Twelve (so in Mark) offended
Matthew's "ecclesiastical" bent. This is likely enough. Then the story was
known to all three, and all three did something with it, one of the three
options being to suppress it, so that it would not remain embedded in the
tradition as it was desired, by that particular Gospel author, to hand it on
to future ages.
As for the Lord's Prayer, as Kilpatrick and others saw long ago, we have
only one Lord's Prayer, namely the Lukan, which Matthew in his usual
ecclesiastical style has plumped up with extra OT sonority (OT sonority is
Matthew's signature trait). We do not, historically speaking, have two
An analogous problem infects the seeming Single Traditions. It is not easy
to derive one of the Birth Narratives from the other, using only such
devices as are known from the Canon of Scribal Errors, but it is
nevertheless a fact of historical importance that Mt and Lk both HAVE a
Birth Narrative, and Mk does not. That is, the progressive divinization of
Jesus during early church history - see again my paper Gospel Trajectories
- is strongly shown in this distribution. For all the creative fervor of the
Lukan version (he was determined, as I imagine, to outdo that upstart
pipsqueak, the contemptible latecomer Matthew), I would thus be inclined to
include the Birth Narratives in the category of "present in Mt/Lk, absent in
Again, is the Prodigal Son really unique to Luke? Or is the Matthean Parable
of the Two Sons its counterpart? Before answering, consider the impenetrable
Markan Parable of the Seed Growing Secretly, and the Matthean Parable of the
Tares, and notice that the supposedly unique Matthean Parable occupies at
exactly the point in the Mk/Mt common sequence that is occupied by the
supposedly unique Parable of the Seed in Mark. The situation, I would
suggest, is exactly like that of the Mt/Mk Ransom passage, to which the
Lukan equivalent occupies the corresponding position, only without the
Ransom term. All told, I would be much inclined to include the Prodigal Son
/ Two Sons pieces as a single exhibit in the Second Tier Gospels display.
Several commentators have noticed the resonance between Mt's Two Sons and
Lk's Two Sons, though of them, I think only Gundry has the directionality
right (it is Lk > Mt).
The two instances of the Parable of the Feast (Mt/Lk) and of the Parable of
the Talents/Minae (also Mt/Lk but opposite in directionality) are different
enough that some, eg Snodgrass, refuse to consider them the same thing, and
treat them as separate, thus getting four parables out of two, and 2 entries
each in the canon of passages unique to Mt or Lk. I very much don't think
so. For Lk's absurd messing up of Mt's Talents parable, one could ask no
merrier guide than M Goulder, and for Mt's preposterous king version of
Luke's perfectly OK Parable of the Feast, when the directionality runs the
other way, see the witty F Beare, in his Matthew commentary ad loc. (Gundry,
albeit with less levity, also has this directionality right).
That is, the problem of bidirectionality in the Second Tier Gospels is in
grain, and will not go away. It must be solved either by positing an
otherwise unknown outside source (the "Q" family of solutions), or in some
other way. What that other way may be I have sought to suggest several times
in these pages, in several SBL presentations, and in an article forthcoming
in v2 of the above journal. Theological libraries (or failing them,
theological persons; cost only $40) should be suitably alerted.
Such, in any case, are the difficulties of counting. I have not checked in
the Farmer Synopticon to see what color, or lack of color, the above cases
have in that very useful work (or, for that matter, in the also
polychromatic Rushbrooke). But I submit that the final arbiter, in questions
of sameness or difference, must be literary rather than, what shall I call
it, manuscript-critical. There is more to the evolution of Christian
tradition than scribal error.
Or so it looks from here.
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