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4832RE: [Synoptic-L] How many verses in the Songerguts, Triple or Double Traditions, etc.

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    May 7, 2013
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      To: Synoptic / GPG
      In Response To: David Inglis
      On: Counting Verses
      From: Bruce

      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
      Lord's Prayers.


      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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