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Literary Integrity as a Methodological Topos

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic Cc: GPG; WSW On: Literary Integrity as a Methodological Topos From: Bruce PRINCIPLE Just suppose, for a moment, that we *really* wanted to figure
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 30, 2008
      To: Synoptic
      Cc: GPG; WSW
      On: Literary Integrity as a Methodological Topos
      From: Bruce


      Just suppose, for a moment, that we *really* wanted to figure out some text
      problem, how would we proceed? As I tried to suggest at the beginning of
      this thread (which had its root, as I recall, in certain perfectly OK
      Synoptical directionality determinations), it is good to examine details,
      but it is questionable to examine one detail and then stop. The perils of
      doing so are beautifully illustrated in the recent UBS reinstating (see the
      Metzger commentary, ad loc) of what had earlier been accepted as a group of
      "Western Non" interpolations in Luke. Judged one by one, with their
      magnificent manuscript support, these liturgically consequential passages
      only too readily infiltrate their way singly into the text. It is when they
      are considered as a group that they arouse due suspicion. That is the
      general methodological principle.

      We should then consider groups, and not merely specimens, if we hope to get
      the answers right, to any text question, including the Synoptic, which comes
      under our notice.


      As an allegorical parable, I will briefly consider one way in which one
      might rationally proceed in the recently discussed case of 1 Thessalonians.
      For a start, 1Th can hardly be validly considered apart from the case of
      2Th. If, for example, we are disposed to envision Paul as the author of 1Th
      (as everybody so far has done), we need at some point,before venturing very
      far in that direction, to assure ourselves by evaluating de novo its
      credentials as a Pauline product.

      One issue that comes up repeatedly in Pauline Epistle discussions is the
      question of whether we are dealing with one text or with a conflation of
      several texts. These questions are disturbing to many, and thus arises a
      theory which might be summarized in this way: There are evil people who
      delight to unsettle the faithful by calling into question the canonical
      texts. They operate with special outrageousness on the Pauline Epistles.


      Does such a gang of Pauline Vandals exist? If so, they have certainly gone
      about their work of sowing doubt as to literary integrity in a very strange
      way. Consider, with the help of Udo Schnelle (History and Theology of the
      New Testament Writings; 1994; tr 1998), the following composite picture of
      his comments sv "Literary Integrity:"

      Generally Accepted as Pauline:
      1 Thessalonians: Disputed
      1 Corinthians: Disputed
      2 Corinthians: Disputed
      Galatians: Undisputed; interpolation suggested
      Romans: Disputed
      Philippians: Disputed
      Philemon: Undisputed

      Widely Doubted as Pauline:
      Colossians: Undisputed
      Ephesians: Undisputed
      2 Thessalonians: Undisputed
      1 Timothy: Undisputed
      2 Timothy: Undisputed
      Titus: Undisputed

      Not Internally Claimed as Pauline:
      Hebrews: Epistolary Conclusion Suspected


      Does anyone see a pattern here? I do. It is that (1) every generally
      accepted Pauline letter *to a church* (the individual letter to Philemon is
      obviously in a different category), save one, namely the very early
      Galatians, is suspected by careful modern readers of being conflated or
      otherwise doctored, and (2) every generally doubted Pauline letter *to a
      church* (Hebrews is in a somewhat different category, since no church
      community is implied) is NOT so suspected.

      I think this will to some degree support my previous "house text" scenario,
      where the proprietors of genuine letters received from Paul have conflated
      them and/or interpolated them for reasons of their own, reasons which,
      whatever their nature, seem on the whole not to apply to what are called the
      Deuteropaulines: texts which according to this data set are more likely to
      be one-time literary productions than authority texts protected, and
      sometimes fed, over a perhaps considerable time, in the bosom of a recipient

      It is further notable, though not visible in the above list, that every
      supposed Epistle which is seen to be closely modeled on ANOTHER Epistle is
      itself in the Deutero class (Ephesians on Colossians; 2 Thess on 1 Thess).
      Whether these authors took as their models a real or a dubious Pauline
      letter, they seem to have used that letter as a template for what a Pauline
      epistle ought to look like. Their productions were intended not merely to
      instruct the churches of their day, but to pass as *Pauline* instructions
      for those churches.


      What does this do for our subsequent closer scrutiny of 1Th?

      For one thing, it tends to orient us in a landscape of textual probability,
      where the house text scenario (or something functionally equivalent to it)
      looms as likely to be relevant to 1Th, at the same time as it tends to
      support the idea of Pauline authorship of 1Th.

      If on the one hand we do not have wiggle room in reattributing 1Th, and the
      above investigation tends to confirm previous majority opinion in denying us
      that room, and if on the other hand we have available the "house text" or
      "closely held text" scenario, as from the above investigation seems to be
      the case, then passages suspect as interpolations in 1Th which at the same
      time do not show up in manuscript variants and are thus likely to be
      prepublic actions, have a strongly indicated solution.

      I have previously indicated what I think that solution is, and will not here
      repeat myself. I only note that the above considerations tend to point,
      independently, in the same direction.


      We can additionally use 2Th as a check on when a given segment of 1Th
      entered that document. 2Th, as noted above, is closely modeled on 1Th.
      Schnelle admirably gives us a map of this:

      1Th 1:1 / 2Th 1:1-2
      1st Thanksgiving
      1Th 1:2-3 2Th 1:3
      1Th 1:6-7 2Th 1:4
      1Th 1, 2, 3, 4 2Th 1:11 (extracting from 1Th)
      2nd Thanksgiving
      1Th 2:13 2Th 2:13
      Transition to Parenesis
      1Th 3:11, 13 2Th 2:16, 17
      Requests and Admonitions
      1Th 4:1 2Th 3:1
      1Th 4:1 2Th 3:6
      1Th 4:10-12 2Th 3:10-12
      The Disorderly in the Congregation
      1Th 5:14 2Th 3:6, 7, 11
      1Th 5:23 2Th 3:16
      1Th 5:28 2Th 3:18

      This list of close parallels does not yield a 2Th counterpart to the
      disputed 1Th 2:15-16. It might however be worth scrutinizing 2Th 2:14-15,
      lying between passages which DO have 1Th counterparts, the former of which
      borders directly on our doubtful 1Th passage. Nothing in 2Th remotely
      suggests the agitation and hostility present in 1Th 2:15-16. They content
      themselves with serene assurances about "good hope through grace."

      This directly proves nothing, though for a start it perhaps usefully *fails*
      to prove that for the author of the spurious 2Th, the passage in question
      already existed in his model text of 1Th, at least not in a directly
      corresponding position.


      . . . we need not stop there. There are also NONcorresponding positions in
      1Th. We might thus comb through 2Th (hey, it's not that long) for *any* sign
      of a disaster justly befallen the Jews, whether in a position corresponding
      to that of 1Th 2:15-16 or elsewhere. Other reports are welcome, but I don't
      myself find any such suggestions.

      What I do find is that in 2Th 1:4 there is a mention of the troubles
      besetting the church at Thessalonica: "Therefore we ourselves boast of you
      in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith *in all your
      persecutions and in the afflictions which you are enduring.*"

      In the Schnelle parallel 1Th 1:6-7 (see chart above), the faith of the
      Thessalonians is praised, but their persecutions do not appear. I suspect
      that we may have here a transferred and generalized mention of the topic
      taken up in the prototype text at 1Th 2:14 ("For you suffered the same
      things from your countrymen"). How about the fate of those who oppose the
      Gospel, the subject of the problematic 1Th 2:16b? Again, I think we find a
      transfer of it, and indeed a transformation of it, in the immediately
      following passage, 2Th 1:5-9:

      "This is evidence of the righteous judgement of God, that you may be made
      worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering - [6] since indeed
      God deems it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, [7] and to
      grant rest with us to you who are afflicted, when the Lord Jesus is revealed
      from Heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, [8] inflicting vengeance
      upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the Gospel of
      our Lord Jesus. [9] They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction
      and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his


      On this understanding, the mapping of 2Th on 1Th, allowing a certain amount
      of transmuting of worldly punishment into much more permanent and terrible
      heavenly punishment, is a good deal more intimate than Schnelle's chart,
      however initially useful, would suggest. Might not just this change,
      replacing a worn-out and now past earthly event, whose news value and thus
      persuasion potential had faded, with a safely future, and more impressively
      complete, sort of punishment, have been one possible item on the agenda of
      the inventor of 2Th? Might it not, in his eyes, have rejuvenated the
      slightly stale invective of 1Th?


      Paul in 1Th, and somebody else much more strenuously in 2Th, expects the
      faithful to labor. If your teenaged son is reprehensibly idle so far this
      weekend, set him to work out a better 1/2Th chart than that of Schnelle, and
      share it with the rest of us on Monday.

      For that matter, if your teenaged daughter is mooning around the house with
      no very strong purpose in view, assign her and up to four of her friends to
      research the question, never yet asked in the history of metaSynoptic
      inquiry, "Why not Galatians?"

      Respectfully suggested,


      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst

      Copyright © 2008 by E Bruce Brooks
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