Reporting: Curious Coincidence
I happened to be looking into James D G Dunn, Jesus Remembered (Eerdmans
2003), and was amused to come across a paragraph that reminded me of myself.
I quote it here, for the sake of getting a little company in a position I
had previously, but unsuccessfully, invited people to consider:
EBB (12 May 08): But I would like to suggest that Luke is unlike us in that
he was very likely not a remote being like ourselves, thousands of years
after the fact, but himself an Early Christian, a member of some group of
persuaded people, with entrance rules and worship conventions and exposure
to preachment. We need posit no vague and accommodating "oral tradition,"
but I think we do need to envision a "community praxis" which Luke knew in
his bones, the same as any 10-year old Presbyterian of the present time. It
would be strange, I suggest, if by that date the praxis of Luke's community
did not include the Lord's Prayer. This at least, then, Luke will have taken
not from Matthew, or from any other "source," but straight from memory.
JDGD (2003): Students of the Synoptic tradition really must free themselves
from the assumption that variations between parallel accounts can or need be
explained *only* in terms of literary redaction. After all, it can hardly be
assumed that the first time Matthew and Luke heard many of these stories was
when they first came across Mark's Gospel. The claim that there were
churches in the mainstream(s) represented by Matthew and Luke who did not
know any Jesus tradition until they received Mark (or Q) as documents simply
beggars belief and merely exemplifies the blinkered perspective imposed by
the literary paradigm. . .
EBB (present tense): That is a good deal more violently expressed than I
think needful, but the core point may be worth digging out from under the
rhetoric. It is essentially the same one I had previously and independently
recommended to the consideration of those present.
Dunn goes on to beat the stump for "oral," which to my eye simply takes him
away from his main point. For reasons earlier given, I don't think that this
irremediably fuzzy term gets us anywhere. I recommend instead my recent
EBB (12 May 08): If what people said in the community at that time when
they prayed was what Luke has written down, and if that text was thus
*available in memory* equally to Mt and Lk, then Matthew is free to make an
interlinear gloss and expansion, turning for example the references to
poverty as a virtue into something more ethereal (I don't really see how it
would make it more "liturgical"). And Luke is free NOT to. The Lord's Prayer
as it was said by believers at that time is still what it was, it is just
that Luke preserves it better for us.
Another way to say it is that nobody at the time is learning the Lord's
Prayer by reading it out of either Mt or Lk. . . .
(13 May 08): . . . my suggestion for the Beatitudes and the Lord's Prayer is
not that they were accessed by Mt/Lk in Q or in any other written text. To
repeat (it seems necessary to repeat), I think they resided in muscle
[I won't repeat it further, but I do recommend it for consideration. I think
it solves a problem which, despite the best efforts of previous scholars
following a seemingly productive line of investigation, still needs to be
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst