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Synoptic Theory

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic In Response To: Leonard On: Synoptic Theory From: Bruce Leonard: Bruce, you miss the point of my opening sentence. Bruce: [For the record,
    Message 1 of 9 , Jun 11, 2008
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      To: Synoptic
      In Response To: Leonard
      On: Synoptic Theory
      From: Bruce

      Leonard: Bruce, you miss the point of my opening sentence.

      Bruce: [For the record, Leonard's opening sentence was: "I know most of you
      think of Mark 1:12-13 as a source for Matt 4:1-11, which makes eminent sense
      if you assume Markan priority. I would like you, if possible, to suspend
      that presupposition for a moment, . . ." The sentence treats Markan Priority
      as an "assumption" and a "presupposition" on the part of everyone who holds
      it. That is dismissive, and in my case, which is the only one to which I can
      directly speak, inaccurate. I resent it, and I request Leonard not to do it
      again].

      Leonard: The background of my comment would be clear to regular readers of
      this list. I have been arguing for a long time . . . that, in general,
      adherence to Markan priority is accepted by scholars (not on the basis of no
      evidence at all, but) on the basis of evidence derived from
      macro-considerations of Mark's Gospel with respect to the other Synoptics.
      Much of your post illustrates this point, rather than countering it.

      Bruce: I was not attempting to illustrate Leonard's or any other idea of
      *why* individuals hold particular theories. That belongs to the realm of
      mass psychology, and I don't deal with mass psychology. I *was* attempting
      to show that there are strong, visible, empirical reasons for concluding
      that Mark is earlier than the other Gospels. As I said, and I am willing to
      repeat it, I cannot imagine a viable Synoptic theory which goes against what
      are here called "macro" considerations: the overall position of the Gospels
      in what appears to be a massive and consistent doctrinal development
      trajectory. One must sometimes choose between the large picture and the
      small. I unhesitatingly choose the large picture, as the best thing to home
      on, and the safest thing to put down roots in.

      I will now tell the Parable of the Three Ships. Suppose we have three ships
      leaving, for Rome, Tunis, and Valencia. If the harbormaster gets the ships
      out of the harbor successfully and headed toward their proper destinations,
      and it later turns out that 17 drunken Valencia passengers mistakenly
      boarded the Rome boat, well, that can be corrected if necessary. The great
      thing is to get the ships themselves headed in the right direction. That, I
      suggest, is what a Synoptic theory should aim to do. Small change and minor
      mischance can be handled by Customer Service.

      Please to note, in terms of rhetoric present or future, that the holding of
      a macro position on the Gospels is not a flaw. It is a conclusion, based
      perhaps on evidence whose import Leonard disputes, but still a conclusion.
      And I would add that it is likely to be a sounder conclusion than anything
      based on attempting to intuit the tastes and grammatical proclivities of
      some utterly unknown author, which is the kind of swamp into which one is
      frequently plunged when working on the micro level.

      Leonard: I have further argued that if Synoptic parallels were approached,
      pericope by pericope, with the methodological stipulation of no pre-assumed
      (or pre-argued) theory of Gospel relations, and with attention simply to
      arguments of priority or non-priority that emerge from evidence in the
      individually examined parallel pericopes, there would be no strong
      cumulative argument for Markan priority, and considerable argument against
      it, by the time this exercise was complete.

      Bruce: Leonard is in effect saying, forget the big picture; I get a
      different result, or an inconclusive result, by considering many small
      pictures. As regular readers of this list may perhaps recall, I have, on
      this list, over a period of years coming down to the near present,
      considered several proposed lists of passages (from Sanders to
      Fleddermann/Price) which, to one or another observer, appear to go against
      the macro Mt > Lk position, and/or the macro Mk > Mt/Lk position. I have
      found most of those proposed exceptions to be either dubious or trivial;
      what I recently characterized as Synoptic small change. Some of those
      arguments continue to be available for scrutiny and refutation, either on
      the archive of this list or on the Warring States Project web site. Feel
      free.

      Let's suppose, though, that at the end of the exercise there were 17
      passages which indeed seemed to go against the macro picture (I don't stand
      by the number 17, but I have my own list of passages on which I am no more
      convinced by Michael Goulder's Mt > Lk explication than is Ron Price). What
      do we do with them? Do we toss out the macro picture and erect our Synoptic
      theory on those 17 passages? This is what Leonard seems to be proposing. I
      would think that any such step would be inadvisable in the extreme. As noted
      above, our effort to perceive gross textual tendencies is much likelier to
      be correct than is our effort to intuit small authorial particularities. The
      better plan would surely be to leave in place the theory based on the macro
      picture, and see what needs to be done, by way of supplementary theories or
      local explanations, to account for the 17 (or however many) individual
      passages that the macro theory does not convincingly accommodate.

      And for this task there are several options:

      (1) One phenomenon we know (because it is visible in the period for which
      multiple manuscripts are available) is cross-contamination: scribes either
      inadvertently or intentionally adjusted a passage in A to make it agree with
      B. In addition to the cases of which we know because they are visible to us
      in the record, there are quite possibly others to which the extant, but
      incomplete, manuscript record does not give witness. This of course makes a
      mess of the perceived Synoptic picture, but only on the local level, and
      only within the reach of those particular scribes. The gross large overall
      traits of the Gospels still survive, just as our Valencia ship is still our
      Valencia ship, even if it is encrusted with barnacles or holed by teredos.

      (2) Another recourse in these micro situations is a "lost source" theory, a
      type of which the Q idea is one example. I don't myself think that a modern,
      de novo, consideration of individual parallels will lead precisely to the
      IQP inventory, but that doesn't mean that it would lead to nothing at all.
      As far as I am concerned, the category remains open for possible use, as may
      be indicated by the evidence. I have already given a hint, on-list, of the
      kind of thing I suspect it might contain, one being church membership and
      primary, not textually mediated, familiarity with the Lord's Prayer on the
      part of aLk.

      (3) Another line on which I have been working myself is the possibility of
      non-integral texts. Back in 1998, in his Epilogue at the end of the
      Chilton/Evans Historical Jesus survey, Helmut Koester said that he rather
      distrusted the whole enterprise, and one of the reasons he gave for doubting
      its validity was this one: "Literary criticism cannot ignore, for example,
      that the relevant documents may be the results of a complex process of the
      composition and redaction of sources." Just so. Texts with complex formation
      processes are known in the Classical period, and also in the modern period.
      They are visible in nearly all the ancient lawcodes, including Gortyn and
      the Twelve Tables. They are especially characteristic and especially
      troublesome in India and in China, the latter being where most of my own
      experience lies. And it is obvious, at least to those who give weight to
      structural matters, that similar phenomena occur in the NT realm as well.

      Thus, blocks of gJn have evidently been moved around at some point, by the
      same author later or by a later proprietor of the text, leading to easily
      correctable narrative inconcinnities. That is not of much consequence for
      our purpose, since gJn is agreed by most to be post-Synoptic, and thus at
      the *late* end of the Gospel picture, so its internal composition history
      really doesn't affect Synoptic conclusions. But that internal history does
      give warning that such formation and re-formation processes are capable of
      occurring in the Gospel genre.

      I further find that Mark is an accretional text, consisting of maybe 7
      layers of material, added in succession and stacked on top of one another.
      This is intensely interesting in itself: the motivations of the several
      layers are largely theological, and they show at least one early community
      working through successive ideas about Jesus. But, again, that result is of
      little Synoptic consequence because, and here as with gJn I am guided by the
      macro picture, Mark lies at the *early* end of the Gospel trajectory, and
      was effectively complete before it was encountered by the later Synoptics.

      But the case is otherwise with gLk. The Proto-Luke theory of Streeter and
      Taylor does not seem to me to hold water, nor, for similar reasons, do the
      more recent versions of Boismard and others. But there do seem to be grounds
      (and my exposition of some of them on this list go back a good many years)
      for concluding that a first version of Luke was written based on Mark and
      without knowledge of Matthew, and that this was then revised and overhauled,
      probably by the original author, after exposure to Matthew. This view, if it
      hold up to further scrutiny, would give us precisely the situation which the
      Q hypothesis is supposed to explain, namely, some parts of Luke seem to be
      *earlier* than corresponding parts of Matthew, and other parts seem to be
      *later* than Matthew. Those familiar with the Analects of Confucius and its
      contemporaries will recall that we have similar puzzlements in that area: a
      given chapter of Mwodz must be both earlier and later than a roughly
      contemporary chapter of the Analects. For the solution to this seemingly
      uncrackable enigma, and a few similar ones, see Appendix 3 of The Original
      Analects (Columbia 1998, and owned by a good many theology libraries). Here,
      in any case, is one possible category of situation which might help to
      explain individual passages which seemingly violate the macro picture.

      In other words, we can probably transship, or otherwise pacify, our 17
      dissatisfied Valencia passengers, who are now angrily stranded in a fleabag
      wharfside Roman hotel. What we can't as easily do is switch the whole cities
      of Rome and Valencia to accommodate them. Doing so would involve a perhaps
      risky traffic at the beginning with the Genie of the Lamp, and if
      successful, would very likely swamp the phone lines at Customer Service
      immediately thereafter.

      So much on the large methodological point. More later on Leonard's last
      paragraphs.

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • Maluflen@aol.com
      Bruce again misunderstands my position, which, again, would be clear -- I hope -- to one who has been following the discussions on Synoptic-L for a number of
      Message 2 of 9 , Jun 12, 2008
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        Bruce again misunderstands my position, which, again, would be clear -- I hope -- to one who has been following the discussions on Synoptic-L for a number of years. (I think there must have been a hiatus in Bruce's attention to this list, apparently corresponding to my most vocal moments in developing the [experimental] methodology I am advocating). I don't believe my comment about Markan priorists and their presuppositions when?commenting on?individual Gospel pericopes is dismissive in the least. It is?simply factual, and virtually impossible to deny. Whatever arguments they may have that convince them of Markan priority are not supplied to their readers?in the context of their discussion of?particular texts; instead, Markan priority is simply assumed, usually as something quite?indistinguishable from?dogma. And their work on the particular pericope proceeds, in the sense that they attempt to more or less cleverly articulate what the presumed later Gospel writer has "done" with the text that lay before him. Incidentally, I do?something similar,?on a routine basis, from a Griesbachian perspective. Bruce need't be so sensitive as to assume that my statement is a criticism, that I am somehow impugning the scientific integrity of Synoptic scholars. (And even if I were, it is not as though I were impugning something really important, like the faith of the same scholars). But?I am?not. It would not be possible, practically speaking,?to develop the full argument in favor of Markan priority, or any other Synoptic source theory,?every time one treated an individual text. So we don't do it -- none of us does.

        That point being made, I have never argued that macro-arguments are unimportant, or should simply be discarded?when the returns of my?recommended micro-level experiment have come in (presumably supporting, on balance, a late and secondary Mark). I begin with the observation that the main macro arguments in favor of Markan priority have been shown to be inconclusive, and most of them also seriously flawed from a logical point of view. They involve, as Bruce notes, conclusions drawn from evidence. But this doesn't, of course, make them valid conclusions. They often have great rhetorical appeal (as do, I think, also some macro arguments in favor of Griesbach), but they simply are not valid, or at least certainly not conclusive -- and the arguments always also?involve presuppositions that are themselves highly dubious. Given the overall logical weakness of these macro arguments, and the appeal they nevertheless garner,?it would clearly?be wonderful if they could be further bolstered and?confirmed?by?strong arguments based on evidence in particular sets of Synoptic parallels. They are not, I would argue. They are, Bruce and many others would argue. I have issued a challenge, which has never yet been accepted by a Marcan priorist, that this exercise be engaged?systematically?by proponents of alternative Synoptic source theories, and a panel of presumably neutral judges would decide who, in each individual case, makes the better case for their preferred theory. Supposing, for the sake of argument, that Matthean priority with respect to Mark resulted?a winner?in 80% of?such cases, the next step would be -- what to do with the macro level arguments -- in the light of this new evidence? I have never argued that the macro-level arguments should at this point simply be discarded, and would not expect or think right that?they should. The most I would hope for is the very salutary result that Markan priority would henceforth be held by scholars with a bit less dogmatism, and bit more modesty. I hope?Bruce will now understand
        my overall recommended experimental methodology. One more point: having limited the scope for argument to individual parallel pericopes, I would agree with Bruce that, within this limited context, by far the strongest arguments for either?side would be (relatively) macro-level arguments, rather than the attempt to?derive an?support from?a single minor, verbal-level?difference between two parallel texts. Such arguments could have some probative value, and I would not exclude their use in principle, but this would generally be less compelling than arguments based on broader patterns and vision, relative still to the particular pericopes under examination.

        Leonard Maluf
        Blessed John XXIII National Seminary
        Weston, MA

        -----Original Message-----
        From: E Bruce Brooks <brooks@...>
        To: synoptic@yahoogroups.com
        Cc: GPG <gpg@yahoogroups.com>; WSW <wsw@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Thu, 12 Jun 2008 12:07 am
        Subject: [Synoptic-L] Synoptic Theory



        To: Synoptic
        In Response To: Leonard
        On: Synoptic Theory
        From: Bruce

        Leonard: Bruce, you miss the point of my opening sentence.

        Bruce: [For the record, Leonard's opening sentence was: "I know most of you
        think of Mark 1:12-13 as a source for Matt 4:1-11, which makes eminent sense
        if you assume Markan priority. I would like you, if possible, to suspend
        that presupposition for a moment, . . ." The sentence treats Markan Priority
        as an "assumption" and a "presupposition" on the part of everyone who holds
        it. That is dismissive, and in my case, which is the only one to which I can
        directly speak, inaccurate. I resent it, and I request Leonard not to do it
        again].
        [...]

        Bruce: Leonard is in effect saying, forget the big picture; I get a
        different result, or an inconclusive result, by considering many small
        pictures.


        [...]



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Dave Gentile
        ... I don t believe my comment about Markan priorists and their presuppositions when?commenting on?individual Gospel pericopes is dismissive in the least. It
        Message 3 of 9 , Jun 12, 2008
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          --- In Synoptic@yahoogroups.com, Maluflen@... wrote:
          >
          > <heavily snipped>

          I don't believe my comment about Markan priorists and their
          presuppositions when?commenting on?individual Gospel pericopes is
          dismissive in the least. It is?simply factual, and virtually
          impossible to deny. Whatever arguments they may have that convince
          them of Markan priority are not supplied to their readers?in the
          context of their discussion of?particular texts; instead, Markan
          priority is simply assumed, usually as something quite?
          indistinguishable from?dogma.

          Bruce need't be so sensitive as to assume that my statement is a
          criticism, that I am somehow impugning the scientific integrity of
          Synoptic scholars. (And even if I were, it is not as though I were
          impugning something really important, like the faith of the same
          scholars).

          I have never argued that the macro-level arguments should at this
          point simply be discarded, and would not expect or think right that?
          they should. The most I would hope for is the very salutary result
          that Markan priority would henceforth be held by scholars with a bit
          less dogmatism, and bit more modesty.

          ===========

          Leonard,

          I have an idea of where this might be coming from, based on the
          discussion. Bruce's argument about historical trajectories seems to
          be a good one, ASSUMING historical miracles don't happen or
          equivalently for practical purposes that they can't be found by the
          historian. If we don't assume that, then Bruce's argument fails.

          And since we don't want to tackle the question of whether or not
          that assumption is really an assumption, that pretty much ends that
          discussion.

          So, would you agree that in a framework which excludes historical
          miracles Bruce's argument has significant weight?

          Although, I would add that the evidence which I find most compelling
          for Markian priority is my statistical analysis of it. This involves
          only shared data, standard mathematics and a handful of assumptions
          and interpretations specific to the study.

          Under assumptions I would only list the following - If we have a
          source text and an edited text based on the first then the style of
          the first author will be reflected throughout the whole first text.
          But the second text will reflect the style of the editor where the
          texts disagree, and will reflect the style of the original author,
          where the texts disagree.

          Then as an interpretation I would list the following - where we see
          strongly significant differences in the frequency of common Greek
          words, we attribute this to differences in the author, at least
          where we can rule out genera and subject matter as causes for the
          difference.

          I think given those assumptions and interpretations the study is
          virtually conclusive regarding Markian priory, and this is invariant
          with our positions on historical miracles.

          Dave Gentile
          Riverside, IL
        • E Bruce Brooks
          To: Synoptic In Response To: Dave Gentile On: Synoptic Theory From: Bruce As a metacomment on previous discussion, Dave had said: Dave: I have an idea of where
          Message 4 of 9 , Jun 12, 2008
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            To: Synoptic
            In Response To: Dave Gentile
            On: Synoptic Theory
            From: Bruce

            As a metacomment on previous discussion, Dave had said:

            Dave: I have an idea of where this might be coming from, based on the
            discussion. Bruce's argument about historical trajectories seems to be a
            good one, ASSUMING historical miracles don't happen or equivalently for
            practical purposes that they can't be found by the historian. If we don't
            assume that, then Bruce's argument fails.

            Bruce: Fails? MY argument fails? Surely you jest. Let me sneak up on it this
            way.

            I would agree in this way with Dave: I think the hot button area lies in the
            question of whether a given miracle is true. Did Satan show Jesus all the
            kingdoms of the world? Was Jesus himself conceived by the Holy Spirit? Did
            Peter, however briefly, walk on the water? Once we get onto those questions,
            the discussion splits into two corners. The *discussion* fails. (Not, be it
            noted, my argument, of which more in a moment).

            What it seems to me is discussible, within the usual limits of historical
            discussions, is not these questions of truth. Rather, it is questions of
            fact: whether a given person or group in the past *believed* that one or
            more of these things were true. Belief itself is a historical fact, whether
            or not the *content* of that belief is factual.

            That is, one can write a history of belief - other people's belief - without
            engaging the question of truth. My trajectory arguments are set in that
            context. They do not address the question of truth, they only attempt to
            document belief. They find that belief was not constant during the Early
            Christian years, but on the contrary, that it evolved in quite definitive
            ways - ways that turn out to be familiar from the history of other
            movements, both sacred and secular.

            Is the idea of the evolution of belief itself outrageous? To some,
            undoubtedly so. But not, let us note, to the Evangelists. On the contrary,
            Mark does not claim that anyone alive in Jesus's time believed what Mark
            himself thought was correct doctrine. Neither does Luke; he explicitly
            portrays Jesus's followers as believing in something quite different, and in
            Luke's view, something wrong ("We thought he was the one to redeem Israel").
            Correct belief only occurred, as they describe it, after Jesus's
            resurrection. Which is pretty logical when you think of it, since how can
            you believe in someone's resurrection until they have in fact died and
            returned to life? Anyway, my authorities here are Mark and Luke. Both of
            them, and most insistently Mark, are explicit that the disciples *didn't get
            it,* that their *hearts were hardened,* that they *did not understand,* and
            so on through all the other familiar phrases. Should we not pay attention to
            what these two early writers are trying to convey to us?

            I think we should. If we do, if we take them seriously, then it seems to me
            that we inevitably arrive at the impression that Christian belief evolved.

            If belief has a history, and both Mark and Luke go out of their way to tell
            us that it does, I think nothing else is required to make the effort to
            recover that belief history a valid historical project.

            Here is an example from a secular tradition in a far place. In writing a
            book about Confucius (which is one of the things I am up to these days), I
            need to take note of the fact that about a generation after Confucius's
            death, his death rather than his words during his life came to be of great
            interest to his followers. (This should in turn be of interest to the Q
            people, since in effect they hold that the records of Jesus's life are
            earlier than the records of his death, but so far my red Q phone has not
            been ringing; I guess you win some and you lose some). After another couple
            centuries, the circumstances of Confucius's birth got to be of interest
            also, and stories began to circulate about the supernatural conditions
            surrounding his birth and indeed his conception. (His mother is supposed to
            have prayed to a certain mountain; his father, like Joseph in the Cherry
            Tree Carol, was "an old man"). And so on.

            It's of no consequence to me as I write the book whether Confucius's mother
            *had* in fact prayed to the mountain after which Confucius was named; I
            merely treat it as one of things that are very likely to crop up when a
            culture focuses intensely on the ongoing image of one person.
            Religionsgeschichte, if you like, except that it is a wider Geschichte than
            just Religions. Just plain vanilla Geschichte. So, looking at it in a large
            way, under the new Empire, which claimed supernatural sanctions for itself,
            Confucius the emblem of Chinese culture (as he had become) also acquired
            supernatural sanctions. It all seems very logical and orderly. Whether
            Confucius's birth had something to do with a magic mountain, or for that
            matter, whether the Han Dynasty founders went back lineally to the Yellow
            Emperor (or whether the Yellow Emperor even existed), are not questions that
            the inquiry, as such, has to address. We just put down what people thought
            was true (and we allow those who thought otherwise to speak also). And we
            are done.

            So going back to the question of whether the Trajectory Arguments fail, I
            would say it depends, not on whether we think the particular tenets
            comprising the trajectory are true, but on whether people actually held
            them, or developed them, in that particular historical sequence. That is a
            question of evidence about other people's faith, it has nothing to do with
            any faith that the discussion participants may happen to have, and thus it
            remains within the realm of the discussible.

            Or so it looks from here.

            Bruce
          • E Bruce Brooks
            To: Synoptic Cc: GPG In Response To: Leonard On: Synoptic Theory From: Bruce I will go back to the trajectory argument presently. Meanwhile, one point or two
            Message 5 of 9 , Jun 12, 2008
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              To: Synoptic
              Cc: GPG
              In Response To: Leonard
              On: Synoptic Theory
              From: Bruce

              I will go back to the trajectory argument presently. Meanwhile, one point or
              two from Leonard's latest:

              Leonard: Bruce again misunderstands my position, which, again, would be
              clear -- I hope -- to one who has been following the discussions on
              Synoptic-L for a number of years. (I think there must have been a hiatus in
              Bruce's attention to this list, apparently corresponding to my most vocal
              moments in developing the [experimental] methodology I am advocating).

              Bruce: Leonard's preferred methodology remains in the dark for me, except
              that I am getting the impression that it is probably not macro. Give me a
              reference, say a date, and I will be glad to dig out that message and reply
              to it, or re-reply to it. (I seem to have already replied to at least one of
              Leonard's relevant messages that a recent search of the Synoptic archive
              turned up).

              Leonard: I don't believe my comment about Markan priorists and their
              presuppositions when commenting on individual Gospel pericopes is dismissive
              in the least. It is simply factual, and virtually impossible to deny.
              Whatever arguments they may have that convince them of Markan priority are
              not supplied to their readers in the context of their discussion of
              particular texts; instead, Markan priority is simply assumed, usually as
              something quite indistinguishable from dogma.

              Bruce: Here we go again. The statement is that Markan priority rests on no
              arguments which those who hold it are prepared to share with others with
              reference to particular texts, and is simply a matter of dogmatic
              assumption. This I deny. Is the Gospel of Mark a "particular text?" The
              Gospel of John? I would think so. Or take Dave G for example, who has
              recently supplied a statistical argument. He may be right or he may be
              wrong, but I don't think it clears the air to call it dogma.

              What matters is not how people hold a view, or why, but whether that view is
              evidentially supported.

              Bruce

              E Bruce Brooks
              Warring States Project
              University of Massachusetts at Amherst
            • gentile_dave@emc.com
              Bruce: Fails? MY argument fails? Surely you jest. Let me sneak up on it this way. I would agree in this way with Dave: I think the hot button area lies in the
              Message 6 of 9 , Jun 12, 2008
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                Bruce: Fails? MY argument fails? Surely you jest. Let me sneak up on it
                this
                way.

                I would agree in this way with Dave: I think the hot button area lies in
                the
                question of whether a given miracle is true. Did Satan show Jesus all
                the
                kingdoms of the world? Was Jesus himself conceived by the Holy Spirit?
                Did
                Peter, however briefly, walk on the water? Once we get onto those
                questions,
                the discussion splits into two corners. The *discussion* fails.

                Dave: O.K., I'll buy that.

                But my point is just this - If the miracles attributed to Jesus were
                actually empirical facts to those around him, then we might expect that
                belief in them would be the strongest among those in direct contact with
                him and that that belief would fade with distance, he would appear less
                miraculous and less exceptional with time. This turns the trajectory on
                its head.



                If, on the other hand, those miracles did not take place, the gradual
                emergence of more and more elaborate fictions, over time, seems likely.



                Bruce:

                Anyway, my authorities here are Mark and Luke. Both of
                them, and most insistently Mark, are explicit that the disciples *didn't
                get
                it,* that their *hearts were hardened,* that they *did not understand,*
                and
                so on through all the other familiar phrases. Should we not pay
                attention to
                what these two early writers are trying to convey to us?



                Dave: I agree that this stated unbelief among those closest to him fits
                best with a scenario where the miracles did not occur, and is rather
                inexplicable given that the miracles did occur. (One has much the same
                thought with the Jews wandering in the desert for 40 years, one would
                have thought they'd have gotten the idea after the first miracle or
                two.) However, surely the un-acceptance of a miracle is more explicable
                than the miracle itself (God's ways are mysterious).

                The arguments about how mythology progresses in other cultures is quite
                relevant as well, unless of course Jesus was in a class by himself, in
                which case we have no license for the induction from other cultures.

                I think as you say - the discussion fails at this point.



                Dave Gentile

                Riverside, IL







                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Maluflen@aol.com
                I thank Bruce for his clarifications, and most especially for the magic through which he was able to thoroughly cleanse my scribbling of unwanted question
                Message 7 of 9 , Jun 12, 2008
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                  I thank Bruce for his clarifications, and most especially for the magic through which he was able to thoroughly cleanse my scribbling of unwanted question marks. I wish I had his touch! We still are not quite communicating, however. Let me suggest this as an exercise to make my point. Take, say, the commentary of Robert Gundry on the Gospel of Matthew; open at random to any page; read the way he comments the text in question. Then ask yourself: has said author produced evidence in this passage for the priority of Mark, or has he simply assumed it as a valid starting point for commenting this particular passage? I think my point will be made, though I will admit that Gundry is perhaps an extreme case. But note: I am talking primarily about people who have published commentaries on Gospel texts, which excludes, as directly targeted by my comments,?many, if not most of the contributors to this list.

                  As to your request about referencing archived materials, I am not?very competent in this area.?Also, it is perhaps the case that I never did explain my methodological suggestion in significantly greater detail than I devoted to it in my last couple of posts. The point, however, is simple. Previously I have described my recommended methodology as a more "empirical" approach to developing a Synoptic source theory. I do not intend to imply?by this?that more usual approaches lack empirical data altogether. Clearly they do not. But my method?is designed to cumulatively?build?a case for one or another Synoptic source theory in a more consistently empirical manner, by comparison to most.

                  Thanks to Dave also for his comments and questions. I have a rush translation job to get to now (for the CBF Plenary in Dar es Salaam), so I don't have time to answer his specific points at this time. Also, he typically?loses me when?he enters the rarified realms of higher statistics.

                  Leonard Maluf
                  Blessed John XXIII National Seminary
                  Weston, MA


                  -----Original Message-----
                  From: E Bruce Brooks <brooks@...>
                  To: synoptic@yahoogroups.com
                  Cc: gpg@yahoogroups.com
                  Sent: Thu, 12 Jun 2008 4:13 pm
                  Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] Synoptic Theory



                  To: Synoptic
                  Cc: GPG
                  In Response To: Leonard
                  On: Synoptic Theory
                  From: Bruce

                  I will go back to the trajectory argument presently. Meanwhile, one point or
                  two from Leonard's latest:

                  Leonard: Bruce again misunderstands my position, which, again, would be
                  clear -- I hope -- to one who has been following the discussions on
                  Synoptic-L for a number of years. (I think there must have been a hiatus in
                  Bruce's attention to this list, apparently corresponding to my most vocal
                  moments in developing the [experimental] methodology I am advocating).

                  Bruce: Leonard's preferred methodology remains in the dark for me, except
                  that I am getting the impression that it is probably not macro. Give me a
                  reference, say a date, and I will be glad to dig out that message and reply
                  to it, or re-reply to it. (I seem to have already replied to at least one of
                  Leonard's relevant messages that a recent search of the Synoptic archive
                  turned up).

                  Leonard: I don't believe my comment about Markan priorists and their
                  presuppositions when commenting on individual Gospel pericopes is dismissive
                  in the least. It is simply factual, and virtually impossible to deny.
                  Whatever arguments they may have that convince them of Markan priority are
                  not supplied to their readers in the context of their discussion of
                  particular texts; instead, Markan priority is simply assumed, usually as
                  something quite indistinguishable from dogma.

                  Bruce: Here we go again. The statement is that Markan priority rests on no
                  arguments which those who hold it are prepared to share with others with
                  reference to particular texts, and is simply a matter of dogmatic
                  assumption. This I deny. Is the Gospel of Mark a "particular text?" The
                  Gospel of John? I would think so. Or take Dave G for example, who has
                  recently supplied a statistical argument. He may be right or he may be
                  wrong, but I don't think it clears the air to call it dogma.

                  What matters is not how people hold a view, or why, but whether that view is
                  evidentially supported.

                  Bruce

                  E Bruce Brooks
                  Warring States Project
                  University of Massachusetts at Amherst


                  ------------------------------------

                  Synoptic-L homepage: http://NTGateway.com/synoptic-lYahoo! Groups Links






                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Karel Hanhart
                  ... From: E Bruce Brooks To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com Cc: GPG Sent: Thursday, June 12, 2008 9:17 PM Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] Synoptic Theory Bruce wrote to
                  Message 8 of 9 , Jun 13, 2008
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                    ----- Original Message -----
                    From: E Bruce Brooks
                    To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com
                    Cc: GPG
                    Sent: Thursday, June 12, 2008 9:17 PM
                    Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] Synoptic Theory



                    Bruce wrote to Dave below as follows below. My response to him follow his comments.

                    -------------------------------------
                    Bruce: Fails? MY argument fails? Surely you jest. Let me sneak up on it this
                    way.

                    I would agree in this way with Dave: I think the hot button area lies in the
                    question of whether a given miracle is true. Did Satan show Jesus all the
                    kingdoms of the world? Was Jesus himself conceived by the Holy Spirit? Did
                    Peter, however briefly, walk on the water? Once we get onto those questions,
                    the discussion splits into two corners. The *discussion* fails. (Not, be it noted, my argument, of which more in a moment).

                    What it seems to me is discussible, within the usual limits of historical
                    discussions, is not these questions of truth. Rather, it is questions of
                    fact: whether a given person or group in the past *believed* that one or
                    more of these things were true. Belief itself is a historical fact, whether
                    or not the *content* of that belief is factual.

                    That is, one can write a history of belief - other people's belief - without
                    engaging the question of truth. My trajectory arguments are set in that
                    context. They do not address the question of truth, they only attempt to document belief.

                    ----------------------------------

                    Bruce,

                    I agree with your notion of a trajectory. But I question your equation of miracle narratives and belief therein. An intermediary question is needed before one can make a statement on the belief or faith of an author. Did the author want his readers to take the story to be an event that literally happened - Peter walking on water - or did he want to illustrate with this story the theological meaning of a truly historical event, namely, Peter's having to leave Jerusalem in exile to preach the good news also to Gentiles?

                    Thus the Gospel writers claim Jesus not only taught the Torah to the Judean people (the feeding of the 5000) but - via the apostles - historically also to the Gentiles (the feeding of the 4000) etc. In Mark these miracle stories always contain a reference, often by means of a hapax, to the Septuagint. In other words the initiated Judean members of the ecclesia would recognize the passage in Tenach and so discover the intent of the miracle story.

                    Jesus' teaching, his didache, and Peter and Paul's preaching to Gentiles etc were to the authors wondrous events. Hence the question is, what Truth did the authors want to convey, if they didnot mean these stories to be taken literally?

                    Therefore the question is NOT "whether a given person or group in the past *believed* that one or
                    more of these things were true", but what truth the author wanted his readers to convey, while making sure they would be able to understand the wondrous narrative without having to interpret them literally in terms of magic.

                    cordially,



                    Karel


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                  • Karel Hanhart
                    Oops, My contribution was sent off before I had time to sign it properly. Karel Hanhart, former prof. NT Dubuque Theological Seminary. ... From: Karel Hanhart
                    Message 9 of 9 , Jun 13, 2008
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                      Oops, My contribution was sent off before I had time to sign it properly. Karel Hanhart, former prof. NT Dubuque Theological Seminary.

                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: Karel Hanhart
                      To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com ; E Bruce Brooks
                      Cc: GPG
                      Sent: Friday, June 13, 2008 1:14 PM
                      Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] Synoptic Theory




                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: E Bruce Brooks
                      To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com
                      Cc: GPG
                      Sent: Thursday, June 12, 2008 9:17 PM
                      Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] Synoptic Theory



                      Bruce wrote to Dave below as follows below. My response to him follow his comments.

                      -------------------------------------
                      Bruce: Fails? MY argument fails? Surely you jest. Let me sneak up on it this
                      way.

                      I would agree in this way with Dave: I think the hot button area lies in the
                      question of whether a given miracle is true. Did Satan show Jesus all the
                      kingdoms of the world? Was Jesus himself conceived by the Holy Spirit? Did
                      Peter, however briefly, walk on the water? Once we get onto those questions,
                      the discussion splits into two corners. The *discussion* fails. (Not, be it noted, my argument, of which more in a moment).

                      What it seems to me is discussible, within the usual limits of historical
                      discussions, is not these questions of truth. Rather, it is questions of
                      fact: whether a given person or group in the past *believed* that one or
                      more of these things were true. Belief itself is a historical fact, whether
                      or not the *content* of that belief is factual.

                      That is, one can write a history of belief - other people's belief - without
                      engaging the question of truth. My trajectory arguments are set in that
                      context. They do not address the question of truth, they only attempt to document belief.

                      ----------------------------------

                      Bruce,

                      I agree with your notion of a trajectory. But I question your equation of miracle narratives and belief therein. An intermediary question is needed before one can make a statement on the belief or faith of an author. Did the author want his readers to take the story to be an event that literally happened - Peter walking on water - or did he want to illustrate with this story the theological meaning of a truly historical event, namely, Peter's having to leave Jerusalem in exile to preach the good news also to Gentiles?

                      Thus the Gospel writers claim Jesus not only taught the Torah to the Judean people (the feeding of the 5000) but - via the apostles - historically also to the Gentiles (the feeding of the 4000) etc. In Mark these miracle stories always contain a reference, often by means of a hapax, to the Septuagint. In other words the initiated Judean members of the ecclesia would recognize the passage in Tenach and so discover the intent of the miracle story.

                      Jesus' teaching, his didache, and Peter and Paul's preaching to Gentiles etc were to the authors wondrous events. Hence the question is, what Truth did the authors want to convey, if they didnot mean these stories to be taken literally?

                      Therefore the question is NOT "whether a given person or group in the past *believed* that one or
                      more of these things were true", but what truth the author wanted his readers to convey, while making sure they would be able to understand the wondrous narrative without having to interpret them literally in terms of magic.

                      cordially,



                      Karel


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