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1Co Interpolations and Directionality (Mark/Paul, Junia)

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: GPG Cc: WSW; Synoptic On: 1Co Interpolations and Directionality From: Bruce Part of the standard drill for studying a text is to see if it contains
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 8, 2008
      To: GPG
      Cc: WSW; Synoptic
      On: 1Co Interpolations and Directionality
      From: Bruce

      Part of the standard drill for studying a text is to see if it contains
      internal contradictions, and then to determine if possible which end of the
      contradiction is extraneous, or which is later than the other (temporal
      directionality). This is sometimes not difficult technically with the
      Gospels, but the Gospels tend to be held inviolable by those studying them,
      whereas, for instance, no one has ever objected, or at least not with
      notable emotional fervor, to the many consecutive stages of composition
      which are lightly proposed for the hypothetical Q. As a middle ground,
      dangerous but perhaps negotiable, and merely as technical practice in a
      Synoptically relevant skill, it might be useful to look for a moment at a
      couple examples from the Pauline Epistles. I take as a relatively agreed
      zone two passages from 1 Corinthians as summarized by Schnelle, and ask what
      we can learn from them as to standard procedure, the better to confirm our
      technical repertoire before applying it to the more vigorously defended

      The way the Pauline Epistles came together is interesting in itself, and it
      is also important for the dating of ideas of Paul (including some NOT held
      by Paul). For that moral, see below.

      Schnelle concludes that the following are later interpolations in 1Co:

      6:14, which contradicts 15:51. The former says that "we" (including Paul)
      will die before the Coming of Jesus; the latter includes Paul among those
      who will live to see that event. Paul probably did not hold both opinions at
      the same time.

      11:5, while requiring women to be veiled in public, presupposes the
      participation of women in prayer and prophecy; 14:33b-36 requires them to be
      silent. Paul can think what he wants to on the subject, but presumably he
      will not recommend two opposite things to the same people in the same

      From these irreconcilable contradictions we will come to suspect that one of
      each pair originally belonged in the letter, and that the other is
      intrusive. How can we decide which of each pair is intrusive? By imagining
      how we think Paul thought, and rejecting the other one? No, that it what is
      called subjective. There must be a reason in the text, or in its external
      history, or both, that supports one option over the other. Or else we shrug
      off the problem as practicably insoluble.

      (a) 6:14. [Internal]. It has been noticed by some commentators (eg Fee) that
      6:13-14 are seemingly a digression in context; the theme of "harlotry" is
      more consecutively developed if they are removed. They can be brought into
      line by subtle analysis (Fee p253f), but there is a point at which subtle
      analysis begins to presuppose a different sort of reader than it may be
      altogether plausible to posit for this letter. In 15:51, Paul labors to
      define the physicality of the expected "resurrection body," to avoid
      characterizing it as either a spook or a corpse, but not inconsecutively,
      and Fee (for example) does not feel a need to resort to close explication of
      this or any other part of the sequence 15:25-58. On the contrary, in his
      view the argument "shows continuous development in its line of thought."
      Then of the two, 6:14 (or perhaps 6:13-14) would seem to be less secure
      textually, and thus the more likely candidate for interpolation.

      [External] There are no manuscript variants, especially omissions, that
      might make things plain for us. But Paul was executed at Rome in 62, and
      thus did not in fact live to see the Second Coming, which as of the present
      date appears to be still delayed, at least in the form described by Paul
      himself. The addition of a passage implying that Paul expected this outcome
      would have been a reasonable improvement in the text, which might otherwise
      be read so as to make his expectation appear erroneous.

      (b) 14:33b-36. [Internal]. This passage interrupts a discourse on prophecy,
      which is more consecutive without it; it is thus probably intrusive. This
      would be the case, on this evidence alone, even if our attention had not
      been drawn to the passage by the contradiction elsewhere in 1Co. Was there a
      logic for its being put just here? Yes, the word SIGAW "to be silent" is a
      possible link: if someone wanted to insert a rule against women prophesying
      in public, this might seem a logical place. We find similar
      interpolation-justifying keyword links in some of the Analects
      interpolations, including the infamously Sywndzian LY 13:3. These people
      were on the whole not fools; they tried at least some of the time to give
      their interpolations a literarily cogent character. For 1Co 11:5, there is
      no obvious sign of intrusion; the surrounding material reads consecutively
      with 11:5 in place. Then it is 14:33b-36 which is likely to be the

      [External]. The silencing of women is also recommended in the post-Pauline
      epistle 1 Timothy 2:11f, in somewhat similar (though not identical)
      language. It would appear that later Pauline tradition had become
      conventional on this point, whereas Paul had allowed a degree of freedom
      greater than did contemporary society. We may also note Eldon Epp's recent
      book on Junia, the female apostle who was later recast as a male person, and
      probably for analogous reasons, as an independent example of this same
      trend. Eldon discusses this 1Co passage on p16-17; he notes in conclusion
      that of three passages supposed to sanction the silencing of women, 1 Tm
      2:11f is late, 1Co 14: 33bf is an interpolation based on it, and his book
      itself deals with the third, Rm 16:7 (80f).

      An important part of the external evidence is the fact that a certain group
      of texts (Codex Bezae and other Western witnesses) locate this segment at a
      different place in the chapter. The fact that the position of the piece is
      not agreed among the manuscript witnesses surely weakens the case for its
      belonging to the Epistle. at all. Bezae puts the passage in question not as
      in our standard text, but a little further on, at the end of the chapter,
      where it reads like an afterthought on the same subject; the Moffatt
      commentary relocates it in that position.


      Can we say which of these positions is earlier than the other? To my eye,
      not immediately. I noted the keyword link as part of the probable logic for
      its position in the Vaticanus text stream; on the other hand, and in
      general, the most natural position for an interpolation is at the end of a
      unit such as a chapter; there, it functions as an afterthought rather than
      as a linked excursus. With a rationale available for either, we may well
      withhold judgement for the time being.

      My own suspicion would be that the interpolation was originally made at the
      end of the chapter, and then moved to its present position because of the
      attractive keyword link, so as to integrate it more fully into the
      discourse. In support of this possibility is the set of "Western
      Non-Interpolations," actually very early Alexandrian interpolations which
      were made after the ancestor of the "Western" text diverged from the parent
      stream. The parallel would then be: The "Non-Interpolations" are passages
      not originally present (and not in Bezae), but later added to the
      Alexandrian stream. This 1Co passage was originally interpolated at the end
      of the chapter (and so remains in Bezae), but was later relocated in the
      Alexandrian stream.

      I thus take this option as preferable for the time being. The case would be
      still stronger if it were supported by convincing solutions of other
      instances where the same passage is differently placed in a text, the most
      famous of these probably being the Doxology of Romans, previously but not
      conclusively discussed on GPG. I don't undertake to reopen that terribly
      complicated analysis here.


      Both interpolations are updates, one taking account of the fact of Paul's
      death, and the other harmonizing his pronouncements on women to accord with
      what we know was the view of later Pauline tradition. That is, the
      interpolations are not scribal, or random, but connected; they most likely
      proceeded from the Pauline school itself. The latter in particular is
      perhaps more likely at the time when the "Pastoral" Epistles, including 1Tm,
      came to be incorporated into the expanding Pauline corpus. If we had to pick
      a situation for both together (and that is not strictly necessary), then a
      late date within the history of the expansion of the Pauline corpus might be
      the least implausible first guess. The two might have been made
      independently, but that they were both made by people NOT connected with the
      late Pauline tradition, seems considerably less likely.

      All such conclusions are in principle tentative, pending recovery of the
      missing Paul Videotapes. Meanwhile, we might want to keep these conclusions
      on file, to see if any other possible interpolations in the Pauline corpus
      seem to suggest a similar logic.

      And also meanwhile, the list of ideas in Paul for which we might seek
      parallels in Mark or another of the Synoptics, has been reduced by two.
      Every bit, including the removal of any suspect bit, helps.


      So the judgement of what I will here call philology is that both these
      passages do not belong in 1Co, and should be removed by readers who want to
      read 1Co as Paul more probably wrote it. What is our next step? Do we take
      out our hankies and dab our eyes, and snuffle in regret at the loss of these
      beloved lines (memorized since early childhood, and don't think that 6-year
      olds at the other end of the Silk Route failed to memorize the Analects)?
      Get purple in the face and scream and rage at the analysts who are tearing
      the beloved text to pieces, and flinging its bleeding gobbets around the
      stage? Maybe. It's been done. But perhaps a little better would be to
      welcome the chance to get that much closer to the person whose words we
      thought we were reading, and whose thoughts we imagined we were
      apprehending, without being intruded upon, in that task, by people further
      down the timeline, who were concerned to correct Paul in accordance with
      later teachings and situations. And to have a chance of seeing that the fate
      of Junia is not an isolated item, but one of several examples of the same
      tendency in the early Church.

      And the final point to keep in mind is that the removed bits still have
      their place on the timeline, just as the imagined battles of the Dzwo Jwan,
      though they royally mess up military and political history if we credit them
      to the time they purport to reflect, are intensely valuable as witnesses to
      the mind and reflexes of a later age, when warfare had been transformed, and
      political theory was racing to find new modes of accommodation for the
      highly energized conquest agenda which opened up as a real possibility at
      that time, in and around the Battle of Ma-ling (0343), for all the decently
      modernized Sinitic states.

      Every bit of evidence gives us history. But the history which the bits give
      us is incoherent, unless we first get the bits themselves into the right
      chronological order. At that point they come alive. It seems to me that this
      is a point well worth reaching, even if by what some might regard as tedious


      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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