In Response To: Chuck Jones
On: Two in Matthew
CHUCK: Would you agree that Mt was redacting *something* with his "two"s?
BRUCE: As with other NT terms, over the years, I have become leery of the
term "redacting." It seems to mean different things at different moments,
most of them rather modest. That is, "redaction" tends to imply some drudge
in a scriptorium, at most assembling previous material and smoothing seams.
I see Matthew (meaning, aMt) as a thinker and a writer with a grand
conception of Salvation History, eager to recast Mark's then authoritative,
but to him feeble and earthbound, narrative into something with more scope,
sweep, and rigor. He also has his personal literary propensities, among them
a sensitivity to duality (whether reinforcive or oppositional), and these
propensities surface now and again in his final product. They are part of
But is aMt always metabolizing? I would rephrase the question as I
understand it in this way: Do the Matthean TWOs imply that in those
passages, Matthew is always working on prior material? I checked that, as
may be remembered, in
and the result was, not always. At first glance this is disappointing, since
it would be handy to have an instant shortcut for the detection of prior
material, but we have to take what we get. We are lucky to get even that
much; these are difficult areas.
And a disappointing result was only to be expected. There are, in Mencius,
many accounts of and remarks about, the Shang minister Yi Yin. They vary
wildly in their description and in their evaluation. Is there a way to tell,
just by looking at these passages, which are evolved from the historical
original (as it may have been imagined at the time, long after the fact),
and which are relatively close to it? I looked into it, and could only
conclude that the answer there also is No. The form (at least, as far as I
could see) does not supply the aetiology.
I think we can only go case by case, in light of the rest of the evidence as
best we can discern the tendency of that evidence (and this too will be a
changing quantity, as an investigation progresses). It's a lot of work.
However, what I have so far found with work so far done may not be entirely
zero. I find that in his TWO passages, Mt is either (a) dualizing a Markan
Vorlage, or (b) dualizing a proverbial saying of the time, or (c)
emphasizing the TWOness of an intrinsically dual situation, or (d) using
TWOness to point a contrast. TWOness is thus an element of Matthew's
thinking, even when he is thinking on his own. But the first two categories
strongly predominate, and statistically, it does seem clear that aMt is
especially prone to think that way when he is improving on a proverbial or
I think this gets us further inside aMt's head than before. Not by imagining
his mind, which is not directly accessible to us, but by observing his hand.
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst