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Authorial Luke [L1]

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: GPG Cc: Synoptic, WSW On: Authorial Luke [L1] From: Bruce Ma Gwo-han (1794-1857) is known to Sinologists for recovering lost texts from quotations in later
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 6, 2009
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      To: GPG
      Cc: Synoptic, WSW
      On: Authorial Luke [L1]
      From: Bruce

      Ma Gwo-han (1794-1857) is known to Sinologists for recovering lost texts
      from quotations in later works. One series of his labors in that direction
      is titled Mu-gvng, "Ploughing with the Eye." I wince whenever I see that
      label, since I know a little about that sort of thing, and equally do I
      wince when I contemplate the humongous amount of work, and the stupefying
      amount of checking of work, that went into the composition and printing of
      William Farmer's Synopticon (Cambridge 1969). It seems a shame to let all
      that go to waste, and I propose, in this and any following notes,
      distinguished for my own convenience by a bracketed [L], to survey, with
      Farmer's aid, the seeming authorial practice of Luke vis-a-vis his
      presumptive precursors Mark and/or Matthew.

      In three separate texts of the Synoptics in Greek, Farmer marks for us, by
      different colors, the words which occur identically or nearly identically in
      the respective parallel passages. Such a survey misses things like a
      narratively similar but verbally rewritten parallel, which in its way would
      be just as indebted to the previous text as would one which preserved more
      of that text's wording. But as I remarked to the Leiden 2003 audience, when
      an analogous question came up: In this area, nothing works perfectly, but
      everything works a little bit. And (I will here add), even a little bit can
      be useful. So anything we may gain from the present exercise will be
      suggestive rather than definitive, but it will be good that the suggestion
      is at least coming from the material itself, rather than from anyone's
      imagination or expectation about the material.

      If one flips the pages of the Synopticon in its third or Lukan segment, not
      reading the words but simply taking in the color coding as it goes by in a
      blur, one is immediately struck by the unevenness of the color texture. Some
      areas are wholly plain (Luke is here seemingly relying, at least for his
      vocabulary, on no one but himself), some are studded with magenta (Luke
      overlaps extensively in wording with Matthew) or blue (the overlap words are
      found in both Mark and Matthew). Sometimes there are words shared only with
      Mark (green). One knowledgeable in previous Synoptic theories will say, Aha,
      the magenta passages are Q, and the plain ones are L. Maybe. I do not draw
      that conclusion, nor do I, at the outset, even acknowledge those terms. I
      just watch the colors. If in the process I wind up reinstating the concepts
      "Q" and/or "L," their present adherents will be welcome to that finding. It
      will be an independent one, and thus perhaps of some use to them.

      I distinguish words and passages in Lk thus: (1) those with no Synoptic
      parallels I will label as L, meaning Luke alone (and without prejudice
      either way to the theory going under that label); (2) those with a
      significant number of parallels to Matthew I will label as T (letter "M"
      being undistinctive), and (3) ditto with Mark, as K. If the parallel words
      are found in both Matthew and Mark, I will label as B ("both"). And if the
      passage is mostly L with a trace or two of Mark or Matthew, I will add the
      second fact as a small letter following the first, thus: Lk or Lt (and
      mutatis mutandis). A passage with a jumble of colors I will, in this first
      round, label as X and pass on. Perhaps to return.

      I will define passages to the nearest whole verse (except where an a/b
      division is sanctioned by previous usage), going by color and not by the
      divisions in any previous Synopsis (Farmer himself makes no such divisions,
      but prints his text continuously, save for an occasional paragraph indent,
      and without labels or subheads of any sort). I here intend to let the
      pattern of overlap or no overlap help to determine the unit boundaries.

      [I may say in advance that the passages in Luke where the echoes are to
      words distinctive to Mark and not also occurring in Matthew, that is, the
      passages distinguished in Farmer by significant green, are very few in Luke,
      but they are not altogether absent. But for them, we might be tempted to
      conclude from the color pattern alone that Luke knew Mark only via Matthew,
      and not directly. The green passages (on the most natural inference from the
      composition order) are presumptively those where Luke intentionally includes
      something in Mark that Matthew had previously omitted, or overrules Matthew
      by preferring a Markan wording that Matthew had abandoned. The existence of
      such passages, together with the far more frequent ones where Matthew (on
      our initial assumptions) is the only available extant source, does something
      to document the trait I have previously referred to: Luke's admiration but
      also his enviousness of Matthew's achievement, and his determination to do
      better (including, to do better by Mark) than Matthew had done. This
      "envious Luke" inference is to me obvious from any close study of the
      dictional interrelationships, but it has nevertheless been systematically
      ignored by analysts from Streeter to Tuckett inclusive, all of whom prefer
      to characterize the behavior of Luke as that of a madman or a crank, and to
      dismiss accordingly, as irrational, the hypothesis that Luke knew Matthew. I
      think the huge swaths of magenta in Farmer's Synopsis make that hypothesis
      difficult in the extreme. Luke's apparent sentiments toward Matthew may not
      be humanly edifying, but they are far from analytically unintelligible. This
      much by way of preview on a matter of some general interest, which otherwise
      would not emerge until much later in the present study, and we may in fact
      never get that far at all].

      It would be possible to run this test without any other assumptions, and it
      might be interesting to do so. Time being limited, and previous Trajectory
      arguments being to my mind convincing, I will here take as securely
      established the general composition sequence Mk > Mt > Lk > Jn (having
      regard to final states, where evidence suggests that a text went through
      more than one compositional state). It thus becomes a first presumption that
      where Lk overlaps with a Mt passage, he has that passage in view, whether by
      eye or by memory or by some other device. That presumption will be promptly
      tested by actually reading the text; apparent failures of presumption will
      be duly noted and alternative scenarios proposed. It is at this level that
      we will pick up any local directionalities of material that may complicate
      the large overall directionality defined by the Trajectory arguments.

      I will also briefly notice, as I go, the conclusions of Goulder on some of
      the same material.

      LUKE 1

      This chapter is blessedly simple to report.

      1:1-4 (L). Prologue
      1:5-25 (L). Promise of John's Birth
      1:26-35 (Lt). Announcement to Mary
      1:36-80. (L). Birth of John

      As we should expect, the personal statement in the Prologue is without echo
      in another Synoptic. So is the entire remainder of the chapter, which
      largely concerns the story of the Birth of John the Baptist (told only in
      Luke), save only for a segment devoted to the Annunciation to Mary. This
      part alone has a Matthean parallel. This, in general narrative terms, we
      already knew. What Farmer tells us, in addition, is that this part alone has
      verbal echoes in Matthew. The color test in fact nicely separates the
      Annunciation to Mary about Jesus (1:26-35) from the Annunciation to Mary
      about John (1:36-38), which has no Matthean echoes, but which is grouped by
      Huck with the preceding. Narratively, that is reasonable. Analytically, it
      is not the whole story.

      I conclude that this chapter is largely free invention by Luke, but with the
      Matthean Birth Narrative in mind, and in fact using some wording from that
      narrative in the section, and only the section, where Luke's topic comes to
      overlap one which is present in the Matthean prototype. Luke is thus not
      composing word by word, with his nose about half an inch above the paper,
      and on the other hand he has not dissolved the Matthean vocabulary into his
      own, and applied it indiscriminately to everything he writes, whether with
      or without a specific Matthean narrative prototype. The position is rather
      middling: Luke has the Matthean prototype largely in view, but confines it
      to those segments of it which he directly parallels. Luke has probably
      blocked out his groundplan before picking up his pen, but he knows which
      parts of the groundplan are reworked Matthew, and which are his own to do
      with as he likes.


      Is the color marking real? Or to put the question in a form in which it can
      be answered, How consequential are the verbal echoes? Here is a translation,
      with the Farmer links in CAPS; what he calls "incomplete" or inflectionally
      inexact agreements are further marked by (PARENTHESES).

      1:26. Now in the sixth month there was sent the ANGEL Gabriel from God to a
      city of Galilee called Nazareth, [27] to a virgin who was engaged to a man
      named JOSEPH of the house of DAVID, and the name of the virgin was (MARY).
      [28] And having approached her, he said, Hail, you who have been favored,
      the Lord is with you. [29] But she at this message was greatly perplexed,
      and pondered what might be the meaning of this greeting. [30] And said the
      angel to her, DO NOT (FEAR), Mary, for you have found favor with God. [31]
      And BEHOLD, you will conceive IN YOUR WOMB and (WILL BEAR) A SON, AND YOU
      WILL CALL HIS NAME JESUS. [32] He will be great, and will be called the Son
      of the Most High, and God will give him the throne of David his father, [33]
      and he will rule over the house of Jacob unto the ages, and of his kingdom
      there shall be no end. [34] But said Mary to the angel, How will this be,
      since (I KNOW NOT) a man? [35] And in answer the angel said to her, the
      (HOLY SPIRIT) will come upon you,and the power of the Most High will
      overshadow you. Therefore also THE (ONE TO BE BORN) will be called holy, the
      Son of God.

      The echoes seem to be largely substantive rather than trivial; that is, they
      are not merely grammatical operators. To be sure, it is not altogether easy
      to see how this story could be told without some of these words, eg Mary,
      Jesus, etc. But others, eg "in your womb," "I know not," "Holy Spirit" are
      somewhat less inevitable. We may provisionally take the echoes as real
      rather than coincidental.


      Luke is here adding a Birth of John story, entirely his own invention, as a
      supplement to the mere Birth of Jesus story which occupied the corresponding
      space in Matthew. The effects of the addition are two: (1) To make the
      miraculousness of Jesus that much more apparent, by making Jesus's Markan
      precursor also miraculous, and (2) to get in some most elegant prose of his
      own, both additions serving to entirely outclass, in theological
      magnificence and in literary quality, the after all paltry effort of his
      precursor, the admired and also hated Matthew. "This, my young friend, is
      how one writes a Gospel." The aggrandization of Jesus which is the major
      purpose of this chapter to expound is itself part of a larger Trajectory
      argument, which was previously relied on to place Luke as subsequent to
      Matthew. If (as some think) there was a previous compositional state of
      Luke (Luke A), and if that state was written previous to Luke's acquaintance
      with Matthew (as has been conjectured), it follows that this chapter was not
      part of Luke A, but must instead belong to Luke B.


      Notes that Lk has Mt generally available to him in this section. He groups
      1:26-56 together under the rubric "The Annunciation of Jesus' Conception."
      He does not seem to notice that verbally close echoes of Mt are confined to
      the 1:26-32 segment of that division, and I offer that as a new datum.
      Goulder concentrates on the OT sources for Lk 1, which is a different and
      important aspect of Lukan authorship, not considered in the present notes.

      I would say that the two analyses nowhere contradict each other, and that
      each indeed complements the other.


      [E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts]
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