- Bruce, By synoptic process, I simply mean an author submitting himself to the compostional constraints demonstrated by Mt, Mk and Lk, rather than the freeMessage 1 of 54 , Jun 2, 2009View SourceBruce,
By synoptic process, I simply mean an author submitting himself to the compostional constraints demonstrated by Mt, Mk and Lk, rather than the free composition of, say, John. I believe that Mt and Lk would also fall short of your stated desires for Mk, simply because of the way those chose to composes their books. Was what I was sayin'.
--- On Tue, 6/2/09, E Bruce Brooks <brooks@...> wrote:
From: E Bruce Brooks <brooks@...>
Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] The Time Depth of Mark
Cc: "WSW" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "GPG" <email@example.com>
Date: Tuesday, June 2, 2009, 2:18 PM
Cc: WSW, GPG
In Response To: Chuck Jones
On: The Time Depth of Mark
Chuck made what to me are some curious responses to my criteria for being
convinced that Mark was actually a single-author, one-time, composition. I
won't repeat the criteria here. But here are my responses to the responses.
CHUCK: First, How would time fix these things? If Mk was written in three
days or thirty years, the final editor allowed all of these things to pass.
BRUCE: That the final, public text of Mark contained all the inconsistencies
and signs of accretion and interpolation which I mentioned earlier, is a
necessary assumption. The simple fact that we have them proves that, if
anyone did give the text of Mark a final look before handing it over to
copyists, that person approved them. It says nothing about how those
properties got in there in the first place.
CHUCK: Second, in the manuscript record we have available to us, NT
scriptures tend to get better over time rather than worse, scribes notice
things such as you have observed and "fix" them.
BRUCE: No, they don't. In the first place, they don't because in this case
they didn't - there the phenomena still are. More generally, scribal changes
are of two types: inadvertent (leading to error, and thus to a worse text,
not a better text) and intentional (leading to what the scribe thinks is a
better text, though all modern critics from Metzger on down fervently wish
they had left the text alone). But the range of scribal ambition in the
latter category is spatially limited: it rarely goes beyond a single word or
line - the thing under the pen at that moment. It does not produce general
rewrites, or large-scale rearrangements, or comprehensive reorganization of
the entire material. It does not generate a competing set of beginning,
middle, and end signals in the text, and it does not recast or supplement
the theology of the text. That sort of thing takes a stronger hand of a
different kind; in fact, it takes a Matthew or a Luke, both of whom
practiced just that kind of restorative surgery on Mark.
Or a Mark, coming back to his own previous script after a few months. Did
you ever look at a paper you had written two years ago? I did, last night,
with the result that I sat up the rest of the night and into the morning
expanding it at various places. It is now much more wonderful than it was,
and it is also three pages longer. Whether I will continue to think well of
it when it comes out, about a year from now, I don't know. What I do know is
that it will then be too late to fix it. Right now, though, it is still
mine, and it is still fluid, and if in investigating something else in the
next couple of months I come up with a relevant point, back I will go to the
computer to insert into the old paper that new datum, or that changed
interpretation. That paper is still, potentially, in its accretion phase.
Even though a few colleagues in a small discussion group have seen it in its
previous form. The preliminary draft, the thing circulated in a limited way
while it is still not yet final, does not fix the text, nor does it cancel
its essentially accretional nature.
Scribal corruption, even when correctly understood, is relevant at many
points, chiefly small points, but it is not a complete or an adequate model
for what happens to a a text during its formative period. The hand on the
pen, and the nature of the manuscript before the eye, and above all the
degree of proprietorship between the two, are different in important ways.
CHUCK: Third, I'm not sure the synoptic process could produce the sort of
document you describe.
BRUCE: What is this "synoptic process?" I never heard of it, and I can't
imagine what it might be. The only outside process I know of, that produces
these or any other documents, is the historical process. All texts,
including Chuck's question and this present reply, come out of the
background historical process, or more exactly, the foreground eddy of that
process that happens to be near our particular part of the shore, and
lapping at our feet.
As it might affect Pastor Mark, that process might take the form of a wish
by his parishioners to know about Jesus, and why he died. So Pastor M puts
together what he knows or has heard, and the resulting story turns out to be
popular with them, and he reads it to them now and then (it takes about 20
minutes, so no great problem finding an opportunity to do this).
Then time goes on, and one of the parishioners, or some theologian somewhere
else, gets a new theory about what the death of Jesus means to us now
(meaning, in the year 31), and the old story does not prefigure that, so
Pastor M has two choices, either he can scrap the old story and do a new one
answering that need, or he can go back and write it into the old story. He
happens to do the latter (this choice, I suspect, is largely a matter of
temperament) . Which leads to a few rough spots where he stuck in his new
material, but nobody much is going to mind that. The thing is to have the
story responsive to the current interest with which people come to the
story. So now the old story leads not only to Jesus's death, but the meaning
of that death (as currently understood) for the lives of people now. Fine.
The thing is current again, and readings now take a little longer (say, 25
minutes), but still perfectly manageable. We are back in business.
So it goes. Someone says, Hey, the John Congregation across town has these
nifty fast days, which they got from John himself; why don't we have a
tradition like that in our church? Why didn't Jesus, according to our church
official story (for you see, this is how the folks have come to regard
Pastor M's little composition) , have his disciples observe fasts? Well, says
Pastor Mark, at that time of course they couldn't, but that's a good idea,
and we can now, and suppose we do it on these two days of the week . . . And
so a convention is born, but it is also clear why the convention is recent,
and did not go back to the Jesus that everyone is familiar with (chiefly
through Pastor M's little composition; these people, most of them, had never
known Jesus themselves). Good. Very satisfactory. And Pastor M goes back to
his study and takes the cover off the typewriter . . .
Just keeping up in this way, with the latest audience request, or collective
psychological crisis, or legendary story coming in from the outside (like
Oscar Wilde's tarted-up version of the death of John), keeps Pastor M and
his typewriter occupied, off and on, now and then, for at least a decade.
His personal text, from which he continues to read to his flock from time to
time, is now almost an hour long. It has rough spots, but these are the
price of updating his text without beginning it all over again. It is a
perfectly OK tradeoff. And knowledge of the existence of Pastor M's story
has begun to spread across town, and some members of those meetings, maybe
even a Johnite or two, may drop in of an evening, when it is known that
Pastor M may be reading from his now rather good-sized book . . .
This is the sort of dynamic which every growth text (accretional subtype)
displays. The text does not grow of its own volition, but in response to
pressure from events. The choice, for Pastor M's text, if we may personalize
it for a moment, is either staying still and gradually becoming obsolete, or
adding to itself and remaining current and vital.
It is a universal phenomenon. It does not stop operating at the borders of
Israel, or even Syria. It extends wherever the camels carry the caravan
traffic. Including all the way to the eastern terminus of that trade.
I am accordingly reminded of the Chi statecraft theorists at the end of the
04th century. They had had the ear of the previous King of Chi, but that was
then (up to 0320), and now is now (from 0319), and there are new
intellectual fads in Chi, including a notion that cosmology is somehow
determinative for events on earth, and the new kids in town (the team
working at this huge and literarily attractive text the Dzwo Jwan) are
picking up on those theories in a big way, and they also have the ear of
someone who has the ear of the Chi King, and the Chi oldtimers feel a need
to do something in that direction to get on the bandwagon (or to keep their
place on the bandwagon - the favor of kinds is such a fleeting thing) with a
treatment of that subject in their own text. So they do a little essay on
the way in which earthly tasks (planting and weaving and hoeing and
ditching) should be optimally matched to the seasonal cycle - these Gwandz
theorists, as we call them in the Sinological trade, were always very
mindful of the agricultural basis of state power - and that separate essay
becomes, not a chapter in a larger book, but a file in a larger archive. And
the Gwandz people are back in business, despite the new competition from
Dzou Yen and his hotshot rocket scientists from the other part of the city,
and the Dzwo Jwan rivals, those skunks from Lu next door, who really ought
to have stayed back home where they belonged . . .
The Gwandz people kept this up, all told, for about two centuries,
continually playing the fads of others and developing their own ideas; they
ended up in the Han dynasty doing the kind of market manipulation theory
(now it is the price of grain, no longer the production of grain, which
concerns them) that modern Wall Streeters would instantly recognize as their
In parallel with them, the followers of the sub-elite leader Mwodz also
continued also to turn out essays and to add them to the institutional home
file (we possess that file, minus a few regrettable losses in storage) -
essays not only on morality as applied to statecraft, but from a later
period, on statecraft as operating relatively free of morality, on the rules
for making a sound statement and inferring something from it, and on the
technique for defending a city against enemy besiegers - quite a varied
range of topics. The Micians too eventually accumulated a huge file of
material, covering more than two centuries.
By comparison to these gargantuan projects, the little 15-year span
subtended by Pastor M's authority document is just a puff of smoke. But it
and all other texts of that general type are the same in this: they are at
bottom an answer to the question of continuing institutional viability in a
context of outside change.
Whatever isn't growing, wears out.
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Chuck, But there might be something of a common selection factor at work in what Luke would choose to use and what might survive. If Luke thinks a writtenMessage 54 of 54 , Jun 10, 2009View SourceChuck,
But there might be something of a common selection factor at work in what Luke would choose to use and what might survive. If Luke thinks a written account is important enough to copy, then he and others might think this account is worth preserving. On the other hand, if Luke thinks another existing account is trivial nonsense worth ignoring, then others may also be so inclined in which case we are not surprised that it failed to survive 2000 years of history.
So the question is not so much about contemporary accounts. We know for example that some later non-canonical accounts exist, and anybody can take pen to paper and write something, if they are so inclined, at any time. The question is really about accounts that from Luke's point of view are historical or at least of value enough to Luke that he would think them worthy of being copied, but yet are lost to us.
Returning to a point from a previous note:
New jokes are composed everyday. Old ones get passed around, but every so often you hear a new one. Could not the same be true of stories of Jesus? If this were the case the collection would be larger each time someone wrote them down. I think we can see this process at work. Early Mark has a small collection. This collection grows as Mark grows. Down the road we see a larger collection in Matthew, and a little farther along a still larger collection in Luke.
P.S. While I am also enjoying the conversation, I now have actual work to do. Thus at some time soon expect me to either drop out of conversation for awhile, or at least have diminished output
--- In Synoptic@yahoogroups.com, Chuck Jones <chuckjonez@...> wrote:
> I mention Lk's reference to make a single, narrow point. Many accounts existed, new or old. Whether Lk used them or not, almost all of these accounts *did not survive and are no longer extant.* This means that *most* of the written accounts of Jesus did not survive. Which means one is taking no leap at all--quite the opposite--if one concludes there was a Q, or an M source, or an L source, or a Mk source.
> I hope this makes sense.
> Rev. Chuck Jones
> Atlanta, Georgia
> --- On Wed, 6/10/09, Dave Gentile <gentile_dave@...> wrote:
> From: Dave Gentile <gentile_dave@...>
> Subject: [Synoptic-L] Re: The Time Depth of Mark
> To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com
> Date: Wednesday, June 10, 2009, 12:26 PM
> Chuck wrote: Also, separately, how do you square your model with Lk's own mention that many have produced written accounts of Jesus? His comment has been, in fact, fundamental to me in my thinking on this stuff.
> Dave: I think the question of how many accounts Luke is aware of and how many accounts Luke thinks are wroth considering enough to copy are two separate questions. If Luke thinks the guy in the rival congregation in the next town just wrote a gospel yesterday, this will count towards those "many" who have undertaken this but won't count as a written source for Luke.
> I see this in his attitude towards Matthew and Mark. He sees Mark as an old source that has been around for awhile and he will largely copy it. Matthew? Well, that's a newcomer on the scene. He would not even bother with it except for the fact that it has a claim to a providence of an interview with the disciple Matthew. Thus the gospel of Matthew will be worth extracting things from, but not copying. The proto-John guys who just wrote their gospel yesterday? They will be ignored.
> At least that would be my account of Luke's environment and thought process.
> Dave Gentile
> Riverside, IL
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]