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Lk 1:5f

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic Cc: GPG (Greek Philology Group) On: Lk 1:5f From: Bruce In some preceding notes I have explored the possibility that inconcinnity arguments are
    Message 1 of 41 , Sep 22, 2005
      To: Synoptic
      Cc: GPG (Greek Philology Group)
      On: Lk 1:5f
      From: Bruce

      In some preceding notes I have explored the possibility that inconcinnity
      arguments are useful in signaling disturbances in texts, and thus useful
      also in recovering at least part of the growth history of those texts. The
      particular type of inconcinnity noticed in previous Lukan notes was the
      unprepared introduction: (1) of Simon (thanks again to Leonard for his
      suggestion that this deserved attention), and (2) of Capernaum. These
      together led to the suggestion that both inconcinnities could be removed,
      and no serious new ones created, by reversing the order of the SIM (calling
      of Simon) and CAP (teaching at Capernaum) modules in Luke. The result of
      this locally motivated reversal was that the order in Luke came to be
      identical with that in the corresponding matter of Mark and Matthew. The
      authorial implication is that Luke, at a stage in its formation anterior to
      that of our canonical text, came to vary from the Mt/Mk order by a positive
      action taken in Luke. I here append a note on a similar case occurring in
      the same Lukan vicinity, and having the same ultimate effect.


      Of equal interest with the unprepared introduction of a person or place, and
      of similar implication as far as text history is concerned, is the later
      ignoring of a previous introduction of a person or place. Both types imply a
      distortion of the original order of presentation. An instance of ignored
      earlier introduction was pointed out by Schmiedel in 1906 (Encyclopedia
      Biblica v3, sv Mary). In Taylor's translation, this runs as follows:

      "Finally, as in the case of Mt, so also in that of Lk, we must conjecture
      that the gospel once was without the first two chapters. Lk's proem (1:1-4)
      speaks in favour of this presumption as do also the facts that the Baptist
      is in 3:2 introduced like a person who has never yet been mentioned, and
      that Jesus at Nazareth (4:16-30) appeals in his own vindication simply to
      his possessing the gift of the Holy Spirit; so also the further fact that
      the Baptist (7:18f) allows the question to be raised whether Jesus be the
      Messiah or not, without knowing anything of the complete information which,
      according to 1:41-45, his mother possessed."

      The latter point might conceivably be dealt with as different levels of
      discourse, and I do not take it up here. The first point, as I think, is
      cogent. Its implication is that the nativity material for both John and
      Jesus in 1:5f is either a later addition altogether (so Schmiedel), or, as
      we found in cases previously examined, a late transfer from an original
      position later in Luke. Against the latter option in the present case are
      the following arguments:

      (1) The literary character of the Lk 1:5f material is preparatory; a
      Prologue in, or determined from, Heaven. Its length, and its narrative
      leisure, are appropriate to that function. One can, I suppose, do anything
      one likes in a flashback, but this material on its face does not have either
      the character of a flashback or the length appropriate to a flashback, that
      is, an excursus in a later segment of the narrative.

      (2) The argument of Usener (Encyclopedia Biblica v3 sv Nativity), again in
      Taylor's translation, and suppressing quoted Greek words:

      "Whilst in Mt the story of the childhood allows itself to be recognized as
      an interpolation by the fact of its being in contradiction with the rest of
      the gospel, in the case of Lk we are able to confirm the results reached by
      criticism by referring to the testimony of the author himself. His appeal to
      those who 'from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word'
      (1:2, cp 1:3) - even apart from the express interpretation of what he means
      by the expressions 'from the beginning and 'from the first' which he gives
      in Acts 1:22 ('beginning from the baptism,' also 10:37 'beginning from
      Galilee, after the baptism which John preached') - would leave no room for
      doubt that Lk [originally] began his gospel with the baptism and preaching
      of John."

      I think that these together make a strong case, and one internal to Luke and
      to the undoubtedly associated Acts (that is, not resting on any
      presuppositions about Synoptic interrelations). Given several points of
      mutual inconsistency, I do not regard Acts as the original second volume of
      Luke, but it is obvious that Acts is associated with Luke, if not vice
      versa, and is aware of Luke (v Acts 1:1), and is thus, at one point in
      time - the moment of its attachment to Luke - a competent witness to Luke.
      The testimony of that witness is that Luke at that time did not contain, or
      at least did not contain in that position, the material which presently
      precedes Lk 3:1.

      4. Was it at that time in a later position? Papias (for what he may be
      worth) faults Mark for not having his material in order. Mark treats the
      imprisonment (and death) of John the Baptist in a flashback; not in
      chronological order. Luke in his prologue announces an intention to tell
      things in order. Consistently with that intention, and whether or not we
      interpret Luke as having the specific Mark in mind, Luke in Lk 3:20 narrates
      the imprisonment of John in direct sequence after John's preaching and his
      criticisms of Herod. (Luke does not mention John's death at all, and thus
      has no parallel to the gaudy segment on that subject in both Mt and Mk; see
      below). The story of John, as far as Luke purposes to tell it, is told in
      one sequence. The next event in his story after the imprisonment of John is
      the beginning of Jesus' ministry. Luke, in his parallel to the Sending of
      the Twelve segment (at 9:7f) notes the feeling of some (in Luke's version,
      not including Herod) that the dead John had risen again.

      It may be noted that a difficulty which is somewhat masked in Mk by the
      gaudy John interruption in the Sending of the Twelve, arises in Lk, which
      has no counterpart to that tale, and whose narrative continues at the point
      where both Mt and Lk return to it. The Lukan version of that inconcinnity

      Lk 9:7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done, and he was
      perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the
      dead, [8] by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the
      old prophets had arisen. [9] Herod said, John I beheaded, but who is this
      about whom I hear such things? And he sought to see him. [10] On their
      return the apostles told him what they had done.

      I noted in an earlier message that the Sending of the Twelve in Mk also
      involves an inconcinnity, since the following passage in Mk implies that
      Jesus's deeds, not those of the Twelve, are being observed and reported. The
      same is true of Lk, with even less continuity:

      Lk: "and sought to see him [Jesus]. / On their [the apostles'] return . . ."

      The lack of continuity, as noted above, is masked in Mk by the sexy and thus
      distracting Seven Veils interlude. In Lk, where no such digression occurs,
      the lack of continuity is more manifest. But ALL the Synoptics have an
      inconcinnity problem at this point. Then that inconcinnity problem is not
      arrived at, in any of the Synoptics, by a change from the procedure of any
      other Synoptic; it is instead common ground to the three. How it arose would
      require a separate investigation, which I do not here undertake.

      In any case, having disposed of the Lukan inconcinnity at Lk 9:10 by noting
      that it is general rather than specific in the Synoptic literature, there is
      no reason to treat it as evidence of material removed from this position in
      Lk. Lacking ground for supposing such a Johannine digression here, and
      noting that there is no other narrative handle readily available on which
      the Lk 1:5f John material, cadencing with John's imprisonment but preceded
      by much more, might readily have been hung by way of flashback (as the
      Matthean nativity material treats its parallel to much of the Lk 1:5f
      material). Then for the moment at least, this relocation alternative seems
      not to offer anything to the investigation. The other alternative, suggested
      by Schmiedel, namely, that the Lk 1:5f material is a later addition in Lk,
      thus seems preferable from this angle as well as those noted above.


      I conclude that Schmiedel/Usener have a case, and that their suggestion best
      accounts for all data so far considered. If so, then at one point (and it
      would seem to be the point at which Acts was attached to Luke), the Lukan
      consecutive narrative began with Lk 3:1.

      It would then follow that in this detail, as in others previously examined,
      Lk is exactly parallel to, and not divergent from, the order of Mt and Mk,
      both of which begin not with Gabriel, but with John the Baptist. More
      generally, the earlier textual state of Lk, which evidence internal to Lk
      leads us to posit, is more like the other Synoptics than is the later, and
      canonical, textual state of Luke. Lk has apparently followed a divergent
      evolutionary course from its first reconstructable state to the state made
      permanent by our canonical Lk.

      Or so it looks from here. Respectfully submitted,


      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • Ron Price
      ... Bruce, I don t know what you think was narratively promised but not delivered. If you are referring to the promises in 14:28 and 16:7, then I understand
      Message 41 of 41 , Oct 2, 2005
        Bruce Brooks wrote:

        > Thinking about Ron's suggestion, just now, reminded me of something possibly
        > relevant, which I toss in as a sort of second reply to at least that aspect
        > of his comment. It concerns the degree to which local communities and
        > traditions were in mutual contact in the 1st century.
        > I start with the ending of Mark, and I note that those who feel it is
        > interrupted in the middle of a sentence seem to have the better of the
        > argument. Parallels can be found, with extreme effort, for ending a sentence
        > or even a segment with gar, but not a whole work, and anyway, the point with
        > Mark is that if it ends at Mk 4:8 [16:8], it does not narratively deliver what
        > it has narratively promised, and that is a no-no.


        I don't know what you think was narratively promised but not delivered. If
        you are referring to the promises in 14:28 and 16:7, then I understand your
        point, but would answer it by arguing that both these verses were
        interpolated into the text. Anyway you'll have to make a very good case if
        it's to outweigh the overwhelming consensus of recent critical scholars that
        16:8 is the original ending.

        Mark is the subtlest of the synoptic authors. His picture of an empty tomb
        is quite enough to suggest the resurrection of Jesus. He avoids presenting
        any of the original disciples as seeing the risen Jesus, for this would add
        to their status, contravening his persistent denigration of Peter et al..

        Of course, as we know, later generations did try to plug what they saw as an
        omission (Mk 16:9-20 etc.), but all such later additions can be shown to be

        Ron Price

        Derbyshire, UK

        Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
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