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Lk 1:5f PS

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic Cc: GPG On: Lk 1:5f PS From: Bruce Sorry, I was following Usener s argument (about the secondarity of the Mt 1:1f material in Mt) without really
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 22, 2005
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      To: Synoptic
      Cc: GPG
      On: Lk 1:5f PS
      From: Bruce

      Sorry, I was following Usener's argument (about the secondarity of the Mt
      1:1f material in Mt) without really adding it to my own argument. That was
      inconcinnitous. Accepting, then, belatedly, and for reasons presented
      elsewhere by Usener and others and seeming to me cogent, the argument that
      the genealogy and nativity material are later additions in Mt, and that Mt
      also originally began with the Baptism, we do after all reach the conclusion
      reported in my last note. Not otherwise.

      Speaking of introductions, it has been said by commentators that, never mind
      Simon, Jesus himself is introduced abruptly in Lk. The parallels are:

      Mt 3:13. [Following a long account of John's preaching]. Then Jesus [not
      previously mentioned] came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be
      baptized by him. [14] John would have prevented him, saying, I need to be
      baptized by you, and do you come to me?

      Mk 1:9 [Following a brief account of John's preaching]. In those days Jesus
      [not previously mentioned] came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by
      John in the Jordan.

      Lk 3: [Following a long account of John's preaching, ending with his
      imprisonment]. Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus [not
      previously mentioned] also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was
      opened, [22] and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form. . .

      All these are pretty abrupt, though as far as I know only the Lukan one has
      drawn commentarial fire. (1) The Markan one is at least no more abrupt than
      the introduction of Simon or Levi, later on in Mk, which I earlier argued
      were literarily normal in Mk. If we suppose that Mk then possessed more or
      less the label it does now (1:1 "The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus
      Christ"), and notice that the label is only a few verses previous to the
      point at which Jesus first appears in the narrative, we are still better
      supported in accepting the introduction of Jesus as acceptable in Mk, though
      it does not require that detail, (2) In Mt, where such a label (on present
      assumptions) was not present, we may still find the introduction of Jesus
      narratively acceptable. (3) Somewhat more difficult (and here I would agree
      with the commentators) is Lk, where Jesus on present assumptions is
      introduced not only without preparation (that we can sort of get around),
      but in a subordinate clause. I can imagine a literary expositor making a
      virtue of just that feature, as part of Luke's literary artistry, and I can
      also imagine not being convinced by that argument. I will leave it for now
      as an arguable point.

      Much clearer, to me, as a difficulty in this part of Lk, is that the Lukan
      story includes the arrest of John, which happened after the Jordan baptismal
      scene, and then continues after that arrest notice by reverting to the
      baptismal scene, as follows:

      Lk 3:20 . . . added this to them all, that he shut John up in prison. [21]
      Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized
      and was praying . . .

      It is as though the story beside the Jordan, quite vivid and immediate in
      its way, had been put on hold until the subsequent arrest of John had been
      squeezed in, and was then resumed without a flicker. Let us take a little
      larger segment:

      Lk 3:17. [John is preaching; present tense]. His winnowing fork is in his
      hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his
      granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. [18] So, with
      many other exhortations, he preached the good news to the people. [19] But
      Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by him for Herodias, his brother's
      wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, [20] added this to
      them all, that he shut up John in prison. [21 Now when all the people were
      baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized . . .

      Not to linger this out, but the Jordan scene becomes adequately consecutive,
      albeit still with a sort of narratively smuggled-in Jesus, if we eliminate
      the summary and outcome in 3:18-20. Functionally, they are a sort of
      collapsing of future developments. They would be appropriate at the end of a
      scene, as its expansive conclusion. A good number of scenes in all three
      Synoptics are brought to an end in just this way. But those conclusions are
      not functional in the middle of a module. I think we are better off
      recognizing 3:18-20 as a flash-forward, and an intrusive one at that. If we
      remove it, we get a perhaps still abrupt Jesus entrance, but we also get a
      consecutive and consistently vivid Jordan narrative. Thus:

      Lk 3:17 [John preaching]. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his
      threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he
      will burn with unquenchable fire [end of sermon]. [21] Now when all the
      people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,
      the heaven was opened, . . .

      At least it is still the same sky that we have been silently imagining in
      the preceding verses. And it does not rely on the mention of Jesus to bring
      us back into the present tense, thus putting that much less narrative burden
      on the introduction of Jesus.

      If this later John material is narratively interruptive, as I here suggest,
      and given that at least the arrest has a parallel in Mk and Mt, then I would
      further suggest that this material in Lk is most likely a relocation from
      the position where the arrest of John was mentioned in Mk (just before Lk
      9:10), done in the interest of narrating the story of John completely upon
      its first introduction (a recognized Lukan propensity), but at the expense
      of the consecutivity of the local Lk 3 narrative.

      That is, we have in Lk 3 a fairly consecutive account of the Jordan Baptism,
      interrupted by a flash-forward showing John's later career. Given the
      interruptive quality, that narrative most likely originally lacked that
      interruption. This makes somewhat more likely than before the possibility
      that this material (with or without other John material; on that there is no
      evidence) is either original or originally stood elsewhere in Lk. That it is
      not original is shown by its presence in Mt and Mk, and they are our only
      witnesses as to where it might have been. On that question, they agree. Our
      least precarious conclusion, then, is that the material originally stood in
      Lk at the point where it is still found in Mt and Mk.

      If so, we would then arrive at one more detail in which Lk at an early stage
      better agreed with the arrangement of material we find evidenced in Mt and
      Mk (we might call it the Common Synoptic arrangement), and only later, for
      one authorial reason or another, came to diverge from that arrangement.

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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