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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: GPG Cc: WSW, Synoptic On: ARONSON 1 From: Bruce In 1999, over there on the bookstore table next to the organic greeting cards, we had Marcus Borg: Jesus
    Message 1 of 4 , Nov 20, 2009
      To: GPG
      Cc: WSW, Synoptic
      On: ARONSON 1
      From: Bruce

      In 1999, over there on the bookstore table next to the organic greeting cards,
      we had Marcus Borg: Jesus and Buddha / The Parallel Sayings. On a first hurried
      glance, it did not evince much sophistication about the tradition of the
      Buddha's sayings, and so one left it behind, without too much of a pang, on the
      table next to the organic greeting cards.

      The following year, 2000, from the same publisher (Seastone, an imprint of
      Ulysses Press, Berkeley), there appeared Martin Aronson: Jesus and Lao Tzu /
      The Parallel Sayings. It would be easy to class this in the same soft feelgood
      category as Borg, and that would not necessarily be an error. On the other
      hand, sometimes an outsider to the hard-eyed cutting edge (for example, someone
      whose acquaintance with the Laudz or Dau/Dv Jing literature is at the level of
      the Fvng and English translation, here relied on in company with Lin Yutang)
      can nevertheless have useful insights of a literary or intuitive kind that may
      escape those who are familiar with the text on another level, and in another
      way. So have I previously argued in defense of Ursula Le Guin's DDJ
      translation. And to that position I am thus more or less committed.

      Herewith, then, a first report on Aronson (ARONSON 1) as it might be taken in
      hand by a reasonably alert 10-year old.

      ARONSON 1

      There are altogether 85 facing-page parallels, grouped in 9 thematic sections
      (from Simplicity to Immortality). The Western texts with which the parallels
      are drawn are, in numerical order: Matthew (37), Luke (26), John (12), Mark (5)
      Old Testament (3), and the Pauline writings (1 Cor, 2). It will be seen that
      Matthew and Luke (total 63 of 85, or 74%) heavily predominate.

      Comment: The OT part I skip. OT, NT, and the Chinese Dauists are essentially
      philosophizations of a loser position (the winners are out there killing people
      or ruling their survivors). So a certain number of generic similarities of the
      compensatory weakness-is-strength type, and their cousins, are only to be
      expected in the normal course of things.

      As to the remainder, I am reminded of a remark I made to a young seminarian at
      an SBL meeting some years ago, to the effect that when I, as a somewhat Chinese-
      acquainted person, read over the NT, with Mark I say to myself, Hmmm, OK. But
      with the Second Tier gospels, Matthew and Luke, the lights begin coming on all
      over the cockpit. To this she was almost preternaturally unresponsive, and I
      thus lost my chance to be publicly impressive on that particular occasion. One
      whole minute completely wasted. Well, so it goes. But privately, I still
      suspect that there may be something to it.

      The preliminary data survey in ARONSON 1 seems to invite just such a suspicion.
      How, or whether, that suspicion may later develop will be explored in ARONSON 2
      and following.


      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • E Bruce Brooks
      To: GPG Cc: Previous On: ARONSON 2 From; Bruce We were looking into the possibility that the parallel sayings collected in Aronson: Jesus and Lao Tzu (2000)
      Message 2 of 4 , Nov 20, 2009
        To: GPG
        Cc: Previous
        On: ARONSON 2
        From; Bruce

        We were looking into the possibility that the parallel sayings collected in
        Aronson: Jesus and Lao Tzu (2000) might by of analytical interest at one end or
        the other. Of Aronson's 85 suggested parallels, we put aside the 3 OT maxims,
        as all too comparable in general terms and as not relevant to any more intimate
        relations that may exist in the remaining NT material (82 parallels).

        ARONSON 2

        At first glance, not all of the parallels offered by Aronson are equally
        convincing. Now, if there is something there - meaning, if there is a
        possibility of contact beyond the generic similarity which is all that Aronson
        himself points to (and not to prejudice outcomes, if there IS a contact or
        source for this material in NT, I will call it W, meaning, some Wacko ascetic
        mystical power group in the vicinity - chances are that at least an idea of it
        will be indicated in any substantial subset of the material. We thus choose to
        begin with a skimmed subset. For that purpose, we move up a notch to our 12-
        year-old informant, who without getting into technical finesses at either end
        of the comparisons, has eliminated those parallels which seem to be
        superficially unconvincing to the general reader. Needless to say, later
        reconsideration is always possible; this is a tentative step designed to
        clarify the situation.

        In addition to passages not superficially convincing, we note that one Matthew
        citation (Mt 5:3-9) overlaps two others (Mt 5:5 and 5:8) and eliminate it as
        likely to confuse the picture, retaining only the two more specific ones.

        The results of thus skimming the 82-parallel set (85 minus the OT 3) were:

        Original: Matthew 37, Luke 26, John 12, Mark 5, Paul 2, Total 82
        Revised: Matthew 19, Luke 5, John 0, Mark 0, Paul 0, Total 24


        1. Inclusion. If someone wants to argue for Aronson's Mark citations, well, it
        is easily shown that the Mark passages in question are not original to the core
        Markan narrative, but are later additions to that core. And if someone else
        wants to argue for Paul, well, it is easily shown that the Paul passages in
        question are later additions to the Pauline genuine epistles. How easily? This
        easily: Both of them are from 1 Cor 13, and 1 Cor 13 is the love chapter. Does
        Paul admit the value of love among the faithful? More than that, he recommends
        it. But, all the same, it is not to be readily believed that Paul, for whom
        faith was central to salvation, a point he tirelessly urged against other
        factions (eg, law-obedience), would suddenly launch off, in the middle of
        something else, into a purple patch on love, ending thus: "Now there abideth
        these three: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love." William
        O Walker Jr has laid out this argument at greater length (for those who require
        greater length) in his 2001 book Interpolations in the Pauline Letters. For
        purposes of these notes, I will take the point as established.

        Then we have to do, in the superficially more convincing subset of 24, solely
        with Matthew and Luke, between whom Matthew seems greatly to preponderate.

        2. Inventory. Those acquainted with issues in NT will immediately think of the
        alleged Q, the Nice Jesus stratum of Matthew and Luke. And so the first
        question that arises for the NT adept at this stage is, Do all the sayings
        mapped by Aronson on Matthew also have counterparts in Luke? And vice versa?
        The actual inventory is interesting. Of the 19 Matthew passages here in

        5 have counterparts in Luke alone
        4 have counterparts in both Mark and Luke
        10 are unique to Matthew

        And of the 5 Luke passages,

        1 has a counterpart in Matthew alone
        2 have counterparts in both Matthew and Mark
        2 are unique to Luke

        This result, as far as it goes, is not especially encouraging to the Nice Jesus
        Stratum (formerly Q) hypothesis. If there is a source for the kind of material
        to which our attention has been called by Aronson's DDJ parallel suggestions,
        it presumably has another shape and character than that posited in connection
        with that hypothesis.

        Other questions follow naturally, and to one of them ARONSON 3 will be devoted.


        E Bruce Brooks
        Warring States Project
        University of Massachusetts at Amherst
      • E Bruce Brooks
        To: GPG Cc: As Previous On: ARONSON 3 From: Bruce Sorting out the relations of Matthew and Luke in the reduced data set reached in ARONSON 2 has its
        Message 3 of 4 , Nov 21, 2009
          To: GPG
          Cc: As Previous
          On: ARONSON 3
          From: Bruce

          Sorting out the relations of Matthew and Luke in the reduced data set reached
          in ARONSON 2 has its attractions. But however that comes out, the question of
          the DDJ as a possible source would seem to remain unaffected. I here take up
          that small matter.

          ARONSON 3

          If Aronson is right that there is something meaningful in the comparison
          between Jesus (or we would rather now say, the Second Tier Gospels) and Laudz
          (or as it is more prudent to call it, the DDJ text), there are several ways in
          which that relationship could have come about. Among them are: (1) Parallel
          development of loser philosophies in different parts of the continent. Already
          suggested, and in effect the option which Aronson seems to prefer. As variants,
          we have (2) the possibility of invention by Matthew/Luke, in accord with the
          local Zeitgeist, and (3) input from a local West Eurasian W (standing for
          Wacko) group, previously defined, who are the local Zeitgeist responders. These
          three are more or less equivalent. There might (4) also be some sort of contact
          between DDJ and the Second Tier Gospels, for which the obvious channel is the
          growing trade, mostly of an indirect nature, between Eastern Eurasia and the
          Eastern and Western Mediterranean, one branch of which passed through Galilee,
          and was taxed as it did so by one of the five original disciples of Jesus,
          namely Levi.

          Suppose we briefly consider the last possibility. If Group W (or their
          authorial equivalent) somehow knew of the DDJ, how much and how exactly did
          they know it? The Aronson parallels as previously winnowed are 24 in number,
          and they involve 21 different DDJ chapters. The DDJ in its final form contains
          81 chapters; a rearranged but otherwise complete version is known from a Han
          tomb of 0186. Before that, however, we can a 32-chapter sampling made c0288
          from a still incomplete DDJ, which had only reached a length of c70 chapters.
          These two earlier and shorter versions, the incomplete DDJ and the selection
          made from it in Chu, invite comparison with the makeup of our winnowed Aronson


          Here are the winnowed Aronson DDJ chapter numbers, repeated when they figure in
          more than one parallel, and with an asterisk signifying that all or part of
          that DDJ chapter is represented in the c0288 (Gwodyen) tomb florilegia:

          7, 7, *13, *16, *20, 22, 22, 28, 28, *32, 34, *35, 42, *46, 47, *48, *52, *59,
          *63, *66, 67, 70, 73, 77.

          Of these 24 contacts between DDJ and the winnowed Aronson parallels, 11 are
          with DDJ chapters represented in the Gwodyen florilegia. Obviously the match is
          imperfect. Is it at least suggestive? If 24 hits were distributed over the 81
          DDJ chapters, with the Gwodyen 32 chapters as a marked subset within them, and
          with repeated use of the same DDJ chapter allowed, we would statistically
          expect that the likeliest number of hits within the 32 "marked" chapters would
          be 10 (rounded to the nearest whole number). The actual figure of 11 is so
          close to this as to indicate that, not only are the Aronson chapters not
          confined to the Gwodyen c0288 inventory, but they do not even show a distinct
          preference for that inventory.

          It is also obvious that several Aronson chapters not only occur outside the
          Gwodyen inventory, but so far outside it that those chapters could not in all
          probability have been present for the maker of the Gwodyen florilegia; they had
          not yet been composed by the home school which produced the DDJ.

          The result, then, is that the Aronson chapters, if drawn at any remove from the
          DDJ text, represent a selection from across the whole of that text, neither
          limited nor influenced by the earlier Chu (Gwodyen) florilegia. It was not very
          likely that this would have been the case, but in these matters, there is no
          harm checking when, as here, a check is actually possible.


          Nor is there a discernible tendency for DDJ chapters to be used in DDJ order
          within either Matthew or Luke. In order of their occurrence in Luke, for
          example, the DDJ chapters are 7, 20, 46, 34, 16. For Matthew, the first few DDJ
          chapters in order of their Matthean occurrence:

          67, 28, 63, 32, 47, 73, 77, 48, 22 . . .

          So we may safely conclude that even if a full DDJ text was possessed by the
          hypothetical W group, its arrangement played no discernible part in the way
          that material was used by either Matthew or Luke.


          As far as our winnowing process has so far gone, and it is not precluded that
          at higher stages of the present study, it may go further, there is also no
          strong tendency for DDJ chapters to be clustered within either Matthew or Luke.
          The Matthean Sermon on the Mount, the greatest concentration of Nice Jesus
          material within Matthew (Mt 5-7), does get 11 of the total 19 Matthean hits,
          and the remainder occur also in relatively well-defined segments, one from
          11:28 to 12:16 (2 sayings) and the other from 18:3 to 26:51 (5 sayings). The
          distribution is not even, but at the same time, no obvious structural principle
          apart from the well-known formal layout of Matthew itself (that is, nothing
          that relies on the logic or interrelation of the DDJ passages themselves) seems
          to be at work.


          If the DDJ was in any way, and at any remove, used by Matthew and/or Luke, it
          was apparently a complete DDJ, not one of the previously known subsets of it,
          and the order and logic of that DDJ did not discernibly affect the final
          result; it was drawn on simply as a body of raw material, to be built into the
          quite different Matthean and Lukan structures.

          As was the case (see Bellinzoni) with Justin's use of Jesus material in the
          Synoptics, there may well have been an intermediate form of the DDJ text,
          including a textually inchoate lore form, but as far as we have gone, no useful
          suggestion can yet be made as to its nature or extent.


          E Bruce Brooks
          Warring States Project
          University of Massachusetts at Amherst
        • E Bruce Brooks
          To: GPG Cc: Previous On: ARONSON 4 From: Bruce We were testing the notion that the DDJ/NT parallels offered by Aronson perhaps amounted to something, and
          Message 4 of 4 , Nov 23, 2009
            To: GPG
            Cc: Previous
            On: ARONSON 4
            From: Bruce

            We were testing the notion that the DDJ/NT parallels offered by Aronson perhaps
            amounted to something, and endeavoring to define and locate the something. A
            first skim of his material suggested that the something, if it existed,
            amounted to an input from a W (or Wacko) group, whose content was defined in
            DDJ terms by Aronson (but that is always available for reconsideration) and the
            Gospel sequence minus John (that is, the Syrian and not also the Ephesian
            Gospel tradition).

            We may note at this point that the operative world of the Syrian (or Synoptic)
            Gospels has two layers: (1) a Penalty layer, in which supernatural forces will
            penalize wrong behavior, upon which is superimposed (2) a Destruction layer, in
            which supernatural forces will presently bring the entire world to an end. The
            strategy of the individual is thus to survive, or be "saved" from these future
            disasters, like one of the two giraffes on the SS Noah, the effect of the
            second idea being to add urgency and intensification to the first idea.
            Further, in this worldview, all events of interest (though not all events of
            relevance) are future. This of course contrasts with the operative world of the
            DDJ, in which neither (1) nor (2) above obtains, and in which, for one thing,
            the universe is envisioned as continually present. In estimating the goodness
            of fit of any one parallel, some adaptation from the DDJ scheme to the Gospel
            scheme must thus be allowed for. Further, other documentation precludes the
            idea that (1) and (2) are themselves new ideas in the Gospel world; they are
            ideas previously attested locally. It is thus the articulation and perhaps
            supplementation of those ideas that we may reasonably look to in the W material
            as here defined. Some actual additions may also occur, but need not be
            envisioned as a first expectation.

            Now, then:

            ARONSON 4 (LUKE)

            In the skimmed Aronson list, there were 5 passages that Aronson himself linked
            with Luke. But it turned out on previous inspection that some of the Luke
            passages referenced by Aronson have parallels in Matthew or Mark. We first
            determine if there are differences in these Gospel parallels which allow us to
            choose one of them as the specific Gospel end of the comparison. The results

            DDJ 7. Mk 8:35 = Mt 16:25 = Lk 9:94 "body is preserved"
            DDJ 16. Mk 13:31 = Mt 24:35 = Lk 21:33 "not pass away"
            DDJ 20. Mk 9:39f = Lk 9:58 "without a home"

            As far as the parallel goes, there is not the slightest textual reason to
            prefer any of these to any other. We now intrude the Trajectory Theory,
            previously stated, according to which the order of the Gospels is

            Mk > Mt > Lk > Jn

            From this it follows that if there IS an input from W into the Gospel
            tradition, that input will in the above three cases have entered at Mk and been
            simply retained in the Mt and Lk stages of the tradition. The result of this
            consideration is to reinstate Mark as the recipient of W input, not indeed at
            the places indicated by Aronson, but at places which he has unnecessarily
            attributed to Luke. We may notice in passing their ascetic and itinerant

            We have earlier found that the majority of Aronson parallels in which Matthew
            is the Gospel term have no equivalents in other Gospels, so that this large
            group must be located at the Matthew or second stage of the G tradition; some
            of them are retained in Luke, but that we attribute to the intertia of

            Finally, we are left with two parallels in which Aronson's Luke reference is
            the only Synoptically obvious one. These are:

            DDJ 34. Lk 17:21 "[Dau] everywhere; [kingdom] among you"
            DDJ 46. Lk 12:15 "life is not possessions"

            And we may note, in this subset, which is now the entirety of the Lukan subset
            properly so called, the pronounced tone of implied poverty.

            Next: Matthew.


            E Bruce Brooks
            Warring States Project
            University of Massachusetts at Amhersdt
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