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RE: [Synoptic-L] Re: Matthew's Sermon broken up?

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  • brooks@asianlan.umass.edu
    To: Synoptic Cc: WSW, GPG In Response To: Mark Matson On: Breaking Up Matthew From: Bruce] The issue here is the importance of order. MARK: the whole term
    Message 1 of 6 , Feb 21, 2010
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      To: Synoptic
      Cc: WSW, GPG
      In Response To: Mark Matson
      On: Breaking Up Matthew
      From: Bruce]

      The issue here is the importance of order.

      MARK: the whole term "order" is suspect anyway.

      BRUCE: Not to me. Is this a touch of the old Lachmann allergy?

      MARK: Is it "chronological order?" (no).

      BRUCE: We don't know that the order of events presented in any of the
      Gospels corresponds to the true Historical Jesus order. So much may be
      granted. But I should think it is obvious that each of the Gospels
      *purports* to tell that story in the order in which it happened. No
      Gospel but begins the working life of Jesus with the Baptism, has a
      middle section of more or less length in which Jesus makes the
      transition from Galilee to Jerusalem, and ends with his Crucifixion at
      Jerusalem. If any of these major elements occurred in a different
      sequence, we might fairly say that we were dealing with a mere
      collection of anecdotes. But they don't, and we aren't. What Matthew
      gives us, in his highly formalized way, is still something that offers
      itself to us as a chronology, a consecutive account, of Jesus.

      MARK: Is it simply Matthew's order? (why?).

      BRUCE: Because that is what we have in front of us. How that order
      differs in detail from that of the other Gospels is also in front of
      us; it is a perfectly objective fact, and a perfectly valid topic of
      investigation.

      MARK: What order are we talking about?

      BRUCE: See the archive. The initial question concerned the order of
      Luke, and whether it is construable as a rearrangement of that of
      Matthew.

      MARK: The assumption always starts with a presumed superiority of
      Matthew's version.

      BRUCE: "Superiority" begs the question. Superiority is a matter of
      taste, and it has been known since antiquity that arguing tastes leads
      nowhere.

      "Priority" is the real question, and that is surely investigable.
      Thus: If we had only the texts of Matthew and Luke, with no
      information or presuppositions, it would not take us long to discover
      that the two cover much the same narrative ground, though with many
      differences. One of the differences is in the tone and tendency of the
      common incidents; much there to work on. Another is the difference in
      the order in which some of the incidents are presented; much there as
      well. The original question directs our attention to the latter data
      set.

      At first glance, the differences in order between the two bring us up
      short: each order is by implication an implied real chronological
      order (see above), but at points where they differ, at least one of
      them must be chronologically wrong. We then do a directionality study
      of each of those places, and see what we come up with. Are there
      reasons why, given the A sequence, another author might have
      rearranged it as the B sequence? Or is it easier to see the B sequence
      as an intentional rearrangement of the A sequence? In this area, all
      of us are students of Tischendorf: The version which can most readily
      be seen as giving rise to the other is presumptively prior to the
      other. And proceeding in that way, we should eventually be able to
      say, This text, at all points in question (or at all points where with
      present knowledge a plausible sequence can be inferred), is prior to
      that other text.

      Then we have learned something useful. And the technique of learning
      it finds wider uses also. Thus, Fitzmyer does a pretty good job of
      showing why Luke moved certain parts of Mark from their Markan
      position to a different one. It's not all that difficult, and it's not
      a priori futile. So also with Matthew and Luke; Luke's propensities
      are readily discoverable from a reading of his entire text, and it can
      be seen in at least some cases that his differences of order from
      Matthew are consonant with those propensities. This leads toward the
      conclusion Mt > Lk.

      Which is surely a useful point to have reached, no?

      No author, no musician, no performer of any stripe, thinks order of
      presentation irrelevant. For example, a symphony should end briskly,
      not to leave the audience in a gloomy state of mind. There are thus
      conductors who will not touch Tchaikovsky's Sixth, where this rule is
      grossly violated. For a church organist to do something equally
      downbeat at end of the service is to court instant dismissal, for
      reasons that pastor and people do not even need to put into words.

      Sequence is powerful. Climax is powerful. Interlude, as it relates to
      climax, is powerful in its own kind of way. Bizet's intermezzi. The
      Greek tragedians liked to fill their transitions and interludes with
      certain kinds of material. And the way the Japanese "no" play writers
      treat the "michiyuki" portion of their groundplan would have delighted
      Luke. I get the impression that the Gospel writers understood these
      things superlatively well. Why is it irrelevant, or "suspect," to
      notice this aspect of their art?

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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