Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.
 

Shorter, less specific reading and primitivity

Expand Messages
  • Steve Runge
    I was reading accounts of the arrest of John the Baptist this morning, and found an interesting omission in Lk compared to Mt 14:3 and Mk 6:17. The latter two
    Message 1 of 5 , Feb 28, 2010
      I was reading accounts of the arrest of John the Baptist this morning, and found an interesting omission in Lk compared to Mt 14:3 and Mk 6:17. The latter two introduce Herodias as διὰ Ἡρῳδιάδα τὴν γυναῖκα Φιλίππου τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ, mentioning Philip even though he never is a figure in the gospel. This is the only mention of him in Mt or Mk, whereas Lk 3:1 mentions him as part of a dating formula.

      When introducing a new participant, the amount of detail provided is prototypically proportional the salience they play in the discourse. If they are a significant figure, it is well worth investing the time developing them at their introduction (e.g. Cornelius in Acts 10 versus the unnamed servants that he sends to Peter). If they are a passing figure, a "prop", then typically only a minimum amount of information is provided. Often they are "faces without names".* If you assign a name, it can create the expectation that the character is salient and will persist in the discourse.

      I find it interesting that Mk includes a name for Herod's brother (which Mt follows in my view) even though this is the only reference to him in the gospel. Lk 3:19, on the other hand, having already referred to him in 3:1, renders Philip as a "face without a name" in περὶ Ἡρῳδιάδος τῆς γυναικὸς τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ, maintaining the focus on John, Herod and Herodias. Lk ostensibly omits the more specific reference to avoid the risk of distracting the reader or creating the expectation that Philip will somehow figure into the discourse later on.

      Although Lk's version is shorter and less specific and might be thus construed as more primitive, there are reasonable grounds for seeing it as an improvement to bring greater focus on the key players by omitting a potential distraction.

      *Adele Berlin has a wonderful discussion of such matters in her chapter on characterization in _Poetics and Interpretation of Biblical Narrative_ (Sheffield: The Almond Press, 1987).

      Steven E. Runge
      Scholar-in-Residence
      Logos Bible Software
      srunge@...
      www.logos.com
      www.ntdiscourse.org
    • Mark Goodacre
      ... Thanks for the interesting observations, Steve. Could Luke s adjustment also be due to the conflict between Matthew // Mark and Josephus? Josephus has
      Message 2 of 5 , Mar 2, 2010
        On 28 February 2010 10:19, Steve Runge <srunge@...> wrote:
        >
        > I find it interesting that Mk includes a name for Herod's brother (which Mt
        > follows in my view) even though this is the only reference to him in the
        > gospel. Lk 3:19, on the other hand, having already referred to him in 3:1,
        > renders Philip as a "face without a name" in περὶ Ἡρῳδιάδος τῆς γυναικὸς τοῦ
        > ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ, maintaining the focus on John, Herod and Herodias. Lk
        > ostensibly omits the more specific reference to avoid the risk of
        > distracting the reader or creating the expectation that Philip will somehow
        > figure into the discourse later on.
        >
        > Although Lk's version is shorter and less specific and might be thus
        > construed as more primitive, there are reasonable grounds for seeing it as
        > an improvement to bring greater focus on the key players by omitting a
        > potential distraction.
        >
        Thanks for the interesting observations, Steve. Could Luke's adjustment
        also be due to the conflict between Matthew // Mark and Josephus? Josephus
        has Herodias's previous husband as (another) Herod and not Philip, though
        the latter is mentioned prominently in Josephus' account (Ant. 18.106-119).
        Is Luke effectively using his tradition to correct Mark and Matthew's
        error?

        Incidentally, if this is what is going on in Luke, it provides an example of
        greater Lucan primitivity in the sense that he may effectively be closer to
        the historical realities, in spite of the fact that he is later than his
        literary source material.

        Best wishes
        Mark
        --
        Mark Goodacre
        Duke University
        Department of Religion
        Gray Building / Box 90964
        Durham, NC 27708-0964 USA
        Phone: 919-660-3503 Fax: 919-660-3530

        http://www.markgoodacre.org


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Chuck Jones
        Mark, While this is an excellent observation, it should probably be described by some term other than primitivity (accuracy, maybe?). In synoptic discussions,
        Message 3 of 5 , Mar 2, 2010
          Mark,
          While this is an excellent observation, it should probably be described by some term other than primitivity (accuracy, maybe?).

          In synoptic discussions, primitivity refers to evidence as to which is the older document in the literary relationship.  An obvious, unsubjective example, btw, is one writer fixing incorrect grammar from another writer.

          Chuck

          Chuck Jones
          Interim Executive Director
          Westar Institute
          The Jesus Seminar


          --- On Tue, 3/2/10, Mark Goodacre <Goodacre@...> wrote:


          Incidentally, if this is what is going on in Luke, it provides an example of

          greater Lucan primitivity in the sense that he may effectively be closer to

          the historical realities, in spite of the fact that he is later than his

          literary source material.









          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Mark Goodacre
          ... I think in this context, accuracy is a useful term. But often, issues of primitivity can go either way with respect to greater or lesser accuracy. When
          Message 4 of 5 , Mar 2, 2010
            On 2 March 2010 12:59, Chuck Jones <chuckjonez@...> wrote:

            >
            >
            > While this is an excellent observation, it should probably be described by
            > some term other than primitivity (accuracy, maybe?).
            >

            I think in this context, accuracy is a useful term. But often, issues of
            primitivity can go either way with respect to greater or lesser accuracy.
            When Mark says "in the time of Abiathar the high priest" in 2.26, he is
            more "primitive" in the sense that he is the literary source here for
            Matthew and Luke, but he is less accurate, which is why they omit it. They
            in fact correct Mark towards the still more primitive source, 1 Samuel.

            In synoptic discussions, primitivity refers to evidence as to which is the
            > older document in the literary relationship. An obvious, unsubjective
            > example, btw, is one writer fixing incorrect grammar from another writer.
            >

            I've seen the term primitivity used with respect to both literary sources
            and parallel traditions. I do argue, however, that one of the problems in
            Synoptic criticism is the routine confusion between literary priority and
            age of traditions.

            Best wishes
            Mark __

            --
            Mark Goodacre
            Duke University
            Department of Religion
            Gray Building / Box 90964
            Durham, NC 27708-0964 USA
            Phone: 919-660-3503 Fax: 919-660-3530

            http://www.markgoodacre.org


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Chuck Jones
            Bingo.  This confusion would be helped by precision in terminology. Thanks, Chuck Chuck Jones Interim Executive Director Westar Institute The Jesus Seminar
            Message 5 of 5 , Mar 2, 2010
              Bingo.  This confusion would be helped by precision in terminology.


              Thanks,


              Chuck

              Chuck Jones
              Interim Executive Director
              Westar Institute
              The Jesus Seminar



              --- On Tue, 3/2/10, Mark Goodacre <Goodacre@...> wrote:


              I think in this context, accuracy is a useful term. But often, issues of

              primitivity can go either way with respect to greater or lesser accuracy.

              When Mark says "in the time of Abiathar the high priest" in 2.26, he is

              more "primitive" in the sense that he is the literary source here for

              Matthew and Luke, but he is less accurate, which is why they omit it. They

              in fact correct Mark towards the still more primitive source, 1 Samuel.


              ...


              I've seen the term primitivity used with respect to both literary sources

              and parallel traditions. I do argue, however, that one of the problems in

              Synoptic criticism is the routine confusion between literary priority and

              age of traditions.






              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.