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Lk 1:5f

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic On: Lk 1:5f From: Bruce I had some time back (1) offered reasons for thinking that there are several transpositions of material in Lk, and noted
    Message 1 of 41 , Sep 30, 2005
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      To: Synoptic
      On: Lk 1:5f
      From: Bruce

      I had some time back (1) offered reasons for thinking that there are several
      transpositions of material in Lk, and noted that the state of Lk before
      those transpositions were carried out more closely resembled the Markan
      order. Separately, I had ventured to agree with several previous suggestions
      that (2) the double birth narratives in Lk 1:5f were later additions to Lk,
      one but if evidence being that Lk 1:4 > 3:1 is perfectly consistent and
      coherent without the intervening material. Someone who finds these
      suggestions worth considering may then ask, Which of these changes came
      first? The ultimate answer probably requires a good deal of attention to the
      theological import of the changes, which I won't attempt to assess here. But
      there is a further detail that may perhaps be added on the philological
      side.

      In responding to Chuck Jones, I referred in passing to Mary's Magnificat
      speech or hymn as "not responsive" to what in context is made to evoke it.
      This has been noticed in the literature, and it has also there been observed
      that the text at that point would be much improved if the Magnificat were
      simply lifted out of it. It comes in better later in the narrative. Let us
      suppose that these people are right. Then we would have a relocation of
      material also within the Births section of Lk.

      There is no warrant for referring all relocations of material to one phase
      of text formation. There may have been several. If for present simplicity we
      do however make that conjectural assumption, we would have at minimum the
      following Lukan formative stages:

      1. No Births material; all Markan counterpart material occurs in Markan
      order.
      2. (non-Markan) Births material added; all Markan material still in Markan
      order.
      3. Rearrangements of material both in Births section and in older material.

      It is the third of these steps, on this probably still too simple
      hypothesis, that produces our Canonical Luke.

      Is there any assignable motive for these actions? Other than the circular
      one of a desire to produce the text which we have? I think so.

      1. The composition of a Gospel like Mark in sequence, but adding greatly to
      the literary finesse and human motivation coherence of Mark. The motive will
      be simply to make the Markan story more real to readers, and few would argue
      that the author has not succeeded in doing so.

      2. The addition of Births material. The motive would be to extend the
      contact point of Jesus with the higher divinity back from the Baptism (which
      is where Mark has it) to an earlier, indeed, a prenatal stage. This is
      standard aggrandization scenario, and one common to the mythic development
      we may observe in many evolving traditions, not only sacred but secular.
      (How much other new material may have been added at this same time I do not
      here suggest).

      3. The relocation of material within the previous text. This consists always
      in promoting certain passages or pericopes to a position earlier in the
      narrative. Apart from leaving some narrative inconcinnities in their wake,
      as such relocations are apt to do, these seem to have an interpretive
      function. The movement forward of Mary material into Elizabeth material in
      Lk 1 reduces the distance between John and Jesus, and further subordinates
      John (I note that the subordination of John is carried still further in
      GJohn, so that this supposition very well fits a pretty well established
      trajectory of early Church theory). The movement forward of eg the Nazara
      material establishes at the outset the theme of opposition between the Jews
      and Jesus, and does not leave it to develop gradually (as in Mark), perhaps
      permitting the idea in some readers that the thing might have gone the other
      way. The relocations in various ways (or so I would put it) make the Jesus
      story notably more foreseen, more predetermined, more inevitable, than the
      Markan narrative, which is a road with many possible other turnings.

      The philological evidence (the fit of text with other text, or lack of it)
      seems to me already strong. The support available from the fact that there
      exist plausible and relevant literary, mythical, and simplifying motives for
      the supposed three stages surely counts something toward making the
      philological implications cogent as a hypothesis.

      In any event, cogent or not, this I think is the direction in which the
      philological evidence would tend to lead us.

      Bruce

      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
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        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.

        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 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
        inauthentic.

        Ron Price

        Derbyshire, UK

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