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Re: [Synoptic-L] Re: [WSW] opinions about accretion

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  • Jeff Peterson
    Bruce, This ll have to do as my last contribution on this thread; thanks for the interesting exchange. On Fri, Apr 30, 2010 at 2:33 AM, E Bruce Brooks ...
    Message 1 of 9 , Apr 30, 2010

      This'll have to do as my last contribution on this thread; thanks for the
      interesting exchange.

      On Fri, Apr 30, 2010 at 2:33 AM, E Bruce Brooks

      > I say again, this argument applies not only to the case of John 21,
      > but to the Pericope Adulterae.

      Nonsense. We have evidence that John circulated without the P.A., which
      stands apart from the rest of the Gospel narratively and stylistically. If
      John 21 were comparable in those respects, Minear would have written a very
      different article about it.

      JEFF: . . . and suggesting that we shouldn't accept the conclusions of
      > critical biblical scholarship in a reverent manner.
      > BRUCE: Well said, and no one could disagree with that formulation.
      > Nothing in science should be accepted in a reverent matter. Criticism,
      > openness to further evidence, doubt as to one's own first impressions,
      > all that is definitional for the scientific approach. The conclusions
      > of critical Biblical (sic; this adjective is derived from the proper
      > noun Bible) scholarship should be received like any other critical
      > conclusion or working hypothesis: critically.
      > Now that we have that straight, what are the evidences for or against
      > the originality of John 21? One I mentioned is the satisfactory
      > finality of Jn 20 as the end of the Gospel. This Paul denies. He
      > argues that the last two verses of Jn 20 are meant only to conclude
      > that chapter, not the whole Gospel, and that Jn 21 is needed as the
      > end of the whole Gospel. That is ingenious enough. But does anyone
      > actually buy it?

      The answer to your question is yes. On 21, I recommend Bauckham's essay "The
      Beloved Disciple as the Ideal Witness" (in his collection *The Testimony of
      the Beloved Disciple*) and his further treatment of the subject in *Jesus
      and the Eyewitnesses*, pp. 364ff. I referenced the latter in my first post
      because Bauckham does better with some aspects of the text than Minear,
      including on some points you note (e.g., the reference of the signs in
      20:30�31). He's also quite convincing (in part following Hengel in *The
      Johannine Question*) that 21 does not represent the author as John the son
      of Zebedee, but as one of the two unnamed disciples in 21:2.

      All the best,



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Ron Price
      ... Jeff and Bruce, Both the old Proto-Mark which often used to be posited as a part of the Two-Source Theory to explain the Minor Agreements, and the old
      Message 2 of 9 , May 1, 2010
        Jeff Peterson wrote in reply to Bruce Brooks:

        > I think your characterization of Minear's case as "simply an argument for
        > accepting the entire canonical NT in a reverent manner" is an utter misread.
        > He's inviting us to question our ability to infer stages in the development
        > of a text from such textual phenomena as have transfixed Johannine scholars,

        Jeff and Bruce,

        Both the old 'Proto-Mark' which often used to be posited as a part of the
        Two-Source Theory to explain the Minor Agreements, and the old 'Proto-Luke',
        are today rejected by almost everyone.

        So some scholars got it wrong. But this doesn't prove that inferring stages
        in the development of a text cannot be done. It merely proves that a rather
        more rigorous approach is required. I suggest that the approach should
        include at least:

        (1) demonstrating that the posited document at each earlier stage is more
        consistent than the later stage(s), because altering a well-thought-out text
        (even one's own) usually introduces some inconsistencies;

        (2) demonstrating a convincing motive for the alteration(s), bearing in mind
        that a significant alteration to a text in the first century would have
        involved rewriting the whole by hand if it was to be kept neat.

        Of course my own reconstruction of the stages in the development of the
        gospel of John (see my web site) does attempt to demonstrate these features.
        The posited original of the gospel is better structured and creates an even
        grander impression than our extant text. (Similarly for the original of
        Luke's gospel, but that's not described on my web site.)

        Ron Price

        Derbyshire, UK

        Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
      • David Mealand
        I am not quite sure quite what the accusation of people being anti-accretionist is directed at. There are plenty of NT scholars who hold that further letters
        Message 3 of 9 , May 4, 2010
          I am not quite sure quite what the accusation of
          people being "anti-accretionist" is directed at.
          There are plenty of NT scholars who hold that
          further letters were added to those by Paul, and
          that some short passages were added even to the
          major Paulines.

          In the case of the Synoptics
          it is hard to see how those who agree Markan priority
          can dissent from the two later Synoptics being
          a case of accretion, though some do try hard
          to gloss over the extent to which the later
          texts strive to "correct" Mark. (Presumably even a
          Markan posteriorist would be obliged to admit
          that a "decretionist" process implies dissent
          at least in regard to some major and presumably
          deliberate omissions.)

          In the case of the Fourth Gospel surely it is
          widely held that the material in it was worked over
          and rearranged over a long period. That Ch. 21 is
          a subsequent addition to the main edition is hardly
          a rarely held view due to the factors mentioned,
          despite the stylistic evidence for difference being less
          than that for the difference between signs and non-signs
          narrative. In the Farewell discourses the varying repetitions
          have certainly been seen as evidence of reworking.
          To that one could add that some of those discourses are
          more, others less like the style of the first
          "Johannine" epistle. And who can read Jn 6
          without being aware of sharp twists and turns
          in the content later in the chapter? The view
          that there are late or subsequent additions
          here is not unknown.

          If someone holds that most of these examples are
          some kind of accretion, then are they really one
          of the dogmatic anti-accretionists about whom
          we are being warned?

          Yes some do try to minimize the extent of change
          of view and dissent during the period in which the
          documents were produced, just as some try
          to give too many documents too early a date, but
          are there really so few who admit that there
          was both conflict and change of view over
          several decades?

          David M.

          David Mealand, University of Edinburgh

          The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
          Scotland, with registration number SC005336.
        • E Bruce Brooks
          To: Synoptic Cc: WSW, GPG In Response To: David Mealand From: Bruce No detailed reply seems necessary. As far as I am aware, the general tendency in this
          Message 4 of 9 , May 4, 2010
            To: Synoptic
            Cc: WSW, GPG
            In Response To: David Mealand
            From: Bruce

            No detailed reply seems necessary.

            As far as I am aware, the general tendency in this subject, worldwide
            and in all the humanistic sciences, over the last century and
            continuing at the present moment, is toward less receptivity to the
            idea that culturally central texts have a history, in which the
            present state of a text is not also the original state of that text.

            The degree to which the evidence of the text (or of the texts in a
            corpus) can break through that disinclination varies with disciplines
            and with persons; it is also (as I see it) a function of the degree of
            personal engagement that individuals (or whole religions) feel they
            have with a particular text. In NT, texts thought to be closely
            involved with Jesus are much more protected against criticism, in this
            way, than are those thought to be more peripheral, and among the
            Gospels, John is less protected than the Synoptics (as David has
            noted). Still more obviously, conjectural texts or noncanonical texts
            are relatively available to text-formation proposals. This, I would
            think obviously, is not a function of the texts in question, but of
            the kind and degree of regard in which they are held by modern persons.

            The rest is a matter of terminology, and it may help if I define "Accretion."

            1. A text can grow by the addition of material; unless the addition is
            a one-time thing (in which case I like the term "layering"), this is
            what I think it is fruitful to call "accretion." Your vestpocket diary
            is accretional.

            2. To a text there can appear a rival, which attempts to do the same
            thing better. This is nothing that the first text does, it is a result
            of what another author, or advocacy group, does. The appearance of
            Matthew in open succession to Mark, or the appearance of the Wudz
            military text in succession and rivalry with the older Sundz, would be
            examples. This is corpus growth, not text growth. But corpus growth is
            very important in its own way. Your newspaper is an example of
            accretional growth, whereas the appearance of another newspaper in
            town would be corpus growth.

            The Pauline letters grew in several ways: (1) later proprietors of the
            Pauline idea added lines or whole chapters to the genuine letters, to
            insert ideas that had become important at a later time; this is a
            little like the self-interpolation of the Analects of Confucius, which
            was done (in this case, by the original proprietors) to introduce new
            ideas into the earlier material, and also to reduce ideological
            differences between the old material and the latest additions. These
            are interpolations from outside, not accretional growth from within.
            (2) As Harrison has nicely shown, scraps of genuine Paul personal
            notes were fleshed out, again by the Paul movement, to justify certain
            later practices and doctrines; this is not so much accretion as
            "reopening" an older text for later extension. Thus what are called
            the Pastorals; they used to be merely the Personals. (3) Whole new
            Epistles were written over the name of Paul, to extend his authority
            to new ideas and to meet new issues. Their theology (though many have
            argued to the contrary) progresses even beyond the latest point
            reached by Paul, whose own ideas had evolved over the course of his
            career. These are the Deuteropaulines. They are an example of corpus

            3. The reopening of texts for further growth beyond their original
            limits, necessarily by someone other than the original text
            proprietors, is another distinct model. The Pastorals are a small
            example; Acts in Bezae is the only really well-known NT case
            otherwise. In Han China, when classical authority was sought for all
            kinds of new theories and sensibilities, a tremendous spurt of new
            composition occurred, but along with that, much energy also went into
            extending the already famous classical texts. So beside several new
            military manuals, the old Sundz (AND the almost as old Wudz, the two
            recognized classics of the military art) were expanded to many times
            their original size.

            What to call all these varieties of text activity, including the
            continued growth of a single text once written (like the layering in
            Mark, or the rearrangements in Luke, or the shifting of panels in
            John) is something of a problem. For one tentative but
            well-intentioned list of possible types, with illustrations both
            ancient and modern (there is nothing specifically ancient about these
            things), see


            As David points out, there are people who are more open than other
            people to proposals about text or corpus growth. We need not argue
            about their numbers, relative to those who are less receptive. The
            scholarly future of the subject, insofar as it has one, surely lies
            with those who can continue to examine the evidence of the texts
            (along with the evidence of later manuscript variants, as an aid in
            establishing the text in the first place). I wish them well. And I
            have opportunities for them, including publication opportunities, if
            they are encountering difficulty in getting a hearing for analyses of
            this type; contact me privately.


            E Bruce Brooks
            Warring States Project
            University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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