Re: [Synoptic-L] Re: [WSW] opinions about accretion
This'll have to do as my last contribution on this thread; thanks for the
On Fri, Apr 30, 2010 at 2:33 AM, E Bruce Brooks
>Nonsense. We have evidence that John circulated without the P.A., which
> I say again, this argument applies not only to the case of John 21,
> but to the Pericope Adulterae.
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.The answer to your question is yes. On 21, I recommend Bauckham's essay "The
> 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?
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]
- Jeff Peterson wrote in reply to Bruce Brooks:
> I think your characterization of Minear's case as "simply an argument forJeff and Bruce,
> 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,
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.)
Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
- 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
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
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
David Mealand, University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
Scotland, with registration number SC005336.
- To: Synoptic
Cc: WSW, GPG
In Response To: David Mealand
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
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
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