Re: [Synoptic-L] Re: [XTalk] The Great Omission
- To: Synoptic, CrossTalk
In Response To: Dennis Goffin (and Bob Schacht)
On: Lukan Great Omission
Bob asks for details about previous attempts to fom a model for the Lukan
Omission in terms of lost codex leaves. I am afraid that on this point my
memory is not well supported by my Rolodex. All I can say at this point is
that, as hinted in my earlier note, one attempt was based on wordcounts of
Mark, and another on letter counts. For the reason I gave (neither Greek
words nor Greek letters are isometric, unlike Chinese characters), neither
approach bodes well.
I was also asked to respond to Dennis Goffin's objection.
DENNIS: Reading the relevant passage in Streeter, I notice that he makes an
excellent case for 'the Great Omission' to have been no such thing, merely
that Luke got an earlier version of gMk than was finally published.
BRUCE: That's a fair summary of Streeter 172-174. The interesting part
starts at the bottom of p174, and begins to get warm at the bottom of p175.
Keep on reading.
DENNIS: Nor do I see anything in Hawkins' view that necessarily militates
BRUCE: Streeter quotes Hawkins' opinion that the style of the disputed
matter is "if anything, more Marcan than Mark." I might add that the style
of Colossians and of 2 Thessalonians is more Pauline than Paul. It is just
here that they betray their possibly secondary nature: the craftsman is
plying his trade a little too zealously. In Mark, it is quite possible that
at some point in the fornative process, much of the material here disputed
was indeed added to a previously existing text. If Luke had had a sort of
interim copy of Mark, including the the early layers but lacking the later
layers, we might explain the Omission - but again, only if the omission
coincided with pericope boundaries. It is Streeter's point (and mine) that
this is not the case. So that theory is untenable. It is also untenable for
other reasons, not all of them previously exposed (at least not by myself)
on this family of E-lists. Roughly: there are significant stretches of Mark
where the most obvious Markan style markers are either absent or (like kai)
reduced to statistically unremarkable levels. If Luke lacked *all* of this
late-layer material, then we might think (except for the ragged edges of the
Omission, which would still resist this explanation) that he had somehow
gotten hold of an early author's manuscript. But he does not. The Omission
is the only long stretch of Mark which is not represented one way or another
in Luke. Then his Vorlage was an essentially complete Mark, except for the
two pieces recently discussed.
DENNIS: I notice also that Streeter talks about the copy of gMk that Luke
got as a papyrus roll, not a codex.
BRUCE: That's Streeter's slip. His "Small Omission." I have ventured to
correct it. I don't see how a torn papyrus roll could leave behind it the
situation Luke seems to have confronted. A simple tear might have been
patched, with only minimal illegibility along the mend; that pattern is not
what Luke shows. A tear with loss of one half would result in half a Mark,
which again is not what Luke shows. What Luke shows would need to have been
brought about by two tears, with loss of the middle section, but with the
outside sections somehow patched together. It is very hard to imagine this
for a roll, but very easy for a codex. (Some of my own books have loose or
lost signatures or pages; it is a characteristic vulnerability of the codex
DENNIS: What are the clinchers against the above?
BRUCE: See previous, and above all, read Streeter (with Greek text
preferably in hand) past p175 and into the top of 178, slightly downplaying
the rest of 178 and following, where Streeter lapses into a more
The lamp that is hidden will be revealed, as the Good Books say, but it will
not necessarily remain long on view.
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
- Bruce Brooks wrote:
> ..... If anyone out there is actually interested in the subject, take aBruce,
> Greek text of Mark and (in the other hand) one of Luke, and follow along
> with both, word by word, just before the Omission, until you come to the
> place where Luke loses contact with Mark. Make a note of it. Then line up
> the respective points at the end of the Omission, where Luke regains
> contact, again following the two word by word. What will emerge, I venture
> to suggest, but only for those actually taking the time to perform the
> experiment, is that the boundaries of what Luke includes and omits *do not
> correspond to pericope boundaries.*
This conclusion assumes that Luke was merely copying the text of Mark, as
opposed to freely editing it, and further examination shows clearly that the
assumption is invalid.
If Luke had been a mere copyist, then an examination of Mk 6:42-44; 8:27;
and Lk 9:17-18 along the lines you suggest would show that he omitted KAI
APO TWN ICQUWN and the sentence mentioning the PENTAKISCILIOI, and then
omitted the first part of Mk 8:27 with its mention of KAISAREIAS THS
FILIPPOU. But far from omitting the mention of the five thousand, he had
already mentioned them several sentences earlier. Also, in 9:18 he added
that Jesus was 'praying alone'. This is not the work of a copyist. Once we
grant that Luke was an editor exerting considerable freedom in his use of
Mark (and this is easily verified when we expand our comparisons between
Mark and Luke), it is surely a nonsense to claim that Luke's deviation from
Mark can be pinned down to mid-sentence, or even to mid-pericope.
> ..... At minimum, however many copies of Mark were available toThey all contained the ending (16:8). It's just that some people
> medium-income readers in Syria, noneof them contained the ending of the
underestimate Mark's skills as an author. ;-)
> Matthew, another known Mark reader, did his best to patch in what heMark revelled in subtlety. Matthew, as a good teacher, liked to set things
> thought would have been the ending.
out clearly. This simple distinction explains many of the differences
between their texts.
> ..... if, as I and some others have concluded, Mark is early, with a coreNot a chance. Several older aphorisms untainted by the synoptic editors
> narrative written in the early or mid 30's, .....
indicate that the original disciples expected the imminent return of Jesus.
Why write anything down if you think the end is imminent? One of the
clearest trajectories in the early Jesus movement is from eager expectation
of an early return, to acceptance of, and preparation for, an increasingly
long delay. Mark illuminates a part of the trajectory when he deliberately
sets the embarrassing 9:1 in a context designed to suggest that the
expectation of an imminent return was somehow fulfilled in the
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