RE: [Synoptic-L] FGH Update
- To: Synoptic (Chuck Jones)
I had suggested that people divide Mt/Lk material into two piles according
to directionality, and then see where it gets them.
Chuck: Bruce, this phenomenon is called alternating primitivity, and it is
one of three or four observations about the double tradition material
prompted the proposal of independent dependence on a lost source, Q. I'm
surprised you're surprised.
Bruce: I know, I know. I merely propose that we go back to the two piles,
and see, as it were de novo, what besides Q might be implied. I am trying to
suggest that there may be other inferences to be drawn.
As to one such possibility, I had also said: "I posit contact between
Matthew and Luke in both directions: Luke A > Matthew > Luke B."
Chuck: In this scenario, Lk A is a lost source.
Bruce: On the contrary, Lk A is right there in canonical Lk, somewhat buried
under later material, to be sure, but excavation appears to be possible, at
least enough so that the outlines become usefully visible.
Chuck: In what way is this a more elegant solution than the Q hypothesis?
Bruce: I am not sure that elegance is the only test of hypotheses (if it
were, the necessary dirt of archaeology would render archaeological results
forever unavailable to scholarship). For one thing, elegance tends to be a
matter of taste, including a taste for simplicity. All in all, I prefer the
criterion of adequacy. According to the criterion of adequacy, a successful
hypothesis (or the most nearly successful hypothesis at any given moment)
will deal with more of the data than the alternatives.
One fact that is dealt with by the Lk A/B hypothesis (and is not even
addressed in the Q hypothesis) is that, as I have repeatedly observed on
Synoptic, and as I have systematically presented at SBL (2007), some
passages in Lk have obviously been moved from the position they originally
occupied in Lk, in the process creating narrative inconcinnities. One easy
example is the Capernaum Problem. In canonical Luke, Jesus goes to the house
of Peter's mother-in-law (Lk 4:38-39) before he has even met Peter (Lk 5:3),
an impolite proceeding if ever there was one. Later on, he encounters Peter
on the shore, and Peter recognizes Jesus, and professes himself unworthy to
be in Jesus's presence. Why does Peter feel this way? I would suggest,
taking the canonical text of Luke as my guide: Because he had previously
heard Jesus preach in Capernaum. (Of course there is also the miracle of the
fishes, just in case the less subtle reader missed the point).
What problem does it solve, to have Peter previously aware of Jesus? I am
glad that question came up, and I will answer it. It solves the problem of
motivation. Why, in Mark, should Peter (and Andrew) simply drop all they are
doing, and leave their boat and their livelihood at a word of summons from
Jesus? It makes no sense, commercial or otherwise. Mark requires that we
accept this rather abrupt picture, and Mark thus leaves us puzzling. Luke,
by contrast, gives us a reason to accept Peter's acceptance. Luke gets it by
moving pieces around in his previous version (Lk A), specifically by moving
the Capernaum Preaching (Lk 43:21-32) up ahead of the Call to Peter (Lk
5:1-11). The preaching, we are now to understand (simply by taking things in
the new order in which Luke presents them) is where Peter first got a sense
of Jesus's uniqueness and indeed his power (fully preserved in Lk from the
prototype in Mk).
How do we know that the Call to Peter originally preceded, and did not
follow, the Capernaum Preaching? How do we know that Luke did not simply
rearrange the Markan material as he copied it out of Mark? Because the move
has created a narrative inconcinnity, meaning that features of both stories
that presumed the other sequence are still present, and constitute the new
problem: the inconcinnity problem, which is Jesus's intruding into the house
the mother-in-law of a man he has not yet even met. Then there were two
states of Lk, which I call A and B (a further argument would be required to
establish Luke C, and I forbear to carry the topic that far on this
occasion). In A, Luke followed Markan order. In B, he relocated some
incidents without sufficiently changing the way he had previously written
them. We reach this conclusion not because of anything in Matthew, but
simply from what we can observe in Luke.
But once it is clear that Luke existed in at least two stages, there are
consequences, in the form of more options, for the Matthew situation when we
later take it up. That is, there are now at least two ways, not one, in
which the bidirectionality of Mt/Lk passages can be accounted for. This
might later prove to be useful.
THE MIND OF LUKE
Can we prove, independently of the elegance of this demonstration, that Lk
was concerned for motivation above narrative concinnity? Yes, we can, and
doing so makes a good prolegomena to the previous investigation.
Luke does not like things happening out of thin air; he equally does not
like narrative details that go noplace. Mark is full of both kinds of loose
end, and from what Luke did in his own text, we can see that these things
bothered Luke, with his tidy and psychologically consecutive mind. I give
one example of each.
Lk 19:31. "If anyone asks you, Why are you untying it, you shall say this:
The Lord has need of it." Luke does not go on to copy the rest of the Markan
sentence, namely " . . . and will send it back here immediately." Why not?
Because in Mark, they never do send it back. And some brat in Sunday School
will say, Didn't Jesus keep his promise? And the Sunday School teacher gets
all embarrassed, and who needs that? Luke may have been himself a Sunday
School teacher, and he may have gotten tired of questions like this. So he
produced his own handout, to replace creaky and problematic Mark.
That is an example of an unresolved narrative detail that Luke avoids by
simply cutting off the offending sentence in Mk. For an example of the other
sort (in fact, of both sorts), I now take a look at the kind of thing they
had been using in Luke's Sunday school. First comes a problem of
Mk 14:47. "But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the slave
of the high priest and cut off his ear."
So some wretched brat asks, "How come they had swords? Aren't these nice and
peaceful people?" And Teacher Luke, who at heart is himself a nice and
peaceful person, but who is even more a hater of narrative loose ends, and
who at the same time can't bear to mess with the respected Mark any more
than he has to by leaving this whole incident out, leaves it in, but adds an
earlier passage, which is there to explain things: to answer the brat
question, and for no other reason. It reads:
Lk 22:36. "But now, let him who who has a purse take it, and likewise a bag.
And let him who has no sword sell his mantle and boy one.  For I tell
you that the scripture must be fulfilled in me, 'And he was reckoned with
the transgressors,' for what is written about me has its fulfilment. 
And they said, Look, Lord, here are two swords. And he said to them, It is
The invocation of scripture (Isa 53:12), to explain this departure from the
Mission Instructions, and also from the previously pacific nature of the
Jesus party's behavior, is a neat touch. The appositeness of the quotation
is not very obvious, but the standard for Scriptural relevance is pretty
modest anyway, and Isaiah serves here to give a solemn tone to things, and
to help discourage any further brat questions.
These two examples show Luke at work, and doing what? In modern terms,
cleaning up Mark's HTML code. That he creates problems of consistency
elsewhere, and on the larger scale, does not bother him. He is focusing on
the problem he is aware of, and other considerations for the moment recede.
Just like the rest of us.
Luke then returns to the problem scene (the slave's cut off ear), and cleans
that up by resolving the outcome question, and in the nicest Nice Jesus
tradition too, by adding this bit:
Lk 22:51. "But Jesus said, No more of this! And he touched his ear and
See? Narrative satisfaction, and also a peaceful gesture of Jesus, to get
rid of his seeming acceptance (in the Markan version, where it is
narratively unresolved) of this very violent act of one of his followers.
The Lukan Jesus is his own army's Red Cross truck. Just for a moment, but
how grateful to the ears of the young!
Luke is like that a lot. And it is useful to research, and specifically to
the kind of decisions about intention which we continually have to make in
research, to find that out. We are not likely to find it out, I venture to
suggest, if we simply add up the Lukan wordcounts and then stop. I much
admire John Hawkins, and am daily grateful for his labors (be sure to use
the 2nd edition), but that is not an excuse for those who come after him not
to pick up the other aspect. The text is partly built out of its words, and
it is also partly built out of its arrangements. Lukan research has not been
all that attentive to Luke's arrangements. I think it is a shortcoming, and
that much wisdom and profit will attend anyone who can contribute to making
good the lack.
Just a thought.
E Bruce Brooks / University of Massachusetts at Amherst
- I noted previously that while I think Luke's beatitudes
in the main have an earlier form than those in
Matthew, I had agreed with Benedict Green that
Luke's matching woes had vocabulary links with
Matthew's beatitudes (and Isai 61.2Gk). This made me suspect
that Luke might have changed "mourn" and "be consoled"
to "weep" and "laugh" the first time, but then
used the original wording (or cognates) the second time.
Mark came up with a similar edit to that where Luke
follows Mark, but now this one where Luke matches
Matthew's _additions_ to Mark. (On 2ST or on FGH)
Here's another analogous case. Matt. 8.1R has ὄχλοι πολλοί (OCLOI
POLLOI), not picked up in Luke 5.12, perhaps because of the
contradiction with 8.4 ("Don't tell anyone"). Luke 5.15, then uses
the expression in its summary verse subsequent to the Leper story.
This is more interesting as the oxloi polloi along with
kai idou and Kyrie are what I would call three "minor agreements"
but which Mark would class as Lukan dependencies on Matthew.
I had all three flagged in the relevant colour long since,
but had thought the agreements coincidental edits.
However, the pattern of "not following then following later"
might well be one worth pursuing as a possible Lukan
In an earlier edit Mark 3.7 has polu plhqos Matt.4.25 oxloi polloi
and Luke a neatly differentiated oxlos polus of disciples and
plhqos polu of the people! Also with diverse lists of the regions
from which this crowd came!
David Mealand, University of Edinburgh
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