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RE: [Synoptic-L] FH and Thomas

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic (cc: GPG) My explanation of Lk 5:39 (as an anti-Marcionite addition to Lk) seems to have been too much for some recipients, as witness: Phew! And
    Message 1 of 13 , Jun 5, 2011
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      To: Synoptic (cc: GPG)

      My explanation of Lk 5:39 (as an anti-Marcionite addition to Lk) seems to
      have been too much for some recipients, as witness:

      "Phew! And I just thought that Luke knew his wine and perhaps also had a
      sense of irony."

      The preference for aged over new wine is standard for modern Western
      drinkers, and if we view Luke as a connoisseur of that sort, we make him a
      familiar figure, a man of vintages and with a certain budget at his
      disposal. A portly but likeable figure; very nice. But in the process, we
      may be doing some damage to the text:

      (1) Lk 5:39 apparently reverses the sense of the previous text, or at least
      that is what many readers have thought; this is not what we expect from a
      consecutive story or saying. It is therefore narratively suspect. (2) The
      preceding passage, Lk 5:36-38 ||, reported in all the Synoptics, and thus
      not suspect in the same way, seems to favor new wine, not over old wine, but
      as not being containable in old wineskins. For what is this a metaphor?
      Seemingly, the doctrines of Jesus, as not being capable of accommodation
      within older beliefs. Since Mk in particular (largely followed by Mt and
      indeed by Lk) is widely concerned to demonstrate and document the
      incompatibility of Jesus's teachings with those of the Pharisees (also
      identified as the doctrines of the fathers, that is, old tradition), this
      reading seems to be entirely in keeping, and not problematic. No commentator
      so far has suggested that this earlier part of the story is defective, or
      unintelligible, without an equivalent of Lk 5:39, so we may take it that Lk
      5:39 is at minimum extraneous. (3) WH bracket 5:39, and well they might.
      Here is why. Lk 5:39 is absent, not only from Mk and Mt (not your usual
      Minor Agreement), but from Bezae and the Old Latin, a pattern we find again
      in the Western Non passages, which also tend to cluster in Lk, and which
      seem to modernize Lk in several ritual respects; that is, they are early
      additions to Lk (and only to Lk; not also to Mt or Mk). Fitzmyer finds the
      attestation of 5:39 (Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and some papyri) to be
      overwhelming, and so in this case does the usually sagacious Metzger, but
      this amounts to saying that Vaticanus is a pure text, without admixture, and
      not to be contradicted by any other witness. Careful attention to text
      criticism details, across all the Synoptics (to mention only the Synoptics)
      will tend not to support that impression: there are places where
      Varticanus/Sinaiticus do not after all give the best reading. Nobody who
      knows the TC scene will wish to claim that Vaticanus is in all cases the
      archetype for all the texts it contains. I agree with Keith Elliott, up to a
      point, in the thought that mechanical Vaticanus assent is not a sufficient
      doctrine of text criticism. Here, as with the Western Non, we have a case
      where an assumption of Vaticanus primacy seems to go against the grain, the
      Tendenz, of the respective readings. (4) Metzger, who took a valiant stand
      against the reintroduction of the Western Non passages, but accepts 5:39,
      does suggest that "its omission from several Western witnesses may be due to
      the influence of Marcion, who rejected the statement because it seemed to
      give authority to the Old Testament." Well, that is exactly what it does, on
      any perceptive reading. But Marcion's excisions, detailed by Tertullian and
      others, are not made in our Luke, or in any major witness to Luke. That this
      one Marcion excision got into the text stream (and that our Luke preserves
      the Vorlage of Marcion) is not the pattern we find with other attested
      Marcion excisions. (5) So Marcion and Lk 5:39 are at odds, and at a point
      vital to the program of Marcion: getting rid of the Jewish background of
      Christianity was pretty much the whole ballgame to him. Accepting this as
      the field of contention, then either we have an original passage inimical to
      Marcion and accordingly excised by a hostile Marcion, or a passage inserted
      because it was hostile to Marcion. Either scenario is possible, but which is
      more likely? I cannot but suspect that the better attested reading (without
      5:39, the other Synoptics plus Bezae and Old Latin), which happens also to
      be the narratively coherent and unproblematic reading, is the correct one.
      (6) That the preceding story (about the incompatibility of Jesus doctrine
      and the old understanding) would have suited Marcion down to the ground,
      would indeed have virtually defined his approach to Scripture, is obvious.
      Suppose someone after 150 thought to curb Marcion, by removing this passage
      as a whole from *their* text of Luke. But that would be tactically
      impossible: Marcion himself was vilified by the orthodox for taking stuff
      out of Luke, and it would not be practical to imitate him, to inaugurate a
      war of excisions. Better then to add something, as a sort of stopper to the
      clear implications of Lk 5:36-38. This is exactly what 5:39 does, and it is
      all that 5:39 does. Unless we call in modern literary doctrines to read it

      As for "irony," among those doctrines, I seem to see that word cropping up
      whenever it is desired to have a passage mean more or less the opposite of
      what it says. A sort of freely insertable smiley face. I don't find that
      device typical of Jesus rhetoric. I don't even find it within the range of
      Jesus rhetoric. Paul is likely enough to use a term in a sort of sarcastic
      reverse sense (eg, "super-Apostles"), but Jesus? I would need to see a
      convincing second example. Is there one?

      E Bruce Brooks / University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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