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RE: [Synoptic-L] Testing Luke and Acts

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic On: Stylistic Testing From: Bruce With David Mealand s last note, we seem to be at the end of the subject for the time being. Three points rather
    Message 1 of 8 , Jul 29, 2011
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      To: Synoptic
      On: Stylistic Testing
      From: Bruce

      With David Mealand's last note, we seem to be at the end of the subject for
      the time being. Three points rather caught my eye:

      DAVID: In many cases genre cause more change than almost anything else, /
      BRUCE: I had been suspecting that, and continue to wonder if it isn't coming
      through in these reported results. Perhaps one outcome might be a closer
      definition of "genre," which would be no bad thing.

      DAVID: One problem esp. in Acts is that the author seems incapable of
      starting a narrative without adding some speech, or a speech without
      including some narrative. / BRUCE: I am not sure it is incapacity; perhaps
      it is intentional. Acts in particular (unlike the Gospel) looks to me rather
      like an extended forensic defense of Christianity against Roman persecution.
      The method used is narrating fictitious events and including invented
      speeches; the end product is not the history of Christianity, but an account
      of Christianity as the author wished it to appear to his audiences. The
      Roman audience was addressed in the forensic part; the frequent
      demonstrations that high-ranking Romans found Christianity harmless or even
      interesting, and the malicious Jewish [never Roman!] charges against them
      groundless; the post-Pauline Christian audience was assured that
      Christianity had received divine guidance at every step.

      DAVID: Probably the variety adds interest to the reader, but it makes
      extracting samples harder than one might expect. / BRUCE: I very much doubt
      that variety is the point for aAc. This is not a beach book. I strongly
      suspect that convincement is the point for aAc. As for extracting samples,
      I dunno. A test for style might well be concerned for connectivity, which
      would thinkably be better illustrated by leaving the work connected the way
      it presently is. Style (as far as I can see) is not just lexicon; it is at
      least in part a way of *articulating* the lexicon.

      People write books for reasons. Josephus's reasons are too well known to
      bear repeating. Polybius may be less familiar to some, but a check in OCD
      will provide the necessary. A style test can be very sensitive about
      nuances of style, which is a big help in seeing what an author is up to in a
      text: stylistic hot spots tend to occur at points where the author's
      feelings are most strongly engaged (clinical psychologists use this device,
      or its analogue, every hour of their working lives). In my experience, style
      is a rather blunt instrument when turned to the discrimination of author
      identity, but sometimes quite acute in its home territory, the detection of
      author engagement.

      E Bruce Brooks
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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