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Mt/Lk Directionality 1

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: GPG Cc: Alpha, Synoptic On: Mt/Lk Directionality 1 From: Bruce One of the points of interest in Gospel studies is, what is the situation with Mt/Lk common
    Message 1 of 52 , Jun 22, 2012
      To: GPG
      Cc: Alpha, Synoptic
      On: Mt/Lk Directionality 1
      From: Bruce

      One of the points of interest in Gospel studies is, what is the situation
      with Mt/Lk common material not shared with Mk? An outside source ("Q") has
      been proposed for the larger pieces, but this leaves unsolved the problem of
      the smaller pieces ("Minor Agreements"), and thus does not really address
      the problem. What the Q idea does address is the fact of seeming
      bidirectionality: in some of the common material, sometimes Mt and sometimes
      Lk seems the earlier. This relationship might be solved by a situation of
      bidirectional between Mt/Lk, but this would require that one of them be both
      earlier and later than the others. No one including myself sees signs of
      accretion or significant interpolation in Mt, seemingly the only Gospel that
      was written only once. But for Lk-Acts, there is independent evidence that
      it was indeed composed in three stages, one of which was before Matthew and
      the other two after it. The Lk A > Mt > Lk B/C possibility may then be worth

      In a certain sense, though not quite as here envisioned, the Mt > Lk part of
      that possibility has already been argued by Goulder. One might say that it
      remains only to sift out of that treatment the passages that are better
      explained as Lk > Mt. This note is an exercise in that direction. I will be
      especially interested in the sections of Matthew corresponding to his Five
      Sermons, since these are already considered by some to be assembled from
      material differently located in Matthew's sources.


      Just to establish that there is something to talk about, I should start with
      these. One of them, to the ordinary literary sensibility, is the Lord's
      Prayer (see also Kilpatrick Origin p21)). Another is the Lukan Sermon on the
      Plain as a whole, which has been augmented in Mt with some material scraped
      together from other places in Lk, plus some additions of Mt's very own.
      Among Mt's augmentations, the extended Beatitudes are especially revealing:
      Mt has pieced out the Lukan ones with some inspirations drawn from the
      Psalms. More generally, it was probably from Lk that Matthew got the idea of
      discrete sermons, and he made his Sermon on the Mount (a reworking and
      expansion of Luke's Sermon on the Plain) his first, borrowing from Lk a
      finishing statement ("When Jesus had finished these sayings"), and extending
      it to his other Four Sermons, as a structural signal.

      Since there is also some Mt > Lk material in the First Matthean Sermon,
      which makes for a complicated argument, I will postpone discussing it until


      Matthew's Second Sermon (Mt 9:35-10:42) is a remake of Mark's Instructions
      to the Disciples; I pass it up here, noting only that here too a Markan core
      is being built out further by Mt.


      Matthew's Third Sermon (Mt 13:1-52; the entire chapter) is a remake of the
      Mk 4 Parables of the Kingdom. Mk 4 is the first thing in Mk that could be
      called an extended discourse, and was part of Luke's inspiration in
      extending that idea to other parts of his Gospel. These Mk 4 Kingdom
      parables are a tough sell, chiefly because they have in view the original
      Davidic Kingdom, which concept became obsolete at Jesus's death. Mark
      himself, in a later layer, went back and violently reinterpreted the Parable
      of the Sower, and has Jesus say that he has been purposely misleading the
      general public (that is, the still extant Galilean Davidic public), and then
      refashion that parable so it applies easier to the later Jesus followers. Mt
      follows this Markan rewrite, and goes further. He (1) introduces a nice
      compliment to the disciples at 13:16-17 ("Blessed are your eyes;" Mt is
      famously kind to the disciples), (2) drops the unreconstructable Davidic
      Parable of the Seed and substitutes his own Parable of the Weeds (13:24-30),
      (3) follows the somewhat Davidic Parable of the Mustard Seed (the restored
      Israel will shed its bounties, and its dominion, widely) with something
      equally wide-ranging but more practical in post-Davidic terms (the Parable
      of the Leaven, 13:33), and (4) then concludes.

      His strategy in all of this seems clear and (given his assumptions)
      reasonable, and none of the additional material seems jarring in context;
      rather, it seems to have been crafted to fit reasonably well with the
      earlier material.

      If we now turn to the Lukan side of things, we note that there are two
      overlaps with Mk 13, the "Blessed are your eyes" passage and the Parable of
      the Leaven. Since these seem to be in place in Mt, we might expect that they
      were borrowed thence into Lk, and it will be seemly to look at Lk to see if
      this is in fact the case. How will we tell? Perhaps by finding that these
      passages fit less well in their Lukan context than in their Matthean


      This, I think, is where it gets interesting. Both the Mk 13 pieces in
      question turn up in the long Lukan Travel Sermon (properly 9:14-18:14,
      almost a third of Luke). As with Mt 13, we can ask, Does this immense
      sequence of stuff have a constant message, as the Markan Parables of the
      Kingdom originally did? Or is it just a pile of stuff?

      I suggest that there is a constant theme, which runs from the beginning to
      the end, with some digressions large and small, which digressions are thus
      under suspicion of being later added material. That theme is the guidance
      and encouragement of the committed but poor Jesus followers. The hypothesis,
      then, is that everything which addresses the situation of the Church of the
      Renunciation, getting along from day to day, living apart from worldly
      temptations and focusing on the imminent Final Judgement, is probably
      original. Thus Lk 9:51-56 merely starts the journey. The first teaching
      piece, 9:57-62, is about hesitation among the faithful: this is denounced as
      fatal to discipleship. There must be no hesitation, and the Hope of the
      Kingdom must come before everything else. This theme recurs in Mary and
      Martha (10:38-42), though in gentler form: Mary has chosen rightly in
      neglecting routine household tasks, and focusing on the message of Jesus.
      The following pieces, the Lord's Prayer (for daily maintenance in conditions
      of poverty and nonpossession), the Friend at Midnight (an assurance that
      prayer will in fact be heard, the Ask and it will be Given piece (same
      message), all have the same tendency. Hope is in prayer, and prayer will be

      And so on.

      Into this series at the beginning of the Travel Sermon we have several
      intrusions, and one of them is the Blessed are Your Eyes passage (Lk
      10:23-24). Directly preceding it is another Mt/Lk overlap piece, 10:21-22
      (The Father Reveals to Children, ~ Mt 11:25-27), which has nothing very
      obvious to do with the general tenor of the Lukan Sermon, but does nicely
      introduce the Blessed are Your Eyes piece which now follows it. I suggest
      that these two pieces, which interrupt the tenor of the Lukan Sermon, and at
      least one of which is seemingly consecutive in its Matthean context, were
      borrowed from Matthew by Luke B, when revising and expanding his original

      This thought would be strengthened if the other Mt 13 parallel in the Lukan
      Travel Sermon could be construed in the same way. I believe this to be the
      case. That piece (Mt 13:33, the Parable of the Leaven) occurs at Lk
      13:20-21, and again, as with the other Mt 13 piece, Luke introduces it with
      something else, in this case the relocated Mustard Seed parable. These have
      little to do with the Lukan Sermon theme, which is however seemingly resumed
      in the next piece, Lk 13:22-24 (Few Will Be Saved), a sequence which runs
      thematically through Lk 13:30 (Some who are last will be first), an
      appropriate thought, though one which Luke seems to treat as a free saying,
      to use wherever appropriate.

      The expectation about the second Mt 13 passage thus seems to have been met.


      If so, we should note that material in the Lukan Travel Sermon which *does*
      fit the overall theme of that sermon should be regarded as original (that
      is, as Luke A), and thus as borrowed into Matthew. This category would
      include several passages just mentioned, among them

      Lk 13:22-24 (Few Will Be Saved) > Mt 7:13-14, where it is part of the SoM.
      Lk 13:25-27y (Many will complain) > Mt 25:10b-12
      Lk 13:28-29 (Others will take their place) > Mt 8:11-12

      These, if the present analysis holds, would be exceptions to the Goulder
      blanket Mt > Lk analysis, which in my terms would be Mt > Lk B. They would
      instead be part of the previous tide running in the opposite direction: Lk A
      > Mt.

      Respectfully suggested,


      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • Ronald Price
      ... Ken, NT scholars don t always use the word gospel in the same sense. The variation in meaning parallels almost exactly the variation in meaning between
      Message 52 of 52 , Jul 4, 2012
        Ken Olson wrote:

        > I am assuming that what Papias says in other places (according to Eusebius‚
        > reports) may be used to interpret
        > what he says here. Particularly when he uses groups of words together
        > (interpret, arrange, logia) in relation to the evangelists on different
        > occasions, they mean something close to the same thing .....


        NT scholars don't always use the word "gospel" in the same sense. The
        variation in meaning parallels almost exactly the variation in meaning
        between Eusebius/Papias, where logia usually refers to general traditions
        (c.f. e.g. Luke's gospel), and what I think Papias meant re what Matthew
        produced - logia as sayings (c.f. the 'Gospel of Thomas'). Why should we
        expect the ancients to be more consistent than the highly educated products
        of modern universities?

        > Papias' concern is to show that the gospels are the authentic witness of the
        > apostles to Jesus and have not been adulterated in transmission, and the
        > variation between them is due differences in translation of the underlying
        > material .....

        There appears to be a significant weakness in your assessment of the
        statement by Papias, namely your interpretation of his "translation".
        Firstly it assumes that Eusebius' HE 3.24.6 reflects the understanding of
        Papias, which is not necessarily the case (and I think you admitted this).
        Secondly I don't see any evidence that Papias (or Eusebius) was making
        inadequate translation an excuse for variations between the gospels.
        Thirdly, if I've understood you correctly, your interpretation envisages an
        awkward sentence in which Matthew did a good job with the logia, yet is
        included in the "each one" whose ability at translation was being
        questioned. This doesn't seem to me likely. In my interpretation, Matthew
        (the apostle) is not included in the "each one". Indeed I'm wondering
        whether it could have been this very statement which Eusebius and/or others
        misunderstood, leading to the apostle Matthew being taken to have been the
        author of the gospel which we know as Matthew's gospel.

        > You can't simply set aside the larger context of what Papias and Eusebius say
        > elsewhere as a tool for interpreting what he says here about Matthew.

        But what about the wider context of the synoptic problem? There are
        phenomena in NT books that can only be explained satisfactorily if there
        existed in the first century a written Aramaic document containing sayings
        attributed to Jesus, and if copies of this document were available to the
        synoptic writers.

        1. mistranslations
        2. Aramaic word play
        3. extensive Semitic parallelism
        4. blocks of aphorisms in each of the synoptic gospels
        5. comments by Paul (esp. in 1 Cor) which seem to be best understood as
        allusions to such a document

        Such observations should lead us to *expect* that there was an Aramaic
        sayings source, and surely it would be reasonable to take this expectation
        as tipping the balance as to what Papias actually meant.

        Ron Price,

        Derbyshire, UK

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