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Luke #1

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic Cc: Several Lk and Mt scholars On: Luke #1 From: Bruce METHODOLOGICAL PROLOGUE Humanists in our time seem to be much attracted to Popper s view of
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 24, 2012
      To: Synoptic
      Cc: Several Lk and Mt scholars
      On: Luke #1
      From: Bruce


      Humanists in our time seem to be much attracted to Popper's view of
      scientific method, which is that scientific method begins with a hypothesis.
      But hypotheses merely reflect ourselves unless they are based on something
      outside ourselves. I thus think Hume is right to say that scientific
      knowledge begins with observation. First we observe, as precisely as
      possible, the thing out there; then we think; and finally we test our
      thought. So before we begin to marshal our explanations, what is it,
      exactly, that we are trying to explain? That is the question which Hume puts
      first, and which I should think ought indeed to come first. I proceed to ask
      that question of Luke.


      One of the unexamined assumptions of recent work on Luke is that Luke is an
      integral text (written all at one time, with a single authorial impulse),
      and thus unproblematic. That assumption is natural enough, but in antiquity
      it is often wrong, and the experienced person will accordingly not make it.
      The experienced person will instead examine the object to see if that
      assumption holds, or if some other is preferable. With Luke, it is easy to
      show that the assumption of integrity does not hold.

      Our present Luke (see the Gospel Trajectories article in Warring States
      Papers v1, and I mention again that theological libraries which are slow in
      acquiring this item are running the risk of depriving those who depend on
      them of the latest word in NT and other research; see


      . . . is typologically, and thus probably also chronologically, later than
      Matthew. But this observation applies only to the canonical states of Luke
      and Matthew. Were there earlier states of either, and are these to any
      degree recoverable? The answer, I find, is negative for Matthew, but Yes and
      Yes for Luke. Consider the following:


      1. Luke's Birth Narrative is far more elaborate, and more developed both
      literarily and theologically, than Matthew's. If there is anything to the
      art of directionality, it is thus later than Matthew's. This so far does not
      affect the integrity of Luke. What affects the integrity of Luke is that the
      whole Birth Narrative overrides a plausible original opening: the
      synchronisms of Lk 3:1 (the case is similar to the overriding of an original
      ending by the addition of Jn 21). Then canonical Lk is indeed later than
      canonical Mt, but it is also later than an earlier state of Lk, the one
      which began at Lk 3:1. We have the sequence
      Lk 3:1 > Lk 1-2

      2. Luke's genealogy of Joseph takes him back to Adam, the first man, and
      thus identifies him with all of humanity, whereas Matthew's more
      Jewish-confined genealogy only takes him back as far as David and Abraham:
      those Jews to whom God made effective promises. As the more universal
      version, Luke's genealogy is typologically later. But as a probable part of
      the Origin complex including the Birth Narrative (see #1), the genealogy too
      is suspect as a late addition to Lk. Again we get a sense, not only of a
      two-stage text (at minimum), but of one which is reacting to the presence of
      more limited material in Matthew, and concerned to expand Matthew in
      appropriate ways.

      3. Luke's account of Jesus's calling of Simon is famously inconcinnitous
      (famously because I called attention to it on this list about a decade ago).
      It is (a) out of place with respect to the Markan order of these pericopes,
      and (b) inconcinnitous because the Lukan narrative has Jesus going to
      Simon's house (4:38) before we even know who Simon is. Luke's repositioning
      of the Calling pericope (5:4) answers the narrative question: Why did Simon
      respond so readily to Jesus's call? Luke's answer, given in part by the
      repositioning, is that Simon was convinced by hearing Jesus's preaching (and
      seeing his exorcism) in the Capernaum synagogue. This helps to explain for
      us Simon's readiness of response, but at the cost of having Jesus intrude
      himself into a household which does not know him. Then the Calling story
      must, in Luke, originally have stood where it does in Mark (which explains
      why Simon, who had previously been called, was able to offer hospitality to
      Jesus), and was later moved (for narrative reasons, but entailing narrative
      confusion in another place). The implication is that Luke existed in two
      states: an early one with the Calling in Markan position, before the
      Capernaum Sermon, and a later one in which it was moved to the problematic
      position it presently occupies, following that Sermon.

      4. We now have three reasons to suspect that there are two layers in Luke,
      and that the later of those layers had: (a) a Birth narrative, improving on
      Matthew's and overriding the original beginning of Luke; (b) a Joseph
      genealogy, improving on Matthew's and specifically making it more
      universally human and less specifically Jewish, and (c) a relocated Calling
      of Simon, which explains Simon's motivation at the cost of some narrative
      inconcinnity. The earlier Luke began at what is now Lk 3:1; the later one of
      course at the present Luke 1:1.


      5. So far our observations, and our immediate inferences from them. It is
      now time to ask: Do the inferences cohere? Do the signs of a *later* Luke
      combine to make a *consistent* Luke? Because if they do not, if they give a
      confused picture, our inferences have not led us in a very productive
      direction. Or to put it in terms currently popular, our hypothesis will not
      have been confirmed.

      6. The inferences do in fact cohere, and they tend to suggest a consistent
      Later Luke (which I will call Luke B for convenience; actually it embraces
      two later states, B and C, but we don't know that yet). Notice that there is
      a strong element of the supernatural in the Lukan Birth story. Compared to
      the Matthean one (where to be sure Joseph is continually guided, in
      protecting his family, by voices from heaven), it is extravagantly magical.
      Not only was the Lukan Jesus conceived by supernatural means, but so was
      John the future B, and not only that, but John, so far from meeting Jesus
      for the first time at his Baptism, acknowledges *from the womb,* no less,
      that Jesus is greater than he. There is also the virtually supernatural
      precocity of Jesus at the Temple. So far the Birth and Infancy Narratives.
      In our collection of Later Luke passages or repositionings, is there
      anything else that has similar traits? Yes, the Calling of Simon, which
      climaxes in a Miraculous Catch of Fish, and it is this above all that
      convinces Simon of Jesus's own divinity. So we may say, not only that there
      are elements in present Luke that by position or other arguments belong to a
      later layer, but also that at least some of those elements have in common a
      greater interest in the miraculous. Then the hypothesis has passed the
      present test: it not only points to a conclusion, but that conclusion, if
      examined, proves to have elements of self-consistency which suggest a real
      entity and not a random construct.


      7. We may also ask, of an inference or a hypothesis: Is it fruitful?
      Something correct that goes little further than itself is not after all very
      interesting. I would say that this test (not of truth, but of importance - a
      separate matter, as all statisticians know) is also met. For it directs our
      attention to several other places in Luke where passages have evidently been
      relocated from their Markan position (the Nazareth scene, the Mustard Seed
      parable, and a handful of others). On the content side, it directs us to
      passages in Luke where a notably universalistic line is taken, one of the
      most obvious of these being the Sending of the Seventy, that number
      symbolizing All Mankind just as surely as the Markan (and Matthean) Twelve
      imply a mission confined (as Matthew in fact makes explicit) to Jews alone.
      Are the Seventy a relocation? No, there is nothing of the kind in Mark. Are
      they an intrusion into previous text? Yes, and we need only note that they
      conflict with the Sending of the Twelve, which in Luke is retained from his
      Markan precedent. There are other proofs, but to display them would require
      another note, and I am reaching the end of this one.


      This is a very tiny mini-sample of how, as it seems to me, one might
      approach an unknown text, cold, without any cute theories or models of our
      own (ourselves being about as irrelevant to Luke and his times as it is
      possible to get), but simply being alert to signs of activity or
      inconsistency in the text, if any, and going from there to see what these
      might imply.

      Going from there has so far led us to a two-stage theory of Lukan formation.
      But the present data base for that theory is very slight. So the ultimate
      question is, How far can this thing be carried without running into fatal
      inconsistencies? The final answer cannot be given at this moment, since the
      investigation is still underway. What can be reported at this moment is an
      interim answer, and the interim answer is this: It can be carried very far,
      in the process shedding light not only on the formation process of Luke, but
      on the formation process of Matthew, a thing without which no account of the
      intimately interrelated Luke can hope to stand as adequate.

      At this moment, then, we seem to have, beginning to come into view, a Later
      Luke which is characterized by at least these traits: (a) a minute concern
      for psychologically cogent motivation of the characters in the story, (b) a
      strong interest in the supernatural and miraculous, and (c) a tendency to
      see Christianity as universal, and not simply as a special sect within

      Here, it seems to me, are some of the important features of Luke as we now
      know it, and the formation-history picture of Luke to which they rather
      naturally lead.


      Does the Q family of theories address any of these points? Not that I ever
      heard. I can only conclude, accordingly, that the Q family of theories are
      not only coming up with wrong or insufficient answers, but answers to
      wrongly posed questions asked of an insufficiently examined text.


      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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