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Questions on Luke #1-3 (and Book Sale)

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Alpha Cc: Synoptic (for the Book Sale at end) On: Questions on Luke #1-3 From: Bruce [The Book Sale is at the end. First, the Book Talk). We had some
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 19, 2014
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      To: Alpha
      Cc: Synoptic (for the Book Sale at end)
      On: Questions on Luke #1-3
      From: Bruce

      [The Book Sale is at the end. First, the Book Talk).

      We had some interesting responses to my request for Luke problem passages -
      passages against which to test the new and exciting Luke A/B/C theory of
      synoptic relationships. These passages are of interest in themselves, simply
      for understanding Luke better (always a good idea), but in our case, also
      for what they may tell us about the Mt/Lk relationship. If, for example, one
      of a pair of passages is inharmoniously placed in Lk, or is seemingly
      smoothed in Mt, we have established a probable directionality for that
      particular item. Here are the first three questions as asked by one of our
      correspondents, and my best answers as of this moment. Better answers always

      1. Lk 5:39. Why is the old better? This points in a different direction from
      Matthew and Mark. (A) Exactly. That passages is not in Mt, and in Lk, it is
      ill supported in the manuscripts, and belongs to the group of Western Non
      passages, very early interpolations not made in the ancestor of Bezae. It is
      probably anti-Marcionite, and added c160 (which would explain why it is not
      in all the manuscripts). Marcion wanted to reject the old (OT, Jewish)
      element in Christianity, and this verse, validating the old, argues against
      Marcion. It also violates everything that has gone before (the part
      preserved from Mk in both Mt and Lk) by reversing it. That does not matter
      to the person who put it in. The point of controversialist literature is not
      to agree with the group's own previous pronouncements, but to controverse
      effectively. That person thought: Marcion has mutilated Luke to make his
      point that the old is bad. What a neat move it would then be, to make *Luke
      itself* talk back to Marcion, and in the very voice of Jesus? That was
      apparently the strategy, and Lk 5:39 is the result.

      There is thus no edification in this passage. Simply an artifact of
      arguments within Christianity.

      2. 7:35. How is Wisdom proved right by her children? (A) First question is,
      who are her children? In Luke it is obviously John the Baptist and Jesus,
      whose styles are contrasted in the previous text, and who are both rejected,
      but whose message is true, and thus Wisdom (who as in Proverbs is a woman)
      is proved to have been right in sending both of them. Their failure to
      convince does not invalidate their message, or the one who sent them. It is
      a vindication of a sort.

      Notice that in the parallel Mt 11:19, we have instead "Yet wisdom is
      justified by her deeds." This eliminates the children, and it also
      eliminates John the B as equally bearing the valid message which, in a
      different style, is also preached by Jesus. Mt is interested in Jesus Only.
      In Mt, the word "deeds" links back to Mt 11:2, "Now when John heard in
      prison about the deeds of the Christ." We cannot say there is no harmony of
      the Mt passage in context: there is the link establishing the connection.
      But in Mt's version, the deeds by which Wisdom is proved right (justified)
      are exclusively those of Jesus. How then are they also deeds of Wisdom (NB:
      "Her deeds)? The boundary between Jesus and Wisdom becomes problematic once
      John is not the other pole of the comparison. This kind of problem is
      typical of a rewritten, or otherwise secondary, text.

      I turn to the Gundry commentary on Matthew (always a good place to go when
      one is in need of literary guidance), and find that, though Gundry nominally
      believes in Q, he discusses the whole sequence from Mt 11:2 onward in terms
      of Matthew making changes in Luke. I think this is right, and that in
      microliterary terms also, the Lukan series of passages is here primary. Then
      it is Luke who is interested in John the Baptist. Luke's interest in John,
      as some have noted, is remarkably strong; for a few details, see


      This defines an important line of future NT investigation. See also the Book
      Sale below.

      3. 7:47. Is the basis of forgiveness love? (A) This is the Woman with the
      Ointment passage. It is a rewritten version of the Woman at Bethany passage
      in Mark, which Luke A (seeing that it is redundant in Mark as an Anointing
      of Jesus' Body story) moves here and restructures accordingly. The
      restructuring (see again Goulder on the thoroughly messed-up Talents story)
      is not altogether successful. And to be perfectly fair, it is actually, in
      real life, hard to retain the outlines of a former story and still give it a
      new message (the message of the Woman at Bethany was personal devotion and
      the fulfilment of funereal propriety; that Woman had nothing to be forgiven
      for). Luke's line, "for she loved much," about an apparent prostitute,
      rarely fails to get a giggle in Sunday School (was Jesus herself one of her
      customers?). Such are the infelicities and discontinuities of this ineptly
      recrafted Luke story. The repeat of the Jesus Forgives Sins motif (from Mk
      2:1-12, the Paralytic) merely complicates things for Luke A, and in the
      direction noted: what, within the story, is the basis of forgiveness? Within
      the story, except for a lot of rare perfume, which would be a little bit
      crass as a payment for forgiveness, there is none.

      I would thus have to say that Luke A is simply not at his best here, and
      consequently *there is no* hidden and consistent message, from Luke or
      anybody else. That Luke likes women, and does not hold aloof from the lower
      end of the social scale, we already knew. I would avoid this passage in
      preaching, unless someone wants to give it as a very nasty final exam for
      Homiletics 101. A perhaps questionable motive.

      -----------BOOK SALE------------

      As I noted above, the topic of John the B, especially in connection with
      Luke (who seems, much more than Matthew, to have had his ear to the ground
      where other kinds of preaching were going on) is getting very hot. One sign
      of this is the recent book by Clare K Rothschild, Baptist Tradition in Q
      (Mohr Siebeck 2005). She goes into this limited sample of Mt/Lk material in
      great detail and from several angles; it is as far as I know the most
      throrough study of John tradition in recent years. Some readers will have to
      mentally recalibrate her findings in terms of Mt/Lk and not Q, but all the
      same, the work is invigorating. Chapters are:

      1. New Testament Baptist Tradition
      2. The Status Quaestionis of the Quest of the Historical John
      3. Baptist Traditions and Q
      4. Q, Baptist Traditions, and the Gospel of Mark
      5. Baptist Traditions and the Origin of the Son of Man Sayings in Q
      6. Baptist Traditions and the Origin of the Kingdom of God Sayings in Q

      Those who want to keep current with this important subject, and especially
      those who hope to contribute to it by using their minds, might want to get
      hold of this book.

      And expensive as it is (Mohr Siebeck, for goodness;' sake!), I can help
      them. As occurs now and then in any vigorous enterprise with too few file
      clerks, it happens that we have an extra copy of this valuable but also
      expensive book. It is in perfect condition, HB with flawless dustwapper,
      totally unmarked and pristine. The best online price I can find is $120. I
      am offering our spare for $90, postage (in US) included. Let me know if
      anyone is interested.

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