Re: Lost sources
- Chuck Jones writes: I am intrigued, though, that your last sentence,
retained below, states an explicit methodological bias against lost
sources. I don't understand this. We know many early Xn documents were
lost, so lack of existence of a proto-Mk, an M, an L, or something like
Q should bias the discussion one way or the other.
Dave: I agree that lost sources are apriori plausible. My "bias" if that
is what it is, is toward the simpler hypothesis. If I have a simple
hypothesis, and I want to consider adding a sub-hypothesis to it, that
would make it more complicated, there has to be enough data to support
the addition. The additional sub-hypothesis, must be judged probable, as
an independent unit, based on the data.
In our case, we know that we should expect random noise, and we should
expect that we do not have perfect reconstructions of the gospels. So,
on our simple hypothesis, we would expect to see some minor mix of
directionality. Therefore, some minor mix of directionality can not, in
and of itself, be evidence for an additional sub-hypothesis. Only if we
see things that are not already well accounted for by what we expect to
see, can we begin to build a case for a more complex hypothesis.
A related problem in statistics is how many variables to include in a
model. The more variables you include, the better fit to the dataset can
be achieved. But conversely the evidence that can be used to support
each variable gets divided more ways. As you add more variables, beyond
some point, the chance that you have a "correct" model, judged by being
able to predict a new sample of data, goes down. Sometimes this model
building is more art than science, and an understanding of the actual
nature of the problem and the data is needed.
I think that is probably the case here as well. I don't know exactly
where the cut off lies. How many problems are too many problems? But it
is clear that not every discrepancy demands an additional document.
Chuck: I will wager that everyone on this list believes there is at
least one lost source--the sayings of Jesus recorded in Mt. The
alternative, rejected in a recent discussion, is that Mt made up
everything Jesus said!
Dave: I know for sure that not everyone here believes in a "Q" source. A
number hold to "Markian priority without Q", for example.
Also, the lack of a written saying source for Matthew implies one of
1) Matthew got the sayings from oral tradition.
2) Matthew created the sayings.
3) A combination of #1 and #2
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