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Re: [Synoptic-L] A synoptic idea

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  • Ken Olson
    ... So you perceive a problem with Luke s scattering and back it up with an appeal to the authority of those who accept the 2DH? Let s take a look at what a
    Message 1 of 12 , Sep 8, 2006
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      On 8 September, David Gentile wrote:

      > I do think Luke had access to Matthew, and used Matthew to a limited extent.
      > Also, I would obviously agree, that "Mark without Q" is simpler than the
      > 3-source hypothesis (in any form). And I certainly would not make any
      > sweeping statements like "an author would never do this". However, the
      > scattering of the sayings is something that suggests (not proves) a saying
      > source, as I think those that support the 2-source hypothesis have correctly
      > pointed out.

      So you perceive a problem with Luke's "scattering" and back it up with an appeal to the authority of those who accept the 2DH? Let's take a look at what a leading proponent of the 2DH actually says about Luke's order. In his review of Mark Goodacre's Case Against Q, Chritopher Tuckett of Oxford takes Goodacre to task for explaining how Luke's ordering of his double-tradition material does indeed make sense. Tuckett complains:

      "The difficulty here is that this is not quite the argument that Q defenders have used. No one has ever doubted that Luke's order may make (Lukan) sense. The argument is not that Luke's order per se is incoherent; it is that Luke's _changes to Matthew's order_ may be difficult to conceive" [Novt 46.4 (2004) 401-403].

      So, according to Tuckett, Luke's order is fine in and off itself. [Tuckett leaves himself an out with the "may"]. The problem is in conceiving why he would have departed from Matthew's order, right?

      [snip]

      > Let me ask and answer a few simple questions -
      > Q: Is Luke's omission of Matthew's birth narrative more consistent with
      > respect for the text of Matthew or lack of respect?
      > A: Lack of respect.
      > Q: Is Luke's rearrangement of Matthew's text more consistent with respect
      > for Matthew's text, or lack of respect?
      > A: Lack of respect
      > Q: Is Luke's close copying of the words of Matthew and or Q, more consistent
      > with respect for that text, or lack or respect?
      > A: Respect.

      There is an unstated, and I believe incorrect, assumption in your reasoning here that I tried and apparently failed to bring to your attention in my last post. So let me ask a few simple questions in return. Is" respect" a relative or an absolute term, and is it uniformly distributed or might it vary from place to place? If Luke had two or more sources should we expect him to respect them all equally or some more than others? And within an individual document should we expect him to respect all aspects and all parts of the document equally, or should we expect his level or respect to vary for different aspects (e.g., he might in theory repect its sequence of events more than he respected the quality of its Greek) and from part to part. In fact, might he not respect some specific aspect or part of one document more than some specific part or aspect of another document even though, in general, he respects the other document more? Your argument that if Luke (ever?) respected Matthew's wording, he would also have respeted his order is a non sequitur.

      > Thus we have at least some evidence of both respect for Matthew and or Q,
      > and some evidence of lack of respect for Matthew's text (assuming Luke knew
      > it). Thus two texts one of which had Luke's respect, and one of which did
      > not, would have more explanatory power than one text here.

      Because respect is absolute and indivisible? You've never, for instance, seen a movie that generally sucked but had some excellent lines it? Or a good movie with tedious scenes that you wanted to fast forward through? Does Luke's use of Mark as a source generally show respect, or lack of respect for Mark? What about his changes of Mark's grammar? What about his Great Omission of material from Mark 6-8? In fact, does not the rewriting of source material into a new narrative almost by definition show a combination of repect and lack of respect, or, rather, varying degrees of respect?

      > We also know that sayings sources existed (Thomas), And we know that Luke
      > has treated the material as individual unit sayings. Just given that
      > information, if we had to guess at the nature of Luke's source, we would
      > guess Luke had a saying source.

      I am unable to follow the argument here. If it is true that Luke has "treated the material as individual unit sayings" doesn't that mean he is not following the order of his source, whether it was Matthew or a sayings source? If not, what does it mean?

      > So I do think we have some evidence that suggests a saying source, and
      > therefore my suggestion explains additional data in ways empirically at
      > least somewhat more probable than the explanation of "Mark without Q".

      You appear to be using some definition of "empirically" with which I'm not familiar. Empiricism is precisely what I don't see in your discussion. You are attempting to answer the synoptic problem by posing a series of choices as binary opposites and working on a purely theoretical level. You don't deal with Luke's likes and dislikes at the level of content, or his historical situation, or the methods of composition that might have been avaialble to him, nor do you try to set his work in the context of other ancient literature (excepting a very slight appeal to the other synoptics and Thomas). To use a (somewhat) common expression, you are assuming a spherical cow.

      > However, again I do agree "Mark without Q" has greater parsimony. And at
      > this point I do not have a formal argument that the increased explanatory
      > power of my hypothesis justifies the decrease in parsimony, so I'll just
      > leave that up to individual judgment.

      Formal arguments, greater parsimony, and explanatory power are all very nice in their places, but if you want to solve the synoptic problem, or convince anyone that you can, you are first going to have to show that you understand Mark, Matthew, and Luke as authors, and explain why they wrote what they did. I'm afraid that I do not foresee your efforts to solve the synoptic problem at the abstract will ever be successful.

      Best,

      Ken

      Kenneth A. Olson
      MA, History, University of Maryland
      PhD Student, Religion, Duke University


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    • Maluflen@aol.com
      Following Dave s logic here, would it not also be true to say that Luke most likely used not only the LXX OT, but also a hypothetical sayings source containing
      Message 2 of 12 , Sep 9, 2006
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        Following Dave's logic here, would it not also be true to say that Luke most likely used not only the LXX OT, but also a hypothetical sayings source containing the sayings of OT characters when he composed, say, Acts 7? He shows great "lack of respect" to his LXX source, with regard to the way he (1) completely omits large segments of the story from his source (say, Exodus), and (2) completely re-writes the stories he does tell from this source. However, he shows "respect" for his other source, when he cites words said by these characters, including God, verbatim! Or is there something wrong with Dave's argument?

        Leonard Maluf
        Blessed John XXIII National Seminary
        Weston, MA
        -----Original Message-----
        From: gentile_dave@...
        To: kenolson101@...; Synoptic@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Fri, 8 Sep 2006 4:12 PM
        Subject: RE: [Synoptic-L] A synoptic idea



        For the choice between "Mark without Q" and my suggestion, we have to ask if
        there is enough evidence to support the idea that Luke used a saying source
        at all. I know that many who favor the 2SH find Luke's scattering behavior
        somewhat implausible in the "MwQ" hypothesis, as well as his omission of the
        birth narrative.

        Let me ask and answer a few simple questions -
        Q: Is Luke's omission of Matthew's birth narrative more consistent with
        respect for the text of Matthew or lack of respect?
        A: Lack of respect.
        Q: Is Luke's rearrangement of Matthew's text more consistent with respect
        for Matthew's text, or lack of respect?
        A: Lack of respect
        Q: Is Luke's close copying of the words of Matthew and or Q, more consistent
        with respect for that text, or lack or respect?
        A: Respect.

        Thus we have at least some evidence of both respect for Matthew and or Q,
        and some evidence of lack of respect for Matthew's text (assuming Luke knew
        it). Thus two texts one of which had Luke's respect, and one of which did
        not, would have more explanatory power than one text here.








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      • Dave Gentile
        ... reasoning here that I tried and apparently failed to bring to your attention in my last post. So let me ask a few simple questions in return. Is
        Message 3 of 12 , Sep 9, 2006
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          Ken Olsen wrote:
          >
          > There is an unstated, and I believe incorrect, assumption in your
          reasoning here that I tried and apparently failed to bring to your
          attention in my last post. So let me ask a few simple questions in
          return. Is" respect" a relative or an absolute term, and is it
          uniformly distributed or might it vary from place to place? If Luke
          had two or more sources should we expect him to respect them all
          equally or some more than others? And within an individual document
          should we expect him to respect all aspects and all parts of the
          document equally, or should we expect his level or respect to vary
          for different aspects (e.g., he might in theory repect its sequence
          of events more than he respected the quality of its Greek) and from
          part to part. In fact, might he not respect some specific aspect or
          part of one document more than some specific part or aspect of
          another document even though, in general, he respects the other
          document more? Your argument that if Luke (ever?) respected
          Matthew's wording, he would also have respeted his order is a non
          sequitur.

          Dave: Let's try a word other than "respect", that might capture my
          meaning better. Does Luke regard the gospel of Matthew as an older
          source with better knowledge of actual events than Luke himself has?
          Or does Luke regard Matthew as a contemporary with an actual
          knowledge of events similar to Luke's own? I think Luke, in general,
          can only have one opinion of the author's position to know. I
          suppose that we might make a rather special exception for the birth
          narrative, but other than that, I think Luke's view has to be fairly
          consistent regarding Matthew's ability to know.

          Now could Luke have regarded Matthew as an authoritative source and
          still rewritten him? Yes. Although I think we would want to see
          argument as to why he would want to, before we considered this the
          most likely possibility. In other words, this does not strike us as
          the most probable apriori. Could Luke have viewed Matthew as
          relatively unauthoritative and still used his wording for quotes?
          Yes, although this last idea seems somewhat unlikely to me.

          Ken:

          >
          > > We also know that sayings sources existed (Thomas), And we know
          that Luke
          > > has treated the material as individual unit sayings. Just given
          that
          > > information, if we had to guess at the nature of Luke's source,
          we would
          > > guess Luke had a saying source.
          >
          > I am unable to follow the argument here. If it is true that Luke
          has "treated the material as individual unit sayings" doesn't that
          mean he is not following the order of his source, whether it was
          Matthew or a sayings source? If not, what does it mean?

          Dave: Maybe I can improve that slightly. The fact that Matthew and
          Luke present the material in different orders, in pieces the size of
          individual sayings and pericope, suggests, on the face of it, that
          the material does not have any authoritative order. This in turn
          brings to mind a saying source, which could have authoritative
          wording, without authoritative ordering.

          Of course one could argue that Luke chose to change what he regarded
          as an authoritative order. But, then this does need argumentation in
          order to contradict the face-value suggestion.

          Ken: To use a (somewhat) common expression, you are assuming a
          spherical cow.

          Dave: O.K. that's not completely inapt here. The arguments above are
          extremely high level and not at all detailed. I would argue they are
          empirical, but at a universal level rather than a detailed one.

          Without looking back at your original post, your position seems to
          me to have been that the idea of a saying source has no merit at
          all. I do think my high level arguments are enough to contradict
          that idea.

          You also seemed to be saying that Luke could have done what he did
          without a saying source, and I agreed.

          Now, if you are saying that based on detailed study of Luke's
          behavior in all cases, you think there is enough evidence to do away
          with a saying source as a serious contender, then I'm certainly
          willing to accept that as your view based on your study of those
          individual details.

          Dave Gentile
          Riverside, IL
        • Dennis Dean Carpenter
          snip We also know that sayings sources existed (Thomas) snip There was a sayings source (Thomas), but we don t really know that it was any earlier than the
          Message 4 of 12 , Sep 10, 2006
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            snip "We also know that sayings sources existed (Thomas)" snip

            There was a sayings source (Thomas), but we don't really know that it was any earlier than the second century, or for that matter, that the fourth century Coptic manuscript we have points us in a trajectory toward the first century.

            Dennis Dean Carpenter
            Dahlonega, Ga. USA

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          • Ken Olson
            ... meaning better. Does Luke regard the gospel of Matthew as an older source with better knowledge of actual events than Luke himself has? Or does Luke regard
            Message 5 of 12 , Sep 11, 2006
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              On 10 September 2006, Dave Gentile wrote:

              >>Dave: Let's try a word other than "respect", that might capture my
              meaning better. Does Luke regard the gospel of Matthew as an older
              source with better knowledge of actual events than Luke himself has?
              Or does Luke regard Matthew as a contemporary with an actual
              knowledge of events similar to Luke's own? I think Luke, in general,
              can only have one opinion of the author's position to know. I
              suppose that we might make a rather special exception for the birth
              narrative, but other than that, I think Luke's view has to be fairly
              consistent regarding Matthew's ability to know.<<

              It's not the word I'm objecting to, it's the method. You make a bunch of
              initial assumptions and then you propose a bunch of hypothetical sources to
              fit them and you wait for everything to click into place. When your
              assumptions are criticized, you restate them and hypothesize new and
              different hypothetical sources to do away with the difficulties. It doesn't
              seem to have dawned on you that you may just be using the wrong approach.

              Perhaps you could read Jubilees and then tell me whether the author
              considered the Torah an "authoritative" text or not. Or make a list of
              biblical quotations in John and then tell me if John regarded the OT as an
              "authoritative" text. Or tell me why Plutarch assigns certain sayings to
              different characters in his Lives. Not everything can be accounted for by
              assuming variant source texts. Mark Goodacre has used the ways modern
              filmmakers adapt the gospels to film to illustrate the different ways that
              purpose and medium affect the final product. He's been criticized for using
              an anachronistic analogy. But that is much of the point--we may be
              committing anachronisms ourselves if we assume that the gospel authors went
              about their business with the same purposes and the same methods modern
              historians do.

              >>Now could Luke have regarded Matthew as an authoritative source and
              still rewritten him? Yes. Although I think we would want to see
              argument as to why he would want to, before we considered this the
              most likely possibility. In other words, this does not strike us as
              the most probable apriori.<<

              If by "we" you mean contemporary systems analysts and statisticians who try
              to reduce the synoptic problem to a multivariable equation, project modern
              ideas of historiography and investigative journalism onto first century
              authors, and have not engaged in study of how ancient authors used their
              sources or what the term "authoritative source" might mean in an ancient
              context, I might agree.

              >>Could Luke have viewed Matthew as
              relatively unauthoritative and still used his wording for quotes?
              Yes, although this last idea seems somewhat unlikely to me.<<

              Can you give the reasons that it seems unlikely to you? Or do you mean for
              us to take the fact that it seems unlikely to you as having probative value?
              At least you're using the first person here.

              >>Dave: Maybe I can improve that slightly. The fact that Matthew and
              Luke present the material in different orders, in pieces the size of
              individual sayings and pericope, suggests, on the face of it, that
              the material does not have any authoritative order. This in turn
              brings to mind a saying source, which could have authoritative
              wording, without authoritative ordering.<<

              Explain to me how you know that sayings source (and only sayings sources),
              have authoritiative wording but not authoritative order. Do you mean this
              is intuitively obvious to you, or have you done a study of ancient
              literature that shows authors kept the wording of order and sayings found in
              narrative sources but kept the only the wording but changed the order of
              sayings sources? Which literature shows this? While you're at it explain
              to me why Luke departs from the Markan order for most of the so-called
              Mark/Q overlaps (everything after the Temptation).

              >>Of course one could argue that Luke chose to change what he regarded
              as an authoritative order. But, then this does need argumentation in
              order to contradict the face-value suggestion.<<

              Aaaargh! The meaning of the word "authoritative" needs to be
              contextualized. It does not have a "face-value" applicable to all times and
              places.

              >>Ken: To use a (somewhat) common expression, you are assuming a
              spherical cow.

              Dave: O.K. that's not completely inapt here. The arguments above are
              extremely high level and not at all detailed. I would argue they are
              empirical, but at a universal level rather than a detailed one.<<

              The assumptions you make are neither empirical nor universal.. You state a
              bunch of a priori principles that you expect the evangelists to have
              followed. When problems with these assumptions are pointed out to you, you
              try hypothesizing new lost sources that don't have to face them rather than
              admit that your assumptions may be wrong. Your "universal" level is not
              universal, it grew up in a particular time and place. I do not mean to
              suggest that modern epistemological methods are bunk--I'm kind of fond of
              them. However, you seem to be assuming not just that modern epistemological
              methods work, but that ancient authors used them in the same way you would.
              And you're wrong.

              >>Without looking back at your original post, your position seems to
              me to have been that the idea of a saying source has no merit at
              all. I do think my high level arguments are enough to contradict
              that idea.<<

              Actually, it's the "high level arguments" to which I am objecting.

              >>You also seemed to be saying that Luke could have done what he did
              without a saying source, and I agreed.<<

              Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.

              >>Now, if you are saying that based on detailed study of Luke's
              behavior in all cases, you think there is enough evidence to do away
              with a saying source as a serious contender, then I'm certainly
              willing to accept that as your view based on your study of those
              individual details.<<

              OK. I have, in fact, put these arguments to you before. When I point out
              that Luke may have rearranged Matthew's order in response to the conditions
              he faced in trying to combine Markan and Matthean material, your response
              has invariably been to try to do away with the conditions I describe by
              hypothesizing further lost sources for which those conditions did not exist.
              But I'll give it one more shot. I should, perhaps, add that I can speak only for myself and other proponents of the Farer theory may well disagree with me.

              Luke has two main written sources, Mark and Matthew. He and the Christian
              community he knows have had Mark for a while before Matthew comes along.
              Luke knows Mark well and can tell where Matthew has changed it by adding,
              omitting, or recasting material. Some of the additional material he likes a
              great deal, particulary some of Jesus' ethical teachings (which Mark does
              not have a lot of), other material is less pleasing, and some of it is
              awful. Where Matthew has recast Mark, he generally, but not always, prefers
              the original that he and his church have used for a long time. But he
              recognizes the potential of what Matthew has done in rewriting and
              "updating" Mark and making it fit the needs of his target audience better.
              He decides to do the same thing.

              Luke decides he's going to follow Mark, the older and usually fuller [in the
              overlapping material] source for as far as Mark goes, taking over its basic
              narrative and keeping it in its Markan order. He will use Matthew's
              additional material primarily to supplement Mark. The question is: how will
              he go about adding the supplementary material to his Markan framework?
              There are two considerations that must be made before addressing this
              question.

              First, close conflation of two different written sources at the level of
              wording is a diffiuclt procedure. The consensus among classicists is that
              that most ancient authors did not attempt close conflation but wrote with
              one source in front of them at one time. In The Four Gospels, Streeter
              notes that Luke follows Mark and his other source (which Streeter took to be
              Proto-Luke, a combination of Q and L) in fairly large alternating blocks for
              a few chapters at a time. He also noted that Luke's sources overlapped (the
              so-called Mark-Q overlaps) and that when this happened, Luke followed one or
              the other and didn't try to conflate them. Streeter noted that in the case
              of the Mark-Q overlaps Luke chose to follow the version in his non-Markan
              source instead of that of Mark. He admitted that he could not tell where
              the reverse might have happened (i.e., if Luke was following Mark's version,
              how would we tell if there were also a version in his non-Markan source?).
              So if Luke's sources are Mark and Matthew we might reasonably expect that he
              would use them in alternate blocks and not try to conflate them closely.

              Second, one of the most widely acknowledged characteristics of Luke is his
              dislike of doublets. He does indeed have about ten doublets, all sayings
              and none more than two verses in length. Whether he did not care enough to
              take the the time to edit them out, or he especially liked these sayings
              enough to use them twice I don't know. But in general, he does not like
              doublets. We do not have two Temptations, two Beelzebul pericopes, two
              Parables of the Mustard Seed, or two Feeding Miracles in Luke, despite te
              fact that he would have had more than one version of each in his sources.
              So we might reasonably expect a Luke who knew Mark and Matthew generally not
              to reuse the same material in both its Matthean and Markan forms.

              Now if Luke follows these two principles (as major scholars who accept the
              2DH argue he does) it will be almost impossible to follow Matthew's order,
              and undesirable to try. Matthew's order depends on Mark. His settings for
              his five sermons are taken from Markan settings, which Luke has already used
              and doesn't want to repeat. He also isn't going to attempt close conflation
              by trying to stick all of Matthew's additions into the closest possible
              Markan parallel location. Further, except for the Sermon on the Mount,
              Mathew's sermons are expanded versions with a core of Markan material, which
              Luke has already used. This leaves Mark with a bunch of Matthean material
              removed from its Markan context, and Luke arranges it as best he can. The
              Sermon on the Mount is a special case, being more than twice as long as any
              speech in Luke-Acts. It is a "masterpiece" when read by one studying it at
              his leisure, but a horror to anyone forced to listen to it read aloud from
              beginning to end (something no modern lectionary attempts). Luke, like
              modern filmmakers who have portaryed the Sermon, keeps a trimmed form of the
              Beatitudes and a few other things in nearly the same location and
              redistributes the rest to other parts of his gospel. When combined with
              Luke's other Matthean and special material, the final result is one that "no
              one has ever doubted may make good (Lukan) sense." Or so Tuckett says.

              Best,

              Ken

              Kenneth A. Olson
              MA, History, University of Maryland
              PhD Student, Religion, Duke University

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