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Re: [Synoptic-L] A synoptic idea

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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 1 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 2 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

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • 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 3 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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