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Re: [Synoptic-L] Alternating Primitivity (#4 bis)

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic Cc: GPG, WSW In Response To: Ron Price On: Alternating [Mt/Lk] Primitivity (#4 bis) CASE 4 ( Lk 11:30 || Mt 12:40, the Sign of Jonah). I had
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 21, 2008
      To: Synoptic
      Cc: GPG, WSW
      In Response To: Ron Price
      On: Alternating [Mt/Lk] Primitivity (#4 bis)

      CASE 4 ( Lk 11:30 || Mt 12:40, the Sign of Jonah). I had observed that Mt
      has more detail, while Lk more sharply draws the lesson for the present day.
      Both are symmetrical and shapely. As far as these features go, I find the
      directionality question a tossup. I think we need to rely on other evidence,
      or else declare the passage directionally indeterminate, meaning that it
      *had* a direction but we can't with any assurance tell, from the internal
      evidence, what it was.

      Ron: We know Matthew is sufficiently credulous to believe that a person
      could survive for three days and three nights in the stomach of a fish
      because he also thought lots of bodies could miraculously emerge from tombs
      (Mt 27:51-53). He also coined a fish miracle of his own (Mt 17:27) - please
      excuse the pun! Thus we can reasonably regard Mt 12:40 as a typically
      Matthean composition. By contrast Luke's words which I had quoted above
      (accepted as original by CrEdQ and Fleddermann) make good sense, do not show
      signs of Lukan composition, don't involve a miracle, and are therefore
      almost certainly very close to the original meaning.

      Bruce: Do I hear a suggestion that the earliest accounts of Jesus were
      without miracles? If so, that would need to be demonstrated by more detailed
      analysis, and I pass that point for now.

      And if we are in a contest for the most fish miracles, should not Lk 5:1-11
      be included in the count? It is absolutely unique in the Synoptic literature
      (unless you count its reuse in a John addendum), and therefore not subject
      to suspicion of borrowing within that corpus. And it has many more fish in
      it than anything that old Matthew ever wrote.

      Apart from exact numbers, it seems to be here proposed, at least in part,
      that because Matthew likes fish, his version of the Nineveh warning is
      likely to be a personal improvement of, and thus derivative from, that of
      Luke. There lurks here, it seems, a presumption that Matthew has invented
      this fish detail in his version. I should think much more likely the
      following sequence:

      Jonah 1:17: Then the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah, and
      Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

      Matthew 12:40: For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of
      the whale, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the
      heart of the earth.

      Luke 11:30: For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nineveh, so will be the
      Son of Man to this generation.

      Progressive distancing from the OT original. A nice neat sequence. I don't
      attach any great weight to it. As between Mt/Lk in these passages, my
      comment at the beginning stands; I find it indeterminate. But if one wants a
      sequence, here is a nice one for the taking.


      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst

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