Re: [Synoptic-L] Alternating Primitivity (#5-6 bis)
- To: Synoptic
Cc: GPG, WSW
In Response To: Ron Price
On: Alternative [Mt/Lk] Primitivity #5-6 bis
CASE 5 (Lk 11:44 || Mt 23:27; woe to Pharisees). I had noted that
Fleddermann, at least as quoted, has not considered the other member of the
doublet, so that the case is incompletely presented, and I decline to judge
it on the basis of an incomplete presentation. I also noted that even if (as
I think, wrongly) one regards Luke's order as just a pile of junk, there is
not an inevitable tendency to go from less ordered to more ordered; the
reverse direction has perfectly respectable scientific precedents (entropy),
so that Synoptic critics "may see merit even in the proposal order > junk".
Ron: But rarely when the output of a rational human mind is under
Bruce: This assumes that all human minds are rational, and that all rational
minds work the same way. Demonstrably not true. In any case, my chief point
is that the order of Luke, though it ventures to depart from that of Matthew
(not to mention Mark), is probably not in fact junk; it is much more likely
intentional, and has a discoverable design of its own. Until that design is
detected, appreciated, and made a part of the argument for Mt/Lk
primitivity, there is no argument to consider.
Ron: I await a counter argument.
Bruce: I await an argument. I don't propose to do ALL Fleddermann's work for
PS: As to other and perhaps wider light on the "Woes" passage in Mt, did
everybody get to hear Yair Furstenberg at SBL last November? His argument, I
believe I am correct in stating, was that Matthew's order is closer to the
seemingly cognate Woes in the Mishna Yadayim 3:6-8, so that the variant
order in Lk 11 is actually further than Mt from a possible Jewish original.
If that holds, then we have another case of the Jonah > Mt > Lk type,
previously suggested, where Mt is closer to the probable nonSynoptic
original, and Lk diverges further from it, putting the washing of the cup
ahead of the tithing of mint and rue; this Lk does for what seem like
clearly connectivity reasons, since his setting is a dinner in the house of
a Pharisee, which Jesus begins by no washing his hands. If the order in Mt
is conditioned by his Jewish source, and if the different order in Lk is
locally conditioned by narrative considerations (and narrative
considerations unique to Lk, since only he shows Jesus accepting hospitality
from Pharisees), then everything is accounted for, and we have the sequence
Mishna Yadayim > Mt > Lk.
[I am copying this note to Yair, so that even if he is not on this list he
can respond to me personally with corrections if he likes; I will undertake
to pass his comments to the list if they are forthcoming. I must confess
that I found it hard to take decent notes at the actual SBL session, but see
his abstract at SBL].
CASE 6 (Lk 12:8 || Mt, "before the angels of God"). I had considered at some
length the other members of this doublet, as relevant to a proper decision
about indebtedness and originality.
Ron: [Bruce's subsequent arguments only appear to relate indirectly to the
Bruce: No, they are consequential. If you take one sentence of the witness's
testimony, and blank out the rest, you are not allowing the witness to
speak. Improper procedure at law, and perilous proceeding in philology. The
other member of the doublet must come into the argument.
Ron: Both Matthew and Luke have a perfectly balanced piece of poetry,
suggesting greater originality than Mark's offering in Mk 8:38.
Bruce: The lit people have noticed that poetic items often stand at the head
of literary traditions, whence the sometimes mentioned dictum that poetry is
generally earlier than prose. But such vague tendencies cannot validly be
applied to specific cases, especially those occurring late in a tradition,
when all options are fully available to any writer. The poetic parts in the
Arthashastra, for instance, are late decorations on the prose parts of the
Arthashastra, as can be proved in the laboratory by taking out the prose and
regarding the poetry as the core text. This experiment replicably produces a
nonsensical result. Other examples (including one of my mom's) at request.
So the conclusion of "greater originality" for Mt and/or Lk over Mk on
grounds of poetry has no force. The instrument is too blunt for the purpose.
How, then, about Mt/Lk?
Ron: So the main choice is between Matthew's "Father in heaven" and Luke's
"angels of God". As "Father
in heaven"/"heavenly Father"/"Father who is in heaven" is heavily
characteristic of Matthew, and "angels of God" is only mildly characteristic
of Luke (only one example outside the two under consideration in Lk 12:8-9),
we can reasonably deduce that it is more probable that Matthew replaced
"angels of God" with "Father in heaven" than that Luke did the opposite.
Bruce: Angels occur in both, so anything can be argued for with some
support. The real question, it seems to me, is *where* they occur. I think
my analysis of the angels available to Luke at this point can stand, and to
avoid wearisome length, I refer anyone interested in that analysis to the
previous note. Methodological moral: General word or concept frequency does
not avail against occurrence in directly relevant passages. Specific is
sharper than general, and sharper cuts better.
I end by repeating my earlier impression, that this is not a terribly strong
case. Whichever way it goes (should we later discover Luke's diary, or his
Interlibrary Loan record, or something), those who had thought otherwise
should have no trouble shrugging off the result.
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst