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Re: [Synoptic-L] Alternating Primitivity (#9-10)

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic Cc: GPG In Response To: Ron Price On: Alternating [Mt/Lk] Primitivity #9-10 From: Bruce CASE 9 (Lk 13:20-21 || Mt 13:33, no Mk; parable of the
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 22 12:23 AM
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      To: Synoptic
      Cc: GPG
      In Response To: Ron Price
      On: Alternating [Mt/Lk] Primitivity #9-10
      From: Bruce

      CASE 9 (Lk 13:20-21 || Mt 13:33, no Mk; parable of the leaven, emphasizing
      TINI OMOIWSW THN BASILEAN TOU QEOU). The case is Kingdom of Heaven (Mt) vs
      Kingdom of God .....

      Ron: The phrase "kingdom of heaven" is exclusive to Matthew, so most
      commentators consider Luke's "kingdom of God" to be original here.

      Bruce: Since Kingdom of God is characteristic of Lk, this could be run the
      other way with equal convincement. When a common passage is well adjusted to
      its two surroundings, there is no directionality indication.

      Ron: But what about the question format? Goulder thinks Luke was influenced
      by Mk 4:30. But this seems fanciful as (a) Luke wasn't in a 'Markan block'
      in Lk 13:20 and (b) he's just written the very similar Lk 13:18. The
      question format in the mustard seed's Lk 13:18 is probably original (Semitic
      poetic parallelism). Therefore the question format in the similar yeast's Lk
      13:20 is probably also original.

      Bruce: The Mustard Seed is an interesting case; one of the obvious
      relocations by Luke of material which had originally stood in Markan order,
      being shifted to another location in the second stratum of Lk (Luke B). It
      will be noticed that as it stands, the Mustard Seed parable in Luke draws on
      both Mk and Mt; this (to me) indicates revision of a Mk-derived story as a
      consequence of later contact with Lk. As they stand, the parables seem to me
      to form this sequence:

      Mk: Birds make nests in the shade of the mustard SHRUB
      Mt: SHRUB becomes a TREE; birds nest in its branches
      Lk: It grows into a TREE; birds nest in its branches.

      The mustard plant is in fact a tall shrub, not a tree. We see here, I would
      suggest, a progressive exaggeration of the mustard seed contrast, with the
      shrub nature of the plant increasingly occluded as we pass from Mk to Mt to
      Lk.

      The question introducing the Mustard Seed parable is original in Mk,
      retained (despite later Mt contact) in Lk. A holdover phenomenon.

      CASE 10 (Lk 14:35 || Mt 5:13 || 9:50, salt losing its savor, the noted
      passage is OUTE EIS GHN OUTE EIS KOPRIAN "[suitable] neither for soil nor
      for manure").

      Ron: Again this is more specific (and poetic) than the doubtless accurate
      but rather dull Matthean alternative ("anything" NRSV). The former is
      therefore more likely to be original.

      Bruce: Having found the Markan version of the mustard plant more accurate,
      and thus more original than the exaggerated Mt/Lk versions, I probably can't
      argue with a dullness argument here; fortunately for those who are keeping
      score on the Matthean side, this leads to a judgment Mt > Lk.

      I take alarm however at the reintroduction of the "poetic" argument. For
      reasons earlier mentioned, I think there can be no such general principle.

      For that matter, accuracy (one form of "dullness") as a criterion has its
      hazards too. If you happen to like that side of the Quartodeciman
      controversy, it means that GJn, being more accurate historically, is also
      the earlier text, and that Luke, giving much more detail than Mt about
      Jesus's paternal ancestry, is therefore earlier than Mt, and in giving much
      more detail about the year and circumstances of Jesus's birth than Mk, is
      therefore earlier than Mk. There are reasons why those conclusions don't
      validly follow. One of them is that later writers know the value of
      circumstantial detail, and may therefore include it purposely.

      [I had again suggested including Mk, where available, in these Mt/Lk
      judgements, and of Mt, I here add that it is interesting that Lk 14:33-35 is
      opposite to Mt 5:13-16 in the order of its elements]

      Ron: I agree that we should take Mark into account. There is no direct
      parallel to the phrase in Mark (unless we count Mk 9:50b, which looks pretty
      obviously redactional). Looking elsewhere in the saying, I think the MWRANQH
      ("made foolish") of Mt and Lk is a nonsensical mistranslation from Aramaic,
      and here Mark alone got it right with ANALON GENHTAI "lost its saltiness".

      Bruce: I decline for reasons of ignorance to follow in the pathways of
      Aramaic. But I take some comfort from the fact that all texts before us are
      in Greek. Consulting those texts, I find that the "salt" business is a
      famous perplexity. How can salt lose its quality, whatever that quality may
      be? In Mk, the saying leads to a recommendation to "be at peace with one
      another." Mt/Lk both seem to work it into a warning about damnation. They,
      as a group, seem to be more obviously concerned with the struggles of the
      early churches than Mk, who does legislate for them too, but who maintains
      something more of a consistently historian-of-Jesus posture in so doing.

      MWRANQH. Balz/Schneider gives a helpful overview of meanings and theories.
      It generally means "foolish," as Ron says, and must be translated
      "tasteless, insipid" only in the two Mt/Lk skew parallel passages, where the
      meaning is constrained by the context. Here is a passage which might come
      under Ron's "apothegm" category; Mk as well as Mt/Lk seem to be struggling
      with it (and I can't see any great difference in their struggles, except
      that Mt or Lk is obviously following an improvement, for so they must have
      seen it, which was suggested by the other).

      I am struggling with it too. How, in the first place, can salt lose its
      saltiness? It can become contaminated, and some commentators make that
      suggestion, but that is not what the context requires. The context requires
      the loss of a characteristic quality.

      Oppenheimer would say at this point, We need new ideas here. Surely some of
      the Synoptic throng have experience in and around the kitchen. What can
      happen to salt that renders it unfit for its intended use in salting things?
      If we knew that, we might be in a better position to estimate what, or what
      things, is being attempted by this odd saying, and whose perplexing version
      is earlier than which other perplexing version.

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst

      http://www.umass.edu/wsp
    • Ron Price
      ... Bruce, Clearly this discussion will not make any progress given this sort of response. There is an obvious asymmetry here which you fail even to
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 22 11:19 AM
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        I had written:

        > The phrase "kingdom of heaven" is exclusive to Matthew, so most
        > commentators consider Luke's "kingdom of God" to be original here.

        Bruce Brooks replied:

        > Since Kingdom of God is characteristic of Lk, this could be run the
        > other way with equal convincement.

        Bruce,

        Clearly this discussion will not make any progress given this sort of
        response. There is an obvious asymmetry here which you fail even to
        acknowledge.

        > ....... As they stand, the parables seem to me to form this sequence:
        >
        > Mk: Birds make nests in the shade of the mustard SHRUB
        > Mt: SHRUB becomes a TREE; birds nest in its branches
        > Lk: It grows into a TREE; birds nest in its branches.
        > The mustard plant is in fact a tall shrub, not a tree. We see here, I would
        > suggest, a progressive exaggeration of the mustard seed contrast, with the
        > shrub nature of the plant increasingly occluded as we pass from Mk to Mt to
        > Lk.

        On the surface this sequence might seem plausible. But it's not convincing.
        Matthew's use of both "shrub" and "tree" is most neatly explained as his
        combination of the former from Mark and the latter from the early sayings
        source.

        - - - - - - - - -

        I have found it surprising that you're never prepared to assess one phrase
        against another to see which is more *probably* original. This is the
        essence of source criticism and you always seem to bypass it. Nor does it
        help throwing in questions to which you know no answer. Nor does it help to
        point out that a case can be made for changes in either direction. The
        question remains in any individual case: which direction of change is the
        more probable?

        The fact that you "don't see anything that would seriously challenge or
        threaten to modify the FGH view of things" tells us, I fear, more about my
        presentation and/or your response than about any objective reality. For we
        seem to inhabit different source-critical universes.

        Ron Price

        Derbyshire, UK

        Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
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