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On Hypotheses

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  • E. Bruce Brooks
    Topic: On Hypotheses From: Bruce In Further Response To: Jeff Peterson and Yuri Kuchinsky In a recent response to Jeff, I argued that the demonstration of
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 1 9:00 AM
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      Topic: On Hypotheses
      From: Bruce
      In Further Response To: Jeff Peterson and Yuri Kuchinsky

      In a recent response to Jeff, I argued that the demonstration of unity in a
      text is by now such a skilled profession in its own right, and so highly
      motivated and well rewarded in its context, that any such demonstration
      cannot be taken as ending discussions about a text, but only as
      contributing to one side of them. I further asked how unity theorists deal
      with the fact that not all unity theories agree on their grounds or their
      arguments. The standard answer to claims of different authorship in the
      Odyssey (cf Iliad) is that they are confuted by the very fact that they do
      not agree on a positive claim of authorship for the Odyssey. Why are not
      parallel but conflicting claims as to the unity of 1 Cor subject to the
      same judgement of mutual confutation? Is it not because they are
      explications of an assured conclusion, rather than demonstrations of a
      contested conclusion?

      As though by providential intention, the following, specifically mentioning
      the Mitchell interpretation which Jeff recommended, comes to hand. Yeo,
      Rhetorical Interaction in 1 Cor 8 and 10, Brill [no less!] 1995, 12f sv
      Rhetorical Approach:

      "The fourth school of interpretation employs rhetorical studies [several fn
      citations defining rhetorical studies, starting with Wuellner in CBQ 49
      (1987) 448f]. The most impressive and comprehensive effort in this approach
      has been attempted by M Mitchell, who gives an elaborate examination of the
      linguistic and rhetorical evidence of 1 Cor against Graeco-Roman political
      literature. Mitchell argues from compositional unity and rhetorical topoi
      of concord that 1 Cor is an integral piece dealing with ecclesiological
      disunity in Corinth. She sees the issue of conflict in 1 Cor 8 and 10 in
      the context of the overall theme of concord. Mitchell says that 1 Cor
      8:1-13 and 10:1-22 is attributed to "Paul's reconciliatory strategy" of
      compromise to please both the "strong" and the "weak."

      "Even within rhetorical methodology, Mitchell fails to reconstruct the
      identity of the audience in 1 Cor 8-10 and to analyze any stylistic and
      argumentative aspect of Paul's rhetoric. Mitchell's rhetorical approach is
      hardly adequate to examine the audience situation and the interaction
      between Paul and the Corinthians. To call my [the present author's]
      approach "rhetorical" therefore requires me to clarify my definition of
      rhetorical criticism to include the historical context, the audience
      identities, and the interaction between Paul and the Corinthians." End of
      extract.

      The criticism here is that (1) Mitchell is operating within the special
      rules of an "approach," not under more generally shared principles of what
      I would like to call text philology, or even simply history; (2) that her
      demonstration falls short even by those rules; and that (3) it would
      require broadening of those rules to include an argumentation from
      historical context and personal interaction, which Yeo himself proposes to
      undertake.

      Three observations:

      1 (Approach). For me, one moral of that comment is the danger of
      "approaches" that are not conceived of as adding insights, or reminders of
      the need for insights, to shared methodology, but on the contrary erect an
      autonomous methodology within which they operate on special rules,
      presumably ones conducive to the end in view. Whether or not Yeo is wholly
      right in his view of Mitchell, I think that warning stands. The seeming
      intention of Yeo to manipulate the rules of an "approach," so that he can
      himself claim to be operating under it (notice the "Rhetorical" in his
      title), rather than to recall the debate to the test of, so to speak,
      common ground statement, surely shows that the "approach" boundaries are
      real, and value-conferring, for Yeo. And, not to be humorous, the fact that
      Brill has let get by a book resting on that ploy vis-a-vis an established
      "approach" probably proves this to be a widely shared perception in the
      field.

      In that specific sense, I take this opportunity to deplore "approaches."

      2 (Terminology). I am also not crazy about the words in some of Yeo's
      sentences. Ecclesiological disunity. Besides making writer and readers feel
      that they are pretty smart together (talk about rhetorical strategies!),
      which the general level of terminological polysyllabicity seems to aim at,
      this particular term for me dangerously fuzzes the issue. It would cover
      many more situations than the one that seems to confront us, and Paul, in 1
      Cor. By substituting a broad definition of the problem for a valid narrower
      one, it tends to admit evidence that would otherwise not be so clearly
      relevant to the case. It tends to permit an "approach" to argue past a non
      sequitur. As a contribution to the demise of "approaches," I herewith offer
      to reviewers of "approach" books this philological suggestion: reliance on
      overbroad paraphrases at certain points in the argument may help to
      identify logical non sequiturs, or instances of illness of fit (cf
      "goodness of fit," and notify OED) between the argument and the valid
      evidence.

      Of course the same wariness that I here enjoin as to modern persuasional
      tracts is also applicable to the ancient persuasional tracts (such as 1
      Cor) with which we are concerned.

      3 (Scenario). Separately, I refer back to Yuri's claim that (I believe it
      was Rom) may have been added to not once, but repeatedly, after its
      original composition. I think the case of assumed later additions to a text
      is quite different with an epistle vs a gospel. We have had no discussion
      of Bauckham's full-availability thesis, but for the moment, having to make
      some choice pending that discussion, I will reject it. (1) I think the
      gospels were, at first and for a time, locally inspired and closely held.
      On that scenario (envisioned historical reality behind a text theory,
      required as part of any text theory to demonstrate that it could have
      happened and is thus worth considering in the first place), the text will
      have remained available to its author(s) or lineally qualified successors,
      but not to adverse parties, for some length of time. Later additions to a
      gospel, by the author or by others in the same spirit or even by somewhat
      later others in not quite the same spirit, are relatively easy to imagine.
      The text continues to grow under later pressure from the same local impetus
      that produced it in the first place. That's the gospels. (2) The situation
      with epistles can only be radically different. By definition, the physical
      document passes out of the writer's control and enters the custody of the
      recipient(s) and any successors. In the case of all Paul's
      suspected-genuine epistles save Philemon, the recipient is a church: not an
      individual but an organization. That organization persists over time and
      has sufficient structure during that time to make a hypothesis of text
      preservation and survival historically plausible.

      The question for any theory of repeated additions *to an epistle,* then,
      is: If the additions are thought of as further expanding the author's own
      thought, how did the author get at the text to add them? And if we assume
      that the author kept a copy, and that it is the author copy that has
      survived: (1) is this provable by, say, Paul's own explicit reference to
      his earlier epistles as though to a file of statements he knows to be
      public, and whose originals he still controls, and (2) even if so, is this
      not by far the less likely preservation scenario for the epistles
      collectively? Is it not suspicious that Paul nowhere seems to refer to a
      now-lost letter to *other* recipients, which would imply a common audience
      for all the epistles, as the Bauckham theory would posit, but only (as in 1
      Cor) to a now-lost letter to the *same* recipients, which can plausibly be
      accounted for by the contents of the letter being still vivid in his
      memory, and the physical letter itself being in the possession of the
      recipients, and thus available for their continued reference? (3) Would we
      not, on any such hypothesis, have to account not only for the preservation
      of Paul's copy, but for the *non*preservation of the presumably better
      protected recipient copy?

      I apologize if this note crosses with any other contributions to this
      thread which it may appear to ignore (I seem to see both Jeff and Yuri
      visible on the list of new messages, barely visible past the edge of this
      message-composing window).

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks / University of Massachusetts
    • PetersnICS@aol.com
      In a message dated 9/1/98 3:58:47 PM, Bruce Brooks wrote, inter alia:
      Message 2 of 3 , Sep 2 6:29 PM
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        In a message dated 9/1/98 3:58:47 PM, Bruce Brooks wrote, inter alia:

        <<[Yeo's] criticism here is that (1) Mitchell is operating within the special

        rules of an "approach," not under more generally shared principles of what

        I would like to call text philology, or even simply history; (2) that her

        demonstration falls short even by those rules; and that (3) it would

        require broadening of those rules to include an argumentation from

        historical context and personal interaction, which Yeo himself proposes to

        undertake.>>

        Having read Mitchell but not Yeo, my response to the quotation is a simple,
        "Foul!" Mitchell's work (originally a Chicago dissertation under Hans Dieter
        Betz) is a model of comparative analysis and historical exegesis, comparing 1
        Corinthians to ancient speeches appealing for unity in the polis -- no
        autonomous methodology or arbitrary delimitation of the questions pertinent to
        the investigation, just solid exegetical work.



        <<Three observations:



        1 (Approach). For me, one moral of that comment is the danger of

        "approaches" that are not conceived of as adding insights, or reminders of

        the need for insights, to shared methodology, but on the contrary erect an

        autonomous methodology within which they operate on special rules,

        presumably ones conducive to the end in view. Whether or not Yeo is wholly

        right in his view of Mitchell, I think that warning stands. The seeming

        intention of Yeo to manipulate the rules of an "approach," so that he can

        himself claim to be operating under it (notice the "Rhetorical" in his

        title), rather than to recall the debate to the test of, so to speak,

        common ground statement, surely shows that the "approach" boundaries are

        real, and value-conferring, for Yeo. And, not to be humorous, the fact that

        Brill has let get by a book resting on that ploy vis-a-vis an established

        "approach" probably proves this to be a widely shared perception in the

        field.


        In that specific sense, I take this opportunity to deplore "approaches.">>

        I share Bruce's reservation about "approaches" (dare one say "interpretive
        fads"?); Wayne Meeks tells his students that by the time an approach has been
        given a name (as in _Blank-geschichte_), it's probably time to pursue some
        other line of investigation. Defined methods of criticism (which I think of as
        sets of related questions to address to texts) have their principal usefulness
        in providing novice interpreters a direction of approach into a text; but once
        inside (from whatever angle) one is better advised to look carefully around
        and pursue such questions as occur in the engagement.



        <<3 (Scenario). Separately, I refer back to Yuri's claim that (I believe it

        was Rom) may have been added to not once, but repeatedly, after its

        original composition. I think the case of assumed later additions to a text

        is quite different with an epistle vs a gospel. We have had no discussion

        of Bauckham's full-availability thesis, but for the moment, having to make

        some choice pending that discussion, I will reject it. (1) I think the

        gospels were, at first and for a time, locally inspired and closely held.

        On that scenario (envisioned historical reality behind a text theory,

        required as part of any text theory to demonstrate that it could have

        happened and is thus worth considering in the first place), the text will

        have remained available to its author(s) or lineally qualified successors,

        but not to adverse parties, for some length of time. Later additions to a

        gospel, by the author or by others in the same spirit or even by somewhat

        later others in not quite the same spirit, are relatively easy to imagine.

        The text continues to grow under later pressure from the same local impetus

        that produced it in the first place. That's the gospels.>>

        I applaud Bruce's stress on the differences between the originiting situation
        of gospels and of letters; Bauckham's book effectively establishes that the
        epistolary model has throughout this century been unreflectively imported into
        the study of gospels as well. Not the only considerations in Bauckham's favor
        but particularly deserving consideration are (1) the communications networks
        obtaining among early churches, making an isolated community unlikely (whether
        Matthaean, Marcan, Johannine, Q, or Thomasine -- does anyone ever speak of the
        Lucan community? Can't recall seing it.); (2) the likelihood that a teacher
        working in a restricted geographic area would intervene in a theological
        crisis in person, orally, rather than fixing a response to teaching or
        behavior deemed aberrant in writing -- thus, while distance between teacher
        and church led to the writing of letters, the presence of teachers in churches
        makes a local address of the gospels unlikely; and (3) the circumstance that
        on any theory of direct literary dependence obtaining among the Gospels, the
        first one written was quickly circulated more broadly than a narrow community
        whose interests are circumscribed by the evangelist's composition, as is
        evidenced by its having become a source for its successors.

        <<(2) The situation with epistles can only be radically different. By
        definition, the physical document passes out of the writer's control and
        enters the custody of therecipient(s) and any successors. In the case of all
        Paul's

        suspected-genuine epistles save Philemon, the recipient is a church: not an

        individual but an organization. That organization persists over time and

        has sufficient structure during that time to make a hypothesis of text

        preservation and survival historically plausible.

        The question for any theory of repeated additions *to an epistle,* then,

        is: If the additions are thought of as further expanding the author's own

        thought, how did the author get at the text to add them? And if we assume

        that the author kept a copy, and that it is the author copy that has

        survived: (1) is this provable by, say, Paul's own explicit reference to

        his earlier epistles as though to a file of statements he knows to be

        public, and whose originals he still controls, and (2) even if so, is this

        not by far the less likely preservation scenario for the epistles

        collectively? Is it not suspicious that Paul nowhere seems to refer to a

        now-lost letter to *other* recipients, which would imply a common audience

        for all the epistles, as the Bauckham theory would posit, but only (as in 1

        Cor) to a now-lost letter to the *same* recipients, which can plausibly be

        accounted for by the contents of the letter being still vivid in his

        memory, and the physical letter itself being in the possession of the

        recipients, and thus available for their continued reference? (3) Would we

        not, on any such hypothesis, have to account not only for the preservation

        of Paul's copy, but for the *non*preservation of the presumably better

        protected recipient copy?>>

        Bauckham's thesis is specific to the Gospels, but David Trobisch has argued
        that Paul retained copies of his letters and edited them for distribution
        beyond their initial address. Incidentally, Philemon is addressed both to the
        householder and to the church in his house, who listen over his shoulder to
        Paul's appeal (v. 2, end; cf. the plural blessings that open and close the
        letter, vv. 3 and 25).

        Jeff Peterson
        Institute for Christian Studies
        Austin, Texas, USA
        e-mail: peterson@...
      • y.kuchinsky@utoronto.ca
        On Tue, 1 Sep 1998, E. Bruce Brooks wrote: [snip much valuable comment] ... Yes, Bruce, perhaps to some extent. ... This doesn t seem so to me. Mk may have
        Message 3 of 3 , Sep 5 11:30 AM
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          On Tue, 1 Sep 1998, E. Bruce Brooks wrote:

          [snip much valuable comment]

          > 3 (Scenario). Separately, I refer back to Yuri's claim that (I believe
          > it was Rom) may have been added to not once, but repeatedly, after its
          > original composition. I think the case of assumed later additions to a
          > text is quite different with an epistle vs a gospel.

          Yes, Bruce, perhaps to some extent.

          > We have had no discussion of Bauckham's full-availability thesis, but
          > for the moment, having to make some choice pending that discussion, I
          > will reject it. (1) I think the gospels were, at first and for a time,
          > locally inspired

          This doesn't seem so to me. Mk may have been a real breakthrough in this
          area as the first gospel to be composed. But the other three canonicals
          seem to be based on it to some extent.

          > and closely held.

          Now, this may be so. I think the two earliest versions of Mk were secret.
          Early versions of other gospels likewise.

          > On that scenario (envisioned historical
          > reality behind a text theory, required as part of any text theory to
          > demonstrate that it could have happened and is thus worth considering
          > in the first place), the text will have remained available to its
          > author(s) or lineally qualified successors, but not to adverse
          > parties,

          Adverse parties may have procured it in various ways. Cf. Clement's story
          about SecMk.

          > for some length of time. Later additions to a gospel, by the
          > author or by others in the same spirit or even by somewhat later
          > others in not quite the same spirit, are relatively easy to imagine.

          Sure.

          > The text continues to grow under later pressure from the same local
          > impetus that produced it in the first place. That's the gospels. (2)
          > The situation with epistles can only be radically different.

          Maybe not radically.

          > By definition, the physical document passes out of the writer's
          > control and enters the custody of the recipient(s) and any successors.
          > In the case of all Paul's suspected-genuine epistles save Philemon,
          > the recipient is a church: not an individual but an organization. That
          > organization persists over time and has sufficient structure during
          > that time to make a hypothesis of text preservation and survival
          > historically plausible.

          Yes. And they could also add stuff to the text.

          > The question for any theory of repeated additions *to an epistle,*
          > then, is: If the additions are thought of as further expanding the
          > author's own thought, how did the author get at the text to add them?

          The additions were likely made by Paul's disciples.

          > And if we assume that the author kept a copy, and that it is the
          > author copy that has survived: (1) is this provable by, say, Paul's
          > own explicit reference to his earlier epistles as though to a file of
          > statements he knows to be public, and whose originals he still
          > controls, and (2) even if so, is this not by far the less likely
          > preservation scenario for the epistles collectively? Is it not
          > suspicious that Paul nowhere seems to refer to a now-lost letter to
          > *other* recipients, which would imply a common audience for all the
          > epistles, as the Bauckham theory would posit, but only (as in 1 Cor)
          > to a now-lost letter to the *same* recipients, which can plausibly be
          > accounted for by the contents of the letter being still vivid in his
          > memory, and the physical letter itself being in the possession of the
          > recipients, and thus available for their continued reference? (3)
          > Would we not, on any such hypothesis, have to account not only for the
          > preservation of Paul's copy, but for the *non*preservation of the
          > presumably better protected recipient copy?

          I don't think Paul's preservation of copies is too relevant in the
          scenario that I propose.

          Here's my hypothetical scenario.

          What seems to have happened with the epistles is that they were probably
          relatively unknown to the larger Christian community as a corpus for a
          long time. They may have even fallen into relative disuse for a while.
          Some copies of some epistles may have been preserved and used occasionally
          in various communities. They may have already gone through some editing at
          this point. Some things could have been added to some mss.

          But later the political star of Paul began to rise. His faction became
          more and more influential especially after the Jewish War post-70. The
          process of mythopoeia around Paul began in earnest long after his death.
          His disciples at that point decided to assemble a corpus of his letters --
          their own scriptures.

          The fact is that, on the whole, textually, we have a remarkably unified
          and consitent Pauline canon. There's really not much textual evidence for
          epistles having been interpolated -- such as big passages missing in some
          manuscripts, or other significant textual variations. The apparent unity
          of canon can indicate that at some quite early point the canon was unified
          by some centralized authority -- probably in Syria or Asia Minor. That's
          where most Pauline epistles would have been circulating, anyway. (We don't
          hear of Paul writing to Alexandria, for example.) This authority may have
          demanded that all the congregations in the area submit all the copies of
          Pauline letters in their possession for inspection (possibly as a measure
          against "heretical corruptions"). So this authority would have collected
          all the mss they could collect and condemned any unapproved copies as
          heretical.

          This is the time when the main work of editing and interpolation could
          have been done. And after, the new "approved" Paul was widely promulgated.

          In my view, the strongest argument for interpolations within the
          untouchable "7 authentic letters" is the fact that the Pauline corpus _as
          a whole_ is clearly significantly interpolated. We have e.g. the Pastorals
          that the Church tried to pass off as authentic for many centuries. So the
          question will be, If the ecclesiastical authorities could and did add so
          conspicuously to the Pauline canon as a whole, why wouldn't they add to
          individual letters? I see no reason why not.

          Now, this subject is covered in more detail by William O. Walker in this
          and some other works on this subject.

          William O. Walker, THE BURDEN OF PROOF IN IDENTIFYING INTERPOLATIONS IN
          THE PAULINE LETTERS, NTS 33 (1987): 610-618

          Also Winsome Munro wrote about this in her book.

          Regards,

          Yuri.

          Yuri Kuchinsky || Toronto

          http://www.trends.net/~yuku/bbl/bbl.htm

          The goal proposed by Cynic philosophy is apathy, which is
          equivalent to becoming God -=O=- Julian
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