Stephen Carlson wrote:
> > > Another point was also raised in previous messages. Thomas has
> > > incredible access to diverse streams to tradition: Mark, prima
> > > facie Lukan redaction of Mark, prima facie Matthean redaction of
> > > Mark, Q1, Q2, special Luke, and special Matthew. Some of this
> > > tradition is considered secondary according to normal criticism.
Stevan Davies replied:
> No. I put it to you that none of it is. Obviously we need to have
> good specific examples of that which is "secondary" and why. Often
> "unique" is equated with "secondary" in a manner that is trivially
> irrational... "this is in Matthew, therefore it is Matthean
> construction" won't work.
I quite agree -- we need more sophistication than that. But on the
question of Thomas's parallels to what are normally taken to be
redactional additions to Mark, we have a reasonable prima facie case
for Thomasine dependence. It is not a conclusive case because
Thomas or his traditions may be the source for Matthew's and Luke's
redactional additions to Mark -- and this is what Stevan seems to be
But let us not underestimate what is being said here. For years
people have had no trouble in explaining certain pieces of triple
tradition material as Matthew's and Luke's redaction of Mark. When
Thomas shows parallels to these redactions, our first reaction will
inevitably be to say "Perhaps Thomas knows the redactions (i.e.
knows Matthew and Luke)" and not "Perhaps the redactions were
dependent on Thomas". But I think Steve is right that we should
take seriously the latter option. It is just that for people like
me it represents a big paradigm shift. And before I make the shift,
I want to be sure that the "Perhaps the redactions were
dependent on Thomas" view is more plausible than
the "Perhaps Thomas knew the redactions" view.
> > > This access
> > > seems very difficult to do in the first century, considering the
> > > diversity of early Christianity.
> The point we Thomas people make often and loudly and I'm NOT
> going to put it in all caps, is that most of this "diverse" material
> is "diverse" only in the trivial (!) sense that it happens to show
> up here and there in various texts and that it is by and large not
> "diverse" in its general form or content. Thus we reiterate that the
> "diverse" ideological material to be found in the various texts is
> conspicuous by its absence. Watch out for equivocation on "diverse"
> in this. A saying found in Matthew and another in Mark are not
> "diverse" in any sense except they are found in two texts.
I appreciate Steve's comments on different kinds of diversities in
early Christianity. However, I would dispute that the differences
between the "diverse" material about which Stephen and I have been
writing are "trivial", and I think that much of this paragraph is
open to criticism.
Consider Q1 and Q2. I will accept this distinction for the sake of
argument. Strata are distinguished even within the same
(postulated) document precisely because of differencts in "general
form and content". Consider Mack's statement that "the contrast in
mood [between Q1 and Q2] is overwhelming". Or consider the place of
(postulated) Q in Matthew and Luke: Q theorists are increasingly
arguing its existence on the grounds of its distinctiveness from the
material surrounding it in Matthew and Luke.
Or consider the difference between Mk material in Matthew and M
material in Matthew. Has it not always been said that M has a
distinctive tone and content -- more narrowly Jewish-Christian,
disdainful of Gentiles and the Gentile mission? Or the difference
between L and M? L is much more underdog, disreputable hero -
orientated, more congenial to a Gentile Christian group. And so on.
This is no doubt precisely the kind of "equivocating" to which Steve
refers, but I cannot help thinking that the different strands of
material in the Synoptics, on the standard paradigm, are indeed
"diverse" in form, content and ideology. Of course there is
overlap, but the diversity is also clear and is a consensus in
scholarship, isn't it?
So the point holds that the strands of material that make up our
Synoptics, with every one of which Thomas has parallels, are
> > Actually Stephen adds to the point by noting that there are
> > parallels to Q1 and Q2 in Thomas.
> Sigh. But in the sort of Q2 material that is conspicuously lacking
> in Q2 ideological or redactional tendencies so that the general form
> and substance of Thomas' Q1 and Q2 stuff is the same. Q scholars
> tend to use these Thomas sayings as evidence that one must not think
> that Q2 is lacking in oral tradition materials.
In some ways this is the point, though, isn't it? That if Q2 was
present in oral tradition materials, then it is interesting that
Thomas features parallels to traditions that were to be used in Q2
as well as to traditions that were to be used in Q1, as well as to
traditions that were to be used in Mk, etc. for M, for L, for MattR
and LukeR. Or are we to think that Q1 and Q2 were a homogeneous
lump in the oral tradition which only acquired their distinctive
forms when they were incorporated into Q?
Is it the case that Thomas's Q2 parallels lack the ideological and
redactional tendencies of Q2? This is not an easy one to answer and
requires some more thought. I am not familiar enough with Thomas,
but what about the following?
Thom. 10: "Jesus said, I have cast fire upon the world, and behold,
I am guarding it until it is ablaze"
Luke 12.49: "I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and how I
wish that it were already kindled".
The latter is one of Kloppenborg's Q2 passages.
> > (2) Thomas is dependent on oral traditions that are (a) generated
> > by the Gospels (b) influenced by the Gospels and (c) independent
> > of the Gospels. The interaction between these three creates the
> > document we see before us, with the inevitable parallels to
> > diverse material.
> > I will have to admit to leaning towards the second option here.
> Alas. And when I point out that (a) above is has not been
> demonstrated by anybody and (b) is quite debatable, as I have
> done repeatedly, nothing happens. You cannot hold a theory that has
> several elements on the grounds that many are better than few when
> of the several some are undemonstrated.
What I was attempting to say is that the combination of (a), (b) and
(c) above would seem to make sense of the data of Thomasine
parallels to diverse strands of synoptic material. I agree that the
independent demonstration of (a) would also be helpful if we could
find a good means of doing it. I want to have another go with the
example in Luke 11.27-28 // Thom. 79 to see if anything can be done
with that. I might as well keep plugging away at the dependence
argument to see if it does hold any water. You convinced me that
the argument about the Rich Fool was weak.
> > Oral traditions are by their very
> > nature lost except in so far as they are crystallized in texts.
> > In such circumstances we need to think carefully not about what is
> > the simplest model, but about what is the most plausible model.
> > It sounds to me, at my present state of knowledge, like the second
> > option above is the more plausible model unless we are radically
> > to revise ideas about the diversity of Christian origins.
> Equivocation on "diversity." I knew this would happen. Thomas
> sayings are in a diversity of texts does not carry the diversity of
> the ideology of those texts over into the sayings in Thomas. The
> word "diversity" is being used in two different senses here, which
> are being confused.
I don't think that the point is simply that things are in a
"diversity of texts" but rather that they are in a diversity of
strands of material, strands that are (usually seen to be) diverse
in form and content.
All the best
Dr Mark Goodacre M.S.Goodacre@...
Dept. of Theology, University of Birmingham
World Without Q: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/q
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