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Re: Doubting Thomas 3

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  • Stevan Davies
    ... 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
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 1, 1998
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      > From: "Mark Goodacre"

      > > 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.

      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.

      > > 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.

      > 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.

      >> The alternatives seem to be that either:
      >
      > (1) Thomas is independent of the Synoptics; it is dependent on
      > oral traditions which are parallel to diverse strands of material
      > including material that will later be (a) Markan (b) (so called) Q1
      > (c) (so called) Q2 (d) M (e) L (f) the basis for Matthean redaction
      > of Mark and (g) material that will be the basis for Lukan redaction
      > of Mark.

      This is going to turn into a huge logical problem because there
      is an underlying confusion between "diverse" in the simple sense
      of showing up here and there (and one MUST add in the stuff
      in Thomas // in the Didache, or in 2 Clement, or in Justin just to be
      consistent and eventually to show the absurdity of the "diverse"
      argument... and so to become aware of the logical problem)
      and "diverse" in the sense of conveying ideas typical of diverse
      tendencies of authors.

      > or:
      >
      > (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.

      > 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.

      Simply put,
      if I find the numbers 4,5,6 showing up in a lot of different books, it
      does not show that the "diversity" of the books means that
      there is an inherent "diversity" in the numbers 4,5,6 so that
      when those numbers appear we should be surprised and marvel
      that such a diversity of numbers should have come together.

      Steve
    • Mark Goodacre
      ... 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
      Message 2 of 2 , Jul 2, 1998
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        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
        saying.

        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.

        Stephen wrote:

        > > > This access
        > > > seems very difficult to do in the first century, considering the
        > > > diversity of early Christianity.

        Steve replied:

        > 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
        diverse.
        >
        > > 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.

        I wrote:

        > > (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.

        Steve replied:

        > 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.

        I wrote:

        > > 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.

        Steve replied:

        > 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

        Mark
        -------------------------------------------
        Dr Mark Goodacre M.S.Goodacre@...
        Dept. of Theology, University of Birmingham

        Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre
        World Without Q: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/q
        (Please note new address)
        --------------------------------------------

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