Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: Davis on the Gospels

Expand Messages
  • Brian Trafford <bj_traff@hotmail.com>
    Hello again Robert, and thank you for the detail (two-part) response. As to your point that Galilee was probably not so Hellenized that it had abandoned
    Message 1 of 93 , Dec 30, 2002
    • 0 Attachment
      Hello again Robert, and thank you for the detail (two-part) response.
      As to your point that Galilee was probably not so Hellenized that it
      had abandoned entirely the apocalyptic beliefs of their Judaean
      brethren in the south, I pretty much agree. I would add also that
      the evidence that the Hellenization of Galilee probably did not
      extend much deeper than the culture of the more heavily urbanized
      centres of this region. As the evidence points to a more rural
      origin for Jesus, Peter, and company, I think it is very probable
      that these individuals were more heavily influenced by the Jewish
      culture than that of the Greco-Roman world that had taken over their
      region. Given the degree of our general agreement on this point.
      However, my focus in this post will be on your elaboration on
      Luke/Acts and his sources.

      First, when you say that "It is pretty clear to me that Luke's
      material is merely a rewrite of Matthew" I assume that you mean a
      rewrite of Mark and Matthew, as the evidence that Luke knew of both
      (and especially the first of these) Gospels seems pretty conclusive
      to me. Given the still widely held acceptance of an hypothetical "Q"
      source, however, I am not so sure that the evidence is truly
      conclusive, so much as it is probative. Very simply, since the
      existence of "Q" requires us to multiply complexities without
      necessity, it is both more economical, and better methodologically to
      reject such a hypothetical source in favour of saying that Luke used
      Matthew as his source for their overlapping material. Given this
      rejection of Luke's use of a "Q" source, I think it is necessary to
      jettison references to such a source, as it merely produces confusion
      in a discussion on the Synoptic Problem. At the same time, if you do
      not accept Lucan knowledge of GMark then I would like to go into your
      reasoning on this more deeply (though that is a separate and
      unrelated issue, and could perhaps be taken up in a separate thread).

      Second, when you list Luke's only other source as his own "contextual
      imagination," qualified by an acceptance of a general "pool" of
      sayings, deeds and events held commonly by all 1st Century
      Christians, I would again largely agree. Where I would take issue,
      however, is in your reasoning for dating Luke to the early 2nd
      Century, as well as how well Luke might have known the traditions
      preserved by John. I would also take issue with the possible
      historicity of Luke's Gospel against that of either Mark or
      (especially) Matthew. Though he is later than either, I do believe
      that some of his traditions do predate Matthew, and may well be more
      historically accurate as well (for example, his rejection of the
      soldiers at the tomb story seems to be historically correct, as his
      rejection of the idea to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles can be
      traced back to Jesus' earthly [albeit resurrected] life here on
      earth).

      One of the major difficulties I have in dating Luke/Acts to the 2nd
      Century, as opposed to late 1st Century is the famous us/we passages
      found in Acts. These strike me as authentic reports of a sometime
      companion of Paul in his journeys through Greece and Asia Minor. As
      you do not address this evidence, I am unsure as to why you might
      reject it, but I will say that from past readings by other scholars,
      I do not find the argument that this is an ancient convention for sea
      journeys to be unpersuasive. Just for starters, it is not
      principally a story of sea journeys, nor is it given in any kind of
      log fashion. The mention of "us" and "we" in the passages is
      entirely incidental, and the author plays no role at all in any of
      the stories (beyond being there, of course). A second issue of
      concern is the detailed knowledge Luke has of geography and very
      obscure titles in the region. This does not seem very likely for an
      author working entirely from "imaginative creation" and earlier
      sources alone. And needless to say, if the author of Luke/Acts was an
      adult c. 50-60 CE, then the chances he was still around much beyond
      90 CE is increasingly remote. In agreement with R. Brown, I would
      place the upper terminus on Luke/Acts at about 90-100 (with Matthew
      being no later than 80-85 CE, and Mark at 55-70 CE).

      As for your argument that the letters of Ignatius and Pliny the
      younger can somehow serve as contextual pointers in dating Luke/Acts,
      I do not find this very persuasive either. As you noted, the level
      church hierarchal development is certainly later than what we find in
      either Ignatius, or even Clement I, but for me, this suggests that
      such development has not yet matured. While it is always possible
      that Luke is trying to point to an earlier, purer (and presumably
      superior in Luke's view) type of Christianity, we do not see him
      engaging in any polemical attacks on a developed church hierarchy
      either. In my view, Luke's "idealization" of the first Christians
      serves its own purpose, and seeks to point his readers towards a goal
      he thought worthy. It certainly fits his wider theological purpose
      of idealizing the poor, and setting the "simple life" up as the best
      way to live, and given that such beliefs can be found pretty much in
      any era, it does little to help us resolve the question of when
      Luke/Acts may have been written. Luke seems to be engaging in that
      time honoured appeal to the "good old days," and this could have been
      done in 85 as easily as in 115.

      The argument that Christianity was recognized as distinct by the
      early 2nd Century does little more to help us. I agree that there
      was probably some individual being addressed as Theophilus, and that
      he was someone of importance, and that he was either a Christian
      already, or interested in becoming one himself. But this does not
      point to a later dating any more than to an earlier one, since we can
      find even in Paul's letters, evidence of people of prominence and
      wealth already joining the early church in the 50's.

      Finally, the argument that Luke sought to combat a "factionalized,
      segregated, and increasingly hierarchical Church of the author's own
      day," and bring them back to the more authentic earlier kerygma,
      again we see evidence of such fights as early as Paul contre Peter,
      James and John. Luke certainly did not invent such conflicts, and
      did seem to play them down substantially in his own account, but they
      were there long before the 2nd Century. Let me be clear that I am
      not disputing that Luke wished to point his church towards an
      earlier, "purer" kerygma, as he saw it, I just do not think that this
      serves to help us date his work. Even the conflict you see between
      Paul's account of the Council of Jerusalem, and Luke's do not suggest
      such a late dating for Luke's work. After all, with all of the
      principals now dead (c. 62-65 CE), it is not unreasonable to expect
      that Luke might downplay the conflict itself, and use it as a model
      for his later (say, 20-30 years later) readers on how to resolve
      their own differences. Such differences existed in the 50's, the
      60's, the 80's and on in the 2nd, 3rd, and beyond centuries.

      (As a small aside, I noticed your passing reference to the Pastorals,
      and seem to suggest that they also date to the 2nd Century. I have
      written against this on Xtalk in the past, and would refer you to
      those essays for my reasons. This is off topic for the thread
      however, and mention it only to help provide context, since I accept
      both the Pastorals and Luke/Acts to be roughly contemporaneous late
      1st Century documents).

      Later you wrote:
      "... And if we are to take seriously the theme of solidarity with the
      poor and outcast found in Luke-Acts itself, then there most certainly
      was a new emphasis on Christian leadership going to the richest and
      highest status persons, with the tradition of "slave-bishops" like
      Onesimous going by the board."

      Assuming by this, you believe that Luke was writing against such
      wealthy bishops, what evidence do you have that this was on Luke's
      mind when composing his works? Your reasoning strikes me as circular
      here, as I do not see any such evidence at work at all. For all we
      know, Theophilus himself could have been such a "bishop" or high
      ranking church member who actually commissioned Luke's work himself
      (then we can speculate further as to Theophilus' motives for such a
      thing!). All of this is pure speculation, of course, but we lack the
      evidence either that Luke opposed wealthy church leaders for their
      wealth, or even that such a thing HAD become the norm in the early
      2nd Century.

      My last, and admittedly weakest, argument for dating Luke/Acts to c.
      90 rather than 110-120 CE is his lack of awareness of canonical
      GJohn. I agree that he does seem to know some of the traditions
      found in John, for example that of Peter running to the empty tomb
      (plus a potentially coincidental desire not to have Jesus baptized by
      JBap). But the evidence of textual dependence in either direction is
      entirely absent, suggesting instead that the authors shared some
      common traditions, but lacked knowledge of the other. In my opinion,
      this points to both being produced at about the same time, though for
      entirely different audiences, and with very different
      agendas/theological purposes. Since John probably dates to 90-100,
      then Luke must likewise fall into such a date range, as it strikes me
      as implausible that Luke would have written his account without
      borrowing more from John, especially regarding Mary (at the wedding
      of Cana, and at the cross). I understand how tenuous this particular
      argument happens to be, but do believe that it adds to the more
      compelling evidence found in the "us/we" passages of Acts, as well as
      the detailed knowledge of geography and local titles. For these
      reasons, I continue to accept that Luke/Acts most likely dates to the
      end of the 1st Century, rather than 20 or more years later in the 2nd.

      Thank you again for your detailed reply Robert. You have given me
      much to think about, and I have appreciated hearing your thoughts on
      these matters, even if I have not found myself in agreement with all
      of what you have said.

      Peace and a very Happy New Year to you and yours,

      Brian Trafford
      Calgary, AB, Canada
    • Brian Trafford <bj_traff@hotmail.com>
      Hello again Robert, and thank you for the detail (two-part) response. As to your point that Galilee was probably not so Hellenized that it had abandoned
      Message 93 of 93 , Dec 30, 2002
      • 0 Attachment
        Hello again Robert, and thank you for the detail (two-part) response.
        As to your point that Galilee was probably not so Hellenized that it
        had abandoned entirely the apocalyptic beliefs of their Judaean
        brethren in the south, I pretty much agree. I would add also that
        the evidence that the Hellenization of Galilee probably did not
        extend much deeper than the culture of the more heavily urbanized
        centres of this region. As the evidence points to a more rural
        origin for Jesus, Peter, and company, I think it is very probable
        that these individuals were more heavily influenced by the Jewish
        culture than that of the Greco-Roman world that had taken over their
        region. Given the degree of our general agreement on this point.
        However, my focus in this post will be on your elaboration on
        Luke/Acts and his sources.

        First, when you say that "It is pretty clear to me that Luke's
        material is merely a rewrite of Matthew" I assume that you mean a
        rewrite of Mark and Matthew, as the evidence that Luke knew of both
        (and especially the first of these) Gospels seems pretty conclusive
        to me. Given the still widely held acceptance of an hypothetical "Q"
        source, however, I am not so sure that the evidence is truly
        conclusive, so much as it is probative. Very simply, since the
        existence of "Q" requires us to multiply complexities without
        necessity, it is both more economical, and better methodologically to
        reject such a hypothetical source in favour of saying that Luke used
        Matthew as his source for their overlapping material. Given this
        rejection of Luke's use of a "Q" source, I think it is necessary to
        jettison references to such a source, as it merely produces confusion
        in a discussion on the Synoptic Problem. At the same time, if you do
        not accept Lucan knowledge of GMark then I would like to go into your
        reasoning on this more deeply (though that is a separate and
        unrelated issue, and could perhaps be taken up in a separate thread).

        Second, when you list Luke's only other source as his own "contextual
        imagination," qualified by an acceptance of a general "pool" of
        sayings, deeds and events held commonly by all 1st Century
        Christians, I would again largely agree. Where I would take issue,
        however, is in your reasoning for dating Luke to the early 2nd
        Century, as well as how well Luke might have known the traditions
        preserved by John. I would also take issue with the possible
        historicity of Luke's Gospel against that of either Mark or
        (especially) Matthew. Though he is later than either, I do believe
        that some of his traditions do predate Matthew, and may well be more
        historically accurate as well (for example, his rejection of the
        soldiers at the tomb story seems to be historically correct, as his
        rejection of the idea to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles can be
        traced back to Jesus' earthly [albeit resurrected] life here on
        earth).

        One of the major difficulties I have in dating Luke/Acts to the 2nd
        Century, as opposed to late 1st Century is the famous us/we passages
        found in Acts. These strike me as authentic reports of a sometime
        companion of Paul in his journeys through Greece and Asia Minor. As
        you do not address this evidence, I am unsure as to why you might
        reject it, but I will say that from past readings by other scholars,
        I do not find the argument that this is an ancient convention for sea
        journeys to be unpersuasive. Just for starters, it is not
        principally a story of sea journeys, nor is it given in any kind of
        log fashion. The mention of "us" and "we" in the passages is
        entirely incidental, and the author plays no role at all in any of
        the stories (beyond being there, of course). A second issue of
        concern is the detailed knowledge Luke has of geography and very
        obscure titles in the region. This does not seem very likely for an
        author working entirely from "imaginative creation" and earlier
        sources alone. And needless to say, if the author of Luke/Acts was an
        adult c. 50-60 CE, then the chances he was still around much beyond
        90 CE is increasingly remote. In agreement with R. Brown, I would
        place the upper terminus on Luke/Acts at about 90-100 (with Matthew
        being no later than 80-85 CE, and Mark at 55-70 CE).

        As for your argument that the letters of Ignatius and Pliny the
        younger can somehow serve as contextual pointers in dating Luke/Acts,
        I do not find this very persuasive either. As you noted, the level
        church hierarchal development is certainly later than what we find in
        either Ignatius, or even Clement I, but for me, this suggests that
        such development has not yet matured. While it is always possible
        that Luke is trying to point to an earlier, purer (and presumably
        superior in Luke's view) type of Christianity, we do not see him
        engaging in any polemical attacks on a developed church hierarchy
        either. In my view, Luke's "idealization" of the first Christians
        serves its own purpose, and seeks to point his readers towards a goal
        he thought worthy. It certainly fits his wider theological purpose
        of idealizing the poor, and setting the "simple life" up as the best
        way to live, and given that such beliefs can be found pretty much in
        any era, it does little to help us resolve the question of when
        Luke/Acts may have been written. Luke seems to be engaging in that
        time honoured appeal to the "good old days," and this could have been
        done in 85 as easily as in 115.

        The argument that Christianity was recognized as distinct by the
        early 2nd Century does little more to help us. I agree that there
        was probably some individual being addressed as Theophilus, and that
        he was someone of importance, and that he was either a Christian
        already, or interested in becoming one himself. But this does not
        point to a later dating any more than to an earlier one, since we can
        find even in Paul's letters, evidence of people of prominence and
        wealth already joining the early church in the 50's.

        Finally, the argument that Luke sought to combat a "factionalized,
        segregated, and increasingly hierarchical Church of the author's own
        day," and bring them back to the more authentic earlier kerygma,
        again we see evidence of such fights as early as Paul contre Peter,
        James and John. Luke certainly did not invent such conflicts, and
        did seem to play them down substantially in his own account, but they
        were there long before the 2nd Century. Let me be clear that I am
        not disputing that Luke wished to point his church towards an
        earlier, "purer" kerygma, as he saw it, I just do not think that this
        serves to help us date his work. Even the conflict you see between
        Paul's account of the Council of Jerusalem, and Luke's do not suggest
        such a late dating for Luke's work. After all, with all of the
        principals now dead (c. 62-65 CE), it is not unreasonable to expect
        that Luke might downplay the conflict itself, and use it as a model
        for his later (say, 20-30 years later) readers on how to resolve
        their own differences. Such differences existed in the 50's, the
        60's, the 80's and on in the 2nd, 3rd, and beyond centuries.

        (As a small aside, I noticed your passing reference to the Pastorals,
        and seem to suggest that they also date to the 2nd Century. I have
        written against this on Xtalk in the past, and would refer you to
        those essays for my reasons. This is off topic for the thread
        however, and mention it only to help provide context, since I accept
        both the Pastorals and Luke/Acts to be roughly contemporaneous late
        1st Century documents).

        Later you wrote:
        "... And if we are to take seriously the theme of solidarity with the
        poor and outcast found in Luke-Acts itself, then there most certainly
        was a new emphasis on Christian leadership going to the richest and
        highest status persons, with the tradition of "slave-bishops" like
        Onesimous going by the board."

        Assuming by this, you believe that Luke was writing against such
        wealthy bishops, what evidence do you have that this was on Luke's
        mind when composing his works? Your reasoning strikes me as circular
        here, as I do not see any such evidence at work at all. For all we
        know, Theophilus himself could have been such a "bishop" or high
        ranking church member who actually commissioned Luke's work himself
        (then we can speculate further as to Theophilus' motives for such a
        thing!). All of this is pure speculation, of course, but we lack the
        evidence either that Luke opposed wealthy church leaders for their
        wealth, or even that such a thing HAD become the norm in the early
        2nd Century.

        My last, and admittedly weakest, argument for dating Luke/Acts to c.
        90 rather than 110-120 CE is his lack of awareness of canonical
        GJohn. I agree that he does seem to know some of the traditions
        found in John, for example that of Peter running to the empty tomb
        (plus a potentially coincidental desire not to have Jesus baptized by
        JBap). But the evidence of textual dependence in either direction is
        entirely absent, suggesting instead that the authors shared some
        common traditions, but lacked knowledge of the other. In my opinion,
        this points to both being produced at about the same time, though for
        entirely different audiences, and with very different
        agendas/theological purposes. Since John probably dates to 90-100,
        then Luke must likewise fall into such a date range, as it strikes me
        as implausible that Luke would have written his account without
        borrowing more from John, especially regarding Mary (at the wedding
        of Cana, and at the cross). I understand how tenuous this particular
        argument happens to be, but do believe that it adds to the more
        compelling evidence found in the "us/we" passages of Acts, as well as
        the detailed knowledge of geography and local titles. For these
        reasons, I continue to accept that Luke/Acts most likely dates to the
        end of the 1st Century, rather than 20 or more years later in the 2nd.

        Thank you again for your detailed reply Robert. You have given me
        much to think about, and I have appreciated hearing your thoughts on
        these matters, even if I have not found myself in agreement with all
        of what you have said.

        Peace and a very Happy New Year to you and yours,

        Brian Trafford
        Calgary, AB, Canada
      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.