Cc: GPG; Crosstalk
In Response To: Ron Price
On: Luke's Sermon on the Plain
RON: But what would an editor most naturally do with a text which was too
long? Abbreviate it of course. Yet Luke didn't simply abbreviate the SoM.
BRUCE: Which is to say, aLk didn't take, undiluted, the most simpleminded
option available to him. The more credit to him, surely, as an intelligent
and reflective writer.
RON: In spite of the existence of a plentiful supply of 'Luke-pleasing'
sayings in Mt 5-7, including Mt 6:19-21 // Lk 12:33-34; Mt 6:22-23 // Lk
11:34-35; Mt 6:25-33 // Lk 12:22-31, . . .
BRUCE: The adjective "Luke-pleasing" is to me one of the big mistakes in the
vocabulary of the FGH people, going back to the founder of the movement. It
means merely "what I think Luke would have liked." It is much more
profitable to see what aLk DID in fact like. I thus resume:
RON: . . . he decided to augment the 'abbreviation' with three sayings from
elsewhere in Matthew: Mt 15:14 // Lk 6:39; Mt 10:24-25 // Lk 6:40; Mt
12:34-35 // Lk 6:45.
BRUCE: This is said as though it were self-refuting. It is not
self-refuting. It is simply a report of what aLk did. The perfectly
arbitrary expectation that aLk will cut the prototype passage, AND NOTHING
ELSE, has been proved wrong.
From this evidence, I would reflect as follows about the workings of aLk:
Sometimes when you cut something, you find that the ragged pieces of what is
left can use a little patching, whether with borrowed material or with new
material improvised on the spot. aLk, to the best of my recollection, does
both in his handling of the Sermon on the Matthean Mount, and I think the
better of him for it. He also moves things around; ditto. He is not just a
chopper, he is a craftsman. Is this visualization of aLk a problem for
I think Michael Goulder tries a little too hard, in this section of his book
on Luke, to prove that one hypothesis will account for everything in Luke
that differs from Matthew. I think that Michael is very much on the right
track, but from independent study of the question, I suspect that there is a
little more going on than he has included in his hypothesis. I remarked a
propos Adela Yarbro Collins' Mark Commentary, against her critics, that she
may have done well to leave some hard places in something of a decisional
mist; allow that some points await future research (dai kau, as we say in
Chinese), so as not to run the risk of being refuted by pronouncing on a
point that isn't soluble under present conditions, or with the hypothesis
being applied to the text. Same applies here.
One test of a hypothesis (for a complex phenomenon) is not whether it covers
all the data, since often it won't, but whether it leaves behind it an
intelligible residue of the unexplained, or less convincingly explained. I
think that this test is met by Goulder's Luke. The points which I for one
see running in a direction (Lk > Mt) opposite to that predicted by the FGH
theory have a very simple trait in common, and suggest a very simple
amendment to the hypothesis, thus (to my mind) strengthening and completing
The amendment to the hypothesis is that, besides knowing Mark, and knowing
Matthew, Luke also knew the rituals and litanies and catechisms and other
fixed verbal forms of his own Christian community. Not everything in life is
literary. Not everything in *literature* is literary.
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst