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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Crosstalk In Response To: Mark Matson On: Luke s Lying From: Bruce Mark does not like my characterization of what Luke is doing to the facts of the
    Message 1 of 3 , May 14, 2009
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      To: Crosstalk
      In Response To: Mark Matson
      On: Luke's Lying
      From: Bruce

      Mark does not like my characterization of what Luke is doing to the facts of
      the earliest Church history, as they were still available to him. I continue
      to think that candor has its uses in scholarship. On specifics:

      MARK: I would argue for a very different interpretation of what Luke is
      doing (rather than he was lying). It involves two features:

      1. We know that in fact the Jerusalem church became a center for the church
      in Syro-Palestine region early on. The fact that Paul talks about going to
      Jerusalem to meet the Pillars, that he takes up a collection for the
      Jerusalem church.

      BRUCE: Agreed. The question is, When did Paul go to Jerusalem? In what year
      do you put that visit? Here again, the Pauline chronology comes up as an
      important strand in the understanding of the Gospel tradition, which in many
      ways is not Paul's tradition.

      MARK: And, while he does base much on Acts, Eusebius seems to assume that
      Jerusalem had the early leadership position in the churches, noting the
      succession of leaders after James.

      BRUCE: Eusebius, in writing Church history at a much later date, when the
      canon was effectively fixed, could not get beyond canonical Acts. He did not
      appreciate, as many modern scholars still do not appreciate, the import of
      the chronological priority of Mark. Eusebius's testimony is worth exactly
      what the testimony of Acts is worth - no more, no less.

      MARK: Thus there is simply the fact that Jerusalem had become important very
      early in the course of the church's growth and development.

      BRUCE: I sense in the transition from "early" (above) to "very early" (here)
      a tendency to close the gap between the Jerusalem church as Paul reports it,
      and the year 30. I don't think that is legitimate. Adverbs are not evidence,
      and progressively early adverbs are not a demonstration. And I add that the
      existence of a Jerusalem church as of the date that Paul visited it does not
      preclude the survival of Galilean churches, very probably including a most
      influential one at Capernaum: see again Mt 11:20-24, repeated in Lk
      10:12-15. The hatred in these statements should not prevent their being
      given their full weight as witnesses to history.

      The Galilean churches, no doubt thanks in part to Paul's efforts, were
      eventually wiped out, at least as far as any visible role in Church history
      is concerned. But we cannot assume that this stage had been reached as of
      the date (whatever it was, and it seems to have been well after the year 30)
      of Paul's Jerusalem visit.

      MARK: 2. There is another tradition, namely John, that points to a
      Jerusalem center to the earliest "appearances" of Jesus. Now whether you
      want to assume these were real or apparent, John records the early
      "experience" as taking place in Jerusalem.

      BRUCE: The word "records" suggests the action of an eyewitness. Let's rather
      say, John locates the early "experience" as taking place in Jerusalem. Now,
      what do we make of that? I think the key fact is that John is a late
      document. By what I believe to be the majority view of those attending to
      the Synoptic Problem, John is post-Synoptic. Waiving opinion, if we
      ourselves consult what I call the Trajectory developments, John comes out at
      the end of every single one of them: theological, biographical,
      church-historical. In placing the Jesus appearances in Jerusalem, John is
      merely continuing to develop the line that began in Mark (Galilee), was
      nudged Jerusalemward in Matthew (Galilee but those people are no good), was
      replaced by a Jerusalem scenario in Luke (really near Jerusalem, and the
      disciples are ordered NOT to go to Galilee), and finally we have Jerusalem
      itself as the site of those appearances (John).

      It is to be doubted that, at the date he wrote, generations after the facts,
      John possessed any virgin historical information unknown to the Synoptic
      writers. He was most probably influenced by, and articulates, the
      increasingly Jerusalemized picture of Church tradition that prevailed in his
      day. His testimony is valuable as a witness to that very late scheme of
      things. But it has no power to prevail over the authority of much earlier
      witnesses, which attest an earlier perception of things. The point of
      interest here, historically, is the gradual unseating and replacement of an
      early and peripheral (Galilee) tradition by a late and centrist (Jerusalem)

      As I have elsewhere remarked, this is the kind of thing that goes on all the
      time, in virtually every tradition we have evidence for. See again my
      earlier note, somewhere or other in the archive, which mentions the way the
      death place of the Buddha was later thought to be inappropriately jerkwater,
      for so momentous an event, and a legend was accordingly fashioned, giving to
      that jerkwater ("wattle and daub") town a glorious, nay an Imperial, past
      history. The Jerusalemization of the Galilee tradition seems to be very much
      of a piece, typologically, with the aggrandizement of location in the later
      legends about Jesus.

      MARK: Given that Luke and John share many, many points of contact, that
      might explain why Luke places the growth of the church in Jerusalem not
      Galilee. According to one his sources (John), and his experience in his
      current situation, Jerusalem was the early center. So even if much is
      constructed around these data points (and we don't know what other sources
      Luke was dealing with), it makes sense. Of course this presumes Luke used
      John... making John (or an early version of John) early... but we can leave
      that for another discussion.

      BRUCE: Or we can take it now; see above. John, for reasons abovementioned,
      is after Luke, and attests a later stage of doctrinal development (and
      church-historical tradition revisionism) than Luke. John is not a source for
      Luke. Doctrinal evolution does not progress from the developed to the less
      developed, and water does not run uphill.

      MARK: The point is, it need not be lying...

      BRUCE: Right. It can instead be deliberate misrepresentation. It has not
      been shown that Luke used John; everything I am aware of suggests that he
      did not, and cannot have. The one source we unambiguously know Luke did use
      was Mark. How, then, does Luke treat the Galilee Appearance statements in
      Mark? I will demonstrate how he treats those statements.

      Mk 16:7. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to
      Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.

      Lk 24:6. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, [7] that
      the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be
      crucified, and on the third day rise. [8] And they remembered his words . .

      Luke goes on to describe an appearance of Jesus in Jerusalem, and there
      Jesus says, "but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on
      high" [24:49b]. This event Acts presently proceeds to describe.

      Luke has before him Mark's account of the Empty Tomb scene, complete with
      its clear implication that Jesus will appear to the disciples in Galilee.
      Luke invents (or takes from late tradition; for present purposes it does not
      matter which) an incident where Jesus instead appears to them near to
      Jerusalem. This is in direct contravention of Mark's account. As to the
      points of Mark's account which directly conflict with Luke's version, and
      they amount to only a few words, Luke rewrites those words so that they no
      longer conflict with his version.

      MARK: Also of course, Luke does edit out material that doesn't fit his
      schema. All historians do, especially if the history is more rhetorical than

      BRUCE: I have already shown, with citations from Scripture, that Luke is
      doing much more than "editing out" material, he *rewrites* previous material
      until it conforms to his view of things. The basic Soviet approach.

      As for "everybody does it," that is completely irrelevant. It is not a
      mitigation of dishonesty that many people are dishonest; it is not a
      mitigation of apostasy that many people fall away. There is a difference
      between faithfully representing what one's sources say, and twisting them so
      that they say something else. Luke has taken the latter position, not alone
      by omission but also by commission. That is the only determination we need
      to make.

      Resubmitted for reconsideration,


      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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