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Re: [XTalk] Re: Discontinuity and Multiple Attestation

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  • Loren Rosson
    Chris wrote: Meier is implying that Paul, Gos. John, Epist. Hebrews do not have access to such a tradition about oaths, but Matthew and James do. Since
    Message 1 of 8 , Jun 17, 2009
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      Chris wrote:
      "Meier is implying that Paul, Gos. John, Epist. Hebrews do not have access to such a tradition about oaths, but Matthew and James do. Since Matthew and James have this statement that conflicts so much both with other writers of the early church (Paul, John, Hebrews) and Judaism which proceeded it (Philo, Ben Sirah). How else, he is implicitly asking, would this prohibition against oaths arise in two independent documents of Matthew and James? It's certainly a fair question to ask. For me, it's merely a variation of multiple attestation, since one author alone could invent something that is discontinuous both from earlier Judaism and the early church. But when two authors do it, the likelihood of it becoming historical (under this paradigm we have assumed) increases."
      Thanks for this. I see what you're getting at, but it still comes off greasy. I can appreciate when the criterion of embarrassment is used to supplement multiple attestation, because then we're dealing with reworkings of an uncomfortable saying in different ways. But discontinuity and multiple attestation reinforce each other, as you note, by inaccessibility (Paul, John, and Hebrews) and accessibility (Matthew, James) in equal measure. I suppose in this light it is a variant of multiple attestation, but inversely. 
      Loren Rosson IIINashua NH http://lorenrosson.blogspot.com




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    • Chris Weimer
      Hey Loren, I guess for me I have to partially agree with Jim that universal application is hard without an examination of each particular case. Which is why I
      Message 2 of 8 , Jun 17, 2009
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        Hey Loren,

        I guess for me I have to partially agree with Jim that universal application is hard without an examination of each particular case. Which is why I would accept oaths going back to Jesus if both James and Matthew contained it (although it's still iffy, for example why doesn't Luke have it?) but not if James alone had it.

        Chris
        SFSU

        --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, Loren Rosson <rossoiii@...> wrote:
        >
        > Chris wrote:
        > "Meier is implying that Paul, Gos. John, Epist. Hebrews do not have access to such a tradition about oaths, but Matthew and James do. Since Matthew and James have this statement that conflicts so much both with other writers of the early church (Paul, John, Hebrews) and Judaism which proceeded it (Philo, Ben Sirah). How else, he is implicitly asking, would this prohibition against oaths arise in two independent documents of Matthew and James? It's certainly a fair question to ask. For me, it's merely a variation of multiple attestation, since one author alone could invent something that is discontinuous both from earlier Judaism and the early church. But when two authors do it, the likelihood of it becoming historical (under this paradigm we have assumed) increases."
        > Thanks for this. I see what you're getting at, but it still comes off greasy. I can appreciate when the criterion of embarrassment is used to supplement multiple attestation, because then we're dealing with reworkings of an uncomfortable saying in different ways. But discontinuity and multiple attestation reinforce each other, as you note, by inaccessibility (Paul, John, and Hebrews) and accessibility (Matthew, James) in equal measure. I suppose in this light it is a variant of multiple attestation, but inversely. 
        > Loren Rosson IIINashua NH http://lorenrosson.blogspot.com
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
      • Loren Rosson
        Chris, you wrote that universal application is hard without an examination of each particular case , and I certainly agree; it should almost go without
        Message 3 of 8 , Jun 17, 2009
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          Chris, you wrote that "universal
          application is hard without an examination of each particular case", and I
          certainly agree; it should almost go without saying. But my original point was
          that the criterion of discontinuity (with early Christianity) is flawed **in
          principle**, while other criteria at least have the right idea, even when
          problematic in certain cases. Neither of us are wild about discontinuity with Judaism either,
          and I'd almost go so far as to say that one is flawed in principle too (for
          different reasons).

           

          Loren Rosson III

          Nashua NH

          http://lorenrosson.blogspot.com/




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        • E Bruce Brooks
          To: Crosstalk Cc: GPG; WSW In Response To: Loren Rossen and Others On: Criteria for HJ From: Bruce I thought there was considerable theoretical interest in
          Message 4 of 8 , Jun 19, 2009
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            To: Crosstalk
            Cc: GPG; WSW
            In Response To: Loren Rossen and Others
            On: Criteria for HJ
            From: Bruce

            I thought there was considerable theoretical interest in this recent
            exchange. I here add a few methodological reflections of my own. Loren
            concluded the series by summing up his initial point this way:

            LOREN: But my original point was that the criterion of discontinuity (with
            early Christianity) is flawed **in
            principle**, while other criteria at least have the right idea, even when
            problematic in certain cases.

            BRUCE: The "criterion of discontinuity," whether one expects Jesus to be
            non-Jewish or non-Christian or both, does seem to be problematic on its
            face. We can expect Jesus to have been Jewish, and we can at least keep open
            the possibility that the later movement had some sort of continuity with
            what he did during his lifetime. And not reject those continuities out of
            hand, when the evidence seems to suggest them.

            But I think the short answer is that all rules of thumb are problematic.
            They and their counterparts in textual or lower criticism cannot be
            mindlessly applied. That mind is needed in the conduct of text criticism
            (higher as well as lower) was established long ago by Housman, and people
            coming into the field should have read Housman. An abridged version is
            available 7/24 at

            http://www.umass.edu/wsp/philology/front/housman/01.html

            The larger question here, it seems to me, is, What is the use of experience
            in the study of texts? The old hand should be better at it than the
            greenhorn, but everyone knows that previous knowledge can act to prevent the
            acquisition of new knowledge. What is the practical solution of this
            paradox? I think the key to successful use of previous knowledge is the
            quality which I call tact, the most elusive of the intellectual virtues.

            http://www.umass.edu/wsp/methodology/outline/tact.html

            TEXTUAL CRITICISM EXAMPLE

            A lot of experience is summed up in the observation that sometimes scribes
            leave out things. This gets into the canon of known and recurrent scribal
            errors, as it should. And there are subtypes, such as retrace errors, when
            the scribe goes back to his Vorlage and picks up, not the place he was at,
            but a place three lines lower which ends in the same phrase. The intervening
            material then gets omitted. Recurrent situations tend to acquire names in
            the trade; this one is called homoeoteleuton.

            http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/270472/homoeoteleuton

            Knowing these recurring situations is very helpful. You meet one and you
            don't struggle to discover its working principle, or to explain it in some
            ad hoc ingenious way (such as the omitted line in the Tang Stone Classics,
            somewhere in the Jvng Songs section); you say, Oh, yeah, there's one of
            *those* again. And you move on, unfatigued, to the next thing. Excellent
            economy of time. We can't avoid spending time, that's one of the rules of
            the game in Pascal's Casino, but we can at least try to get something in
            return for our expenditure. Having a mnemonic list of things likely to occur
            helps us to maximize that ratio.

            The error comes with being oversold on the idea that scribes *always*
            abbreviate, so that the shorter of two variants is *always* preferable to
            the longer, yielding the maxim

            Lectio brevior potior.

            Which is entirely right - except in the cases where it is entirely wrong,
            and as Griesbach already showed, these are at least as numerous,
            typologically, as the cases where it is right. In effect, the very helpful
            recollection mnemonic, when elevated to an unthinking principle, leads one
            to guessing one and not the other of the Griesbach options, with a 50%
            chance of success. Anybody off the street could do as well. Any kid. Any
            random number generator. This is what happens when we enshrine some
            experience at the cost of other experience. The problem is not experience,
            it is the enshrinement of experience, and the substitution of past
            experience for future observation.

            MULTIPLE ATTESTATION (THE CASE OF OATHS)

            This, to me, is another of the fallacious principles that have dogged NT
            from its early days. Here was one comment on Loren's original post, which
            began by agreeing that the principle of discontinuity was perilous in
            practice, and then continued (with Loren's example: the question of oaths in
            Meier's v4):

            CHRIS WEIMER: I don't think, however, it's quite a flip of the coin. Meier
            is implying that Paul, Gos. John, Epist. Hebrews do not have access to such
            a tradition about oaths, but Matthew and James do. Since Matthew and James
            have this statement that conflicts so much both with other writers of the
            early church (Paul, John, Hebrews) and Judaism which proceeded it (Philo,
            Ben Sirah). How else, he is implicitly asking, would this prohibition
            against oaths arise in two independent documents of Matthew and James?

            It's certainly a fair question to ask. For me, it's merely a variation of
            multiple attestation, since one author alone could invent something that is
            discontinuous both from earlier Judaism and the early church. But when two
            authors do it, the likelihood of it becoming historical (under this paradigm
            we have assumed) increases.

            BRUCE: But the two have to be independent. It used to be thought that if a
            story appeared in all three Synoptics, then we had three independent
            witnesses to that story. It is now understood that the Synoptics are
            mutually dependent, and that the presence of a story in Luke may merely mean
            that he thought it worth retaining from Matthew, who in turn liked it in
            Mark. It is a further vote of confidence, if you like, but it is not an
            independent reading. There is no separate pipeline back to Jesus.

            Are Matthew and Jacob (as it says in my Greek text) independent? Not if you
            examine them closely, and take account of the gradual formation process of
            one or both. Are any two Christian texts really independent? Not all of them
            borrow verbally from all the others, but many of them are probably aware, at
            some remove, of at least some of the others. The argumentative or
            refutational stance of much of the early Christian literature alone will
            attest the degree of awareness (not always leading to passive acceptance)
            within this body of writings. Thomas, for example, is undoubtedly an
            enterprise of its own, but one which is at pains to give a special spin to
            some already familiar stories about Jesus. It is parasitic on what I might
            call the Gospel tradition. This is not the same as being independent of the
            Gospel tradition.

            Date also plays a part. If a story (or an idea) occurs in several texts, but
            all those texts are late (say, all of them Deutero- rather than Pauline
            epistles), then all that proves is that the idea was popular at a late stage
            in the evolutions (sic) of Christianities (also sic). Reducing that evidence
            to the "multiple attestation" rubric throws away too much information. It is
            not that appearance in more than one text is without interest, but rather
            that it is not the only fact of which we need to be aware in interpreting
            the situation.

            Jim West, as I read him, came near to recommending that all rules of thumb
            be dumped. I think that may be a little drastic. I would rather see previous
            experience preserved, just not as an .exe file. Thought is necessary to
            successful application. On that, Housman and I agree. But it is still handy
            to have something to apply in the first place.

            CHRIS (After an intervening comment by Loren): I guess for me I have to
            partially agree with Jim that universal application is hard without an
            examination of each particular case. Which is why I would accept oaths going
            back to Jesus if both James and Matthew contained it (although it's still
            iffy, for example why doesn't Luke have it?) but not if James alone had it.

            BRUCE: Again, this disregards the dates, and the other probable
            circumstances, of the texts in question (and of those not in question). It
            conspicuously omits Mark, not to mention the first and thus earliest layer
            of the Didache. I would favor instead a look at the big scene.

            THE BIG SCENE

            To take the problem in its largest dimension, I think it is wrong to
            approach this fairly large body of evidence asking only one question, in
            this case, the HJ question. The evidence is prepared to tell us much more
            than this, and if we let it tell us what it knows, say about the emergence
            of the sacraments in early church history, or the variety of disputation
            about the nature of Jesus, or the ways of accommodation of the early Jesus
            groups to the insistently present world around them, or anything else that
            they have in mind as the urgency of the moment, then we take a lot of the
            undesirable heat out of the investigation. Some of the text material that
            points to early church practice gets used up, so to speak, in documenting
            that practice, and those pieces are that much less likely to be misapplied
            to a question for which they are not really appropriate evidence.

            This is what I mean by the maxim, Let the text ask its own questions, and
            give its own answers. Let it give us hints about Peter, for instance, or the
            Galilean churches, or the early days of Antioch (I would love to have a
            videotape of Antioch in the year 31). Any lawyer knows better than to
            interrogate Witness A in an attempt to establish Point B. In this sense, I
            would like to see more lawyerish thinking in the NT discussions.

            What does Jacob, for example, tell us? Nothing directly about the HJ, who
            (except for two manifest interpolations) is not even mentioned. A fact which
            scandalized Luther, and others before and since. But rather, most probably,
            what a movement leader, perhaps in Galilee, thought it most important to
            emphasize to some newly planted cell groups north of him, undoubtedly some
            in Syria and probably also in more distant places, eg Edessa. These, at
            least according to one interpretation of the evidence, are the zone of the
            oldest Christianity. What the Galilean center was saying to the Syrian and
            Edessine periphery, pretty early in the game, is a matter of intense
            interest. I think it unwise to waterboard it in search of something else,
            such as a biography of the HJ. Let it tell us what it happens to know, and
            then take to ourselves, later on, the task of assembling that and everything
            else into a picture. The picture will probably be largely one of the early
            and middle development of the several early Christianities. Well, OK, that
            is just where it happens to come out. From that, judiciously assembled and
            carefully interpreted, it may become much more practical to try to detect
            the original impulses, the HJ impulses, amidst all the others. If we should
            then desire to do so.

            The mathematicians know that you sometimes can't reach a desired result in
            one jump. You need to work with intermediate stages (lemmas) instead: two or
            three jumps rather than one jump. Their method is sanctioned by its
            tremendous practical success. We might think of taking a hint from that
            success. Maybe a one-year moratorium on talk of HJ, and a concentration on
            anything and everything else, would do unanticipated wonders for the HJ
            quest.

            Bruce

            E Bruce Brooks
            Warring States Project
            University of Massachusetts at Amherst
          • David Mealand
            With regard to some of the items classed as discontinuous I am not sure that discontinuity is the best term for analysing the problematic criterion. In its
            Message 5 of 8 , Jun 20, 2009
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              With regard to some of the items classed as "discontinuous"
              I am not sure that discontinuity is the best term
              for analysing the problematic criterion.

              In its early stages what happened was that
              form critics identified passages which belong
              to a transitional stratum, which goes beyond
              what it owes to Judaism, but without containing
              formulations which are arrived at in early Christianity.

              One could class this material as "transitional" though
              that term was not, as far as I am aware, used in the
              works which kicked off this kind of analysis of
              the tradition.

              Identifying passages or parts of passages which belong
              to the transitional phase does seem to me to be
              a viable and worthwhile way of proceeding.

              David M.





              ---------
              David Mealand, University of Edinburgh



              ---------

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