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Re: Farrer & Sources ...

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  • ianbrown6796
    Hi Richard, I wanted to make two comments with regards to your contribution to this thread (which I have been following very closely these past few days). The
    Message 1 of 12 , Oct 8, 2008
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      Hi Richard,

      I wanted to make two comments with regards to your contribution to
      this thread (which I have been following very closely these past few
      days). The first concerns narrative vs. redaction criticism, the
      second concerns the literary relationship between Thomas and the
      Synoptics.

      > Okay, we would keep Markan priority, but
      >Q would go and the evangelists (at least Matthew and Luke) would
      >become creative authors instead of collectors of sources or editors.
      >This shift is already happening thanks to narrative criticism, but
      >source critics have (not surprisingly given their reliance on the
      two-
      >source hypothesis) been quite reluctant to incorporate narrative
      >criticism in their work.

      >The point that I was making was that a Farrer theorist typically
      >attributes more of a particular Gospel to the creativity of an
      >evangelist (especially Luke, but also Matthew) than a two-source
      >theorist does. A two-source theorist is much more reluctant to
      >ascribe part of Matthew or Luke to the evangelist's creativity,
      >because he has several hypothetical documents (Q, L, M) that could
      >have contained the saying. Therefore, a Farrer theorist will see
      much
      >more of Matthew and Luke's handiwork in Thomas than a two-source
      >theorist. A two-source theorist is more likely to say that there is
      a
      >common source behind Thomas and Matthew or Luke.

      I agree with you that dogmatic redaction criticism essentially (if
      not completely) removes the possibility that the evangelists had a
      creative hand in the composition of the gospel. As you say a dogmatic
      redactional reading of Luke (for example) treats Luke as a compiler
      of traditions, not as a creative author. Dogmatic redaction criticism
      is presented in contrast to dogmatic (I know this word is getting
      tiresome but I need to keep using it) narrative criticism which
      allows the evangelist much more creativity in the construction of the
      gospels. I disagree with both of these dogmatic stances and wish to
      draw attention to a middle ground. My general thesis is that "In
      examining the redactional tendencies of the evangelist(in this case
      Luke) we can discover things about Luke's narrative intent."
      Hopefully the example of Luke 4:16-30 will clarify what I am talking
      about. Redaction critics would note that this section is taken over
      from Mark 6:1-6 (also paralleled in Matthew 13:53-58), but the
      placement has been significantly changed by Luke (it appears in the
      middle of Matthew and near the middle of Mark whereas it occurs at
      the beginning of Jesus' Galilean ministry in Luke) and the pericope
      has been greatly lengthened. The narrative critic can now take over,
      showing that the Lukan placement of this story fits with Luke's
      narrative theme of rejection, Jesus is rejected at the beginning of
      his Galilean ministry, his journey to Jerusalem and at Jerusalem.
      Thus in examining the redaction of this section, light is shed on the
      narrative implications of that redaction. If we flip it around, the
      narrative theme revealed in this section explains why Luke redacted
      this passge in the way he/she did.

      My next point relates to the relation between Thomas and the synoptic
      (after all this is Thomas thread). This is more of a general
      observation, but it seems to me that when Thomas and its relation to
      the synoptics come up we are immediately talking in terms of a
      literary relationship. I don't think this analysis is especially
      useful for us for several reasons. The first being, if there is some
      literary relationship between the two, it is not nearly as close as
      the literary relationship between Mark and Matthew or Matthew and
      Luke (Q), and so we cannot approach it with the same tools we would
      to `solve' the synoptic problem. Second, and possibly more important,
      is the fact that a literary relationship robs Thomas of the ability
      to say anything special, especially about the "Thomasine community."
      In a 1995 essay ("The Rhetoric of Marginality: Apocalypticism,
      Gnosticism, and Sayings Gospels" _The Harvard Theological Review_,
      Vol. 88, No. 4 (Oct., 1995), pp. 471-494) William Arnal argues
      that "[u]ntil scholars can establish some basis for the comparison of
      social contexts, and wrest the debate from the monopoly of literary
      hypotheses, more sophisticated theorizing cannot even begin to gain a
      foothold" (474). He is talking here about Thomas and Q which is
      essentially what we are talking about here as well. He concludes by
      stating that "[t]here are grounds, then, for comparing the Gospel of
      Thomas and Q on the basis of their social characteristics(!) rather
      than their literary or theological features" (494). Thus it seems it
      is our task to take up this call and really get into the social,
      political and economic forces behind the formation of the gospels and
      not become overwhelmed with trying to compare them on a literary
      level.

      Ian Brown
      University of Manitoba
    • rj.godijn
      Hi Ian, Thanks for your thoughtful comments! Nice to hear somebody is following my posts :) Below is my response. ... dogmatic ... criticism ... the ...
      Message 2 of 12 , Oct 9, 2008
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        Hi Ian,

        Thanks for your thoughtful comments! Nice to hear somebody is
        following my posts :) Below is my response.


        --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "ianbrown6796" <ianbrown6796@...>
        wrote:
        >

        > I agree with you that dogmatic redaction criticism essentially (if
        > not completely) removes the possibility that the evangelists had a
        > creative hand in the composition of the gospel. As you say a
        dogmatic
        > redactional reading of Luke (for example) treats Luke as a compiler
        > of traditions, not as a creative author. Dogmatic redaction
        criticism
        > is presented in contrast to dogmatic (I know this word is getting
        > tiresome but I need to keep using it) narrative criticism which
        > allows the evangelist much more creativity in the construction of
        the
        > gospels. I disagree with both of these dogmatic stances and wish to
        > draw attention to a middle ground. My general thesis is that "In
        > examining the redactional tendencies of the evangelist(in this case
        > Luke) we can discover things about Luke's narrative intent."
        > Hopefully the example of Luke 4:16-30 will clarify what I am
        talking
        > about. Redaction critics would note that this section is taken over
        > from Mark 6:1-6 (also paralleled in Matthew 13:53-58), but the
        > placement has been significantly changed by Luke (it appears in the
        > middle of Matthew and near the middle of Mark whereas it occurs at
        > the beginning of Jesus' Galilean ministry in Luke) and the pericope
        > has been greatly lengthened. The narrative critic can now take
        over,
        > showing that the Lukan placement of this story fits with Luke's
        > narrative theme of rejection, Jesus is rejected at the beginning of
        > his Galilean ministry, his journey to Jerusalem and at Jerusalem.
        > Thus in examining the redaction of this section, light is shed on
        the
        > narrative implications of that redaction. If we flip it around, the
        > narrative theme revealed in this section explains why Luke redacted
        > this passge in the way he/she did.
        >

        For the most part I agree with this. Yes, redaction criticism and
        narrative criticism can (and should) both contribute to our
        understanding of the texts. However, my point is that historically
        redaction criticism and narrative criticism reflect different ways of
        looking at the authors and their texts. It reflects not only a
        methodological development, but also a development of perspective and
        presuppositions concerning the texts.

        Lets take our time machine on a tour of the 20th century. Go to the
        1920s and ask a form critic (say, Bultmann) how creative the
        evangelists where. Then, travel to 1970 (or so) and find a redaction
        critic (say, Norman Perrin). Ask him the same question. Finally, go
        to 1990 (or so) and find a narrative critic. Let's take Kingsbury.
        What would he say? I am pretty much convinced that the pressumed
        creativity would increase as we get closer to home.

        Between narative criticism and these older methods the fundamental
        distinction is whether we are looking at prior tradition or the text
        itself. Narrative critics are often not all all interested in whether
        a bit from Matthew or Luke comes from Mark. They look at how it
        functions in Matthew or Luke. The Gospel is examined virtually as a
        stond-alone text (although the historical context of the writing is
        taken into consideration) without concern for sources. Clearly the
        older methodologies are far more concerned about tradition and (at
        the most) what the author has done with those traditions. This brings
        about quite a different kind of appreciation for the author.

        Obviously some kinds of understanding of the text were unthinkable
        prior to narrative criticism. Lets make this a little bit more
        concrete. Take Mary Tolbert and her book "Sowing the Gospel". She
        demonstrates that the parable of the sower and its interpretation in
        the Gospel of Mark provide the reader with a preview to the responses
        of the characters in the story to Jesus. For example, the response of
        Peter (petros=rock, of course) to Jesus throughout the Gospel of Mark
        corresponds precisely with the description of the seed that fell on
        rocky ground ("Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word
        and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they
        last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of
        the word, they quickly fall away..") Hello Peter!

        Reading the Gospels from a narrative critical perspective one truly
        starts to appreciate the authorial creativity of the evangelists.
        Moreover, one starts to be very skeptical of certain source
        theoretical tendencies to see in so much of the Gospels a source that
        is being edited (Q, M, L, pre-Markan parable collection, etc. ).
        After all, sometimes authors make stuff up to tell a story! Such
        thinking would probably be virtually impossible several decades ago.
        In fact, there still is quite a reluctance to accept a substantive
        degree of creativity. When Dennis MacDonald proposes Homeric
        influence on the Gospel of Mark it is clear to see that the responses
        have not been entirely unbiased (to put it mildly).


        > My next point relates to the relation between Thomas and the
        synoptic
        > (after all this is Thomas thread). This is more of a general
        > observation, but it seems to me that when Thomas and its relation
        to
        > the synoptics come up we are immediately talking in terms of a
        > literary relationship. I don't think this analysis is especially
        > useful for us for several reasons. The first being, if there is
        some
        > literary relationship between the two, it is not nearly as close as
        > the literary relationship between Mark and Matthew or Matthew and
        > Luke (Q), and so we cannot approach it with the same tools we would
        > to `solve' the synoptic problem. Second, and possibly more
        important,
        > is the fact that a literary relationship robs Thomas of the ability
        > to say anything special, especially about the "Thomasine
        community."
        > In a 1995 essay ("The Rhetoric of Marginality: Apocalypticism,
        > Gnosticism, and Sayings Gospels" _The Harvard Theological Review_,
        > Vol. 88, No. 4 (Oct., 1995), pp. 471-494) William Arnal argues
        > that "[u]ntil scholars can establish some basis for the comparison
        of
        > social contexts, and wrest the debate from the monopoly of literary
        > hypotheses, more sophisticated theorizing cannot even begin to gain
        a
        > foothold" (474). He is talking here about Thomas and Q which is
        > essentially what we are talking about here as well. He concludes by
        > stating that "[t]here are grounds, then, for comparing the Gospel
        of
        > Thomas and Q on the basis of their social characteristics(!) rather
        > than their literary or theological features" (494). Thus it seems
        it
        > is our task to take up this call and really get into the social,
        > political and economic forces behind the formation of the gospels
        and
        > not become overwhelmed with trying to compare them on a literary
        > level.
        >

        Once again there is much here with which I can agree. First, I agree
        that the tools we have been using for the synoptic problem do not get
        us far enough when examining the relationship between the Synoptics
        and Thomas. It is completely true that we need new methods!
        Nevertheless, the "old" methods are a place to start. If Matthean
        redaction or Lukan redaction is found in Thomas this should not be
        brushed aside. Perhaps we do not like it, but it is there. Still, you
        are right, it is not the case that somebody (lets call him Thomas) is
        sitting there with copies of Mark, Matthew and Luke, copying bits
        from here, then bits from there, etc... If synoptic sayings are later
        added to Thomas through secondary orality (or memory) these "older"
        methods will not always pick this up.

        Second, I also agree that we should let the Gospel of Thomas speak
        for itself. This means analyzing the text as we have it (either in
        the Greek fragments or the Coptic). We can study the text as it is
        and its community (assuming it is accurate to speak of a Thomasine
        community). We can of course do this no matter how the traditions
        came to be in Thomas. Does it really matter whether Thomas got these
        sayings independently from the other Gospels? We also let the Gospel
        of Matthew speak for itself and ignore he gets much of his material
        from Mark. Why can't the same be true for Thomas?

        Also, we can be interested not only in the Gospel of Thomas as we
        have it, but also in how it developed over time and we can even
        reconstruct an earlier version of Thomas. This is valuable since we
        can then examine an earlier text and an earlier community (which
        probably wasn't Thomasine yet). To do this it is of course important
        to know which sayings were later added (thanks to the growing
        popularity and authority in the 2nd century of the Synoptic Gospels).

        Richard
      • Paul Lanier
        ... and comments on the how of gospels Hi Maurice, My short answer is: by accretion. This process can be driven by speculation, harmonization and doctrinal
        Message 3 of 12 , Oct 9, 2008
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          --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "jmgcormier" <cobby@...> wrote:
          >
          > let me now see if I can nonetheless perhaps stimulate members' views
          and comments on the "how" of gospels

          Hi Maurice,

          My short answer is: by accretion.

          This process can be driven by speculation, harmonization and doctrinal
          development. It is ratified by authority. I would suggest two vital
          sociological functions of this process are to establish and perpetuate
          authority.

          One recent example is the rise of the Church of Latter-Day Saints.
          Early 19th-century popular pamphlets speculated Native Americans were
          actually the lost tribes of Israel. This developing doctrine,
          obviously an accretion, became firmly established for a particular
          religious subculture when effective authority (Brigham Young and his
          successors) adopted Joseph Smith's revelation.

          Likewise Thomas and Gnostic writings were effectively suppressed only
          after Constantine consciously employed Christian belief to help unify
          his empire. This established the authority of the local bishop for
          nearly all Christians, still a dominant phenomenon.

          One consequence of accretion is that, in general, sayings texts
          precede narrative texts, which in turn precede doctrinal elaboration.

          regards,
          Paul Lanier
        • jmgcormier
          Hello Paul .... great food for thought on your part. If your theory about Constantine and Nicaea regarding Thomas and Gnostic writings is correct, at least the
          Message 4 of 12 , Oct 10, 2008
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            Hello Paul .... great food for thought on your part.

            If your theory about Constantine and Nicaea regarding Thomas and
            Gnostic writings is correct, at least the dates would make
            reasonable sense ... that is, the Council of Nicaea was held in 325
            CE and the St. Pachomius monks who seemingly buried the Nag Hammadi
            cache likely did so c. 367 CE so this would indeed sanction a
            certain personal authority (coming directly from Caesar) vis-a-vis
            the local Bishop .... More importantly, perhaps, is the likelihood
            that the Nag Hammadi GoT (at the time of burial)would then not yet
            have had time to be "contaminated" by the well intended impurities
            and scrutiny of the "narrative text spin doctors" nor by that of the
            local "doctrinal elaborators" which you speak of.

            In addition, it kind of makes Thomas' logia 100 as well as the
            Egerton papyrus version of it) which both add the "and give me what
            is mine" phrase to the traditional NT version)the likelyhood of
            being a more original version of the rendition in that the later
            (possibly sanitized) NT version does not elevate Jesus to the rank
            of either Ceasar or to that of God as likely Constantine would have
            no doubt wanted.

            All speculation, of course, but as I say, all good food for
            thought ... Thank you !

            Maurice Cormier


            --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Paul Lanier" <jpaullanier@...>
            wrote:
            >
            > --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "jmgcormier" <cobby@> wrote:
            > >
            > > let me now see if I can nonetheless perhaps stimulate members'
            views
            > and comments on the "how" of gospels
            >
            > Hi Maurice,
            >
            > My short answer is: by accretion.
            >
            > This process can be driven by speculation, harmonization and
            doctrinal
            > development. It is ratified by authority. I would suggest two vital
            > sociological functions of this process are to establish and
            perpetuate
            > authority.
            >
            > One recent example is the rise of the Church of Latter-Day Saints.
            > Early 19th-century popular pamphlets speculated Native Americans
            were
            > actually the lost tribes of Israel. This developing doctrine,
            > obviously an accretion, became firmly established for a particular
            > religious subculture when effective authority (Brigham Young and
            his
            > successors) adopted Joseph Smith's revelation.
            >
            > Likewise Thomas and Gnostic writings were effectively suppressed
            only
            > after Constantine consciously employed Christian belief to help
            unify
            > his empire. This established the authority of the local bishop for
            > nearly all Christians, still a dominant phenomenon.
            >
            > One consequence of accretion is that, in general, sayings texts
            > precede narrative texts, which in turn precede doctrinal
            elaboration.
            >
            > regards,
            > Paul Lanier
            >
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