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1671an observed continuum

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  • Brian E. Wilson
    Dec 20, 1998
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      Stephen Carlson wrote:
      >My understanding of the MAs for the FH (I am sure Mark G. will correct
      >me if I'm wrong) is that the FH does not consider the MAs to be a
      >distinct category in its synoptic source theory but merely a point on
      >the sliding of scale of Luke's use of Matthew in preference to Mark...
      Mark Goodacre commented -
      >Absolutely -- this is a good summary...There is thus a
      >triple trad. with no MAs
      > triple trad. with some MAs
      > triple trad. with lots of important MAs
      > debatable Mark-Q overlap (e.g. baptism)
      > certain Mark-Q overlap (e.g. Temptation)
      > Q with tinges of Mark
      > Pure double tradition
      I would suggest that this continuum is observable in a synopsis without
      positing the Farrer Hypothesis. The continuum is data, rather than
      hypothesis (providing "Q" means simply "double tradition", of course.)
      Some time ago, I wrote to this List pointing out that since there is no
      easy definition of "Q" material, then neither is there any easy
      definition of the minor agreements. For, I asked, "where do the minor
      agreements end and the double tradition begin?" Both are agreements of
      Matthew and Luke against Mark. If you cannot define one, and therefore
      do not know where its material ends, then you do not know where the
      other's material begins, and so cannot define that either.

      If we go all through Huck's "Synopsis" and count the number of words of
      agreement of Matthew and Luke against Mark in each pericope in the
      double tradition and the triple tradition, we can then plot a histogram
      of the bands of frequencies observed. I did this four years ago. The
      result is that the histogram follows one "smooth" curve. There is no
      sudden change in the curve to indicate a transition from triple
      tradition pericopes with minor agreements to pericopes with double
      tradition material. The continuum is observable fact, whatever synoptic
      hypothesis we may hold.

      The continuum is a difficulty for the Two Document Hypothesis, since on
      that hypothesis the minor agreements are a distinct phenomenon from "Q"
      material, the minor agreements and the double tradition supposedly
      having separate causes. We should therefore should expect not a
      continuum, but data falling into distinctly two parts. We should expect
      to see a sudden change of direction on the curve. No such sudden
      transition is observed.

      The continuum is also a difficulty for the Farrer Hypothesis, I would
      suggest. True, it can explain "pure double tradition" as Luke having
      copied verbatim from the written Gospel of Matthew, which the hypothesis
      posits. At the other end of the continuum, however, the smaller "minor"
      agreements require that Luke "internalized" parts of Matthew, and did
      two things. He not only copied from Mark but, as he did so, he also
      "recalled" his internalized memory of wording in Matthew (otherwise Luke
      must have switched rapidly from Mark to Matthew to Mark to Matthew, and
      so on, in passages in Luke which contain significant numbers of minor
      agreements) and merged wording from his "internal" source with wording
      from the written source he was copying - the Gospel of Mark. This makes
      the Farrer Hypothesis complicated, and gives the appearance of having
      added an ad hoc sub-hypothesis to overcome a difficulty in the main

      The observed continuum supports the idea that all three synoptists
      copied independently from the same documentary source which included
      both the double and triple tradition material. On this view, the triple
      tradition pericopes with no minor agreements are where Mark faithfully
      copied the wording of a passage in the common source, Matthew and Luke
      also copying the same passage. The pure double tradition is where Mark
      totally omitted a passage which both Matthew and Luke copied. The
      continuum is the result of Mark varying from omitting no words, to Mark
      omitting just a few words, to omitting about half of the words, to
      omitting most words, to omitting all words of a passage copied by both
      Matthew and Luke. The observed continuum therefore fits well the idea of
      a common documentary source copied independently by all three

      Best wishes,

      E-MAIL: brian@... HOMEPAGE http://www.twonh.demon.co.uk
      SNAILMAIL: Rev B. E. Wilson,
      10 York Close, Godmanchester,
      Huntingdon, Cambs, PE18 8EB, UK
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