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6625[Synoptic-L] the failure of color coding

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  • Brian E. Wilson
    Aug 2, 2001
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      David Peabody wrote --
      >
      >The work of Tom and I differs here from that of my dissertation
      >advisor. In our forthcoming synopsis, all three of these pericopae are
      >set out side by side with the appropriate underlining and color codes
      >presented.
      >
      David,
      The question is whether any underlining is appropriate if you set
      out the three "Anointing" passages (Mt 26.6-12, Mk 14.3-9, Lk 7.36-50)
      side by side and compare them. On what criterion are the observable
      agreements in wording between the Lukan and the Markan versions, for
      instance, deemed not to be "imaginary", but significant? After all, we
      can put virtually any two synoptic passages alongside each other and
      observe at least some agreements in wording, such as KAI, or the
      definite article. Where do we draw the line between, on the one hand,
      similarities of wording that are objectively there and unlikely to be
      the result of mere coincidence, and, on the other hand, similarities
      that we may subjectively be reading into the situation, and that are
      "imaginary", in Farmer's terminology?

      It seems to me that in his *Synopticon* Farmer exercised caution in his
      "general principle" stated in the brief Introduction, that is --
      >
      >"to leave some possibly significant agreements unmarked rather than to
      >risk calling attention to imaginary ones".
      >
      It was on this basis that he decided that the observable similarities
      between "Anointing" in Luke and the versions of that story in Matthew
      and Mark should be not be considered significant, so that there are no
      color coded words at all in the Lukan version of the Anointing, Lk
      7.36-50, in his *Synopticon*.

      In my view, ultimately any color coding fails whatever criteria are used
      for determining the line between "imaginary" and significant verbal
      agreements. This is because the vaguer similarities of wording that are
      not sufficiently strong to meet the criteria being used, must be
      accounted for just as much as those clear similarities that meet the
      criteria. Color coding cannot point definitively to a solution to the
      synoptic problem, therefore. It can provide limited data only.

      A solution to the synoptic problem would, in fact, reveal the failure of
      any color coding system to pin-point all similarities of wording
      resulting from the documentary relationship between the synoptic gospels
      it posits. I would suggest that identifying the failure of any color
      coding to code all similarities of wording between synoptic gospels, is
      crucial to solving the synoptic problem.

      Best wishes,
      BRIAN WILSON

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