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731Re: Provenance and Audience

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  • Mark Matson
    Aug 3, 1998
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      Leonard Maluf wrote:
      > I don't see a priori why the above need be true TO THE SAME DEGREE
      > of ALL the Synoptic Gospels. I have, however, long maintained that
      > Matt and Lk were written for very general audiences, limited not
      > geographically, but in terms of social sophistication/status (so one
      > could say that they were aimed at general, but not "popular"
      > audiences). Matt, e.g., can only be properly read, in my view, if
      > one understands it as a self-conscious foundational/programmatic
      > document for the Christian community as a whole, and for its
      > hierarchy in particular. (The reference, in Jesus' words, to "my
      > church" in 16:18, e.g., makes poor sense if thought to connote no
      > more than the Antiochian, or Caesarean community). My understanding
      > of Mark is that it was written third, and with a (more particular)
      > popular audience in mind, while by no means intending to criticize
      > or replace the earlier, literary Gospels, which had served, and
      > would continue to serve (admirably), their own aims and
      > constituencies. Mk is homiletic-liturgical in character, I think,
      > and such a setting would require adaptation to a more particular
      > audience. So for me, it makes more sense to speak of provenance
      > and/or specific-geographic intended audience when thinking about
      > Mark than it does with reference to the other Synoptics. This is not
      > however to deny an aspect of universal validity even to Mark's
      > pastoral perspective.

      I would agree with you that the thesis of universal audience need not
      apply to the same degree to all gospels. The thesis is sufficiently
      important, to the degree that it breaks the provincial emphasis on
      gospel writing, that even some variation in degree would be

      I am not, however, convinced about your argument re: Mark. While I
      agree that it is homiletical (seems to be primarily urging an
      examination of the listener's own commitment to Jesus, in light of
      the disciples failures), but I hardly see it as liturgical. Assuming
      it follows Matthew and Luke, which I doubt, why would you say it was
      not engaging at the very least in a critical dialogue? Perhaps
      "replace" or "criticize" are too pejorative. But surely another
      gospel, with a major reinterpretation of the disciples response to
      Jesus, and the deletion of significant teaching while expanding other
      pericopes, is a major "interpretation" of the story. And if the
      other gospels were already broadly distributed (as Bauckham's thesis
      suggests), then Mark must have been writing to an audience that
      already had the other versions. This seems to beg an intertextual,
      and dialogical strategy.

      > I must admit to having cringed when I read this sentence. In my
      > view, one of the most tragic consequences of the theory of Marcan
      > priority has been its effect on Johannine studies, where a massive
      > and profound influence of Matt on the author of Jn is virtually
      > ignored in favor of focus on the influence of Mark. I say this
      > without intending to deny that the author of Jn knew, and used Mark.
      > (The evidence is there for that, but on the other hand, the price of
      > bread on the Bethsaida market, or of the ointment used by a woman to
      > anoint Jesus, is hardly a profound level of influence). For the
      > author of Jn, as for all other authors of the late first and early
      > second century, the Gospel of Matthew was clearly THE Gospel of the
      > Church par excellence. It is of course also true that Jn knew Lk and
      > used it -- to some extent more patently, because somewhat more
      > literally, than Matt. The relationship between Jn and the Synoptics
      > as a whole is similar to that between Lk and Matt -- an evident
      > knowledge of, but a highly creative use of older Gospel material.
      > (Both Luke and John are writers, in the Hellenistic sense of the
      > term). Bauckham's point would of course still be fully valid if,
      > instead of speaking of MARK being "already well known and meant to
      > be recalled", he had spoken of the Synoptic Gospels being same.

      I am intrigued by Bauckham's discussion of John's use of Mark,
      although I am not yet convinced that John is dependent on any of the
      synoptics. The particular items Bauckham raises to show an
      intertextual relationship between John and Mark are found in Jn 3:24
      and Jn 11:2. These are parentheses designed to explain material
      that differs from Mark -- and for your purpose could equally explain
      material that differs from Matthew. It is this focused examination
      of real intertextual dialogue that intrigues me -- more than simply
      common material. The proof of "direction" of influence seems to
      require some evidence that the use or misuse of material fits the
      evangelist's purposes.

      But aside from Bauckham's thesis, I am not at all convinced that the
      contacts between John and Matt are all that extensive. The contacts
      between John and Luke ARE extensive, but efforts to demonstrate
      John's reliance on Luke are failure's in my opinion. My dissertation
      argues, in a close analysis of the passion and resurrection
      narratives, that a better explanation is that Luke used John. But
      that's a whole additional discussion.

      > Mark, may I suggest that you read Luke as written for people who
      > already know Matt? Believe me, life will be far less boring for you.

      Well, I actually believe that Luke probably used Matthew ..... and
      Mark. So on this we agree. It's your placement of Mark at the tail
      end of the process for which I would need convincing.

      Mark A. Matson, Ph.D.
      Asst. Director, Sanford Institute of Public Policy
      Adjunct Professor of New Testament
      Duke University
      Durham, NC 27713
      (919) 613-7310
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