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8723[Synoptic-L] Re: Beelzebul controversy

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  • Eric Eve
    Oct 1, 2002
      Leonard Maluf wrote:

      I never denied that it is possible to describe, and even somewhat plausibly
      describe, what Matthew would have done as an editor of an existing Markan
      text here. I simply said (and nothing you say above disabuses me of this
      view) that the most likely explanation of the presence of the term EXEI four
      times in this text of Mark, with not a single parallel in either Matthew or
      Luke, remains the Two Gospel Hypothesis model in which the word would
      reflect the redactional overlay of a late Mark.

      Fair enough, but so far as I can see you have provided no explanation why a
      late Mark should add EXEI four times to the Matthean/Lukan text, and I fail
      to see why the mere presence of this word indicates the direction of
      redaction without further ado. If the point is that EXEIN is more
      characteristic of Markan than of Matthean style, then one would surely
      expect to find it used more often in Mark than in Matthew whatever the
      direction of redaction (this is surely a mere tautology). Even if Matthew
      (or Luke) had no aversion to EXEIN per se, he (or they) might prefer to
      avoid its over use, and in any case I believe I have shown that none of the
      changes a later Matthew would have made to an earlier Mark need an aversion
      to EXEIN to explain them. Why should a later Mark go to the trouble to add a
      relatively colourless word like EXEI to an earlier text?

      Well, to attempt to answer my own question, and to complete the exercise on
      an equal basis, I suppose we should examine what a later Mark would have
      done to an earlier Matthew (and/or Luke) in each of these cases.

      At Mk 3.20 Mark would have re-written Luke (probably, rather than the
      slightly less similar wording in Matthew) to add EXEI KAI hOTI EN,
      introducing the idea that Jesus 'has' Beelzebul as well as casting out
      demons by his power; presumably this would be to introduce the explicit idea
      that Jesus is spirit-possessed as a well as a spirit-controller. I grant
      that Mark could have done this in order to set up a parallel/contrast with
      the Holy Spirit that entered Jesus at his baptism (Mk 1.10 - although the
      Spirit possession Christology this implies might be curious for a late

      At Mk 3.26 Mark would have introduced EXEI through the expression ALLA TELOS
      EXEI not found in his sources, in the process changing the question posed in
      Matthew and Luke to a statement. As I pointed out in a reply to Emmanuel
      Fritsch the question in Mt 12.26 forms a parallel with that in Mt 12.27. A
      late Mark would have destroyed the parallel by changing Mt 12.26 into a
      statement and removing Mt 12.27 (and 12.28). Of course this is possible, but
      I find it hard to imagine why Mark should have done this, since Mt 12.27 is
      an effective rejoinder to Jesus' opponents and Mt 12.28 surely expresses a
      view that Mark would have strongly agreed with (this, you may recall, was
      part of my original argument for Markan priority here). On the other hand,
      the additions made by a later Matthew at this point would strengthen Jesus'
      rejoinder and plug a gap left by Mark (without Mt 12.27 Jesus' accusers
      could be defended on the grounds that they regarded all exorcisms as
      demonically empowered since they did not share Jesus' presupposition of the
      unity of evil forces). Thus, while of course either direction of redaction
      is *possible*, I have to say that here a later Matthew looks far more
      *probable* than a later Mark.

      At 3.29 a late Mark would have to have altered Matthew's OUK AFEQHSETAI
      AUTWi to OUK EXEI EFHSIN, although Mk 3.28 surely shows that Mark has no
      aversion to AFEQHETAI, and the change from Matthew's appropriate future to
      Mark's odd present tense, and from the clearly expressed AFEQHETAI to the
      more clumsily expressed EXEI EFHSIN would be rather perverse. Of course it
      is not possible that Mark made such changes (on any hypothesis he must have
      been content to write this way) but, to me, at this point it seems more
      plausible to suppose that Matthew was tidying up Mark than to suppose that
      Mark was untidying Matthew for no good reason.

      As I have repeatedly point out, there is no Matthean or Lukan parallel to
      Mark 3.20; the addition of this explanatory clause is fairly characteristic
      of Markan style and could this equally well be the product of a later Markan
      redactor or an earlier Markan author, but the presence of EXEI in a verse in
      which there is no Matthean or Lukan parallel is neither here nor there. The
      fact that Mark has the word and the other two don't stands in no need of
      explanation, since neither Matthew or Luke have occasion to use the word at
      his point, any more than one has to explain why they would have chosen to

      In summary, only three out of the four cases are relevant (since there is no
      Matthean or Lukan parallel to the fourth). In one of those three cases
      either direction of redaction seems equally likely, but in the other two a
      later Matthew seems more plausible than a later Mark. Again, just to
      reiterate a point I made to Emmanuel, the mere presence of three (or even
      four) occurrences of EXEI in Mark that are not found in Matthew or Luke
      hardly constitutes evidence of a Markan redactional overlay unless one can
      also show why Mark would have made these changes, and why the presence of
      EXEI is evidence of Markan redaction rather than Markan composition. I
      accept that you attempted the second half of this question by pointing to
      the absence of EXEI in the parallels in Matthew/Luke, but I believe I have
      countered that argument by showing how this could have come about on the
      basis of Markan priority.

      There are more arguments, as I said before, and even more kinds of arguments
      that could be given in favor of the Two Gospel Hypothesis model in this set
      of Synoptic parallels. Let me expand on this here, in connection with the
      phrases in Mark that happen to contain the word EXEI. You claim that in many
      of these cases the Synoptic phenomena of the presence or absence of this
      term are not significant because the entire phrases in which the word
      appears are usually not reproduced by Matthew and Luke. I admit that there
      is some validity in this argument, taken in itself. But one should really go
      a step further and inquire whether these very Markan phrases have the nature
      of clarifying expansions which would be typical of a later author. The fact
      is that they have exactly that character, and this considerably strengthens
      the argument based on the word EXEI.


      By 'very Markan' do you mean 'these very phrases found in Mark'? or 'these
      phrases, which are very Markan'? I suspect you mean the former but what your
      argument goes on to show is perhaps the latter, in that "phrases [that] have
      the nature of clarifying expansions" are typical of Mark's style as a whole;
      I'm not convinced that this particular Markan characterstic 'would be
      typical of a later author', or why it should be. If you have amassed
      evidence (or have access to evidence amassed by someone else) that redactors
      of earlier texts typically add clarifying expansions in the way Mark does,
      then you may have an important argument here; otherwise isn't it simply
      typical of Mark, whenever he wrote?

      An additional argument is that in Mk 3:24-26 one finds at least three modal
      propositions (remember, in Minor Logic, the difference between, say, the
      statement "Satan's kingdom will not stand" and "Satan's kingdom CANNOT
      stand": the "mode" of impossibility?), signified by the use of the verb
      DUNASQAI (actually four times in these Markan verses!), that are also not
      found in the parallels to these verses in either Matthew or Luke. Now a
      modal proposition is an intensification (Mark is upping the ante here),
      which would fit well with a later dramatic redaction of earlier material.
      The reverse process, and especially the reverse process repeated by two
      later authors in three or four places within three verses, is difficult in
      the extreme to fathom. This is one other example, and there are probably
      more, that point to a late redaction of this material by Mark.

      Firstly, any process by two later authors (Matthew and Luke) is not so hard
      to explain if one (Luke) is following the other (Matthew) (or indeed, if
      both are following a second source, Q, at this point, but since neither of
      us support that view, I shan't press it).
      Secondly, I have already given some thoughts on Mt 12.25-28 // Mk 2.24-26
      above, which I shan't repeat here.
      Thirdly, to get to your substantive point, I wonder if the modal 'cannot' is
      so obviously an intensification on the simple 'will not'. Granted, insisting
      on impossibility is strong, but so is the confident prediction expressed by
      'will not' (Mt 12.25), and a later Matthew may had considered himself to be
      creating dramatic intensification by having Jesus fling rhetorical questions
      at his accusers in Mt 12.26-27 (in which case one might argue that the
      reverse process by Mark - removing the questions - is hard to fathom).
      I grant you that a later Mark *could* have regarded the modal 'cannot' as an
      intensification of a mere 'will not', but a later Matthew equally *could*
      have regarded the future certainty of a 'will not' as an intensifiction of
      the present/future impossibility of a 'cannot'. Would that not simply be
      down to each author's rhetorical taste and judgement?

      Best wishes,


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