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[Synoptic-L] Synoptic Problem

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic-:L In Response To: Private Query On: Synoptic Problem From: Bruce An off-list inquiry may indicate that I have puzzled others also, and so I take
    Message 1 of 6 , Jul 4, 2005
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      To: Synoptic-:L
      In Response To: Private Query
      On: Synoptic Problem
      From: Bruce

      An off-list inquiry may indicate that I have puzzled others also, and so I
      take a moment to answer it on-list, while respecting the privacy of the
      inquirer (though the query may have been meant for the list; its pronoun
      usage is mixed).

      The query ran in part: "I have a question about Bruce's contribution this
      date, because there is something I do not understand and would appreciate
      his clarifying for me, but in his first paragraph (responding to John Lupia)
      I was struck my the way you stated "the Synoptic Problem," for you made it
      sound like you understood the disagreements or difference among the first
      three canonical gospels that constitute that the various proposed solutions
      try to resolve/solve."

      Response: The usual definition that I have seen is that the Synoptic Problem
      is to determine the nature of the literary relationships among the first
      three canonical Gospels. From the Synoptic-L home page, we read: "with a
      special emphasis on the interrelationships among the Synoptics." Seems
      consistent.

      I would add, as to the differences among them, that these seem to me the
      only place to get hold of the problem. If the three Synoptics were
      identical, we would have merely copies of the same document held by, it
      might be, different early churches. Instead, though there are highly
      recognizable general similarities, there are differences of content,
      wording, and order, as well as of implied theology. If we can explain the
      differences, I think that we will in the process have achieved what is
      desired.

      What has been gained in recent decades, it seems to me, is the perception
      that, for example, Matthew is not a failed copy of Mark (or the reverse, if
      one prefers), it is motivated in part by a theology of its own, it has a
      point of view, it prefers some sides of contemporary controversies to other
      sides. That is, one may now openly speak of "the author of the Gospel of
      Matthew" (in my abbreviation, AMt). I think the literary realities require
      this assumption, and it is convenient to be able to make it. If one reduces
      the role of Matthew (or rather, of AMt) to that of copying some version of
      events which arose in the community he represents, then the locus of
      authorial originality is simply transferred to the community. Either way, we
      must (as I see it) recognize that at least two and very likely three of the
      Synoptics include an originality component, and it is simpler to refer that
      component to the respective authors (who are only once removed from the
      text) than to their ambiences (which are not directly known anyway).

      As Farmer and others (see Stephen Carlson's web site) have pointed out,
      given that the Synoptic Problem is to state the literary relationships among
      three texts, and given that there are exactly 18 ways in which such
      relationships can be structured, there are exactly 18 possible solutions to
      the Synoptic Problem. Several of them have names, quite a few of them have
      been seriously proposed at one time or another. Only one of them can be
      right. When we find out which one, we will have solved the Synoptic Problem.

      No?

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst


      Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
      List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
    • Ron Price
      ... Bruce, It s not quite so simple. There is good case for a sayings source behind the synoptics, and where it is supported its scope and relationship with
      Message 2 of 6 , Jul 4, 2005
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        Bruce Brooks wrote:


        > As Farmer and others (see Stephen Carlson's web site) have pointed out,
        > given that the Synoptic Problem is to state the literary relationships among
        > three texts, and given that there are exactly 18 ways in which such
        > relationships can be structured, there are exactly 18 possible solutions to
        > the Synoptic Problem. Several of them have names, quite a few of them have
        > been seriously proposed at one time or another. Only one of them can be
        > right. When we find out which one, we will have solved the Synoptic Problem.
        >
        > No?

        Bruce,

        It's not quite so simple. There is good case for a sayings source behind the
        synoptics, and where it is supported its scope and relationship with them
        should also be a part of the solution.

        There are some folk who propose proto- or deutero- editions of one of the
        synoptics, and this also needs to be considered.

        Ron Price

        Derbyshire, UK

        Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm


        Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
        List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
      • Joseph Weaks
        ... Well, of course. In fact, anyone who insists that it is even possible, much less likely, that no other sources were used is smoking the wrong papyrus leaf.
        Message 3 of 6 , Jul 4, 2005
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          On Jul 4, 2005, at 1:28 PM, Ron Price wrote:
          > Bruce Brooks wrote:
          >
          >> As Farmer and others (see Stephen Carlson's web site) have pointed
          >> out,
          >> given that the Synoptic Problem is to state the literary
          >> relationships among
          >> three texts, and given that there are exactly 18 ways in which such
          >> relationships can be structured, there are exactly 18 possible
          >> solutions to
          >> the Synoptic Problem. ...
          > Bruce,
          >
          > It's not quite so simple. There is good case for a sayings source
          > behind the
          > synoptics, and where it is supported its scope and relationship with
          > them
          > should also be a part of the solution.
          >
          > There are some folk who propose proto- or deutero- editions of one of
          > the
          > synoptics, and this also needs to be considered.

          Well, of course. In fact, anyone who insists that it is even possible,
          much less likely, that no other sources were used is smoking the wrong
          papyrus leaf.
          However, if one is focusing on the literary relationship between
          between these three texts, then what he Bruce said stands.
          If fact, if the goal is to delineate all the sources each writer
          used... well that's just insane. The first goal, at least, is to answer
          the questions, "Did Mat/Mark/Luke know of and in some way make use of
          Mat/Mark/Luke and/or Mat/Mark/Luke?"

          Or, less lazily,
          "Did Mat know of and in some way make use of Mark and/or Luke?"
          "Did Mark know of and in some way make use of Mat and/or Luke?"
          "Did Luke know of and in some way make use of Mat and/or Mark?"

          Or better yet, those little triangle pictures running around are even
          better.

          Q, M, L material and the like comes secondary support.

          Cheers,
          Joe


          Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
          List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
        • E Bruce Brooks
          To: Synoptic-L In Response To: Ron Price On: Synoptic Problem From: Bruce I had referred to the Farmer (et al) list of 18 logically possible relationships
          Message 4 of 6 , Jul 4, 2005
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            To: Synoptic-L
            In Response To: Ron Price
            On: Synoptic Problem
            From: Bruce

            I had referred to the Farmer (et al) list of 18 logically possible
            relationships between 3 texts which either do or do not make use of each
            other.

            RON: It's not quite so simple. There is good case for a sayings source
            behind the synoptics, and where it is supported its scope and relationship
            with them should also be a part of the solution.

            BRUCE: Here under the benign rule of MarkG, it may be possible to ask (or
            anyway, it has been asked on Syn-L in the past), Knowing what we now know
            about Synoptic relationships, or (if one prefer that formulation) assuming
            what most people now assume about them, would the case for Q arise, as it
            did in the nineteenth century? Or would it not? Some of us (MarkG can update
            us as to his own opinion if he cares to; otherwise, see his book) think not.
            It might be worth the time to pursue it as a thought experiment. Q always
            was a thought experiment, so the suggestion seems not very controversial.

            (Those acquainting themselves with the Syn-L conversation via the archive
            should not miss Stephen Carlson's post of 1 April 2003, which is salutary
            for perspective on this matter).

            In the nineteenth century (I recall in particular the work of Abbott, but he
            had lots of company) it was assumed that all the Synoptics were independent
            witnesses to the Historical Jesus, and that words or deeds which appeared
            in all three of them thus had independent testimony as to their accuracy
            (here the practice of witnesses according to Roman law was typically cited).
            That is why, to this day, elements common to all three Synoptics are still
            called the Triple Tradition. It means, or meant in that day, the most
            soundly attested information about Jesus.

            It was in this climate of thought that the case for Q was first made, and
            firmly accepted. The literary independence of the Synoptics was one element
            in that case. Nobody who has recently posted to this list, to start with
            them as representative of modern opinion, seems to accept the literary
            independence of the Synoptics. If the case for Q were now to be considered
            de novo, it would have to be based on premises at least partly different
            from those which were originally considered to support it.

            So, to revert to Ron's phrase, where is Q, or any other hypothetical sayings
            source behind the Gospels, now "supported?"

            While I am referring to ancient opinions, I should probably mention my own
            outline of possible Synoptic relations, which appeared on this list under
            date of 19 Jan 2005. The Farmer list of 18 possible patterns is there
            expanded to 25 by considering certain finesses. In terms of that outline,
            the question I have just asked would be: What evidence would lead us to the
            conclusion that Solution #9 is correct, and that an outside conjectural
            source is also required?

            Bruce

            E Bruce Brooks
            Warring States Project
            University of Massachusetts at Amherst


            Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
            List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
          • Tim Reynolds
            ... Not if one or more of the 18 relationships bears the relation to its source that the Bad Quartos of Shakespeare s most popular plays bear to the Folio
            Message 5 of 6 , Jul 4, 2005
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              on 7/4/2005 8:09 AM, E Bruce Brooks at brooks@... wrote:

              > As Farmer and others (see Stephen Carlson's web site) have pointed out,
              > given that the Synoptic Problem is to state the literary relationships among
              > three texts, and given that there are exactly 18 ways in which such
              > relationships can be structured, there are exactly 18 possible solutions to
              > the Synoptic Problem. Several of them have names, quite a few of them have
              > been seriously proposed at one time or another. Only one of them can be
              > right. When we find out which one, we will have solved the Synoptic Problem.
              >
              > No?
              >
              > Bruce


              Not if one or more of the 18 "relationships" bears the relation to its
              source that the Bad Quartos of Shakespeare's most popular plays bear to the
              Folio texts:

              To be or not to be, aye, that's the point.
              To die, to sleep, is that all? Aye, all. No,
              To sleep, to dream, aye, marry, there it goes . . .

              Shakespeare scholars are now, I believe, agreed that these Bad texts are
              bootlegs, the result of "auditory piracy". Shakespeare's contemporary
              Thomas Heywood, in the preface to his Lucrece of 1608, speaks of early plays
              of his having "accidentally come into the printers hands and theerfore so
              currrupt and mangled (coppied only by the eare) that I haue been as vnable
              to know them, as ashamed to chalenge them".

              We find the same complaint in 1851 Paris by "such eminent preachers as
              Lacordaire and De Ravignan:

              "More than ever do we see the spread of enterprises aiming, as they directly
              announce, to publish verbatim issues of sermons, lectures, instructions,
              delivered in the churches of Paris by the most celebrated preachers, against
              their incontestable rights, and to the prejudice of the dignty and liberty
              of the sacred Word. Consequently, the priests undersigned, who more than
              others have had to suffer from this lamentable industry, avow that not only
              are they averse to these reproductions, but that the same are generally,
              inexact, marred and even so deformed as to compromise, in outward opinion,
              the purity of their orthodoxy ..."

              If so, our problem is not only direction of transmission, but mode of
              transmission.

              More in the Archives.

              tim



              Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
              List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
            • E Bruce Brooks
              To: Synoptic-L In Response To: Tim Reynolds On: Synoptic Relationships From: Bruce I had mentioned the logically possible 18 (or more precisely 25) patterns of
              Message 6 of 6 , Jul 4, 2005
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                To: Synoptic-L
                In Response To: Tim Reynolds
                On: Synoptic Relationships
                From: Bruce

                I had mentioned the logically possible 18 (or more precisely 25) patterns of
                relationships that may obtain among the 3 Synoptic texts, noted that only 1
                of them can be right (they are mutually exclusive), and concluded that if we
                can identify the 1, we have solved the Synoptic Problem, as usually defined.

                TIM: Not if one or more of the 18 "relationships" bears the relation to its
                source that the Bad Quartos of Shakespeare's most popular plays bear to the
                Folio texts:

                BRUCE: I think this mixes categories. A relationship is not a text, to be
                judged on its fidelity. The solution to the Synoptic Problem will be of the
                form (for example), A | B > C. It will not say how close or scrupulous C is
                in deriving material from B, or anything of the sort. It also won't
                establish whether John Mark was the author of Mark, or any of the other
                things we might like to know in a perfect world; those things come, or not
                come, in their turn. What it *will* establish, among the 3 Synoptics, is who
                knew whom. Present list discussion will attest that this is not presently
                agreed, so that any future agreement, or progress toward agreement, would
                seem to constitute progress.

                Respectfully resubmitted,

                Bruce

                E Bruce Brooks
                Warring States Project
                University of Massachusetts at Amherst


                Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
                List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
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