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Re: [Synoptic-L] Herod's Worries

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic-L In Response To: Leonard On: Mark s Authorial Motives From: Bruce In a scenario previously provided by Leonard, I had noted three points at which
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 4 8:27 AM
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      To: Synoptic-L
      In Response To: Leonard
      On: Mark's Authorial Motives
      From: Bruce

      In a scenario previously provided by Leonard, I had noted three points at
      which the posited skipping of AMk from one of his sources to the other
      seemed to me awkward and/or unmotivated, and to that extent unconvincing,
      and had asked for clarification. Leonard in his answer doesn't provide those
      clarifications. His response at one point (and seemingly meant for all) was:

      LEONARD: You are right, although it is clear that -- while following Lk here
      as his primary source -- Mark at least found the parallel passage in Matt 14
      before beginning to write, and allowed it to influence his formulations,
      especially in 6:14. This was simply SOP for Mark, so no special motive is
      needed here.

      BRUCE: No, seriously, I think the choices must be explained, as Goulder has
      tried to do for ALk, which he conceives as occupying the same third position
      you assign to AMk.

      Take any doctoral student, give him (let's suppose) any two Synoptics, and
      ask him to explain the third Synoptic in terms of the author of the third
      making a joint summary of the other two, that author being allowed to omit
      as well as to include, and being allowed a certain amount of leeway for the
      introduction of words, story elements, and even whole segments not in either
      of the two, and I bet he could do it. But surely the plausibility of that
      demonstration (or of a demonstration of either of the other alternate
      possibilities of this type) would rest on how reasonable, now imaginably
      motivated, how authorially or editorially intelligible, those various moves
      were. No?

      To say, as Leonard here seems to, that unexplained alternation between, and
      alteration of, two sources is SOP for the third author, seems somehow too
      easy. For this reader, it makes of that Gospel what Chomsky makes of the
      grammar of a language: a closed box whose workings are not available to
      analysis, and which does what it does because it does it.

      I can't imagine that this is what Leonard intends, and at the risk of
      calling for repetition of matters earlier explained, could I ask for a short
      summary of his idea of AMk as an author (theologian, anthologist, whatever
      is most appropriate)? Without something of the sort, I don't find myself
      presently able to evaluate Leonard's suggestions about Mark's treatment of
      his two sources.

      With thanks in advance,

      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@...
    • Maluflen@aol.com
      In a message dated 7/4/2005 11:25:01 AM Eastern Daylight Time, ... This is not quite fair. Although I agree that my statement about the importance of parallel
      Message 2 of 4 , Jul 5 6:23 AM
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        In a message dated 7/4/2005 11:25:01 AM Eastern Daylight Time, brooks@... writes:

        LEONARD: You are right, although it is clear that -- while following Lk here
        as his primary source -- Mark at least found the parallel passage in Matt 14
        before beginning to write, and allowed it to influence his formulations,
        especially in 6:14. This was simply SOP for Mark, so no special motive is
        needed here.

        BRUCE: No, seriously, I think the choices must be explained, as Goulder has
        tried to do for ALk, which he conceives as occupying the same third position
        you assign to AMk.

        Take any doctoral student, give him (let's suppose) any two Synoptics, and
        ask him to explain the third Synoptic in terms of the author of the third
        making a joint summary of the other two, that author being allowed to omit
        as well as to include, and being allowed a certain amount of leeway for the
        introduction of words, story elements, and even whole segments not in either
        of the two, and I bet he could do it. But surely the plausibility of that
        demonstration (or of a demonstration of either of the other alternate
        possibilities of this type) would rest on how reasonable, now imaginably
        motivated, how authorially or editorially intelligible, those various moves
        were. No?

        To say, as Leonard here seems to, that unexplained alternation between, and
        alteration of, two sources is SOP for the third author, seems somehow too
        easy. For this reader, it makes of that Gospel what Chomsky makes of the
        grammar of a language: a closed box whose workings are not available to
        analysis, and which does what it does because it does it.


        This is not quite fair. Although I agree that my statement about the importance of parallel passages, and its SOP character, may sound a bit too convenient and, more importantly, somewhat of an a priori observation, I assure you that it is not the latter. I have discovered by empirical means that whether or not this would correspond to modern sensibilities or procedures, Luke, e.g., is always and extremely conscious of what I would call "parallel places", or topoi, in his wide-ranging source material. His writing always shows an influence of a fairly complete set of biblical (and often also classical) parallels on a given topic. This applies both to his use of OT topoi, and to his treatment of "topics" found in the Matt (and, by the way, provides strong confirmation of his knowledge of the latter). The example of this I usually use as an illustration is Goulder's treatment of Lk 1:25, the verbalized reaction of Elizabeth to her conception in old age. As Goulder rightly notes, this Lukan text shows the influence of no fewer than three OT texts in which mothers respond verbally to a miraculous birth. Goulder does not generalize in situ (as far as I remember), but this is indeed not a unique case, but rather SOP for Luke (as I have discovered by empirical study), namely to have present to himself a fairly comprehensive set of parallel passages on a given topic when he wishes to write on that topic. This may sound strange to a modern but seems to have been quite standard procedure in antiquity. And this is why it does not surprise me that Mark always shows some awareness of a topic as treated in the other of the two gospels of which he is currently following one more closely. It is not a question of "unexplained alternation" between sources, but simply the habit of a writer, trained in the sensitivities of the age, to show an awareness of a full range of existing treatments of a given topic when he/she comes to write on it. It also follows from these observations that one of the most important things to do when trying to understand a Gospel unit in depth is to identify as precisely as possible the topic therein treated.

        Leonard Maluf
        Blessed John XXIII National Seminary
        Weston, MA
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