Oral Tradition and Markan Posteriority
- A question that occurred to me today follows on from our recent discussion
of (alleged) Markan omissions and additions. My question is this: What is the
place of oral tradition on the assumption that Mark wrote third, using Matthew
and Luke? For Matthew apparently has a wealth of materials available and so
too Luke and Thomas. Papias in the second century still prefers the living
voice to the written text. Where then does Mark fit in? Is his Gospel, on the
assumption that it came third, an anomaly in early Christianity? In
particular, is the lack of additional material anything to do with oral
traditions having dried up by the time that Mark is writing or is it simply
that he prefers the written word of Matthew & Luke, on the whole, to oral
traditions? If the latter, then is the material that Mark adds (Blind Man of
Bethsaida, Deaf Mute, Man Running away Naked) all that Mark happened to know or
is it his pick of his favourite material from among oral traditions known to
Thanks for any help. I would be particularly grateful for any bibliography on
Dr Mark Goodacre M.S.Goodacre@...
Dept. of Theology, University of Birmingham
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- Mark Goodacre wrote:
>A question that occurred to me today follows on from our recentAccording to W. R. Farmer in "The Gospel of Jesus" (Louisville,1994),
>discussion of (alleged) Markan omissions and additions. My question is
>this: What is the place of oral tradition on the assumption that Mark
>wrote third, using Matthew and Luke? I would be particularly grateful
>for any bibliography on this.
page 18, writing about the "Two-Gospel Hypothesis" (alias, the Griesbach
"Thus, according to the Two-Gospel Hypothesis, Matthew wrote first,
making extensive use of existing sources (ORAL and written); Luke wrote
second, making extensive use of Matthew and other source material (ORAL
and written); Mark composed his Gospel making extensive use of both
Matthew and Luke as well as a limited amount of other source material
(ORAL and written)."
You might also want to ponder on a statement in Kim Paffenroth, "The
Story of Jesus according to L" (Sheffield, 1997) page 148 -
>"There is no known characteristic that is found only in writtenIt would seem that if Paffenroth is right, then the above statement by
>sources, nor any such characteristic found only in oral traditions."
Farmer may be just a little bit speculative.
I notice, also, that Farmer does not say whether the oral tradition is
supposed to have been primary (that is, not based on an earlier written
source), or secondary (based on an earlier written source). Our "living
voice" of Jesus tradition in English today is based on printed English
translations of the gospels, and is secondary oral tradition which can
be checked and corrected against the earlier printed version. If spoken,
the written word becomes the living voice of oral tradition, as can be
seen in the way in which Paul spoke the words of the Old Testament when
he dictated his letters to his amanuenses.
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