Synoptic Problem (Stein & Wallace), Part 3
- Wallace's 7th argument in his Synoptic-Problem web page by which he favors
Markan priority is the argument from redaction. He gives 5 examples for this
7.a.1) "Son of David." Wallace: "This phrase occurs eleven times in Matthew,
four in Mark and Luke. Sheer numbers do not do this justice. Matthew begins
his gospel with this phrase (1:1). Further, when a comparison is made,
pericope by pericope, it can be seen that this is truly a Matthean emphasis.
Cf. e.g., Matt 12:22-24/Mark 3:22/Luke 11:14-15. If Matthew were the first
gospel, why would Mark and Luke omit this phrase seven times? That they have
no aversion to it is seen from the four references. Further, the four
references in Mark match the four in Luke, suggesting that Luke used Mark
but was unaware of Matthew."
A gospel writer/editor can be lukewarm toward a particular phrase without
having a total aversion to it or a compelling liking for it either one. The
writer of Matthew evidently had a great fondness for the phrase, and was
likely trying to foster its use. In this it is easy to agree with Stein and
Wallace. However, there is no reason to suppose that the phrase was in any
substantial use before AMt promoted it. Paul did not use the phrase, and
even in 2 Tm (2:8) the phrase used is "seed of David" (or descendant of
David). The same phrase is the only one used by Ignatius. Also John (7:42)
only (once) uses the "seed of David" phrase, never "son of David." So it
seems that the reluctance of subsequent gospel writers to latch onto the
phrase heavily may have been due to their understanding that "Son of David"
was a loose use of "son" not to be overdone. In this sense AMk and ALk were
actually improving upon Matthew by using the phrase less often. It may also
have been due to Mt 22:42-45 in which Jesus objects to the application of
the phrase to him. The writer of Matthew apparently followed the tradition
of certain Pharisees, or converted Pharisees, who may have used "son" loosely.
ALk's utilization of Mark's usages of the phrase rather than of Matthew's is
but further indication of his preference for Mark and aversion towards
Matthew, which gospel he nevertheless had in front of him since he needed to
incorporate Matthean material that AMk had omitted. This was discussed
previously in Part 2.
7.a.2) Fulfillment Motif. "Matthew's ten (or eleven) introductory formulae
("this was to fulfill...") are not duplicated exactly in either Mark or
Luke. Since both Mark and Luke use other introductory formulae (such as "it
is written"), this shows that they too were interested in linking the life
of Jesus to the OT. But would they omit all of Matthew's formulae? It is
easier to believe that Matthew added them to his copy of Mark, in order to
show to Jewish Christians that Jesus truly was the Christ. 'That the formula
quotations are secondary additions to the text is evident in Matthew 1:22;
2:15,17,23; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:35; 21:4; and 27:9. These passages could
all be simply excised from their context, and although we would be much
poorer as a result, their omission would never be noticed.'" (Inner quote
from Stein, p. 81 n.8.)
This argument would obviously need to be totally rethought and recast upon
realization that AMk and ALk had Hebraic Matthew in front of them, while the
translator of Matthew had (Greek) Mark and Luke in front of him.
None of the ten Matthean fulfilment passages cited have parallels in Mark or
Luke, so Wallace must have been referring to others. These others are not
couched in "fulfillment" language in either Matthew or their Markan or Lukan
parallels. Hence I cannot make sense out of this particular argument of
Wallace. Obviously if the ten cited introductory Mt verses were absent,
their following scriptural content would be non-sensical, so Wallace must
mean that the whole passage, formula and scripture both, could be excised
without undue damage to the text. So I think his question should have been,
why are these ten or eleven scriptural-citation passages missing from Mark
and Luke if Matthew came first?
This has already been answered in Parts 1 and 2. AMk wished to omit all he
could for the several reasons I stated. ALk wished to follow Mark more than
Matthew, especially where Mark deviates from Matthew. ALk needed only to
reinstate the essential items of Matthew that AMk had omitted. Finally, the
translator of Matthew into Greek likely fed in a some of these ten
scriptural citations himself -- some of which would help counteract the
anti-gentile content of Hebraic Matthew. It's anybody's guess whether he fed
in just a few of them or all of them, using the same formula in any case.
The occasion of translation was the last chance to make significant
alterations to the Hebraic Gospel of Matthew.
7.b.1) "Immediately." "The word 'immediately' (EUQUS) is distinctively
Markan, occurring 40 times. Every time Matthew has the word, there is a
parallel in Mark. Further, the alternate spelling, EUQEWS, is almost always
paralleled in Mark by EUQUS. [Quoting Stein now:] 'Of the 18,293 words found
in Matthew, 10,901 have Markan parallels. In these 10,901 words,
"immediately" occurs seventeen times, but in the 7,392 words in Matthew that
do not have a Markan parallel, it occurs only once.' On the Griesbach
hypothesis, we would expect to see twelve instances of 'immediately' in the
material which finds no parallel with Mark, In other words, Mark's usage is
consistent throughout, while Matthew's increases only in parallels with
Mark. This strongly suggests Matthew used Mark."
Presumably Wallace's criticism here applies to the AH as well as to the GH.
His argument ignores the systematic nature of Mark's omissions from Matthew
and the context in which EUQUS was used. AMk's omissions were preferentially
of Judaistic material and of teachings with which he was not comfortable.
These are practically devoid of an action word like EUQUS. On the other
hand, he very much desired to retain (most all) Matthew's healing pericopae
and verses containing action, which include the parable of the sower. Stein
& Wallace's analysis is invalid for not having taken these conditional
probabilities of occurrence into account.
No doubt AMk did like to use the word EUQUS whenever he could, and this is
consistent with his taste for action (and the historic present). He
evidently preferred EUQUS to EUQEWS.
7.b.2) "For." "Mark uses an explanatory GAR in an editorial comment 34 times
(of his 66 uses of this conjunction). Matthew, on the other hand, uses GAR
11 times in editorial comments (out of his 123 total uses), ten of which
parallel Mark's usage. [Quoting Stein now:]'Statistically [assuming Matthean
priority], one would expect approximately seven such clauses [in Matthew's
non-parallel material]. On the other hand, on the basis of Markan priority,
one would expect a greater occurrence of the Markan stylistic feature in the
sections of Matthew that have parallels to Mark than in the other sections,
and this is exactly what we find.'"
This might be correct in essence, I'd need to check various details before
feeling very confident. If correct, however, it would mean, by the present
hypothesis, that the translator of Matthew into Greek indeed picked up some
Markan style when translating those portions that had Markan parallels.
This would be consistent with conclusions from word-string analyses I've
made, comparing Mt-Mk parallels, then comparing Mk-Lk parallels in which
Luke follows Mark much more closely than Matthew, then comparing Mt-Lk
parallels ("Q" verses), and keeping track of how many consecutive identical
words occur in continuous strings of length up to 30+ words in each of the
three cases. In the Mt-Mk and Mt-Lk cases especially, far too many
anomalously long strings of identical Greek words occur (relative to shorter
strings up to ten words or so in length) to be attributed to anything but
purposeful editorial duplication. The deduction I make from it is that the
translator of Matthew purposely duplicated these strings of verbal
agreement. I've proposed a motivation for this action in the paper, which is
posted within my web site at:
7.b.3) Historical Present. "Mark has 151 historical presents, compared to
Matthew's 78 and Luke's nine...."
Keeping in mind the preceding discussions involving the translator of
Matthew, this is also consistent with this translator being less inclined to
use the historical present than was AMk, either through natural inclination
or a desire to improve upon Mark.
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