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Re: SBL and the Synoptic Problem

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  • Mark Goodacre
    ... I am grateful to Alan for his most interesting comments and to Stephen for forwarding them. My comment about dispensing with Q above was of course ironic.
    Message 1 of 15 , Dec 2, 1998
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      I wrote:

      > >Kirk's very interesting paper seemed to draw the thought-world of Q much closer
      > >to the thoughtworld of the Synoptics, dispensing with the clear blue water
      > >between Q and the Synoptics that many have so carefully put in place. Perhaps,
      > >in time, Kirk will come to dispense with Q too.

      Stephen Carlson replied:

      > I doubt that Alan Kirk will be dispensing with Q any time soon.
      > He has given me permission to pass on one important reason why
      > he finds Q to be a useful hypothesis:

      I am grateful to Alan for his most interesting comments and to Stephen for
      forwarding them. My comment about dispensing with Q above was of course
      ironic. Alan Kirk has produced one of the finest, most meticulously researched
      books on Q of this generation -- I do not expect him to bear fruits worthy of
      repentance so quickly : ) But I hope I will be permitted a couple of comments
      on the following:

      > >One reason, among others, that
      > >I subscribe to the 2Document hypothesis is its enormous predictive
      > >power. If Q did exist as a discrete source, and if we can take an enema
      > >to purge ourselves of Kleinliteratur notions of its formation, then it
      > >would possess its own genre and rhetorical profile.

      These are of course big "if"s. Is so powerful an enema available?
      Perhaps Kirk's book will do the trick -- it will be exciting to see the
      impact it makes on Q research. But even granting the proposed effectiveness of
      the enema, the Q sceptic will remain concerned about the presupposition that
      Matthew and Luke were independent of one another, on which the Q theory
      depends, as important an assumption for Kirk as for other Q theorists. Without
      this presupposition, the necessity for hypothesising the existence of Q as a
      discrete source disappears.

      > > On the other hand,
      > >if Q is a scholarly illusion, the artificially separated-out and
      > >artificially re-sequenced flotsam and jetsam of Luke's editorial
      > >activities with respect to Matthew, then this "double tradition"
      > >material would not respond at all to genre and rhetorical analysis.

      What one needs here is another even more powerful enema, this time to purge
      ourselves of the notion that Luke's editorial activity with respect to Matthew
      would of necessity have been artificial (the word usually used is "arbitrary"),
      the legacy of Holtzmann's and Streeter's overstated rhetoric. Not only can one
      exaggerate the extent of the supposed re-sequencing, for the double tradition
      is more often than not in similar sequence in Matthew and Luke, but also one
      can underestimate the extent to which Luke has given the double tradition
      material its distinctive rhetorical profile in his interaction with Matthew and
      oral tradition.

      > > My
      > >paper argued that the materials lying between 11:14 to 11:49-51;
      > >13:34-35 cohere rhetorically at two levels: first, they replicate the
      > >conventional course of the social dramatic sequence of deviancy
      > >denunciation and status degradation ritual; second, it articulates a
      > >similarly conventional rhetorical strategy of counter-stigmatization
      > >and status-transformation. This rhetorical coherence of sequenced double
      > >tradition material is precisely what the 2 Document Hypothesis would
      > >predict. To neutralize this argument, Farrarites would have to find some
      > >way of denying that this sequence of material coheres rhetorically and
      > >compositionally in the manner in which I argued. But then this puts you
      > >on the horns of a dilemma. Your hope that I would move toward the Farrar
      > >hypothesis is predicated on my argument that Q's rhetorical profile is
      > >not that far removed from Mark's!

      I would need to read the paper carefully to respond properly to this. I would
      want to point out, though, that in terms of sequence it seems to me that you
      are reconstructing a Q unit on the basis partly of Lukan order (Q 11.14-23,
      24-26, 29-35 and 39-52 in Luke 11.14-52) and partly Matthean order (Q 13.34-35
      in Matt. 23.37-39). My concerns here are twofold: (1) as often the Q theory
      is allowed a flexibility in order to make the supposed patterns work, a
      flexibility that adherents of the Farrer Theory do not work with; (2) the
      location of Q 13.34-35 in Matt. 23.37-39 admittedly coheres with the material
      preceeding it (Matt. 23.1-36, partially parallel to Luke 11.39-52) as well as
      with the material that follows it (Matt. 24-25, leading into the Passion
      Narrative). This would make good sense on the Farrer theory, and would further
      expel the clear blue water usually placed between Q and the synoptics.

      I suspect therefore that there would be no need to "find some way of denying
      that this sequence of material coheres rhetorically and compositionally in
      the manner in which (you) argued" -- much of the material coheres rhetorically
      and compositionally in its locations in both Matthew and Luke, both of which
      are interacting with and reworking Mark. There is thus a continuity between
      Mark, Matthew and Luke -- a trajectory if you like -- that helps us to make
      sense of the similarities between the Q material and the Markan material. But
      I would need to read the paper carefully before I would be able to see how far
      this kind of counter-argument would be effective.
      >
      Stephen commented:

      > I think that the usefulness (Brauchbarkeit) of Q is an important
      > and perhaps fundamental reason why Q researchers still find it
      > worthwhile to subscribe to Q.

      I agree. But I think that one needs to distinguish between two arguments that
      are emerging for the existence of Q, both of which are becoming steadily more
      prominent. One relates to the usefulness of Q as a presupposition in
      redaction-criticism, i.e. in explaining Matthew and Luke. Fitzmyer and Stanton
      both make this claim forcefully.

      The second argument relates to the distinctiveness of Q, the idea that Q makes
      its presence felt by means of its distinctive theology, profile, genre etc.
      This argument is an even more recent one, powerful for being more often
      implicit than explicit, but now emerging as a key one in the literature. It is
      behind Alan's argument above & in his recent book; it is present in the
      quotation from Kloppenborg below; it is used by Jacobson (_The First Gospel: An
      Introduction to Q_ (Sonoma: Polebridge, 1992)) and it is flagged up strongly by
      David Catchpole (_The Quest for Q_ (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1993)). The
      argument is capable of an answer, and I am currently preparing one for my _Case
      Against Q_. In the mean time, let me comment briefly on Stephen's useful
      quotation from Kloppenborg:

      > For example, John S. Kloppenborg,
      > "Introduction," THE SHAPE OF Q: Signal Essays on the Sayings
      > Gospel (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994) 2, writes:
      >
      > "Evidence of design and deliberate structure serves not
      > only to expose the distinctive theology of Q; it turns
      > out to be relevant to a yet more basic issue, that of
      > the very existence of Q. . . . For it is exceedingly
      > unlikely that a subset of materials mechanically
      > abstracted from two Gospels would display an inherent
      > genre and structure unless in fact that subset
      > substantially represented a discrete and independent
      > document."

      This statement is over-confident in the rather fragile world of source
      criticism. It is not long ago that Proto-Luke was "mechanically abstracted",
      purely on source-critical grounds, from Luke, to reveal a supposedly discrete
      genre, structure and profile. But no-one now believes in it (at least in the
      Streeter-Taylor form).

      Further, to speak of "a subset of materials mechanically abstracted from two
      Gospels" is an oversimplification of what goes on in Q research, as Kloppenborg
      knows better than anybody. Let us say, for the sake of argument, that we did
      attempt to abstract Q materials mechanically from Matthew and Luke, i.e. by
      computer, something that would of course render the painstaking labour of the
      IQP wasted effort. I suspect that we would find that a great deal of
      Q-displeasing material would get in, e.g. five word verbatim agreements from
      the Passion Narrative like TIS ESTIN hO PAISAS SE and six word verbatim
      agreements in the Birth Narrative like the one to which Jeff Peterson has been
      drawing attention. Material from stories like the Paralytic or the Five
      Thousand would probably get in too, while much supposedly Q-like sondergut
      (Rich Fool, Ten Coins, Friend at Midnight etc.) would be left outside.

      And that, friends, is why we don't mechanically abstract Q material from
      Matthew and Luke.

      With good wishes

      Mark
      --------------------------------------
      Dr Mark Goodacre M.S.Goodacre@...
      Dept of Theology, University of Birmingham

      Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre
      --------------------------------------

      Synoptic-L Web Page: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
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    • Yuri Kuchinsky
      ... Dear Mark, You have stated this a number of times already, and I ve tried to correct you a number of times already. I m hoping it will work this time. Q
      Message 2 of 15 , Dec 6, 1998
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        On Wed, 2 Dec 1998, Mark Goodacre wrote:

        > ...the Q sceptic will remain concerned about the presupposition that
        > Matthew and Luke were independent of one another, on which the Q
        > theory depends,

        Dear Mark,

        You have stated this a number of times already, and I've tried to correct
        you a number of times already. I'm hoping it will work this time.

        Q theory does not depend on Matthew and Luke being independent of one
        another. OTOH a _poorly formulated_ Q theory does depend on Matthew and
        Luke being independent of one another.

        > as important an assumption for Kirk as for other Q theorists.

        Not at all.

        > Without this presupposition, the necessity for hypothesising the
        > existence of Q as a discrete source disappears.

        This is not correct.

        Trying to refute a poorly formulated theory as opposed to a well
        formulated theory is usually known as a straw man argument.

        With best wishes,

        Yuri.

        Yuri Kuchinsky || Toronto

        http://www.trends.net/~yuku/bbl/bbl.htm

        The goal proposed by Cynic philosophy is apathy, which is
        equivalent to becoming God -=O=- Julian
      • Thomas R.W. Longstaff
        ... This is confirmed by an article published some years ago which demonstrated rather clearly that Q is whatever you make it. Originally the Q hypothesis
        Message 3 of 15 , Dec 6, 1998
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          On Sun, 6 Dec 1998, Yuri Kuchinsky wrote:

          >
          > On Wed, 2 Dec 1998, Mark Goodacre wrote:
          >
          > > ...the Q sceptic will remain concerned about the presupposition that
          > > Matthew and Luke were independent of one another, on which the Q
          > > theory depends,
          >
          > Dear Mark,
          >
          > You have stated this a number of times already, and I've tried to correct
          > you a number of times already. I'm hoping it will work this time.
          >
          > Q theory does not depend on Matthew and Luke being independent of one
          > another. OTOH a _poorly formulated_ Q theory does depend on Matthew and
          > Luke being independent of one another.

          This is confirmed by an article published some years ago which
          demonstrated rather clearly that

          "Q is whatever you make it."

          Originally the Q hypothesis was proposed to explain the agreements
          of Matthew and Luke, each taken to be dependent on Mark, assuming (or
          concluding) that neither was dependent on the other. Since then Q
          has taken on a life of its own and been fashioned into an entirely new
          entity made, it seems, of the same fabric as the emperor's new
          clothes.
        • Brian E. Wilson
          Thomas Longstaff wrote - ... I agree that Q is whatever you make it. I would want to add, however, that every synoptic hypothesis is whatever you make it.
          Message 4 of 15 , Dec 7, 1998
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            Thomas Longstaff wrote -
            >
            >This is confirmed by an article published some years ago which
            >demonstrated rather clearly that
            >
            > "Q is whatever you make it."
            >
            >Originally the Q hypothesis was proposed to explain the agreements
            >of Matthew and Luke, each taken to be dependent on Mark, assuming (or
            >concluding) that neither was dependent on the other. Since then Q
            >has taken on a life of its own and been fashioned into an entirely new
            >entity made, it seems, of the same fabric as the emperor's new
            >clothes.
            >
            I agree that Q is whatever you make it. I would want to add, however,
            that every synoptic hypothesis is whatever you make it. The hypotheses
            put forward by J.J.Griesbach, B.H.Streeter, A. Farrer, R.Lindsey, or
            whoever, are each the product of the mind which formulated them. They
            are all made of exactly the same invisible material - human
            inventiveness. They are not supplied tailor-made, not even to emperors.
            You have to think it out for yourself, like a soft-ware engineer
            creating a computer program out of his own head.

            Then, once you have done this, the question is whether your hypothesis
            fits the observed facts well. If it does not, dispose of it. If it
            does, put it on record so that others can make use of it.

            It does not matter in the slightest by which route you arrive at your
            synoptic hypothesis. What matters is whether it works.

            Best wishes,
            BRIAN WILSON

            HOMEPAGE http://www.twonh.demon.co.uk "No tailors today, thank you."
            E-MAIL: brian@...
            SNAILMAIL: Rev B. E. Wilson,
            10 York Close, Godmanchester,
            Huntingdon, Cambs, PE18 8EB, UK
          • Mark Goodacre
            ... I am always happy, of course, to be corrected : ) Yet my apparent stubbornness is a function of my taking Q theorists at their word. Who am I to argue
            Message 5 of 15 , Dec 7, 1998
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              I wrote:

              > > ...the Q sceptic will remain concerned about the presupposition that
              > > Matthew and Luke were independent of one another, on which the Q
              > > theory depends,

              On 6 Dec 98 at 15:21, Yuri Kuchinsky wrote:
              >
              > You have stated this a number of times already, and I've tried to correct you
              > a number of times already. I'm hoping it will work this time.
              >
              > Q theory does not depend on Matthew and Luke being independent of one
              > another. OTOH a _poorly formulated_ Q theory does depend on Matthew and
              > Luke being independent of one another.

              I am always happy, of course, to be corrected : ) Yet my apparent stubbornness
              is a function of my taking Q theorists at their word. Who am I to argue with
              authorities like Tuckett who state that the Q theory depends on the
              independence of Matthew and Luke?

              On 6 Dec 98 at 21:49, Thomas R.W. Longstaff wrote:

              > This is confirmed by an article published some years ago which
              > demonstrated rather clearly that
              >
              > "Q is whatever you make it."
              >
              > Originally the Q hypothesis was proposed to explain the agreements
              > of Matthew and Luke, each taken to be dependent on Mark, assuming (or
              > concluding) that neither was dependent on the other. Since then Q
              > has taken on a life of its own and been fashioned into an entirely new
              > entity made, it seems, of the same fabric as the emperor's new
              > clothes.
              >
              The article is S. Petrie, "Q is Only What you make it", NovT 3 (1959), pp.
              28-33. I am not sure that I agree with Petrie, particularly in the light of
              Q scholarship since he wrote the article. Although there is an inevitable
              extent to which Q is fuzzy round the edges and flexible in its application, we
              are all agreed about the bedrock Q data, viz. the 200 verses or so of double
              tradition material. Further, I am not one of those who underestimates the work
              of the International Q Project. Here reputable international scholars have
              worked hard to produce a phenomenal database on Q alongside a reconstruction of
              a critical text, with decisions carefully argued and clearly recorded. A
              striking degree of consensus has emerged, and even Q theorists outside the
              project (e.g. Dale Allison & Christopher Tuckett; cf. Neirynck) are inclined to
              value the results highly. Would all this have been possible if "Q is only what
              you make it"?

              I do agree with Thomas, however, that Q has taken on a life of its own. It has
              jumped out of the texts of Matthew and Luke, in which it used to be embedded,
              and has taken on a full identity of its own with a distinctive theology, genre
              and community. Yet I think that I would want to maintain that in all recent Q
              scholarship, the independence of Matthew and Luke from each other remains a
              basic assumption. Indeed I would argue that it is a fundamental
              presupposition that lies at the heart of the entire International Q
              Project's attempt to reconstruct its text.

              Mark
              --------------------------------------
              Dr Mark Goodacre M.S.Goodacre@...
              Dept of Theology, University of Birmingham

              Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre
              --------------------------------------

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