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Theory choice

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  • D Mealand
    Many theories are possible but only a few are probable. We need to select some of the more probable ones. We then need to devise tests which will show which of
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 10, 1998
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      Many theories are possible but only a few are probable.

      We need to select some of the more probable ones.

      We then need to devise tests which will show which of these is preferable.

      If one of them has a difficulty (say minor agreements for 2DT) then is not
      one of the questions which we need to ask this one:

      Is the difficulty of accounting for minor agreements greater than the
      difficulties which confront the chief rival or nearest rivals to this theory?

      David M.
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      David L. Mealand * E-mail: D.Mealand@...
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    • Mark Goodacre
      ... I think this a potentially helpful approach but I suspect that the question of tests may run into difficulties when one encounters what is perhaps to
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 10, 1998
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        David Mealand wrote:

        > Many theories are possible but only a few are probable.
        >
        > We need to select some of the more probable ones.
        >
        > We then need to devise tests which will show which of these is
        > preferable.

        I think this a potentially helpful approach but I suspect that the
        question of "tests" may run into difficulties when one encounters what
        is perhaps to most the key argument in favour of the 2ST, the
        redaction-critical one. This argument runs something like this: so
        many exegetes have made such good sense of the Gospels for so long on
        the assumption of the 2ST that the 2STis probably correct. Sometimes
        this argument is stated explicitly (e.g. in Davies and Allison's
        *Matthew* commentary) but more often it is an underlying argument /
        assumption.

        But the testing of hypotheses should be encouraged. One way forward,
        in my opinion, is to attempt to test scholars' hypotheses on their
        own grounds, testing the data in fresh ways following their own
        rules. I attempted this with some of Goulder's theories with some
        results favourable to his solution to the synoptic problem and some
        not.
        >
        > If one of them has a difficulty (say minor agreements for 2DT) then
        > is not one of the questions which we need to ask this one:
        >
        > Is the difficulty of accounting for minor agreements greater than
        > the difficulties which confront the chief rival or nearest rivals to
        > this theory?

        This touches on the issue of plausibility. The reason that Two
        Source Theorists are, on the whole, happy to live with difficulties
        like the Minor Agreements is that other theories (Griesbach, Farrer)
        are felt to be less plausible than the 2ST and on a much broader
        scale. On this view, the Minor Agreements are too minor to be a
        major cause of worry. So yes, I would guess that for most the
        difficulty of accounting for the Minor Agreements is not as great as
        difficulties faced by the 2ST's chief rivals.

        With good wishes

        Mark
        -------------------------------------------
        Dr Mark Goodacre M.S.Goodacre@...
        Dept. of Theology, University of Birmingham
        Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre.htm
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