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testing the synoptics

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  • D Mealand
    I repeat - I am calling that material common only to Matthew and Luke q, and that material found only in Matthew M and that common to Matthew & Mark m and then
    Message 1 of 8 , Aug 26, 2003
      I repeat - I am calling that material common only to Matthew and Luke q, and
      that material found only in Matthew M and that common to Matthew & Mark m and
      then testing to see whether there are, or are not, significant stylistic
      differences once allowance is made for genre. If any of the blocks is
      itself diverse that may well show up - as it seems to in the M parables.
      The problem of m q overlaps might tend to reduce any differences between some
      of the samples - samples containing overlap materials could be looked at to
      see if they are closer than usual to the other block.

      I had considered the possible auxiliary hypothesis that Matthew had made his
      sources irrecoverable. This is often said about the 4th Gospel but some
      stylometric work in progress elsewhere seems to suggest that that is not so,
      as does Fortna's second book on this topic. I am not very happy with
      untestable auxiliaries. If the result really suggested this I would rather
      say other evidence suggests conclusion x but this evidence conclusion y and
      that we would need to devise some other test to resolve this. But it is too
      easy to dream up scenarios which may not happen. It is better to go and look.

      What is not quite so easy is to decide how diverse is diverse. At present I
      am tending towards this measure. Let us partition each of the three sets of
      data into a training set and a test set where we have enough samples. If an
      analysis of the training set can then correctly assign at least 75% of the
      test samples to the correct blocks then we have a real
      difference. (There are also some other rather more technical tests e.g. the
      p-values on the distances between the group centroids.) But I think the
      assignment test will be more readily seen as valid in literary circles.
      My figure of 75% is based on comparative success rates of 200 word samples in
      other recent studies on literary assignment.
      Incidentally NT scholars are very keen on vocabulary statistics or rather
      vocabulary counts - most such tests never offer any tests of significance
      (Gaston is a rare and honourable exception). It would be interesting to see
      how well such tests fared on say correctly assigning portions of Mark or
      Matthew to the right gospel.

      David M.
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      David L. Mealand * E-mail: D.Mealand@...
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    • BMDainton
      David, In a message dated 23/3/98 11:07:12, you comment:
      Message 2 of 8 , Mar 23, 1998
        David,

        In a message dated 23/3/98 11:07:12, you comment:

        << But M is simply the set of material that only Matthew has - not
        necessarily a single source. >>

        Is not Q simply the set of material that Matthew and Luke share, but not Mark,
        and again not necessarily a single source?

        Yours

        Bernard Dainton
      • Stephen C. Carlson
        Synoptic-L was established to stimulate a broad discussion of the relationships among the gospels, with emphasis on high-quality, academic contributions to
        Message 3 of 8 , Mar 24, 1998
          Synoptic-L was established to stimulate a broad discussion of the
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        • Mark Goodacre
          ... I think most studies based on vocabulary statistics would manage to assign passages to the right Gospel because usually the statistics are comparative. To
          Message 4 of 8 , Mar 26, 1998
            David Mealand wrote:

            > Incidentally NT scholars are
            > very keen on vocabulary statistics or rather vocabulary counts -
            > most such tests never offer any tests of significance (Gaston is a
            > rare and honourable exception). It would be interesting to see how
            > well such tests fared on say correctly assigning portions of Mark or
            > Matthew to the right gospel.

            I think most studies based on vocabulary statistics would manage to
            assign passages to the right Gospel because usually the statistics
            are comparative. To take Matthean vocabulary, for example, the lists
            of Hawkins, Goulder, Luz, Gundry and Davies-Allison all make their
            decisions about what is and isn't characteristic or distinctive by
            means of comparison with the other Synoptics.

            This is, in fact one of the potential problems with the lists. If
            they are not properly used, there can be some circularity, as when
            Davies and Allison, for example, say that their list of Matthean
            vocabulary is "helpful for determining to what extent a given passage
            has been moulded by the evangelist", in spite of their claim that
            many of the words on their list are there because they "must . . . be
            regarded as very often editorial" (*A Critical and Exegetical
            Commentary on the Gospel According to Matthew*, Vol. 1 (ICC;
            Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1988), pp. 75-9).

            It is for these kinds of reason that I would be interested to see
            some successful stylometric study on the Synoptics. I was
            struck by Lloyd Gaston's conclusion to his own *Horae Synopticae
            Electronicae: Word Statistics of the Synoptic Gospels* (Montana: SBL,
            1973):

            "Perhaps the very preciseness of the tables will encourage us to
            rely more on considerations of style and content. These latter
            criteria, while superficially not as "objective", are really
            much more important" (p. 12).

            All the best

            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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