Re: testing the synoptics
- David Mealand wrote:
> Incidentally NT scholars areI think most studies based on vocabulary statistics would manage to
> 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.
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,
"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
Dr Mark Goodacre M.S.Goodacre@...
Dept. of Theology, University of Birmingham