[Synoptic-L] the GNH
- Jim Deardorff wrote -
>If, in "solving" the synoptic problem, the GNH raises new, serious
>unanswered questions or problems, I believe it is premature to consider
>it the solution.
What "synoptic problem"? I take the trouble to define what I
understand the Synoptic Problem to be, put forward a hypothesis, show
that it fits well observed patterns, and so on. You do not even tell us
what the synoptic problem is supposed to be. So how do we know you are
talking about it? The "problems" you raise may not be problems about the
synoptic problem at all.
I want to make it quite clear that I am happy to answer your questions,
and am pleased that you take the trouble to ask them, but the answers
below ARE NOT PART OF THE GREEK NOTES HYPOTHESIS. The GNH is a
hypothesis of the documentary relationship between the synoptic gospels,
not a full historical exposition of Christian origins.
>As far as early Christians were concerned, the only momentous source for
>Here's my present list of the resulting problems:
>1) Why didn't the GN receive great reverence and acclaim as being the
>momentous source for Christianity's knowledge of Jesus' ministry?
Christianity's knowledge of Jesus's ministry was Jesus himself during
his ministry. When Paul wrote, "I received FROM THE LORD what I also
handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when was betrayed
took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said..." (I
Cor 11.23f), Paul was affirming that Jesus himself said and did the
things reported and that they originated from (APO) him - the "Lord
Jesus" (a title Paul tends to use when he is referring to Jesus during
his ministry). Great reverence and acclaim were reserved for Jesus.
Of course, some respect was shown for those who handed on Jesus
tradition, and for the way in which they did this. In the quotation from
I Corinthians above, Paul was quite possibly referring to the Greek
Notes also. There is a play on the word PARADIDWMI not obvious in the
English. The Greek could be rendered more literally - "I received from
the Lord what I also HANDED OVER to you, that the Lord Jesus on the
night where he was HANDED OVER took bread, and..." This play on words
has puzzled scholars for a long time. But it makes good sense if we
understand Paul to mean that he PHYSICALLY HANDED OVER a written set of
notes of Jesus tradition to the Corinthians, just as Jesus had been
PHYSICALLY HANDED OVER to the Jewish leaders.
Furthermore, if, as the GNH affirms, the three synoptists each used
(separate) copies of the GN, then this shows that the Greek Notes were
received widely and considered very important by Greek-speaking
Christians. Indeed, on this view, the synoptic gospels were considered
important precisely because they were recognizably successors to the
Moreover, one Greek word for "notes" (in the sense in which I use the
word) is APOMNHMONEUMATA. Justin wrote of TA APOMNHMONEUMATA TWN
APOSTOLOWN - which we could translate "the apostles' notes". And the
quotations which Justin gives from these "notes" could have been from a
document prior to the synoptic gospels. His quotations from the
APOMENHMONEUMATA seem not to have come from any synoptic gospel, but are
consistent with having come from a document prior to the synoptic
>Having read "The Gospels for All Christians" by Richard Bauckham, I
>As such, the GN would have been a treasured document held in the
>custody of some particular church, with many transcriptions of it being
would suggest that if the Greek Notes had been used for, say, teaching
Greek-speaking pagans converted to Christianity in Antioch, then they
would have been copied and spread around quite quickly to all Greek-
speaking Christian communities within months rather than years, and
would have continued to be copied and spread in the following years. The
notes would have been treasured as long as they were not edited to form
books. Once the synoptic gospels had been produced on the basis of the
Greek Notes, the continuous books would have been preferred to the Notes
on which they were based, and the Notes would eventually (though not
necessarily immediately) have ceased to be copied and would have
disappeared from the scene. I think it is feasible that the Greek Notes
were first produced in Antioch in Syria around 38 CE by the missionaries
who came from Cyrene and Cyprus. Perhaps Justin's TA APOMNHEMONEUMATA
TWN APOSTOLWN should be translated "the MISSIONARIES' notes" .
>I think they were copied a lot. According to Acts 11, there were
>(2) Even if no transcriptions had been made, how could the GN have
>circulated around to three different evangelists without having
>received any mention in the literature?
thousands of converts to Christianity, and it is feasible that they all
needed historical background to Jesus, notes on Jesus tradition, and
that copies of the Greek Notes were used by the "Teachers" at Antioch
(mentioned at the beginning of Acts 13). It is possible that each
Teacher used a copy of the Greek Notes in the house groups of Christians
throughout the huge city of Antioch in Syria. It would seem that the
Greek Notes are mentioned in the literature, as discussed above.
>It is very feasible, as I have said above, that the Greek Notes were
>(3) After one evangelist had utilized the GN to write his gospel, why
>would he have handed them over to a second evangelist to enable him to
>write a better or different gospel? Why would not he and his church
>have instead treasured it and held it dear so as to preserve them? And
>similarly with respect to a third evangelist. After all, these GN would
>have been even more valuable than Paul's epistles had been.
copied many times and distributed far and wide, to be used for teaching
Jesus tradition to Christians. There would have been no need for each
synoptist to consult any original autograph manuscript. As I have said
above, I think the Greek Notes were considered very important as long as
the synoptic gospels were not written, but eventually after they
appeared as proper continuous books, the original Greek Notes would have
no longer been copied and would have disappeared from the scene.
Incidentally, I think the Greek Notes would have been written before any
of Paul's letters, and that Paul himself may well have used them with
Barnabas at Antioch in Syria.
>I think you are assuming a meaning of "disjointed" which I do not hold.
>(3.1 -- note:) As I recall from some of your previous postings on this,
>the GN are not supposed to be a continuous gospel-like story. Yet the
>fact that what AMt extracted from his chapter 12 on was replicated in
>essentially the same order by AMk, with minor editorial alterations and
>many omissions, indicates that the last half, at least, of the GN could
>not have been any disjointed set of notes. Instead, it was as connected
>and continuous as Mt 12-on is, less its special material. And the fact
>that the contents of Mk 4:1 to 9:40 and of Lk 8:4 to 9:50 both contain
>the same 21 or so pericopes (more in Mark) in the same order indicates
>that the GN were not disjointed in this earlier portion either. Thus,
>the GN could not have been shunned as a most valuable document but
>unworthy of mention on the basis that it was a mere collection of
We have been all through this before. In many (but not all) instances
the individual pericopes can be interchanged without altering the
meaning of the pericopes. In many cases, a pericope could have been used
by Teachers as a self-contained unit of Jesus tradition. On this
understanding, Mt 12 onwards is a string of pericopes which are not
linked in such a way that consecutive pairs of pericopes could not be
interchanged. It is this sense that in my view they are "disjointed".
Your idea of "a mere collection of disjointed notes" would appear not to
be mine. I think I made this very clear in the correspondence to which
>I think you understate the question here! Not only do the three
>(4) Why would none of these three gospel writers have mentioned their
>own name as its writer or compiler?
synoptic gospels not mention the name of their author but also they do
not even use the first person to refer to the writers. (In this, I
regard the preface of Luke, Lk 1.1-4, as a dedication to the book proper
which follows, Lk 1.5 onwards). Every book in the NT uses the first
person to refer to its writer, except the synoptic gospels. Thus Acts
refers in the first person to its writer in Acts 1.1, as well as in the
famous "we passages", and so on. On the Greek Notes Hypothesis, this is
easily accounted for. The Greek Notes themselves were produced for
Teachers to use to give Jesus tradition to converts to Christianity. In
such a set of teaching notes, a reference to the writer of the notes in
the first person would have been completely out of place, because if the
Teacher using the notes had read the "I" referring to the writer of the
notes this would have been mis-leading to the people he was teaching
since the first person "I" would not have referred to him as Teacher.
But the Greek Notes were used by Teachers for years. Greek-speaking
Christians were therefore accustomed to hearing Jesus tradition read
without any references in the first person to the person who had written
the material being read. So the synoptists, knowing this practice, did
the same when they wrote their continuous books based on the Greek
Notes. The synoptic gospels would have been recognized as books based on
the Greek Notes by Greek-speaking Christians. This did not apply,
however, to Paul when he came to write his letters, and so on. Paul was
therefore free to refer to himself using the first person in his
letters. So the GNH can account for the absence of the first person
singular references to the writers of the synoptic gospels. (The first
person reference in Lk 1.1-4 is because 'Luke' could hardly have written
a dedicatory preface without referring to himself in the first person as
>I am not sure that "author" is the correct word here. The writer of the
>(5) Why would none of these three writers have mentioned the name of
>the author of the GN within their gospel?
Greek Notes would not have mentioned his name because this would have
been out of place in a handbook of teaching notes. It may be that the
synoptists did not even know the name of the writer of the Greek Notes.
>In fact I think the order of the double tradition verses within the GN
>(6) If the order of the "Q" verses within the GN was that of Matthew,
>how is it that ALk chose to take primarily just those passages from the
>GN in improper order (and place them into improper contexts)? These are
>passages in Matthew that Mark omits, yet ALk would not have known what
>passages in the GN AMk would omit or did omit. The question would be
>reworded accordingly if the GN is assumed to have contained the "Q"
>verses in Lukan order and context.
was closer to that of their order in LUKE than to their order in
Matthew. I think the basic idea to grasp firmly here is that the double
tradition is first and foremost MATERIAL WHICH MARK OMITTED from the
Greek Notes (that is SOME of the material he omitted). It would seem
that basically Mark omitted BLOCKS of material from the Greek Notes.
These blocks were almost entirely retained by Luke in their Greek Notes
position (for instance the double tradition in the Sermon on the Plain
and in the Central Section of Luke is in its Greek Notes position).
Matthew retained some of the material from these blocks in the same
position (for instance he has some material parallel to the Sermon on
the Plain in the same position as in Luke, and some material parallel to
the Central Section in the same position as in Luke). But Matthew also
quarried the blocks to form his sections of mainly discourse (including
the Sermon on the Mount) so that Matthew is mainly (though not entirely)
responsible for the differences in order between the double tradition in
Luke as compared with Matthew. Luke tended to add brief introductions as
settings to passages he retained. I think one has to remember that when
Matthew quarried material from the blocks retained by Luke, he sometimes
used only some of the material. This means that Luke frequently has a
piece of double tradition preceded by, or followed by, a piece of
material special to Luke. The special Luke contiguous with the double
tradition in Luke is the result of Luke retaining more of the Greek
Notes passage than Matthew took with him when he quarried material from
I think that generally the questions and answers above are peripheral to
the Greek Notes Hypothesis which is a hypothesis of the documentary
relationship between the synoptic gospels. Basically the above is about
the feasibility of the GNH. I do not think there is anything unfeasible
about the GNH. If you really want to get rid of the GNH, Jim, you need
to find a pattern of similarity and difference of wording or order of
material within the synoptic gospels themselves. The Minor Agreements
place a huge question mark over the Two Document Hypothesis. Why not try
and put such a question mark over the Greek Notes Hypothesis? What
observable synoptic pattern is incompatible with the GNH? Can you find
E-MAIL: brian@... HOMEPAGE ***RECENTLY UPDATED*** (AGAIN)
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- Brian Wilson wrote to Mark Goodacre -
>Jim Deardorff commented -
>I am afraid you have not explained why, on the Farrer Hypothesis,
>no synoptic gospel is usually the middle term on the level of wording.
>Do I take it that the Farrer Hypothesis cannot explain this, in fact?
>If so, is that not pretty damaging to the Farrer Hypothesis? Are you
>really stuck on this one?
>It seems you are now moving to the idea that "there is simply no doubt
>that Mark is usually the middle term" in the order of triple tradition
>material (previously you were talking in terms of "SUBSTANTIAL
>agreements of wording", or "MINOR agreements of wording", of two
>synoptic gospels against the third.) I am not at all clear what you now
>mean, I must confess.
>Are you saying that the Gospel of Mark is the middle term as regards
>order of pericopes in a way in which neither Matthew nor Luke are the
>middle term? If this is the case, could you please say in just what
>way Mark is the middle term as regards order in which Matthew and Luke
>There is the well known agreement in order between Matthew & Mark from
>Mt 12 or 13 on and Mk 6 or so on. Then there is the general agreement
>in order between Luke and Mark from Lk 4:31 and Mk 1:21 on to Lk 9:17
>and Mk 6:43. Aside from the triple tradition commencing around Lk 18,
>there is then very little agreement in order between Matthew and Luke.
>Hence Mark is the middle term here.
Your posting was in two parts. I here answer the first part (shown
above), since this keeps to the point I was making. I am answering the
second part in a different posting (and under a different subject
heading), since it goes on to a quite separate matter concerning the
Greek Notes Hypothesis and the distribution of the "double tradition" in
the synoptic gospels.
I agree with your above description of the general agreement in order
of pericopes of Mark and Matthew in the "second half" of Mark, and of
Mark and Luke in the "first half" of Mark. My question is, given these
observations, what makes Mark the "middle term" with regard to order of
pericopes in a way in which Matthew is NOT the middle term, and in which
Luke is NOT the middle term?
In other words, even if Mark is the middle term with regard to the order
of pericopes, how do you know that neither Matthew nor Luke is the
middle term also in this respect?
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