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[Synoptic-L] Re: Oral Tradition & N.T. Wright

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  • Steven Craig Miller
    Leonard Maluf, You write:
    Message 1 of 3 , Oct 1, 1999
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      Leonard Maluf,

      You write:

      << It is so (amateurish, i.e.), in my opinion, ONLY if taken as an actual
      explanation of the synoptic phenomenon. In itself, Wright's statement
      reflects nothing but the most basic and eminent common sense - which I both
      share with him and confirm. So I agree with you, I think. My assumption
      was, however, that your quote intended to present this observation as a
      point Wright was making by way of explaining the differences in parallel
      sayings of Jesus in the different Synoptic Gospels. If Wright was not in
      fact offering this observation as an explanation for the synoptic
      phenomenon, then I apologize for the epithet. >>

      But ... might it not ALSO explain, in part, the Synoptic phenomenon?

      What is so hard in imagining that two similar sayings might both be
      authentic? When I re-read the section surrounding this quotation by Wright
      (1992:423), I come away thinking that most of Wright's statements were
      obviously correct, and yet I wondered if perhaps the general impression,
      which it gives, might not be somewhat misleading. The problem, in my
      opinion, is one of degree. John Dominic Crossan once suggested that Raymond
      E. Brown held that 80% of the Gospels had historicity, whereas he [Crossan]
      held that only 20% had historicity (cf. 1995:1). My suspicion is that for
      Wright, 80% would be way too low of a figure. Perhaps I'm mistaken, but to
      my knowledge, Wright never admits that some sayings in the Gospels are
      unauthentic, and that some events lack historicity. If I'm correct, then it
      would be reasonable to conclude that Wright deliberately avoided this issue.

      Burnett Hillman Streeter, in the preface of the fourth (revised) impression
      of his "The Four Gospels" (1924, 1930), wrote:

      << When stories or sayings circulate in oral tradition, it is inevitable
      that they should be current in more than one version. Where, therefore,
      Matthew and Luke give 'widely divergent' versions of the same item -- e.g.
      of the Beatitudes, the Lord's Prayer, the Parable of the Lost Sheep -- it
      is unscientific to explain this divergence on the theory of manipulation by
      the respective editors of the common written source Q; it is far more
      likely to be due to the currency of divergent traditions. >>

      Is it possible to take this one step further, and suggest that it is
      possible that similar sayings might both be authentic? By this I don't mean
      to suggest that every similar saying is authentic, only that there is a
      real possibility that some might be authentic. What do you think?

      -Steven Craig Miller (scmiller@...)
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