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Proof by rhetorical questions, was Re: [Synoptic-L] Re: Luke 6:6-11

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  • Stephen C. Carlson
    ... I ve noticed a rather distressing tendency in arguing for Markan priority on the basis of rhetorical questions. A rhetorical question is basically an
    Message 1 of 44 , Oct 3, 1999
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      At 08:24 PM 10/3/99 -0500, Steven Craig Miller wrote:
      >Leonard Maluf,
      ><< It amazes me if these are seriously thought to be unanswerable
      >rhetorical questions. >>
      >
      >Just for the record, I never once considered my questions to have been
      >merely rhetorical, nor unanswerable. In fact, I assumed that it was very
      >possible for someone, perhaps even yourself, to have very satisfactory
      >answers to my questions.

      I've noticed a rather distressing tendency in arguing for Markan
      priority on the basis of rhetorical questions. A rhetorical
      question is basically an argument presented in the form of a
      question (as done here) and functions as a shifting of the
      burden of proof to the other side. As such, it is effective on
      a rhetorical level, but as an argument it falls flat. Basically,
      all it is a challenge for the other side to disprove one's thesis,
      while avoiding the difficulty in making one's case.

      In response, I would challenge anyone tempted to make a rhetorical
      question to turn it into an actual, direct argument. Often, this
      exercise exposes the flaws in the argument.

      Stephen Carlson
      --
      Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
      Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
      "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35
    • Brian E. Wilson
      Brian Wilson wrote -- ... Leonard Maluf replied -- ... Leonard, Your argument seems to me to be that, if we assume the Farrer Hypothesis (or similar), (1) Mark
      Message 44 of 44 , Feb 28, 2000
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        Brian Wilson wrote --
        >
        >I would suggest that it does not take much imagination or ingenuity to
        >work out very convincing reasons for what Mark did if he used Matthew,
        >or for what Matthew did if he used Mark.
        >
        Leonard Maluf replied --
        >
        >Often true, in individual cases. But overall, the view of Matt re-
        >Judaizing an originally Jewish-Christian tradition that has previously
        >been substantially un-Judaized by Mark is difficult. One should only
        >assume such a tortuous line of development for very good reasons.
        >Those usually supplied in support of the relative priority of Mark do
        >not fit the bill.
        >
        Leonard,
        Your argument seems to me to be that, if we assume the Farrer
        Hypothesis (or similar), (1) Mark must have un-Judaized his source
        material and (2) Matthew must then have re-Judaized this source
        material, and that this is "tortuous" and therefore unlikely. What are
        the grounds for either (1) or (2), however?

        With respect to (1), it is conceivable that Mark un-Judaized none of his
        source material, but faithfully used the source material available to
        him, however un-Judaic it might be. If Mark wrote first, we cannot
        distinguish between tradition and redaction in the Gospel of Mark. If we
        had a method for making such a distinction, we would immediately be able
        to use it to tell whether Matthew used Mark, or Mark used Matthew, and
        the synoptic problem would be solved in a flash. On the Farrer
        Hypothesis (or similar), not only do we not know which material Mark un-
        Judaized, but we do not even know that he un-Judaized any source
        material at all.

        With respect to (2), on the Farrer Hypothesis (or similar) since half
        the Gospel of Matthew is non-Markan material, it would seem that Matthew
        has combined un-Judaic Mark with Judaic source material of some kind(s).
        This is neither overall un-Judaizing nor overall Judaizing. It is
        overall conflation.

        So, on the Farrer Hypothesis (or similar), there is no tortuous
        development of un-Judaizing followed by re-Judaizing. There is only
        conflating of Judaic and un-Judaic material. This would have been very
        understandable bearing in mind that Christian communities such as those
        at Rome, Antioch in Syria, Corinth and so on, were an intermingling of
        Gentile and Jewish Christians, and that the writer of the Gospel of
        Matthew would have realized that his book could be copied and circulated
        widely to such "mixed" assemblies within weeks of it being written.

        The question remains whether it is possible for the advocate of the
        Griesbach Hypothesis to give an irreversible directional indicator
        showing that Matthew did not use Mark. The alternative question is
        whether the advocate of the Farrer Hypothesis (or similar) can give an
        irreversible indicator to show that Mark did not use Matthew. I doubt
        that either can do this.

        Best wishes,
        BRIAN WILSON

        EM brian@... HP www.twonh.demon.co.uk TEL+44(0)1480385043
        Rev B.E.Wilson,10 York Close,Godmanchester,Huntingdon,Cambs,PE18 8EB,UK
        > "What can be said at all can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot
        > speak thereof one must be silent." Ludwig Wittgenstein, "Tractatus".
        _
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