[Synoptic-L] The Three Source Hypothesis
- I enjoyed reading Ron Price's home page on the Three Source Hypothesis.
The argument is clear. The material is presented well.
Ron rightly holds that the TSH overcomes a big difficulty for the Two
Document Hypothesis - the hundreds of minor agreements of Matthew and
Luke against Mark in the triple tradition. Individually, some of these
are very difficult to explain as the result of Matthew and Luke
coincidentally and independently making the same alteration to Mark.
Collectively, they are also very difficult to explain as the result of
Matthew and Luke making the same alterations to Mark, since cumulatively
so many small coincidences are significant.
Ron does not seem to make much of the TSH also overcoming difficulty in
the Farrer Hypothesis, however. As he neatly explains, the TSH combines
the structures of the Two Document and the Farrer Hypotheses. On this
basis, though, the TSH should overcome not only difficulty in the 2DH
(as a result of incorporating a link between Matthew and Luke) but also
should overcome difficulty in the FH (as a result of incorporating Q as
a source of Matthew and Luke). And I think this is the case.
For instance one significant difficulty (on my view) with the FH is that
it does not explain the origin of the double tradition in Matthew except
by supposing either (1) that Matthew fabricated this material by a kind
of divine creatio ex nihilo using no source material whether documentary
or oral (as Goulder maintains), or (2) that Matthew used an untraceable
body of oral tradition which is not a source (because the FH appeals to
Occam's Razor and claims not to posit unnecessary hypothetical entities)
and yet which existed somehow somewhere as a non-hypothetical
unobservable entity (as Goodacre maintains). The first alternative seems
to me to imply that Matthew was a religious genius who thought up the
Sermon and the Lord's Prayer himself, showing the very finest religious
insights. On this view it would seem that Matthew was a greater
religious genius than Jesus, for instance. It seems to me that the TSH
overcomes this difficulty easily since it maintains that Luke not only
used Matthew (as the FH agrees) but also that both Matthew and Luke used
Q (as the FH does not agree), so that the Sermon and the Lord's Prayer
and similar sayings material, were taken by Matthew, and Luke, from Q.
The second alternative seems to me to be an ad hoc sub-hypothesis which
is supplied to plug the gap where the documentary suppositions do not
work, a sub-hypothesis for which there is no evidence of any
consequence, and which also seems to be designed to side-step Occam's
Razor. Again, it seems to me that the 3SH easily overcomes this
difficulty in the FH by supposing that Matthew not only used Luke (as
per the FH) but also used Q (not in the FH). Moreover, Ron shows that he
understands Occam's Razor and uses it meaningfully (section 2 on page 1
of "A Bird's Eye Perspective").
A small question. Since the 3SH affirms that all three sources (Q,
Matthew and Mark) feed into Luke, should we not expect to find triplets,
or even quadruplets, in Luke? There do not seem to be very many, if any.
And yet there are doublets in Matthew and Luke as would be expected as
the result of Matthew and Luke each independently using supposedly
overlapping Q and Mark. On the 3SH, why clear doublets but little sign,
if any, of clear triplets or quadruplets in Luke? (The same would apply
to the Farrer Hypothesis, of course. Why clear doublets, but little
sign, if any, of clear triplets, in Luke?)
Also, presumably the 3SH would have to posit that Mark and Q overlapped,
and that this overlapping (about 60 verses of it) was the result of Mark
and Q depending on oral tradition. In this case, presumably Luke also
had access to the same body of oral tradition? If so, should we not
expect even more triplets/quadrupletss, and even quintuplets, in Luke,
since Luke would be fed not only by the three overlapping documentary
sources (one of these containing doublets as a consequence), but also by
oral tradition which overlapped all of those?
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