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Re: [Synoptic-L] Is Q a Juggernaut?

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  • Stephen C. Carlson
    ... I ve just got Popper s seminal book on falsifiability in the mail. Therefore, I m going to do what I should ve done -- not talk about falsiability until
    Message 1 of 30 , Jan 2, 1997
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      At 09:15 AM 12/17/99 +0000, Brian E. Wilson wrote:
      >falsifiability

      I've just got Popper's seminal book on falsifiability in the mail.
      Therefore, I'm going to do what I should've done -- not talk about
      falsiability until I've read the book.

      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
      Stephen Carlson wrote -- ... Stephen, I do not know any such thing. What, please, are the grounds for saying that Goulder has not discussed the falsifiability
      Message 2 of 30 , Dec 17, 1999
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        Stephen Carlson wrote --
        >
        >As we know, Goulder did not address the falsifiability of the FH
        >
        Stephen,
        I do not know any such thing. What, please, are the grounds for
        saying that Goulder has not discussed the falsifiability of the FH? I
        find it hard to credit that he should have criticized "soft-line"
        theories for being "unfalsifiable and so not useful" without making some
        attempt, somewhere in all his writings, to show that this does not apply
        to the FH also.
        >
        >I think I can safely presume that Goulder thought (or assumed) the FH
        >is indeed falsifiable.
        >
        Indeed. His "Luke: A New Paradigm" would be a joke if he did not at
        least assume that the FH is falsifiable.
        >
        >I had proposed one way, digging up Q, in which the FH is falsifiable
        >without falsifying the 3SH; however, this proposal was not found
        >acceptable because of a rather flimsy traversal that this
        >dug up Q in one scenario might possibly have not been created after the
        >fact.
        >
        Mike MacDonnell did not find this "a rather flimsy traversal". In reply
        to my positing, he wrote --
        >
        >You are correct in stating that should a copy of Q be unearthed, it
        >would not necessarily falsify the FH. Farrer doesn't employ Q.
        >
        And, until now, you have not said you did not accept this rejection of
        your first attempt to show the FH is falsifiable. If a document
        answering to the description of "Q", that is consisting mostly of
        sayings of Jesus and John the Baptist, were dug up in the sands of
        Egypt, this would just be another document of the genre of GThomas.
        GThomas does not falsify the FH. Neither would the digging up of a
        document which would be what advocates of Q expect Q to have been like.
        Just as GThomas could well have been created in documentary dependence
        on the synoptic gospels (as many scholars, including yourself if I
        remember correctly, have argued), so the newly-found unearthed document
        could also have been created in documentary dependence on the synoptic
        gospels. The digging up of "Q", therefore, would not falsify the FH in
        the slightest.
        >
        >For the discussion to continue beyond the present point in which
        >several people have attempted to address in good faith the "question
        >being considered," I believe it now incumbent to explain why this
        >particular form of the "question being considered" is important.
        >
        I would have thought the matter is of great importance to Goulder
        himself. On my argument, if Goulder is right in what he says in his
        article "Is Q a Juggernaut?" about "soft-line" theories (like the 3SH)
        being "unfalsifiable and so not useful", then the Farrer Hypothesis
        which he advocates is unfalsifiable and so not useful, unless someone
        can point to a way in which the FH is falsifiable but in which the 3SH
        is not. There appears not to be such a way. Mike MacDonnell has written
        to Synoptic-L to say that he has looked and not found one either. It
        seems that on Goulder's assumptions, the Farrer Hypothesis is
        "unfalsifiable and so not useful".

        Best wishes,
        BRIAN WILSON

        E-MAIL : brian@... HOMEPAGE
        SNAILMAIL ; Rev B. E. Wilson,
        10 York Close, Godmanchester, www.twonh.demon.co.uk
        Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE18 8EB, UK
      • Andrew Smith
        ... Yes, I think we should forget about digging up Q since it would change the whole nature of the synoptic problem anyway - all the hypotheses would need to
        Message 3 of 30 , Dec 21, 1999
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          ----------
          >From: "Brian E. Wilson" <brian@...>
          >To: Synoptic-L@...
          >Subject: [Synoptic-L] Is Q a Juggernaut?
          >Date: Tue, Dec 21, 1999, 2:43 AM
          >

          > In the case of (2), the problem is that this is not "a logically
          > possible **observation** statement or set of **observation**
          > statements." The idea of "showing that Luke and/or Matthew have used Q
          > as a source" is a hypothesis that would itself need testing. It is not
          > something which could be observed. So it is not "a logically possible
          > observation statement or set of statements". (Even if Q had been dug up,
          > this would still be the case.) This contrasts with the idea that there
          > are (or are not) Minor Agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark in
          > the triple tradition. The idea that they exist, (or that they do not
          > exist), is "a logically possible observation statement or set of
          > observation statements". We could look at a synopsis and observe whether
          > there are (or are not) Minor Agreements. We cannot look at a synopsis
          > and observe that Luke and/or Matthew used (or did not use) Q.

          Yes, I think we should forget about digging up Q since it would change the
          whole nature of the synoptic problem anyway - all the hypotheses would need
          to be reassessed.

          I think you're correct in "there us no way that the FH is falsifiable in
          which the 3SH is not", but this in no way affects the FH. It's because the
          3SH doesn't add any falsifiable elements to the FH: it adds an unfalsifiable
          element.

          It is the use of a "hard" document (Matthew) which allow the FH be
          falsified. The 2SH can only be falsified by negative reference to Matthew,
          not by reference to Q, since Matthew is a real document. In combining the FH
          & the 2SH, the 3SH loses the ability to have its use of the Q material
          falsified. Thus, the 3SH can be falsified in respect to its "hard" (real,
          actual) source of Matthew, but not with regard to its hypothetical source.
          The 3SH's use of Q isn't falsifiable.

          >it follows that, on
          >Goulder's assumptions, the Farrer Hypothesis is "unfalsifiable and so
          >not useful" also.

          No, the Farrer Hypothesis is falsifiable. Showing that Luke's double
          tradition material comes from anywhere other than Matthew falsifies it.If
          someone can show that Luke has used, for instance, the Gospel of Thomas for
          some of the DT material, this would falsify the FH. In practice, the FH
          would seem to pass this particular test. As a branch of the FH, the 3SH
          could also be falsified by this.

          Additionally, one could falsify the FH by showing that Luke must have
          employed some unknown source (other than Matthew) in his use of the DT. In
          practice, given the complexity of language and our limited material, and
          Luke's non-verbatim use of his hypothetical sources, it is probably
          impossible to find the right criteria for this: but it is a logical
          possibility.

          I could propose an hypothesis that states that Matthew used Mark and an
          hypothetical Cross gospel which was also a source for Mark. This would be
          falsifiable in terms of the use of Mark, but not in the use of the Cross
          Gospel. (It also wouldn't add much in the way of explanatory power, which
          the 3SH arguably does add.) Or I could propose that Luke used Mark, Matthew,
          the same Q that Matthew used, plus another version of Q with minor
          differences that Matthew didn't have: my hypothesis wouldn't be falsifiable
          with respect to the 3SH, from which it derives.

          Best Wishes

          Andrew Smith
        • Brian E. Wilson
          Brian Wilson wrote -- ... Andrew Smith replied -- ... Andrew, The question I have been asking in the above is -- ... It is this question which is raised by
          Message 4 of 30 , Dec 21, 1999
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            Brian Wilson wrote --
            >
            >I am still tentatively of the opinion that there is no way in which the
            >FH is falsifiable but in which the 3SH is not falsifiable, though I am
            >prepared to be convinced otherwise. In his article "Is Q a
            >Juggernaut?", Goulder says that "soft-line" theories (like the 3SH) are
            >"unfalsifiable and so not useful". If, however, there is no way in
            >which the FH is falsifiable but in which the 3SH is not falsifiable, it
            >follows that, on Goulder's assumptions, the Farrer Hypothesis is
            >"unfalsifiable and so not useful" also.
            >
            Andrew Smith replied --
            >
            >No, the Farrer Hypothesis is falsifiable.
            >
            Andrew,
            The question I have been asking in the above is --
            >
            >Is there a way in which the FH is falsifiable but in which the 3SH is
            >not falsifiable?
            >
            It is this question which is raised by what Goulder writes in his
            article. If Goulder is right that since the 3SH is a "soft-line"
            hypothesis it is therefore "unfalsifiable and so not useful", then
            unless he wants to say that the FH is also unfalsifiable and so not
            useful, it must be possible for him to show that there is a way in which
            the FH is falsifiable but in which the 3SH is not (for if it were not
            possible, the FH would be as unfalsifiable as the 3SH). I suspect that
            there is no such way. The question is whether anyone can find such a
            way.

            If there is no such way, then if the FH is falsifiable (as you suggest,
            Andrew), the 3SH cannot be a "soft-line" hypothesis of the kind Goulder
            says. On the other hand, if the FH is unfalsifiable, then the FH is, in
            Goulder's own words "not useful". Either way, Goulder's statement on the
            3SH being "unfalsifiable and so not useful" lands him in difficulty.

            I would suggest that either Goulder is mistaken in saying in his article
            that the 3SH is unfalsifiable and so not useful, or the FH (which
            Goulder advocates) is unfalsifiable and so not useful.

            Best wishes,
            BRIAN WILSON

            E-MAIL : brian@... HOMEPAGE
            SNAILMAIL ; Rev B. E. Wilson,
            10 York Close, Godmanchester, www.twonh.demon.co.uk
            Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE18 8EB, UK
          • Andrew Smith
            ... I think you ve just clarified for me what the difficulty is: we re looking in the wrong direction. The 3SH is a more complex hypothesis than the FH.
            Message 5 of 30 , Dec 21, 1999
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              ----------
              >From: "Brian E. Wilson" <brian@...>
              >To: Synoptic-L@...
              >Subject: [Synoptic-L] Is Q a Juggernaut?
              >Date: Tue, Dec 21, 1999, 12:51 PM
              >

              > Andrew,
              > The question I have been asking in the above is --
              >>
              >>Is there a way in which the FH is falsifiable but in which the 3SH is
              >>not falsifiable?
              >>
              > It is this question which is raised by what Goulder writes in his
              > article. If Goulder is right that since the 3SH is a "soft-line"
              > hypothesis it is therefore "unfalsifiable and so not useful", then
              > unless he wants to say that the FH is also unfalsifiable and so not
              > useful, it must be possible for him to show that there is a way in which
              > the FH is falsifiable but in which the 3SH is not (for if it were not
              > possible, the FH would be as unfalsifiable as the 3SH). I suspect that
              > there is no such way. The question is whether anyone can find such a
              > way.
              >
              I think you've just clarified for me what the difficulty is: we're looking
              in the wrong direction. The 3SH is a more complex hypothesis than the FH.
              Therefore, for it to be falsifiable, there must be ways in which the 3SH can
              be falsified in addition to the ways that the FH can be falsified. As an
              example, there are more ways to falsify the hypothesis that Luke used Mark
              and Matthew than there are to falsify the hypothesis that Luke used only
              Mark. As each new element is added, that element must be falsifiable in its
              new context in order for the hypothesis as a whole to be falsifiable.


              The 3SH's use of Q cannot be falsified. Without Q, the 3SH is simply the FH.

              Perhaps we could define a "soft-line" hypothesis as one that contains any
              unfalsifiable element. Conversely, a "hard-line" hypothesis must be
              falsifiable in every particular.

              Best Wishes

              Andrew Smith

              Andrew Smith
              Oregon House,
              California
              asmith@...
            • Stephen C. Carlson
              There s been a lot discussion on this list about Goulder s invocation of falsiability. Goulder is not alone, however; Farmer [1990: 144] and I m sure others
              Message 6 of 30 , Dec 21, 1999
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                There's been a lot discussion on this list about Goulder's invocation
                of falsiability. Goulder is not alone, however; Farmer [1990: 144] and
                I'm sure others on the 2GH side have also argued about falsifiability
                in support of their own theories and against the Q hypothesis.

                Whatever the merits of their views on falsifiability, it seems clear to
                me that their bringing up this concept has not proved to be persuasive
                or effective in their critiques of the 2ST. I think our discussion here
                about whether or not FH and 3SH are falsifiable shows just how difficult
                (and possibility irrelevant) this concept is for synoptic source criticism.

                Personally, I think a more effective rhetorical approach is the use of
                Occam's Razor, even though I suspect that at some deep level Occam's Razor
                and falsifiability are closely related.

                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
                Stephen Carlson wrote -- ... Stephen, I wish you were right. If you look back at the thread on Is Q a Juggernaut? , however, you will find that the only
                Message 7 of 30 , Dec 21, 1999
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                  Stephen Carlson wrote --
                  >
                  >There's been a lot discussion on this list about Goulder's invocation
                  >of falsifiability...
                  >
                  Stephen,
                  I wish you were right. If you look back at the thread on "Is Q
                  a Juggernaut?", however, you will find that the only person who has
                  referred to Goulder's article "Is Q a Juggernaut?" is myself. No-one
                  else has quoted from it. I have attempted to discuss what Goulder says
                  on Goulder's assumptions, but it seems to me that no-one else has set
                  out to do the same.

                  It would be nice to know what you, and others, think about the section
                  headed, by Goulder, "V. Falsification", and found on pages 675-676 of
                  the article.

                  As Mark Goodacre announced some weeks ago, the article is entitled "Is Q
                  a Juggernaut?" and is available on the "Mark Without Q Web Site" at --

                  http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/q/goulder.htm

                  Best wishes,
                  BRIAN WILSON

                  E-MAIL : brian@... HOMEPAGE
                  SNAILMAIL ; Rev B. E. Wilson,
                  10 York Close, Godmanchester, www.twonh.demon.co.uk
                  Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE18 8EB, UK
                • Stephen C. Carlson
                  ... I am utterly baffled by this remark. If my own attempts to discuss this matter have been so ineffectual that they have not even been recognized as such,
                  Message 8 of 30 , Dec 22, 1999
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                    At 07:57 AM 12/22/99 +0000, Brian E. Wilson wrote:
                    > I wish you were right. If you look back at the thread on "Is Q
                    >a Juggernaut?", however, you will find that the only person who has
                    >referred to Goulder's article "Is Q a Juggernaut?" is myself. No-one
                    >else has quoted from it. I have attempted to discuss what Goulder says
                    >on Goulder's assumptions, but it seems to me that no-one else has set
                    >out to do the same.

                    I am utterly baffled by this remark. If my own attempts to discuss this
                    matter have been so ineffectual that they have not even been recognized
                    as such, there really is no point for me in continuing this discussion
                    with you any further.

                    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
                  • Stephen C. Carlson
                    ... Karl Popper, LOGIC OF SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY pp. 82-83, writes: As regards *auxiliary hypotheses* we propose to lay down the rule that only those are
                    Message 9 of 30 , Dec 22, 1999
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                      At 05:53 PM 12/21/99 -0800, Andrew Smith wrote:
                      >The 3SH's use of Q cannot be falsified. Without Q, the 3SH is simply the FH.

                      Karl Popper, LOGIC OF SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY pp. 82-83, writes:

                      "As regards *auxiliary hypotheses* we propose to lay down the rule
                      that only those are acceptable whose introduction does not diminish
                      the degree of falsifiability or testability of the system in
                      question, but, on the contrary, increases it."

                      Applying this to the 3SH with respect to the FH, we must ask, how does
                      the auxiliary hypothesis of a Q in the 3SH increase the falsifiability
                      of the FH?

                      Perhaps that is the meat of Goulder's beef against "soft-line" theories.

                      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
                    • Mark Goodacre
                      As the world awaits Kloppenborg s new book _Excavating Q_, K.C. Hanson has set up a web site on the book featuring enthusiastic endorsements from Robinson ( .
                      Message 10 of 30 , Dec 22, 1999
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                        As the world awaits Kloppenborg's new book _Excavating Q_, K.C.
                        Hanson has set up a web site on the book featuring enthusiastic
                        endorsements from Robinson (". . . its discovery in 1838 . . ."), Piper
                        & Oakman; table of contents; bibliography of Kloppenborg:

                        http://www.stolaf.edu/people/kchanson/excavatingq.html

                        Mark
                        --------------------------------------
                        Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
                        Dept of Theology tel: +44 121 414 7512
                        University of Birmingham fax: +44 121 414 6866
                        Birmingham B15 2TT United Kingdom

                        http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre
                        The New Testament Gateway
                        All-in-One Biblical Resources Search
                        Mark Without Q
                        Aseneth Home Page
                      • Ron Price
                        ... By raising the possibility of unearthing a sayings document in the sands of Egypt. If it were to fit the 3SH (and I have described on my Web site its
                        Message 11 of 30 , Dec 23, 1999
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                          Stephen Carlson wrote:

                          >
                          >Karl Popper, LOGIC OF SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY pp. 82-83, writes:
                          >
                          > "As regards *auxiliary hypotheses* we propose to lay down the rule
                          > that only those are acceptable whose introduction does not diminish
                          > the degree of falsifiability or testability of the system in
                          > question, but, on the contrary, increases it."
                          >
                          >Applying this to the 3SH with respect to the FH, we must ask, how does
                          >the auxiliary hypothesis of a Q in the 3SH increase the falsifiability
                          >of the FH?
                          >

                          By raising the possibility of unearthing a sayings document in the
                          sands
                          of Egypt. If it were to fit the 3SH (and I have described on my Web site
                          its expected contents), then it would falsify the FH.

                          Ron Price

                          Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK

                          e-mail: ron.price@...

                          Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
                        • Andrew Smith
                          ... ...somewhere in sands of the desert A shape with lion body and the head of a man, A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, Is moving its slow thighs, while
                          Message 12 of 30 , Dec 24, 1999
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                            ----------
                            >From: "Ron Price" <ron.price@...>
                            >To: "Synoptic-L" <Synoptic-L@...>
                            >Subject: [Synoptic-L] Re: Is Q a Juggernaut?
                            >Date: Thu, Dec 23, 1999, 12:44 PM
                            >

                            >>
                            >>Applying this to the 3SH with respect to the FH, we must ask, how does
                            >>the auxiliary hypothesis of a Q in the 3SH increase the falsifiability
                            >>of the FH?
                            >>
                            >
                            > By raising the possibility of unearthing a sayings document in the
                            > sands
                            > of Egypt. If it were to fit the 3SH (and I have described on my Web site
                            > its expected contents), then it would falsify the FH.

                            "...somewhere in sands of the desert
                            A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
                            A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
                            Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
                            Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds."
                            ("The Second Coming", W.B.Yeats.)

                            Perhaps he was referring to the unearthing of Q!
                            See my forthcoming web page, "Yeats and the Synoptics."

                            Happy Christmas,

                            Andrew Smith
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