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Re: Arguments for Marcan priority

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  • Jim West
    ... It means incongruity. ... Jim +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Jim West, ThD Quartz Hill School of Theology jwest@highland.net
    Message 1 of 8 , Jun 2, 1998
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      At 01:31 PM 6/2/98 +0000, you wrote:
      >re missive of 02/06/98 03:17 PM signed -PetersnICS@...- :
      >
      >>Several pericopes exhibit narrative details that are well-integrated into
      >>the Marcan narrative but involve inconcinnities in Matthew.
      >
      >"inconcinnities"? I don't believe I've ever seen that word before.
      >Care to define it? Both WWWebster and my desktop Oxford are balking
      >at it...
      >

      It means incongruity.


      >James
      >

      Jim

      +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
      Jim West, ThD
      Quartz Hill School of Theology

      jwest@...
    • Thomas R. W. Longstaff
      At 11:18 AM 6/2/98 EDT, Jeff Peterson wrote ... deleted]. While I read this list regularly, I respond less frequently since I often feel that I don t have a
      Message 2 of 8 , Jun 2, 1998
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        At 11:18 AM 6/2/98 EDT, Jeff Peterson wrote
        :
        >Two arguments for Marcan priority seem especially strong to me, and I would
        >appreciate listers' evaluation of them:
        >
        >1) The first is noted by Sanders and Davies against the 2GH: Griesbach-Farmer
        >"attributes an inexplicable procedure to Mark" (p. 112), i.e., conflation and
        >condensation of the Matthaean and Lucan narratives via the omission of birth
        >and temptation narratives, the sermon on the mount/plain—indeed, the whole of
        >the Q, M, and L material. This is not quite the same as the argument from
        >sheer length that has recently been discussed on the list..... [remainder
        deleted].

        While I read this list regularly, I respond less frequently since I often
        feel that I
        don't have a lot to offer beyond what I have already put in print. Forgive
        me for
        making an exception in this case, but the criterion of length, refined now
        as the
        "inexplicable procedure" of omission has never seemed to me a convincing
        argument. If I may quote myself (since I still hold this view), back in 1983 I
        wrote:

        "It has often been argued against the Griesbach Hypothesis that Mark would
        have had no reason for omitting so much important material found in Matthew
        and Luke. Examples of such material would include the birth narratives, the
        Sermon on the Mount/Sermon on the Plain, many of the parables and teachings
        of Jesus, and the accounts of the appearances of the Risen Jesus. The list
        could, of course, be extended, but the point is clear. This line of
        reasoning,
        however, seems to be based upon an assumption which it may not be
        legitimate to make. There are, after all, many _possible_ reasons why an
        author might write again something which has already been written. He might
        wish to supplement the earlier works by the addition of greater detail or
        by the addition of entirely new material. He might wish to refine or correct
        them in some substantive way. In these and similar cases the later
        author would intend that his work replace the earlier documents, probably
        with the idea that the earlier works would subsequently disappear from
        general use. It is also possible, however, that a later author would write,
        not
        to replace but only to summarize or to interpret the earlier works by setting
        the materials in a different context or by addressing himself to a different
        audience with different concerns. In these cases the later author would
        intend that his work be used along with the earlier documents. Further,
        since in these cases the omission of materials would not imply their loss,
        there is little need for special attention to the reasons for omission. Far
        more important is the question of what the author has done with the materials
        he has included (from whatever source he has obtained them)." [quoted from
        "Crisis and Christology: The Theology of Mark," NEW GOSPEL STUDIES:
        THE CAMBRIDGE GOSPEL CONFERENCE AND BEYOND, Edited by
        William R. Farmer. Mercer University Press, 1983, pp. 373-392.]

        Later in that chapter I offer some suggestions about how some of the
        "omissions" might be understood. Whether one agrees with my
        explanation or not, Mark's "omissions" are not completely inexplicable.

        One thing that strikes me: I would make more use of inclusive language in
        1998 that in did in 1983!

        But the point is simply this: The argument based upon Mark's
        "inexplicable omissions" seems to me to assume that Mark (if he were
        third) wrote to _replace_ Matthew and Luke. However, if Mark were writing
        to supplement or interpret Matthew and Luke - as the Griesbach Hypothesis
        proposes - rather than to replace these Gospels, if Mark assumed that the
        readers would continue to have access to and to use Matthew and Luke,
        then the "problem" of omission is really no problem at all.

        Do I fairly represent ancient authors? I think so. Acts 1:1-4 does not suggest
        that Luke intends to include everything (nor even everything significant) that
        he has encounted in the earlier documents known to him. The probative
        force of the arugment referred to above is directly related to how one
        understands the intention of the ancient author.

        One final point (a small one). While it is true that Sanders/Davies, on p.
        112,
        write that "the Griesbach proposal attributes an inexplicable procedure to
        Mark" one needs to read this comment with reference to all that they had in
        mind. I've known Ed Sanders since we were graduate students together and have
        a prized copy of STUDYING THE GOSPELS, autographed by Ed and given to
        me in Oxford when he had only two prepublication two copies, one for himself
        and one for Margaret. He graciously gave me his personal copy. I took this
        copy
        from my shelf and on p. 117 read, "The Griesbach hypothesis...suffers from the
        inability to explain Mark. It may be that here we face only a failure of the
        imagination: why would anyone carefully conflate parts of Matthew and Luke,
        while omitting so much of both? Nevertheless, scholarship cannot accept a
        theory of literary relationship which it cannot comprehend. Moreover, what is
        known of ancient authors who conflated indicates that they did so by
        incorporating their sources in blocks, rather than by switching back and forth
        from phrase to phrase."

        While Ed may not have looked at everything that I wrote before he and Margaret
        wrote their introduction, STUDYING THE GOSPELS is not, I think, the final word
        on these issues. As I have mentioned, it is credible (whether true or not)
        that
        Mark would have omitted all of that material. It is certainly not
        "inexplicable."
        Authors who use sources often omit material, especially when their sources
        will continue to be read. But as an "inexplicable procedure" Sanders/Davies
        might be referring to what I have called a pattern of alternating agreement
        (what Sanders/Davies refer to as "switching back and forth from phrase to
        phrase"). But, as I aruged many years ago in my doctoral dissertation,
        authors
        who conflate sources do not always do so in a uniform manner. Some do
        incorporate their sources in blocks, others switch back and forth, even from
        phrase to phrase. Sometimes the same author will compose different sections
        of a work in different ways. One might look at the way Tatian has conflated
        the
        canonical gospels in the Diatessaron - and there are other examples that
        one could examine.

        Finally, it is important to note that Sanders/Davies do not offer these
        comments
        as arguments for the priority of Mark but rather to expose what they
        understand
        to be weaknesses in the Griesbach Hypothesis. I think that Ed and I agree
        that,
        on the Griesbach Hypothesis, Mark's omissions require explanation. I have
        attempted such explanation and whether or not Ed (or others) find those
        explanations credible is a matter for further discussion and analysis. But Ed
        does not, at least as far as I can see, offer the "omissions" as an
        arugment FOR
        Markan priority. It is a big step to transform what Sanders/Davies see as a
        problem for the Griesbach Hypothesis into a "strong argument" for Markan
        priority.

        If others respond to these comments and hear nothing from me, it is not that
        I am ignoring your comments (or reduced to silence). In my other life, I am an
        archaeologist and I depart on Friday for five weeks of excavation. I will have
        little, if any, access to email while I am in the field.

        Best wishes, then, to all for a pleasant summer.

        trwl
      • Jim Deardorff
        ... Hello Jeff, Let me give you a modified AH response to your question (1), of why the writer of Mark may have omitted what he did from Matthew. This is at
        Message 3 of 8 , Jun 2, 1998
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          At 11:18 AM 6/2/98 EDT, PetersnICS@... wrote:
          >Two arguments for Marcan priority seem especially strong to me, and I would
          > appreciate listers' evaluation of them:
          >
          >1) The first is noted by Sanders and Davies against the 2GH: Griesbach-Farmer
          > "attributes an inexplicable procedure to Mark" (p. 112), i.e., conflation and
          > condensation of the Matthaean and Lucan narratives via the omission of birth
          > and temptation narratives, the sermon on the mount/plain—indeed, the whole of
          > the Q, M, and L material. This is not quite the same as the argument from
          > sheer length that has recently been discussed on the list; the question is
          > whether a coherent rationale can be stated for the omission of the particular
          > narratives and sayings that Mark must be understood to have omitted, in
          > addition to stating a rationale for the material he retained. Note that a
          > version of this burden must still be met if one holds Mark later than Matthew
          > but earlier than Luke; why produce just such a Reader's Digest Condensed
          > Gospel as Mark would be of either Matthew alone or of Matthew and Luke?
          >[...]
          >I am especially interested in how Griesbachians and Augustinians account for
          > such texts.

          Hello Jeff,

          Let me give you a modified AH response to your question (1), of why the
          writer of Mark may have omitted what he did from Matthew. This is at the
          risk of repeating myself. But since my previous explanation received no
          objections, as I recall, it is worth repeating.

          (a) Start with the external evidence indicating that Peter and Mark (I'll
          call him John Mark) were in Rome together where Mark had some written
          document concerning Jesus' ministry that Peter neither urged forward nor
          forbade reading. I'll call the document proto-Mark. Within the AH
          framework, the argument of order indicates that proto-Mark did not extend
          past Mt 12; otherwise the writer of Mark would not have needed to copy so
          much from Matthew, and in Matthew's precise order, from that point on. And
          the writing of proto-Mark apparently only commenced following the Sermon on
          the Mount, due to its absence, essentially, from Mark and due to the lack of
          any material in Mark before this Sermon that seems other than a highly
          abbreviated form of Matthew (plus a few small Marcan additions). In the
          modified AH one does not think of proto-Mark as the reminiscences of Peter,
          since Mark does not, in my opinion, contain any particular slant of Peter's,
          and since Peter would have reminisced about much that came after the events
          up to Mt 12, not just before.

          (b) The writer of Mark, with proto-Mark available to him, wrote his gospel
          in Rome decades after Peter and John Mark had been alive and shortly after
          Matthew appeared. He could not have appreciated the strong anti-gentile
          slant of Matthew; moreover, if proto-Mark did not contain any such
          anti-gentile bias, which I think it did not, this would have alerted him to
          the anti-gentile statements being redactions of the writer of Matthew. So
          the writer of Mark omitted or ameliorated all of Matthew's anti-gentile
          statements in his gospel, and this included even the healing of the
          centurion's servant, whose verse Mt 8:8 can be construed as being
          anti-gentile. And since he was writing a gospel for gentiles, he omitted
          much Judaistic material and anything he thought would not be understandable
          to gentiles. The latter would include material that he did not find
          understandable himself, including most of the parables. (He did not have
          any Commentaries available to him that would attempt to explain such teachings!)

          (c) This writer of Mark of course had his own philosophical preferences, and
          they included a more militant outlook than what the writer of Matthew held.
          The former seems to have favored militancy if it served to further the
          church's mission, and so he did not wish to include the sword-sheathing
          admonition of Mt 26:52, nor the "turn the other cheek" advice and similar
          advice urging humility.
          It also included a more royal treatment of Jesus than what Matthew had
          afforded him. Main examples: Mk 3:9 -- Jesus ordering a boat so that the
          crowd would not crush him (not in Matthew); the cushion in Mk 4:38 for Jesus
          to sleep on, the omission of Mt 8:20's lack of a place to lay his head, and
          the presence of more houses for Jesus to stay in than in Matthew; Mk 9:15
          having the crowd greet Jesus with an astonishment or awe; the man in Mk
          10:17 who runs up to Jesus and kneels before him, not present in the
          parallel of Mt 19:16; the colt in Mk 11:2 being one that had never been
          ridden on before; and the large upstairs room, furnished and ready, of Mk 14:15.

          (d) The writer of Mark wished his gospel to be different from Matthew, and
          this he could accomplish by:
          1) Abbreviating Matthew strongly and removing its anti-gentile bias;
          2) adding many pleonasms and change for the sake of change;
          3) making use of proto-Mark to add detail to pericopes (this then
          pertains primarily to pericopes found within Mt 8-11);
          4) adding surmised or fictitious details to Matthean material he
          utilized, including the examples of (c) above;
          5) reordering within his own gospel the Matthean material that had been
          present in proto-Mark in greater detail than in its Matthean parallels of
          Mt 8-11; and
          6) writing his gospel in Greek, whereas Matthew and proto-Mark had been
          in Aramaic or Hebraic.
          In (d) 3) above, the pericope of the Gerasene Demoniac is one of the
          proto-Mark passages, and it apparently had the most detail of any, which the
          later writer of Matthew's source (the Logia) had forgotten or felt not worth
          specifying. So Matthew's rendition of it is much shorter.

          >2) Another line of argument was proposed by G. M. Styler in his appendix to
          > Moule's _Birth of the NT_ and has been recently revived by Mark Goodacre (in
          > _NTS_ 44, pp. 45ff). Several pericopes exhibit narrative details that are well
          > integrated into the Marcan narrative but involve inconcinnities in Matthew.
          > Perhaps the most striking is in Matt 14:9 (// Mark 6:26): Herod (whom Matthew
          > introduces as wanting John the Baptist dead but fearing to have him killed
          > because of his popularity) is grieved when his niece requests John's head;the
          > mention of Herod's grief in Mark makes sense there since Herod is introduced
          > as revering John while Herodias carries the grudge and seeks John's life
          > (6:20–21), but in Matthew the emotion lacks a motive. The explanation of such
          > passages that best combines economy with a charitable view of Matthaean
          > narrative ability seems to be Matthew's inadvertent retention (by editor's
          > "fatigue," as Goodacre conveniently terms the phenomenon) of a detail from his
          > Marcan source.

          >Jeff Peterson

          As to your 2), it should be pointed out that Mark also contains a severe
          inconsistency, in that its 6:20a has Herod fearing John, and a ruler like
          that would be happy, not sad, to have an excuse to eliminate a man under his
          jurisdiction whom he fears. (Goodacre didn't comment upon this.) In Matthew
          what Herod feared was adverse reaction from the people if he were to put
          John to death, not John himself. Mk 6:20b,c and Mark's omission of Mt 14:5a
          are then redactions or intended improvements designed to bring the early
          part of the story into accord with Herod's purported sorrow over the
          beheading of John in the latter part. In the course of this redaction, Mk
          6:20a, which derived from Mt 14:5, allowed the inconsistency to persist.
          Another inconsistency within Mark's redactions is that Herod would have been
          very upset with John for having told him he was an adulterer, and so he
          would not have opposed Herodias. He simply would not have been pleased about
          being called an adulterer publicly.

          Instead, the problem lies within Matthew; why did its writer portray Herod
          as being unhappy over John's beheading? The writer of Mark tried to
          alleviate the problem (editorial improvement), but did not succeed very well
          -- he attempted to improve the first part of the story instead of the latter
          part. I can only speculate here that the writer of Matthew perhaps had held
          Herod Antipas in less ill repute than King Herod, and so edited his source
          in some small way so as to portray something favorable about Herod Antipas.
          This then would contrast with his redaction of Mt 2:16-18.

          Jim Deardorff
          Corvallis, Oregon
          E-mail: deardorj@...
          Home page: http://www.proaxis.com/~deardorj/index.htm
        • PetersnICS@aol.com
          Thanks to Prof. Longstaff for his thoughtful reply to my post. I m also going to be away from email in a few days and by way of brief reply would simply note
          Message 4 of 8 , Jun 2, 1998
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            Thanks to Prof. Longstaff for his thoughtful reply to my post. I'm also going
            to be away from email in a few days and by way of brief reply would simply
            note the following quotations from Sanders and Davies, _Studying the Synoptic
            Gospels_ (not of course offered as the final word on the subject):

            ". . . Mark could have done what the Griesbach proposal has him do.
            The question is, why would he? The strongest arguments against the Griesbach
            hypothesis are general, not technical. Why would anyone write a shorter
            version of Matthew and Luke, carefully combining them, and leaving out so much
            — such as the Lord's prayer and the beatitudes — while gaining nothing except
            perhaps room for such trivial additions as the duplicate phrases and minor
            details ('carried by four' and the like)? Further, if someone had undertaken
            the task, why would the church have preserved the gospel at all?
            . . . Why would Mark bother? Matthew is not all that long. While we agree
            that we cannot fully recover an ancient author's intention, and thus we cannot
            say that Griesbach's Mark is impossible, still it must be granted that, to the
            modern mind, there is a very strong objection to putting Mark third." (p. 92).

            "The two-source hypothesis is the best solution to the arrangement of Luke,
            and the Griesbach the best explanation of why Mark is the middle term. But, it
            seems to us, they both break down." (p. 112)

            "We think that Matthew used Mark and undefined other sources, while creating
            some of the sayings material. Luke used Mark and Matthew, as well as other
            sources, and the author also created sayings material" (p. 117, top).

            Finally, from the paragraph immediately after the one that Prof. Longstaff
            cites: "Goulder has not persuaded us that one can give up sources for the
            sayings material. With this rather substantial modification, however, we
            accept Goulder's theory: Matthew used Mark and Luke used them both" (p. 117).

            Sanders is admirably fair in his consideration of Synoptic source theories and
            quite diplomatic in stating his criticisms of them, but these passages make it
            clear that he rejects both Griesbach and the 2SH as improbable and accepts as
            probable the priority of Mark and the Farrer-Goulder hypothesis in its
            essentials. (Sanders's primary responsibility for this section of the book can
            be deduced from pp. viii, 134.)

            I join Prof. Longstaff in wishing all a pleasant summer, specifically a cooler
            one than we are experiencing in Texas.

            Jeff Peterson
            Institute for Christian Studies
            Austin, Texas, USA
            e-mail: peterson@...
          • Mark Goodacre
            Many thanks to Jeff Peterson for the useful quotations from Sanders and Davies. I will add these to my web site quotations section. I had forgotten that
            Message 5 of 8 , Jun 2, 1998
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              Many thanks to Jeff Peterson for the useful quotations from Sanders
              and Davies. I will add these to my web site "quotations" section. I
              had forgotten that Sanders and Davies were quite so explicit in the
              book.

              > Finally, from the paragraph immediately after the one that Prof.
              > Longstaff cites: "Goulder has not persuaded us that one can give up
              > sources for the sayings material. With this rather substantial
              > modification, however, we accept Goulder's theory: Matthew used Mark
              > and Luke used them both" (p. 117).


              This is how Goulder reacted to the above:

              "I will not conceal from the reader my delight at this conclusion as
              it is the one for which I have been arguing virtually *contra mundum*
              for the past two decades." (_TLS_ Oct 20-26 1996, p. 1166)

              There is little doubt that that aspect (no extra sources) of
              Goulder's theory has been a major hindrance in his attempt to get his
              "new paradigm" taken seriously. It is characteristically perceptive
              of Sanders (and Davies), I would say, to have been able to see the
              value in Goulder's work in spite of the no-sources and lectionary
              issues. It was he who encouraged me, partly because of his
              desire to see some sifting, to begin research on Goulder's theories.

              >
              > Sanders is admirably fair in his consideration of Synoptic source
              > theories and quite diplomatic in stating his criticisms of them, but
              > these passages make it clear that he rejects both Griesbach and the
              > 2SH as improbable and accepts as probable the priority of Mark and
              > the Farrer-Goulder hypothesis in its essentials. (Sanders's primary
              > responsibility for this section of the book can be deduced from pp.
              > viii, 134.)

              I was lucky enough to attend the lecture courses in Oxford on which
              those sections of the book were based. It was inspirational
              lecturing that confirmed my desire to do research on the Synoptics.
              I remember Sanders being more forthright on his acceptance of Goulder
              in public than he was in print, and more critical of the 2ST, but
              that may be just an impression.

              All the best

              Mark
              -------------------------------------------
              Dr Mark Goodacre M.S.Goodacre@...
              Dept. of Theology, University of Birmingham
              Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre
            • Stephen C. Carlson
              ... Based on my references, I ve been able to collect the following responses from non-Markan prioritists. 1. John M. Rist, ON THE INDEPENDENCE OF MATTHEW &
              Message 6 of 8 , Jun 4, 1998
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                At 11:18 6/2/98 EDT, PetersnICS@... wrote [with some reformatting]:
                >2) Another line of argument was proposed by G. M. Styler in his appendix to
                >Moule's _Birth of the NT_ and has been recently revived by Mark Goodacre (in
                >_NTS_ 44, pp. 45ff). Several pericopes exhibit narrative details that are
                >well integrated into the Marcan narrative but involve inconcinnities in
                >Matthew. Perhaps the most striking is in Matt 14:9 (// Mark 6:26): Herod
                >(whom Matthew introduces as wanting John the Baptist dead but fearing to
                >have him killed because of his popularity) is grieved when his niece
                >requests John's head; the mention of Herod's grief in Mark makes sense there
                >since Herod is introduced as revering John while Herodias carries the grudge
                >and seeks John's life (6:20–21), but in Matthew the emotion lacks a motive.
                >The explanation of such passages that best combines economy with a
                >charitable view of Matthaean narrative ability seems to be Matthew's
                >inadvertent retention (by editor's "fatigue," as Goodacre conveniently terms
                >the phenomenon) of a detail from his Marcan source.
                >
                >I am especially interested in how Griesbachians and Augustinians account for
                >such texts.

                Based on my references, I've been able to collect the following responses
                from non-Markan prioritists.

                1. John M. Rist, ON THE INDEPENDENCE OF MATTHEW & MARK (Cambridge: U.
                Press, 1978) (SNTSMS 32), in one of his typical arguments states: "On the
                other hand we have a recurrence of our old problem, in a particularly
                acute form: if Matthew was working from Mark, his own textual chaos is
                incomprehensible. If, on the other hand, he is either vaguely remembering
                events himself, or relying on unwritten (or garbled written) tradition,
                the confusion is far more readily explicable. . . . But explanation [for
                Matthew's confusion] seems hardly possible on the assumption that Mark
                is his source."

                2. Lamar Cope, "The Argument Revolves: The Pivotal Evidence for Markan
                Priority is Reversing Itself," in William R. Farmer, ed., NEW SYNOPTIC
                STUDIES: The Cambridge Gospel Conference & Beyond (Macon, Ga.: Mercer U.
                Press, 1983), pp.143-59, argues that "Herod regretted, not the execution,
                but the foolish promise that had boxed him into a trap" [148-9], because
                "Herod was afraid to openly execute John because of his popularity with
                the people" [148] (cf. Mt14:4). Cope cited his previous article, "The
                Death of John the Baptist in the Gospel of Matthew" CBQ 38 (1976): 515-19.

                3. Harold Riley, "Appendix 1: Syler's Key Passages" in Orchard & Riley,
                THE ORDER OF THE SYNOPTICS: Why Three Synoptic Gospels? (Macon, Ga.:
                Mercer U. Press, 1987), pp.100-4, argued that Styler "oversimplif[ied]
                the facts of the situation" because "there is no inconsistency between
                his [scil. Herod's] desiring John's death and his sorrow that it should
                occur in these circumstances." [100]

                4. John Wenham, REDATING MATTHEW, MARK & LUKE: A Fresh Assault on the
                Synoptic Problem (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1992) makes
                two arguments: (a) "[i]t is perfectly possible that Herod was torn
                between great annoyance that John had repeatly (ELEGEN) denounced his
                sexual sin in public, and respect for one he knew to be a good man." and
                (b) "[t]here is no need for Matthew to have known Mark's gospels, it is
                sufficient that he should have known the fuller story, which may have
                well been current in the early church." [92]

                Of the four arguments, I'd say that Cope's and Riley's are the best;
                Herod's grief is not about the result but the circumstances of John's
                execution. Although Davies & Allison are assuredly Two-Sourcers and
                found Styler's reasoning persuasive, their commentary provides what
                could be another, literary, reason for Herod's grief: foreshadowing.
                "So just as Pilate is disinclined to do away with Jesus, so is Herod
                Antipas disinclined to do away with John." [2:474]

                Stephen Carlson
                --
                Stephen C. Carlson : Poetry speaks of aspirations,
                scarlson@... : and songs chant the words.
                http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/ : -- Shujing 2.35
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