[Synoptic-L] Structural borrowing by Luke from Matthew?
- A number of times I have made a statement on this list to the effect that
Luke never copies formal or structural elements in the text of Matthew, but
consistently restructures his text with different, though often analogous
structures. When I make universal negative statements like this, I am usually
fishing for falsification (in case you hadn't guessed that), for the ultimate
advancement of the science, of course. Since no one to date has taken up the
challenge to falsify the above statement, I wish to do so here myself, with
the opportunity of also responding to my own objection.
Matt 13:31-33 contains a series of two parables, with an underlying man-woman
structure: a man sows a mustard seed in his field, a woman hides yeast in a
pile of dough. Lk 13:18-21 likewise contains a series of two parables in
which this structural element (the man-woman structure) has been copied by
Luke from Matthew. Moreover, the extent of copying seems to go beyond the
mere man-woman structure itself. Both Matthew's and Luke's texts contain
these same words in common, and together, in the same order:
... KOKKW SUNAPEWJ hON LABWN ANQRWPOJ...
... ZUMH hHN LABOUSA GYNH ..
It would seem therefore that Luke does in fact at times borrow structural
elements from Matthew.
It is true that Luke rarely comes even this close to reproducing a structural
feature in Matthew, but I think a good case can be made that the copying
exhibited here remains within what Luke considered to be the "material"
realm. What I have claimed is that Luke never copies a formal-structural
element from Matthew's text. I think he does not do so even here:
Matt's first parable is remotely introduced by the words:
ALLHN PARABOLHN PAREQHKEN AUOIJ LEGWN...
and his second, by the parallel and partially coincident phrase:
ALLHN PARABOLHN ELALHSEN AUTOIJ..
This is a formal structure, and as such it is studiously avoided by Luke.
Matthew's two parables continue to exhibit parallel structural features. The
hOMOIA ESTIN hH BASILEIA TWN OURANWN...,
which more immediately introduces the first parable, is echoed structurally
hOMOIA ESTIN hH BASILEIA TWN OURANWN..
which introduces the second. This formal-structural element is also avoided,
in terms of literal copying, by Luke.
On the other hand, both of these structural elements are reproduced by Luke,
not literally, but analogously, with similarly matching formulas. As for the
remote introduction of the two parables, Luke uses the formulas:
KAI PALIN EIPEN
More proximately, the two parables are introduced in Luke by a question:
TINI hOMOIA ESTIN hH BASILEIA TOU QEOU, KAI TINI hOMOIWSW AUTHN;
TINI hOMOIWSW THN THN BALISEIAN TOU QEOU;
Luke then adds one further structural element, before the parable itself
actually gets going with words borrowed directly from Matthew and containing
the substance, or matter of the parable (the words cited in the objection
above, and some others, especially in the second parable):
hOMOIA ESTIN.. (13:19)
hOMOIA ESTIN.. (13:21)
Although these same exact words appear in Matt 13:31 and 33, they do so
within a different construct (i.e., not as a response to a question that
leads directly into the parable itself).
Note too, that the mustard seed in Matthew is "sowed" by the man "in his
field", which elements structurally connect Matthew's parable of the mustard
seed with two previous parables in chapter 13. The expressions "sowed" and
"in his field" are also avoided by Luke.
I would argue, then, that even here, Luke has not really departed from his
rule to formally re-structure any material he takes from the Gospel of
Matthew, i.e., not to literally take over into his Gospel any of the
formal-structural features of the Gospel of Matthew.
- Brian Wilson wrote --
>Stephen Carlson replied --
>My point is that (Stein's) redaction-critical argument can proceed only
>if it is assumed that either the 2DH or the GH is true. His conclusion
>is the **conditional** statement --
>If either the 2DH OR the GH is true, then, by comparing the use of the
>title 'Son of David' in the synoptic gospels, it is seen that it is
>more probable that the 2DH is true (in which Matthew used Mark) than
>that the GH is true (in which Mark used Matthew).
>Stein's conditional statement does not answer the source-critical
>question "Is the 2DH true?" or "Did Matthew use Mark?". For the
>condition he sets allows the possibility that the 2DH is false or that
>it could be true.
>My general point is I have yet to find a redaction-critical argument
>which does answer a source-critical question. Maybe the nature of
>redaction-criticism is such that its arguments cannot answer source-
>It occurs to me that your characterization of Stein's argument (quoted
>hereinafter) does indeed answer a source critical question: Under given
>circumstances, which source theory, the 2DH or the GH, is more probable
>than the other?
>>If either the 2DH OR the GH is true, then, by comparing the use of the
>>title 'Son of David' in the synoptic gospels, it is seen that it is
>>more probable that the 2DH is true (in which Matthew used Mark) than
>>that the GH is true (in which Mark used Matthew).
>Certainly seems like an answer to a source-critical question to me.
I think it may be worth looking more closely at this. I wonder
whether the phrase "Under given circumstances" may point to a weakness
in your argument. I would suggest that the circumstances may not be
given, but may be entirely hypothetical. (Indeed they may well be
The logic of Stein's argument is -- *IF* you answer one source-critical
question, *THEN*, on that basis, I can answer another source critical
question for you. But his answer to the second source-critical question
is dependent on the answer to the first source-critical question being
known. And the point is that the answer to the first source-critical
question is not known. So Stein's argument answers no source-critical
question. His argument would answer a source-critical question (Is the
2DH more probable than the GH?) IF another source-critical question
could first be answered (Is either the 2DH or the GH true?). But we do
not know that either the 2DH or the GH is true, and indeed both may well
be shown to be false on other grounds.
The general point I am suggesting is that no redaction-critical argument
can answer a source-critical question. The issue this raises, of course,
is whether redaction-criticism is of any use in trying to solve the
Synoptic Problem. I doubt that it is. I am sure that redaction criticism
has a very important place in unravelling the implications of a solution
to the Synoptic Problem once this has been established. Once a synoptic
documentary hypothesis is accepted, then, on the assumption of that
documentary solution, redaction-critical arguments can be used to try
and work out how each writer treated his source material and what was
the theological view-point of each writer. But such redaction criticism
comes only after a solution to the Synoptic Problem has been found. It
is not used in actually solving the Synoptic Problem.
To quote from the ST MARK commentary in the "Black's NT Commentaries"
>The commentator takes it for granted that a solution to the Synoptic
>"Can we be certain that the particular theory of literary relationships
>between the Synoptics on which our redaction-critical analysis is based
>is correct? Certainly a different theory will lead to different
>results, and if we have chosen the wrong one our conclusions will be
>false" (page 3).
Problem is assumed before redaction-criticism can begin, and that if we
have got our solution to the Synoptic Problem wrong then the redaction-
critical arguments we base on it will be worthless.
On this view, far from redaction-critical arguments justifying any
hypothesis of the documentary relationship between the synoptic gospels,
it is a hypothesis of documentary relationship between the synoptic
gospels which justifies any redaction-critical arguments.
E-mail; brian@... HOMEPAGE www.twonh.demon.co.uk
Rev B.E.Wilson,10 York Close,Godmanchester,Huntingdon,Cambs,PE29 2EB,UK
> "What can be said at all can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot_
> speak thereof one must be silent." Ludwig Wittgenstein, "Tractatus".