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Re: Arguments for Marcan priority NOT!

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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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