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[Synoptic-L] redaction-critical arguments

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  • Brian E. Wilson
    Tom Westbury wrote -- ... Tom, I think Stein is trying to compare the Two Document and the Griesbach Hypotheses by showing that it is more probable, on the
    Message 1 of 60 , Sep 2, 2000
      Tom Westbury wrote --
      >
      >I have not read Stein's book but if you correctly summarized his
      >position as to the comparative number of times Matthew, Mark & Luke use
      >the title 'Son of David' then all he is asking is what is the
      >probability that Mark & Luke used Matthew in writing their gospels
      >based on this comparison?
      >
      Tom,
      I think Stein is trying to compare the Two Document and the
      Griesbach Hypotheses by showing that it is more probable, on the 2DH,
      that Matthew added seven instances of the theological title 'Son of
      David' to the four he found in Mark, than that Mark and Luke, on the GH,
      independently coincidentally copied the same four instances of the title
      'Son of David' from Matthew, omitting the other seven. The conclusion he
      draws is that therefore the 2DH is more probably true than the GH.

      The question is, however, what assumptions Stein is making in order
      supposedly to compare these probabilities and reach this conclusion.

      After all, it is possible that both the 2DH and the GH are false.
      Suppose they are both false. What does this say about Stein's comparison
      of the two probabilities? If both the 2DH and the GH are false, has he
      actually made the comparison he says he has made?

      I think there may be something very odd about the logical form of this
      redaction-critical comparison, and others like it.

      As far as logical form of argument is concerned, Stein seems to be
      saying that if we suppose that one of the two hypotheses, the 2DH and
      the GH, is true, then it is more probably the 2DH than the GH that is
      true. (They cannot both be true.) But he does not seem to consider that
      his initial assumption needs some justification. If it remains an
      assumption without justification, then it would seem that Stein has not
      in fact shown that the 2DH is more probable than the GH. What he has
      shown is --
      >
      >If either the 2DH or the GH is true, then it is more probably the 2DH
      >than the GH.
      >
      I would suggest that this conditional statement is not an answer to
      source-critical questions such as "Did Matthew use Mark?", or "Is the
      Griesbach Hypothesis true?", but something rather different.

      I admit that I am at the edge of my thinking here. However, I personally
      find exchanges such as these worthwhile. Maybe this topic could be taken
      further fruitfully?

      Best wishes,
      BRIAN WILSON

      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".
      _
    • Brian E. Wilson
      Brian Wilson wrote -- ... Stephen Carlson replied -- ... Stephen, I think it may be worth looking more closely at this. I wonder whether the phrase Under
      Message 60 of 60 , Sep 6, 2000
        Brian Wilson wrote --
        >
        >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-
        >critical questions.
        >
        Stephen Carlson replied --
        >
        >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.
        >

        Stephen,
        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
        false.)

        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"
        series --
        >
        >"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).
        >
        The commentator takes it for granted that a solution to the Synoptic
        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.

        Best wishes,
        BRIAN WILSON

        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".
        _
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