I am sorry that in a recent letter to Tom Westbury, in editing a
sentence I did not successfully change its structure. The last sentence
of the penultimate paragraph should have been -- "For the condition he
sets allows the possibility that the 2DH is false, or that it could be
true" -- as below.
The correct text is --
>Brian Wilson wrote --
>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? ...
Tom Westbury replied --
>If they are both false then his conclusion is also false. However, from
>the way you present his theses he is following a generally accepted
>scholarly method which is all you can do in these things.
Surely it is sometimes sensible to question generally accepted
scholarly method and ask what assumptions are being made in it --
especially if it seems no-one has done this previously. Is not
questioning what is generally accepted by scholars part of being a
>Here, (Stein) starts with the hypothesis that Mark wrote his gospel
>first without knowledge of Matthew and Luke and that these latter two
>each independently wrote their gospels.
I am not sure you have got this right. If he started with the assumption
that Mark wrote first, he thereby assumed that the Griesbach Hypothesis
is false, and therefore denied himself the possibility of considering
the probability that Mark and Luke omitted the title 'Son of David' from
Matthew at all. Yet he claims to consider this probability, doesn't he?
I think what Stein assumes is that EITHER the Two Document Hypothesis is
true (and therefore Mark wrote first), OR that the Griesbach Hypothesis
is true (and therefore Matthew wrote first). Without BOTH halves of this
alternation, Stein could not have proceeded with his comparison of the
two probabilities, one assuming the 2DH, and the other assuming the GH.
>There is nothing wrong with starting with this hypothesis if the
>overall evidence suggests such a possibility and it is reasonable to
>assume it might have happened this way.
There would be nothing wrong if indeed he had started only with the Two
Document Hypothesis which affirms that Mark wrote first. But Stein did
not start merely with this hypothesis, but with the assumption that one
of two mutually-exclusive hypotheses is true.
>When the overwhelming majority of a group agrees on a certain
>hypothesis you really have to SHOW it is wrong rather than just saying
>you don't like it.
I agree. I would hope the overwhelming majority of the group reading
this posting would accept that this has been my conviction which I have
followed, for instance the talk I gave in Finland on "Duality in the
Synoptic Gospels" which is on my home-page.
>Nor does attacking the method work if that method is a generally
>accepted scientific way to go about these things which certainly
>appears the case here.
I think that before you can say that a method is a generally accepted
scientific way to go about things, it might be a good idea to try and
analyse the method being used and make sure that you understand what it
is. Without such an analysis, how does anyone know that it is
>If Stein is a reputable scholar he did not intend his "conditional
>statement" to be the answer to these (source-critical) questions.
This is not true. (I am not denying that he is a reputable scholar!) He
explicitly states that his aim is to show that redaction-criticism is an
argument for "a priority of Mark" (see page 77, for instance. See also
page 83). He aims to use his redaction-critical arguments to show that
the Two Document Hypothesis is more probable than the Griesbach
Hypothesis. He sets out to use redaction criticism to answer a source
critical question. The heading of the section is, in fact, "The Priority
of Mark" which is a source-critical theory.
My point is that his 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 the 2DH could be 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-
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".