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Re: [Synoptic-L] redaction-critical arguments and story dualities

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  • Ken Olson
    Note: Brian Wilson s paper Duality in the Synoptic Gospels and further information on the Greek Notes Hypothesis are available at www.twonh.demon.co.uk
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 6, 2000
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      Note: Brian Wilson's paper "Duality in the Synoptic Gospels" and
      further information on the Greek Notes Hypothesis are available at
      www.twonh.demon.co.uk

      Brian,

      I am not sure I follow the distinction you draw between
      redaction-critical arguments and source-critical arguments. It seems
      to me that your argument from story dualities is a redaction-critical
      argument. When you say, "The pattern of story duality is very
      distinctive, however. It is utterly unlikely that all three
      synoptists independantly created the story duality pattern,"
      ("Duality" p. 10) you are identifying the combination of stories as a
      distinctive technique of the author of Greek Notes, i.e., his
      redaction.

      You think it is *unlikely* that all three synoptists created story
      dualities. This is based on your perception that the story duality
      phenomenon is distinctive (a perception which I believe to be
      inaccurate - I'll get to that below). Yet if, for instance, the
      Farrer hypothesis is correct, then the likelihood that all three
      evangelists created story dualities is 100%. I don't see how your
      argument based on what it is likely or unlikely for the evangelists to
      have done is so different from Stein's.

      I have two further criticisms of the Greek Notes Hypothesis. One is
      redaction-critical; the other is not. First, I do not think the story
      duality phenomenon is peculiar in ancient literature. I previously
      suggested that the story of Josiah's death in 2 Kings 23.28-30 and 2
      Chronicles 35.20-27 was a story duality (5/6/00). You replied that
      this is not a story duality because once the material common to the
      two stories is removed, the remaining material in Chronicles does not
      form a story that makes more sense than the extant text (5/6/00). I
      concede that you are probably right about that.

      I now have a better example. Emmanuel Tov's paper "The Composition of
      1 Samuel 16-18 in the Light of the Septuagint Version" [in Jeffrey H.
      Tigay, _Empirical Models for Biblical Criticism_, (Philadelphia:
      University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985) pp. 97-130] argues that the
      Masoretic Text of the David and Goliath story is a later expansion of
      an earlier version preseved in the LXX. In the longer version of the
      story, David, who has already become Saul's arms-bearer (16.21), is
      re-introduced as a new character (17.12-31). Then, after Saul speaks
      with David and attempts to arm him with his own weapons (17.38-40),
      Saul has to ask Abner who the boy fighting Goliath is (18.55-58). If
      the Masoretic additions to the story (conveniently printed in italics
      in Tov's paper, pp. 102-106) are read by themselves, they form a more
      coherent story. Therefore, the LXX and Masoretic versions of the
      David and Goliath narrative seem to me to form a story duality.

      This conclusion has two consequences for the Greek Notes Hypothesis.
      First, there is an empirical model for the process hypothesized for
      the GNH. Story dualities do indeed arise in the manner described by
      GNH. Second, the story duality is not a unique creation of the author
      of GN. There is at least one other example in ancient literature. I
      suspect there are more; and therefore I do not find it unlikely that
      all three evangelists may have created story dualities by adding a new
      story (or enough new material out of which to make a new story) to an
      existing story. The creation of story dualities may not have been
      uncommon in ancient literature.

      My second criticism of GNH has to do with the way story dualities are
      distributed. Each story duality consists of a simple (and earlier)
      version and a combined (and later) version. There is at least one
      example in each synoptic where the simple and combined versions are
      found in the same gospel. Therefore, none of the evangelists is
      averse to having either simple or combined versions of stories. Yet,
      in the six cases where Mark and another synoptic have a story duality,
      it is always Mark that has the simple (and earlier) version and
      Matthew or Luke that has the combined (and later) version. This
      distribution is improbable and difficult to explain on the hypothesis
      that the three evangelists wrote in ignorance of each other's work.
      On the other hand, it is explicable on the hypothesis that Matthew and
      Luke used Mark and were capable of creating their own story dualities.

      Ken

      Kenneth A. Olson
      Teaching Assistant
      Department of History
      2115 Francis Scott Key Hall
      University of Maryland
      College Park, MD 20742
      kaolson@...

      I am too much of a skeptic to deny the possibility of anything - T.H.
      Huxley
    • Brian E. Wilson
      Ken Olson wrote -- ... Ken, I would briefly define redaction criticism as attempting to distinguish between redaction and tradition in each synoptic gospel in
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 8, 2000
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        Ken Olson wrote --
        >
        >I am not sure I follow the distinction you draw between redaction-
        >critical arguments and source-critical arguments.
        >
        Ken,
        I would briefly define redaction criticism as attempting to
        distinguish between redaction and tradition in each synoptic gospel in
        order to discover each synoptist's unique theological views not present
        in his sources.

        I would briefly define source criticism as putting forward a hypothesis
        of the documentary relationship between the synoptic gospels, and
        attempting to justify this by showing that it accounts for all observed
        synoptic phenomena. (By "phenomena" here I mean what could have been
        observed in the synoptic gospels even if no-one had ever thought to put
        forward any synoptic documentary hypothesis.)
        >
        >It seems to me that your argument from story dualities is a redaction-
        >critical argument. When you say, "The pattern of story duality is very
        >distinctive, however -- it is utterly unlikely that all three
        >synoptists independently created the story duality pattern," ("Duality"
        >p. 10), you are identifying the combination of stories as a distinctive
        >technique of the author of Greek Notes, i.e., his redaction.
        >
        Your re-writing of my argument here does not begin to correspond with
        the talk I gave. In the first ten pages of my talk I define a story
        duality, I set out example after example of a story duality, I tabulate
        the occurrences of story dualities, and I note instances of a story in a
        story duality which has no parallel in a story duality in another
        synoptic gospel. Nowhere whatsoever in these ten pages do I even mention
        the compiler of the Greek Notes, or refer in any way to the Greek Notes
        Hypothesis. I could have ended my talk at the end of page ten having
        simply observed story dualities and their distribution in the synoptic
        gospels and shown that this is a very real difficulty for the 2DH, GH
        and FH. Nowhere at all in the first ten pages is there the slightest
        trace of any redaction-critical argument or of the compiler of the Greek
        Notes being considered a redactor in any way. The arguments on page 10
        are all source critical, showing that the 2DH, GH and FH do not account
        for observed synoptic phenomena (the story dualities). In no way do the
        arguments on page 10 attempt to distinguish between redaction and
        tradition in the synoptic gospels, or to trace any synoptist's unique
        theological views not present in his sources. The first ten pages of
        "Duality" contain nothing at all on redaction criticism but are source
        criticism from beginning to end.
        >
        >You think it is *unlikely* that all three synoptists created story
        >dualities...Yet if, for instance, the Farrer hypothesis is correct,
        >then the likelihood that all three evangelists created story dualities
        >is 100%.
        >
        I think --
        (1) It is very unlikely that all three synoptists independently created
        story dualities.
        (2) It is also 100% probable that if the Farrer Hypothesis is what
        happened then all three evangelists must have independently created
        story dualities, because Mt could not have taken all his story dualities
        from Mark, and neither could Luke have taken all his from Matthew or
        Mark.
        (3) Therefore, the Farrer Hypothesis is ruled out as very unlikely.

        The above is in fact the source-critical argument (slightly compressed)
        I use in the fourth paragraph on page 10 of "Duality". So I agree
        entirely with you on this point.
        >
        >I don't see how your argument based on what it is likely or unlikely
        >for the evangelists to have done is so different from Stein's.
        >
        The difference is that my argument is source critical and Stein's is
        redaction critical. This is indicated by the fact that story dualities
        could have been observed in the synoptic gospels even if no synoptic
        documentary hypothesis had ever been put forward, whereas Stein's
        supposition that Mt added the title "Son of David" to Mk cannot be
        observed (and may well be false any way).
        >
        >I have two further criticisms of the Greek Notes Hypothesis. One is
        >redaction-critical -- Emmanuel Tov's paper "The Composition of 1
        >Samuel 16-18 in the Light of the Septuagint Version" [in Jeffrey H.
        >Tigay, _Empirical Models for Biblical Criticism_, (Philadelphia:
        >University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985) pp. 97-130] argues that the
        >Masoretic Text of the David and Goliath story is a later expansion of
        >an earlier version preserved in the LXX. In the longer version of the
        >story, David, who has already become Saul's arms-bearer (16.21), is re-
        >introduced as a new character (17.12-31). Then, after Saul speaks with
        >David and attempts to arm him with his own weapons (17.38-40), Saul has
        >to ask Abner who the boy fighting Goliath is (18.55-58). If the
        >Masoretic additions to the story (conveniently printed in italics in
        >Tov's paper, pp. 102-106) are read by themselves, they form a more
        >coherent story.
        >
        I am sorry, but you have not taken the trouble to understand just how
        unusual and distinctive story dualities are. The "additions"
        (similarities) are not supposed to be read by themselves. They are not
        supposed to form a more coherent story. It is the combined version
        *minus* the additions (similarities) which is supposed to contain the
        more coherent story. So, for instance, the Feeding of the Four Thousand
        minus the similarities in wording with the Five Thousand includes the
        short story of a feeding with "little fish" only, as shown on page 8 of
        "Duality". So the Four Thousand (the combined story) minus the
        "additions" (similarities) from the Five Thousand, is more coherent than
        the Four Thousand as a whole in which the feeding with little fish fits
        awkwardly. I would suggest that you check through all the examples I
        set out in the "Duality" talk, and see just what the pattern is. In
        fact, it is surprising that any writer at all should have created even
        one story duality, once you see what the relationship is between the two
        stories. It is very unlikely that two writers should have done this
        independently. And it is extremely unlikely that all three synoptists
        should have done this independently. Yet on the 2DH, the GH, and the FH,
        this is the conclusion to which we are driven. It follows that the story
        dualities are a very real difficulty for 2DH, GH and FH alike.

        In any case, the passages considered by Tov are several "incidents" or
        stories each. The Masoretic version of I Sam 16-18 is three chapters
        long extending to one hundred and eleven verses !!! In the "Jerusalem
        Bible" these chapters are divided into (1) David is anointed, (2) David
        takes service with Saul, (3) Goliath defies the Israelite army, (4)
        David arrives at the camp, (5) David volunteers to accept the challenge,
        (6) David and Goliath, (7) David the conqueror of Goliath is presented
        to Saul, (8) The first stirrings of jealousy in Saul, (9) David's
        marriage. It is surely scraping the barrel to suggest that these nine
        passages are "one combined story" of a story duality.

        Also, the key to analysing a story duality (made clear in its definition
        on page 1 of "Duality") is the existence in one story of at least ten
        word roots the same and in the same order in the other. In the study of
        the material Tov considers, the long passages concerned are not even in
        the same language. One version is in Hebrew and the other in Greek!

        Moreover, you have not shown that in Tov's study, if the similarities in
        wording are omitted from the "simple" story (the "earlier" one), then
        the result is a loss of coherence there. This is an essential part of
        the definition of story duality.

        So I could continue. The fact is that a story duality is not simply a
        combination of two stories. It is very much more distinctive than that.
        You really do need to look seriously at the definition of a story
        duality, see what it says, and see for yourself that there are
        occurrences in the synoptic gospels of story dualities as defined.
        >
        >This conclusion has two consequences for the Greek Notes Hypothesis.
        >First, there is an empirical model for the process hypothesized for
        >the GNH. Story dualities do indeed arise in the manner described by
        >GNH.
        >
        I presume you mean that story dualities arise outside the synoptic
        gospels in the manner described by the GNH. In that case, I would
        suggest you have not been able to provide one such example.
        >
        >Second, the story duality is not a unique creation of the author
        >of GN.
        >
        The GN had a compiler, not an author. The GN were not a book. The GNH
        does not affirm or imply that the story duality is the unique creation
        of the compiler of the GN. It is conceivable, but unlikely, that story
        dualities exist outside the synoptic gospels. For the purposes of
        solving the Synoptic Problem, the significance of story dualities is
        that they occur uniquely in each synoptic gospel, and that this is a
        real difficulty for the 2DH, GH and FH. This difficulty would still be
        there even if story dualities are discovered outside the synoptic
        gospels.
        >
        >My second criticism of GNH has to do with the way story dualities are
        >distributed. Each story duality consists of a simple (and earlier)
        >version and a combined (and later) version. There is at least one
        >example in each synoptic where the simple and combined versions are
        >found in the same gospel. Therefore, none of the evangelists is
        >averse to having either simple or combined versions of stories.
        >
        This does not follow. Each evangelist may not have liked story dualities
        and may have done his best to get rid of them. Those that we observe
        could be those which the synoptists overlooked. There could be many
        vestiges of what were story dualities in the GN now "hiding" in the
        synoptic gospels because of the editorial work of the synoptists. (There
        are vestiges of some story dualities observable. For instance the
        Feeding of the Five Thousand forms a story duality with the Feeding of
        the Four Thousand in Mark, but these two stories also occur in Matthew
        where they do not form a story duality. On the GNH, Matthew has edited
        away some of the incoherence present in the GH so that the two stories
        do not form a story duality in his gospel, whereas Mark has remained
        more faithful to the wording of the GN and therefore has the story
        duality in his book.)
        >
        >Yet, in the six cases where Mark and another synoptic have a story
        >duality, it is always Mark that has the simple (and earlier) version
        >and Matthew or Luke that has the combined (and later) version. This
        >distribution is improbable and difficult to explain on the hypothesis
        >that the three evangelists wrote in ignorance of each other's work.
        >
        On the contrary, if you wish to explain this on the GNH it is very easy.
        Having copied passages containing "simple" ("earlier") stories of story
        dualities, Mark decided to leave out some later passages precisely
        because (1) they contained some obvious examples of "combined" ("later")
        stories of story dualities and (2) because Mark did not like the
        incomplete repetition of the earlier stories in the later stories. The
        point is that the "difficulty" you suppose requires that each synoptist
        randomly selected material from the GN. This is contrary to the GNH
        which states that they each made their own editorial selection from the
        GN. The synoptists were authors.
        >
        >On the other hand, it is explicable on the hypothesis that Matthew and
        >Luke used Mark and were capable of creating their own story dualities.
        >
        You fail to consider where Mark might have obtained his story dualities.
        Were they mere coincidence in his writing?! It is unlikely that ANY
        synoptist would have deliberately created story dualities in his book.
        In some cases the incoherence in a story duality is bizarre! It is even
        less likely that two synoptists independently decided to create story
        dualities. It is very unlikely indeed that all three synoptists did so.
        The difficulty remains for the 2DH, GH and FH, therefore, since the
        distribution of story dualities is such that no synoptist could have
        obtained all his instances from the other two.

        In spite of my rebuttal of your arguments above, Ken, I am truly
        grateful that you have clearly spent time and trouble in what you have
        written. I really would much rather be criticized heavily and negatively
        than simply be ignored. Many thanks for your comments.

        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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