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Re: On the external evidence for Matthean priority

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  • Yuri Kuchinsky
    ... This initial knowledge _in one congregation_ means absolutely nothing for the general process of canonisation, which was a series of collective decisions
    Message 1 of 18 , Jun 7, 1998
      On Fri, 5 Jun 1998, Jim Deardorff wrote:
      > At 02:08 AM 6/5/98 -0400, Yuri Kuchinsky wrote:

      > >Why do you think the traditional order of the gospels in the NT is
      > >relevant to determining which one was written when?

      > I wasn't addressing any absolute dates here, just relative dates and
      > relative order. Consider the writer of Matthew and the several other
      > persons in his church who must have known who and when he wrote it.
      > They would have had memorable reactions when, a few years later, they
      > acquired and read a transcription of the Gospel of Mark. There could be
      > no uncertainty in their minds as to which came first! Nor in the minds
      > of those they talked to about the matter. And in Rome or wherever you
      > think Mark was written, those "in the know" there also would know that
      > the arrival of Matthew on the scene was what inspired the writing of
      > Mark.
      >
      > Thus it is plausible that this initial knowledge would eventually grow
      > into tradition.

      This initial knowledge _in one congregation_ means absolutely nothing for
      the general process of canonisation, which was a series of collective
      decisions among many congregations. It was the general process of
      canonisation that established the present order in the NT.

      > >It was only back in March that we have gone through this together. Alfred
      > >Loisy presented adequate explantion for why Papias et al. said what they
      > >said. I brought this to your attention. Is your memory all right?
      >
      > I recall your mentioning Loisy's conjecture on this;

      It is not conjecture, but a theory.

      > I didn't consider
      > it adequate at all. If Papias favored John that obviously doesn't mean
      > he invented falsehoods about Matthew and Mark.

      You obviously misunderstand. Which falsehoods did he invent? What if he
      simply received certain traditions, and repeated them?

      > >But Papias didn't say anything about the order. Please correct me if I'm
      > >wrong.
      >
      > In my sentence you quoted above, "Matthew first being written in the
      > Hebrew language" speaks of Matthew having come out in the Hebrew
      > language before later being translated into Greek. This might infer
      > Matthean priority, but doesn't demand it, nor did I at that point.

      This I call a conjecture.

      > Papias's statement about Mark's order being incorrect infers Matthean
      > priority more strongly, but still doesn't demand it.

      Still a conjecture.

      As E. Bruce Brooks already stated:

      "Note that Eusebius (for whom Matthew would have been at the head of the
      list) quotes his comments in the order: Mark, Matthew."

      Now, this would tend to indicate that your conjectures are not justified.

      Regards,

      Yuri.

      Yuri Kuchinsky || Toronto || Webpage for those who think
      they have heard of every biblical heresy:

      http://www.trends.net/~yuku/bbl/bbl.htm

      The goal proposed by Cynic philosophy is apathy, which is
      equivalent to becoming God -=O=- Julian
    • Jim Deardorff
      ... I ve been addressing the problem of the order in which the Gospels were written, Yuri, and this is what is attested within the external evidence. I
      Message 2 of 18 , Jun 7, 1998
        At 02:02 PM 6/7/98 -0400, Yuri Kuchinsky wrote:
        >
        >On Fri, 5 Jun 1998, Jim Deardorff wrote:
        >> At 02:08 AM 6/5/98 -0400, Yuri Kuchinsky wrote:

        >> >Why do you think the traditional order of the gospels in the NT is
        >> >relevant to determining which one was written when?

        >> I wasn't addressing any absolute dates here, just relative dates and
        >> relative order. Consider the writer of Matthew and the several other
        >> persons in his church who must have known who and when he wrote it.
        >> They would have had memorable reactions when, a few years later, they
        >> acquired and read a transcription of the Gospel of Mark. There could be
        >> no uncertainty in their minds as to which came first! Nor in the minds
        >> of those they talked to about the matter. And in Rome or wherever you
        >> think Mark was written, those "in the know" there also would know that
        >> the arrival of Matthew on the scene was what inspired the writing of
        >> Mark.
        >>
        >> Thus it is plausible that this initial knowledge would eventually grow
        >> into tradition.

        >This initial knowledge _in one congregation_ means absolutely nothing for
        >the general process of canonisation, which was a series of collective
        >decisions among many congregations. It was the general process of
        >canonisation that established the present order in the NT.

        I've been addressing the problem of the order in which the Gospels were
        written, Yuri, and this is what is attested within the external evidence. I
        haven't been addressing the canonisation process, though I presume that the
        order in which tradition held they had been written entered strongly into
        the order of placement of the canonical gospels.

        The initial knowledge of which gospel had been written first and which
        second might not have been particularly relevant to the canonisation
        process. The point was that this initial knowledge would have been of utmost
        importance in establishing the knowledge, later become tradition, of which
        gospel was written first and which second.

        How many transcriptions of the first Gospel, if Matthew, do you think were
        made and dispatched around to various churches at about the same time as one
        of them was sent to Rome? My guess would be 10 or 20, what is yours? The
        clergy and others in all those churches, plus in Rome, would have known then
        of Matthew's existence and uniqueness, and only later would they see a
        Gospel of Mark appear. This would have been undisputed present-day history
        for them, which would very likely have grown into the later tradition known
        by Irenaeus... Augustine. So we're talking about many more than _one
        congregation_ here.

        >As E. Bruce Brooks already stated:
        >
        >"Note that Eusebius (for whom Matthew would have been at the head of the
        >list) quotes his comments in the order: Mark, Matthew."
        >
        >Now, this would tend to indicate that your conjectures are not justified.

        I replied to Bruce on that. The order in which Eusebius quoted different
        statements from a church father need have no bearing on the order in which
        those statements had been made.

        You're asking me to repeat, however, that I'm not at all averse to a portion
        of Mark having priority, due to the dependence of that portion upon the
        document Peter and Mark are said to have held in Rome. Papias knew
        something about that. This I see as a tradition also holding some truth,
        which in no way precludes Mark itself having been written only after Matthew
        appeared, decades later, but with this proto-Mark also available to the
        writer of Mark. The role of this proto-Mark, then, was as a latent catalyst
        in prompting the writing of Mark.

        Since I deduce this proto-Mark to have contained essentially the contents
        of only Mt 8-11, while the proto-Mark you entertain must have been
        lengthier, what do you think I should call the former? In my book and web
        site I've called it Urmarcus, but perhaps proto-Mark is better if it is more
        suggestive of a brief document that could not by itself have constituted a
        gospel without addition of all the particulars of the latter half of Jesus'
        ministry.

        Jim Deardorff
        Corvallis, Oregon
        E-mail: deardorj@...
        Home page: http://www.proaxis.com/~deardorj/index.htm
      • Yuri Kuchinsky
        ... And I ve been addressing this too, Jim. ... This is news to me. But perhaps I was confused by your style of presentation. ... I asked you to explain this
        Message 3 of 18 , Jun 9, 1998
          On Sun, 7 Jun 1998, Jim Deardorff wrote:
          > At 02:02 PM 6/7/98 -0400, Yuri Kuchinsky wrote:

          > >This initial knowledge _in one congregation_ means absolutely nothing for
          > >the general process of canonisation, which was a series of collective
          > >decisions among many congregations. It was the general process of
          > >canonisation that established the present order in the NT.
          >
          > I've been addressing the problem of the order in which the Gospels were
          > written, Yuri, and this is what is attested within the external
          > evidence.

          And I've been addressing this too, Jim.

          > I haven't been addressing the canonisation process,

          This is news to me. But perhaps I was confused by your style of
          presentation.

          > though I
          > presume that the order in which tradition held they had been written
          > entered strongly into the order of placement of the canonical gospels.

          I asked you to explain this already. Your statements seem circular.

          > The initial knowledge of which gospel had been written first and which
          > second might not have been particularly relevant to the canonisation
          > process.

          This is what I think also.

          > The point was that this initial knowledge would have been of utmost
          > importance in establishing the knowledge, later become tradition, of which
          > gospel was written first and which second.

          Seems circular.

          > How many transcriptions of the first Gospel, if Matthew, do you think
          > were made and dispatched around to various churches at about the same
          > time as one of them was sent to Rome? My guess would be 10 or 20, what
          > is yours?

          I have no idea, but why should we assume that any were sent out? Different
          congregations had different gospels.

          > The clergy and others in all those churches, plus in Rome,
          > would have known then of Matthew's existence and uniqueness,

          You're assuming without any basis that gospels were exchanged regularly
          among different congregations.

          > and only
          > later would they see a Gospel of Mark appear. This would have been
          > undisputed present-day history for them, which would very likely have
          > grown into the later tradition known by Irenaeus... Augustine. So we're
          > talking about many more than _one congregation_ here.

          Seems highly speculative.

          > >As E. Bruce Brooks already stated:
          > >
          > >"Note that Eusebius (for whom Matthew would have been at the head of the
          > >list) quotes his comments in the order: Mark, Matthew."
          > >
          > >Now, this would tend to indicate that your conjectures are not justified.
          >
          > I replied to Bruce on that. The order in which Eusebius quoted
          > different statements from a church father need have no bearing on the
          > order in which those statements had been made.

          But maybe it does need to have bearing?

          > You're asking me to repeat, however, that I'm not at all averse to a
          > portion of Mark having priority, due to the dependence of that portion
          > upon the document Peter and Mark are said to have held in Rome. Papias
          > knew something about that. This I see as a tradition also holding some
          > truth, which in no way precludes Mark itself having been written only
          > after Matthew appeared, decades later, but with this proto-Mark also
          > available to the writer of Mark. The role of this proto-Mark, then, was
          > as a latent catalyst in prompting the writing of Mark.

          Well, maybe so.

          > Since I deduce this proto-Mark to have contained essentially the
          > contents of only Mt 8-11, while the proto-Mark you entertain must have
          > been lengthier, what do you think I should call the former? In my book
          > and web site I've called it Urmarcus, but perhaps proto-Mark is better
          > if it is more suggestive of a brief document that could not by itself
          > have constituted a gospel without addition of all the particulars of the
          > latter half of Jesus' ministry.

          Jim, I'm not sure how to name such a hypothetical document. What you're
          saying may have some validity, but I will need to know more details. I
          generally do not subscribe to Aramaic proto documents theories, since it
          seems to me like all the gospels that we have came out from the Hellenized
          circles that spoke Greek.

          Regards,

          Yuri.

          Yuri Kuchinsky || Toronto

          http://www.trends.net/~yuku/bbl/bbl.htm

          The goal proposed by Cynic philosophy is apathy, which is
          equivalent to becoming God -=O=- Julian
        • Jim Deardorff
          The question below was passed over by Yuri, but I wonder if some others of you might hazard guesses. Its original context was one of not being able to find
          Message 4 of 18 , Jun 10, 1998
            The question below was passed over by Yuri, but I wonder if some others of
            you might hazard guesses. Its original context was one of not being able to
            find anywhere in the literature any comprehensive discussion of the nature
            or severity of the 19th-century assumption that the external evidence re
            Mt-Mk-Lk order of priority could be dismissed. So my question is naturally
            framed within the context of what the external evidence supplies:

            "How many transcriptions of the first Gospel, if Matthew, do you think were
            made and dispatched around to various churches at about the same time as one
            of them was sent to Rome? My guess would be 10 or 20, what is yours? The
            clergy and others in all those churches, plus in Rome, would have known then
            of Matthew's existence and uniqueness, and only later would they see a
            Gospel of Mark appear. This would have been undisputed present-day history
            for them, which would very likely have grown into the later tradition known
            by Irenaeus... Augustine."

            The point is that if there had been 5 or 10 or 20 different churches that
            knew for sure of Matthean priority over Mark, this would have been more than
            sufficient to cause this fact to be regarded as common knowledge that would
            later grow into accepted tradition.

            This is one of the points that should be debated before Marcan priority over
            Matthew is assumed in opposition to the tradition, since the internal
            evidence thought to support Marcan priority is reversible and/or countered
            by internal evidence supporting Matthean priority.

            The point should have been debated sometime between 1840 and 1925, if not
            later, but I'm unaware that it has been.

            Jim Deardorff
            Corvallis, Oregon
            E-mail: deardorj@...
            Home page: http://www.proaxis.com/~deardorj/index.htm
          • Nichael Cramer
            ... Well, the only meaningful sense of the expression knew for sure is something like was well attested in their tradition . And given that, it s not clear
            Message 5 of 18 , Jun 10, 1998
              Jim Deardorff wrote:
              > The point is that if there had been 5 or 10 or 20 different churches that
              > knew for sure of Matthean priority over Mark, this would have been more than
              > sufficient to cause this fact to be regarded as common knowledge that would
              > later grow into accepted tradition.

              Well, the only meaningful sense of the expression "knew for sure" is
              something like "was well attested in their tradition". And given that,
              it's not clear what this would prove, even if we could establish that.

              An obvious bound that we might place on such data would be to ask other,
              similar questions. For example how many of the these churches "knew for
              sure" that, for example, "The Gospels were written by direct eye-witnesses
              to events in Jesus' life"? Or that "The Gospels consist primarily of
              literal, innerant transcriptions of the events that they claim to report"?
              It seems very likely that these "facts" were "common knowledge" among most
              if not all of the churches that Jim alludes to.

              Since the "evidence" in both cases is precisely the same, if one allows
              the support for the first case --i.e. Matthean Priority-- one must allow
              the second.

              Nichael Cramer
              work: ncramer@...
              home: nichael@...
              http://www.sover.net/~nichael/
            • Jim Deardorff
              ... That s a very worthwhile point to discuss. I would suspect that a good fraction of those exposed to the first Gospel could not believe that it had been
              Message 6 of 18 , Jun 10, 1998
                At 02:51 PM 6/10/98 -0400, Nichael Cramer wrote:
                >Jim Deardorff wrote:
                >> The point is that if there had been 5 or 10 or 20 different churches that
                >> knew for sure of Matthean priority over Mark, this would have been more than
                >> sufficient to cause this fact to be regarded as common knowledge that would
                >> later grow into accepted tradition.
                >
                >Well, the only meaningful sense of the expression "knew for sure" is
                >something like "was well attested in their tradition". And given that,
                >it's not clear what this would prove, even if we could establish that.
                >
                >An obvious bound that we might place on such data would be to ask other,
                >similar questions. For example how many of the these churches "knew for
                >sure" that, for example, "The Gospels were written by direct eye-witnesses
                >to events in Jesus' life"? Or that "The Gospels consist primarily of
                >literal, innerant transcriptions of the events that they claim to report"?
                >It seems very likely that these "facts" were "common knowledge" among most
                >if not all of the churches that Jim alludes to. [...]

                That's a very worthwhile point to discuss. I would suspect that a good
                fraction of those exposed to the first Gospel could not believe that it had
                been written by the name attached to it -- due to the relative lateness of
                its appearance. And so there would be hesitancy for some years or decades
                when referencing one or more of the Gospels to mention them by name. Thus I
                contend that many didn't "for sure" know who wrote them. Obviously that
                uncertainty would in no way becloud the knowledge of which gospel appeared
                first. Later, by the time of Irenaeus if not before, it had become
                orthodoxy to assume they had been written by their namesakes; that's clear.

                Even if the Gospels had not been named until decades later, the common
                knowledge of which came first would be retained within people's memories, as
                long as they had some way of referring to the individual Gospels.

                It's worth pondering how a Gospel introduced too late to have been written
                by its namesake would nevertheless be claimed to have been so authored, in
                such a manner as to invite credibility. I can only suppose that, if
                pressed, the author or author's church would state that an old manuscript
                had been discovered or received by the church, which they had to transcribe
                before it fell apart. Can anyone think of a better story? This might work
                for the first Gospel, but then when a second appeared a few years later, and
                a simlar story was repeated as to its origins, this would not be very
                credible; and then again for the third Gospel -- not credible at all.

                Jim Deardorff
                Corvallis, Oregon
                E-mail: deardorj@...
                Home page: http://www.proaxis.com/~deardorj/index.htm
              • Nichael Cramer
                ... However the only alternative is a position that says we don t know where this document came from or on whose authority it is based; none the less we will
                Message 7 of 18 , Jun 10, 1998
                  Jim Deardorff wrote:
                  > ... I would suspect that a good
                  > fraction of those exposed to the first Gospel could not believe that it had
                  > been written by the name attached to it -- due to the relative lateness of
                  > its appearance. And so there would be hesitancy for some years or decades
                  > when referencing one or more of the Gospels to mention them by name.

                  However the only alternative is a position that says "we don't know where
                  this document came from or on whose authority it is based; none the less
                  we will accept it as sacred Scripture".

                  This seems far more unlikely.

                  > ... Thus I
                  > contend that many didn't "for sure" know who wrote them.

                  Clearly they didn't really know "for sure" --any more than they would have
                  know "for sure" which Gospel was written first; although they would have
                  had compelling reasone to want to _believe_ these facts and to have
                  pressed them as articles of faith.

                  And in any case, the original point still stands, that the supporting
                  evidence for both cases is identical and the conclusion the same: that in
                  the absence of other compelling evidence, the presence of such articles of
                  faith offer precious little evidence for the historical veracity of their
                  claims.

                  Nichael Cramer
                  work: ncramer@...
                  home: nichael@...
                  http://www.sover.net/~nichael/
                • Jeffrey B. Gibson
                  ... Jim, I find your response rather incredible (in all senses of the word), for (a) you assume as the premise from which your consclusion follows the
                  Message 8 of 18 , Jun 10, 1998
                    Jim Deardorff wrote:
                    >
                    > At 02:51 PM 6/10/98 -0400, Nichael Cramer wrote:

                    > >An obvious bound that we might place on such data would be to ask other,
                    > >similar questions. For example how many of the these churches "knew for
                    > >sure" that, for example, "The Gospels were written by direct eye-witnesses
                    > >to events in Jesus' life"? Or that "The Gospels consist primarily of
                    > >literal, innerant transcriptions of the events that they claim to report"?
                    > >It seems very likely that these "facts" were "common knowledge" among most
                    > >if not all of the churches that Jim alludes to. [...]
                    >
                    > That's a very worthwhile point to discuss. I would suspect that a good
                    > fraction of those exposed to the first Gospel could not believe that it had
                    > been written by the name attached to it -- due to the relative lateness of
                    > its appearance.

                    Jim,

                    I find your response rather incredible (in all senses of the word), for
                    (a) you assume as the premise from which your consclusion follows the
                    something that needs proving, namely, that the Gospel of Matthew appears
                    late, and (b) you keep having your cake and eating it when it comes to
                    your vaunted "external evidence". You claim that Papias and Irenaeus
                    indicate that Matthew was first. But you also use Irenaeus and Papias to
                    argue that Matthew was late.

                    Now what ever Papias' & Irenaeus' statements say or do not say about
                    which Gospel came first, one thing that your external evidence *does*
                    claim is that the tradition Papias has received regarding the *origins*
                    and authors of the Gospels comes from a source originating at least two,
                    if not three, generations before Papias' time. Now as Gundry points out,
                    there is reason to believe that Papias wrote before 110 C.E. But even if
                    we accept the "traditional" date for Papias' writing of 140 C.E., this
                    means that his tradition about Matthew as the writer of the Gospel of
                    Matthew (that *is* what Papias and Irenaeus say, since despite Papias'
                    use of TA LOGIA when he refers to what Matthew composed/complied/put in
                    orderly form, he is, as Irenaeus assures us, referring to Matthew's
                    Gospel), is *early*, not late, and that G Matt not only appeared early
                    but was known from a relatively early time to be associated with
                    Matthew. So I wish you'd stop appealing to the external evidence as if
                    it says both (a) the Matthew that Papias refers to is not our Matthew
                    and (b) that our Matthew is late. Take the external evidence or leave
                    it, but don't claim that it supports what it doesn't support.

                    Yours,

                    Jeffrey Gibson


                    --
                    Jeffrey B. Gibson
                    7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
                    Chicago, Illinois 60626
                    e-mail jgibson000@...
                    jgibson@...
                  • Jim Deardorff
                    ... Jeffrey s response suggests that I should have prefaced my response to Nichael by saying it is addressed to those who accept the possibility that the
                    Message 9 of 18 , Jun 11, 1998
                      At 09:15 PM 6/10/98 -0700, Jeffrey B. Gibson wrote:
                      >Jim Deardorff wrote:
                      >>
                      >> At 02:51 PM 6/10/98 -0400, Nichael Cramer wrote:
                      >
                      >> >An obvious bound that we might place on such data would be to ask other,
                      >> >similar questions. For example how many of the these churches "knew for
                      >> >sure" that, for example, "The Gospels were written by direct eye-witnesses
                      >> >to events in Jesus' life"? Or that "The Gospels consist primarily of
                      >> >literal, innerant transcriptions of the events that they claim to report"?
                      >> >It seems very likely that these "facts" were "common knowledge" among most
                      >> >if not all of the churches that Jim alludes to. [...]

                      >> That's a very worthwhile point to discuss. I would suspect that a good
                      >> fraction of those exposed to the first Gospel could not believe that it had
                      >> been written by the name attached to it -- due to the relative lateness of
                      >> its appearance.

                      >Jim,
                      >
                      >I find your response rather incredible (in all senses of the word), for
                      >(a) you assume as the premise from which your consclusion follows the
                      >something that needs proving, namely, that the Gospel of Matthew appears
                      >late, and (b) you keep having your cake and eating it when it comes to
                      >your vaunted "external evidence". You claim that Papias and Irenaeus
                      >indicate that Matthew was first. But you also use Irenaeus and Papias to
                      >argue that Matthew was late. [...]

                      Jeffrey's response suggests that I should have prefaced my response to
                      Nichael by saying it is addressed to those who accept the possibility that
                      the Gospels were not written by their namesakes for whatever reason. I do
                      believe that the relative lateness in which the scholarly majority believes
                      they appeared, whether that be around the year 80 or 100 or still later, is
                      the prime reason. But the fact that the eye-witness accounts in Mark and
                      Luke could not have been written by non-disciples or by those disciples who
                      couldn't read or write is another. The question Jeffrey did not address is
                      posted again below for anyone on the List to consider and respond to:

                      It's worth pondering how a Gospel introduced too late to have been written
                      by its namesake would nevertheless be claimed to have been so authored, in
                      such a manner as to invite credibility. I can only suppose that, if
                      pressed, the author or author's church would state that an old manuscript
                      had been discovered or received by the church, which manuscript they had to
                      transcribe before it fell apart. Can anyone think of a better story? This
                      might work for the first Gospel, but then when a second appeared a few years
                      later, and a simlar story was repeated as to its origins, this would not be
                      very credible; and then again for the third Gospel -- not credible at all.

                      Jim Deardorff
                      Corvallis, Oregon
                      E-mail: deardorj@...
                      Home page: http://www.proaxis.com/~deardorj/index.htm
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