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[Synoptic-L] Fallacies

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  • Brian E. Wilson
    David Hindley asks whether by fallacy I mean erroneous logic or an error in a premise of an argument which may use valid logic. I think Mark Goodacre
    Message 1 of 43 , Dec 2, 2000
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      David Hindley asks whether by "fallacy" I mean "erroneous logic" or an
      "error in a premise" of an argument which may use valid logic.

      I think Mark Goodacre employs the usual wider dictionary definition of
      "fallacy" which covers both these meanings. He takes the word "fallacy"
      to mean the use of either faulty logic or of a false premise in an
      argument, (either of which could lead to a false conclusion, of course.)

      I accept that in his paper Mark Goodacre has demonstrated that there are
      fallacies (in the wider dictionary definition) at the heart of Q (as
      usually understood). Surely his paper is basically sound on this view.

      I am now moving on to ask whether there are fallacies at the heart of
      Markan Priority as well. (Mark Goodacre's paper assumes the theory of
      Markan Priority to be true.) I understand the theory of Markan Priority
      to affirm that Matthew and Luke are both documentary descendants of
      Mark.

      I think there are fallacies in the sense of occurrences of "erroneous
      logic" in all the arguments I have seen for this theory of Markan
      Priority. (So I am using the logician's definition of "fallacy", and not
      the wider dictionary definition.) I give the following example to try
      and make clear what I am saying.

      One argument in support of the theory of Markan Priority is an argument
      to show that one synoptic gospel must have been documentarily prior to
      the other two. The argument is as follows --

      One of the synoptic gospels must have been finished before the others,
      even if only by a short time. From this, it follows that one synoptic
      gospel is documentarily prior to the others. For a gospel which was
      written before the other two could not have been a documentary
      descendant of either of the others since they had not yet been written.
      The conclusion is that one synoptic gospel is not only chronologically
      prior but also documentarily prior to the others.

      Now if this argument were valid, it would indeed be support for the
      theory of Markan Priority which affirms that one synoptic gospel was
      written before the other two.

      However, the argument is fallacious in the sense that it is "erroneous
      logic". For it is perfectly true that a synoptic gospel written before
      the other two could not have been a documentary descendant of either of
      the others. However it is a logical howler to attempt to deduce from
      this that therefore the two synoptic gospels written later must have
      been the documentary descendant of the one written earlier. If A is the
      documentary descendant of neither B nor C, it does not follow that B and
      C are both documentary descendants of A.

      For if we have three documents of which one is not the documentary
      descendant of the other two, it is perfectly possible that none of them
      is the documentary descendant of any other. For instance, all three
      synoptic gospels could be independently descended documentarily from a
      common documentary ancestor.

      In other words, one synoptic gospel having been written at an earlier
      time than the others is just as much evidence **against** the theory of
      Markan Priority as evidence in its favour. For it is perfectly
      consistent both with Matthew and Luke being the documentary descendants
      of Mark, and also with Matthew and Luke **not** being the documentary
      descendants of Mark.

      My understanding of many other arguments I have seen for the theory of
      Markan Priority is that they assume that if it is shown that material in
      Matthew or Luke is in some way secondary to corresponding material in
      Mark, then this indicates that therefore Matthew or Luke are, or
      probably are, documentary descendants of Mark. In such arguments, the
      erroneous logic is to attempt to deduce from Matthew or Luke having
      apparently secondary material with respect to Mark the conclusion that
      therefore Matthew and Luke are, or probably are, documentary descendants
      of Mark. In fact such phenomena are fully consistent with neither
      Matthew nor Luke being documentary descendants of Mark, and therefore
      with the theory of Markan Priority being false.

      In short, it is erroneous logic to argue for the priority of Mark from
      indications of the non-priority of both Matthew and Luke. Indications of
      the non-priority of both Matthew and Luke are fully consistent with the
      non-priority of Mark also.

      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".
      _

      Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
      List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
    • Brian E. Wilson
      Leonard Maluf asks -- ... Yes, much more narrowly. Best wishes, BRIAN WILSON E-mail; brian@twonh.demon.co.uk HOMEPAGE www.twonh.demon.co.uk Rev
      Message 43 of 43 , Dec 4, 2000
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        Leonard Maluf asks --
        >Or do you in fact define more narrowly what you mean by "story
        >dualities" in your article?
        >
        Yes, much more narrowly.

        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".
        _

        Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
        List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
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