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Re: [Synoptic-L] the Gospel of Matthew has no clear structure

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  • Stephen C. Carlson
    ... I ve got a different logical problem. If Matthew s having no clear structure implies that it is based on a structure-less document, then what about that
    Message 1 of 12 , May 1, 2001
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      At 09:32 PM 5/1/01 EDT, Maluflen@... wrote:
      ><< I would suggest the reason is that Matthew is based on a structure-less
      > document.>>
      >
      >I don't see how it would follow logically from this hypothesis, even if it
      >were true, that Matthew would have no clear structure.

      I've got a different logical problem. If Matthew's having no
      clear structure implies that it is based on a structure-less
      document, then what about that structure-less document? By
      the same reasoning, it too must be based on a structure-less
      document. This is an infinite regress.

      Stephen Carlson


      --
      Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
      Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
      "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35

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    • Brian E. Wilson
      Brian Wilson wrote -- ... Leonard Maluf replied -- ... Leonard, I entirely agree. I was not making a logical deduction from the hypothesis that Matthew used a
      Message 2 of 12 , May 2, 2001
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        Brian Wilson wrote --
        >
        >I would suggest the reason [for Matthew being structure-less] is that
        >Matthew is based on a structure-less document.
        >
        Leonard Maluf replied --
        >
        >I don't see how it would follow logically from this hypothesis, even if
        >it were true, that Matthew would have no clear structure.
        >
        Leonard,
        I entirely agree. I was not making a logical deduction from the
        hypothesis that Matthew used a structureless documentary source. I was
        putting forward my hypothesis (that Matthew used a structureless
        documentary source) as the reason I would suggest why the gospel of
        Matthew is observed to be structureless. If Matthew largely followed the
        wording and order of material of a structureless documentary source,
        then this would account for the gospel of Matthew being structureless.

        Stephen Carlson commented --
        >
        >I've got a different logical problem. If Matthew's having no clear
        >structure implies that it is based on a structure-less document, then
        >what about that structure-less document? By the same reasoning, it too
        >must be based on a structure-less document. This is an infinite
        >regress.
        >
        Stephen,
        Matthew's having no clear structure does not imply that it is
        based on a structure-less document. Matthew having no clear structure is
        an observed synoptic phenomenon. You cannot deduce a documentary
        hypothesis from an observed synoptic phenomenon. As I hope I have made
        clear above, I have not tried to do the impossible.

        I think it may be worth pursuing this a little further. Much writing on
        the synoptic problem refers to "arguments" concerning documentary
        hypotheses of the relationship between the synoptic gospels. The
        suggestion seems to be that there are logical arguments for showing, for
        instance, that Matthew is a documentary descendant of Mark, or that
        Matthew and Luke independently used hypothetical Q.

        I would suggest, however, that no synoptic documentary hypothesis can be
        logically deduced from observed synoptic phenomena. A hypothesis is not
        the conclusion at the end of a chain of deductive reasoning (like the
        conclusion of a proof of a theorem in Euclidian geometry). It is the
        beginning of an investigation without which the hypothesis is an
        unsubstantiated guess.

        The question is not whether Matthew's having no clear structure implies
        that it based on a structureless document, but whether the hypothesis
        that Matthew used a structureless documentary source is supported by the
        observed synoptic phenomena.

        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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      • Stephen C. Carlson
        ... I m having a hard time understanding what you mean by is supported by. You deny now that it means is implied by. I didn t think it meant merely is
        Message 3 of 12 , May 2, 2001
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          At 11:00 AM 5/2/01 +0100, Brian E. Wilson wrote:
          >The question is not whether Matthew's having no clear structure implies
          >that it based on a structureless document, but whether the hypothesis
          >that Matthew used a structureless documentary source is supported by the
          >observed synoptic phenomena.

          I'm having a hard time understanding what you mean by "is
          supported by." You deny now that it means "is implied by."
          I didn't think it meant merely "is consistent with", because
          an earlier message of yours, on 6 March 2001, criticized Leonard
          Maluf as follows:

          >It is no good merely showing how brilliantly the Griesbach Hypothesis
          >can be applied to the synoptic gospels to produce a breath-takingly
          >consistent explanation of how Luke wrote his gospel, when the Two
          >Document Hypothesis, and other synoptic hypotheses also, can be just as
          >brilliantly applied to the synoptic gospels and shown to produce equally
          >breath-taking results.

          It seems to me that much the same thing is now happening with
          the arguable observation of Matthew's having no clear structure
          as "support[ing]" the hypothesis that Matthew used a structureless
          document.

          Have I misunderstood what you are doing now and your earlier
          criticism of Leonard?

          Stephen Carlson
          --
          Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
          Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
          "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35

          Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
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        • Brian E. Wilson
          Brian Wilson wrote -- ... Stephen Carlson replied -- ... Stephen, Thanks for asking these questions. I think they are very important. I would suggest that you
          Message 4 of 12 , May 2, 2001
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            Brian Wilson wrote --
            >
            >The question is not whether Matthew's having no clear structure
            >implies that it based on a structureless document, but whether the
            >hypothesis that Matthew used a structureless documentary source is
            >supported by the observed synoptic phenomena.
            >
            Stephen Carlson replied --
            >
            >I'm having a hard time understanding what you mean by "is supported
            >by." You deny now that it means "is implied by." I didn't think it
            >meant merely "is consistent with", because an earlier message of yours,
            >on 6 March 2001, criticized Leonard Maluf as follows:
            >
            >>It is no good merely showing how brilliantly the Griesbach Hypothesis
            >>can be applied to the synoptic gospels to produce a breath-takingly
            >>consistent explanation of how Luke wrote his gospel, when the Two
            >>Document Hypothesis, and other synoptic hypotheses also, can be just
            >>as brilliantly applied to the synoptic gospels and shown to produce
            >>equally breath-taking results.
            >
            >It seems to me that much the same thing is now happening with
            >the arguable observation of Matthew's having no clear structure
            >as "support[ing]" the hypothesis that Matthew used a structureless
            >document.
            >
            >Have I misunderstood what you are doing now and your earlier
            >criticism of Leonard?
            >
            Stephen,
            Thanks for asking these questions. I think they are very
            important. I would suggest that you are misunderstanding what I am doing
            now, and my criticism of Leonard earlier.

            I think the most useful way I can reply to you is first to set out a
            statement of my view on this generally, and then come back to the
            particular questions you raise.

            In my view, it is impossible to deduce from the phenomena observed in a
            synopsis that any synoptic gospel is the documentary descendant of any
            other synoptic gospel. If we assume, for the sake of argument, that we
            observe in the synoptic gospels fatigue on the part of Matthew in
            relation to Mark, or that the language of Mark is more vivid and more
            primitive than the corresponding language of Matthew in parallel
            passages, then it simply does not follow that therefore Matthew is a
            documentary descendant of Mark. The observed phenomena are just as
            consistent with Matthew not being a documentary descendant of Mark and
            with both Matthew and Mark being descendants of a common documentary
            source. This line of reasoning could be generalized to show that it is
            not possible to deduce from observed synoptic phenomena that any
            synoptic gospel is the documentary descendant of any other synoptic
            gospel, or the descendant of a hypothetical documentary source posited
            by a particular synoptic documentary hypothesis. In other words, this
            line of reasoning can be generalized to show that no synoptic
            documentary hypothesis can be deduced from observed synoptic phenomena.
            In short --

            >Result (1): No synoptic documentary hypothesis can be deduced from any
            >observed synoptic phenomena. (In other words, no observed synoptic
            >phenomena logically imply any synoptic documentary hypothesis.)

            So, how can a synoptic documentary hypothesis be arrived at? If not by
            deduction from observed phenomena, then from what? The answer is that
            any synoptic documentary hypothesis is an invention of the mind. It is a
            guess:

            >Result (2): A synoptic documentary hypothesis is a guess at what
            >happened when the synoptic gospels were written.

            Now it is not true that one guess is as good as any another. The guess
            that the earth is flat and is fixed in space has been accepted by
            millions of people, as Galileo knew only too well. If you are in a
            space station looking down on the earth, a better guess is that earth is
            approximately spherical and that it is moving through space. The second
            guess is better because the first has difficulty in fitting the observed
            data (an observably "round earth" which rotates relative to the sun
            producing the alternation of day and night every twenty-four hours in
            New York, but not at the poles), whereas the second guess does not have
            such difficulties in explaining what is observed from the space station.
            Similarly, one synoptic documentary guess, or hypothesis, can be
            preferable to a second synoptic documentary hypothesis if the second has
            difficulties explaining the observed synoptic phenomena whereas the
            first has no difficulties in doing so. On this basis, a Deutero-Mark
            Hypothesis that accounts for the minor agreements of Matthew and Luke
            against Mark is preferable to a (well-defined) Two Document Hypothesis
            that has difficulty in accounting for these minor agreements. So:

            >Result (3): One synoptic documentary hypothesis can be shown to be
            >preferable to a second synoptic documentary hypothesis, if the second
            >has difficulties in accounting for the observed synoptic phenomena
            >whereas the first does not.

            Now suppose we have actually found a synoptic documentary hypothesis
            that has no difficulties with the observed synoptic phenomena, whereas
            the other hypotheses considered do have such difficulties, then the
            hypothesis we have found can be accepted as the best one available to
            us:

            >Result (4): We should accept as the best available, the synoptic
            >documentary hypothesis that has no difficulties in accounting for the
            >observed synoptic phenomena whereas others do have difficulties.

            Once we have accepted that a particular synoptic documentary hypothesis
            is the best available to us, we can apply this hypothesis to the
            synoptic gospels. Believe it or not, there is a point in trying to
            solve the synoptic problem! We can apply this hypothesis only by
            assuming that it is true. Everything obtained by applying the hypothesis
            will therefore be absolutely consistent with the documentary hypothesis
            with which we start. For example, if we take the Griesbach Hypothesis
            to be the best available hypothesis for us, then the more vivid language
            in Mark (when compared with parallel passages in Matthew) is clearly the
            result of the editorial activity of Mark in his use of material from
            Matthew. So, by applying the GH, we arrive at the conclusion that Mark
            has deliberately "vivified" the wording of his source material in
            Matthew. Clearly, very different results are going to be obtained if we
            take the Farrer Hypothesis to be the best available hypothesis for us.
            On that view, Matthew has toned down the vivid language in the wording
            in his source material in Mark. The point is, however, that it is
            utterly impossible to arrive at a conclusion that contradicts our
            preferred hypothesis if we are applying that preferred hypothesis to the
            synoptic gospels. We cannot obtain a denial of the hypothesis we prefer
            by assuming it to be true and applying it to the synoptic gospels. The
            consequence of this is that we cannot use any result of having applied
            the hypothesis to test the hypothesis. If applying the hypothesis
            entails that we assume it to be true, then any result of applying the
            hypothesis will be fully consistent with the hypothesis. So:

            >Result (5): If we have accepted a synoptic documentary hypothesis as
            >the best available to us, and if we apply this to the synoptic gospels,
            >it is impossible to obtain a conclusion that contradicts the
            >documentary hypothesis we are assuming to be true, and therefore no
            >result of applying the hypothesis can be validly used to test the truth
            >or falsity of the hypothesis we have assumed true.


            To turn now to the particular questions you asked above, Stephen. I
            stated that --
            >
            >the hypothesis that Matthew used a structureless documentary source is
            >supported by the observed synoptic phenomena.
            >
            Which you queried --
            >
            >I'm having a hard time understanding what you mean by "is supported
            >by."
            >
            By "supported" I meant what I refer to in Result (3). The observed
            phenomenon is that Matthew is structureless. This is a difficulty for
            synoptic hypotheses that suppose that Matthew was a free author
            creatively crafting his own book, since one would expect that a literary
            author would provide a clear structure for his work. On the other hand,
            this is not a difficulty, but something that can be accounted for, by a
            documentary hypothesis that supposes that Matthew used a structureless
            documentary source. For Matthew could have largely retained the wording
            and order of material of his structureless source and so produced a
            structureless gospel.

            You also said --
            >
            >You deny now that it means "is implied by."
            >
            It is not just "now" (in my posting to which you are replying) that I
            have denied that synoptic phenomena do not imply a synoptic documentary
            hypothesis. I have frequently represented Result (1) on Synoptic-L over
            the months and years. No synoptic documentary hypothesis can be deduced
            from any observed synoptic phenomena. Or, putting the same thing another
            way, no observed synoptic phenomena logically imply any synoptic
            documentary hypothesis. So, the observed phenomenon that Matthew is
            structureless does not imply the synoptic documentary hypothesis that
            Matthew formed his gospel from a structureless documentary source. No
            synoptic phenomena imply any synoptic hypothesis.

            You continued --
            >
            >I didn't think it meant merely "is consistent with", because an earlier
            >message of yours, on 6 March 2001, criticized Leonard Maluf as follows:
            >
            >>It is no good merely showing how brilliantly the Griesbach Hypothesis
            >>can be applied to the synoptic gospels to produce a breath-takingly
            >>consistent explanation of how Luke wrote his gospel, when the Two
            >>Document Hypothesis, and other synoptic hypotheses also, can be just
            >>as brilliantly applied to the synoptic gospels and shown to produce
            >>equally breath-taking results.
            >
            Yes. This is about Result (5) above. I think you are confusing Result
            (3) with result (5). Leonard assumes the Griesbach Hypothesis as his
            "working hypothesis". From my Result (5) it follows that nothing
            whatever that he obtains by applying the Griesbach Hypothesis to the
            synoptic gospels can produce a contradiction of the Griesbach Hypothesis
            itself, because to use the GH as his working hypothesis he is obliged to
            assume that the GH is true. Leonard apparently wishes to argue that
            because his exposition of the GH is so consistent and works so well this
            indicates in some way that the GH is therefore true. This is simply not
            the case. He seems not to realize that anything that is obtained by
            applying his working hypothesis to the synoptic gospels, that is by
            assuming the GH to be true, will result in a set of statements that are
            fully consistent with the GH which he assumed to be true in the first
            place. Such a set of statements must be consistent with the GH.
            Similarly, a set of statements obtained by applying the Two Document
            Hypothesis to the synoptic gospels must be consistent with the 2DH and
            can in no way be used to test the truth of the 2DH. And so on.

            I think I have covered the questions you have asked above.

            I think Davies and Alison are on the dot concerning Matthew not having a
            clear structure. It is interesting to me that they do not look for a
            hypothesis to account for this. Perhaps they realize that if they found
            such a hypothesis, it would not be the Two Document Hypothesis that they
            advocate.

            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@...
          • Maluflen@aol.com
            Although Shawn Kelley has already responded effectively to Brian s post, I yield here to my unholy instinct to pile on . Brian wrote:
            Message 5 of 12 , May 3, 2001
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              Although Shawn Kelley has already responded effectively to Brian's post, I
              yield here to my unholy instinct to "pile on".

              Brian wrote:

              << So, how can a synoptic documentary hypothesis be arrived at? If not by
              deduction from observed phenomena, then from what? The answer is that
              any synoptic documentary hypothesis is an invention of the mind. It is a
              guess:>>

              I think this poses an exaggerated disjunction: is there nothing between
              strict deduction from observed phenomena, and a [pure?] "invention of the
              mind"? Of course there is, and it is this "in-between" area that generates
              Synoptic hypotheses: in other words, hypotheses are excogitated on the basis
              of observed phenomena. It is true that they cannot be "deduced" therefrom in
              the strict sense of the word, but the phenomena are nonetheless very much the
              basis for any workable hypothesis.

              [Brian writes]
              << Now it is not true that one guess is as good as any another.>>

              This statement is true, because what I said above is true. Illustration of
              Brian's point here: the hypothesis that Matthew intends to describe Jesus as
              the fulfillment of the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings is probably a
              better guess to account for the structural "phenomena" of Matthew than is the
              guess that Matt copied from a structureless body of Greek notes: it at least
              accounts for a variety of structures that are in fact found in the document,
              whereas the second named hypothesis does not. In fact, understanding
              Matthew's project as precisely that of presenting Jesus to a Jewish audience
              in terms of the Law, the Prophets and the Writings is a perfect recipe for
              arriving at a conglomerate of structures such as are commonly recognized as
              informing the Gospel of Matthew. The hypothesis would of course have to be
              demonstrated, but at face value it would be regarded neither as outlandish
              nor as groundless by most scholars.

              [Brian again]
              << The point is, however, that it is
              utterly impossible to arrive at a conclusion that contradicts our
              preferred hypothesis if we are applying that preferred hypothesis to the
              synoptic gospels.>>

              This is simply not quite true. What about all the numerous cases, e.g., in
              which 2 DH supporters admit, with commendable honesty, that data they are
              dealing with in a given pericope are extremely difficult to account for on
              the basis of their preferred source hypothesis?

              For those who have had the patience to read this far, I offer, in conclusion,
              the following (unrelated) Gospel-trivia conundrum:

              In what three consecutive Gospel verses do we find the names Jesus, Mary, and
              Joseph, in that order?

              Further conditions and hints:

              1. "Jesus" does not refer to Joshua in the text in question;
              2. "Mary" refers to the mother of Jesus;
              3. "Joseph" occurs in the precise phrase: "and Joseph".

              Leonard Maluf

              Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
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            • Mark Goodacre
              ... Difficult to resist some trivia, not least if it gives me the chance to test resources on my All-in-One Biblical site! I can do it in two verses -- Matt.
              Message 6 of 12 , May 3, 2001
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                On 3 May 2001, at 9:48, Maluflen@... wrote:

                > In what three consecutive Gospel verses do we find the names Jesus,
                > Mary, and Joseph, in that order?
                >
                > Further conditions and hints:
                >
                > 1. "Jesus" does not refer to Joshua in the text in question;
                > 2. "Mary" refers to the mother of Jesus;
                > 3. "Joseph" occurs in the precise phrase: "and Joseph".

                Difficult to resist some trivia, not least if it gives me the chance to
                test resources on my All-in-One Biblical site! I can do it in two
                verses -- Matt. 1.18-19. Will that do?

                Mark
                -----------------------------
                Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
                Dept of Theology tel: +44 121 414 7512
                University of Birmingham fax: +44 121 414 6866
                Birmingham B15 2TT
                United Kingdom

                http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre
                Homepage
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                The New Testament Gateway

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              • Brian E. Wilson
                Brian Wilson wrote -- ... Leonard Maluf replied -- ... Leonard, There is nothing between strict deduction from observed phenomena and a hypothesis that is an
                Message 7 of 12 , May 4, 2001
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                  Brian Wilson wrote --
                  >
                  >So, how can a synoptic documentary hypothesis be arrived at? If not by
                  >deduction from observed phenomena, then from what? The answer is that
                  >any synoptic documentary hypothesis is an invention of the mind. It is
                  >a guess
                  >
                  Leonard Maluf replied --
                  >
                  >I think this poses an exaggerated disjunction: is there nothing between
                  >strict deduction from observed phenomena, and a [pure?] "invention of
                  >the mind"? Of course there is, and it is this "in-between" area that
                  >generates Synoptic hypotheses: in other words, hypotheses are
                  >excogitated on the basis of observed phenomena. It is true that they
                  >cannot be "deduced" therefrom in the strict sense of the word, but the
                  >phenomena are nonetheless very much the basis for any workable
                  >hypothesis.
                  >
                  Leonard,
                  There is nothing between strict deduction from observed
                  phenomena and a hypothesis that is an invention of the mind, because, as
                  you rightly admit above, no hypothesis can be deduced from observed
                  phenomena. Whatever the psychological route by which a hypothesis is
                  arrived at, it still remains true that the logically it has not been
                  deduced from the data. You are confusing psychology and logic. They are
                  not the same.

                  Archimedes ran naked through the streets shouting EURHKA having
                  conceived his hypothesis concerning the reduced weight of objects partly
                  or wholly immersed in water. The psychological route is fascinating!
                  Archimedes himself, however, would have been the last person to say that
                  he had logically deduced his hypothesis from his observations. He was a
                  brilliant mathematician. (Some say one of the greatest the world has
                  seen.) He knew very well that his hypothesis was not a deduced theorem
                  of number theory or geometry, where conclusions follow inescapably by
                  deduction from stated axioms. He knew very well that his observations in
                  the bath were used to **test** his hypothesis, not to create it. It is a
                  logical howler to suggest that phenomena are the **logical** basis for
                  any synoptic documentary hypothesis. If they were, it would no longer be
                  necessary to test a documentary hypothesis against what is observed in a
                  synopsis. The term "hypothesis" would in fact no longer be needed. The
                  logical disjunction between hypotheses that can be tested and a theorem
                  that can be deduced from axioms, is absolute.

                  I also wrote --
                  >
                  >The point is, however, that it is utterly impossible to arrive at a
                  >conclusion that contradicts our preferred hypothesis if we are applying
                  >that preferred hypothesis to the synoptic gospels. We cannot obtain a
                  >denial of the hypothesis we prefer by assuming it to be true and
                  >applying it to the synoptic gospels.
                  >
                  To which Leonard Maluf replied --
                  >
                  >This is simply not quite true. What about all the numerous cases,
                  >e.g., in which 2 DH supporters admit, with commendable honesty, that
                  >data they are dealing with in a given pericope are extremely difficult
                  >to account for on the basis of their preferred source hypothesis?

                  I think, Leonard, that you are misunderstanding the idea of "preferred
                  hypothesis" here. The "preferred hypothesis" is one that "has no
                  difficulties with the observed phenomena" (See Result (3) in my previous
                  posting.)

                  If you are correct that there are such extreme difficulties in the 2DH
                  accounting for the observed data in the synoptic gospels, then it is not
                  our preferred hypothesis, and should not be applied to the synoptic
                  gospels.

                  I think you will find, however, that the commendably honest supporters
                  of the 2DH do find ways of overcoming the difficulties they acknowledge
                  so that they can hold that the 2DH is true. The introductory articles of
                  "The Critical Edition of Q" are a fascinating example of this. The
                  difficulties are admitted with commendable honesty and then overcome
                  with awesome ingenuity. The redaction-critical reconstruction of Q that
                  follows is produced entirely on the assumption that the 2DH is the
                  truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

                  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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