Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

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

Expand Messages
  • 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 1 of 12 , May 2, 2001
    • 0 Attachment
      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
      List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
    • 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 2 of 12 , May 2, 2001
      • 0 Attachment
        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 3 of 12 , May 3, 2001
        • 0 Attachment
          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
          List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
        • 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 4 of 12 , May 3, 2001
          • 0 Attachment
            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
            http://NTGateway.com
            The New Testament Gateway

            Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
            List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
          • 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 5 of 12 , May 4, 2001
            • 0 Attachment
              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@...
            Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.