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[Synoptic-L] structureless?

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  • Shawn J. Kelley
    I hesitate to enter into the discussion on Matthew s structure because Matthew is hardly my area of expertise, so please take what follows as questions rather
    Message 1 of 1 , May 2, 2001
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      I hesitate to enter into the discussion on Matthew's structure because
      Matthew is hardly my area of expertise, so please take what follows as
      questions rather than as strong assertions. It is one thing to say that
      Matthew "has no clear structure" (i.e. no single and universally
      recognized structural principle). It is quite another to say that
      Matthew is "structureless" (i.e. has no structural principles and is,
      therefore, not ordered in any way by AMatt). The question I have is
      this: how much structure do we need to be able to detect in any text?
      Do any narratives (or many narratives) have a single, clear structure?

      Brian's point is this:

      > 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.

      Why would one expect that? What would happen if we were to apply this
      same standard to (and I list these texts arbitrarily, just because I'm
      somewhat familiar to them): Oedipus the King, The Portrait of the Artist
      as a Young Man (by Joyce, which has any number of proposed structures,
      none of which can account for chapter 5), The Big Sleep (by Raymond
      Chandler- which seems to work by the principle "when in doubt about
      where to go in the story, send in another guy with a gun"),
      Phenomenology of Spirit (by Hegel, which has sections that are
      notoriously hard to explain), Being and Time (by Heidegger, which has a
      section towards the end that has long puzzled scholars- it was only
      recently revealed that he included it because he ran up against a
      deadline and so he included a section, wholesale, he had written years
      earlier), any hour long police show on television, The Aneid, The Fifth
      Son (by Wiesel, which has sections towards the end which seem to make no
      sense whatsoever)? Would any of those be seen as sufficiently
      structured to be the work of a creative author? If we hold them to the
      standard we seem to be holding Matthew to, the answer, in at least some
      instances, would be "no". Yet they are all clearly written, and are all
      clearly the work of an author.

      I think that Leonard's point is quite astute and needs to be taken

      > I think the problem for most scholars really is that there are more than
      > one likely structural principles involved in structuring the Gospel of Matt

      Again I ask, isn't that the case for most texts (narrative and
      otherwise)? How much structure do we expect?

      As Leonard has pointed out, Matthew has a number of structural
      principles that can be detect and are widely accepted. These structural
      principles do not account for every moment of the text and no one of
      these structural principles override the others. How is that different
      from any narrative written in the ancient or modern world?

      Now, back to lurking.

      Shawn Kelley
      Daemen College

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