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Re: Intertextuality & the Synopsis

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  • Mark Goodacre
    I have found the contributions on this topic most interesting. I am reassured that I might not be barking up the wrong tree to investigate the question of
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 17 9:20 AM
      I have found the contributions on this topic most interesting. I am reassured
      that I might not be barking up the wrong tree to investigate the question of
      intertextuality in relation to the synoptic problem.

      Mark Matson, for example, wrote:

      > The frustration I have with standard source criticism is the use of
      > the term "dependence." The way this usually seems to be conceived is
      > that a later gospel author (say Luke's use of Mark) is somehow
      > mentally derivative of the former. And if material is significantly
      > different, then we resort to assuming an oral source or pure
      > composition.

      This is an interesting observation. I agree that the term "dependence" is
      often a misleading and problematic one, perhaps all the more so with texts like
      John and Thomas. To talk about Thomas's "dependence" on the Synoptics, for
      example, can be unhelpful. For those who do think that Thomas shows some
      knowlege of Synoptic texts, one might think more in terms of interaction with
      those texts alongside interaction with other (primarily oral?) materials.

      For the synoptics I suspect that part of the problem is a residue of the old
      scissors-and-paste attitude. "Dependence" always goes in one direction, from
      Mark > Matthew, from Mark > Luke, from Q > Matthew and from Q > Luke and so on.
      One of the important and often neglected features of Sanders's research is the
      raising of the possibility of what he calls criss-crossing of sources. After
      all, sometimes it is Matthew and not Mark who is the middle-term in synoptic

      Mark Matson continued (much omitted):

      > But isn't that too simple? It would appear that Luke (and I would
      > think Matthew and Thomas) not only *used* Mark, but engaged in a
      > significant discussion / dialogue with Mark. Why? Now using
      > Windisch's approach to John and the Synoptics, we have some options:

      The term that I prefer in discussing synoptic relationships is "interaction",
      and this touches on what is being said here with the suggestive terms
      discussion / dialogue. If we think of Luke interacting with his materials, we
      have a more three-dimensional, realistic model on which Luke not only moulds
      and manipulates his materials but also is himself moulded and manipulated by

      Such a model becomes more complex, but also more plausible, when one thinks of
      Luke working not only with written materials but also with oral traditions,
      some of which will themselves have interacted with the written materials. Oral
      traditions do not, after all, stop circulating the moment that they are
      crystallised in texts. I think it highly likely Luke's Gospel is the result
      not only of the author's interaction with Mark and Matthew, but also with oral
      traditions independent of, influenced by and generated by Mark and Matthew.

      > This is not dependence -- this is dialogue with another text. What
      > this perspective adds is a way of seeing Luke's (or others') writings
      > in a rhetorical context where the former text is assumed and is thus
      > also being critiqued / augmented / modified. We could engage in a
      > number of instances where Luke seems to do just that. The one that
      > strikes me right now is Luke's trial before Pilate, which seems
      > clearly to be drawn from Mark's account, and yet has so many
      > significant modifications. Now if Luke assumed Mark was already
      > known to his audience, wouldn't the modifications have an entirely
      > different rhetorical thrust than if he were simply passing along,
      > with corrections, the Markan account? From this perspective, a
      > narrative reading (or a rhetorical reading, which is what Tolbert
      > does with Mark) would want to take into account the audience's
      > "expertise" in previous stories of Jesus.

      Again I find this a most stimulating approach and would be interested to hear
      more. It strikes me that the preface to Luke does presuppose acquaintance
      with "the things that have been brought to fulfilment among us" and it is for
      this reason that I raised the question about narrative-critics' over-exclusive
      use of the word "intertextuality" the other day.

      On this Shawn Kelley offered some useful thoughts including the following:

      > (iv) Its a lot easier to master one Gospel and offer a reading of that than to
      > master three. The amount of secondary literature is immense and the amount of
      > text to go over is equally immense. Also, an intertextual reading of
      > Luke/Mark, say, requires an understanding of Mark.

      I suppose too that there is something refreshing about narrative-critical work
      that is looking at texts in their own right without over-obsession with
      parallels. I had mixed feelings on Joel Green's recent commentary on Luke. On
      one hand I thought it one of the freshest, most coherent and interesting
      perspectives on Luke I have come across. By engaging in narratology, Green
      managed to avoid that dull, verse by verse creeping exegesis that characterises
      so many commentaries. On the other hand, I could not help thinking that there
      was an artificiality in writing 800 pages without a mention of a single
      synoptic parallel (particularly given Luke 1.1-4). When Green discusses the
      Lord's Prayer, for example, there is extensive reference to the Eighteen
      Benedictions but no reference to the Lord's Prayer in Matthew or the Didache.

      I also found the following in Shawn Kelley's post interesting and informative:

      > Mark has a distinctive perspective on the disciples- mostly negative, and
      > following a downward trajectory. Luke carefully rewrites the characters and
      > undoes all of that in Mark which supports the negative view of the disciples
      > (the symbolism of sight, fear, journey; the plot towards abandonment).
      > Matthew, on the other hand, seems befuddled by the Markan portrait. He tries
      > to clean up the image of the disciples- in the myriad of small ways identified
      > by redaction criticism. The problem is, however, he still follows Mark's plot
      > and includes many confused scenes. So we have Peter simultaneously given the
      > keys of the kingdom and called an offspring of Satan (Mt 16: 13ff). Redaction
      > criticism shows how Matthew is upgrading Mark here- since the Satan part is
      > source and the keys are redaction. For someone just reading the story,
      > however, without a Synopsis in front of him/her, the scene is difficult to
      > follow.

      The same might be said for the question of the Law in Mark / Matthew. Where
      Mark's attitude to the Law is, like his attitude to the disciples, largely
      negative, Matthew's is again mixed. One cannot help noting that, on the whole,
      the negative material about the Law comes in material paralleled in Mark
      (Sabbath observance, Corban) while the positive material comes in material
      unique to Matthew (Jot and tittle, Sermon).

      Just some thoughts to add to an interesting discussion.

      All the best

      Dr Mark Goodacre M.S.Goodacre@...
      Dept of Theology, University of Birmingham

      Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre
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