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[Synoptic-L] Re: The failure of color coding

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  • Brian E. Wilson
    Brian Wilson wrote -- ... Michael Grondin replied -- ... Michael, Thanks for raising this question. I think that color coding is meant to identify graphically
    Message 1 of 5 , Aug 5 12:45 PM
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      Brian Wilson wrote --
      >
      >Every color code system fails to code all significant similarities
      >of wording between the synoptic gospels.
      >
      Michael Grondin replied --
      >
      >Would it be correct to say that the reason for this is that color-
      >coding is, in the first instance, meant to identify syntactically-
      >identical structures, and is thus inherently incapable of being also
      >used to identify semantically-related structures (such as the
      >anointing) which are not syntactically-identical?
      >
      Michael,
      Thanks for raising this question. I think that color coding is
      meant to identify graphically syntactically-identical structures such as
      (in Farmer's terminology) "complete verbal agreement between Matthew and
      Mark". Color coding is for the purpose of indicating similarity of
      wording irrespective of any semantical relation between the passages
      concerned. Otherwise, color coding becomes a subjective exercise. It
      seems to me that color coding of agreements of wording between the
      synoptic gospels could theoretically be carried out by a computer
      program using the text of the synoptic gospels as data.

      If the observable agreements between the synoptic gospels had consisted
      only of agreements of wording between one passage in one synoptic gospel
      and one passage in either one or both of the remaining synoptic gospels,
      then color coding would work completely. The problem, as Farmer rightly
      observed, is that "two or more passages in one gospel may be parallel
      to one or more passages in another". This has nothing to do with any
      semantical relationship between similar passages. It is a purely
      syntactical question. Neither has it anything to do with the problem
      raised by D. L. Dungan of whether an unbiassed synopsis can be
      constructed. Constructing a color code is not to be confused with
      constructing a synopsis.

      I actually analyse the relationship between the "Anointing" in Lk
      7.36-50 (which I call "The Woman with the Ointment") and the "Anointing"
      in Mk 14.3-9 (which I call "The Anointing at Bethany") in the talk I
      gave to the International Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature
      in Finland two years ago. This can be seen, set out in full in Greek
      (with words of agreement in Greek in red), and also in English, on my
      home-page. The relationship is an example of the phenomenon of a "story
      duality" which contains at least one dua-story that is unique to its
      synoptic gospel. Story dualities exist not only between narratives in
      different synoptic gospels, but also between narratives in the same
      synoptic gospel. There are story dualities with at least one dua-story
      not parallel to a dua-story in another synoptic gospel, some of these
      story dualities consisting of two narratives in different synoptic
      gospels and some consisting of two narratives in the same synoptic
      gospel. The phenomenon of story dualities with at least one dua-story
      unique to its gospel is a non-parallelism phenomenon. Five other non-
      parallelism phenomena are described and discussed in the talk I gave to
      the SBL International Meeting at Rome this year. This is also available
      on my home-page.

      The main point I am making is that on the one hand there are phenomena
      that are similarities of wording (including the similarity of order of
      such wording) between the synoptic gospels. Streeter calls this
      "parallelism", and considers that if we can account for all parallelism
      phenomena observable in the synoptic gospels then we have solved the
      synoptic problem. We could call these similarities "parallelism
      similarities". My suggestion is that on the other hand there are also
      similarities between the synoptic gospels that are *not* similarities of
      wording between the synoptic gospels. We could call these "non-
      parallelism similarities". I think the non-parallelism similarities are
      data that also need to be accounted for by any solution to the synoptic
      problem. Color coding is designed to indicate similarities of wording
      between the synoptic gospels. Such a coding ultimately fails because
      some significant similarities of wording between the synoptic gospels
      are part of non-parallelism similarities between the synoptic gospels,
      and color coding is not designed to apply to similarities other than
      parallelism similarities. The problem with synopses is not that
      different synopses identify different parallels, but that synopses do
      not identify non-parallelism similarities.

      Best wishes,
      BRIAN WILSON

      >HOMEPAGE *** RECENTLY UPDATED *** http://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
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    • Stephen C. Carlson
      ... That s exactly what the purpose of arranging the material in a synopsis is. Stephen Carlson -- Stephen C. Carlson
      Message 2 of 5 , Aug 5 6:26 PM
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        At 11:00 AM 8/5/01 -0400, Michael Grondin wrote:
        >Would it be correct to say that the reason for this is that color-coding
        >is, in the first instance, meant to identify syntactically-identical
        >structures, and is thus inherently incapable of being also used to identify
        >semantically-related structures (such as the anointing) which are not
        >syntactically-identical? But even if this is so, doesn't the arrangement of
        >material in a synopsis serve the latter purpose?

        That's exactly what the purpose of arranging the material in
        a synopsis is.

        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@...
      • Michael Grondin
        Brian Wilson wrote -- ... Well now, wait, that can t be right. The word KAI, for example, would not be color-coded just anywhere in the texts, but only in
        Message 3 of 5 , Aug 7 12:14 AM
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          Brian Wilson wrote --
          > Color coding is for the purpose of indicating similarity of wording
          >irrespective of any semantical relation between the passages concerned.

          Well now, wait, that can't be right. The word KAI, for example, would not
          be color-coded just anywhere in the texts, but only in parallel passages -
          which would necessarily have similar meaning (i.e., semantic similarity),
          right? What am I missing?

          >The problem, as Farmer rightly
          >observed, is that "two or more passages in one gospel may be parallel
          >to one or more passages in another". This has nothing to do with any
          >semantical relationship between similar passages. It is a purely
          >syntactical question.

          Again, I miss the point. Perhaps I'm using the word 'semantics' in a
          different way than you are. To my way of thinking, identical syntax implies
          identical semantics, though not vice-versa. So it seems quite odd to me to
          say that two passages can be 'similar', though semantically unrelated.

          >Color coding ... ultimately fails because
          >some significant similarities of wording between the synoptic gospels
          >are part of non-parallelism similarities between the synoptic gospels,
          >and color coding is not designed to apply to similarities other than
          >parallelism similarities. The problem with synopses is not that
          >different synopses identify different parallels, but that synopses do
          >not identify non-parallelism similarities.

          As you indicate, when you say that color-coding "fails", what you mean is
          that it fails to tell the whole story. I don't know as anyone would
          disagree with that. But you're also claiming (if I understand you
          correctly) that it's impossible in principle for a synopsis to be so
          arranged as to identify "non-parallel similarities". If so, that would seem
          to be a short-coming of the synopsis format, not of a color-coding scheme,
          for if a synopsis _could be_ so arranged, then the color-coding wouldn't
          "fail", right?

          Respectfully,
          Michael Grondin

          Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
          List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
        • Brian E. Wilson
          Brian Wilson wrote -- ... Michael Grondin replied -- ... Michael, On the contrary, it _can_ be right. A color-coding should posit clear objective criteria of
          Message 4 of 5 , Aug 8 12:09 AM
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            Brian Wilson wrote --
            >
            >Color coding is for the purpose of indicating similarity of wording
            >irrespective of any semantical relation between the passages concerned.
            >
            Michael Grondin replied --
            >
            >Well now, wait, that can't be right. The word KAI, for example, would
            >not be color-coded just anywhere in the texts, but only in parallel
            >passages - which would necessarily have similar meaning (i.e., semantic
            >similarity), right? What am I missing?
            >
            Michael,
            On the contrary, it _can_ be right. A color-coding should posit
            clear objective criteria of what is to be accepted as significant
            agreement of wording between two passages in different synoptic gospels.
            What is to be coded depends entirely on the criteria of similarity of
            wording posited by the definition of color-coding being used. If the
            definition required it, then, yes, it is theoretically possible that
            every instance of the word KAI would be color-coded. It all depends on
            the criteria of similarity of wording posited in the definition of
            color-coding being followed. You ask what you are missing. You are
            missing a definition of color-coding that specifies criteria of
            similarity of wording between synoptic gospels that does not employ
            considerations of semantic agreements.

            One definition we could use, for instance, would be that, for the
            purposes of color-coding, significant similarities of wording occur
            between one passage in one synoptic gospel and another passage in
            another synoptic gospel if each passage consists of a string of no more
            than (say) 20 words and if at least (say) 8 of the words in the first
            passage have word roots the same, and in the same order, as at least 8
            of the words in the second passage. Other definitions using different
            parameters, or positing that the similar words should be the same words
            in exactly the same grammatical form, could also be used.

            If such an objective definition is adopted, it is certainly not the case
            that KAI would be color-coded only in parallel passages which
            necessarily have similar meaning, that is, in parallel passages that
            have semantic similarity. Two passages that have some significant
            agreement of wording (possibly including the word KAI) can be quite
            different in meaning.

            For instance, the first part of the parable of the Seed Growing Secretly
            (Mk 4.26-29) is similar in wording to the first part of the parable of
            the Tares (Mt 13.24-30), in that the first part of the Seed Growing
            Secretly has 8 word roots the same and in the same order as 8 words in
            the first part of the Tares. (All word roots the same and in the same
            order in both parables are set out in full in Greek in my Finland talk
            available on my home-page.)

            In this connection, Michael, it would appear that you have omitted a
            crucial part of what I wrote --
            >
            >It seems to me that color coding of agreements of wording between the
            >synoptic gospels could theoretically be carried out by a computer
            >program using the text of the synoptic gospels as data.
            >

            It would be possible to produce and run a computer program using the
            sort of objective definition of color-coding given above. Any color-
            coding produced should, of course, include a statement of the definition
            being used, including the parameters it specifies. Programs using
            different parameters could be run to produce color-codings suitable for
            different purposes.

            Note especially that this would produce some instances of more than one
            passage in one gospel being significantly similar in wording to a
            passage in another synoptic gospel.

            Note also that _not_ every instance of KAI would be identified as a
            verbal agreement between synoptic gospels.

            Note also that the program would be entirely syntactical. No semantic
            considerations would be employed. A computer program would hardly be
            able to spot semantic agreements.

            By the way, it is not true that syntactical agreement necessarily
            implies semantic agreement. Some words in exactly the same grammatical
            form can have different meanings in different contexts, including even
            the word KAI.

            Brian Wilson continued --
            >
            >The problem, as Farmer rightly observed, is that "two or more passages
            >in one gospel may be parallel to one or more passages in another". This
            >has nothing to do with any semantical relationship between similar
            >passages. It is a purely syntactical question.
            >
            Michael Grondin replied --
            >
            >Again, I miss the point. Perhaps I'm using the word 'semantics' in a
            >different way than you are. To my way of thinking, identical syntax
            >implies identical semantics, though not vice-versa. So it seems quite
            >odd to me to say that two passages can be 'similar', though
            >semantically unrelated.
            >
            I would respectfully suggest that perhaps your way of thinking needs
            revising at this point. Similar wording in different contexts does not
            necessarily imply similarity in meaning. A word in one passage can have
            a very different meaning from the same word in another similarly-worded
            passage. In any case, whether or not syntactical agreement implies
            semantic agreement is irrelevant to constructing and using a color-
            coding that takes no account whatsoever of semantic agreements. Semantic
            agreement is not what color-coding the text of the synoptic gospels is
            about. Farmer's *Synopticon* was designed to highlight verbal agreement,
            that is syntactical agreement.

            Brian Wilson also wrote --
            >
            >Color coding ... ultimately fails because some significant similarities
            >of wording between the synoptic gospels are part of non-parallelism
            >similarities between the synoptic gospels, and color coding is not
            >designed to apply to similarities other than parallelism similarities.
            >The problem with synopses is not that different synopses identify
            >different parallels, but that synopses do not identify non-parallelism
            >similarities.
            >
            Michael Grondin replied --
            >
            >As you indicate, when you say that color-coding "fails", what you mean
            >is that it fails to tell the whole story. I don't know as anyone would
            >disagree with that.
            >
            In which case I am glad that everyone, yourself not excluded, is in
            agreement with me on this point! :)
            >
            >But you're also claiming (if I understand you correctly) that it's
            >impossible in principle for a synopsis to be so arranged as to identify
            >"non-parallel similarities".
            >
            One of the non-parallel similarities is that the two-fold repetitions
            (as defined in my Rome talk) unique to each synoptic gospel are such
            that in each synoptic gospel the order of the earlier components is
            significantly similar to the relative order of the later components. I
            would suggest that to produce a "synopsis" that identified that this
            similarity of order occurs in all three synoptic gospels, and is
            therefore a similarity between them (even though they are not
            similarities of wording between synoptic gospels) would require such an
            extraordinary change to the format of what is normally considered to be
            a synopsis, that the result would hardly be recognizable as a "synopsis"
            as usually understood. Moreover, the color-coding program (suggested
            above) would not output all the two-fold repetitions since some of them
            consist of two pieces of material in one synoptic gospel such that
            neither piece of material is significantly similar in wording to a piece
            of material in any other synoptic gospel. So the color-coding program
            suggested above would fail to identify all instances of two-fold
            repetitions unique to any synoptic gospel, though it would identify some
            of them.

            Michael Grondin continued --
            >
            >If so, that would seem to be a short-coming of the synopsis format, not
            >of a color-coding scheme, for if a synopsis _could be_ so arranged,
            >then the color-coding wouldn't "fail", right?
            >
            Your argument is irrelevant if a synopsis cannot be so arranged. I do
            not think it can. The re-arrangement needed would be too drastic for it
            to remain a synopsis. Also, the color-coding would fail in the case of
            the example just considered above, and in other cases also for similar
            reasons.

            Farmer produced his *Synopticon* as an aid to the study of the synoptic
            problem. It is not a synopsis. I took my copy to Cambridge a few years
            ago, and discussed its usefulness with Farmer who was staying in a flat
            in Pinehurst which is within sight of Selwyn College. He considered the
            book to be a useful tool for the study of the synoptic problem. One of
            the things we discussed was whether the "switches" from yellow to green,
            and from green to yellow, in the first chapter of Mark, could be used to
            support the Griesbach Hypothesis against the Two Document Hypothesis. In
            no way did the possibility of similarity of meaning of these words with
            the corresponding words in Matthew or Luke come into the discussion. I
            argued that the color-coding in the *Synopticon* did not provide
            sufficient information to decide between opposing synoptic hypotheses. I
            would now want to add that the color-coding in the *Synopticon*, even
            though independent of any semantic considerations, cannot be used to
            identify non-parallelism similarities between the synoptic gospels, and
            that identifying these and accounting for them is crucial to solving the
            synoptic problem. I would suggest the same would apply to other color-
            codings of the text of the synoptic gospels that use clear objective
            criteria of what is to be accepted as significant agreement of wording
            between two passages in different synoptic gospels.

            Best wishes,
            BRIAN WILSON

            >HOMEPAGE *** RECENTLY UPDATED *** http://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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