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

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  • 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 1 of 5 , Aug 7, 2001
      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 2 of 5 , Aug 8, 2001
        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

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        > speak thereof one must be silent." Ludwig Wittgenstein, "Tractatus".
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