Re: [Synoptic-L] Accounting for the minor agreements
- In a message dated 11/1/2001 8:11:52 AM Central Standard Time, larry.swain@... writes:
Ed raises an excellent point, but there is a chief difference between
these cases and that of a hypothetical gospel. That difference is that
other authors directly refer to the texts in question, whereas NO ONE
refers to this hypothetical gospel of deutero-Mark. Another difference
is that deutero-Mark had to have become popular shortly after its
"publication", remained highly popular, then suddenly disappeared
altogether. The same can not be said of the two works you mention.
Still, the examples are valid ones.
Of course the Acta Senatus and the Acta Diurna were more than merely "popular" immediately after their publication. The Acta Diurna were widely disseminated throughout the Empire; the Acta Senatus were disseminated among the elite. Yet they have both disappeared altogether. (Except for a few quotations from them in authors like Tacitus; there are a few spurious examples as well.) Just how sudden that disappearance was we cannot say.
It is also very questionable just how "popular" or widely disseminated deutero-Mark would have had to be for Matthew and Luke to use it independently. This necessity has been widely asserted but never rigorously demonstrated. I would expect to see this assertion tested before accepting it.
Naturally, there is no such thing as a "perfect fit" between any such analogs because every ancient text has its own history of transmission. We certainly cannot be sure that Papias, for instance, is referring to the extant text of Mark; indeed I doubt it. But does that mean he was referring to the hypothesized deutero-Mark? Not at all. However, a fair case has been made that Matthew and Luke independently cite from a version of Mark that has not survived. The argument that such a text could not have existed simply because it is no longer extant is intolerably weak. If one wishes to disprove the deutero-Mark hypothesis, one must turn elsewhere.
- Sorry about the delays in responding to this.
I'm not certain I follow here. Is there any evidence that Christian
scribal practices and attitudes towards their texts changed
significantly between 65 and 150? I would think in fact that since
most often posited reason for the gospels being penned is that first
generation was dieing away and the need to preserve in writing the
memory/tradition of the first generation was vital to the
that the scrutiny and preservation of any text associated with those
knew Jesus and his immediate circle, or a tradition or text from that
immediate circle would in fact need to be preserved.
Of course I don't buy this reason at all. It seems much more likely to
me that the expansion of Christianity through the urban centers of Asia
Minor and Syria necessitated dissemination of the texts to ensure some
sort of orthodoxy. It appears, however, that this orthodoxy was not
particularly coherent with the doctrines held by the first generation
followers of Jesus; so the gospels do not represent a written
preservation of this first generation.
a) I think I led you astray and did not state well the connection
between the "first generation" and the gospels. I did not mean that the
gospels represent the teachings and beliefs and 100 pc of the traditions
passed on by the first generation. I did mean to say that the passing
away of the first generation necessitated and encouraged the writing
down of traditions and stories as a more permanent record. There is a
difference between this and saying that gospels represent a written
preservation of the first generation. I see that my original statement
however would indeed seem more like the former than the latter and I
would like to offer that correction.
b) Whose orthodoxy is being ensured? None of the NT documents presents
us with a unified theology or understanding of the work of Jesus and
what the "Jesus" event means. Such a picture really doesn't come about
until Irenaeus and after, and I do really hope you are not suggesting
that the gospels were written in the late second century. Thus, if
"ensuring orthodoxy" is truly the reason behind the gospels why the
disparity and multiplicity of both documents as well as theologies?
c) the original statement of yours that I questioned stated: "That is
long before the proliferation of Christian scribes and the attendant
proliferation of canonical texts of which you speak." But is it? All
of the canonical and non-canonical documents able to be dated to the
late first or early second century seem to cite the gospels. There have
even been arguments that the author of II Peter knew Matthew, and
certainly Clement, Didache, Ignatius etc. It stands to reason then that
the gospels, at least Matthew and Luke, were disseminated before these
writers cite them, which means before the end of the first century.
Further, the fact that Basilides and Valentinus both are quoting ONLY
the four gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the early date of P52,
if Wright is correct and Eusebius is dependant on Papias for his
information about Luke and John as well as about Mark and Matthew,
Stanton, von Campenhausen, Skeat and Roberts.........well I could make
quite a list of scholars actually. Suffice it to say that unless you
posit a sort of authoritative "Big Bang" of gospels about 120--125, it
makes better sense to suppose a wide dissemination of the gospels before
Papias and Basilides are writing which also explains the old and all but
universal form of the titles (an interesting study in and of itself) as
well as of the order of the gospels. Thus, late first, very early
second century, is sufficient to explain the early and almost universal
order of the gospels as well as of the titles, the nomina sacra, the
citation of them in late first and early second century authors, the use
made of them by Papias and Basilides c. 120-130, the early attempts to
harmonize, the reduction of gospels by Marcion, the imitation of the
titles and contents of gospels in the "apocryphal" gospels, and so on,
this all indicates a late first century "proliferation" of Christian
scribes and literature, not a second century one.
And if Hengel is correct, the titles were assigned to the gospels no
later than the
mid-90s and one again would think that if such a document were still
around it too would have been assigned a title and mentioned by some
Again, this is something I don't accept: I doubt that either Luke or
John were written by the mid-90s, so they couldn't very well have had
titles assigned to them. And against this theory we have the gospels of
Thomas and Peter at least, which were not mentioned by ancient Christian
authors but which have survived; so we cannot assume that all such
gospels got mention, whether they were titled or not and whether they
were heretical or not.
Discussions of dates will probably take us too far afield of
Synoptic-L's focus, but I would say that the evidence is against such a
view and would like to see evidence of it. Further, the Gospel of Peter
is mentioned, by Eusebius citing Serapion. As for the GT it too is
mentioned by name by Hippolytus of Rome. Many other mentions of the
gospel are found in Early Christian literature, although the usual
caution is that these references are not followed by quotes, and so may
apply to the Infancy Gospel of Thomas rather than the GT as we have it.
But in any case, both are mentioned in early Christian writers. So I
reiterate, how can we posit a gospel that according to the theory was
orthodox and widely disseminated that not only does not survive, but is
not mentioned anywhere by any writer?
But this isn't the case, which means that if such a document
did exist, it disappeared utterly within 20 years of its inception, and
yet was deemed important enough to be included in 2 other works and
But if it were so deficient it had to be "reworked" in the first place,
and supplanted by two other gospels in the second, then both its
importance and its survivability has to be judged accordingly. (This is
true whether one assumes a deutero-Mark or a proto-Mark.) Also, as I
have mentioned to Stephen, there are a great many possibilities that can
account for its disappearance. We need not assume that its loss is
attributable to neglect or suppression on the part of the Christians.
While there are in my opinion certain methodological objections to the
deutero-Mark hypothesis, I cannot envision the argument that it has not
survived as valid. Of course there are perfectly good reasons to expect
its survival; but there are also perfectly good reasons to
expect the survival of the Acta, of the lost books of Tacitus, of at
least a few of the lost recessions of Homer, and so forth. Ancient
texts have a nasty habit of defying such expectations.
a) Fuchs and company posit that it was not "deficient", but rather very
b) can you show that a "deficient" text would be "reworked" by authors
rather than rejected? We have plenty of examples of questionable texts
being labeled as questionable and texts considered heretical also
labeled as such, but do we have examples of something "questionable" or
"deficient" being reworked to make it acceptable? Not to my knowledge,
and without such an example, I think you'll be hard put to it to sustain
a theory in which deutero-Mark was a "deficient" text that Matthew and
Luke independantly corrected.
c) In your comments to Stephen you failed to take note that there was
the Neronian persecution which seems to have spurred Christian
production of literature, and that if Acts and other Christian
references are to be believed the Christian movement faced constant
persecution, and yet we have those same persecuted Christians (at least
on local levels) continuing to produce literature. Similarly with the
persecution in the 90s and early 100s under Domitian and Trajan which
resulted in the death of Clement and Ignatius (if Iggie's letters are
authentic which I believe they are), and yet somehow they survived in
spite of that persecution. And as for Hadrian's somehow the entirety of
Christian literature survived that: the entire NT, plus Ignatius,
Clement, Papias, Polycarp, Marcion, Basilides, Valentinus and so on.
Thus, positing the persecutions as reasons for why this one text didn't
survive but all these others did seems to me a case of special pleading.
d) I'll point out that we are talking of 2 things here, the texts
survival, but also the text being mentioned by another author. As I've
pointed out before, for deutero-Mark to have disappeared, it needed to
have disappeared without a trace or tradition shortly after Matthew and
Luke used it, for NO author of the early second century mentions it as
even a remote possibility. So if it existed, it must have disappeared
utterly and without trace and traditions between the communities of the
original deutero-Mark, Matthew and Luke and their late first century and
early second century "descendants" so broken and so tenuous that no
tradition of a "deutero-Mark" came down to them. I find such a view of
late first and early second century Christianity an untenable one.
e) In regards to this argument's validity, I have a few observations to
make. First, the analogies to other literature that has not survived is
not apt, since that other literature is mentioned by other authors, this
text is not, and we must find a way to explain why not given what I've
stated in d. Second, it assumes that the process of transmission of
secular literature and Christian literature would have been the same and
operated in the book trade at approximately the same level. I doubt
this, I think there would have greater demand for Christian texts as
communities became larger and more numerous, as well as wealthier
Christians commissioning their own copies, so the transmission process
is not analagous either. Third, I will point out that the Farrer
hypothesis begins at exactly the same place I am with reference to Q: no
text survives and no author knows of such a text. It is a beginning
point, it is valid, it is not fatal, nor should be taken as such. But
it is valid.
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