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[Synoptic-L] Re: Bias against omissions?

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  • David Gentile
    In reviewing my hypothesis, and comparing to others, I ve asked myself what I see differently than others here. I think relative to others, I am less inclined
    Message 1 of 7 , Nov 1, 2001
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      In reviewing my hypothesis, and comparing to others, I've asked myself what
      I see differently than others here.
      I think relative to others, I am less inclined to accept that the gospel
      authors omitted material.

      Certain apparently justified omissions I can understand. For example, a boy
      fleeing in a white robe, or Jesus needing a material component in his
      healings. Also, I can understand omission of words for clarity. Finally,
      pure duplication might be avoided. But, in general omission seems unlikely.

      One argument suggested for omission is that the scroll was only so big, but
      surely the idea of using more than one scroll might have occurred to
      someone. And halfway through the scroll do you really know exactly how much
      more room you will need? This does not seem to be a sufficient reason to
      omit material. Nor does the idea of just wanting a shorter gospel seem to
      be a valid enough reason to omit material. So unless the material has some
      feature, that clearly would make it likely to be omitted, I think unique
      material is more likely to be an insertion.

      On my hypothesis there are few omissions. Mark's added detail, and double
      sayings are additions by Mark to a proto-document. Luke never sees them,
      and Matthew sees them, but also sees a version without them.

      ( A=> Mk, A=>B , A+B=>Lk, B+Mk=>Mt )

      Luke and Matthew of course add unique material of their own.

      The Mt/Lk agreements appear first in a proto-Mt/Q+ and are never seen by
      Mark.

      Many of the Mk/Mt agreements against Luke appear first in Mark,
      and are used by Matthew, but never seen by Luke.
      Of course changing of wording by Luke also causes Mt/Mk agreement.

      Changes in wording by Matthew cause some Mk/Lk agreements,
      but unless memory fails, there are no large blocks of Mark/Luke agreement
      against Matthew,
      with the exception of the entry and departure of Capernium,
      which seem to be a result of Matthew's altered ordering.

      Is this a bias against omission?
      Or is there really a good reason to suppose the authors would omit
      material?

      Dave Gentile
      Riverside, Illinois






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    • Thomas R. W. Longstaff
      ... It seems to me that there are, indeed, good reasons to suppose that the authors would omit material. 1. It can be demonstrated that authors, other than the
      Message 2 of 7 , Nov 2, 2001
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        David Gentile wrote (in part):

        > Is this a bias against omission?
        > Or is there really a good reason to suppose the authors would omit
        > material?

        It seems to me that there are, indeed, good reasons to suppose that the
        authors would omit material.

        1. It can be demonstrated that authors, other than the authors of the
        gospels, do so. Omissions, when one author is using another as a source, are
        common.

        2. If an author who writes, using another as a source, does not intend to
        replace his source but rather intends to present the material in a different
        way, for a different purpose, or for a different audience, knowing that the
        document used as a source will continue to be available and will continue to
        be read, the motivation to copy everything is significantly diminished.
        After all, readers will still have the omitted material in the source
        document.

        3. Authors write with particular purposes in mind and for particular
        audiences. It seems to me more likely that an author would omit material not
        relevant to his purpose or not appropriate for his audience than that he
        would include it because, for whatever reason, he is reluctant to omit
        anything. I would even include, in this category, the likelihood that an
        author would even omit those elements not consistent with his narrative
        style.

        Dr. Thomas R. W. Longstaff
        Crawford Family Professor of Religious Studies
        Director, Jewish Studies
        Colby College
        4643 Mayflower Hill
        Waterville, ME 04901
        email: tlongst@...
        Telephone: (207) 872-3150
        FAX: (207) 872-3602


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      • David Gentile
        Dr. Thomas R. W. Longstaff wrote: =========== It seems to me that there are, indeed, good reasons to suppose that the authors would omit material. ===========
        Message 3 of 7 , Nov 2, 2001
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          Dr. Thomas R. W. Longstaff wrote:

          ===========

          It seems to me that there are, indeed, good reasons to suppose that the
          authors would omit material.

          ===========

          Thank you for your reply.

          On point #2
          --------
          2. If an author who writes, using another as a source, does not intend to
          replace his source but rather intends to present the material in a
          different
          way, for a different purpose, or for a different audience, knowing that the
          document used as a source will continue to be available and will continue
          to
          be read, the motivation to copy everything is significantly diminished.
          After all, readers will still have the omitted material in the source
          document.
          --------

          DG: This may be part of the reason for my view against omission. I do see
          the authors as intending to replace their sources. The sources were not
          clearly written, and may have conflicted in some ways, or contained clearly
          objectionable material. (proto-Mark may have even been secret Mark, for
          example). I see them as writing to reconcile their sources, and clarify
          them. The exception might be Mark. Here my theory would be that a gospel
          containing sayings was becoming widely used, as it contained both the
          source tradition and the sayings. Mark might have added detail to the
          original, it order to help the saying-less gospel compete.

          If they intended
          "to present the material in a different way,
          for a different purpose, or for a different audience"
          this might be a valid case for omission in my view.
          If we have good reason to believe a specific gospel was intended for a
          specific audience, and that audience would have objected in some way to the
          omitted material, then this is a good reason to believe it would be
          omitted. Otherwise, I think respect for the source would have argued
          against omission.

          On point #1
          --------
          1. It can be demonstrated that authors, other than the authors of the
          gospels, do so. Omissions, when one author is using another as a source,
          are
          common.
          --------

          DG: In general authors certainly do that. But the authors of the gospels
          clearly were copying earlier traditions, while clarifying them, and most
          likely reconciling them with other disparate versions. In general authors
          do not reproduce as much of their source as the gospel writers did. This
          suggest that they were indeed concerned with preserving most of the source
          in their gospel. Also, by the time the later documents were probably
          written, I think there would have been some respect for recording history,
          at least.


          On point #3
          --------
          3. Authors write with particular purposes in mind and for particular
          audiences. It seems to me more likely that an author would omit material
          not
          relevant to his purpose or not appropriate for his audience than that he
          would include it because, for whatever reason, he is reluctant to omit
          anything. I would even include, in this category, the likelihood that an
          author would even omit those elements not consistent with his narrative
          style.
          --------

          DG: Given my view that they were intending to replace their source, this
          seems unlikely. Unless there was a compelling reason to omit it, or a
          conflict in theological views, I doubt the material would have been
          omitted.

          Thanks again,

          Dave Gentile
          Riverside, Illinois






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        • Maluflen@aol.com
          In a message dated 11/2/2001 10:50:45 PM Eastern Standard Time, GentDave@worldnet.att.net writes: [Responding to Thomas Longstaff who wrote:]
          Message 4 of 7 , Nov 3, 2001
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            In a message dated 11/2/2001 10:50:45 PM Eastern Standard Time,
            GentDave@... writes:

            [Responding to Thomas Longstaff who wrote:]
            << -------
            2. If an author who writes, using another as a source, does not intend to
            replace his source but rather intends to present the material in a
            different
            way, for a different purpose, or for a different audience, knowing that the
            document used as a source will continue to be available and will continue
            to
            be read, the motivation to copy everything is significantly diminished.
            After all, readers will still have the omitted material in the source
            document.
            --------

            DG: This may be part of the reason for my view against omission. I do see
            the authors as intending to replace their sources. >>

            I wonder, though, whether your "seeing" the authors as intending to replace
            their sources is based on your already adopted viewpoint that Mark was the
            original Gospel, and whether your argument here is not therefore circular. I
            believe Professor Longstaff's observations are both valid and more objective,
            i.e., not assuming a predetermined solution to the Synoptic problem -- and
            they are certainly based on considerable research on the topic itself, rather
            than merely on feeling. Accordingly I think you properly identified your
            position against the likelihood of omissions as a bias. In this you are only
            more honest than many.

            Leonard Maluf

            Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
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          • David Gentile
            ... replace ... I ... objective, ... rather ... only ... I have no doubt that my view of the actions of the authors is influenced my belief that Mark was
            Message 5 of 7 , Nov 3, 2001
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              > Leonard Maluf wrote:

              > I wonder, though, whether your "seeing" the authors as intending to
              replace
              > their sources is based on your already adopted viewpoint that Mark was the
              > original Gospel, and whether your argument here is not therefore circular.
              I
              > believe Professor Longstaff's observations are both valid and more
              objective,
              > i.e., not assuming a predetermined solution to the Synoptic problem -- and
              > they are certainly based on considerable research on the topic itself,
              rather
              > than merely on feeling. Accordingly I think you properly identified your
              > position against the likelihood of omissions as a bias. In this you are
              only
              > more honest than many.
              >
              > Leonard Maluf

              I have no doubt that my view of the actions of the authors is influenced my
              belief that Mark was essentially first. However, I don't think my reasoning
              is circular, since I believe that Markian priority can be established to a
              reasonably high degree of probability, without assuming things about the
              motives of the authors. But, given the amount that has been written
              supporting Markian priority, I doubt there is anything I could add to
              influence your view on this matter.

              Dave Gentile
              Riverside, Illinois


              Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
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            • Maluflen@aol.com
              In a message dated 11/3/01 9:26:13 PM Eastern Standard Time, GentDave@worldnet.att.net writes:
              Message 6 of 7 , Nov 4, 2001
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                In a message dated 11/3/01 9:26:13 PM Eastern Standard Time,
                GentDave@... writes:

                << I have no doubt that my view of the actions of the authors is influenced my
                belief that Mark was essentially first. However, I don't think my reasoning
                is circular, since I believe that Markian priority can be established to a
                reasonably high degree of probability, without assuming things about the
                motives of the authors. But, given the amount that has been written
                supporting Markian priority, I doubt there is anything I could add to
                influence your view on this matter.>>

                There is, though, theoretically at least. Tell me, please, e.g., how one goes
                about establishing Markan priority to a reasonably high degree of probability
                without assuming things about the motives of the authors? This would be
                really new to me.

                Leonard Maluf

                Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
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              • David Gentile
                ... goes ... probability ... We talk about Occum s razor a lot in order to select the simplest hypothesis. But, part of simplicity is not only the number of
                Message 7 of 7 , Nov 4, 2001
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                  > There is, though, theoretically at least. Tell me, please, e.g., how one
                  goes
                  > about establishing Markan priority to a reasonably high degree of
                  probability
                  > without assuming things about the motives of the authors? This would be
                  > really new to me.
                  >
                  > Leonard Maluf

                  We talk about Occum's razor a lot in order to select the simplest
                  hypothesis. But, part of simplicity is not only the number of documents, but
                  how simple the author's task was. An author that behaved like GH Mark had an
                  enormously difficult task, and one that we have never seen performed
                  anywhere else. Thus, the hypothesis that an author behaved as GH Mark did, I
                  would consider to be a fairly extraordinary claim. Without sufficient
                  evidence to support the claim, I'd choose a simpler explanation. The sorts
                  of activities I see the authors doing on my hypothesis are relatively
                  simple. They copy, they delete offensive bits, they add material in
                  appropriate places. They may be reconciling two texts, but they do it in a
                  manner that one would not be at all difficult.

                  That the authors behaved in relatively simple ways is not a starting
                  assumption.
                  However, simplicity is a criteria by which competing hypotheses are judged.

                  In effect, given the information I have, I believe my hypothesis is the best
                  one because it is truly the simplest one. More information might change that
                  view of course.

                  Dave Gentile
                  Riverside, Illinois


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