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Re: [Synoptic-L] Accounting for the minor agreements

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  • L. J. Swain
    Ed Tyler wrote: Your virgilian analog is worth taking a look at: No doubt Virgil used Homer as a model, but it is highly unlikely that he could have used the
    Message 1 of 51 , Nov 4, 2001
      Ed Tyler wrote:
      Your virgilian analog is worth taking a look at: No doubt Virgil used
      Homer as a model, but it is highly unlikely that he could have used the
      extant texts of the Iliad or the Odyssey. Ours are essentially an
      accident of preservation; while the evidence from the Alexandrian
      library and the various "wild papyri" would lead us to believe that a
      great many versions of these epic narratives once existed. There were
      also numerous other Greek epics (such as the Return Song of Agamemnon)
      which have not survived but could well have influenced Virgil. So it's
      one thing to say that Virgil was influenced by Homer but quite another
      to say he
      was influenced by the Homeric texts we now. I think the same caution
      applies to Synoptic sources.


      LS:
      Let me begin by saying that I agree with your caution. Having said that
      I must disagree with your analogy and its aptness. Some 500 years
      separate Virgil from the first known attempt at Athens to write down the
      Homeric Epics, and an additional 200-300 years from the purported
      author. 1000 years separate Virgil from the first full Greek
      manuscripts we have of the epics. In total, that is 1500 years of
      memorization and mismemorization, quotation and misquotation,
      imitation, accretion, deletion, and transmission to say nothing of the
      transmission etc. of the Virgilian epic (400 years before the first real
      mss. there). The case of deutero-Mark is quite different, penned,
      disseminated and used by 2 authors within 20 years or so of its writing,
      then completely and utterly gone: no early second century author cites
      it or talks about a community using it. Fuchs argues that the DM is
      very orthodox, in which case how do we explain its disaappearance,
      particularly over such a short, short period of time. If Hengel is
      right, the title of the gospels were assigned no later than the mid-90s,
      including Mark, and there is no sign anywhere that when Irenaeus and
      Papias talk about Mark they are talking about anything other than one of
      the recensions we now know as canonical Mark (long or short ending).
      This means that DM had to have dropped out of circulation quickly and
      universally over the whole church--if Luke used it in the mid-80s and
      the title is assigned to the text we know by the mid-90s, that leaves
      not hundreds of years to develop complex transmission problems, but
      barely a decade. And even if we argue against Fuchs that DM was not
      quite so orthodox, then one must wonder why the heresiologists or the
      Muratorian Canon knows absolutely nothing about a spurious Mark. It
      seems to me that the whole issue complicates the problems rather than
      resolves the MAs. Just my $1.00.

      Returning to Lurkerdom,

      Larry Swain

      Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
      List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
    • L. J. Swain
      Sorry about the delays in responding to this. LS: I m not certain I follow here. Is there any evidence that Christian scribal practices and attitudes towards
      Message 51 of 51 , Nov 11, 2001
        Sorry about the delays in responding to this.

        LS:

        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
        the
        most often posited reason for the gospels being penned is that first
        generation was dieing away and the need to preserve in writing the
        oral
        memory/tradition of the first generation was vital to the
        community(s)
        that the scrutiny and preservation of any text associated with those
        who
        knew Jesus and his immediate circle, or a tradition or text from that
        immediate circle would in fact need to be preserved.



        ET:

        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.

        LS

        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
        author.


        ET

        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?


        LS
        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
        "reworked" itself?


        ET

        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
        orthodox

        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.

        Regards,

        Larry Swain



        Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
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