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Re: Redactional Common Sense?

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  • Maluflen@aol.com
    From: Leonard Maluf Reacting to: a few points in Stephen Carlson s response to Mahlon H. Smith, dated 98-07-29 00:00:42 EDT: Stephen writes, inter alia:
    Message 1 of 13 , Jul 30, 1998
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      From: Leonard Maluf
      Reacting to: a few points in Stephen Carlson's response to Mahlon H. Smith,
      dated 98-07-29 00:00:42 EDT:

      Stephen writes, inter alia:

      <<Thus, the aforementioned "plain redactional common sense" assumes a
      compositional process that Mark's contemporaries did not pratice. If Mark
      retained a Matthean pericope in his head, his reproduction of it, as he
      reworked it adding
      details that are so characteristic of him, would be generally in his
      own style -- because he is not merely "copying" the text. Thus, Mark's
      inferior style only proves that Mark is not as elegant as Matthew, not
      that either one is prior to the other.>>

      I fully agree. I would only add that in addition to the above, there may be a
      conscious effort on the part of Mark to make the Gospel style more colloquial,
      for a lower class audience, much the way we do today in popular biblical
      translations which deliberately part from a highly literary King James style.

      Stephen again:

      <<This is why I am simply not persuaded by appeals to Matthew's, Mark's,
      and Luke's stylistic merit -- it presumes an unrealistic compositional
      model in that the secondary author is in the business of blue-penciling
      a precedessor's work. Rather, "[w]ith rare exceptions, classical authors,
      including Josephus, consistently and thoroughly rewrote their sources" [p.
      207]. I submit that when Mark, Matthew, and Luke rewrote their sources,
      they did so mainly in their own style, which happened to be either better
      or worse than their source. Therefore, arguments from style tell us a
      lot about the relative literary capabilities of the synoptic evangelists
      but precious little about who used whom.>>

      Again, I agree, but would add the following: one should leave open the
      possibility that what Stephen says about classical authors, like Josephus, is
      more applicable to some than to others of the Synoptic evangelists. I would
      suggest that it is more applicable to Luke than it is to Mark, e.g.. Luke
      never reproduces the text of Matthew literally (is this the result of his
      childhood chreia-exercises, which demanded that the thought of a known author
      be expressed IN A DIFFERENT MANNER than the original?). The only exception to
      this is in sayings material (note: I do not restrict this to sayings of Jesus)
      which have a different status and may be reproduced more literally, because
      they are not (presumably) the work of the author who cites them, and whose
      work is being imitated.

      You will notice that Luke's use of the OT exactly corresponds to this
      model. The only time Luke follows an OT text literally for more than a word or
      a short phrase is when he has cited the author by name (cf. the citation from
      Isaiah in Lk 4 or from Joel in Acts 2). (So, citation is a different literary
      procedure than "imitation"). Otherwise, he rewrites the text drastically --
      with the single exception of sayings material, which he merely edits lightly,
      or not at all. For a model test-case, read Acts 7 carefully, and compare with
      the texts of Genesis and Exodus which are clearly the basis of Stephen's
      (Luke's) sermon here. The only place you have significant, extended verbal
      agreement in these chapters with the OT texts is in sayings material.

      This is why I am suspicious of the almost automatic conclusion drawn by
      many, from the closeness of the texts of Luke and Mark through much of their
      respective Gospels, that Luke must have been following Mark. No, the evidence
      only suggests that one of the two probably knew and used the other. The next
      question to raise is: which of the two habitually uses unattributed source-
      material in such a literal fashion? The answer is not Luke: he is a WRITER, in
      the sense defined by Hellenistic norms of imitative writing, and would be as
      ashamed to do this type of extended cribbing as many of us today would be.

      Note: Mark is the only one of the Synoptic evangelists for whom we have no
      evidence, outside of material he shares with Matt and Lk, of an ability to
      WRITE extended prose narrative. He is thus the obvious one of the three, if
      any, who should be initially suspected of close following of others' work.
      Real writers simply don't do that kind of thing (do you?), and didn't "back
      then" either.

      Leonard Maluf
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