## Re: Synoptic Methodology

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• Topic: Synoptic Methodology From: Bruce In Response To: Stephen Carlson I appreciate Stephen s prompt and rational response to my expanded suggestion for a
Message 1 of 3 , Aug 14, 1998
Topic: Synoptic Methodology
From: Bruce
In Response To: Stephen Carlson

I appreciate Stephen's prompt and rational response to my expanded
suggestion for a Synoptic strategy. Herewith a few answers to his
counterprosal:

Stephen remarks, of my 48 schematic possibilities for the 3 Synoptics:
----------
1. Candidate Solutions

It is clear that even from your example of 48 relationships, the number of
candidate solutions increases so rapidly that some amount of pruning ought
to be done to maintain tractability.
-----------
BRUCE: The number 48 is indeed too many to attack one at a time. But I
tried to show (and I still think it is correct) that whether or not we
eliminate some of them by preliminary test or mutual agreement, it will
still be both necessary and sufficient to apply the 2-body test three times
(once in each of the possible 2-body pairings) to reduce the 48 to 1.
Unless of course the results are indeterminate or multivalent, in which
case we have more work cut out for us.

Stephen again:
-----------
Therefore, I propose that certain
related candidate solutions ought to be grouped into the same equivalence
class. I offer the following:

(A) If two documents or two set of documents are independent, then
their relative chronological order is irrelevant for purposes of source
criticism. For example, the order K;L;M is equivalent to L;K;M (K=Mark,
L=Luke, M=Matt). This would coalesce the 48 of your candidates down to
25 equivalent classes of candidates.
------------
BRUCE: We can symbolize order-irrelevant cases by a slash. If Luke (OK, I
can use L for it) uses both Mark (K) and Matthew (M), but Mark and Matthew
are unrelated, then indeed, for purposes of the problem (if not for the
history of early Christianity), K,M>>L is indistinguishable from M,K>>L,
and those options can be written as a single form K/M>>L. (Notice that the
order question is not equivalent, at least for formula purposes, if only
one of the first two texts is used by the third; thus, K,M > L is *not*
equivalent to M,K > L). These functionally equivalent forms would tend to
come out at the same stage in the successive application of the two-body
test. It's harmless, for present purposes, to lump them. But it's handy,
for other purposes, to distinguish them. Since (as I see it) the two
equivalent solutions come out in the experimental wash with the same total
effort (three two-body passes), it seems to me better to keep all 48 as
distinct. They make a nice pattern.

Stephen on the complication of conjectural sources:
-------------
(B) Hypothetical documents should only be proposed for indirect
relationships between at least two documents. For example, the order
M>x>L (see Chapman) is equivalent to M>L. In other words, a hypothetical
document that is a source to a single document is considered to be
indistinguishable from an editorial policy. This eliminates intermediate
texts, as you've suggested.
-------------
BRUCE: I don't like the term "indirect" relationships, and prefer
"intermediating" relationships. I agree that it is only under exquisite
conditions that the case M>x>L can be even tentatively distinguished (where
x is not extant) from M>L. To specify one such possibility, however, just
for the sake of abstract theory: if the contribution of M to x is very
strongly marked in x, and the tendency of L is to incorporate sources more
or less passively, and if any other sources used by L are well
differentiated stylistically from the immediate (intermediate) source x,
then a skilled investigator of L might be able to detect (by its x
stylistic common boundary) the presence of x, and also the presence of bits
of M within that x boundary. From this the composite nature of x could be
readily inferred, and a tentative M perhaps even reconstructed.

I note with Stephen that, whatever the symbology, and even with collapsing
of equivalent solutions, adding non-Synoptic texts to the definitions very
rapidly expands the number of candidate solutions. I don't pause to quibble
over the point that with the 3rd member of 3 there are 4, not 3, possible
relationships to the preceding 2 texts. It is bad enough even if we only
allow 3 relationships. He continues:
-------------
2. Devising tests to filter out candidate solutions

You have argued for an initial "two-body" approach as a starting point,
while
I prefer to tackle the Griesbach Hypothesis straight on, examining all
three
gospels synoptically.
-------------
BRUCE: I think the difference here is at bottom temperamental: I prefer to
investigate problems and not attack people. I note, in defense of a
preference that might otherwise seem merely timid and therefore
contemptible, that the result of a problem investigation is more
psychologically viable for the adherents of a solution which that
investigation as it were incidentally invalidates, than is the result of a
direct attack on the named position which they uphold. Generals are
criticized for knowing how to win but not what to do on the day after the
victory. A problem-oriented investigation would avoid that censure in the
Synoptic case. However, Stephen also has doubts about the effectiveness of
my more impersonal investigation model:
------------
STEPHEN: Here is an illustration why I think that the pairwise,
two-body approach is fraught with difficulty. Kümmel, Neirynck and
Fitzmyer
have argued that, considering only Mark and Luke, an examination of the
order
of pericopes, i.e. the five or so transpositions of pericopes between Mark
and Luke, leads one to the conclusion that Mark is prior to Luke. However,
for each of the five examples, the order of Matthew and Mark is identical
and
therefore consistent with the Griesbach Hypothesis! [I believe Farmer
noticed
this, but I can't find the cite]. Therefore, this two-body test that
apparently
concluded Luke's dependence on Mark was in fact incapable of eliminating
the
Greisbach Hypothesis, even though the Griesbach holds to Mark's dependence
on
Luke (and Matthew). Maybe you can do better, but it seems difficult to
avoid
this trap without considering the third synoptic in the first place.
-------------
BRUCE: I can't speak with confidence without doing the work, but (1) I was
envisioning a study of literary indebtedness in parallel material, not a
study of the order of the material. (2) Some previous investigators report
that there is only one variation in order of *narrative* segments (as
against the more freely recombinable *wisdom* segments) between Mark and
Luke. Evidently it makes a difference where you look for fixity of order.
The word "pericope" blurs together all delimitable segments, and thus
obscures this possibly important difference, which in turn affects
experiment design. (3) Also evidently, questions of the arrangement of
material bring in, and turn on, assumptions of the authorial intent,
including the compositional predilections, of the respective Evangelists.
If hard proof rather than plausible argument is what is called for, I think
text priority is stronger than order retention (or rearrangement). As far
as I have observed, it is the "authorial mind" arguments that are most
frequently denounced as "reversible," and these seem therefore likely to be
less effective in a contested situation. (4) Let me say again that I do not
propose to stop with one two-body test, hence the word "only" in Stephen's
quote is irrelevant to, and not a refutation of, my proposal. (5)
Operationally, my point is that if the GH is wrong, and it is not
eliminated on the first pass, it will infallibly be eliminated on the
second or third pass. I don't have any special animus for GH (much as I
deplore a certain stylistic tendency among some of its most prominent
adherents), and I don't care whether it comes out in the first round, or
second, or for that matter not at all. I just want to solve the problem.

On the theoretical preference for initial three-body comparisons, take
Stoldt p101 (not here reproduced, and in any case the dratted archive would
only collapse the columns). He there notes that Wernle asserts that "quite
frequently Luke's phrasing deviates from Mark's" and illustrates this with
23 [actually 22] Mark/Luke pairs, where indeed the Lukan word differs from
the Markan word. Assuming it previously established (at the segment level
and not at the level of these particular words) that Luke and Mark are here
in some sort of literary relation, Wernle must be conceded to have proved
his case: Luke (if he is second) does not copy identically, but varies
words within what (I presume) is otherwise known to be indebted material.
This is not a test of dependence, nor without examination of the meaning
and not the mere identity or difference of the wordforms is it a test of
directionality of dependence (and if Wernle thinks it is, he is indeed
totally wrong), but in that framework it would be a valid examination of
Luke's way of handling borrowed material.

Stoldt supplies the missing Matthean parallels (not available in two cases,
#14 and #22, so we are down to 20 three-way examples). He points out that
in most of the cases Matthew agrees with Mark. That is correct. Here is one
example (in Stoldt's ordering of columns):

1. Mk isk*uontes / Lk 5:31 ugiainontes / Mt 9:12 isk*uontes

The other cases where this Mk = Mt pattern obtains, including cases where
Mt differs slightly but is still closer to Mk than Lk is to either, are his
#3-4, 6-7, 9-10, 12, 15-16, and 18-20. With the #1 case, these make
altogether thirteen (13), or 65% of the total corpus of 20.

There are also some other relational patterns. I should say at this point
that I have sometimes been unable to verify Stoldt's readings in the Aland
Synopsis, but for the moment conceding Stoldt his choice of text, whatever
it is, then Luke and Matthew are closer (Lk = Mt) in:

2. Mk epiraptei / Lk 5:36 epiballei / Mt 9:16 epiballei

and in #5, 11, 13, and 21, a total of four (5) or 25%. The third
theoretically possible two-way closeness, Mk = Lk, may (depending perhaps
on segmentation; I don't know this language) be seen in:

17. Mk promerimnan / Lk 21:14 promeletan / Mt 24:19 merimne#sete (total
one, or 5%)

and there is a three-way divergence in:

8. Mk beble#tai / Lk 17:2 epiraptei / Mt katapontist*e# (total one, or 5%).

There is the triplified Wernle material. Since Wernle's list was chosen to
show differences beween Mark and Luke, it would be invalid to use it as a
neutral test of three-way affinities. Despite this skew, there are some
possible inferences. (1) In this sample, Mark and Matthew are often close,
and frequently identical, this holding in two-thirds of the cases.
Matthew's use of Mark (if such it be) thus tends to be respectful of Mark's
wording. (2) Luke (assuming for the moment that he is third) is less close
to either than those two are to each other. In 25% of the sample he is
closer to Matthew; and in 5% closer to Mark. He thus (as far as this
handful goes) is more respectful of Matthew than of Mark, but (3) It is
still more likely than not that Luke *knew* Mark, in addition to following
Matthew for places where Matthew and Mark are identical. The hypothesis of
Matthew as an intermediary for Mark will not hold. It also happens that (4)
Luke varies from all three, and in general his pattern with these 20
phrases is more for rephrasing than for identical repetition. Luke thus
comes across as a stylistic independent, preferring the wording of Matthew
to of Mark in most but not all cases where both are available, whereas at
an earlier stage Matthew was in a higher percentage of cases respectful of
Mark's exact wording.

On a Mark-last scenario, these conclusions would instead look like this:
(1) Of the two earlier sources, Luke is not particularly close to Matthew
in parallel passages, thus generating a number of variants for any third
version to consider. (2) As that third source, Mark is very close to
Matthew in a majority of cases, so that Matthew is his preferred source,
but (3) he is nearer to Luke in a detectible minority of cases, and so must
have known Luke as well as Matthew, (4) he sometimes diverges from both.
This last shows that Mark too, if considered to be last, must be allowed to
have exercised stylistic originality.

Can we say which of these scenarios is the more likely? Not decisively, as
far as I can see. The data are not well chosen for the purpose, and are
very limited in any case. As with the Neirynck comparisons faulted by
Farmer, I do not think these were meant as an investigation, but rather as
a demonstration on territory presumed established. I could make a guess,
based on these results, but not offer a serious conclusion. Can anyone get
more out of it than this?

STOLDT is bolder in his inferences. He says, "This *synoptic* compilation
clearly shows that it is out of the question that Luke changed Mark's
wording. The respective parallels in Matthew, insofar as they exist, show
that in the majority of cases Mark corresponds in mode of expression to
Matthew; in the remaining cases Matthew and Luke agree in their mode of
expression against Mark."

BRUCE: "Corresponds in mode of expression" is a symmetrical expression; it
is a valid statement whichever of the two texts is using the other.
"Changed Mark's wording" is an asymmetrical expression; it assumes that
Luke comes second in the Mark/Luke relationship. The sentence "Mark
corresponds in mode of expression to Matthew" neither confirms nor refutes
the sentence "Luke used and varied from Mark." The latter sentence is thus
not logically "out of the question." It is the correct statement if it is
separately known that Luke came after Mark. The directionality between Luke
and Mark is not established by this particular data set, so the question of
whether the asymmetrical statement is valid is open. Not closed. Not "out
of the question," but precisely in question. It is also not precisely true
that the only results in the table are Mt = Mk and (minority) Mt = Lk.
There is one case, despite a selection designed to prove the opposite,
where Mk = Lk. There is also one case (as Stoldt points out in small type
in the table himself, at #8: "Here Matthew diverges from both") where all
three are different, and so whichever text is assumed to come last must
also be assumed to vary at least sometimes from the two earlier ones. Thus,
the requirement of authorial latitude is established (conclusion #4 in both
versions of the inferences, above).

STOLDT: Here we get exactly the same image as that left by the pericopes
which, according to Wernle, Luke supposedly passed over of omitted from the
Gospel of Mark. *To the extent that Mark diverges from Luke in these
examples, he converges with Matthew.* And this confirms again the fact that
a solution to the synoptic problem is possible only on a synoptic basis.

BRUCE: Again, the statement that Luke converges with either Mark or Matthew
in all these cases is not strictly true. The entire situation, as noted
above, does not lead to a decision between Markan tertiority (GH) and
Markan priority (FH). Still less does it lead to a solution of the synoptic
problem. The final sentence is thus radically unjustified by the exposition
that precedes it. One could better say, of this particular data set (and I
venture to think that I could assemble a more suggestive one), that it is
indeterminate with respect to the final synoptic problem (though, if
uncontradicted by wider examination of similar material, it does contribute
some limiting conclusions to any priority solution, once that is reached
separately and on other grounds). If one wants a dramatic version of this
sentence, and accepts Stoldt's three-way version of Wernle's two-way list
as "a synoptic basis,"one might say that this little investigation shows
that "a solution to the synoptic problem is impossible on a synoptic
basis."

ENVOI: This conversation is proceeding on the assumption that only one
approach is going to be undertaken. But several are already underway.
Stephen's four-color Gospel parallels look to me like the groundwork for a
three-body approach in small segments (not whole Gospels, but also not
single words). This is an alternative to my proposal and to his
counterproposal, not to mention the absurdly constricted Wernle/Stoldt
list. So far Stephen's only published summary from that exercise is that
Mark and Matthew are closer than is Luke with either or both. That is
visually apparent, almost instantaneously, from the color text, in cases
where the three texts run in parallel (we also got it out of Wernle/Stoldt,
but on much narrower data and in a way that certainly requires this broader
confirmation). On the other hand, where only Matthew and Luke are in
parallel, a similar mutual intercoloration sometimes appears between those
two. A sufficient number of such cases might tend to establish as a
philological fact the alternate reliance of a third Gospel on the preceding
two. Is it fair to ask Stephen how he sees the experiment design aspect of
the color project?

Bruce

E Bruce Brooks / University of Massachusetts
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