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[Synoptic-L] Re: "Desert" of Bethsaida & authorial fatigue

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  • Eric Eve
    ... Dear John, Once again, thank you once again for your long and detailed reply. I fear it rather suggests to me, however, that we have got ourselves at
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 1, 2002
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      Eric Eve wrote:
      > But I accept that Mark's narrative does read oddly
      > even on the second alternative. Yet to argue that
      > these features of the text are evidence of Markan 'fatigue',
      > in the sense that Mark Goodacre uses the term, you
      > surely need to show that these incongruities arise
      > from Mark's infelicitous use of a source.

      John Lupia wrote:
      > 2. I thought I had established this clear enough. If
      > you go back and read the posts again seeing it from
      > the point of view of Lukan priority you will find how
      > both Matthew and Mark make changes that create
      > inconsistencies in their narratives according to Mark
      > Goodacre's definition. If you need further
      > clarification's on this I will respond with more lucid
      > treatments. But, I think the points are already
      > sufficiently clear.

      Dear John,

      Once again, thank you once again for your long and detailed reply. I fear it
      rather suggests to me, however, that we have got ourselves at cross-purposes
      at several places. In the exchange quoted above, for example, I think we are
      not using 'fatigue' to mean precisly the same thing. Your point seems to be
      that Matthew's boat trip to the lonely place of the feeding (for example)
      introduces problems that were not in Luke's text, and that Mark compounds
      the problems by having the crowds anticipate the disciples disembarkation
      from their boat trip. I agree that on the order Lk>Mt>Mk this would entail
      each successive evangelist introducing inconsistencies into the text, but
      this wasn't quite what I took Mark Goodacre to mean by 'fatigue'. As I
      understood Goodacre's article on 'Fatigue in the Synoptics', fatigue in text
      B's use of text A does not simply mean that Text B's account is less
      coherent than Text A's, but that the inconsistency is generated specifically
      by Text B beginning an account by altering Text A's version and then lapsing
      back into details of Text A's version; for example, Matthew's parable of the
      talents starts with three servants whereas Luke's parable of the pounds
      starts with three, but at the end of Luke's parable only three servants give
      an account of what they had done, as if Luke's parable had begun with
      Matthew's three. I'm not sure that the examples of Markan inconstencies you
      have given in previous posts actually demonstrate Markan 'fatigue' in this
      sense, but, as I have explained several times before, I'm taking a break
      away from Oxford and don't have to hand any of the standard tools, such as a
      synopsis, that would allow me to check this readily; all I can say is that
      it is not immediately apparent to me flicking between the Gospel accounts in
      the small Bible I do have to hand. But I'll return to the fatigue question
      below.

      > Eric Eve wrote:
      > Although the disciples set out for Bethsaida, they
      > don't arrive there, and Stephen Notley has been
      > pointing out that Mark apparently has them perform a
      > U-Turn on the lake, so perhaps that helped Jesus to
      > catch up with them!

      John Lupia replied:
      > 3. Not in Luke (who has no boat motif), only Mark, but
      > not at this point in the narrative.

      We must be thoroughly at cross-purposes here, since I was under the
      impression that it was the Markan account we were discussing. The relevance
      of your (perfectly accurate) observation here thus escapes me.

      Eric Eve wrote:
      > But once Mark has
      > Jesus step out onto the lake we have surely abandoned
      > the realm of empirical reality.

      John Lupia replied:
      > 4. You are confusing two different things here. The
      > narrative as a whole is a storyline that *does* take
      > place in reality and must maintain semblances of
      > realism, if not, we arrive at inconsistencies and
      > fatigue. The walking on the lake is a *miraculous*
      > event one that transcends our natural abilities and
      > scientific explanations, which is what constitutes a
      > miracle by definition. So, the actions of Jesus
      > walking on the lake is a motif within a narrative,
      > separate and must be seen separate. [much snipped]

      I thought the context of my remark made it quite clear that I was replying
      specifically to your point about Mark 6.47-48, which does describe the walk
      across the lake (or 'sea', as Mark calls it). Since I was making separate
      comments about this separate miraculous incident, I don't see how your
      observations on miracle constitute an objection to what I said. Once again
      we seem to be badly at cross-purposes. I certainly was not confusing two
      different things since I was only discussing one of them.

      > Eric Eve wrote:
      > If one can swallow the camel of aquatic perambulation,
      > worrying about the speed thereof is a little like an
      > exercise in straining out gnats (what would be a
      > reasonable speed for a human being to walk across a
      > choppy lake?).

      > 5. You have moved completely out of a scholarly
      > analysis and have enter the arena of faith here.
      > Returning to the analysis, walking is depicted here
      > the same on land or water. No description is given
      > here of any time element requiring supernatural speed
      > that violates reality. The only violation of reality
      > is that Jesus walks on water, something that escapes
      > our normal experience. However, on this point, one is
      > reminded of Camilla mentioned by Virgil, Aeneid 7.809
      > who tells us that Camilla the virgin queen of the
      > Volscians made haste with such swiftness that she
      > could traverse the sea without wetting her feet. But,
      > Mk does not recreate any parallel to Camilla nor is he
      > writing an epic mythological genre like Virgil.

      Again we must be quite horribly at cross-purposes if you think I "have moved
      completely out of a scholarly
      analysis and have entered the arena of faith here." On the contrary, I was
      replying specifically to your point that "They disembark [did you mean
      'embark' as I assumed?] as it was evening (nona or 6 pm) yet Jesus meets
      them in early morning (prima or 6 am) midway walking on the Lake." My point
      was that you appeared to attempting very detailed calculations about the
      difficulties of the time-scale involved in Jesus' meeting the boat mid-way
      on the lake ('straining out gnats'), while ignoring the difficulty posed by
      the fact that Mark has Jesus walk across the water to meet them there
      ('swallowing a camel'). I was expressing myself whimsically, and I'm sorry
      if my attempt at humour fell flat, but there was no appeal to faith
      considerations here. My point is rather that given that the whole account is
      miraculous, it seems odd to complain about the timing. You say 'No
      description is given here of any time element requiring supernatural speed
      that violates reality. The only violation of reality is that Jesus walks on
      water, something that escapes our normal experience.', but in an earlier
      post you in effect complained that the figures involved in the relative
      speed of walking and sailing 'like Zeno's do not correspond to reality', and
      this comment came in what appeared to me to be a quite detailed discussion
      of Jesus' catching up the disciples' boat by walking across the lake. So you
      are in effect creating an inconsistency in Mark's narrative at this point by
      simultaneously asserting and denying that the story involves Jesus walking
      across the lake at a speed that does not correspond with reality.

      > Eric Eve wrote:
      > Otherwise, one could just as well argue that Matthew
      > and Luke had tidied up the confused Markan account.

      John Lupia replied:
      > 8. This is a contradiction of terms. The euphemism of
      > "the confused Markan account" is to avoid the
      > characterization of it for what it actually is Markan
      > fatigue resulting from changes of Luke and Matthew.
      > You are looking at the whole of my postings in reverse
      > order Mk>Mt>Lk. Try to see what I am saying, which
      > is: Lk>Mt>Mk. The one who writes last according to
      > Mark Goodacre's thesis would be, to use your term,
      > "untidy" or the most "confused" story, not the other
      > way round.

      Again we have got at cross-purposes by apparently using 'fatigue' in rather
      different senses. I'm well aware that your postings were not written on the
      assumption of the order Mk>Mt>Lk. We also seem to have rather different
      understandings of what Mark Goodacre was arguing. I did not take him to be
      saying that it was always the case that the one who writes last produces the
      most confused or untidy account; I took him to be confining his observations
      to the specific phenomenon of editorial fatigue. The proposition that
      fatigue produces inconsistencies does not entail the further proposition
      that all inconsistencies are due to fatigue. Since I have so far seen no
      evidence of Markan fatigue in the sense that I took Mark Goodacre to intend,
      I was merely pointing out that your argument about the relationship of the
      three synoptic gospels was reversible. Sure, one can imagine Matthew
      introducing incongruities into the account through the introduction of the
      boat motif and Mark compounding the confusion (since, as Leonard Maluf
      correctly pointed out in another post, Mark is concerned with story rather
      than history), but *at this level of generality* the argument is completely
      reversible, and one could just as well imagine Matthew and Luke successively
      tidying up an account in the interest of creating greater historical
      verisimilitude. Mark Goodacre's narrower definition of 'fatigue' was an
      attempt to prevent this type of reversibility, but I have yet to see
      evidence of Markan fatigue in this narrower sense. You have so far argued
      that, if the order is Lk>Mt>Mk, then each successive author would have
      introduced inconsistencies into his predecessor's account, but you have not
      shown that these inconsistencies are explicable by the specific mechanism of
      fatigue.


      > Best wishes and
      > Happy Holidays,

      > Condolences to all UK members on the death of Queen mother.

      > John

      Thank you for your good wishes, and on behalf of all UK members, for your
      kind condolences.

      Best wishes,

      Eric
      --------------------
      Eric Eve
      Harris Manchester College
      Oxford


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