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Re: [Synoptic-L] Robinson on Q

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  • Emmanuel Fritsch
    I usually agree with Leonard reasonning, and ... Dear Leonard, There are at least three obvious biases in your reasoning path. 1- Are unknown sources
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 26, 2002
      I usually agree with Leonard reasonning, and
      its clarity. But I deeply disagree with that :

      > I would agree. I see no reason for dogmatism regarding the existence or
      > non-existence of a source of Jesus' sayings that was in existence prior to
      > the writing of Matthew and Luke. The idea that the existence of such a source
      > must necessarily be posited in virtue of the data of these two gospels is
      > however unproven and probably unprovable. It has not been established that
      > Luke could not have known Matthew (or vice versa); and that one Evangelist
      > did in fact know the work of the other remains the most economical
      > explanation of their common material, including sayings material. I would
      > suggest too that arguments in favor of Luke's dependence on Matthew far
      > outweigh arguments for the alternative hypothesis.

      Dear Leonard,

      There are at least three obvious biases in your reasoning path.

      1- Are unknown sources inexistence an economical hypotheses ?

      It should highly difficult to sustain that refusing unknown sources
      induces a gain of economy.

      Is it an economy to say that only our four evangelists have written
      the life of Jesus, and that no other early christian than those four
      ones would have had the goal to tell the same story ?
      Is it economical to sustain that all text that were written about
      Jesus during first century were all transmitted to us, as if there
      were a legal library and a copyright for all written work in early
      christianity ?
      It looks very hard.

      The classical objection against lost sources is : if there were early
      sources, then how may we explain that they have been lost ? But in fact,
      many explanations are available for a loose. The first explanation is
      very simple : if Mark (I take it just as an example) if Mark, so, wrote
      a gospel that an editor harmonised and expanded later on Matthean and Lukan
      gospels, the second edition would allways have been called "Mark gospel",
      since it would have wore all the specificities of Mark, and it would have
      easily replaced the first edition.

      I am not sure, and would be glad if some one may confirm it, but I
      think that there is a good example for such a schema : the story
      of Alexander according the "pseudo-Callisthene", which has been
      expanded many times, in many countries, and kept the same author
      attribution in various manuscripts. In the redaction process of
      this work, we know that there are many unknown documents. And there
      is no good reason to sustain that gospels should have had an opposite

      When considering this, we must admit that direct dependency are
      highly improbable, and much less economic than the existence of
      unknown sources.

      But let us consider now that the existence of unknown sources is not economical.

      2- Condition for Occam' razor application

      Here is, Leonard, the schema of your demonstration :
      - First you say that lost sources are not proven, and not provable.
      - Then you apply Occam razor : you restrain the synoptic problem to
      the small area of only direct dependencies, as the most economical
      since they do not require any unknown sources.
      - Finally, you evaluate the validity of arguments in favor of Luke's
      dependence on Matthew, against the reverse dependence.

      But the Occam' razor may apply only if you compare theories with a
      similar degree of plausibility. In these cases, and in these cases
      only, you are allowed to apply Occam Razor to choose among equivalent
      theories which one should be prefered. The final theory is prefered
      for a sake of simplicity, but the criteria of plausibility should
      have been used earlier in the decision process.
      Just take Einstein' relativity as an example : if you apply
      Occam' razor, you should dismiss Einstein, and keep only Newton'
      mechanic. But sure, prior to Occam' razor, the adequation with
      facts is the main criteria that gave to relativity its validity
      against Newton.

      But your way to do is exactly the opposite : you apply first
      the razor, and then you check the data and look for the best

      By that mean, you are introducing an artificial limitation in your
      problem. With exactly the same method, I may argue that Evangelist X
      knowing the work of evangelist Y is "unproven and probably unprovable".
      I will then apply the Occam' razor on this unprovable dependencies, and
      say that all gospels are independant, since it is the most economical
      explanation. This would be obviously a fake : I would confuse the idea
      of gospel interrelation, which is well proved, with the exact pattern of
      this interrelation. Similarly, Leonard, I think there is a confusion
      in your mail between the existence of unknown sources, which is highly
      probable, and the exact pattern of these unknown sources.

      I justify now why, IMHO, the data themself from gospel make
      the existence of unknown sources highly probable.

      3- Priority and posteriority.

      Whatever the argument of priority you consider, it is rarely
      a real argument of priority, but rather an argument of "non-dependency".

      As pointed out by Ken Olson, even the fatigue argument does
      not prove the dependency. For instance, if Luke is fatigued
      related to Mark, then it remains possible that Luke depend
      upon an Ur-Mark. What we may say is just that this pericopae
      of Luke depends upon the parallel one in Mark.

      Now, we have many arguments that point out Luke pericopae
      being later than Mark parallel. But we have similarly Mark
      pericopae being later than Mark parallel.

      We should conclude that neither present Mark depends upon
      present Luke, nor present Luke depends upon present Mark.

      The existence of a lost source is needed.

      If you persist to refuse this existence, you accept to
      give no account of some major synoptic phenomena. Your
      solution of synoptic problem will ever remain a caricature,
      and never be a true account of reality.

      Conclusion :

      Leonard, you wrote in your mail :

      > I see no reason for dogmatism regarding the existence or
      > non-existence of a source of Jesus' sayings that was in
      > existence prior to the writing of Matthew and Luke.

      But your reasonning may be seen has dogmatism, since you
      dismiss the unknown source hypotheses before having checked
      them on data, and using a data-disconnected argument.

      On the opposite, when you consider just facts, there is no
      reason to refuse unknown documents, and in fact the endless
      debating between X-priority and Y-priority is the proof that
      when restricted to direct dependencies, synoptic problem is a


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