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Re: [Synoptic-L] Did Mark reject the Lord's Prayer ?

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  • Thomas R. W. Longstaff
    ... But if Mark wanted to be so careful not to offend Roman authorities, why omit this reference (which might have a firm place in tradition) and include such
    Message 1 of 21 , Jun 14, 2002
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      At 06:36 PM 6/14/2002 +0100, Ron Price wrote:
      >Thomas Longstaff wrote:
      >
      > > ..... I am not sure why you suggest
      > >only this reason, shortage of space, as a possible explanation for Mark's
      > >omission. Do you have some reason for highlighting that possible reason
      > >among the many that might be suggested?
      >
      >Thomas,
      >
      > On my synoptic theory (the 3ST), Mark decided not to include the
      >complete Lord's Prayer from the early sayings source ('sQ') because he
      >realized the clause "May your kingdom come" had political overtones, and
      >he was anxious to present a gospel which would not unduly offend the
      >Roman authorities.

      But if Mark wanted to be so careful not to offend Roman authorities, why
      omit this reference (which might have a firm place in tradition) and
      include such texts as Mark 9:1, 11:10, 14:25 and other references to the
      kingdom, not to mention Mark 12:17 which might easily be read to mean
      render to Caesar what is Caesar's (i.e., Rome) and to God what is God's
      (i.e., Palestine)?

      And I do understand that you were explaining your synoptic theory. I was
      not, however, not limiting my comments to a discussion your synoptic theory
      alone but was addressing your dismissal of other options as well. It seems
      to me that there are other reasonable perspectives on the synoptic problem
      than your theory.

      > The most obvious alternative reason to my mind is shortage of space,
      >so I disposed of that argument. Now I await your explanation, for in
      >spite of your lengthy reply, you didn't suggest a reason why Mark
      >declined to incorporate the Lord's Prayer in particular.

      Actually, your decision to highlight this argument seemed to me something
      of a smoke screen. You introduced what I would agree is a very weak
      alternative to your view and then, as you say, "disposed of that argument,"
      evidently thinking that this, somehow, strengthened your own. It was,
      however, not an argument that I, or anyone else, had proposed. You then say
      that I didn't suggest a reason why Mark declined to incorporate the Lord's
      Prayer in particular. But in a sense I did. I suggested that if Mark were
      late and believed that the earlier gospels would continue to exist and to
      be available in the churches, then he was under no compulsion to include
      everything - and need not have included the Lord's Prayer since it was
      already available in the other gospels and, presumably, well known in the
      community for which he wrote. His reason for omitting it is that it did not
      have an important place in the narrative he was writing. If Mark is late
      there is a lot that he omits and I think it incorrect to conclude that Mark
      believed that material would be lost forever.

      > >I think that the suggestion that Mark wrote to supplement the other Gospels
      > >does, in fact, "hold water," despite the evidence that you offer to the
      > >contrary. If one understands the concept of "supplementing," as I would, to
      > >include setting the materials in a different context for a different
      > >audience .....
      >
      > It's clear that my disagreement with you and Leonard on the matter of
      >"supplementing" is merely a matter of semantics. I take the word in its
      >most obvious sense of adding material. You both take it in a broader
      >sense of adjusting the message to a different audience. I simply think
      >you're using the wrong word here.

      Thank you for that correction. Although the Oxford Dictionary of the
      English Language seems to include the sense in which I used the term I am
      happy to know when I am wrong, even though I still find it difficult to see
      how my suggestion that Mark (or Luke) has ADDED a second motif, the
      question of who is properly called good, falls outside the most obvious
      sense of ADDING MATERIAL. Perhaps you are suggesting that we should use the
      term "supplement" only for the 6% of words and phrases that you referred to
      earlier. That's possible but then you and I do have a different
      understanding of what the most obvious sense of the term is.

      > > ..... In
      > >Matthew a person comes to Jesus with a question about the Torah, "Teacher,
      > >what good must I do to inherit eternal life?"
      >
      > The problem I see with Matthew's version is that "There is only one
      >who is good." appears to be at best irrelevant and at worst pedantic. It
      >doesn't help the questioner.

      I have a problem here too. It seems to me that you can only translate
      Matthew's EIS ESTIN O AGATHOS as "There is only one who is good," if you
      allow your translation of Matthew to be influenced by your knowledge of
      what Mark has written and the presumption that Matthew has copied Mark. A
      more reasonable, and accurate, translation of Matthew's Greek here would be
      the straightforward "The good is one," emphasizing the unity of the Torah
      and stressing the word "one" by placing it first in the clause - note, too,
      that AGATHOS is definite, and, it seems to me, used in the absolute rather
      than the attributive sense. To then call this "at best irrelevant and at
      worst pedantic" is to miss the point of Matthew's narrative and to malign
      that author unfairly in defense of Markan priority. I suggest that
      Matthew's answer does help the questioner. The dialogue reflects a
      discussion of Torah observance such as we find frequently in Jewish
      tradition. Now it may be that Mark, Luke (and many modern readers) did not
      understand the nuances of the dialogue in a Jewish context but that lack of
      understanding (and the accompanying mistranslation of Matthew that it
      produces in some English versions of the Bible) does not make Matthew's
      account irrelevant or pedantic as you assert. If Mark is the earliest
      gospel, a possibility that I am willing to entertain, the imposition of
      that source theory on a reading of Matthew here obscures the Matthean
      version of the story. On either source theory Matthew's narrative seems to
      me coherent, unified and understandable. I do not see Jesus' answer (in
      Matthew) as either irrelevant or pedantic.

      > > ..... In Mark it is not clear, as it
      > >is in Matthew, that the questioner has asked about Torah.
      >
      > I don't see that's the case in Mark's story. The man asked an innocent
      >and open question. The fact that Jesus is presented as immediately
      >turning to the Torah should be no surprise, for this was meant to be a
      >Jewish scene.

      Again, your reading of the story is affected by the source theory that you
      want to defend. You are quite right when you say that in Mark "the man
      asked an innocent and open question." You are not quite right when you say
      that Jesus immediately turns to the Torah. He doesn't. He immediately
      informs the questioner, who has called him "Good Teacher," that no one
      except God can be called "good." Then, and only then, does he turn to the
      Torah. I repeat. There are two motifs in the Markan story, only one in
      Matthew - unless you are suggesting that the principle "no one except God
      can be called good" is found in the Torah.

      > To return to the subject of the title, I think my synoptic theory fits
      >better here for several reasons:
      >(1) the Lord's Prayer was put in written form in sQ ca. 45 CE (and given
      >a prominent position as the opening saying in the third section - see my
      >Web site).
      >(2) I'm not under any constraint to think that Matthew's version was
      >earlier than Luke's, nor do I have to invoke oral tradition.
      >(3) Mark 11:25 and 14:38 incorporate Markan adaptations of parts of the
      >prayer. This explains the doublet Mt 6:12 (taken from sQ) and 6:14
      >(taken from Mk 11:25, which in turn came from sQ).
      >(4) I have a clear reason why Mark declined to copy the prayer in full.

      We can agree that you think that your synoptic theory is better.

      I think that your theory does have some real strengths here but that you
      draw conclusions about the synoptic problem that go far beyond the
      evidence. Further, it seems to me that you do not deal very well with
      objections or alternatives to the view that you assert. In defending the
      theory you make very questionable use of the "statistical evidence" and
      seem to me in some cases to misrepresent the evidence by imposing your
      theory upon it. I have given two examples of that above, namely your use of
      a mistranslation of Matthew and the assertion that Mark immediately turns
      to the Torah.

      Finally, if I agree with you that Mark wants to be very careful not to
      offend Roman authorities (and I'm not sure that I do) that would better fit
      a context during Domitian's reign than any earlier period.



      Dr. Thomas R. W. Longstaff
      Crawford Family Professor of Religious Studies
      Director, Jewish Studies
      Colby College
      4643 Mayflower Hill
      Waterville, ME 04901
      Telephone: (207) 872-3150
      FAX: (207) 872-3802
      Email: tlongst@...


      Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
      List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
    • Ron Price
      ... Thomas, Mark put the saying of 9:1 in a context which suggested that the Transfiguration fulfilled the prophecy about the kingdom of God coming with
      Message 2 of 21 , Jun 15, 2002
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        I wrote:

        >>the clause "May your kingdom come" had political overtones, and
        >>he [Mark] was anxious to present a gospel which would not unduly offend
        >>the Roman authorities.

        Thomas Longstaff replied:

        >But if Mark wanted to be so careful not to offend Roman authorities, why
        >omit this reference (which might have a firm place in tradition) and
        >include such texts as Mark 9:1, 11:10, 14:25 and other references to the
        >kingdom,

        Thomas,

        Mark put the saying of 9:1 in a context which suggested that the
        'Transfiguration' fulfilled the prophecy about the kingdom of God coming
        with power. In other words he here found a way of keeping a kingdom-come
        saying whilst rendering it innocuous.
        A clarification of "he who comes" in 11:9 is essential to point out
        the significance of the story about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a
        donkey, so presumably Mark felt obliged to attempt it. Curiously the
        "kingdom .... that is coming" in 11:10 looks like a watered down version
        of an original "king who is coming", which would have been even more
        likely to offend the Roman authorities. Thus Luke's "king" was probably
        more accurate, though he immediately countered any military overtones by
        adding: "Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven."


        > not to mention Mark 12:17 .....

        The crucial question here is whether the Palestinians should pay
        taxes. The saying in v.17 is subtly ambiguous. But Mark's context
        ("Whose likeness and inscription is this?" "Caesar's") makes it clear
        that he thought the taxes should be paid.

        So by omission, alteration, choosing suitable contexts, and also the
        literary device of the 'Messianic secret' (8:29-30), Mark contrived to
        play down the political side of the Messiah-king.

        > ..... You ... say
        >that I didn't suggest a reason why Mark declined to incorporate the Lord's
        >Prayer in particular. But in a sense I did. I suggested that if Mark were
        >late and believed that the earlier gospels would continue to exist and to
        >be available in the churches, then he was under no compulsion to include
        >everything .....

        That's not a reason relating to the LP *in particular*.

        > ..... - and need not have included the Lord's Prayer since it was
        >already available in the other gospels

        Ditto.

        > and, presumably, well known in the
        >community for which he wrote.

        I doubt it. But as there's no evidence, I suppose we'll have to agree
        to differ.

        > A
        >more reasonable, and accurate, translation of Matthew's Greek here [Mt 19:17]
        >would be the straightforward "The good is one," ..... I suggest that
        >Matthew's answer does help the questioner. The dialogue reflects a
        >discussion of Torah observance .....

        But does it help to answer the question? If so, I don't see how.

        > I do not see Jesus' answer (in
        >Matthew) as either irrelevant or pedantic.

        Then perhaps you would explain the relevance of "The good is one"
        (accepting your translation for the sake of argument) to the question
        about eternal life.

        >Finally, if I agree with you that Mark wants to be very careful not to
        >offend Roman authorities (and I'm not sure that I do) that would better fit
        >a context during Domitian's reign than any earlier period.

        Not necessarily. If Mark was written ca. 70 CE in Rome, as I and many
        others believe, then Nero's vicious persecution would still have been
        quite fresh in the readers' minds. They couldn't be sure there wouldn't
        be a recurrence. Vespasian had just taken over as emperor, so the
        Christian citizens of Rome wouldn't have had much time to assess the
        likely consequences of his rule.

        Ron Price

        Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK

        e-mail: ron.price@...

        Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm

        Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
        List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
      • Thomas R. W. Longstaff
        At 08:56 PM 6/15/2002 +0100, Ron Price wrote (in part): Because this discussion will soon become tedious to other subscribers on the list I think that this
        Message 3 of 21 , Jun 15, 2002
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          At 08:56 PM 6/15/2002 +0100, Ron Price wrote (in part):

          Because this discussion will soon become tedious to other subscribers on
          the list I think that this will be my last comment on the matter. I will
          try to restrain myself. As I said in a previous message, Ron makes some
          very good points and his theory has some real strengths. On the other hand,
          he seems unwilling to entertain the idea that any other point of view could
          have merit or that his view could, in any regard, be challenged. He does
          not respond to those points where his views are most vulnerable - to choose
          one example he does not respond at all (nor even acknowledge), that at one
          point he rested his argument on an inaccurate and biased translation of
          Matthew, expressing the very bias that he was attempting to defend by using
          that translation. Furthermore, he makes assertions without taking any
          account of the extensive discussion in which alternate points of view have
          been carefully developed. With respect to the question of paying taxes to
          Caesar, whether one accepts the point of view or not, one should at least
          consider that this might represent a statement of zealot idealism.
          Similarly with respect to the persecution of Nero. Is there good evidence
          to suggest that this was a continuing persecution rather than short-lived
          one or that it extended significantly beyond Rome and its environs? I don't
          think so. Now let me address myself to Ron.

          > > ..... You ... say
          > >that I didn't suggest a reason why Mark declined to incorporate the Lord's
          > >Prayer in particular. But in a sense I did. I suggested that if Mark were
          > >late and believed that the earlier gospels would continue to exist and to
          > >be available in the churches, then he was under no compulsion to include
          > >everything .....
          >
          > That's not a reason relating to the LP *in particular*.

          Not is the reason *in particular* that you demand required unless one is
          willing grant that the alternatives I have suggested are all impossible or
          improbable ones which should be summarily dismissed.

          > > ..... - and need not have included the Lord's Prayer since it was
          > >already available in the other gospels
          >
          > Ditto.

          This is a good example of what I mean when I suggest that you are unwilling
          even to consider the merits of any view other than your own.

          > > A
          > >more reasonable, and accurate, translation of Matthew's Greek here [Mt
          > 19:17]
          > >would be the straightforward "The good is one," ..... I suggest that
          > >Matthew's answer does help the questioner. The dialogue reflects a
          > >discussion of Torah observance .....
          >
          > But does it help to answer the question? If so, I don't see how.

          If you ask the same question, you should anticipate the same answer.

          As I said above, yes it does help to answer the question. Further, I
          suggested that the dialogue in Matthew reflects a discussion of Torah
          observance. Your simple statement that you don't see how is not a very
          strong argument to the contrary nor does it serve to support your view that
          Jesus' response is irrelevant or pedantic.

          > > I do not see Jesus' answer (in
          > >Matthew) as either irrelevant or pedantic.
          >
          > Then perhaps you would explain the relevance of "The good is one"
          >(accepting your translation for the sake of argument) to the question
          >about eternal life.

          Yes, I'll try, but first, please don't accept my translation "for the sake
          of argument." I have suggested that the translation that you used in your
          argument was, in fact, a mistranslation revealing a bias in favor of the
          very view that you were defending by using it. At best your comments were
          circular. If you think that the translation that you offered is not
          affected by a presumption of Markan priority and that it better represents
          Matthew's EIS ESTIN O AGATHOS, then make your case for that translation.
          Show me what, in the Greek, supports the inclusion of "only," and what
          justifies the translation of O AGATHOS as an adjective used in the
          attributive sense and not in the absolute sense. Don't accept my
          translation "for the sake of argument." Support the argument that you have
          made for the conclusion that in Matthew Jesus' response is irrelevant or
          pedantic. I will, in fact, try to make my case that it is not. I hope that
          you will do the same for your view.

          So, turning to your question about the relevance of the answer "The good is
          one" to the question about eternal life, I hope that we can agree that
          Matthew makes frequent references or allusions to the Hebrew Bible (Old
          Testament). May I assume that you are familiar with Proverbs 4 and the idea
          in Proverbs 4:4 that those who keep the commandments will live (one might
          say have eternal life)? Indeed, Jesus' answer to the question about eternal
          life is the same answer that we find in Proverbs 4. Keep the commandments.
          (As an aside, note that the context in Proverbs sets this in the context of
          teaching and Jesus is addressed by the questioner as "Teacher" - not as
          "Good Teacher."). It has been argued that the structure of Matthew 19:16
          ff. is influenced by the structure of Proverbs 4 and I think that the case
          for this is very strong. You might disagree but you should, at least,
          consider the arguments to the contrary.

          Another relevant text here is Pirke Aboth 6:3 (are you familiar with Pirke
          Aboth?). In Pirke Aboth 6:3, there are significant references to Proverbs.
          Here we find that one who learns even a single chapter, or a single
          Halakah, or a single verse, or a single expression or even a single letter
          gains honor. And what is honor? It is Torah, for it is written that the
          wise shall inherit honor and the perfect shall inherit good. Simple
          syllogisms show that honor equals good and good equals Torah (and the Pirke
          Aboth in fact explicitly concludes that "the good is naught else than the
          Law," referring to Proverbs 4:2). Therefore honor equals Torah and the
          Torah can be (and is) referred to as "the good" [Note Danby's comments
          about these syllogisms in his translation of the Mishnah].

          So, if the Torah can be referred to as "the good" then the questioner in
          Matthew comes with a question about Torah. "What good (what Torah, what
          commandment) must I do to have eternal life?" The question is not unlike
          one that we find in rabbinic dialogues and elsewhere in the gospels. What
          is the greatest commandment? By keeping which commandment do I become Torah
          observant and, therefore, have eternal life? The questioner asks about
          Torah, "What good must I do....?" Jesus responds with a statement about
          Torah, stressing its unity (and, perhaps, the centrality of the decalogue),
          "The good is one." The questioner asks about the Torah. Jesus responds by
          talking about the Torah. Both question and response use "good" in the same
          way, to refer to Torah. In my view the answer is neither irrelevant nor
          pedantic. Indeed the question and answer open a dialogue about Torah
          observance which concludes with a Christian statement about what more is
          required for faithful discipleship. As I have said, it seems to me that
          Matthew's narrative is both unified and coherent.

          The questioner asks about the good (Torah). Jesus responds by talking about
          the good (Torah). I am not sure how that answer is irrelevant or pedantic
          and the ball is now in your court to support your conclusion that it is.

          If you would bear with me for a moment and consider that it might be
          possible that Matthew is the earliest gospel (and I know that your synoptic
          theory rejects this point of view; I have visited your web site), then a
          unified dialogue about the Torah and eternal life in Matthew is broken up
          in Mark and Luke. It may be that the later authors (on this scenario) did
          not understand, as many have not, that the Torah could be referred to as
          the "Good" nor the nuances of Jewish dialogues about Torah observance and
          the way Matthew's account reflects the structure of Proverbs 4. And so a
          new theme is introduced (I will avoid talking about this as something
          added, i.e., a supplement). The referent of the term "good" is different.
          Jesus is called "Good Teacher" and the Christological motif (important to
          Mark and perhaps well understood in the Gentile communities for which Mark
          and Luke wrote) is combined with a question about Torah observance and the
          close structural connection to Proverbs is lost. In these gospels we have
          two issues, albeit combined, rather than one, despite your assertion that
          Mark immediately turns from the "open and honest question" about eternal
          life to comments about Torah (another critique of the way you argue your
          case to which you do not respond).

          On the Two Document (or Three Document) Hypothesis you must admit that it
          is a happy coincidence that Matthew found in Mark just the right term,
          "good," to refer to Torah and just the right words (with few changes) to
          compose a dialogue intimately related in its structure to Proverbs 4 and to
          other rabbinic discussions about Torah observance as we find them in Pirke
          Aboth and elsewhere. Do I think it impossible that Matthew did this? No. As
          I have said before, I think that there are strengths, and weaknesses, in
          each of the proposed solutions to the synoptic problem. In this case I
          think that the evidence weighs more heavily in favor of Matthean priority.
          I think that you have made some good points about the Lord's Prayer. Do I
          think that your analysis constitutes convincing evidence that his gospel
          was written first? I confess that I do not nor do I think that you have
          made that case very well.

          Tom Longstaff



          Dr. Thomas R. W. Longstaff
          Crawford Family Professor of Religious Studies
          Director, Jewish Studies
          Colby College
          4643 Mayflower Hill
          Waterville, ME 04901
          Telephone: (207) 872-3150
          FAX: (207) 872-3802
          Email: tlongst@...


          Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
          List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
        • Maluflen@aol.com
          In a message dated 6/15/2002 5:13:30 PM Pacific Daylight Time, ... Tom, for obvious reasons I would like to accept the validity of your interpretation here,
          Message 4 of 21 , Jun 16, 2002
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            In a message dated 6/15/2002 5:13:30 PM Pacific Daylight Time, tlongst@... writes:


            The questioner asks about
            Torah, "What good must I do....?" Jesus responds with a statement about
            Torah, stressing its unity (and, perhaps, the centrality of the decalogue),
            "The good is one." The questioner asks about the Torah. Jesus responds by
            talking about the Torah. Both question and response use "good" in the same
            way, to refer to Torah.


            Tom, for obvious reasons I would like to accept the validity of your interpretation here, but I have a few problems with it which perhaps I could get you to expand on for the list. My main problem is with the gender of ho agathos in Matt 19:17b. Why is it masculine and not neuter if it is a reference to the Law? If "the good"in this phrase were a reference to the Law, I would expect to read "hen estin to agathon". I agree with you (or at least with what I think you said in a previous post) that ho agathos should be read as subject and heis as predicate of the phrase, but the gender of both does not seem to me to support your reading. You also do not seem to incorporate 19:17a very well into your overall interpretation of the text: "why do you ask ME...?". And in this phrase, the gender of "the good" is ambiguous, because it is in the genitive case and could be either neuter or masculine (whatever one might make of this). It does seem to me that even reading Matthew as not dependent here on Mark, Matthew intends to have Jesus change the topic somewhat in his initial response to the questioner, raising it to another level perhaps, as he very often does in Matthew. But perhaps there is something I am not getting here. Also, even in the initial question, it seems to me exaggerated to take "to agathon" as simply a reference to the Law. It might be language deliberately used because of its connection to traditional Jewish discussions regarding the Law as the good, but an initial simple reading of the text must understand agathon here not as a substantive (and therefore a simple reference to the Law) but rather as an adjective modifying the interrogative particle ti, meaning "what thing". So as I read the text neither the questioner nor Jesus in his response really use the term "good" as a direct reference to the Law. Am I wrong here?

            Leonard Maluf
          • Ron Price
            ... Tom, I was trying to find out why you are so keen on your translation of hEIS ESTIN hO AGAQOS (Mt 19:17) before deciding whether to challenge it. All I had
            Message 5 of 21 , Jun 16, 2002
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              Thomas Longstaff wrote:

              > ..... he does not respond at all (nor even acknowledge), that at one
              >point he rested his argument on an inaccurate and biased translation of
              >Matthew, expressing the very bias that he was attempting to defend by using
              >that translation.

              Tom,

              I was trying to find out why you are so keen on your translation of
              hEIS ESTIN hO AGAQOS (Mt 19:17) before deciding whether to challenge it.
              All I had done was to go to the nearest translation at hand at the time,
              which happened to be the NRSV. I've since checked all the other English
              translations on my bookshelf, including the RC "Jerusalem Bible", and
              they all say something similar to the NRSV. You would appear to be way
              out on a limb here, though I accept that doesn't *in itself* prove
              you're wrong.

              > ..... With respect to the question of paying taxes to
              >Caesar, whether one accepts the point of view or not, one should at least
              >consider that this might represent a statement of zealot idealism.

              Far from not considering it, I actually agree here, though only in
              regard to the core saying in Mk 12:17 when it was (supposing it once
              was) an isolated saying. I've already explained why I think the Markan
              setting of the saying transforms it into advice that the taxes should be
              paid.

              >>> I suggested that if Mark were
              >>> late and believed that the earlier gospels would continue to exist and to
              >>> be available in the churches, then he was under no compulsion to include
              >>> everything .....

              >> That's not a reason relating to the LP *in particular*.

              >>> ..... - and need not have included the Lord's Prayer since it was
              >> >already available in the other gospels

              >> Ditto.

              >This is a good example of what I mean when I suggest that you are unwilling
              >even to consider the merits of any view other than your own.

              I don't consider a general reason, which works for any pericope, to be
              as good an explanation as a reason directed at the particular pericope
              in question, i.e. the LP.

              > ..... [ much snipped ] .....
              >So, if the Torah can be referred to as "the good" then the questioner in
              >Matthew comes with a question about Torah. "What good (what Torah, what
              >commandment) must I do to have eternal life?"
              > ..... Jesus responds with a statement about
              >Torah, stressing its unity (and, perhaps, the centrality of the decalogue),
              >"The good is one." The questioner asks about the Torah. Jesus responds by
              >talking about the Torah. Both question and response use "good" in the same
              >way, to refer to Torah. In my view the answer is neither irrelevant nor
              >pedantic.

              Thanks for explaining your viewpoint in such detail.
              Firstly, I admit that I'm not familiar with Pirke Aboth, nor any
              Rabbinic writings (assuming that's what it is). Looking at the crucial
              text hEIS ESTIN hO AGAQOS, I see that its normal translation involves a
              subtlety which my level of Greek is not up to assessing directly.
              However this does not disqualify me from making the following
              observations.
              (a) I'm wary of a position which apparently accuses the translators of
              both the standard English English NTs (NEB, REB) and the standard
              American English NTs (RSV, NRSV) of bias.
              (b) The idea that Mt 19:16 ff. is influenced by the structure of Prov 4
              seems inherently unlikely, if only because (according to the UBS3 index)
              Proverbs is never quoted in the gospels.
              (c) I still don't see why stressing the unity of the Torah has any
              relevance to the question.
              (d) The whole point of the pericope in all the synoptics is Jesus'
              follow-up, which indicates that keeping the Torah is not enough. So why
              on earth would the Torah be described as "good" in this context? All
              three synoptics are running it down by saying, in effect, that it is not
              good enough.

              > ..... In these gospels we have
              >two issues, albeit combined, rather than one,

              It is true that Mark and Luke include an extra issue, namely whether
              Jesus should be called "good". But as their conclusion is that he
              shouldn't, it's more likely the issue was removed by Matthew in order to
              enhance the image of Jesus. For if it had been added by Mark or Luke it
              would have tended to tarnish the image of Jesus. The general trend over
              time was to enhance his image.

              > despite your assertion that
              >Mark immediately turns from the "open and honest question" about eternal
              >life to comments about Torah (another critique of the way you argue your
              >case to which you do not respond).

              O.K., so I should have written "almost immediately" for v.18
              intervenes between vv. Mk 10:17 and Mk 10:19.

              >On the Two Document (or Three Document) Hypothesis you must admit that it
              >is a happy coincidence that Matthew found in Mark just the right term,
              >"good," to refer to Torah

              If "good" in Matthew *did* refer to the Torah, then yes.
              But there's yet another problem here. For if many of today's the best
              educated scholars don't see this reference, I doubt whether Matthew
              could have expected his audience to understand it.

              > and just the right words (with few changes)

              But here you let your enthusiasm run away with itself. They clearly
              weren't "just the right words" if any changes were needed.

              > ..... In this case I
              >think that the evidence weighs more heavily in favor of Matthean priority.

              Our assessment of the evidence is radically different.

              >I think that you have made some good points about the Lord's Prayer.

              Thanks.

              > Do I think that your analysis constitutes convincing evidence
              > that his gospel was written first? I confess that I do not ...

              Ah well, it was worth a try. ;-)


              Ron Price

              Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK

              e-mail: ron.price@...

              Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm

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            • Stephen C. Carlson
              ... The Greek of Matthew 19:17 hEIS ESTIN hO AGAQOS is notoriously obscure. Literally, it means the good is one or possibly there is one who/that is good,
              Message 6 of 21 , Jun 16, 2002
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                At 06:02 PM 6/16/02 +0100, Ron Price wrote:
                > Thanks for explaining your viewpoint in such detail.
                > Firstly, I admit that I'm not familiar with Pirke Aboth, nor any
                >Rabbinic writings (assuming that's what it is). Looking at the crucial
                >text hEIS ESTIN hO AGAQOS, I see that its normal translation involves a
                >subtlety which my level of Greek is not up to assessing directly.
                > However this does not disqualify me from making the following
                >observations.
                >(a) I'm wary of a position which apparently accuses the translators of
                >both the standard English English NTs (NEB, REB) and the standard
                >American English NTs (RSV, NRSV) of bias.

                The Greek of Matthew 19:17 hEIS ESTIN hO AGAQOS is notoriously
                obscure. Literally, it means "the good is one" or possibly
                "there is one who/that is good," but what that means in its
                context is not clear at all. Rather than presenting the
                readers with an obscure text, translators have had to impose
                some kind of interpretation, generally by referring to the
                clearer parallels in Mark and Luke. In fact, this behavior
                is not limited to English-language translators, for the Byzantine
                scribes have replaced hEIS ESTIN hO AGAQOS with OUDEIS AGAQOS
                EI ME hEIS, ho QEOS ("No one is good but one, God.").

                The interpretive nature of the rendering is openly acknowledged
                in the NASB ("New American Standard Bible") text, which employs
                italics around the word "only": "There is /only/ One who is good."
                Translations such as the NRSV do not employ italics and do not
                generally footnote their interpretive decisions. (The AV does
                not use italics here because it follows the Byzantine text.)

                O. Lamar Cope and TRWL here have proposed a plausible meaning
                of the Greek and Matthew's pericope as a whole, but you can
                never see it in the usual translations. You have to go to Greek.

                Personally, I've been disappointed with the standard source
                critical treatments of this passage. They exaggerate the
                Christological problems in Mark's text, while ignoring the
                lack of clarity in Matthew's text. Peter Head's discussion
                on this passage in his book is a welcome but rare, balanced
                treatment.

                Stephen Carlson
                --
                Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
                Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
                "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35

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              • Jeffrey B. Gibson
                ... Two problems here, I think. One, on your thesis it would be difficult to explain then why Mark has Jesus not only use **any** BASILEIA TOU QEOU language,
                Message 7 of 21 , Jun 18, 2002
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                  Ron Price wrote:

                  > Thomas Longstaff wrote:
                  >
                  > > ..... I am not sure why you suggest
                  > >only this reason, shortage of space, as a possible explanation for Mark's
                  > >omission. Do you have some reason for highlighting that possible reason
                  > >among the many that might be suggested?
                  >
                  > Thomas,
                  >
                  > On my synoptic theory (the 3ST), Mark decided not to include the
                  > complete Lord's Prayer from the early sayings source ('sQ') because he
                  > realized the clause "May your kingdom come" had political overtones, and
                  > he was anxious to present a gospel which would not unduly offend the
                  > Roman authorities.

                  Two problems here, I think.

                  One, on your thesis it would be difficult to explain then why Mark has Jesus not
                  only use **any** BASILEIA TOU QEOU language, but begin his ministry with the
                  programmatic announcement HGGIKEN hH BASILEIA TOU QEOU.

                  Two, it would also be difficult to explain why Mark chooses to summarize what
                  Jesus preaches as the EUAGGELION TOU QEOU since EUAGGELION is a term with roots
                  in the propaganda of the Imperial Cult, and the addition of the phrase TOU QEOU
                  makes Jesus' message a **direct competitor** to the EUAGGELION of Caesar. (on
                  this, see Craig A. Evans "MARK’S INCIPIT AND THE PRIENE CALENDAR INSCRIPTION:
                  FROM JEWISH GOSPEL TO GRECO-ROMAN GOSPEL" at http://www.jgrchj.com/page67)

                  Then there is the problem that you have assumed what needs to be proven, namely,
                  that the Kingdom petition in the LP is a call for God to bring in his BASILEIA
                  in the near future and therefore has political overtones. I have argued in my
                  recent BTB article on problems with seeing the LP as an eschatological prayer
                  that this is simply **not** the focus of this petition. Rather, the aim of the
                  petition is to secure divine aid against apostasy.

                  I hope you'll forgive me for taking the liberty of quoting myself on this
                  matter:

                  *********
                  Surely, the eschatologists argue, [the Kingdom] petition stands as conclusive
                  proof that for Matthew and Luke the LP is an eschatological prayer. For is it
                  not self evident, they ask, given (a) the import of the language of Matt.
                  6:10a//Lk. 11:2c, and (b) the formal parallelism of the Kingdom petition with
                  those in the Amidah and the Kaddish which speak of the hastening of God's
                  kingdom and which (it is claimed) have eschatological intent, that what we have
                  here is a plea for God to act now to do something he was expected to do only in
                  the future, namely, establish decisively his sovereignty on earth?
                  Well, no, it is not self evident, and for two reasons. First, to say that
                  the petition is a plea for God soon to usher in his BASILEIA (reign/rule)
                  implies that, at the time the prayer was given, Jesus believed that God not only
                  had not yet done so, but, more importantly had no intention of doing so, at
                  least in the foreseeable future (on this, see A. Polag, 60; Beasely Murray,
                  150). And yet nothing is more certain in the portrait of Jesus that both Matthew
                  and Luke paint than that Jesus knew God's kingdom to be a powerfully present
                  reality. Indeed, in the contexts in GMatt and GLuke in which the giving of the
                  LP takes place, the prevailing assumption about God's BASILEIA is that it and
                  the opportunity it offers for the salvation of God's people has already arrived
                  (cf. Matt. 4:16; Lk. 4:16-21; 19:44). In the light of this, it seems unlikely
                  that the petition in Matt. 6:10a//Lk. 11:2c is a plea for God to act now to do
                  something he was expected to do only in the (distant?) future. Why urge anyone
                  to pray for the accomplishment of a fait accompli?
                  Second, there is the observation that insofar as the wording of petitions in
                  Jewish prayers wherein God is clearly urged to bring about the early dawning of
                  his Kingdom stands as any kind of evidence for what prayers with this intent
                  should look like or be worded, then taking Matt. 6:10a//Lk. 11:2c as having the
                  intent that "eschatologists" say it has is ruled out. As these Jewish prayers
                  evince, the standard practice when invoking God to hasten the arrival of his
                  kingly rule was to use the expression "cause to reign" or a form of the verb "to
                  reveal", not "to come". Thus if what Jesus actually intended his disciples to
                  pray in the Kingdom petition for was God's speeding up the timetable for the
                  arrival of the BASILEIA TOU THEOU (reign/rule of God), he should have urged them
                  to say not ELTHETW hH BASILEIA SOU (Let your reign/rule come) but something more
                  along the lines of APOKALUPSATW (be revealed) or (EM)FANEROUTW hH BASILIEA SOU
                  (let your reign be manifested). And when we add to this observation the fact
                  (acknowledged even by such staunch advocates of the eschatological
                  interpretation of the LP as Meier [298], and Davies and Allison, [1:604]; see
                  also Chilton, 37) that "kingdom" or the expression "God's Kingdom" cannot be
                  found anywhere in the entire corpus of the literature of formative Judaism (let
                  alone that of Jewish petitionary prayers, or for that matter that of the NT) as
                  the subject of the verb "to come", we have good reason to doubt that the
                  expression ELTHETW hE BASILEIA SOU means what the proponents of the
                  eschatological interpretation of the LP claim is does.
                  In fact what it seems to mean is "may we be made worthy of your reign by
                  being conformed not to our own will but to yours". Three things indicate this.
                  First, as we have seen, the petition is set by both Matthew and Luke within the
                  context of Jesus' larger proclamation not only that the Kingdom has arrived but
                  that both those who seek the Kingdom and those who think they have it as their
                  heritage must turn and conform themselves to its demands if it is ever to be
                  theirs. With this as its immediate background, ELTHETW hE BASILEIA SOU echoes
                  the calls in Rabbinic literature (cf. Yoma 86b; Sanhedrin 97b) for Israel to
                  seek God's aid to be conformed to charity, obedience, justice, and repentance in
                  order to be rendered worthy of the deliverance that was faithful Israel's
                  inheritance (so G.E. Moore, 2:350-352).
                  Second, there is the implication of the fact, noted by George Caird, that
                  in the formal and material parallel to the Kingdom petition (Matt. 6:10a//Lk.
                  11:2c) found in Rev. 22:20c --namely, the petition ERCHOU, KURIE IESOU (Come,
                  Lord Jesus!), which, like Matt. 6:10a//Lk. 11:2c, is (a) a prayer consisting of
                  a form of ERXOMAI (to come) in the imperative + subject, and (b) also is uttered
                  in the context of an announcement of the dawning of a divine visitation (cf.
                  Rev. 22:20a,b "He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon."
                  (compare Matt. 4:17; Lk. 4:16-21)--the function ERCHOMAI has there is to express
                  the desire to be turned from disobedience and conformed to what is called upon
                  to "come". As Caird notes, Rev. 22:20c is "... a prayer that Christ will come
                  again to win in his faithful servant the victory which is both Calvary and
                  Armageddon. It is the prayer which says. 'All I ask is to know Christ and the
                  power of his resurrection, to share his sufferings and conform to the pattern of
                  his death, if only I may arrive at the resurrection of the dead’ (Phil. iii.
                  10-11). It is a prayer that the Christian, confronted by the great ordeal, may
                  'endure as one who sees the invisible' (Heb. xi. 27), and may hear above the
                  harsh sentence of the Roman judge the triumph song of heaven" (288, italics
                  mine). This being the case, then, mutatis mutandis, what the ELTHETW (let come)
                  in the petition ELTHETW hE BASILEIA SOU does is to express the wish to be made
                  worthy of God's Kingdom and to be protected from all that would prevent this
                  end.
                  And third, there is the implication of Matthew's expansion and explication
                  of the petition ELTHETW hE BASILEIA SOU with the phrase "May your will be done,
                  on earth as it is in heaven" (GENETHETW TO THELHMA SOU, hWS EN OURANW KAI EPI
                  GES, Matt. 6:10b,c). If we assume, as I think we should (especially given how
                  its conformity with the Matthean version of Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane, where
                  God's enabling of obedience in the face of a desire to be otherwise is exactly
                  what is expressed, makes the ethical interpretation of Matt. 6:10b,c certain) ,
                  that the concern of this explicatory phrase is God's enabling of the disciples'
                  obedience in the face of a desire to be otherwise , we have early testimony that
                  the objective of the petition which the phrase explicates (ELTHETW hE BASILEIA
                  SOU) was known to be something other than having God decisively manifest himself
                  ahead of the time he intended to so do. Quite the contrary, it is to have God
                  insure that the will of his people is co-ordinate with and not antithetical to
                  God's own purposes for them.
                  In the light of all this, the eschatological interpretation of Matt.
                  6:10a//Lk. 11:2c seems forced. Indeed, the evidence shows that rather than its
                  being an imploration to God to make his kingdom arrive, ELTHETW hE BASILEIA SOU
                  is actually a plea for divine aid for obedience and against engaging in apostasy
                  as Jesus defines it.

                  ****
                  Given this, it then seems to me that if we grant for the sake of argument that
                  Mark did indeed know the LP and chose to leave it out of his Gospel, it simply
                  cannot be for the reasons you give.

                  Yours,

                  Jeffrey Gibson
                  --
                  Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)
                  1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
                  Floor 1
                  Chicago, Illinois 60626
                  e-mail jgibson000@...
                  jgibson000@...



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                • Ron Price
                  ... Jeffrey, The concept of the kingdom of God , like the role of Messiah , was too well-established in the tradition to be removed altogether. ... I ve not
                  Message 8 of 21 , Jun 19, 2002
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                    I wrote:

                    >> On my synoptic theory (the 3ST), Mark decided not to include the
                    >> complete Lord's Prayer from the early sayings source ('sQ') because he
                    >> realized the clause "May your kingdom come" had political overtones, and
                    >> he was anxious to present a gospel which would not unduly offend the
                    >> Roman authorities.

                    Jeffrey Gibson replied:

                    >Two problems here, I think.
                    >
                    >One, on your thesis it would be difficult to explain then why Mark has
                    >Jesus not
                    >only use **any** BASILEIA TOU QEOU language, but begin his ministry with the
                    >programmatic announcement HGGIKEN hH BASILEIA TOU QEOU.

                    Jeffrey,

                    The concept of the "kingdom of God", like the role of "Messiah", was
                    too well-established in the tradition to be removed altogether.

                    >Two, it would also be difficult to explain why Mark chooses to summarize what
                    >Jesus preaches as the EUAGGELION TOU QEOU since EUAGGELION is a term with roots
                    >in the propaganda of the Imperial Cult, and the addition of the phrase TOU QEOU
                    >makes Jesus' message a **direct competitor** to the EUAGGELION of Caesar. (on
                    >this, see Craig A. Evans "MARK’S INCIPIT AND THE PRIENE CALENDAR INSCRIPTION:
                    >FROM JEWISH GOSPEL TO GRECO-ROMAN GOSPEL" at http://www.jgrchj.com/page67)

                    I've not yet had time to study this article in detail, but certainly
                    an initial look leaves me unconvinced that Mark had in mind any
                    background other than the Tanak, and Isaiah in particular.

                    >Then there is the problem that you have assumed what needs to be proven,
                    >namely,
                    >that the Kingdom petition in the LP is a call for God to bring in his BASILEIA
                    >in the near future and therefore has political overtones.

                    In a previous reply to you (dated Jun 13) I had already presented a
                    case for seeing political overtones in the kingdom petition. You may not
                    accept my case, but it is gratuitous to say that I "assumed what needs
                    to be proven".

                    >I hope you'll forgive me for taking the liberty of quoting myself on this
                    >matter:

                    Do proceed.

                    >*********
                    >Surely, the eschatologists argue, [the Kingdom] petition stands as conclusive
                    >proof that for Matthew and Luke the LP is an eschatological prayer.

                    Already you seem to be attacking a different target. Or are you, by
                    quoting these words in the present context, assuming that if Matthew and
                    Luke didn't take the petition as eschatalogical, then neither would
                    Mark?

                    > ..... And yet nothing is more certain in the portrait of Jesus that both
                    >Matthew
                    >and Luke paint than that Jesus knew God's kingdom to be a powerfully present
                    >reality.

                    This may be the dominant impression, but there remains a certain
                    ambivalence. For both writers included the saying about the kingdom of
                    God being "near" (Matthew twice, Luke three times), in addition to the
                    kingdom petition itself.

                    > ..... it seems unlikely
                    >that the petition in Matt. 6:10a//Lk. 11:2c is a plea for God to act now to do
                    >something he was expected to do only in the (distant?) future. Why urge anyone
                    >to pray for the accomplishment of a fait accompli?

                    It was presumably a matter of timing. In other words, a "soon" seems
                    to be implied, as you appear to acknowledge in the quotation below.

                    > Second, there is the observation that insofar as the wording of
                    >petitions in
                    >Jewish prayers wherein God is clearly urged to bring about the early dawning of
                    >his Kingdom stands as any kind of evidence for what prayers with this intent
                    >should look like or be worded .....
                    > ..... Thus if what Jesus actually intended his disciples to
                    >pray in the Kingdom petition for was God's speeding up the timetable for the
                    >arrival of the BASILEIA TOU THEOU (reign/rule of God) .....
                    > ..... "kingdom" or the expression "God's Kingdom" cannot be
                    >found anywhere in the entire corpus of the literature of formative Judaism (let
                    >alone that of Jewish petitionary prayers, or for that matter that of the NT) as
                    >the subject of the verb "to come", we have good reason to doubt that the
                    >expression ELTHETW hE BASILEIA SOU means what the proponents of the
                    >eschatological interpretation of the LP claim is does.

                    The argument here is that formative Judaism expressed its
                    eschatalogical hope using certain phraseology. Jesus didn't use that
                    phraseology. Therefore Jesus is unlikely to have been expressing an
                    eschatalogical hope. But the Christian interest in Jesus is precisely
                    because he *didn't* conform to all the norms of Judaism. He introduced
                    both new ideas and new phraseology. We cannot therefore assume that in
                    this particular case he would have been a conformer. In painting a
                    picture of the "kingdom of God", Jesus was clearly using his paints in
                    an original way to produce an original overall effect.

                    > In fact what it seems to mean is "may we be made worthy of your reign by
                    >being conformed not to our own will but to yours" .....
                    > [much snipped]
                    >****

                    The synoptic context of the kingdom petition is being invoked here.
                    But even if your interpretation of this context is correct, Mark may
                    still have worried that his readers might interpret "May your kingdom
                    come" in isolation and take it (as I think it was originally intended)
                    as a plea for the early restoration of the Davidic kingdom.

                    Ron Price

                    Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK

                    e-mail: ron.price@...

                    Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm

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