Re:Matt 14:1-2 and pars.
- TOPIC: Matt 14:1-2 and pars.
From: Leonard Maluf
Using as a spring-board a remark of Bruce, in Re: Wording of Matthew, etc.
I am now in possession of a copy of Mark G's interesting NTS article on
fatigue in the Synoptics as a directional marker. I will soon be responding to
this article from a 2 GH perspective, beginning with Mark G's example of the
John the Baptist murder story in the threefold tradition. The following
remarks on the beginning of this passage, triggered by a remark of Bruce's,
will serve as a useful introduction for my upcoming posts.
BRUCE writes: <<In all cases, the 5000 Feeding is preceded by an inquiry of
Herod, who compares reports of Jesus's exploits with those of John the
Baptist, whom he has just killed. (Mt 14:1-2 / Mk 6:14-16 / Lk 9:7-9).>>
LEONARD: In an attempt to state in general what the cited verses contain,
Bruce has papered over differences in the three texts which I think are highly
significant in terms of the directional pointers they provide. We have here an
excellent example of conflation on the part of later Gospel writers: Luke here
conflating this passage with the next Matthean passage in which an
identification of Jesus with JB is found (Matt 16:14), and Mark, later,
attempting to combine the resulting two perspectives found in the texts of
Matt and Lk at this parallel point.
More in detail: Matt simply has Herod somewhat ominously (and superstitiously)
affirm to his underlings that this (the Jesus whose fame has become legendary)
is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead, and for this reason
marvelous wonders are being performed by him.
Lk follows with apparently two agendas: one, his usual custom of not simply
trying to produce a one to one corresponding parallel to Matt, but rather
writing his text after consulting the various parallel Matthean texts on a
theme (in this case: the identification of Jesus with JB). ALk's other agenda
is to avoid having Herod admit the doctrine of resurrection from the dead
(Herod is, presumably at least, closer to the Sadducees than to the Pharisees,
in his thinking about resurrection). The two agendas turn out to be mutually
supportive here, since the other Matthean parallel (Matt 16:14) speaks of the
rumored opinions about the identity of Jesus, and when this perspective is
transported here, Herod can simply be musing about and puzzling over various
alternative opinions expressed, rather than strongly affirming that JB has
been raised from the dead. Herod's actual words in Lk are also interesting
from the point of view of his overall redaction in this part of his gospel.
Unlike Herod's words in Matt, Herod in Lk affirms (9:9): "John I have
beheaded.. (this is necessary for Herod to say, because Luke plans not to tell
the story of the beheading found in Matt).. but who is this about whom I hear
these things?" (this, instead of affirming that it is JB, and implying rather
that it is not --- all made possible in light of his conflationary success in
the previous verses).
Mk comes last and attempts to accommodate both of the above perspectives, with
a resulting somewhat clumsily accumulative text. 6:14 is a fairly close
parallel to Matt's opening verse, but already conflates the perspectives of
the two earlier texts: it is the people who are now saying what Matt has had
Herod say about JB. In 6:15, the views of other people are reported in
fidelity to the text of Lk, and finally, in 6:16, Herod himself pipes in, by
way of settling the dispute, and affirms WHAT he affirmed from the beginning
in Matt's text, but in TERMS largely taken from the words of Herod in Lk.
are committed to crediting him with an interest in narrative consecutivity.
The above was an example of something that Mt/Mk had, and Lk lacked. Now
comes a case of something which Mk/Lk have, and Mt (at this point) lacks,
namely the Return of the Twelve: Mk 6:30 / LK 9:10. In those two texts, the
motive for removal to the location where the 5000 Feeding will occur is to
rest the Twelve after their exertions, or at least so specifies Mk 6:31
(implicit but still the preferred inference in Lk 9:11).
The pattern where Mk shares with either Mt or Lk or sometimes both, but
rarely do Mt/Lk share something that Mk does not have, is what I believe is
referred to as Mk being a "middle term" (logical point of overlap) between
Mt and Lk. I find this term troublesome, since to me it implies
"intermediate state between the evolution Mt > Lk or the reverse." The
natural text-history inference is that Mk is, rather, the common source
from which the other two diverge. No alternative statement will as
naturally cover the pattern. There are facts not subsumed in the pattern,
and thus subordinate clauses in the hypothesis will be necessary, but the
pattern is still the largest oveall fact about these three texts. We
therefore adopt the common source theory of GMk as our working hypothesis.
Not arbitrarily, not in Brians's terms "positing" anything, but with this
pattern as the basis for a reasoned inference. Applications of the
hypothesis, in interpreting the text material, will then be tests of the
validity, adequacy, and inclusiviness (explanatory power) of the hypothesis
The Lukan omission of the killing of John as a narrative bauble (showy but
distracting) has a counterpart, from the point of view of our working
hypothesis, in the Matthean omission of the Return of the Twelve. This too
can be seen as interruptive: it interposes the proximal motive of resting
the Twelve for the prior motive of hiding from Herod, as a reason to remove
to wilder parts. So why might Mt have removed it? Again, the only
intuitively obvious reason is that it wastes the work of Herodian
preparation, and leaves it simply disconnected from the following text. Mt
indeed hooks it up explicitly: in Mt 14:12, unlike its Mk parallel, says
that when John's disciples had buried him *they went and told Jesus.* There
follows Mt 14:13 *Now when Jesus heard this,* making the causal link plain.
Again, we are in effect attributing to AMt, as we did earlier to ALk, a
desire for narrative consecutivity, even though in him that desire takes
different forms than in ALk.
Not inevitable as a hypothesis, but not inconsistent as a consequence of
hypothesis. No refutation so far.
The Twelve. Do they belong in GMk? On the evidence of GLk, who seemingly
retains them, yes. As of the time that text served as a source for GLk and
GMt. But there is reason to doubt that they are original in GMk (Yuri would
say pMk). I have argued that point earlier on CrossTalk, and assume it
established for the present purpose (actually, that discussion is still in
progress, or anyway incomplete; I owe Philip Lewis and others a response).
This segment would be a case in point. If we remove the Return of the
Twelve, which goes nowhere narratively in GMk or its GLk echo, and mentally
undo some rewriting that must on this assumption have taken place in Mk
6:31, we find that in the earlier state of GMk also, the Herodian interest
would have stood directly before, and naturally motivated, the Jesuine
withdrawal. It is attractive and it makes a logical reconstruction. Is it
locally justified? I would say so: the Mk 6:31 reason for withdrawing was
that "many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat."
Since any deeds of the Twelve were done offstage, and narrated to Jesus in
private, those deeds can not have been the reason for the crowd's interest.
Nor indeed does the crowd seem interested; it just seems in the way. That
would link up with the last previous mention of a crowd, which is the
largely unbelieving crowd in his hometown of Nazareth (Mk 6:5-6). So it
would seem that removing the Return not only reactivates a motive for
withdrawal, it also resumes a narrative situation. Continuity is in two
senses improved by removing the Return from GMk. That is a normal type of
evidence for establishing a passage as interpolative.
However, the Return was there as of ALk, and ALk follows it. Why does he
not do as AMt did, and eliminate it? At some point these questions of
authorial choice become inscrutable. ALk does not do that. He does do
something else. At a later point (Lk 10:17) occurs the Return of the
Seventy, a unique Lukan segment, and at that point the report of the
returned ones is a little fuller, and shares with us some of the details of
the mission ("The seventy returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons
are subject to us in your name"). That deferred conclusion compensates
somewhat for the narrative fizzle of the Return of the Twelve. It might not
be too much to suggest that ALk is content to let the Twelve languish where
AMk or his interpolator had left them, and to shift weight to his own more
glorious but similarly symbolic Seventy.
ALk, for reasons concerning which I will not here speculate, substitutes
the city of Bethsaida for the Markan "lonely place apart" which with
variation in wording is retained by AMt. So the situation is differently
set up in the three: (a) Mt: Jesus has just been alerted to danger from
Herod. (b) Mk: Jesus has suggested that the tired Twelve leave the
indifferent but obtrusive crowd for a quiet place to rest. (c) Lk: Jesus
without expressed reason takes them "apart" but also "to a city called
Bethsaida." The three variant phrases about whose Matthean member Brian
inquired then follow, severally, but in each case naturally, from that
initial situation: (1) Mt: when the crowds learned that Jesus had gone into
remote places, they followed him on foot from the towns. (2) Mk: And they
went away in the boat to a lonely place apart by themselves. Now many saw
them going, and [recognized] them, and they ran there on foot from all the
towns, and got there ahead of them. (3) Lk: When the crowds learned of
their withdrawal to Bethsaida, they followed him.
Is there a pointer in the single phrase Brian quotes? I don't see one. But
I do see that phrase as consistent with a pattern in the larger context,
which *itself* constitutes a pointer. I do not think we are reduced to
arbitrarily selecting a relational hypothesis, and then equally arbitrarily
interpreting the differences in the light of it.
One might, as a Synoptic experiment, adopt in turn all six of the possible
three-way hypotheses, interpret the entire GSyn accordingly, and then
choose the hypothesis that involved *the least total explicatory strain.*
It sounds burdensome, but it would in principle be a reasonable research
proposal. To arbitrarily select one *and then keep it,* no.
BRIAN: Putting the point as bluntly as possible - suppose that Matthew was
the only synoptic gospel to have survived. Suppose also that we know from
some early Christian writer than Matthew used documentary source material
(other than the OT) for a substantial part of his Gospel. Then it would be
impossible to determine which wording in Matthew was supplied by the writer
of the Gospel himself, because we would not be able to distinguish between
wording which Matthew himself supplied and wording which Matthew copied
from his documentary source material. Nothing in Matthew would be an
obvious example of redaction by Matthew. Indeed, the writer of the Gospel
of Matthew might simply have conflated various documentary sources without
himself supplying any wording at
BRUCE: Putting it blunter yet: Suppose indeed that Matthew was the only
GSyn to have survived. I submit that merely by close inspection of that one
text, without any Christian writer in the picture at all, a sufficiently
careful philologist could form a fairly accurate conjecture of the general
areas of indebtedness to an outside source (of course not known as GMk;
presumably to be called Q or something along those lines). I also submit
that even an insufficiently careful philologist could conceivably get a
hint of that outer indebtedness.
It's September, and the beginning of school for considerable of us. Try
this. Offer your NT class a one-week special collective project, six to
volunteer, and receive extra credit upon completion. Rules: You are
supplied with an uncommentated translation of GMt, together with Bacon's
analysis of its form. You are not to read commentaries, or to consult any
text of the full NT, or to participate in class discussions of what is
usually called the Synoptic Problem. You are allowed to reflect, as a
methodological model, on several prefaces to 2 Corinthians. You are to ask
questions of the teacher concerning the text, with a view to assembling
data and forming an opinion on the question: Are there areas in the text
which seem to rely on an earlier source of unspecified nature and extent?
The students do not know Greek or Hebrew, but the teacher does, and with
that knowledge plus access to the scholarly literature and standard
references, the teacher will answer all Septuagintal or other questions
about the original text.
I am willing to bet that a nontrivial number of those projects will find
something that correlates nontrivially with the GMk area in GMt. Any
E Bruce Brooks / University of Massachusetts
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