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[Synoptic-L] more on Downing (was: Response to Downing)

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  • Ken Olson
    ... article by F. Gerald Downing entitled Dissolving the Synoptic Problem Through Film? which appeared in JSNT 84 (2001), pp. 117-9. This short article by
    Message 1 of 4 , Apr 17, 2003
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      Way back on November 8, Mark Goodacre posted:

      >>I'd like to share with the list my draft of a response to a recent
      article by F. Gerald Downing entitled "Dissolving the Synoptic
      Problem Through Film?" which appeared in JSNT 84 (2001), pp. 117-9.
      This short article by Downing was a response to an earlier article I
      had written called "The Synoptic Jesus and the Celluloid Christ . .
      ." I'd be grateful for any feedback on my piece below ahead of my
      submitting it to a journal. With thanks, Mark.<<

      Mark,

      Sorry for the long delay in responding on this one, but I've only now
      managed to get hold of Downing's piece. (JSNT 2001 has been off at the
      bindery for a while). You've probably sent off your response to Downing by
      now, but I'd still like to make a few comments.

      First, like you, I would divide the common objection to Luke having
      reordered Matthew into two areas. There is the aesthetic objection that
      Luke would not have broken up Matthew's masterful arrangements, particularly
      that of Matthew's Sermon on the Mount. There is also the practical
      objection that Luke's rearrangement of Matthew is too difficult to envision
      for a writer using ancient compositional methods.

      Your original piece was aimed mostly at the aesthetic argument. Many modern
      scholars have opined that Luke would never have broken up the Matthean
      masterpiece. I agree with you that your argument effectively makes the
      point that modern filmmakers, who probably intended no disrespect Matthew's
      Sermon, have found it desirable both to shorten it and to redistribute parts
      of it elsewhere.

      Downing's counter-argument is based largely on the practical considerations
      of ancient composition. He says that Luke's rearrangement "would have
      involved a much more elaborate toing and froing in Matthew than we have
      evidence for in any contemporary source(s)" and refers to his earlier
      articles on Josephus and the Synoptic problem [JSNT 8 (1980) 46-65; JSNT 9
      (1980) 29-48] as establishing this.

      I'm not much convinced by Downing's contention that Matthew's rearrangement
      of Q on the 2DH is completely different because Q is shorter. Further,
      Josephus does rearrange his source material extensively. As you pointed
      out, there are some examples of this given in Downing's own work.
      Additionally, Downing's work on Josephus fails to take into account Shaye
      Cohen's _Josephus in Galilee and Rome: His Vita and Development as an
      Historian_ (Leiden: Brill, 1979). Downing's early work on Josephus came out
      too soon after Cohen's work to take advantage of it, and Downing has not
      done so subsequently.

      Cohen argues that Josephus' BJ and V are both rewritings of an original
      _hypomnema_, one arranged topically and the other chronologically. There is
      a chart of their differences in order on pp. 261-263. Steve Mason provides
      a more detailed chart of the differences in order between the BJ and V in
      volume 9 of the new Brill commentary on Josephus, pp. 213-222. It is, of
      course, possible that Cohen is mistaken about Josephus' use of sources.
      Nonetheless, he is a major Josephan scholar and the differences in order of
      similar material between BJ and V seem to require that Josephus did quite a
      bit of toing and froing somewhere along the line.

      I will add that Eusebius, while not strictly speaking a contemporary of Luke
      's, is believed to have extensively rearranged the order of his written
      sources. Stuart Hall provides a chart of how he thinks Eusebius topically
      rearranged his own Ecclesiastical History and In Praise of Constantine to
      construct his Life of Constantine [_Eusebius' Life of Constantine,
      Introduction, Translation and Commentary_ by Averil Cameron and Stuart G.
      Hall (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999) 14-16]. The complexity of Eusebius
      rearrangement of his sources seems to me to be far greater than what Luke
      would have done with Matthew.

      None of this, of course, addresses the aesthetic consideration of why Luke
      might have wanted to rearrange Matthew, and there are differences between
      Josephus and Eusebius and Luke. Josephus and Eusebius are reordering their
      own work in these examples, not someone else's. Nevertheless, I think that
      these examples do show that Downing's suggestion that ancient authors did
      not reorder their sources extensively because it required too much "toing
      and froing" is unfounded.

      Best Wishes,

      Ken

      kaolson@...




      Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
      List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
    • Emmanuel Fritsch
      ... More over : Eusebius, Josephus and modern filmmakers all change the order for a sake of conveniance : they translate a story from a litterary gender to
      Message 2 of 4 , Apr 17, 2003
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        Ken Olson a écrit :
        >
        > Way back on November 8, Mark Goodacre posted:
        >
        > >>I'd like to share with the list my draft of a response to a recent
        > article by F. Gerald Downing entitled "Dissolving the Synoptic
        > Problem Through Film?" which appeared in JSNT 84 (2001), pp. 117-9.
        > This short article by Downing was a response to an earlier article I
        > had written called "The Synoptic Jesus and the Celluloid Christ . .
        > ." I'd be grateful for any feedback on my piece below ahead of my
        > submitting it to a journal. With thanks, Mark.<<
        >
        > Mark,
        >
        > Sorry for the long delay in responding on this one, but I've only now
        > managed to get hold of Downing's piece. (JSNT 2001 has been off at the
        > bindery for a while). You've probably sent off your response to Downing by
        > now, but I'd still like to make a few comments.
        >
        > First, like you, I would divide the common objection to Luke having
        > reordered Matthew into two areas. There is the aesthetic objection that
        > Luke would not have broken up Matthew's masterful arrangements, particularly
        > that of Matthew's Sermon on the Mount. There is also the practical
        > objection that Luke's rearrangement of Matthew is too difficult to envision
        > for a writer using ancient compositional methods.
        >
        > Your original piece was aimed mostly at the aesthetic argument. Many modern
        > scholars have opined that Luke would never have broken up the Matthean
        > masterpiece. I agree with you that your argument effectively makes the
        > point that modern filmmakers, who probably intended no disrespect Matthew's
        > Sermon, have found it desirable both to shorten it and to redistribute parts
        > of it elsewhere.
        >
        > Downing's counter-argument is based largely on the practical considerations
        > of ancient composition. He says that Luke's rearrangement "would have
        > involved a much more elaborate toing and froing in Matthew than we have
        > evidence for in any contemporary source(s)" and refers to his earlier
        > articles on Josephus and the Synoptic problem [JSNT 8 (1980) 46-65; JSNT 9
        > (1980) 29-48] as establishing this.
        >
        > I'm not much convinced by Downing's contention that Matthew's rearrangement
        > of Q on the 2DH is completely different because Q is shorter. Further,
        > Josephus does rearrange his source material extensively. As you pointed
        > out, there are some examples of this given in Downing's own work.
        > Additionally, Downing's work on Josephus fails to take into account Shaye
        > Cohen's _Josephus in Galilee and Rome: His Vita and Development as an
        > Historian_ (Leiden: Brill, 1979). Downing's early work on Josephus came out
        > too soon after Cohen's work to take advantage of it, and Downing has not
        > done so subsequently.
        >
        > Cohen argues that Josephus' BJ and V are both rewritings of an original
        > _hypomnema_, one arranged topically and the other chronologically. There is
        > a chart of their differences in order on pp. 261-263. Steve Mason provides
        > a more detailed chart of the differences in order between the BJ and V in
        > volume 9 of the new Brill commentary on Josephus, pp. 213-222. It is, of
        > course, possible that Cohen is mistaken about Josephus' use of sources.
        > Nonetheless, he is a major Josephan scholar and the differences in order of
        > similar material between BJ and V seem to require that Josephus did quite a
        > bit of toing and froing somewhere along the line.


        > I will add that Eusebius, while not strictly speaking a contemporary of Luke
        > 's, is believed to have extensively rearranged the order of his written
        > sources. Stuart Hall provides a chart of how he thinks Eusebius topically
        > rearranged his own Ecclesiastical History and In Praise of Constantine to
        > construct his Life of Constantine [_Eusebius' Life of Constantine,
        > Introduction, Translation and Commentary_ by Averil Cameron and Stuart G.
        > Hall (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999) 14-16]. The complexity of Eusebius
        > rearrangement of his sources seems to me to be far greater than what Luke
        > would have done with Matthew.
        >
        > None of this, of course, addresses the aesthetic consideration of why Luke
        > might have wanted to rearrange Matthew, and there are differences between
        > Josephus and Eusebius and Luke. Josephus and Eusebius are reordering their
        > own work in these examples, not someone else's. Nevertheless, I think that
        > these examples do show that Downing's suggestion that ancient authors did
        > not reorder their sources extensively because it required too much "toing
        > and froing" is unfounded.

        More over : Eusebius, Josephus and modern filmmakers all change
        the order for a sake of conveniance : they translate a story
        from a litterary gender to another one, which present its own
        convention and its own convenience (i.e: its own properties, its
        own rhetoric, its own constraints).

        On the other side, all synoptics belongs to the same literary
        gender. Is not the change of order in Eusebius, Josephus and
        modern filmmakers legitimated, and probably needed, by the change
        of literary gender ? We join here the ground of the aesthetical
        argument.


        Second observation : nothing in your comment, Ken, adresses
        the order of rewriting. Is BJ prior to V ? Or the reverse ?
        If we want to use Josephus as a model of reordering to solve
        the synoptic problem, logically, we have to find internal
        evidences in his work pointing for the direction of the
        dependency.

        a+
        manu

        Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
        List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
      • Ken Olson
        ... the order for a sake of conveniance : they translate a story from a litterary gender to another one, which present its own convention and its own
        Message 3 of 4 , Apr 20, 2003
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          On April 18, Emmanuel Fritsch wrote:

          >>More over : Eusebius, Josephus and modern filmmakers all change
          the order for a sake of conveniance : they translate a story
          from a litterary gender to another one, which present its own
          convention and its own convenience (i.e: its own properties, its
          own rhetoric, its own constraints).<<

          KO:
          I was addressing primarily the mechanical aspects of composition and trying
          to show that ancient authors had techniques that allowed them to
          systematically rearrange their sources, even if those sources were fairly
          long. Both Eusebius and Josephus apparently knew how to rearrange the order
          of material taken from long written sources. It's possible that genre
          conventions would have prevented someone from using a known technique of
          rearrangement, but that wouldn't change the fact that such a technique was
          known (and used). That is what I am disputing with Downing.

          EF:
          >>On the other side, all synoptics belongs to the same literary
          gender. Is not the change of order in Eusebius, Josephus and
          modern filmmakers legitimated, and probably needed, by the change
          of literary gender ? We join here the ground of the aesthetical
          argument.<<

          KO:
          Modern scholars frequently recognize the gospels as all being of the genre
          "gospel", but that is an after-the-fact description of these documents and
          not an established genre with its own set of conventions that were
          recognized at the time the documents were written. I don't really want to
          get into the question of whether the gospels are Graeco-Roman bioi or not,
          because the answer depends largely on how broadly one wants to define that
          genre.

          In particular, the two-volume work Luke-Acts is difficult to place and
          defies generic conventions. We would expect the genre of a work with more
          than one volume not to change genres between volumes, but it's hard to see
          Acts as the same genre as Luke, or, rather it's hard to see that if we
          define Luke as being of the same genre as Mark. Luke seems to be capable of
          writing in, or imitating, a large number of different genres in his work.

          As to the aesthetic or generic question of why Luke might have *wanted* to
          break up Matthew's Sermon on the Mount, (as opposed to the mechanical
          question of whether Luke *could*), I think Luke may have faced a very
          similar problem to that faced by modern filmmakers. He may be giving
          greater attention to the primarily aural medium through which the gospel is
          to be communicated than Matthew is, or at least he appreciates that medium
          in a different way than Matthew does.

          The Matthean masterpiece is a fine piece of writing if one has the leisure
          to read and study it by oneself. It may not work so well in oral
          performance. Cutting its length, sticking to one central theme, and
          redistributing it so that other themes could be presented elsewhere seems to
          me a reasonable thing to do. Matthew's approach of putting a programmatic
          sermon covering the scope of Jesus' teaching at the beginning of the
          ministry to serve as an introduction works better as a piece of reading than
          as a piece of listening. That's a matter of opinion, but I think the way
          Mark Goodacre's study of the way filmmakers treat the sermon tends to
          support it.

          EF:
          >>Second observation : nothing in your comment, Ken, adresses
          the order of rewriting. Is BJ prior to V ? Or the reverse ?
          If we want to use Josephus as a model of reordering to solve
          the synoptic problem, logically, we have to find internal
          evidences in his work pointing for the direction of the
          dependency.<<

          KO:
          First, I said, "Cohen argues that Josephus' BJ and V are both rewritings of
          an original
          _hypomnema_, one arranged topically and the other chronologically." Cohen
          doesn't see either BJ or V as dependent on the other. Both make independent
          use of the _hypomnema_. Cohen accepts the consensus that BJ is earlier and
          V is later, but he thinks BJ has been topically reorganized and that V
          follows the order of the source more closely. This is similar to what the
          2DH proposes for Matthew and Luke's use of Q, with one rearranging topically
          and the other following the order of the source. While this can be taken as
          supporting the 2DH, it can equally well be taken as supporting any of the
          other major source hypotheses. It shows that a writer might either follow
          the order of his source or rearrange it topically.

          Second, I was making the point that ancient authors did indeed have
          techniques available to rearrange the order of their sources and that this
          required a great deal of "toing and froing." As far as this point goes,
          "direction of dependency" does not matter. It would not matter much if
          Cohen was wrong and BJ has the original order and V is more extensively
          rearranged. The techniques required by the author would be pretty much the
          same. If you want to do a more detailed study of Josephus' or Eusebius'
          rearrangement to show that it most closely resembles a particular synoptic
          theory, by all means do.

          Best Wishes,

          Ken

          kaolson@...


          Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
          List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
        • Emmanuel Fritsch
          ... EF : You have addressed in your mail two arguments : the mechanical aspects, and the aesthetical consideration. My answer addressed this two aspects. **
          Message 4 of 4 , Apr 23, 2003
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            Ken Olson wrote :
            >
            > >>More over : Eusebius, Josephus and modern filmmakers all change
            > the order for a sake of conveniance : they translate a story
            > from a litterary gender to another one, which present its own
            > convention and its own convenience (i.e: its own properties, its
            > own rhetoric, its own constraints).<<
            >
            > KO:
            > I was addressing primarily the mechanical aspects of composition and trying
            > to show that ancient authors had techniques that allowed them to
            > systematically rearrange their sources, even if those sources were fairly
            > long. Both Eusebius and Josephus apparently knew how to rearrange the order
            > of material taken from long written sources. It's possible that genre
            > conventions would have prevented someone from using a known technique of
            > rearrangement, but that wouldn't change the fact that such a technique was
            > known (and used). That is what I am disputing with Downing.

            EF :
            You have addressed in your mail two arguments : the mechanical aspects,
            and the aesthetical consideration. My answer addressed this two aspects.

            ** about aesthetical consideration, I point out the facts that order
            changes were needed by literary genre translation. That does not apply
            to synoptic problem.

            ** about mechanical aspects, you are right to answer that Eusebius and
            Josephus rearranging their source are a good answer to those who argue
            an impossibility for Luke to rearrange Matthew.

            a+
            manu

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