[Synoptic-L] Goodacre on Fatigue:correction
- OK, guys, time's up! To remind you what the issue is, I had written, four days ago, on the command of Jesus to the healed leper in Matt 8:4:
<< If one assumes that Jesus' command in Matthew intends to conceal the evidence of the miracle he has just worked, then one does not need to look at the crowds which, in Matthew, are following Jesus for a contradiction in Matt's account. A contradiction would already be present between the negative command, and the positive commands in the continuation of Jesus' very words to the leper. But there is no need to read the negative command of Jesus in Matthew as a command to silence in this sense, as G. does. And here is where the translation problem comes in.>>
"No need to read the negative command of Jesus in Matthew as a command to silence in this sense"? All you experts on Matthew out there should not have let me get away with this statement so easily. There is in fact good evidence in Matthew's Gospel to suggest that the statement of Jesus to the leper in Matt 8 should be read just so (as a command to silence). I discovered this evidence minutes after my original posting, when I opened to the text of Matt 8 in my Novum Testamentum, Graece et Latine, edited by Augustinus Merk S.J. In the margins to the command of Jesus to the leper in Matt 8:4, this edition of the NT supplies a reference to Matt 9:30, where Jesus says to the healed blind men: hORATE, MHDEIJ GINWSKETW. There is no question that the close parallel here should be taken into account in the interpretation of Matt 8:4. And this only goes to show that neither I, nor most of you, I am afraid, know the text of Matt as well as Mark did (I mean Saint Mark), as I will demonstrate below. Let me just make the following numbered points in response to my own rebuttal:
1. My correction of G.'s translation of the verse in his "The Case Against Q" should be revised to read as more of a footnote than a substantive criticism: G's rendering here does not substantively alter the meaning of Matthew's text.
2. On the other hand, the argument for Matthean priority in this set of parallels is increased rather than diminished by this new evidence: it becomes clear that what I will call the theme of "paradoxical publication" of the Gospel message should almost be regarded as Matthean "property" (as in my "ownership" argument), in light especially of Matt 10:26-27 (with no Markan parallel!) and Matt 9:30-31. My point is that this motif of silencing followed paradoxically by the inevitability and intensification of the preaching is so much of a Matthean favorite that it becomes virtually impossible to account for Matthew's omission of Mark 1:45, on the hypothesis that Matthew knew and used Mark.
3. On the other hand, the redaction of the leper story by a late Mark is strikingly illuminated in the light of this new evidence. Mark apparently read the text of Matt 8:1-4 in the light of what he regarded as Matthean motif-parallels to this passage (especially Matt 10:26-27 and 9:30-31), and the latter two texts therefore influenced Mark's redaction of the leper story. This hypothesis would account for the beginning of Mark 1:43 (KAI EMBRIMHSAMENOJ AUTOU and cf. Matt 9:30: ENEBRIMHQH) and for the two preaching verbs found in Mark 1:45: KHRUSSEIN is derived from Matt 10:27, and DIAFHMIDSEIN, from Matt 9:31.
4. But what does this all do to G.'s fatigue argument? Bottom line, I don't think it changes much here, and I believe most of my defense of coherency in the original Matthean account remains intact, even if it would have to be stated in somewhat different terms. My translation is still valid: "See that you do not talk to anyone, but go [straight] to the priest, etc.", but I will now admit that -- at a surface level at least -- this imperative does involve the intention to silence with regard to the immediate publishing of the cure event. But the command to silence is now to be understood as a kind of foil designed to highlight the inevitability of the proclamation, which in the present case will take place at the latest when the man has shown himself to the priest, exhibiting his cleansing by Jesus in testimony to them. It is therefore a misstep to focus on the psychological implausibility of concealing the miracle from a crowd that might be present here according to Matt 8:1. It would likewise be diversionary to speculate on the moral question of whether the blind men in Matt 9 or the leper in Mark 1 are disobeying the command to silence by Jesus. This does not seem to concern either evangelist in the least. Their point has to do with the wonderful resiliency of the proclaimed word and its paradoxical progress in spite of efforts to conceal.
5. Realistically speaking, the few persons in a noisy crowd who happened to be close enough to the event to witness the miracle might be imagined to have seen something happen, and to have heard the dialogue between Jesus and the leper. But most of the crowd would not have had that kind of direct access to the event and would have benefited greatly from the immediate and vocal publication of his cleansing by the leper, which Jesus forbids. The story remains coherent, therefore, even in realistic terms (especially in light of Matt 12:19), but the point of the account lies elsewhere, as explained above. G.'s hypothesis depends on the unlikely assumption of a silent crowd, whose attention is riveted on Jesus and on the approaching leper, and who would have followed the dialogue and readily perceived its effects. Nothing in the text suggests that Matthew intended such a scenario.
6. Thus, I would continue to urge that G's fatigue argument in this passage misses the forest for the trees, but I would relegate my "faulty translation" criticism to a footnote.
Blessed John XXIII National Seminary