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Re: [Synoptic-L] Luke displeasingness in Mt. 16.17-19

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  • Karel Hanhart
    ... From: Karel Hanhart To: Ken Olson ; Synoptic-L Sent: Friday, February 13, 2004 8:58 AM Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] Luke displeasingness in Mt. 16.17-19 Ken,
    Message 1 of 14 , Mar 5, 2004
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Friday, February 13, 2004 8:58 AM
      Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] Luke displeasingness in Mt. 16.17-19

      I read your note with great interest. Without entering into the discussion of an existing  Q document, I too agree that  the absence of Mt 16,17-19 in Luke, does not mean that the passage had no appeal  for Luke and was not pleasing to him (p. 221 NTS article Kloppenberg).
      To me the omission in Luke was due to difference in audience. Both Mark and Matthew were writing for liturgical and didactic use of the burgeoning (Judean/Gentile) ecclesia whose Judean leadership  was familiar with a midrash type of 'searching the Scriptues', unfamiliar to a Gentile audience.. Both Mark and Matthew could therefore rely on the knowledge and insight of a local presbyter to unlock the haggadic midrashim  in their story. For the meaning of the miracle stories, including the opened tomb story (or frustrated burial story), can only be unlocked with the help of midrash. The first two Gospels are therefore esoteric. Luke and John had a much wider public in mind. It is the primary reason for the omission of the "Peter' passage in Luke.  The second is, that Luke in his Acts offers a balanced picture of Peter's primary role, his mission to the Judeans in Jerusalem and Paul's (so called) mission to the Gentiles and Peter's disappearance to another topos!! at the end of his mission. The word 'topos' is significant here. For it has a dual meaning. After the destruction and during the new exile in the Messianic age, Jerusalem (as Luke sees it) is no longer the Holy PLace (topos, Hb. maqom) of the God of Israel   For both in the passion story of Mark and of Matthew the word topos (Hb maqom) refers to the Holy Place - Mt Zion. 
      Mt 16,17-19 is obviously an addition to the post-70 Mark version of a Passover Haggadah, used for the ecclesial liturgy in the Passover season, commemorating the mission of Jesus Messiah. Matthew's 'Peter and the keys' passage was in irs effect a confirmation of Mark's epilogue, as I have argued before. Matthew even elaborated the opened tomb story in a satirical fashion (the guard before the tomb).  For in his midrash on LXX Isa 22,16; 33,16 and LXX Gn 29,2.10. Mark was not referring to a literal empty grave, but to the destruction of the temple (mnemeion... ek petras) and so to the devastations on Mt Zion,  called  "ho topos" [Hebrew: ha-Maqom] in the angel''s words: "Behold (ide, sing.!)  - the Place (nomin.) where he was laid". The women see the destruction in a future vision (anablepsasai) and flee in perplexity and fear. 
      Mark wrote just after the awful news of the Fall of Jerusalem was reverberating through the empire. He meant to say that in spite of the crucifixion of the Master and in spite of the destruction of Zion, Jesus work would go on'. God had raised him and through his living body (!), the ecclesia, headed by James, Peter and John, Jesus had already continued his message among the nations : "He will go before you" to the Galil ha-goyim.
      I am assuming, therefore,  the classical view that Mark wrote for the ecclesia in Rome and that Matthew represented the ecclesia in the motherland (now in Pella? or somewhere in Syria? or Antioch?). At any rate, Matthew adopted (and improved) Mark's  post-70  gospel concerning this last "Passover" of Israel almost in his entirety. Since John Mark was the acknowledged ïnterpreter of Peter,  to Matthew Mark's Gospel bore the apostolic signature of Peter, so to speak.  The saying "on this rock (petra)  I will build my ecclesia", fits seamlessly this interpretation of Mark's 'monument on the Rock' midrash. In other words by adopting Mark's new passion story for the liturgy of the ecclesia, Mathew gave, so to speak, an ecclesial approval to this interpretation of the history of Jesus and of his followers. This theory, at any rate, would also clarify  Matthew's  words on the "keys of the Kingdom", given to Peter.  For it is widely acknowledged that this part of the Peter saying ALSO refers to LXX Isa 22,15-25 the same scripture Mark used as one of his midrashic sources for his opened tomb story.  In other words Matthew, with the authority of the "mother ecclesia" behind him, acknowledged Mark'S new and approved interpretation  of Jesus' work, his suffering, death and elevation to God's right hand AFTER THE TRAUMA OF 70.
      Now Luke omitted this Peter and the keys passage because his Gentile readers would not have been able to decipher this cryptic reference to the temple's destruction and  its meaning. But he does have the mission theme (comp. Mt 28,18f) in the very beginning of his Acts and he gives Peter his due weight before Paul who likewise ends up in Rome before 70. Luke like his predecessors refrains also from explicitly referring to the Judean Roman war for anyone who has lived in a state of a dictatorial regime knows one should be careful with the written word. The guarded language used by all three synoptics was unavoidable in view of the relatively dangerous political situation of the Jesus' followers.
      This rationale is offered because I believe those scholars who like me, adhere to Farrer's order of the four Gospels, could perhaps be invited to try  to clarify how they explain such phenomena as raised here by Mark Goodacre and Kloppenberg.   I find it remarkable that we agreed in this list to discuss the paper on Daniel Wallace on the priority of Mark. After a few feeble attempts to counter one or two Wallace's persuasive arguments, the e-mails stopped. Briefly, who would like to offer a rationale why 1) Matthew used Mark's post-70 version - a revision of older material -  2) Luke used both sources (and possibly others - 3) John gave his own 'spiritual' view of all three (while rejecting the  Gospel of Thomas as prof Fagel rightly suggested).
      Thank you for your patience,
      ----- Original Message ----- petra) I will build my church" implies that the Gospel of Mark, who had the approval of the ecclesia in Rome and was considered to have
      From: Ken Olson
      Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2004 10:04 PM
      Subject: [Synoptic-L] Luke displeasingness in Mt. 16.17-19

      I’ve been reading John S. Kloppbenborg’s "On Dispensing with Q?: Goodacre on the Relation of Luke to Matthew" from NTS 49 (2003) 210-236. Among the arguments in Goodacre’s Case Against Q to which JSK(V?) takes exception is that Luke failed to use Mt. 16.17-19 because ‘Luke is not as positive overall about Peter as Matthew’ and his importance recedes throughout Acts. JSKV provides several examples to show that Luke attached great importance to Peter and had a very favorable attitude toward him. For what it’s worth, I think JSKV has the better of Goodacre on this one.

      However, I do not think this means that advocates of the Farrer theory need admit that Mt. 16.17-19 fails to meet the requirement of ‘Luke displeasingness.’ There are two things about the passage that I think Luke found displeasing: (1) its sequence, and (2) the nature of the authority given to Peter.

      (1) On the first point: Mt. 16.17-19 is a bit awkward in its current location. Matthew has Jesus bless Peter and make him the foundation upon which the church is built just a few verses before he calls him Satan and says ‘you are an offense to me’ (Mt. 16.23). Peter later abandons and denies Jesus.

      How does Luke deal with this problem? First, he omits the Satan reference common to Matthew and Mark . This still leaves the problem that Peter abandons Jesus after being made the foundation of the church. So in Lk. 22.31-34, Luke has a pre-resurrection passage in which Jesus recognizes the post-resurrection importance of the role Peter will play once he has returned to Jesus. JSKV notes that Lk. 22.31-34 is a parallel ‘though not an equivalent’ to Mt. 16.17-19 (p. 221).

      Second, Luke attributes the founding of the church to the activity of the Holy Spirit bestowed by the risen Jesus (and, in fact, writes a whole new book on the subject). In this, he agrees with John rather than Matthew. John has a rough equivalent of Mt. 16.17-19, but places it after the resurrection and has the risen Jesus bestow the Holy Spirit on the apostles. Under the influence of Barbara Shellard and Mark Matson, I accept as a working hypothesis that Luke knew John’s gospel, but anyone who prefers to can think Luke and John share a common tradition here.

      (2) The second issue is probably even more important to Luke. The passages at Mt. 16.16-19, 18.18 and Jn. 20.22-23 all carry the implication (intended or not) that human agents have been granted the authority to withhold God’s forgiveness of sins. For Luke, this absolutely will not do. One of the major themes of Luke-Acts is that God's forgiveness is always available to any sinner who repents. The theme is found over and over in Luke’s special material (Lost Coin, Prodigal Son, Pharisee and Tax-Collector, Zacchaeus and many other places). For Luke, the apostles are intended to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins to everyone, not to withhold it from anyone (Lk. 24.47).

      Luke’s story of Simon ‘Magus’ in Acts 8.9-24 may be intended as a corrective to the possible interpretation of Mt. 16.17-19, 18.18 and Jn. 20.22-23 that the dispensing of forgiveness or the Holy Spirit was at the discretion of the apostles. Simon, who has been baptized but has not received the Holy Spirit attempts to buy it from Peter. Peter rebukes him, saying that the gift of God cannot be purchased with money and that Simon should repent and pray to God for forgiveness for his wickedness.

      In short, I think there are very good narrative and theological reasons for Luke to treat Mt. 16.17-19 as, on the Farrer theory, he did. I would be interested to know if anyone can think of counterexamples from Luke-Acts in which the apostles do exhibit the authority to withhold remission of sins.

      Best Wishes,



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