Re: [Synoptic-L] Jesus' baptism
- In a message dated 6/16/2004 11:36:39 AM Pacific Daylight Time, tonybuglass@... writes:
The priority of Mark is another one of those theories that has been swallowed more because of its popularity than because of its logic
You seem to like trashing "popular" theories. Is it not possible that theories become popular (ie widely accepted) because they are found to be persuasive?
This is possible, and I would go even further to say that it actually happens, even frequently -- but in this particular instance the arguments for the theory are not persuasive, whether or not they are found to be.
And to argue that "Gerd Lüdemann
is just following the crowd on this one" did make me look twice. I quoted him because he is one of the more sceptical of the scholars whose works are available to me, and perhaps the least likely to follow the crowd on anything - he has demonstrated a willingness to follow a theory even if it takes him out on a very unpopular wing.
Yep, he seems to have the peculiar habit of liking to trash popular theories. That it is precisely why I said he is following the crowd (uncharacteristically) "on this one". And you know he is.
If you are right in your argument that Mark's version of the baptism account is later than Matthew's, that suggests that Matthew may have had access to an earlier form of the story than the version in Mark.
Or, more probably, that Matthew IS an earlier form of the story than the version of Mark.
It might be that Matthew was using the hypothetical "UrMarkus", an earlier version
of the story than that in canonical Mark. If Dunn's theories on oral tradition are right (in Jesus Remembered), namely that oral repetition may preserve early tradition beyond the point of development of later versions. It is also possible that what you posit as Matthew-to-Mark development in the exaltation of the role of the Baptist may instead be Mark-to-Matthew development: John and Mark both preserve an early belief that John was preparing the way for Jesus, which Matthew wishes to play down. Perhaps there was a local issue in his area with followers of the Baptist, as there seems to have been in the area where John's Gospel was written.
All of this is only theoretically possible. What I don't understand is why the theory of Markan priority is so sacred that it needs to be defended, at any cost, against the evidence of directionality in individual sets of Synoptic parallels.
In general, there seems to me to more sense in the theory of Markan priority - language, literary relationships, etc - than the theory of Matthean priority. In this specific example, if your argument that Matthew's baptism story is earlier holds true (and I'm not yet persuaded) it doesn't on its own indicate Matthean priority, but against the background of other evidence for Markan priority may suggest a more complex relationship between the two.
But what if, as I maintain, Matthew proves to have the earlier version of the event in by far the majority of individual cases of parallel material in Synoptic Gospel pericopes? Then, I think, the macro-arguments in favor of Markan priority should be re-examined. And when this is done, they will be seen, unfortunately, not to hold up to a strict logical standard. George W. Bush wears a suit and tie and is able to speak with utter sincerity about the necessity of defending freedom and democracy around the world. For some people, this is decisive evidence against the charge that he is a war criminal. The evidence as stated has an enormous power appeal, but, of course, it lacks any logical force whatsoever.
Blessed John XXIII National Seminary