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Re: [Synoptic-L] Re: balance of plausibility

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  • Stephen C. Carlson
    ... No, there s no such presumption. In fact, I do place the burden of persuasion lies on those asserting the existence of a literary relationship, However,
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 18, 2004
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      At 06:28 PM 10/18/2004 +1000, Tim Lewis wrote:
      >Is assuming written sources really more plausible? ...
      >Stephen, you seem to be defaulting to the notion that Q must be a singular
      >written document (or Mt) because of "extensive verbal agreements" and
      >"large-scale agreements in sequencing" without previously established
      >parameters of whether an oral source or written source (or combination) is
      >just as explicable. Thus you presume the burden of plausibility/persuasion
      >lies with those who do not see a written source for the double tradition.

      No, there's no such presumption. In fact, I do place the burden
      of persuasion lies on those asserting the existence of a literary
      relationship, However, "extensive verbal agreements" and "large-scale
      agreements in sequencing" are among the relevant evidence that justifies a
      conclusion that there is such a literary relationship. There's nothing
      particularly unique about these (and other) criteria here; they've been
      applied by all sort of historical critics in all sorts of fields as well
      as by courts adjudicating copyright disputes.

      >Yes, it would seem people who are publishing literature on "Q" are more
      >likely to have already accepted it as a unified document. But is it
      >something that most Mk-Q theorists would agree on? (Is this not one weakness
      >of the theory!?) Perhaps there are just as many who are unable to suppose a
      >unified document but are simply less vocal (since this is less exciting? too

      It may depend on what you mean by "most Mk-Q theorists". If you
      mean people who have published on synoptic source criticism, there
      are not a lot of them. If you mean people who more or less assent
      to the Mark-Q theory but don't really publish on that topic, I don't
      really know.

      >Indeed several scholars are becoming more vocal against the "written"
      >default setting in studying the synoptic problem. E.g. James Dunn is a
      >proponent for an oral Q ["Altering the Default Setting: Re-envisaging the
      >Early Transmission of the Jesus Tradition" [NTS 49 (2003): 139-75].
      >Cf. John D. Harvey ["Orality and its Implications for Biblical Studies:
      >Recapturing an Ancient Paradigm," JETS 45/1 (March 2002): 99–109] who
      >believes, "a common oral source is at least as plausible a solution to the
      >"Synoptic Problem" as one which is based on literary interdependence." See
      >also an article earlier this year by Sharon Lea Matilda, "Negotiating the
      >Clouds Around Statistics and "Q": A Rejoinder and Independent Analysis," NT
      >XLVI, 2 (2004): 105-131, indicating an acceptance of the independence of Mt
      >and Lk and some acceptance of the Mk-Q hypothesis but sees as problematic
      >the notion of copying from a Q document (or even Mk as a document).
      >Especially worth a read is, T. M. Derico "Upgrade and Reboot: A Re-Appraisal
      >of the Default Setting" Trinity College, Oxford
      >[http://www.sbl-site.org/PDF/Derico_Upgrade.pdf%5d in response to Dunn’s 2003
      >NTS article.

      Harvey's article is available on-line along with many other in JETS
      at http://www.etsjets.org/jets/journal/jets.html

      My impression of all these articles (two of which I have at hand
      and the other two are based on my [poor] memory) is that they fail
      to articulate any workable standards for judging whether there was
      or was not literary use that can be applied to a broad set of actual
      cases. In particular, there's a tendency to set an impossibly high
      standard of proof for assessing literary dependence in the NT that
      would not work in other situations, and it is not clear why.

      Harvey's article stressed the orality of the culture, but the
      evangelists did write gospels and, even if the greater culture was
      oral, one cannot ignore the very real literary sub-culture -- a
      sub-culture that, in general, was wealthier and more mobile (so
      documents did circulate) and a sub-culture in which we would
      regarded as plagiarism was rampant (so people did copy). In such
      a sub-culture, I don't see why the constant rejoinder of "but it
      could have been oral" to be particularly compelling. We're not
      talking about literary dependence among illiterates.

      >Helmut Koester came eventually to multiply sources (written and oral) for
      >the canonical gospels ["Written Gospels or Oral Traditions," Journal of
      >Biblical Literature, Summer 94, Vol. 113 Issue 2, 293-7]. If his statement
      >(p.297), "Whenever one observes words or phrases that derive from an author
      >or redactor of a gospel writing, the existence of a written source must be
      >assumed" is methodologically acceptable, then it is noteworthy that rarely
      >does one find Markan phrases and redaction in Mt or Lk (and not very much
      >Matthean phrasing is found in Lk).

      Redaction is a powerful (but not necessary) argument, but your
      statement that "rarely does one find Markan phrases and redaction
      in Mt or Lk" might appear to be an acknowledgement that some such
      redaction is found, because you didn't say "no" or "zero." Can
      you really exclude any Markan redaction?

      >I'm certainly envious of other list members' solid beliefs in their
      >particular source theories (most of which require much direct
      >copying/editing from written sources) whilst I’m still struggling to confirm
      >literary dependence (which seems to be assumed rather than tested)! I must
      >agree that theories of written sources are simpler. But must still disagree
      >that they are therefore more plausible or more likely.

      When I became interested in the synoptic problem, the very first issue that
      I had to deal with was the existence of literary dependence. In fact, as
      an exercise, I wrote several years ago a private essay "The Synoptic Problem
      is a Literary Question" that expressed my thoughts on the question to my own
      satisfaction. Now that I have a weblog, I think I'll go ahead and publish it
      there so that you and others can at least understand where I'm coming from.

      Stephen Carlson
      Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
      Weblog: http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/hypotyposeis/blogger.html
      "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35

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