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re the Two Notebook Hypothesis

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  • Brian E. Wilson
    Jeff Peterson wrote in reply to Brian Wilson (SNIP) - ... You are right, Jeff, that the Two Notebook Hypothesis is at the back of my mind in almost all that I
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 17 9:16 AM
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      Jeff Peterson wrote in reply to Brian Wilson (SNIP) -
      >Those familiar with Brian's web site will recognize all this as an attempt
      >to engage on its own terms his "Two Notebook" synoptic hypothesis, which (I
      >take it) supplies the background for his request to Syn-L for a
      >demonstration that one word in Matthew was contributed by the author and
      >not transcribed from a source. If in this connection we shift to Luke, the
      >preface would seem to claim authorial or editorial creativity for Luke's
      >own project and for its predecessors; would one describe transcribing words
      >from previously existing accounts as ANATAXASTHAI DIHGHSIN? At least the
      >preface itself must be Lucan composition!

      You are right, Jeff, that the Two Notebook Hypothesis is at the back of
      my mind in almost all that I write to this List. This hypothesis does,
      however, explicitly state that each synoptist EDITED the wording of the
      material he copied from the Notebooks. No synoptist merely transcribed
      wording from his source material, on this view. Each synoptist did
      supply wording of his own. Each was an editor, and not merely a scribe.

      To infer which words were supplied by a synoptist himself, any of us
      must, I suggest, start with our preferred solution to the Synoptic
      Problem. There is no other way, as far as I can see.

      In recent postings, my main concern has been to make just this point,
      and establish a valid method of determining what wording any synoptist
      supplied. My aim was not to try and show that the synoptists slavishly
      transcribed their source material without editing the wording, in
      scissors and paste fashion, but to show that words supplied by a
      synoptist can be determined only if a hypothesis of the relationship
      between the synoptic gospels and documentary sources is first posited,
      and if inferences are then made from this. I certainly did not set out
      to show that no synoptist supplied wording of his own, since the 2NH
      explicitly states that the synoptists were editors who to some extent
      changed the wording and order of material they selected.

      Can I give examples of words supplied by the synoptists, then? If I
      start from my solution to the Synoptic Problem, it follows that, for
      instance, Mark supplied SXIZOMENOUJ in Mk 1.11 as the substitute he
      supplies probably for HNEWXQHSAN in Notebook 1 (retained by Matthew at
      Mt 3.16) which was edited by Luke to the form ANEWXQHNAI (found at Lk
      3.21). Similarly, Matthew supplied the third person singular form
      hOUTOJ ESTIN in Mt 3.17 where Mark and Luke both retained the second
      person singular form SU EI in Mk 1.11 and Lk 3.22, also taken from
      Notebook 1. Also, on the 2NH, Luke supplied the phrase "KAI
      PROSEUXOMENOU" in Lk 3. 21, which is absent from the parallel material
      in Matthew and Mark. And so on. And so on.

      As far as the 2NH is concerned, Lk 1.1-4 is a dedication of the work
      which follows - Lk 1.5-24.53 - and not part of this LOGOJ (see Acts
      1.1) itself. I think it has been argued by several scholars that Lk
      1.1-4 is so ambiguous that it can be made to fit almost any solution to
      the Synoptic Problem! Notwithstanding this, on the 2NH, the reference
      to "eye-witnesses" (Lk 1.2) is significant, because it is possible that
      Notebook 1 included translation into Greek of eye-witness short reports
      (logia) compiled in Hebrew/Aramaic by a person named Matthew (not the
      writer of the Gospel of Matthew) mentioned in the Papias tradition. (One
      of the external pieces of evidence for the 2NH is that it explains the
      Papias tradition concerning a person named Matthew.)

      Also, Luke's phrase ANATACASTHAI DIHGHSIN in the dedicatory preface is
      very much in line with the 2NH which states that the Notebooks were sets
      of disjointed notes copied independently by each synoptist, and
      therefore by Luke. On this view, Luke is referring in this phrase to the
      need to make make a continuous story from discontinuous pieces of
      material in the two Notebooks which he used. So in his dedicatory
      preface, Luke looks forward to editing the wording and order of the
      material he selects from his disjointed source materials which included
      eye-witness accounts.

      Jeff continued-
      > One can always postulate prior documents of
      >indeterminate character to account for a portion of the data, but the
      >indeterminacy makes them unfalsifiable, and therefore entertaining them
      >cannot move us towards a definitive solution. Michael Goulder presses this
      >point in the opening chapter of _Luke: A New Paradigm_, and even those not
      >convinced of "Marcan priority without Q" should acknowledge the force of
      >his methodological point.
      I think Michael Goulder is struggling in his philosophy of scientific
      method in "Luke: A New Paradigm". It seems to me that science, in
      particular the nature of scientific method, is not his subject. I do not
      claim to be a leading philosopher of scientific method, but, as it
      happens, science is my subject - I have earned my living, for some of my
      working life, in science laboratories, after having gained a first
      honours which included the study of the nature of scientific method,
      relativity theory, applied non-parametric statistics, mathematical
      logic, and so on.

      As A. F. Chalmers has shown ("What is this thing called Science?",
      Milton Keynes, 1976, see especially Chapter 6 'The Limits of
      Falsificationism'), theory-dependence of observation drives a coach and
      horses through falsificationism of the kind expounded by Karl Popper,
      and on which Goulder seems to rely here, as would appear to be indicated
      by the use of the word "unfalsifiable" in the exposition of his
      position above. Goulder seems not to realize ("Luke: A New Paradigm"
      pages 3-4 ) that Thomas Kuhn's concept of "paradigm" is largely a
      withering demonstration that Popperian falsificationism is inadequate,
      and that historically hypotheses in science simply have not been
      produced in accordance with Popper's falsificationism.

      Certainly, the Two Notebook Hypothesis can be systematically checked
      against the data. The 2NH would in fact have been shown to be false if
      there were no Minor Agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark in the
      triple tradition. So the 2NH is very clearly indeed not "unfalsifiable"
      in the sense Goulder seems to imply, and Goulder's point might even be
      said to be falsified by this. (It is interesting to note, here, that the
      irritating thorn in the flesh to the Two Document Hypothesis - that
      Minor Agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark are observed in the
      triple tradition - is essential if the 2NH is not to be ruled out!)

      The 2NH can be shown to be compatible with the Minor Agreements, the
      "Mark Q Overlaps", the doublets unique to each synoptic gospel, the
      existence of the double tradition, and other synoptic patterns including
      some which I think I have discovered - such as "good/bad fit similar
      story pairs", and the absence in any synoptic gospel of references in
      the first person to the writer (except in dedicatory Lk 1.1-4, of

      As far as I have been able to see, the 2NH is the only synoptic
      hypothesis so far put forward, which can be shown to be compatible with
      all the observed synoptic patterns. Of course, if other significantly-
      different hypotheses are put forward which also do this, then all the
      successful hypotheses would have to be weighed against each other, and
      presumably the most probable would then be accepted.

      I am producing an FAQ page on the Two Notebook Hypothesis for my home-
      page at the moment, but this is slow work. I will let folk know when
      this is on line. I am sorry for the delay.

      If anyone is interested, a statement of the Two Notebook Hypothesis can
      be read in the "Expository Times" (Vol 108, No 9, June 1997), pages

      Apologies for the length of this posting! There was a lot of ground to

      Best wishes,

      E-MAIL: brian@... TELEPHONE: +44-1480-385043
      SNAILMAIL: Rev B. E. Wilson, HOMEPAGE:
      10 York Close, Godmanchester, http://www.twonh.demon.co.uk
      Huntingdon, Cambs, PE18 8EB, UK
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