Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.
 

Re: [Synoptic-L] Synoptic Problem Memo (Rev 1)

Expand Messages
  • Joseph Weaks
    ... Bruce, There is a larger list of possible relationships running around somewhere. I can t recall where at the moment. This history part you make
    Message 1 of 5 , Jan 19, 2005
      On Jan 19, 2005, at 1:34 AM, E Bruce Brooks wrote:
      > it assumes that relations obtain
      > among *all three* Synoptics, which is not logically necessary, and not
      > historically sufficient.

      Bruce,
      There is a larger list of possible relationships running around
      somewhere. I can't recall where at the moment. This "history" part you
      make reference to is really the aspect of the subject that renders this
      kind of listing close to pointless, isn't it? The historicity of is all
      makes the list infinite.
      B could've REALLY known A, while C has passing knowledge of it and B,
      or not.
      A's version of B could've been quite different than C's version.
      (Certainly the case, in fact)
      etc.

      My 2ยข,
      Joe

      **************************************************************
      Rev. Joseph A. Weaks
      Senior Minister, Bethany Christian Church, Dallas
      Ph.D. (Cand.), Brite Divinity School, Ft. Worth
      j.weaks@...

      The Macintosh Biblioblog http://macbiblioblog.blogspot.com
      "All things Macintosh for theB ible Scholar"
      **************************************************************

      Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
      List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
    • E Bruce Brooks
      To: Synoptic-L In Response To: Joe Weaks On: Synoptic Theories From: Bruce JOE: Right. I think, then, that we are talking apples/oranges. You re centering on
      Message 2 of 5 , Jan 19, 2005
        To: Synoptic-L
        In Response To: Joe Weaks
        On: Synoptic Theories
        From: Bruce

        JOE: Right. I think, then, that we are talking apples/oranges. You're
        centering on the theory, and I tend to care more about real implication for
        interpretation.

        BRUCE: I don't see it that way, or rather I don't see a clear-cut dichotomy.
        I see rather a natural methodological sequence. Philology frames a text
        theory on purely textual evidence, by doing what it knows how to do. History
        unpacks the texts as thus presented, and works out the implications for
        events.

        My view (not my own, but long since stated by the classic manual writers
        Langlois et Seignobos, and long before them, by the Chinese text critic Yau
        Ji-hvng) is that the philology has to be done before the history can
        reputably begin. A text is not a "source" for history until it has been
        philologically scrutinized, and until its nature and date, absolute or
        relative (plus a few other basics) have been determined with reasonable
        firmness.

        But I see both as part of a larger process. To me as a philologist, the
        plausibility of the historical implications (and their support or lack of it
        from other circumstantial evidence) is the final test of the viability of
        the philological hypothesis (the statement that says what type of
        relatedness obtains among the three Synoptics). So even if it is not
        strictly a part of philology, it is nevertheless a matter of constant
        relevance to philology.

        The list of possible configurations simply exhausts the three-way
        philological possibilities; it also (and I thought this was amusing) shows
        how few unambiguous directionality determinations might suffice to indicate
        which of the 25 possible configurations we have before us. The good news is
        that there can be only one relationship in reality. The bad news is that it
        may after all be difficult to find. (That a solution, once found, is next to
        impossible to convince anybody of, is by now news to no one. That's however
        a social fact, not a philological fact, and since I can't do anything about
        it, I choose to ignore it).

        As for "theory," I don't in my own work invoke at any stage what I would
        call a "theory." I try to look at the facts, and then find a way of
        explaining the facts (a "hypothesis" if you like). "Theory" in our time
        implies something pretty heavy, and usually Marxist; at minimum some
        predisposition that is protected from empirical examination of the
        situation. I try, I think any historian tries, to exclude such
        predispositions from the investigation, whether merely personal or
        "theoretical" predispositions. The difficulty of doing this is well known.
        The impossibility of doing it, though often enough asserted in recent years,
        has not yet been demonstrated.

        JOE: Good luck on the project

        BRUCE: Thanks, it may come in handy.

        Bruce

        E Bruce Brooks
        Warring States Project
        University of Massachusetts at Amherst
        http://www.umass.edu/wsp



        Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
        List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
      • Joseph Weaks
        ... Well, I do understand even more of your project and approach now. That s helpful. But, I do think we re still talking past one another. Most of what you
        Message 3 of 5 , Jan 19, 2005
          On Jan 19, 2005, at 8:18 PM, E Bruce Brooks wrote:
          > JOE: Right. I think, then, that we are talking apples/oranges. You're
          > centering on the theory, and I tend to care more about real
          > implication for
          > interpretation.
          >
          > BRUCE: I don't see it that way, or rather I don't see a clear-cut
          > dichotomy.
          > I see rather a natural methodological sequence. Philology frames a text
          > theory on purely textual evidence, by doing what it knows how to do.
          > History
          > unpacks the texts as thus presented, and works out the implications for
          > events.
          >

          Well, I do understand even more of your project and approach now.
          That's helpful. But, I do think we're still talking past one another.
          Most of what you said about your method is in fact what I meant by
          "theory"-- it is theoretical. The point of examining practical
          implication follows the theory-- it's the "so what". I think of JDEP
          in Hebrew Bible introductory texts... it ruled the day as THE means for
          understanding the majority of texts, but in recent introductions, JDEP
          is introduced without any "so what". Or, I think of the primary and
          valid criticism of Burridge's work on gospel genre. Professor Burridge
          concedes so much in his definition of genre for the sake of comparing
          Mark to both Xenephon and Suetonius that he's left with a "so what",
          for which me has tried to write corrective followups.

          Cheers,
          Joe

          **************************************************************
          Rev. Joseph A. Weaks
          Senior Minister, Bethany Christian Church, Dallas
          Ph.D. (Cand.), Brite Divinity School, Ft. Worth
          j.weaks@...

          The Macintosh Biblioblog http://macbiblioblog.blogspot.com
          "All things Macintosh for theB ible Scholar"
          **************************************************************


          Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
          List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
        • E Bruce Brooks
          To: Synoptic-L Cc: CGC (Comparative History Discussion) In Response To: Joe Weaks On: Theory and Method From: Bruce [Preface for the comparative law people on
          Message 4 of 5 , Jan 19, 2005
            To: Synoptic-L
            Cc: CGC (Comparative History Discussion)
            In Response To: Joe Weaks
            On: Theory and Method
            From: Bruce

            [Preface for the comparative law people on the CGC list: this is one item in
            an NT exchange which, as it evolved, I thought might be suggestive for legal
            history. It is copied to you accordingly. Would those who know the JDEP
            theory of the origin of Jewish law, and its historical consequences, as I do
            not, care to comment? / Bruce]

            I suspect that this exchange may be wearying the NT many. I add this note
            nevertheless, since I feel importantly about the distinction (under whatever
            names, and I am open to better ones) between what I would call theory and
            method.

            Method, to me, is the toolkit. It is the list of devices one learns in, say,
            Metzger's Text of the New Testament. This is not so much a set of
            conclusions about the manuscripts, or about the text of the NT as deduced
            from the best manuscripts (Metzger does touch on these things, but for a
            full-fledged theory of the NT text, one goes instead to something like
            Westcott and Hort, 1882 and reprints), as a list of stuff to watch for when
            working on those problems. Prominent among them is the error canon, the list
            of mistakes which experience shows scribes are likely to make. Knowing those
            likely errors sensitizes the beginner by appropriating a huge amount of
            other people's experience (Griesbach's caution that "lectio brevior potior"
            does not mean that scribes ALWAYS expand, and so on, is very well taken, at
            all points). Method has no content.

            Theory, on the other hand, as I understand it, is a view of a particular
            text or corpus arrived at after using method (or by serendipity, or any
            other way). It offers an explanatory model. It proposes to explain, to
            account for. Theory has content; content is the whole point and power of
            theory.

            JOE: Most of what you said about your method is in fact what I meant by
            "theory"-- it is theoretical. The point of examining practical implication
            follows the theory-- it's the "so what".

            BRUCE: I have no problem with the idea that once we have arrived at a theory
            (in the above sense: an explanatory model), we need to ask, what are the
            consequences if it is true? I think it is well established in the sciences
            that a theory without consequences is nugatory, since it cannot be tested by
            observing those consequences. As for method being "true," it is a
            contradiction in terms. Method can at most be helpful in trying to arrive at
            truth. Method is not an answer, it is a way of reaching answers. For that
            reason, it cannot be tested, and thus cannot be refuted (though it is always
            subject to being better observed). Thus, refuting a particular theory of
            Gospel origins, or establishing that a given passage is not after all an
            interpolation, and so on, would leave the methodological the observation
            that scribes often expand still standing, and unaffected. The country doctor
            might misdiagnose a given case of influenza, but his thermometer will still
            work. Method is what tells him to use the thermometer.

            JOE: I think of JDEP in Hebrew Bible introductory texts... it ruled the day
            as THE means for
            understanding the majority of texts, but in recent introductions, JDEP is
            introduced without any "so what".

            BRUCE: JDEP (as I understand it, the idea that not Moses, but four different
            persons represented by the letters J, D, E, and P, wrote the first five
            books of the OT) strikes me as precisely a theory - a conclusion after
            examination, including an examination of the names for God in particular
            segments of text. JDEP has content, it says something about the Pentateuch.
            Whether the JDEP theory is presented in a given book AS a theory, or
            silently accepted as an assured fact, may reflect one way or another on the
            author of that book, but it doesn't change the status of JDEP as a theory.

            JDEP isn't a method by which one investigates any other problem (though, if
            found valid, it might be suggestive as a precedent for seemingly analogous
            cases). It is rather a theory whose point is limited to explaining (or if
            one prefers, and conservative denominations apparently do prefer, offering
            to explain) one particular problem: the origin of the Mosaic law.

            I should think that JDEP can be tested by its consequences, like any theory.
            I am out of my element here, and off-topic for the list to boot, for which
            apologies, but for instance: If the JDEP explanatory model is true, what
            sort of historical picture emerges? Do the successive layers of law in that
            model make sense as social evolution, or as a response to social evolution?
            Can we form from the JDEP model a picture of an evolving Israel, and is
            there any collateral evidence that would either support or refute that
            picture? Is there seeming contact with the law codes or organizing documents
            of any contiguous civilization, and does the interchronology work out right?
            Stuff like that.

            At which point one calls in the comparative law people and asks them: Does
            this make sense to you? The previous philology, the work that noted a
            certain distribution of J and E in those OT books, is not subject to that
            kind of verification (instead, it is subject to correction by more accurate
            observation). Method teaches us to pay attention to distributions. But no
            distribution becomes a theory until it has been judged significant, and made
            into a scenario for the emergence of the material in question.

            Or so it looks from here. Better terms, and better explication of these
            terms, are always welcome. And if anyone would like to recommend a book as
            the current best exposition of NT or NT-relevant philological method (I
            already have Maas and West, and obviously Metzger), I am listening.

            Bruce

            E Bruce Brooks
            Research Professor of Chinese
            Warring States Project
            University of Massachusetts at Amherst


            Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
            List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
          Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.