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5029RE: [GPG] RE: [AlphaChristianity] RE: [Synoptic-L] A problem of consistency?

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  • David Inglis
    Jan 9, 2014

      At the end of Bruce’s last post regarding our attempts to bring our two theories regarding early versions of Lk into alignment, he wrote:

      ”I conclude once more on a note of regret. It would have been nifty if Marcion’s recovered Gospel and my deduced Luke A had coincided, or to put it historically, it would have been exciting if the old Alpha Christian community of Sinope had actually preserved, and continued to use, the earlier form of Luke, ignoring all later updates. That would have been, not only news, but frontpage news, and I would forthwith have punched up the NYT Science Editor on the red phone.


      David and I have both exerted our best efforts, over many years, at the two ends of this possibility, and I can only conclude that it was not meant to be. I find that David’s modification of that possibility, as restated above, adds only epicycles to something that, in the end, proved not to work.”


      I respectfully disagree, stating only that we have not made it work so far, and I, for one, still see some possibilities that need to be investigated. However, perhaps a small re-cap is in order. Bruce and I both believe that canonical Lk was preceded by one or more (most likely more) earlier versions., the most obvious signs of which are the ‘beginning’ at Lk 3:1 (which suggests that Lk 1-2 were not originally present), and the inconsistencies in Lk resulting from Nazareth preceding Capernaum suggesting that they have been swapped from their original position (For anyone who does not believe that this could have been the case, there is probably no reason to continue reading this post). Bruce and I also both believe that there was a version of Lk that was known to the author of Mt, and that the content of this version of Lk provides a solution to all the issues in the synoptic problem for which the source most usually referred to as Q was hypothesized, and which therefore obviates the need for Q.


      By examining the text of canonical Lk Bruce has determined that it was built up in three ‘layers,’ (Luke A, B, and C respectively) with Luke A being pre-Matthean. For my part, I have examined (what we can determine of) the text of Marcion’s gospel of the Lord (which I refer to as Mcg) and have determined that the traditional view (that it is an edited version of canonical Lk) cannot be substantiated from the text. It is around 25% shorter than canonical Lk, in particular not having Lk 1-2, and Capernaum and Nazareth are ‘swapped.’ In addition, there are a number of places where the text of Mcg matches that of Mt, and where both are more primitive than the parallel text in Lk, suggesting that Mcg precedes Mt. Sounds familiar? Mcg is a pre-Matthean version of Lk? Yes, so drinks all round? Unfortunately, not quite.


      What we know as Mcg may have been contemporary with Bruce’s Luke A, and may have a large common ‘core,’ but they are not the same. Luke A contains text not in Mcg, and Mcg contains text not in Luke A. Luke A does not = Mcg (For Bruce’s benefit, I don’t remember ever suggesting that it was, but apologies if I did. It certainly would have been very neat if it was, and I did express hopes that it was, but so be it). However, this is not the end of the road. As indicated above, the traditional view is that Mcg is an edited version of canonical Lk. Now, we find nothing strange with the idea that the authors of both Mt and canonical Lk edited their sources (taking some portions as written, using but changing some, and not using others at all), so why should the author of Mcg have not done the same? However, it has been pointed out many times that on this assumption Marcion’s edits are very strange indeed: He removed around 25% of canonical Lk (mainly Sondergut Lk material), but changed or added almost nothing) – very different to how the authors or Mt and Lk operated. However, what if Marcion did not edit CANONICAL Lk, but an earlier, shorter, version instead – one that preceded Mt? This changes Marcion’s editing process completely – by editing something that was already shorter than canonical Lk he removed much less, and instead he added whatever material is in Mcg that was not in the earlier, shorter version of Lk that was his starting point.


      So now we have a theory that suggests that Marcion had access to a pre-Matthean copy of Lk, and that he edited it (removing some text, changing some, and adding some) to Mcg. Because at least some of the text that Marcion added under this theory we now see in canonical Lk (there is very little in Mcg that is not in canonical Lk), this would have to mean that some of Marcion’s additions were themselves added to Lk post-Marcion, a suggestion  which is probably not palatable to many. Nevertheless, a comparison of the differences noted by Tertullian and Epiphanius between Mcg and their respective copies of Lk strongly suggests that Epiphanius’ copy of Lk contained text that Tertullian’s did not. If these differences could be shown to match differences between the pre-Matthean copy of Lk and Mcg, then that would be close to being proof that the theory is correct.


      Given that Bruce has a ‘specification’ of a pre-Matthean copy of Lk (Luke A), I guess my next task is to compare that in detail with Mcg (a task made easier by the fact that Bruce has just done a lot of this earlier in this thread), and to see where that leads.


      David Inglis, Lafayette, CA, 94549, USA

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