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Gospel priorities & theological commitment

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  • Jim Deardorff
    My present interest in this topic is in reviewing the switch-over in thought from belief in the Augustinian order (Matthew-Mark-Luke), which transpired over
    Message 1 of 1714 , Nov 16, 1995
      My present interest in this topic is in reviewing the switch-over in
      thought from belief in the Augustinian order (Matthew-Mark-Luke), which
      transpired over the extended period from about 1840-1924, and seeing if it
      doesn't in fact trace to the theological commitment of the scholars who
      dominated the scene then. This ties in with textual criticism through the
      question of whether or not the arguments used to support Mark-Q priority
      in the past half century aren't entirely of the "reversible" type, as
      opposed to the oral tradition known to Irenaeus, Origen, Augustine (and I
      think implied by Papias also) that attested to the Matthew-Mark-Luke

      It appears to me that the studies of 19th-century scholars like Eduard
      Reuss, Heinrich Ewald, Herman Weisse and Heinrich Holtzmann, culminating
      with Burnette Hillman Streeter in 1924, had reached the point where it
      became disturbing to their own belief systems, and/or to the church, to
      think of the Augustinian order being correct. Unless the shortest Gospel
      came first, it seemed that the writer of Mark had omitted far too much
      precious material and Judaisms (Sermon on the Mount, most of the
      parables....) to be theologically acceptable. And if Luke came third, the
      editorial behavior of its writer became seen as inexplicable and
      theologically unacceptable.

      Even worse, with Matthew first, one sees, upon comparing parallel passages
      concerning the disciples, that the writer of Mark while utilizing Matthew
      added denigrating touches to the Jewish disciples' characters (as if to
      imply that gentiles would make better disciples). This was unacceptable
      to these 19th-century scholars, since the evangelists were supposed to be
      of the highest character, if not pipelines from God, and back in the 19th
      century the evangelists were still considered to have been the men whose
      names are attached to the Gospels. This was so embarrassing a topic that
      one can scarcely find any reference to it in the literature (though
      Pierson Parker clearly sets forth these denigrating touches in his article
      in William Farmer's "New Synoptic Studies" (1983)). The topic is perhaps
      even more embarassing today, as nowadays the writer of Mark would be
      accused of anti-Semitism for such behavior. This problem was conveniently
      disposed of by switching to Mark-Q priority. Then the writer of Matthew
      could be assumed to have added reverential touches to Mark as well as all
      is other added material.

      The invention of Q also permitted the assumption of minimal "copying" of
      Gospel text by one evangelist of another, since Luke could then be assumed
      independent of Matthew. This also supported a theological commitment.

      What I see as having happened is that the writer of Matthew, a converted
      Jew (once a Pharisee and a scribe), happened to be strongly anti-gentile,
      which shows up in numerous spots in his gospel, with the opposite stance
      of Mt 28:19 and its Trinitarian-like formula being a much later add-on. It
      is then only natural that when a head scribe in the church in Rome read
      Matthew and its strong anti-gentile thrust, he felt motivated to write his
      own gospel directed towards gentiles. In likely retaliation to Matthew's
      anti-gentile slant, he added small slurs directed against the Jewish
      disciples, and omitted many Judaisms and whatever other text and parables
      he did not understand or agree with.
      Shortly after, the writer of Luke (perhaps located in Antioch)
      appraised the situation; he apparently agreed with the sentiments of the
      writer of Mark, though he felt the need for a more universal gospel. So
      he reinstated into his own gospel much of what the writer of Mark had
      omitted from Matthew. (Thus Q was born.) However, to show his favoritism
      for Mark and distaste for Matthew, he closely followed Mark's order of
      pericopes and text *wherever it deviated from Matthew*. (Thus, it is
      where the order between Matthew and Mark agree that he introduced his own
      material.) And in so doing, he frequently utilized Matthean text in
      whatever order he wished (causing the two different orders of "Q"
      material), sometimes utilized it in a different context of his own
      choosing, and frequently contradicted Matthew.

      All this seems like rational (though distasteful) behavior on the part of
      the evangelists, and nothing that should be covered up in researching
      Gospel priorities. Yet, Streeter accused the writer of Luke of having
      been a "crank" if he had behaved in any such way and the writer of Mark
      of having been a "lunatic" if he had abbreviated Matthew. I see this as
      being Streeter's way of expressing his theological commitment and
      supporting the like commitment of the 19th-century scholars. Because
      of Streeter's great influence among scholars, I believe such statements
      caused later scholars to buy into the Mark-Q priority hypothesis partly
      in order to avoid being called "cranks" or "lunatics" if they didn't.

      The desire to avoid these considerations as applied to Luke appear to me
      to be the basis behind the Griesbachian school of thought
      (Matthew-Luke-Mark) to avoid placing Luke third. And so it may enter in
      also to arguments that would support Luke coming first.

      As to the TC involved, the Augustinian scheme outlined above does well
      explain the minor agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark, and of
      course supports the large number of studies that have found a dependence
      of Luke upon Matthew and the irreality of Q as a document or collection of
      sayings. I find that it also supports a comparison of order between
      Matthew against Mark versus Mark against Matthew (there are
      important differences between the two).

      Concerning the numerous and relatively gross redactions evident within
      Matthew itself, I find this to be due to the compiler of Matthew, when
      preparing his gospel, having before him an extensive text that required
      much editing before it would be acceptable to him. The terse statement
      from Papias that survives on this is the chief classical clue supporting
      this contention.

      While this group will concentrate on textual criticism, I felt that this
      background was necessary to bring out the many other ties of this topic
      to NT scholasticism. I welcome discussion on any aspects of this

      Jim Deardorff
      Oregon State University
    • Julian Goldberg
      The complete Hebrew Scriptures (Hebrew Bible) or TANAKH (Torah-Law, Neviim-Prophets, Ketuvim-Writings) based on the Masoretic Hebrew text with vowels and
      Message 1714 of 1714 , Feb 4, 1997
        The complete Hebrew Scriptures (Hebrew Bible) or TANAKH (Torah-Law,
        Neviim-Prophets, Ketuvim-Writings) based on the Masoretic Hebrew text
        with vowels and cantillation marks in one complete compact black hard
        covered volume which measures 12 cm x 19 cm with over 1360 pages that
        have been arranged according to traditional chapter and verse divisions
        along with larger Hebrew letter printing and thicker paper pages for a
        volume of this size. Each book is $ 20.00 (U.S.) postpaid ($ 15.50 for
        the book plus $ 4.50 for postage) and can be ordered directly from:

        Julian Goldberg, 260 Adelaide St., E., # 215, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
        M5A 1N0.

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