A Marcan editing formula?
- Also in response to James Adair's request, here's a topic initiated by a
scholar of the 1920s, H. G. Jameson, who's argument pointing out an
apparent Marcan editing formula has not been refuted or even discussed
since in the literature, as far as I know. This is in his book, "The
Origin of the Synoptic Gospels" (1922).
Upon allowing that the writer of Mark could have copied from Matthew,
while having various reasons for abbreviating Matthew and making minor
alterations, Jameson found the following "editing formula." One finds
some 9 spots in Mark where its writer, without any apparent cause, breaks
in upon the speech he found in Matthew and inserted the clause, "And he
said to them."
The writer of Mark did this in the inserted verse of Mk 2:27 while he had
apparently been following along Mt 12:1-5 but then omitted Mt 12:6-7.
There was no need for his text to have been written with this
interruption, which is unlike the same clause just preceding in Mk 2:25
where the text changes from one speaker (Pharisees) to another (Jesus) and
the clause could be appropriate.
He did it again in the inserted verses of Mk 4:13-14 when he had been
following along Mt 13:1-13 (the inserted Markan verses imply that the
Jewish disciples were extra uncomprehending). (Note: external evidence
suggests that the writer of Mark was in Rome, and hence writing his gospel
for gentiles.) Again there was no need for a continuing speech of Jesus
(Mt 13:11-23) to be interrupted by the narrator saying "And he said to
He did it again in Mk 4:21 where its parallel verse, Mt 5:15, was
borrowed and placed in the wrong order. And again in Mk 4:24, which
borrows Mt 7:2 and places it out of order. And he did it again in Mk 7:9
just after he had inserted verse Mk 7:8. And again in Mk 7:20 just after
where he had inserted the (parenthetical) explanation of Mk 7:19b, not in
Again Mk 6:10 has the clause just following where Mt 10:10 was edited into
the Markan version of the Mission instructions. (Here the editing left
behind the inane instruction of "stay there until you leave...") Again
there was no need to say concerning Jesus: "And he said to them,"
since he had already been talking to them and continues to talk to them.
Again Mk 9:1 has the clause just following Mk 8:38, which is an edited or
distant parallel to Mt 16:27b.
Again Mk 4:9 has a needless: "And he said" just after the verse where
Matthew's order of 100-60-30 is reversed. (Notice that Mark's order seems
to make the most sense -- an improvement.)
So it seemed evident to Jamson that this clause is an "editing formula"
used by the writer of Mark to try to hide any discontinuity of thought
caused by his editing. The writer of Mark then appears to have been not
particularly skillful or comfortable with editing of this nature.
This doesn't seem to be an easily reversible argument. For if the writer
of Matthew had been copying from Mark and eliminating these superfluous
clauses: "And he said to them," while adding much else, he would not seem
to have had reasonable motivation to have chosen those very spots to also
make alterations in Mark's text.
I'm most interested, of course, in comments on this from others who may
see much merit in the older position of Matthean priority over Mark, and
who recognize the argumentation in support of Mark-Q priority to be the
more easily reversible.
My own research indicates that the switch-over from Matthean to Markan
priority developed in the 19th century due to mounting pressures to avoid
the embarrassing implications of the writer of Mark having omitted so
much of value from Matthew, plus several other embarrassing
considerations. Although Jameson himself appears to have been
theologically committed to the extent of assuming that the Gospel writers
were the same as the men whose names are attached to the Gospels, and
perhaps also towards preserving the traditional order of Gospels stemming
from Irenaeus, Origen and Augustine, these did not explicitly enter into his
argumentation for the preceding Marcan editing formula.
Oregon State University
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