The Living Text of Luke 23:53
- I've been reading David Parker's 1997 book "The living text of the Gospels." At first I was especially interested in the chapter on the ending of Mark (what a surprise, eh?), but then I went ahead and explored the rest. I was really annoyed by how many times tentative evidence was misrepresented as if it led to solid and permanent conclusions. Here's just one example:
On p. 165, Parker discusses the expansion in Lk. 23:53 found in D it-c Sah-MSS, to the effect that 20 men would scarcely be able to move the stone at the tomb. He mentions Rendel Harris' research on the passage, and concludes, "The text in the Greek of D is a somewhat halting hexameter, owing its origin to the description of the stone which Polyphemus drew across the mouth of his cave, too large to be moved even by twenty-two stout four-wheeled carts."
It is not impossible that the interpolator who came up with this was thinking about the Odyssey and arbitrarily thought that the stone at the tomb should be as large as Polyphemus' stone, and arbitrarily replaced 22 with 20, and arbitrarily replaced wagons with men. But istm that a far more likely source is in Josephus, Jewish Wars VI:vi:3, where Josephus describes the Nicanor Gate: "The eastern gate of the inner temple, which was of brass, and vastly heavy, AND HAD BEEN WITH DIFFICULTY SHUT BY 20 MEN, and rested upon a basis armed with iron, and had bolts fastened very deep into the firm floor, which was there made of one entire stone, was seen to be opened of its own accord about the sixth hour of the night."
(from http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/josephus/war-6.htm )
I wonder how many readers are going to repeat Parker's unqualified claim that the interpolator based his interpolation on Odyssey 9:241-2, and I wonder how many would do so if he had told them about the theory that the interpolation is based on this passage in Josephus.
By itself, that's no big deal, though, in a book like this. But that sort of presentation, in which tentative evidence is described as if it is secure and perspicuous, and in which other possibilities are either misrepresented or are not mentioned at all, pervades the book. I would give more examples of this trait in the book, and point out some of its many inaccuracies (and a few of what appear to be self-contradictions), but I simply don't know where to begin. Time after time, it seemed like highly debatable points were casually mentioned, and arguments were built upon them with little or no indication of the tentativeness of the foundational points. Is it just me, or has anyone else who read "Living text of the Gospels" gotten this impression as well?
Yours in Christ,
James Snapp, Jr.