Tuesday, June 05, 2007

More on the Synoptic Problem Poll

I enjoyed April DeConick's rather forthright post Let's Get "Real" About the Synoptic Poll in which she responds to my Synoptic Problem Poll: Some Reflections. I actually agree with most of what April says here. Of course Brandon's poll was not "scientific", and that's why I spoke of it as providing a "snapshot of what some people think about the Synoptic Problem at the moment". It's nothing more than that and of course it cannot be translated into what the academy in general thinks. Where I suppose I differ from April is in my reading of the situation in the academy at present, where I feel that there is greater receptivity to Q scepticism than there has been in the past. Perhaps that is just my generally optimistic nature, but I don't think so. In most recent literature on Q, there has been a willingness to engage with alternatives in a way that was less in evidence a decade ago. Ultimately, though, and I am sure April will agree with me here, it is the arguments and the evidence that matter . If Q theorists have the better arguments, they will win the day. I don't think that they have -- and I am pleased by those who have already been persuaded about Marcan Priority without Q -- but I am not cynical about academia, and if I and other Q sceptics are unable to persuade more colleagues of our theory, then I hope that we will have the grace and integrity to say that we are wrong, or that we have argued badly.


Geoff Hudson said...

And a bigger question for a Farrer supporter might be: What was before Mark? For example, Mk.1:17-14 appears as a literary device to remove John (who in Mark doesn't know Jesus as a relative) and introduce Jesus. It seems to me that the 'voice calling in the desert' (Mk.1:2) was the Spirit's voice spoken through the prophet referred to in original Mark.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I think April is overreacting a little bit. No one claimed it was a scientific poll and I'm sure that the majority of those who participated, did so for the fun of it. While I would suspect that Q has slipped a bit in the last few years. This poll certainly isn't going to tell us how much.

John McBryde

steph said...

What is your hypothesis regarding the non-Markan material in Matthew?

Eric Rowe said...

The dirty little secret is that a truly scientific poll of the academy would not be much more meaningful than an internet poll of anonymous yahoos.

Dr. DeConnick is undoubtedly right that the 2 (or 4) source hypothesis still dominates in the academy. But most of "the academy" have not carefully and critically investigated the synoptic problem afresh. "The academy" includes numerous scholars of various specialties, most of whom accept the 2 (or 4) source hypothesis by default precisely because it is the dominant view in the academy. So it's somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If you survey scholarly books and articles that address the synoptic problem (i.e. limiting your poll to people who have had to work through the problem in detail on their own), I have a hunch that the results would reveal much less of a consensus than Dr. DeConnick lets on.

A similar case is the matter of the authorship of Ephesians. We are told that there is a consensus in the academy that Paul did not write it. But among those who have actually addressed the issue in detail on their own, they are divided on the issue roughly 50-50. Meanwhile, the rest of the academy holds the deutero-Pauline view because of the apparent consensus.

Eric Rowe said...

I'm a little sorry, though, that there aren't more scholars who openly accept a position of agnosticism on the synoptic problem. I think if they were completely honest about how much they really know, most would have to admit that none of the available hypotheses commends itself so highly as to warrant the status of an axiom in the exegesis of a given Synoptic Gospel.

I say "most" and not "all" because, of course, there are those, such as yourself Dr. Goodacre, who have worked through the synoptic problem rather thoroughly so as to have earned your dogmatism.

Jack Poirier said...

DeConick is clearly wrong in comparing the present situation to that which has always existed--there has never been a time when the most widely recognized alternative to the two-source theory has been so easily acceptable. That is why Q is slipping, and that is why Q supporters have been trying to divert attention away from Farrer (mostly by denying its popularity). Q supporters didn't worry a whole lot when their students thought that the only alternative to the 2SH was Griesbach, but now the situation is very different.

steph said...

Hello again Mark, you weren't decisive in "The Case Against Q" but left the question of Matthew's sources open. Also, I think you disagree with Michael Goulder to a large degree here ... do you believe that Matthew had access sources other than Mark, and if so could Luke feasibly have had access to similar sources (whether or not he used them in addition to Matthew).

Thank you, and it's freezing in england.