Monday, November 19, 2007

Mark-Q Overlaps VI: The Direction of Dependence

This is the sixth and final post in my current series on the Mark-Q Overlaps (so-called), in which I would like to build on the issue of the high verbatim agreement between Matthew and Luke in the pericope under discussion in the Q Section where I will be presenting, Matt. 3.7-12 // Mark 1.7-8 // Luke 3.7-9, 15-17 (John's Preaching).

6. What is the direction of dependence?

If the extraordinarily high verbatim agreement between Matthew and Luke points to a direct link between them here, we should not bypass the all important question of the direction of dependence. Paul Foster has recently made the point with force -- why Luke's use of Matthew? Why is this almost always the direction of dependence favoured by Q sceptics? In this pericope there is a strong presumption in favour of Matthew's redaction expansion of Mark, and Luke's copying of Matthew. The language, imagery and rhythm of the new material is Matthean through and through, and to the extent that we would not hesitate to ascribe it to Matthew if it were in Matthew alone. Let me give two representative examples:

(1) Matt. 3.7 // Luke 3.7: γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, τίς ὑπέδειξεν ὑμῖν φυγεῖν ἀπὸ τῆς μελλούσης ὀργῆς; ("Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?"). Matthew will use this offensive vocative + rhetorical question (labelled an echidnic by Michael Goulder) twice again in remarkably similar forms, 12.34, γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, πῶς δύνασθε ἀγαθὰ λαλεῖν πονηροὶ ὄντες ("Brood of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil?") and 23.33, ὄφεις, γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, πῶς φύγητε ἀπὸ τῆς κρίσεως τῆς γεέννης ("Snakes, brood of vipers! How can you flee from the judgement of gehenna?"). I think we should resist the temptation to play these links down. We are not dealing with everyday phrases. The imagery (snakes' offspring), the rhythm (echidnic) and language (wrath / judgement / gehenna) is strikingly Matthean and tells us in which direction the borrowing is going.

(2) 3.10: πᾶν οὖν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν καλὸν ἐκκόπτεται καὶ εἰς πῦρ βάλλεται ("Therefore every tree not producing good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire"). Virtually the identical sentence occurs again in 7.19. Once again it is not just the language but also the imagery that is Matthean. Even my introductory New Testament class knows that Matthew's is the Gospel that exploits harvest imagery to the tell the story of judgement and hell-fire. The Matthean apocalyptic scenario, here appearing for the first time in the Gospel, will be repeated at regular intervals: (a) Demand for good fruits / good works; (b) Separation at the Eschaton; (c) Burning of those whose deeds are evil.


What we have, then in this pericope, is agreement between Matthew and Luke that is far too close to be mediated via a third source. The strong indication of direct borrowing encourages us to ask the question about direction of dependence, and we are helped by the pervasive presence of Matthean language, imagery, rhythm and thought. These major agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark are at the high end of the spectrum of agreement between Matthew and Luke against Mark, and we should avoid the tendency to group together such passages and treat them as a different category of agreement, so missing the fact that Matthew and Luke agree in major ways against Mark, something that contradicts the case for their independence. It is time to take the evidence for Luke's use of Matthew seriously. It is time to take our leave of Mark Q Overlaps.


Frank McCoy said...

Let us not overlook what appears to be Matthew's linkage of Th 45 and Mt 3:7-10 in Matthew 12:33-35 (Mt 1)and Matthew 7:16-20 (Mt 2) --see this line grid:
Line 1--The fruit of a tree reflects what it is
Mt. 1 Either make the tree good and the fruit of it (will be) good, or make the tree rotten and the fruit of it (will be) rotten. For by the fruit the tree is known.
Mt 2 By their fruits you will know them.

line 2. Based on the beginning of Mt 3:7-10 or of Th 45
Mt 1 Offspring of vipers,
Beg. of Mt 3:7-10 Children of vipers!
Mt 2 Thorns are not gathered from grapes or thistles from figs.
Beg. of Th 45 Grapes are not harvested from thorns, nor are figs gathered from thistles,

Line 3 So, something cannot produce what it is not but, rather, produces what it is
Mt 1 how are you able to speak good, being evil?
Mt 2 A good tree is not able to produce bad fruit, nor a rotten tree to produce good fruit. So every good tree produces good fruits, but the rotten tree produces bad fruit

Line 4 Based on the end of Th 45 or of Mt 3:7-10
Mt 1 --for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
End of Th 45 For out of the abundance of the heart he brings forth evil things.
Mt 2 Every tree not producing good fruit is cut off and into fire is thrown.
End of Mt 3:7-10 Therefore, every tree not producing good fruit is cut down and into fire is thrown.

Line 5 Therefore, something is known by what it produces
Mt 2 Therefore, by their fruits you will know them.
Mt 1 The good man out of the good treasure brings forth good and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil.

Note that Matthew apparently links the beginning of Th 45 and the beginning of Mt 3:7-10 in line 2 and the ending of Th 45 and the ending of Mt 3:7-10 in line 4.

This not only is an indication that Mt 7:16-20 and 12:33-35 are Matthean creations, but that Matthew knew of Thomas 45.

A further indication that Matthew knew of Thomas 45 comes in the ending of Mt 12:33-35 (i.e., "The good man out of the good treasure brings forth good and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil."), which is *very* closely related to the center portion of Th 45 (i.e., "A good man brings forth good from his storehouse; an evil man brings forth evil things from his storehouse, which is his heart, and says evil things.").

I cannot see how the argument can be credibly reversed, so that Thomas creates Thomas 45 out of line 2 for Matthew 7:16-20 and out of a reversal of lines 4 and 5 for Matthew 12:33-35.

James F. McGrath said...

Thanks for a nice post (that could have been your 'Synoptic meme' post, had you wished it to be). I will have to ponder your argument about Matthean imagery further - in particular, whether Matthew's repetition of something that he liked in the Q material could make sense of this or not. But it is reproduction of an author's special material that, as a rule, indicates dependence most clearly, and so it is this sort of evidence that needs to be focused on.

I do want to point out that your statement about "agreement between Matthew and Luke that is far too close to be mediated via a third source" doesn't make sense to me. If both used the same written source at this particular point, I don't see how extensive agreement would be anything but evidence that they did so. I will certainly grant that, taken on its own, it can also be evidence that one used the other. But that both could manage to copy the same phrase exactly from the same source, independently of one another, is not at all implausible.

That may not be what you intended to convey through what you wrote - I suspect it is the wording rather than your point that it is the problem. But if you fix it, you'll do a far greater job of challenging people like me who find Q plausible! :-)

Jim Deardorff said...

I think that's a good argument, Mark. To be on the safe side, I would only extend it slightly to say that the imagery is typical of Matthew and/or of Matthew's source. More important, the meaning and imagery could be from a Hebraic Matthew, with the verbal agreement being due to a later translator of Matthew into Greek. This of course would be giving some credence to Papias and the early church fathers.

Frank McCoy said...

I would like to add that you appear to be correct in thinking that Mt 3:7-10 is a Matthean creation. I am particularly impressed by an argument made by the Research Team of the International Institute for Gospel Studies, which overlaps, to a certain extent, your own argument. In Beyond the Q Impasse Luke’s Use of Matthew (p. 72), they state, “Especially striking is gennemata echidnwn (Mt 3:7//Lk 3:7) which only occurs here, at Mt 12:34 and at Mt 23:33 within the Synoptic Gospels. Similarly, the combination of ekkoptein with ballein (Lk 3:9//Mt 3:10) followed by a reference to ‘fire’ is also a Matthean characteristic (cf. Mt 7:19 and Tevis, Display 224). Again, the term ‘good fruit’ (vs ‘evil fruit’) is a favorite of Mt (9 times), and it occurs only here and at Lk 6:43 in contexts clearly parallel to Mt’s order. All of these words and phrases are characteristic Matthean linguistic formulations, and their presence here in parallel passages in Luke and nowhere else in Luke is clear evidence of Luke’s direct utilization of the canonical Gospel of Matthew.”

steph said...

I don't think there is any evidence here for Luke not having known Matthew here but I don't think verbatim agreement is "too close" for a third source, and I don't think that Luke's knowledge of Matthew negates evidence elsewhere in the double tradition which suggests access to common sources. At the same time, as Kloppenborg and Derrenbacker argue in response to Goulder, the appeals to Matthean vocabulary in Q can be explained as Matthew liking and re-using expressions he found in Q (as James notes above) and the same logic can be applied to Markan vocabulary in Matthew (where Matthew uses and then re-uses son of man, son of david), and Lukan expressions in Q (gender pairing which he used elsewhere including Q).

Also I can't help but think about historicity and wonder at how well this whole unit sitz im leben along with the expressions of judgement.