Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Dating Game III: Getting the Synoptic Gospels in Order

Getting the Gospels in order is one of the fundamental issues in the dating the crucial sources in early Christianity. Before attempting to work out whether we can locate the Gospels in any particular decade, there is preliminary work to be done, to see whether we can get them into sequence in relation to one another. The issue is separable into several separate questions, all of them controversial, all of them interesting, (1) the Synoptic Problem, (2) the question of John's knowledge of the Synoptics, (3) the question of Thomas's knowledge of the Synoptics. There are still other additional questions that we could add, like the relationship of the Gospel of Peter or the Didache to the others, but to make the task manageable, at least in an introductory discussion, it is worth focusing on the texts generally regarded in the scholarship as crucial to the task at hand.

Let us begin with the Synoptic Problem. I have written a couple of books on this topic and it is pointless for me to pretend that I am beginning fresh here so let me instead summarize my conclusions and then offer a special illustration of how I think we can stack up the Synoptic Gospels in sequence.

(1) Mark is the first Gospel and it was used as primary source by both Matthew and Luke. The Priority of Mark is rightly the consensus view in Gospel scholarship. Its major contemporary competitor, the Griesbach (Two-Gospel) Hypothesis does not adequately account for much of the Synoptic data, especially the combination of Mark's alleged omissions from and additions to the combined witness of Matthew and Luke, which generate a curious profile for Mark the redactor. (See further The Case Against Q, Chapter 2 and The Synoptic Problem: A Way Through the Maze, Chapters 3-4).

(2) Luke is dependent on Matthew as well as Mark. This theory (the Farrer theory) dispenses with the need to posit a hypothetical document, Q, to explain the extensive verbatim agreement between Matthew and Luke that is not mediated by Mark. This is the thesis of my Case Against Q, summarized also for introductory students in the last chapter of The Synoptic Problem: A Way Through the Maze (see also the Case Against Q website). It is an argument against a major element in what is currently the majority view in Gospels scholarship, the Two-Source Theory, which argues that Matthew and Luke used Mark independently of one another, which necessitates Q. Arguments for Luke's independence of Matthew are unconvincing, and evidence of Luke's familiarity with Matthew needs to be taken seriously. To take just one area, it is commonly said that Luke's re-ordering of Matthew's discourses is inexplicable, but it makes good sense when one pays attention to Luke's redactional habits with respect to Mark, and his narrative habits overall.

The direction Mark > Matthew > Luke can be observed by paying attention to an important but underestimated indicator of the genealogy of documents, the phenomenon of editorial fatigue. I have argued (Fatigue in the Synoptics) that Matthew's and Luke's dependence on Mark, and Luke's dependence on Matthew, can be seen in the way in which each evangelist will, on occasion, begin by making changes to a pericope, only to lapse into the wording of the source as time goes on, creating minor contradictions. Thus we can see Matthew using Mark in the story of the death of John the Baptist (Mark 6.14-29 // Matt 14.1-12), beginning the pericope by changing Mark's Herod "the king" to his own more accurate "Herod the tetrarch", only to lapse into calling him "king", with Mark, half-way through the passage. Moreover, he adjusts the plot of the story. Where in Mark, Herodias wants John killed, Matthew has Herod himself desiring to kill John, but then Matthew retains Mark's notice that Herod grieved John's death.

Luke appears secondary to Mark in the Feeding of the Five Thousand story (Matt 14.13-21 // Mark 6.30-44 // Luke 9.10-17), which he begins by resetting it in "a city called Bethsaida", which causes an inconcinnity when he later repeats, with Mark, "we are in a desert place here" (Luke 9.12).

The same phenomenon of editorial fatigue also shows Luke to be secondary to Matthew. In the Parable of the Talents / Pounds, Luke, who loves the 10:1 ratio, begins with a major change: ten servants, not three; and with one pound each. Yet as the story progresses, Luke gets drawn back to the plot of the Matthean parable, with three servants, "the first", "the second" and "the other". The wording moves steadily closer to Matthew's as the parable progresses.

I offer these brief examples of the phenomenon of fatigue to draw attention to the possibilities for using literary criticism to theorize about the direction of dependence among related documents. What will be of interest next will be to explore the still more vexed questions of the relationships between the Synoptics, John and Thomas.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm delighted to find that someone else uses the word 'inconcinnity'.
The proof reader wanted to remove it from my book, because he thought I meant 'inconsistency'.
Hugh

Jim Deardorff said...

Regarding the argument of fatigue, 17 such arguments that indicate Matthean priority over Mark (Markan fatigue) have been posted here. If you know of refutations to any of these posted anywhere, or in any literature, please let me know.

eklektekuria said...

I have thought for some time that a good place to find evidence of Lukan dependence on Matthew is in parallels to Markan narrative material (where the issue of "Q" is irrelevant). To take one random example, the stilling of the storm pericope in Luke 8 is largely based on Mark 4:35-41 but there seem to be at least eleven agreements with Matthew against Mark: 1) omission of OPSIAS GENOMENHS [v. 22 = Mt. 8:23], 2) occurrence of EMBAINEIN + EIS PLOION [v. 22 = Mt. 8:23], 3) occurrence of HOI MAQHTAI AUTOU [v. 22 = Mt. 8:23], 4) omission of AFENTES TON OCLON [v. 22 = Mt. 8:23], 5) omission of ALLA PLOIA HN MET AUTOU [v. 22 = Mt. 8:23], 6) omission of AUTOS HN EN TH PRUMH EPI TO PROSKEFALAION [v. 23 = Mt. 8:24], 7) occurrence of PROSELQONTES [v. 24 = Mt. 8:25], 8) occurrence of participle LEGONTES instead of LEGOUSIN [v. 24, 25 = Mt. 8:25, 27], 9) occurrence of APOLLUMEQA in main clause rather than embedded in a question [v. 24 = Mt. 8:25], 10) omission of SIWPA PEFIMWSO directed to the sea [v. 24 = Mt. 8:26], and 11) occurrence of EQAUMASAN [v. 25 = Mt. 8:27]. Maybe all of these are coincidental, or the result of similar compositional tendencies, but they seem to more easily suggest to me that Luke was familiar with the Matthean version of the story.

Richard Godijn said...

Jim,
I have looked at your first four examples of Markan fatigue of Matthew (I didn’t have time for more), but I think none of those examples work for Matthean priority. In fact, Markan priority still comes out strong.

I hope Mark doesn't mind, but I'd like to respond to those here:

1) You argue that in Mark 6:31-34 the disciples go away by themselves to a lonely place, but Jesus ends up with them. However, nowhere is it implied that the disciples were to go without Jesus. In fact, Jesus says to them, “Come, you yourselves privately, to an unpopulated place….” (translation Adela Collins). Strongs gives the meaning of “deute” as “come hither!” Clearly, this implies Jesus will go with the disciples. This makes sense, because the idea is to get away from the crowds, not away from Jesus (even though being away from Jesus would surely have helped them get away from the crowds as well).

2) Here you argue that Mark clumsily tried to improve on Matthew’s lack of distributing the fish (and collecting the leftovers of the fish). This does not appear to be an example of editorial fatigue any way you look at it. You argue that Mark improved upon Matthew, but did so clumsily. Well, Mark’s Greek is quite often clumsy, thus it is not necessary to assume that Mark edited Matthew here. Besides, it is in fact Matthew who has made an odd error. He starts with five loaves and two fish, but then the fish disappear from the story! It is quite likely that Matthew did not like what Mark did with the fish (have Jesus distributing the fish instead of the disciples in 6:41 as well as his clumsy construction of “and of the fish” in 6:43) and left this out.

3) This is an interesting case! In Mark 6:45 the disciples are instructed to go in a boat to Bethsaida, but in 6:53 they arrive in Gennesaret! This appears to be a mistake (one might argue that this reroute was caused by the storm, but I do not think that was Mark’s intention). What is interesting here is that in Mark 8:22 they actually do arrive in Bethsaida. Neither Bethsaida texts are in Matthew. So, according to your Matthean priority view Mark at one place added to Matthew that the disciples were on their way to Bethsaida and in another place (two chapters later) inserted a story that starts out with their arrival in Bethsaida! This would be quite odd. What is more likely here (than Mark editing Matthew) is that Mark is here editing an earlier source in which Mark 6:52 is followed by 8:22. Paul Achtemeier has made this proposal and argued that Mark is here editing a collection of miracles. This is a possibility, although it is also possible that Mark is editing an earlier (Jewish Christian) Gospel that contained these miracles (see Michael Goulder’s “Tale of Two Missions”). In any case, Mark editing Matthew cannot explain both the departing to Bethsaida in Mark 6:45 and the arrival there in Mark 8:22.

4) Here I think your case is really weak and in fact clearly points to Markan priority. You argue that Mark erroneously calls the defile saying a parable, because he is following Matthew, who calls the uprooted plants saying a parable. However, this is clearly not the case. In Matthew the defile saying is followed by two additional sayings (not in Mark) – the uprooted plants and the blind guides. Then Peter asks about the parable. How does Jesus answer? By interpreting the defile saying! Thus, clearly “parable” refers to the defile saying in Matthew as well. This is of course unusual, because Jesus has given three sayings, but when asked about the parable he interprets the first saying. From the perspective of Markan priority this oddity can easily be explained. Matthew has simply inserted two sayings, so that when Matthew returns to the Markan story Jesus ends up interpreting the first saying when asked about “the parable”.

Frank McCoy said...

It is perhaps significant that the word parabolen not only occurs in Mt 15:15 right after the blind guides saying in 15:14, but also in Lk 6:39, immediately in front of the blind guides saying. Might not this be a case of Lukan editorial fatigue, with Luke mistakenly taking the parabolen of Mt 15:15 as being a reference to the blind guides saying rather than, as Matthew intended, the defiled saying?
However, anyone arguing that Luke used this part of Mt as a source needs to take into account the secondary nature of Mt 15:14—which means, if Mt 15:14 lies behind Lk 6:39, that Lk 6:39 has a tertiary nature. For example, in the Formation of Q (p. 182), John S. Kloppenborg states, “The saying concerning “blind guides” (6:39//Mt 15:14) has been inserted into the middle of a Markan periscope (Mark 7:1-23//Mt 15:1-20) where its position is obviously secondary.”
His own position is that its original location for the saying was Q 6:39.
However, a different scenario is suggested by Mt 15:10-15 and parallels in Mk, Th and Q:
1. Mt 15:10//Mk 7:14
2. Mt 15:11//Mk 7:15//Th 14.5
3. Mt 15:12
4. Mt 15:13//Th 40
5. Mt 15:14//Th 34//Q 6:39
6. Mt 15:15//Mk 7:17
In Mt 15:10, Matthew is following the Markan periscope. However, in Mt 15:11 he appears to transition over from the Markan periscope to Th—which he then apparently uses as his primary source in Mt 15:12-14. Finally, in Mt 15:15, Matthew returns to following the Markan periscope.
So, Mt 15:14 appears to come from a short section of Mt, in the middle of the Matthean version of a Markan periscope, where Matthew had been using Th as his primary source. This being so, the likelihood is that the original position of the saying on the blind was not Q 6:39 but, rather, Th 34.
In this case, if Luke used Mt as a source (and Th as well?), the sequence was Th 34 à Mt 15:14 (+ Th 34?) à Lk 6:39.
Indeed, I would argue that Luke was aware of both Th 34 and Mt 15:14 when he wrote Lk 6:39 because of this situation as respects Lk 6:39-40 and Lk 12:2-9:
1. Each has a parallel to a passage immediately adjacent to Mt 10:25b: Lk 6:40 has a parallel in Mt 10:24-25a and Lk 12:2-9 has a parallel in Mt 10:26-33
Each has a parallel to a passage immediately adjacent to Th 33.2-3: Lk 6:39 has a parallel in Th 34 and Lk 12:3b has a parallel in Th 33.1.
Each is soon followed by a passage with a parallel in Mt 12:32-35//Th 44-45: Lk 6:39-40 is soon followed by Lk 6:43-45 with a parallel in Mt 12:33-35//Th 45 and Lk 12:2-9 is immediately followed by Lk 12:10 with a parallel in Mt 12:32//Th 44.
This is difficult to explain as mere coincidence--which leaves us with only one credible choice: Luke used both Mt and Th as sources.
Further, there is a commonality to Mt 10:26b and Mt 12:32-35 in that Mt 10:26b regards the charge that Jesus works through Beelzebul, while Mt 12:32-35 is a part of Jesus’ response to this charge. So, that the centerpiece for item 1 is Mt 10:26b and that item 3 regards parallels to Mt 12:32-35 indicates that Luke had Matthean passages regarding the Beelzebul charge in mind when writing Lk 6:39-45 and Lk 12:2-10.

Richard Godijn said...

Frank,

I do not think you need Thomas to explain what Luke has done. In the parallels you mention between Thomas and Luke there is also a Matthean parallel. Thus, the standard Farrer hypothesis claim here would be that Luke has edited Matthew.

Also, I've been convinced by Michael Goulder's claim that what is called L by two-source theorists is really for the most part Luke's creative hand. Parallels between L and Thomas can best be explained (if you support the Farrer hypothesis) by influence from Luke on Thomas. I see no evidence at all that Luke has used Thomas. His procedure of going through a block of Mark and then a block of Matthew and then a block from Matthew (etc..) and turning this into a new narrative with his own stamp is complicated enough. I do not think we need Thomas as a source for Luke to explain the data (occam's famous razor).

Jim Deardorff said...

Richard,

Thanks very much for those responses. If Mark permits, I’ll respond here just to your criticism of the first example of Markan fatigue relative to Matthew, and hopefully we can continue via email (mine is deardorj@proaxis.com) re the other 4 of the 17 examples.

In Mk 6:31-34 the “they” linguistially refers to the apostles. It was the apostles who had just returned (altogether, somehow), and it was they who needed to rest and eat. Before concluding that the writer of Mark (AMark) was just sloppy with the third person plural, consider that instead of “deute” (come) in 4:31, Codex D gives “upagOmen” (depart, go away). So if one seriously considers the harder reading, those three verses become self-consistent. The inference is that some very early transcriber(s) found “depart” to be inexplicable or unacceptable, with the easiest fix being to substitute “deute.”

However, it fits the well known pattern in Mark of Jesus being disrespectful to the disciples (relative to Matthew), as in Mk 6:48c. In those instances the disrespect is implemented by his desiring to avoid them.

Frank McCoy said...

Richard:

Perhaps you do need Th to explain what Luke has done in Lk 12:49.
Although Lk 12:49 has no parallel in Mt, many 2ST proponents think is based on a Q passage.
In Q Parallels (p. 142), John S. Kloppenborg gives this argument for there having been a Q 12:49, “The usual grounds for inclusion are: (1) the formal and verbal similarities between Matt 10:34 = Q 12:51 and Luke 12:49 in the formula elthon alien…epi ten gen suggest that v. 49 belonged to Q. (2) Matthew would have omitted the verse because it did not cohere thematically with the content of Matt 10 or because it was unsuited to catechetical purposes (Hawkins). (3) None of the vocabulary of v. 49 is Lukan and the verse is thematically coherent with other parts of Q.”
However, it appears, there was no Q 12:49—with Lk 12:49 being based on Th 10.
First, that the vocabulary of Lk 12:49 is not Lukan simply tells us that Luke apparently based it on a passage from a source he utilized.
Second, there is a possible source for Lk 12:49 that we already know about, and this is Th 10: (a)Lk 12:49, “I came to hurl fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled”, (b)Th 10, “I have cast fire upon the world, and see, I am guarding it until it is kindled.” So, Occam’s razor comes into play here—why postulate a hypothetical source for Lk 12:49, i.e., Q 12:49 (a hypothetical passage that doesn’t even meet the classic definition for Q material!), when we already have a possible source at hand, i.e. Th 10?
Third, just because the theme of Jesus and fire in Lk 12:49 thematically coheres with the postulated Q is hardly reason for thinking that it is based on a hypothetical Q passage. After all, this theme also coheres with Th—which, besides having this theme in the very real 10, also has it in the very real 16 (“I have come to cast upon the earth: fire...”) and the very real 82a (He who is near me is near the fire”). Again, Occam’s razor comes into play.
Fourth, that Matthew would have had reasons for not utilizing the passage the passage underlying Lk 12:49 has no bearing on the question of whether this underlying passage is Q 12:49 or Th 10.
Fifth, the phrase that is shared by Lk 12:49 and Mt 10:34 (i.e., elthon alien…epi ten gen) is unlikely to come from Q—for the parallel to Mt 10:34 is not the hypothesized Q 12:49, but a different hypothesized Q passage, i.e., Q 12:51. Besides, there is a readily available alternative. First, Matthew wrote Mt 10:34, with its elthon balein…epi ten gen. Then, later, Luke wrote Lk 12:49-51. He based 12:49 on Th 10 and 12:51 on Mt 10:34//Th 16:1-2. Since he had looked at three passages (i.e., Th 10, Th 16:1-2 and Mt 10:34) before writing this section of his gospel, Luke decided to use the five Greek words he found in Mt 10:34 in the same consecutive order when writing his version of Th 10 in Lk 12:49. Then, when writing his version of Mt 10:34 in Lk 12:51, in order to avoid being repetitious, he did not repeat the writing of these five Greek words in the same consecutive order.
The bottom line: Because the vocabulary of Lk 11:49 is un-Lukan, it apparently comes from a source utilized by Luke. There is only one known source that fits the bill and this is Th 10. Therefore, it appears, Lk 11:49 is based on Th 10.

Richard Godijn said...

Jim,

"deute" is the preferred variant in the Nestle-Aland text. Do you know of any text critics who favor the variant from D? If text critics prefer "deute" then your example of editorial fatigue rests on a disagreement with the text critically preferred text. This I do not find convincing.

Frank,

I think it is not that easy to determine that a text is un-Lukan. Luke clearly has the best Greek and largest vocabulary of all the Gospels. He can use words or phrases once and then never again (there are close to a thousand hapaxes in both Luke AND acts).

I think Lukan creativity is vastly underestimated (which is really quite odd if one considers what he has accomplished in Luke-Acts).

Frank McCoy said...

Richard,

While it might not be easy to identify what is un-Lukan, there is a major shift between Lk 12:49 and Lk 12:50 in that, while Lk 12:49 lacks Lukan vocabulary, Lk 12:50 has Lukan characteristics. Regarding Lk 12:50, Stephen J Patterson, in The Gospel of Thomas and Jesus (p. 12, footnote 28), states, “Most agree that 12:50 is a Lukan creation. Marz (‘Feur auf der Erde,’ 483-84) summarizes the Lukan stylistic and linguistic features: echein (to have) with the infinitive in vs 50a; pws (how) used as an exclamation, synechein (to be in anguish), telein (to finish), and hews hotou (until) in vs. 50b.”
Why is there this sudden shift between 49 and 50 from no Lukan vocabulary to a number of Lukan characteristics? The most plausible explanation, I suggest, is that Luke based 49 on a source, but created 50.
Patterson thinks that the source for 50 is Q, stating (Ibid, p. 10), “It is neither necessary nor plausible to account for Thom 10 by resorting to a theory of dependence upon Luke 12:49. It is not necessary because Luke did not invent this saying but likely received it through the Q tradition, where it was clustered with the two other elthon-sayings in Luke 12:51-53//Matt 10:34-36. It was therefore no doubt available to Thomas from other sources, Luke was not its sole proprietor.”
However, as I pointed out earlier, there apparently never was a Q 12:49. Further, it is mere speculation to assume that Th 10 is based on a source. Therefore, the reality is that there appears to have been only two versions of this saying (i.e., Lk 12:49 and Th 10) and the question we face is whether the sequence was Lk 12:49 --> Th 10 or Th 10 --> Lk 12:49.
In this regard, it is noteworthy that NOYCHE appears twice in Th 8, once in Th 9, once in Th 10, once in Th 13 and twice in Th 16. So, the presence of it (or, to be more precise, the corresponding word for the original language of Th) in Th 10 is characteristic of this part of Th.
When we take into account both this striking example of Thomasine vocabulary in Th 10 and the lack of Lukan vocabulary in Lk 12:49, it, therefore, appears that the most likely sequence is Th 10 --> Lk 12:49.

Richard Godijn said...

Frank,

You cite Patterson, but of course Patterson also doesn't believe Luke is dependent on Thomas here (not does any other Thomas scholar that I am aware of). That being said, Patterson is thinking very much in terms of direct literary dependence. Patterson has recently admitted that he is open to the idea of secondary orality, sayings from the Synoptics that affect oral tradition and thereby enter Thomas some time in the 2nd century (although for this saying I suspect he will still prefer the independence view). I also find it rather implausible that a Thomas editor is sitting there with several Gospels, copying bits from one, then another, etc.. Nevertheless, I am convinced that some sayings from the Synoptics indirectly influenced Thomas. It could either be through secondary orality or from textual memory.

The fact that NOYCHE is found a few times in this section is of course interesting. One popular idea concerning the composition of Thomas is that catchwords played a role. Certain words have the tendency to elicit the memory of other sayings which contain the word (memory after all works through associative processes). Thus, for somebody familiar with the Gospels or sayings from the Gospels, a saying like Thomas 8 with the word NOYCHE (or the Greek, Aramaic or Syriac equivalent) might elicit the memory of popular Synoptic sayings containing that word (Thomas 9 and Thomas 10). It might even be part of a deliberate strategy. I'm sure you are aware of Nicholas Perrin's work on the catchwords in Thomas. Whether this occurred in Syriac like Perrin suggests I think is hard to say (at least for me), but that catchwords were part of the composition (either originally, or in a later stage when sayings were added) I think is clear.

One final point, I agree that it is impossible to prove that Thomas has been influenced by Luke at Thomas 10 (or vice versa), but the direction of influence should be determined by other sayings where the direction of influence is clearer (for example Thomas 5, 16, 31, 45, 47, 55, 79, 104). Even Patterson agrees (in a recent paper presented at a Synoptic Problem conference) that in several of these sayings Lukan redaction can be found. How this is then explained is another matter of course.

Frank McCoy said...

Richard,

You give a list of Thomasine sayings in which you think that the direction of dependency between Lk and Th is clearer than with Th 10.
The first saying on the list is Th 5. Lukan parallels are Lk 12:2 and Lk 8:17. There is a Matthean parallel in Mt 10:26 and a Markan parallel in Mk 4:22.
Mt 10:26 and Lk 12:2 share these two pairs:
1. (Sy)kekalymmenon, apokalyphthesetai
2. Krypton, gnwsthesetai
A supporter of the Farrer Theory would argue that this is due to Luke basing Lk 12:2 on Mt 10:26. A supporter of the 2ST would argue that this is due to Luke and Matthew independently using Q 12:2 as a source.
With both theories, the remaining Lukan passage, Lk 8:17, should be based on Luke’s other source, i.e., Mk—in this case, Mk 4:22. Indeed, in support of this position, Lk 8:1-18 is Luke’s version of Mk 4:1-25.
However, the two pairs in Mk 4:22 are (1) krypton, phanerwthe and (2) apokryphon, phaneron, but neither pair is found is found in Lk 8:17.
The first pair in Lk 8:17 is krypton, phaneron. The only other example of this pair is in Th 5 (P. Oxy. 654).
The second pair in Lk 8:17 is apokryphon, gnwsthe. Like the second pair in Mk 4:22, the first member is apokryphon. But the second member is closest to gnwsthesetai—the second member of the second pair for Mt 10:26//Lk 12:2.
As a result, while Lk 8:17 is Luke’s version of Mk 4:22, it appears that he was influenced by both Th 5 and Mt 10:26 in how he worded it.
Here is the proposed scenario:
Stage 1 Th 5 is written with the two pairs (found in P. Oxy. 654) of (1) kekalymmenon, apokalyphthesetai and (2) krypton, phaneron.
Stage 2 Mt 10:26 is written based on Th 5, but with the second member of the second set changed from phaneron to gnwsthesetai.
Stage 3 Lk 12:2 is written based on Mt 10:26 and Lk 8:17 is written primarily based on Mk 4:22, but with influences from both Th 5 and Mt 10:26 as well.

Richard Godijn said...

Frank,

This could go on for ever of course, so I'll leave this as my last comment and let you have the last word if you wish.

Luke is considered (for good reason) to be a blockwise redactor (of Mark and Matthew or Mark and Q), not a major conflator. Large-scale conflation is considered quite implausible for a first century author (see the work of Derrenbacker foe example). Sure, occassionally the memory of another text can creep in, but there is typically no large-scale conflation. This is one of the reasons Griesbach's Mark is so implausible (Mark conflating Matthew and Luke). Imagining Luke conflating Matthew and Thomas, Mark and Thomas or sometimes even Mark, Matthew and Thomas as you propose here I find quite implausible.

Jim Deardorff said...

Richard,

I believe that text critics haven't wanted it to read "Depart by yourselves to a lonely place..." any more than you do. It's just too blatant an indication of the mindset of the writer of Mark. Yet, it's inconceivable that the harder reading of Codex D would be secondary to "Come", especially when it's not "Come with me to a lonely place."

Frank McCoy said...

Richard,

I deeply appreciate your critical reviews of the idea that Matthew used Mk and Th as sources and that Luke used Mk, Th and Mt as sources. Particularly helpful is your pointing out that this idea needs to be tested with Th 5, 16, 31, 45, 47, 55, 79 and 104, as this gives me a focus for further research.
Your comments are especially precious because I am a layperson and realize that scholars like yourself, between carrying on discussions with their peers and their students and their other scholarly duties such as teaching and research, have little to no time to spare for helping laypeople.
As long as an idea works, I pursue it even it is judged by others to be implausible. So far, I have found this idea to have great explanatory powers. Further, I have not found a “smoking gun” demonstrating this idea to be unworkable. But who knows what future research will bring?

Richard Godijn said...

Jim,

My general methodology is to follow the decisions of text critical experts, not because I think they are always right (of course they are not), but because not following them gives us way too much flexibility in our analyses. I follow the N-A text even when it is in my disadvantage. Have you ever seen a scholar dispute the text critical consensus when this would work against his hypothesis? Of course not, they do this when they try to fit the data to their theory.

Text critics typically have no problem accepting a hard reading. That is in fact an important criterion they use. However, Codex Bezae (D) is considered to be a rather unreliable text. This is what Metzger and Ehrman say about it (The Text of The New Testament, 4th edition): "No known manuscript has so many and such remarkable variations from what is usually taken to be the normal New Testament text. Codex Bezae's special characteristic is the free addition (and occasional omission) of words, sentences, and even incidents."

Richard Godijn said...

Frank,

I enjoyed our little discussion and I admire the boldness of your views. I hope you will keep working on your theory!

Jim Deardorff said...

Richard,

The point of showing a variant is to acknowledge that the preferred reading bears uncertainty, which one hypothesis may be able to clarify better than another. The point in question, however, is that “Depart by yourselves to a lonely place” is in the same theologically unacceptable category as are other Markan inserts relative to Matthew that survived, such as: “He meant to pass by them” of Mk 6:48.

Altogether, such inserts indicate that the writer of Mark was anti-Jewish (www.tjresearch.info/mksec6.htm), an undesired conclusion that can be largely avoided by placing Mark ahead of Matthew. This variant (“Depart” instead of “Come”) of Codex Bezae may seem “remarkable,” but is simply consistent within the framework of Matthean priority, while also solving the puzzle of why the preferred reading is “Come by yourselves to a lonely place” rather than “Come with me to a lonely place.”