Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Farrer Theory ignored: yet another new example

Regular readers of the NT Blog will be familiar with my occasional notices on how the Farrer Theory often gets ignored in scholarship.  The attempt to make the Griesbach Hypothesis the sole alternative to the Two-Source Theory gives scholars an easier ride, especially in introductory works, in which the establishment of Marcan Priority becomes an argument for the existence of Q.  The latest example of the phenomenon is found in Grant R. Osborne, Matthew (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010): 35-8, a preview of which can now be read online.

Osborne says that "now there are two major camps"..  The first is the "Griesbach Hypothesis" and he goes on, "there are stronger arguments for Markan Priority, especially the form called the "two- or four- source" hypothesis formulated by B. H. Streeter, which says that Matthew and Luke used Mark and Q as well as their own special material (M and L)" (36).   Osborne then provides four arguments for Marcan Priority (36-7) and concludes "All of this makes it likely that Mark was the first Gospel and that Matthew and Luke used Mark as well as Q" (37).  None of the arguments is in fact an argument for Matthew's and Luke's independent use of Mark, and so the conclusion that Marcan Priority necessarily leads to acceptance of the Q hypothesis is illegitimate.

Osborne briefly mentions the Gospel of Thomas as providing an analogue for Q, without exploring the important question of the apparent generic contrasts between the two and he adds that "recent work has made the likelihood of Q more viable" (37), footnoting Carlston and Norlin's 1999 article on statistics and Q. That article certainly points in the direction of a Q document on the assumption of the independence of Matthew and Luke, but it does not speak to the issue of Luke's familiarity with Matthew.

I am now so used to this kind of by-passing of the Farrer Theory that fresh examples come as no surprise.  I have in fact come to expect it whenever I open a new book.  I must confess to a touch of additional disappointment in this case, however, given my careful review of a book to which Osborne contributed, and concerning which we had corresponded, in which I spoke of the problems that arise from ignoring the Farrer theory and discussing the Synoptic Problem solely as a question of the Griesbach Theory vs. the Two-Source Theory (Mark Goodacre, Review of David Alan Black and David R. Beck (eds.), Rethinking the Synoptic Problem, NovT 49/2 (2007): 197-9).


AKMA said...

In further headlines, dog bites man...."

Stephen C. Carlson said...

That should be "Carlston and Norlin" (with a 't'), not "Carlson and Norlin")--I had nothing to do with it!

Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks, Stephen; fixed.

Yes, bears poo in woods!

Scott F said...

Shouldn't it be (at least) as worrying that he appears to be arguing that Lukan and Matthean independent use of Mark is implied by Marcan Priority! Teaching that kind of shoddy reasoning will bring nothing but woe in the next generation.

Marcello Jun said...

Kuhn appropriately pointed out the inertial difficulty any scholarly community has to shift gears and reassess beholden paradigms. One has but to hope excellent work, such as your own, will eventually gain enough traction to merit greater investigation.

I have, needless to say, been quite impressed by your defense of the Farrer Hypothesis, but I have one question that I am not sure you have addressed. I have read it posited, but I am not aware of a good answer:

Why would Luke's version of the "Q" passages, allegedly derived from Matthew, omit the Messiah references both (Matthew) are so fond of, and "Q" is hypothesized as ignoring.

If you have taken on this argument, would you mind pointing me to it?

Thanks, and great post!

Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks for your kind words, Marcello. Which words are you thinking of? Matt. 11.2? If the latter, it's in Matthew's introduction to a pericope and it is rare for Luke to take over that material in his Gospel. It's not his style to use the term Christ / Messiah in the way Matthew does there in that piece of narrative.

Mark Goodacre said...

It's curious, Scott, that he apparently regards Matthew's and Luke's independence as a given and not necessary to argue.

Jim Deardorff said...

Re Marcello's question, I would expand upon, or modify, Mark Goodacre's explanation to point out that Luke had to decide which material from Matthew not in Mark to re-instate in his own gospel (Q), and which material of Matthew to omit. The "Q" pericopes he would place in different contexts than in Matthew, i.e. use a different introductory verse. (Why he would do this another story.) This implementation would be difficult in the case of Matt 11:2-15, since the introduction to the pericope (11:2) is an integral part of the pericope itself.

Richard Fellows said...

I feel your frustration, Mark. It is all too common for NT scholars to ignore each others' work rather than engage with the arguments.

Osbourne, it would move the debate forward if you could respond to Mark by posting a comment.

Often people will simply assume the majority view because they are not really interested in the issue in question: their interests are directed elsewhere. This bandwagon effect tends to inflate the popularity of the majority view and makes it difficult to dislodge.

Those of us (like me), who have not examined the synoptic problem in detail, should remain undecided rather than become "lazy believers in Q".