The article I wish to comment on is Sharon Lea Mattila, "Negotiating the Clouds Around Statistics and 'Q': A Rejoinder and Independent Analysis," Novum Testamentum 46/2 (2004): 105-31. The article is a detailed, lengthy and frequently polemical response to Charles E. Carlston and Dennis Norlin, "Statistics and Q -- Some Further Observations," NovT 41 (1999), itself largely a response to an earlier article by Mattila. For an excellent summary of these and other works on statistical studies of the Synoptic Problem, and for full bibliography, see John Poirier, "Statistical Studies of the Verbal Agreements and their Impact on the Synoptic Problem," Currents in Biblical Research 7 (2008): 68-123.
The gist of the article is that Mattila thinks that Carlston and Norlin have overstated the case that Matthew and Luke preserved the Q sayings more faithfully than the Marcan sayings. One of the key elements in the article is "an independent statistical analysis" that attempts to avoid what she sees as the flaws in their earlier study.
My comments here relate to difficulties with Mattila's figures tabulated on pp. 125-6 of the article:
(1) Mattila claims to avoid "such pitfalls as including sayings containing words from Scripture" (p. 121) but two of her parallels feature quotations from Scripture:
- Matt. 10.34-6 // Luke 12.51-53 quotes Micah 7.6
- Matt. 21.13 // Luke 19.46 is a famous composite quotation of Isa. 56.7 and Jer. 7.11.
- Matt. 10.19-20 // Luke 12.11-12
- Matt. 13.31b-2 // Luke 13.18b-19
- Matt. 16.6b // Luke 12.1b
- Matt. 18.6-7 // Luke 17.1b-3a.
(3) Mattila includes the Lucan woes in her analysis in spite of the fact that they have no parallel in Matthew, and against her stated objective of treating Aland's synopsis divisions as the standard. She is conscious that this is problematic (p. 121).
(4) This is a point that is rarely treated seriously in statistical studies of the Synoptics. Parable material occupies an interesting position here in that it is both sayings material (in attribution to Jesus) and narrative (in form). Parallel parables appear often to be much less close to one another in wording than is other sayings material. Indeed, they sometimes imitate the way that narrative material appears. Mattila's double tradition table includes four parables across 47 verses of Matthew:
- Matt. 7.24-27 // Luke 6.47-9
- Matt. 18.12-14 // Luke 15.4-7
- Matt. 22.2-14 // Luke 14.16b-24
- Matt. 25.14-30 // Luke 19.12b-27
- Matt. 13.3b-9 and 18-23 // Luke 8.5-8a and 11-15
- Matt. 13.31b-32 // Luke 13.18-19
- Matt. 21.33-40 // Luke 20.9b-15