Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Further Response to Alan Garrow

I am grateful to Alan Garrow for responding to my post on Garrow's Flaw (details and links here) over on Bart Ehrman's blog.

I had pointed out that Garrow's model diagnoses high verbatim double tradition passages as the result of Matthew's copying of Luke alone. "High DT [double tradition] passages," he says,"are best explained by Matthew’s copying of Luke without interference from any other entity.” Low verbatim passages are the result of Matthew conflating Luke and the Didache. The claim is foundational and explicit in Garrow's work:
"[W]hen Matthew copies Luke without distraction he produces High DT passages. When, however, Matthew knows differing versions of the same event he conflates them – resulting in a Low DT passage."
In my response, I pointed out that Garrow's own list of "High DT passages" includes several cases of Matthew actually working not from "Luke alone" but from Luke and Mark. In other words, his claim that Matthew produces high verbatim passages when working from Luke alone is contradicted by his own model. 

Garrow responds by arguing that Matthew's behaviour is "consistently plausible". I quote the paragraph in full:
A good solution to the Synoptic Problem is one that allows each Evangelist to behave in a consistently plausible manner. To rebut my thesis, therefore, Goodacre must show that, under my proposal, Matthew is required to do something that is essentially implausible. The unbelievable behavior he identifies is that Matthew (according to me) sometimes very closely conflates two or more related sources (e.g. The Sin against the Holy Spirit, where Matt. 31.31-32 conflates Mark 3.28-30, Luke 12.10 and Did. 11.7), sometimes switches between sources at intervals (e.g. the Beelzebul Controversy, where Matt. 12.22-30 alternates between Mark 3.22-27 and Luke 11.14-23), and sometimes decides to forego the labor of conflation where the rewards for doing so are limited (e.g. John’s messianic preaching and the sign of Jonah: Matt. 3.12 // Luke 3.17 and Matt. 12.38-42 // Luke 11.16, 29-32 respectively). I must leave you to judge whether this variation is so extraordinary as to justify Ehrman’s view that this is a ‘completely compelling’ reason to declare that Matthew could not have known Luke.
This does not respond to my point, which is not a question about degrees of plausibility, but a question about the consistency and coherence of Garrow's model. I do not have a difficulty with the issue of variation in degrees of verbatim agreement; indeed, as Garrow points out, I have myself written about this. The issue to which I am drawing attention is straightforward: Garrow claims that high verbatim agreement in double tradition is diagnostic that Matthew is working form Luke alone. I am pointing out that on his model, high verbatim agreement does not illustrate this.

Garrow adds some general criticisms of the Farrer theory, including the old chestnut about "unpicking", which dates back to F. Gerald Downing. I have little to add here to the excellent critiques by Ken Olson and Eric Eve on this issue, but I will say that no critic of the Farrer theory has yet successfully isolated a single occasion where an advocate of the Farrer theory uses the term that they consistently put in quotation marks. I generally try to avoid putting things in quotation marks that are not quotations, but I realize that practices vary. 

Garrow concludes with his favourite quotation from me, "The theory that Matthew has read Luke … is rarely put forward by sensible scholars and will not be considered here" (The Synoptic Problem: A Way Through the Maze, 109), where I was of course just describing the field at the time of writing, a description echoed by Garrow himself three years later, "“The possibility that Matthew directly depended on Luke’s Gospel has not been widely explored” (The Gospel of Matthew's Dependence on the Didache, 228 n. 10). I should perhaps let on that my engagement with Alan's work began long before Evan's wager; that just gave me the opportunity to share work in progress. What's been fun has been the demonstration that people really are interested in the Synoptic Problem.


MattGZat said... Provides access (in Abode format) to Streeter’s 'Other’ Synoptic Solution: The
Matthew Conflator Hypothesis, Alan Garrow; New Testament Studies 62.2 (2016). Thanks, Mark, for bringing this information together!

A Reliable Helper said...

Mark, it would be helpful to explain in your comments why this issue, in your view, is critical. Is it simply an academic issue or are there real world consequences?

Geoff Hudson said...

There are certainly more important topics, like who actually did write the Gospels?

Geoff Hudson said...

The earliest New Testament manuscripts are from the second, third and fourth centuries CE and many of those are fragments. The earliest manuscripts on Roman history about New Testament times are from the fifth century to eleventh century, usually preserved by a monk in a monastery. Again those histories are nowhere near complete. There is a close relation between what is understood as Roman history and the New Testament. What do you say, if understood Roman history is wrong? We are conditioned to historians being able to quote and cite it. Thus it is all very well arguing over who wrote which gospels, but who did write them when they are supposed to have been written earlier than any of the above dates?

Geoff Hudson said...

According to Mark, "Luke has got a copy of Mathew's Gospel". How about one Caesarean monk, has got a copy of another Caesarean monk's version of Matthew?

Edward T. Babinski said...

I doubt discussing particular lines shared and not shared between Gospel authors can solve the synoptic problem. Because... Verbatim lines copies from earlier written sources can be mixed together with lines the author has recalled only in paraphrased form from those same sources but didn't consult the text to cite verbatim, and those can be mixed with memories of things the author heard, and further mixed with the author's grammatical changes, and also mixed with the author's imaginative additions to the narrative. Therefore one should probably take a step back from the Gospel landscape and survey wider aspects of the relationships between Gospels.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Why not take a broader look at how Matthew and Luke differ in relationship to Mark?

If Mark is the earliest Gospel, then which Gospel, Matthew or Luke. is the nearest to the earliest Gospel, Mark? Matthew wins such a comparison hands down, and was most probably composed earlier than Luke:

1) Matthew reproduces the most Markan stories, including both of Mark's feeding miracles (Luke reproduces only one feeding miracle and is also missing a whole block of Mark).

2) Matthew reproduces nearly all of Mark's miracles except for two, but preserves the number and types of Markan miracles by conflating two of Mark's miracles, i.e., adding TWO people to an exorcism, and TWO blind men to a healing, instead of separating those stories as Mark had done. So Matthew reproduced Mark's total and types of miracles (adding others as well of course) See this handy chart:

Luke on the other hand is missing a block of Mark's miracles, mostly because he is missing a block of Mark to begin with:
6.53-56 The healings in Gennesaret.
7.24-30 The healing of the daughter of a Syrophoenician woman.
7.31-37 The healing of a deaf-mute man.
8.1-10 The feeding of the four thousand.
8.22-26 The healing of a blind man with spittle.

Of course both Matthew and Luke add miracles before Jesus' baptism and after Jesus' death, i.e., during Jesus' ministry, the period that Mark covers.

Matthew alone adds to the Markan tale the following miracles:
The healing at the request of a centurion
The healing of a dumb man
The inquiry of John the baptist (a mere summary of healings in 11.5, no individually narrated miracles)
The controversy over Beezebul (healing of a blind and dumb man in 12.22)
Adding Peter to Walking on the Water
Catching a fish with a coin in its mouth (the miracle is assumed, not narrated)

But some of the miracles that Luke alone adds to Jesus' ministry are even more spectacular than those added by Matthew, and probably of later vintage:
The Miraculous Catch of Fish (not just one fish, but many, and narrated, unlike the fish and coin story in Matthew)
Healing a Possessed Crippled Woman
Healing of A Man with Dropsy
Cleansing of TEN Lepers at once (not just a single leper)
Healing of Servant's Ear (reattaching a body part that had been cut off with a sword)
And the most spectacular freshly added miracle to Mark,
The raising of a widow's son while the son was being taken to be buried, which is more spectacular than the raising of a person's daughter out of the public's eye, inside the family house, very soon after she has died. The raising of the widow's son, found in Luke but not in Mark or Matthew, is set in full public view and perhaps a few days after death because the son has been dead so long he is on the way to being buried. This new miracle found only in Luke was probably drawn from the Septuagint story of a very similar miracle in the OT, reworked and added to Jesus' ministry.

3) Luke adds lengthy new parables, highly original, not simply expanding on Markan parables as Matthew often does. Luke features "the Good Samaritan," "The Prodigal (Lost) Son," "The Friend at Midnight," "The Persistent Widow."

Edward T. Babinski said...

4) A matter of angels. In Matthew an angel appears to Joseph twice, but only "in a dream." And an angel ministers to Jesus in the garden (Luke shares that story, but in neither Gospel does it say the apostles saw the angel). Matthew does add at the very end of his Gospel a visible sighting of a single angel by Roman guards at Jesus' tomb. But Luke outdoes Matthew and has angels that appear visibly on numerous occasions to different people and even carries on a conversation with Zacharias, and Mary. And not just one angel but "a multitude of the heavenly host" visibly appear to shepherds and deliver a verbal message to them. And not just one angel but two appear at the empty tomb scene in Luke. So Luke appears to have upped the angel-ante so to speak over Matthew.

(Note that Matthew's one angel at the empty tomb is the same in quantity to Mark's "young man" at the empty tomb, but in the case of Mark that "young man" might be the same "young man" who was the last to flee from Jesus' captors on the night of his arrest, rather than angel).

5) Luke's genealogy and also his entire nativity story is lengthier, going even beyond Jesus' birth to an incident in his childhood in the Temple. Luke also adds three prayers to his nativity story that are so finely written they could almost be sung, Luke the musical! I daresay it takes time to come up with something like that, more time than simply to play off of OT passages like Matthew does in his nativity story.

For the above reasons it appears like Luke was completed later than Matthew.