Thursday, November 06, 2003

Naming Synoptic Theories

Stephen Carlson comments with insight on the vexed question of the naming of Synoptic theories, following on from my own comments on Kirk's review of the Goulder volume. Stephen makes his own proposals for how to attain some degree of clarity; one thing I find useful is his suggestion for how to use "theory" and "hypothesis". Stephen also notes that one of the problems with "eponymous names", like the Farrer theory, is that the wrong person can be credited. Farrer was scooped by James Hardy Ropes in the 1930s. I suppose the only thing I'd add is that Ropes's espousal of Markan Priority without Q (another name for it!) was somewhat brief and was only suggestive (see this excerpt from The Synoptic Gospels). He gives the impression of someone toying with the idea; Farrer was the first to work the theory out with rigour.

With many thanks to Michael Pahl for what follows, these issues came home to me today in a quotation from a recent book review by Craig Blomberg in JETS, Robert Thomas (ed.), Three Views on the Origins of the Synoptic Gospels. The three views are "Markan priority" (Two-Source and Four-Source Theory), Griesbach and literary independence. Blomberg apparently criticizes the book for the choice of these three "dominant" views and adds, "Had the book truly presented the three most common perspectives, we would have read about Markan priority, the Augustinian hypothesis (and its recent Goulder-Goodacre modification), and Griesbach." I am almost speechless. While it's nice to be mentioned and even to be thought of as an advocate of a "common" view, it is troubling that Blomberg apparently does not know what theory Goulder or I propose. That it is not only called a modification of the "Augustinian hypothesis" but that it is also listed as something different from "Markan priority" shows what a lot of work still needs to be done by Q sceptics like me to get our views known. In his recent article review of my Case Against Q in NTS, John Kloppenborg suggests that we use the term "Markan Priority without Q" or "MwQ" for short. I have used this myself in the past and it's tempting to use it more often in the light of comments like Blomberg's.

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