Friday, August 20, 2004

Deinde's Biblical Studies Glossary

Deinde have announced the addition of a new Glossary for Biblical Studies terms on their site. Go to:

Biblical Studies Glossary

(You will have to scroll down a little). I am all in favour of this kind of thing -- I cannot count the number of times that students have come to me asking for definitions of terms that their textbooks have taken for granted. I think we should always add a glossary in introductory text books, but I'm in the minority in thinking / executing this. One of the best I am aware of is:

A Basic Vocabulary of Biblical Studies For Beginning Students: A Work in Progress
Fred L. Horton, Jr., Kenneth G. Hoglund, and Mary F. Foskett

Also excellent is:

A Glossary of Important Terms for New Testament Studies
Felix Just, S. J.

I'm afraid that I can't resist putting them to the test on my favourite topic, the Synoptic Problem. How do they perform? Deinde gives the following:
The question of the relationship between Matthew, The most common, widely held, and probably soundest solution is the 4 source hypothesis that sees Mark as the earliest gospel, with Matthew and Luke each using Mark as a source. Matthew and Luke also used a hypothetical document called 'Q', which explains the verbatim agreements between the two. Matthew and Luke had their own unique material as well (called 'M' and 'L' respectively). So the 4 sources are Mark, Q, M, and L.
Something has gone a bit wrong with the first sentence here; presumably, it would have carried on ". . . Mark and Luke". I would personally have preferred to see more by way of definition of the problem than a launching into an alleged "probably soundest" solution too. I would also suggest that it is potentially confusing to talk about "4 source hypothesis" in this context; if one is to speak of the most popular solution, it is the "Two-Source Hypothesis", i.e. Marcan Priority + Q, and this leaves the issue of M and L, in any case unique material, to one side. I also like to see some acknowledgement of other current solutions, perhaps at least Farrer and Griesbach.

Felix Just, S. J., on the other hand, links to some major explanatory material, both in terms of the problem and proposed solutions. He links to a whole page on The Synoptic Problem and Supposed Solutions, breaking down the problem and offering details of a range of popular solutions, with illustrations.

A Basic Vocabulary site offers the following definition:
Addresses the literary relationships among the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Currently, the most prominent resolution to the so-called problem is the Two Source theory of Markan priority that posits Mark's Gospel and the Q document as common literary sources that the authors of both Matthew and Luke incorporated into their Gospels. For the latest argument against Q, see Mark Goodacre's "Mark Without Q."
This is a good, lean definition, a quick explanation of the dominant solution and a link to an alternative explanation.

Personal bias might lend support to the last of these options, but I would add a very honourable mention to Felix Just, S. J.'s materials, which allow the hyperlinking potential of the web to build up a pretty helpful introductory network of materials for the beginning student.

Let me reiterate that this my experiment with just one of 250 terms in Deinde's excellent Glossary is simply a bit of fun with just that, one out of many terms. I have not yet read all the definitions, but this looks like a useful contribution to the discipline.

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