Tuesday, April 26, 2005

On-line Biblical Studies Glossaries

On Biblical Theology Jim West mentions A Basic Vocabulary of Biblical Studies for Beginning Students, once upon a time a Featured Link on the NT Gateway. I think the on-line glossary is an excellent way of utilizing the web intelligently in teaching. You can constantly add, update, correct, hyperlink -- it's an old fashioned genre that is a gift to web technology.

This reminds me of a post here last year on putting this and other glossaries to the test:

Deinde's Biblical Studies Glossary

As you can see from the title, the post was occasioned by the new glossary over at Deinde. On that occasion, I put the three glossaries, the Wake Forest one, Felix Just's one and Deinde's to the test on the topic "Synoptic Problem". Wake Forest came out on top, with an honourable mention to Felix Just. Deinde's was incomplete -- a broken sentence but also a limited definition, focussing more on one prominent solution to the problem than on than the problem itself. So how does it shape up several months later? Here's the revised entry:
Synoptic Problem: The question of the relationship between Matthew, Mark, and Luke; both their similarities and differences, The most common belief is the 2 (or 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. Another possible understanding of the synoptic problem is the belief that Matthew was written first, with Mark and Luke using Matthew as a source.
Well, it's better, but not much better. It's not been proof-read ("differences, The"), the definition needs tightening up somewhat and the statement about the Two-Source Theory needs more precision. Q does not explain "the verbatim agreements between the two" but the verbatim agreement in non-Marcan material. The last sentence is perhaps the most problematic, though. It gives what is essentially the Augustinian theory, Matthew first, then Mark, then Luke; this is not a "possible understanding" of the Synoptic Problem but a solution to it, and not a popular solution at that. One might have expected other prominent solutions to the Synoptic Problem to have found their way into the entry ahead of Augustine. So on this very limited test run, at least, Wake Forest and Just are still out in front.

Update (10.25): actually, it's worse than I'd realised. There's nothing on the Farrer Theory, but I've just noticed that the Deinde Glossary has an entry on Griesbach as follows
Griesbach hypothesis: The gospel origins theory that believes Matthew was the earliest, Mark created a short version of Matthew, and Luke used both. This eliminates the need for Q, but is not widely held.
No; this is incorrect. The Griesbach theory is that Matthew was first, that Luke used Matthew and that Mark used them both. What is described here is the (so-called) Augustinian theory.

Update (17.56): in some speedy work on Deinde , Danny Zacharias has done a major update on the above entries, and has even added one on the Farrer theory. I apologise if my entry above came across as "a good lesson in being pointed and laughed at in front of a bunch of people". Rather, my hope was along the following lines, as Danny rightly puts it:
The great thing about the web is that these glossary entries haven't been fixed for all eternity by the printing press, they can be quickly changed, so aim for productivity and fire us off an email.
And on the same note, one last small comment on the Synoptic Problem entry: "Contestant 1- The two-(or four) source hypothesis (marcan priority) . . . .": the Two Source Theory does not hold a monopoly on Marcan Priority, an incorrect perception that, I argue, has been a contributing factor to the dominance of the Q hypothesis.

Update (21.58): Joe Weaks comments on The Macintosh Biblioblog: A Biblical Studies Wiki? -- an interesting idea. In passing Joe notes that the entry on the Synoptic Problem is pretty good -- agreed.

Update (Wednesday, 16.10): no wonder the the entry on the Synoptic Problem is good -- Stephen Carlson wrote it! (See commments).

Update (Wednesday 16.12): Deinde comment further. I am inclined to agree that it would be better for us to improve Wiki than to go the TheoWiki route.

1 comment:

Stephen C. Carlson said...

Thanks for noticing. The Wikipedia article on the synoptic problem was based on an old essay of mine on my synoptic problem homepage that I later superseded. It's not plagiarism because I was the one who donated it to the Wikipedia.