Thursday, November 29, 2007

Court on Crossley

Tomorrow's Church Times (it's still today in America though it's already tomorrow in England) features a short review by John Court of James Crossley's Why Christianity Happened:

Explaining a faith
John Court is sceptical about an account of Christianity’s causes

How to Give an Academic Talk

The question of how to present papers is a regular one here and it has recently resurfaced (More SBL Reflections, especially on Presenting Papers and SBL Assorted Reflections). Matthew Collins mentioned to me that Heather McKay and he presented a workshop on the topic at the annual meeting last year, headed "Giving a Better Presentation at the Meeting (a.k.a. Speed Readers Anonymous)". Apparently it runs each year at the International Meeting too. Matthew also sent me a copy of an excellent article on the subject, which is available for distribution provided one retains the copyright information at the top of the article:

How to Give an Academic Talk:
Changing the Culture of Public Speaking in the Humanities
Paul N. Edwards
School of Information
University of Michigan
. . . . Why do otherwise brilliant people give such soporific talks?

First, they’re scared. The pattern is a perfectly understandable reaction to stage fright. It’s easier to hide behind the armor of a written paper, which you’ve had plenty of time to work through, than simply to talk.

But second, and much more important, it’s part of academic culture — especially in the humanities. It's embedded in our language: we say we're going to "give a paper." As a euphemism for a talk, this is an oxymoron. Presentations are not articles. They are a completely different medium of communication, and they require a different set of skills. Professors often fail to recognize this, or to teach it to their graduate students.

Stage fright is something everybody has to handle in their own way. But academic culture is something we can deliberately change. This short essay is an attempt to begin that process with some pointers for effective public speaking . . . .
I have provided that quotation by way of taster. I must admit to finding it very refreshing to see someone independently making the case I have been trying to make for the last three years; he does it with clarity and style. I see that the article appears in a variety of places on the net where other sympathisers have uploaded it, so I'd also like to thank Paul Edwards for making it available in this way, which demonstrates the power of the net to disseminate one's writing on topics of interest to a broad range of people.

Review of Biblical Literature latest

I have fallen behind with the Review of Biblical Literature announcements recently, so here in one post are all the ones I have missed under the NT and related headings:

David E. Aune
Apocalypticism, Prophecy and Magic in Early Christianity: Collected Essays
Reviewed by Lorenzo DiTommaso

James D. G. Dunn
The Partings of the Ways: Between Christianity and Judaism and Their Significance for the Character of Christianity
Reviewed by Peter Carrell

Hans-Josef Klauck
Ancient Letters and the New Testament: A Guide to Context and Exegesis
Reviewed by Pieter J. J. Botha

Hershel Shanks, ed.
Where Christianity Was Born: A Collection from the Biblical Archaeology Society
Reviewed by Jonathan Reed

Cynthia Long Westfall
A Discourse Analysis of the Letter to the Hebrews: The Relationship between Form and Meaning
Reviewed by Gabriella Gelardini

Kurt Erlemann, Karl Leo Noethlichs, Klaus Scherberich, and Jürgen Zangenberg, eds.
Neues Testament und Antike Kultur (4 vols.)
Band 1: Prolegomena; Quellen; Geschichte
Band 2: Familie; Gesellschaft; Wirtschaft
Band 3: Weltauffassung; Kult; Ethos
Band 4: Karten, Abbildungen, Register
Reviewed by Joseph Verheyden

Graeme Goldsworthy
Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics: Foundations and Principles of Evangelical Biblical Interpretation
Reviewed by Erwin Ochsenmeier

Hermann Gunkel; trans. by K. William Whitney Jr.
Creation and Chaos in the Primeval Era and the Eschaton: A Religio-Historical Study of Genesis 1 and Revelation 12
Reviewed by Pieter G. R. de Villiers

Stanley Hauerwas
Reviewed by John Nolland

Ilze Kezbere
Umstrittener Monotheismus: Wahre und falsche Apotheose im lukanischen Doppelwerk
Reviewed by Loveday Alexander

Josep Rius-Camps and Jenny Read-Heimerdinger
The Message of Acts in Codex Bezae: A Comparison with the Alexandrian Tradition; Volume 2: Acts 6:1-12:25: From Judea and Samaria to the Church in Antioch
Reviewed by Jacob M. Caldwell

D. H. Williams, ed.
Tradition, Scripture, and Interpretation: A Sourcebook of the Ancient Church
Reviewed by H. H. Drake Williams III

Barry Beitzel, ed.
Biblica The Bible Atlas: A Social and Historical Journey through the Lands of the Bible
Reviewed by Ralph K. Hawkins

Silvia Cappelletti
The Jewish Community of Rome: From the Second Century B.C. to the Third Century C.E.
Reviewed by Judith Lieu
Reviewed by Allen Kerkeslager

Georg Gäbel
Die Kulttheologie des Hebräerbriefes: Eine exegetisch-religionsgeschichtliche Studie
Reviewed by Gabriella Gelardini

Bruce J. Malina and John J. Pilch
Social-Science Commentary on the Letters of Paul
Reviewed by Eduard Verhoef

Jerome Neyrey
The Gospel of John
Reviewed by Dirk van der Merwe

Richard P. Thompson
Keeping the Church in Its Place: The Church as Narrative Character in Acts
Reviewed by Steve Walton

Pheme Perkins, Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels

I am grateful to Eerdmans for a copy of the following:

Pheme Perkins, Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels
In this book respected New Testament scholar Pheme Perkins delivers a clear, fresh, informed introduction to the earliest written accounts of Jesus — Matthew, Mark, and Luke — situating those canonical Gospels within the wider world of oral storytelling and literary production of the first and second centuries. Cutting through the media confusion over new Gospel finds, Perkins’s Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels presents a balanced, responsible look at how the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke came to be and what they mean.
Endorsements and table of contents are available on the Eerdmans site from the title link above. I have a brief comment of my own to add about the book, but I will do that in a separate post.

HarperCollins Visual Guide to the Bible

Jim West has been blogging this, but I wanted to add my own comment, not least given that a copy arrived in my pigeonhole earlier this week. I am talking about Jonathan L. Reed, The HarperCollins Visual Guide to the New Testament. I haven't spent a lot of time reading the text yet, but I have enjoyed flicking through and looking at the pictures. How often do we get to say that about books on the New Testament?! It really is a gorgeously produced item. I have linked here to HarperCollins's browse facility above so that you can see for yourself:

Bible and Critical Theory Latest

Latest Bible and Critical Theory posting (sorry, I'm a few weeks late) from the SBL.
The Bible and Critical Theory
Volume: 3, Number: 3 October 2007

What Is The Bible and Critical Theory?
By Roland Boer and Julie Kelso

Che Vuoi? Politico-philosophical remarks on Leo Strauss' Spinoza
By Matthew Sharpe


David E. S. Stein, ed., The Contemporary Torah: A Gender-Sensitive Adaptation of the JPS
Reviewed by Nathan Eubank

Marion Ann Taylor and Heather E. Weir, Let Her Speak for Herself: Nineteenth-Century Women Writing on Women in Genesis
Reviewed by R. Christopher Heard

Jens Bruun Kofoed, Text and History: Historiography and the Study of the Biblical Text
Reviewed by Sean Burt

Mark Hamilton, The Body Royal: The Social Poetics of Kingship in Ancient Israel
Reviewed by Milena Kirova

Scott M. Langston, Exodus through The Centuries
Reviewed by Peter D. Miscall

Review of Uriah Y. Kim, Decolonizing Josiah: Toward a Postcolonial Reading of the Deuteronomistic History
Reviewed by Mark Sneed

It's a Small World After All. Review of Fransisco Lozada Jr. and Tom Thatcher, eds., New Currents through John: A Global Perspective
Reviewed by Christina Petterson

Jennifer Knust, Abandoned to Lust: Sexual Slander and Ancient Christianity: Gender, Theory, and Religion
Reviewed by Gillian Townsley

Stephen G. Wilson, Leaving the Fold: Apostates and Defectors in Antiquity
Reviewed by Michael F. Bird

Laura Donaldson and Kwok Pui-Lan, eds., Postcolonialism, Feminism and Religious Discourse
Reviewed by Esther Fuchs

Hent de Vries and Lawrence E. Sullivan, eds., Political Theologies: Public Religions in a Post-Secular World
Reviewed by Darren Jorgensen

Sean Gaston, The Impossible Mourning of Jacques Derrida
Reviewed by Peter D. Miscall

Terry R. Wright, The Genesis of Fiction: Modern Novelists as Biblical Interpreters
Reviewed by Richard Walsh


The Messiah: In Early Judaism and Christianity

Latest from Fortress:

Scholars Discuss The Messiah In Early Judaism and Christianity

Minneapolis (November 9, 2007)—In The Messiah, leading scholars offer succinct and illuminating essays on currents of messianic thought in the formative centuries of Judaism and Christianity, providing precision in thinking about “messianic” images and tradition. Special features designed with the student in mind include a map, a glossary of terms, and a timeline of significant events.


Introduction Magnus Zetterholm

Part One: Formation

Pre-Christian Jewish Messianism: An Overview
John J. Collins, Yale University
The Messiah as Son of God in the Synoptic Gospels
Adela Yarbro Collins, Yale University
Paul and the Missing Messiah
Magnus Zetterholm, Lund University

Part Two: Development

Elijah and the Messiah as Spokesman of Rabbinic Ideology
Karin Hedner-Zetterholm, Lund University
The Reception of Messianism and the Worship of Christ in the Post-Apostolic Church
Jan-Eric Steppa, Lund University


Magnus Zetterholm is Adjunct Associate Professor in Religious Studies at Linköping University, Sweden. He is the author of The Formation of Christianity in Antioch: A Social-Scientific Approach to the Separation between Judaism and Christianity (2003) and coeditor of The Ancient Synagogue from Its Origins until 2000 C.E. (2001).

The Messiah: In Early Judaism and Christianity
Edited by Magnus Zetterholm

Item No: 978-0-8006-2108-7

Format: Paperback, 164 pages, 6 x 9 inches

Price: $18.00

To order The Messiah: In Early Judaism and Christianity please call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the Web site at

To request review copies (for media), or to discuss speaking engagements or interviews, please call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234 or e-mail

To request exam copies for classroom use (professors) go to

Bible and Justice Conference

From the British New Testament Society list:
The 2008 Conference on Bible and Justice will bring together scholars from around the world to explore how the ancient texts of the Bible can play an active role in addressing twenty-first century social concerns. The purpose of the conference is to foster discussion about the relevance of the Bible to modern social issues, and promote bridges between the academic field of biblical studies and the various endeavours for a just world.

The Conference Will Focus On Three Main Areas:
- Human Rights
- Economic Justice
- Environmental Justice

Our Keynote Speakers Are:
- Stanley Hauerwas, Duke University
- Timothy Gorringe, University of Exeter
- John Rogerson, University of Sheffield (Emeritus)

A variety of other speakers, including James Crossley, Philip Davies, David Horrell, Louise Lawrence, Mary Mills, Hugh Pyper, Christoper Rowland, Gerald West, and Keith Whitelam will address how the Bible is able to relate to a wide variety of social issues.

We would like to invite members of the BNTS to submit abstracts, which will be accepted until 24 January 2008.

Please visit the above website or contact our conference organizer, Matthew Coomber, for more information: .

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

H. Benedict Green Obituary, and Farrerians in Oxford

I commented on the sad death of H. Benedict Green in September. The Church Times recently had an obituary:

Obituary: FR BENEDICT GREEN CR [dead link, see update below]
The Very Revd Victor de Waal and Esther de Waal

A couple of things in the obituary may be of interest to scholars of the Synoptic Problem. The obituary mentions that Benedict Green was schooled at Eton, and I might add that that is where he first met his younger contemporary Michael Goulder. (The New Testament scholar Anthony Harvey was also at Eton at the same time). The obituary also notes Father Benedict's connections with Oxford. His father F. W. Green was a fellow of Merton College, and it was his father's commentary on Matthew that Father Benedict later updated, in the Clarendon Bible, and still very much worth consulting today. The Farrer Theory has a marked Oxford pedigree. Austin Farrer spent most of his academic career there; Michael Goulder and H. Benedict Green were both students there, and Michael later returned to give the Speakers Lectures. E. P. Sanders, a Farrer sympathiser, was Dean Ireland Professor there in the second half of the 1980s, a fact that probably has a lot to do with my own Q scepticism, and Eric Franklin, author of Luke: Critic of Matthew, Interpreter of Paul was there from the 1970s until his sad death recently. Other Farrerians are still in Oxford, John Muddiman, my doctoral supervisor; Robert Morgan, recently retired; and Eric Eve.

Back to the obituary, its authors mention that "his major work on this subject became his monumental Matthew: Poet of the Beatitudes, finally published in 2001". I would like to underline that this is a fine book, and it is one that is only going to be fully appreciated now after his death.

Update (23 February 2014): The link above is now dead, but the obituary is reproduced on the Mirfield website here:

H. Benedict Green Obituary

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

SBL Biblioblogger Lunch mini-podcast

Chris Brady has uploaded a seven minute podcast of everyone introducing themselves at the bibliobloggers lunch at the SBL last week, Is this mic on? Introducing the bibliobloggers lunch. I am not quite sure why I thought introducing my name and blog was so hilariously funny.

More SBL Reflections, especially on Presenting Papers

Over on the Forbidden Gospels Blog, April DeConick weighs in with her SBL Odds and Ends. April's reflections are helpful and interesting, and I agree with many of them. Like her, "my experience of SBL is a communal one". On the perennial issue of reading papers, April makes the valuable point that predistributing papers can be problematic given that many in the audience will not have read the paper in question and suggests that "Predistributing only works if the group is very small - like a seminar - and the goal of the meeting is detailed discussion of the paper". This is the set up in the Mark Group, and I have had some good experiences there. Nevertheless, the group sometimes illustrates the problem that April discusses. Non-members of the group inevitably come along to the session, they will not have read the papers, and they are sat around the outside of the room as non-participants. On Evangelical Textual Criticism, Peter Head draws attention to the set up of the Mark Group this year. I can't help thinking that it is appropriate to a group studying Mark, with a group of "those around him with the twelve" and "those who are outside".

My feeling about presenting papers, though, is not so much about the benefits of predistributing over not predistributing. Rather it is a question of the style of delivery. If one is reading out a paper rather than presenting it, I think a great deal can get lost. People do not hear everything in a read-aloud paper. The question which I tend to ask is this: why do we not read aloud our lectures in class? The answer, presumably, is because we wish to communicate effectively with our students. Likewise at the conference, if we wish to communicate with our audience, it is preferable to present rather than to read. (I am assuming here that people do not read aloud undergraduate lectures, do they?). On this theme, in comments, James McGrath makes the interesting point that "I think I've become so used to papers, that the rare person who does a presentation makes me feel like they are 'teaching a class' and treating the audience like we are students!" Well, that's certainly one to watch, and I do know what James means. In fact, I went to a session this year where a presenter spoke as if he was talking to his class. Mind you, I heard every word he said, and I would not have done if he had read aloud. Here, I think, we need to adjust our presentation style to the audience. Being an academic is about communicating one's ideas, and engaging with others, and so one has to ask about the most effective means of doing that.

Also in comments, Jack Poirier continues to argue strongly in favour of reading papers:
I'll continue my theme of supporting the reading of papers: If someone "presents" their paper without reading it, and I happen to be really interested in what they have to say, then I'm in the unfortunate position of having to get a copy of the paper and read it for myself just to see all the stuff that was left out of the presentation. That's why I prefer a paper to be read: then you know that you're getting it all (except perhaps the footnotes). I would hate to go to a conference where everyone presented. The more I liked the papers, the more homework I would have after the conference.
I understand what Jack is saying here, and I have some sympathy with it. My guess is that Jack is far better at concentrating on academic papers than I am. I am afraid that I drift away very quickly when people read, so I hear much less when they read aloud than when they present. I have also noticed that I am much more likely to fall asleep in read papers than in presentations, so again I get to hear less of a read aloud paper. There is an assumption too in what Jack writes that papers are fuller than the presentations, that presentations leave things out. I don't think that that is necessarily the case. A presentation can sometimes provide more information than can a read-aloud paper because there are different ways of communicating information when one is not reading.

Back to April's post, there are some helpful reflections on the multiple sessions, arguing that they can help to hone research, with like-minded people meeting together on a given topic of interest. There is a lot in that, but I suppose that I am concerned about the over-specialisation in the discipline that ultimately detracts from research that goes across boundaries and encourages conversations between different sub-fields. To speak of my own interests, for example, I had to miss sessions on Jesus and film which I would have loved to have attended because I was in other sessions that touched on other areas of interest. This year I did manage to get to one session on Paul, but at the expense of the Synoptics section which was meeting at the same time, and I was the co-chair of that section. I missed all the meetings of the Mark Group because they were timetabled at the same time as other sessions that I needed to attend, and that in spite of being a member of the Mark Group. I can't even begin to think about getting to sessions on Luke-Acts, or on Matthew, or on, say, the Gospel of Judas, one of the sessions I would have liked to attend. And so on. I just use myself by way of illustration; I know others feel the same way. If nobody can get to a fraction of the sessions that they would like to get to, I think there are too many sessions.

I am glad to see that April agrees with me on the problem of extending the conference to 9am on Saturday morning. It's another case in point -- there were two sessions I wanted to get to at that time but I had two meetings to attend. April also echoes the point made elsewhere about room sizes:
Please judge room size better. I cannot believe that the panel on Judas where Elaine Pagels and Karen King were responding to Birger Pearson, Louis Painchaud, and me was put in a room that seated 75. People were sitting in the aisles, along the perimeter of the room, and hanging out the door. Those crammed in the doorway told me that at least 50 people tried to get into the room, but finally left exasperated.
I agree. In most cases, this is one for the session chairs (see my post on SBL Room Sizes).

Update (Wednesday, 21.21): April DeConick makes an excellent case for Why Speciality Units at SBL Are Important. I might perhaps add that my own concern relates not to speciality units per se but to extensively overlapping units, but I may be wrong about that.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bibliobloggers and the SBL Forum

At the SBL Forum Board Meeting at this year's SBL, we had some discussion of the role that can be played by bloggers like us. The SBL Forum has a good history of engaging with the blogs, and encouraging articles on blogging (e.g. James Davila, Assimilated to the Blogosphere: Blogging Ancient Judaism and Tyler Williams, Welcome to the Biblical Studies Carnival). I noted at our meeting that in the past I have developed blog posts for publication, including in the SBL Forum (though rather annoyingly, my review of The Nativity Story has been lost in their reorganisation! More anon on that front). I suggested that there may be other bibliobloggers who might like to do the same thing in the future. So this post is in the nature of a call to all bibliobloggers: if you have any interesting ideas for articles for the SBL Forum, please be encouraged to participate. There is a good, developing relationship here between the blogs and the Forum, and it would be good to see the relationship going on from strength to strength.

Christian Origins SBL Bauckham Thread

The strange thing about e-lists is that they can lie dormant for months and then spring into life quite unexpectedly. The Christian Origins e-list is a case in point. It has been buzzing for the last 48 hours with a fascinating discussion of the Synoptic Gospels section which reviewed Richard Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses at the SBL Annual Meeting last week. On one level, I am gratified that a session I organized has resulted in such an interesting discussion. On another level, it is difficult to know quite what to make of some of the comments in the thread, so I encourage you to read it, and perhaps contribute too. The discussion features several of the participants on the panel including James Crossley and John Kloppenborg, and Jeff Peterson, who was presiding. Begin with Crossley's message, What is to be done? and follow the thread from there.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

SBL Assorted Reflections

A few thoughts about the SBL Annual Meeting:

(1) It's nice to see Duane Smith joining my campaign to have more people making presentations rather than reading out manuscripts (see Abnormal Interests). As some readers may remember, this has been something of a theme here. I am still baffled by the academic habit of reading out papers at conferences. If one is going to read out a paper, one may as well distribute it in advance. I realize that there is some risk and some additional nerves inevitable in a presentation as opposed to reading-a-paper-out-loud, but the risks are worth taking, not least given the fact that one's audience will usually be forgiving if one makes a mistake. I made a much better job of my first presentation (in CARG) than my second (in the Q Section) this year and I think the difference was down to two things: (a) the nature of the audience and (b) the nature of the presentation. My Q section presentation was somewhat thick with facts and figures, and in retrospect, I think I should have added a powerpoint, or at least made my handout more detailed. I suspect, too, that I was overprepared for the Q section -- I had spent so much time on it that I was brim full of things I wanted to share and did not have time for.

(2) The chairing of sessions: this is another standard complaint. While many sessions are chaired very well indeed, there are always sessions where the chair does not seem to understand about how to organise timing. Timing at SBL meetings is particularly important because there are usually several speakers in a limited time slot. If one goes over by 10 minutes, that is 10 minutes less for everyone else; if the second person goes over by 10 minutes, that is 20 minutes less for the remainder , and so on. It's a very straightforward principle and once again, I can't understand why people allow this to happen because it is unfair on some of the speakers. Perhaps one should add that it is also the speakers' responsibility to time themselves properly. If you know that you have 20 minutes, speak for 20 minutes, not 25, or 30. It is selfish to use someone else's time, and no one will be pleased with you.

The relationship between (1) and (2) is an interesting one too. If one has written out a paper that one intends to read out loud, why would one not practise the paper to see how long it takes to read out loud?

(3) Another paper-reading issue: please avoid speed-reading. Take a long, deep breath at regular intervals and take your time. If you are conscious that you have too much material, don't try to squeeze 30 minutes of material into 20 minutes by reading quickly. Cut 10 minutes of material out. This is a particular concern for international attendees. It is much harder to understand a speed-read paper in a second language.

(4) On Blue Cord, Kevin Wilson has several excellent pieces of advice about reading a paper, including avoiding "air quotes", avoiding using abbreviations out loud, avoiding apologizing for your paper by insisting that it is part of a larger research project and so on. On the latter I would always be inclined to avoid "Time does not permit me to . . ." comments. Of course you don't have time to say everything relevant to the topic, so avoid apologizing for the obvious.

(5) I think there are too many sessions, and far too many overlapping sessions. Do we really need to have a Synoptics section as well as a Mark Group, a Matthew section, Luke-Acts consultation, an Acts section, a Q section, a Historical Jesus section, Johannine Literature, John, Jesus and History and so on? Perhaps the single biggest problem in the guild at the moment is over-specialisation and the failure to think across boundaries and at the SBL we are encouraging a high degree of specialisation. I would like to see the SBL organisation taking some time to think through these issues. If the quality of the papers at each of these were overwhelming, then well and good. But as we all know, the quality tends to be mixed.

(6) In relation to the previous point, I think the conference is too long, and it appears to be getting longer. I don't think we need sessions on Saturday morning at 9, when we are just beginning to orientate ourselves, and have multiple early morning meetings that make it impossible to get to them. And the Tuesday morning sessions are so badly attended that there is little point continuing with these, is there? One might add that there appear to be ever more evening sessions now. On several occasions at the meeting, I suggested meeting someone at an evening reception, and heard, "Oh, I'm going to the John and History section at that time", and so on.

(7) This one is the most important of all, and if I could make only one comment, this would be it. A massive thank you to the organisers of the SBL Annual Meeting, who do a fantastic job. The conference always goes incredibly smoothly, the organisers are on top of all the issues, they are unfailingly polite and helpful and I am lost in wonder at how they manage to pull it all together. Very many thanks.

Friday, November 23, 2007

SBL Monday

As well as the usual meetings of different kinds, I went to the session on Paul and Empire featuring John Barclay and Tom Wright. This was the academic highlight of the conference. John Barclay gave an excellent paper, all the better for being completely convincing. He argued, essentially, that Paul was not particularly concerned with the Roman empire except in so far as it instantiated the darker forces of this present evil age. The really memorable image was one constructed around the Emperor's New Clothes. In contrast to those who see a naked emperor running all over the pages of the New Testament, Barclay said that he saw no emperor. (Wright attempted a riposte about the emperor being so heavily clothed that people could not see how the clothes were standing up, but it was weak). I thought Tom Wright's response was not one of his better performances . Indeed, I think it was the closest I have seen to his being quite flustered. He spoke from his laptop, and he was updating his talk as Barclay spoke, but there was little he could say that would help him to answer so strong and persuasive a presentation. I hope that Barclay publishes soon.

I was speaking in the Q section, next. It was the first time I had been invited to speak to the Q section, though I once spoke as the result of having a proposal accepted back in 1999. The topic of the session was Mark-Q overlaps and I have blogged the substance of my paper here in a series of six posts (Mark-Q Overlaps) here over the last few weeks. Although I was pleased with the substance of my paper, I was less pleased with my presentation. I think I underestimated how tough it is to convey statistical information clearly, and in retrospect I think a powerpoint presentation may have helped; or perhaps more information still on my handout. Speaking of the handout, I must remember to upload it to the blog. (Please remind me if I forget). Having thought a good deal about the issues, and having discussed them a bit at the SBL, I think it will be a good idea for me press ahead with publication on the extent of verbatim agreement issue. I think there is a strong argument here for the Farrer Theory that has not been put forward before.

The other speakers in the session were Harry Fledderman and Linden Yongqvist. Linden summarized the views of Dennis Ronald McDonald, who was sitting in the audience. At one point, he showed the audience the manuscript of a book on "Q+", which was the theme of his talk. "Q+" is Q but with lots more stuff in it than just the double tradition. Occasionally McDonald would himself contribute. Harry Fledderman's paper focused on John the Baptist's preaching in Mark and Q, and gave reasons for believing that Matthew's and Luke's independence, and Mark's knowledge of Q. Unfortunately, Timothy Friedrichsen was unable to be there, so there were just the three speakers. We all responded to one another's papers and there was also some discussion from the floor. A lot of the discussion was broad discussion, i.e. defaulted to discussing the theories as a whole rather than focusing specifically on the papers themselves.

I was unable to stay for the Tuesday morning and began my journey fairly early on, flying from San Diego to Phoenix, where I picked up the story back on Tuesday lunchtime.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

SBL Annual Meeting, San Diego, Sunday afternoon

Sunday afternoon: having left the bibliobloggers lunch, without eating, at 12.40, I went to present in the Computer Assisted Research Section. The theme was Pedagogy, and there were several interesting papers. Mine was on The Future of the New Testament Gateway and the substance of the talk is in posts here (previous link). Indeed, I began from this blog, assembling my links from there. I quite enjoyed the presentation. Speaking in CARG tends to be pretty non-confrontational. It's more in the nature of a group of friendly and encouraging enthusiasts who wish to listen and offer gentle advice. I did begin by saying that I had been tempted to begin the talk by saying that there was, in fact, no future for the New Testament Gateway and that I was simply going to close it down and say thank you and goodnight. But good sense and optimism prevailed and I set out my plans for the future. One useful piece of feedback: one questioner asked that I not retire the Journals page, which he said he found particularly useful.

Later in the afternoon I got to the second Q section of the conference. It met in a tiny room and only 20-25 or so were there, but it was quality rather than quantity because several famous Q scholars were present. There were five papers including Joseph Verheyden on Q and judgement, Ken Olson on compositional practices and the Synoptic Problem, with special reference to Luke's use of Matthew's additions to Mark, and Steve Black on the Minor Agreement at Mark 14.65 and parallels.

I just managed to catch all of these before dashing to the T and T Clark reception; I took a cab so that I could make it in time. These days, T and T Clark do not hold a big publishers' reception but just have a small, selected event in a restaurant by invitation only. It makes it a useful occasion, with the chance to catch up with people involved in the Library of New Testament Studies series.

I had been hoping to make it to the Oxford reception afterwards, but time was too tight, and I went instead straight to the Duke reception. This was an enjoyable affair, and it's nice to feel part of such a prestigious family. It was the third time I had been along to this event and, as usual, I met new friends and old.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

SBL: Arrival Home

I arrived at about midnight last night after the kind of journey that reminded me of the lengths of journey I used to have flying back to the UK. The only difference was that I was in flights with much less leg room, and changed more often. I flew out first to Phoenix, from where I blogged. My flight to DC was then so delayed that I had to be re-routed via Charlotte. There was a bonus, though, in meeting a fellow blogger and NT enthusiast at the airport there and sharing notes about the meeting. On arrival at Raleigh-Durham just before midnight, my luggage had not arrived. I was expecting that, given the re-route, and would have been very surprised if it had arrived, so it was no big deal. And it was very nice to be home. And now there is lots of catching up to do, but it is so much easier to do all that now that I am living in the US because it's the Thanksgiving break here and there is no university until next Monday, and the kids are off school too.

SBL Room Sizes

On Ancient Hebrew Poetry, John Hobbins writes:
It is miserable to give a paper to an audience of 30 scattered in the back of a long space with a seating capacity of a hundred or more. I wish SBL organizers insisted on procuring rooms with seating capacities in line with expected attendance. I gave one paper to an audience in a relatively small, jam-packed room of perhaps 20 people. That worked well. I gave another paper to perhaps 30 people in a cavernous space. That did not work well. I couldn’t tell whether people were following me, which meant, in the end, that I couldn’t even follow myself.
I know what John means, but the fault is likely to be with the chairs of the section, group or consultation in question. When chairs set up a session, they are asked to estimate attendance, and a room is allocated based on that. So if a huge room is allocated for something with a small audience, it is sometimes because the chairs overestimated attendance. This is not always the case, though. Sometimes it's just the case that there are not enough of the requisite number of rooms for the time slot in question.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

SBL Annual Meeting, San Diego, Sunday morning

Sunday. 7am. University of Birmingham breakfast reception. It was a great pleasure to meet lots of my old colleagues including some I hadn't seen for over two years. The Birmingham reception is a relatively new feature of the SBL and valued greatly by people like me who have flown from there but still have links and, of course, happy memories. But like several events I attended this year, it is going to be the last in this form. This is the last of the combined AAR (American Academy of Religion) - SBL (Society of Biblical Literature) annual meetings, at least for the time being, and in future there won't be the same opportunities to meet colleagues from across the Religion / Biblical Studies divide.

9am. The University of Birmingham breakfast was pretty light, and I got too busy chatting to pick anything up, so it was nice to get a proper breakfast in the Marriott, my hotel, with the Synoptic Gospels Steering Committee. We had an excellent meeting and have some great plans for next year. When these plans are a little more concrete, and after we have approached some people, I will, of course, blog what we are hoping to do. This was my last meeting as co-chair. I have been co-chair of the section for four years, and I think it is important to keep personnel rotating. I will, however, be remaining on the steering committee for the time being.

11.30am. The bibliobloggers lunch meeting began outside the book exhibit and it soon became clear that we were a very large number. It was also clear that in the two years since we had the big discussion about biblioblogging in Philadelphia, there had been precious little change in the demographic. Everyone present at the lunch was a white male, and mostly of a certain age. We walked in a large group to a restaurant, the name of which I forget, and they were able to find us a huge table, and seemed to do a great job of dealing with this odd party. I don't think I was as sociable as I would have liked to have been because I began to worry that my voice was giving way with all the shouting across the table, and I was due to speak in the Computer Assisted Research Section at one. As it happened, I had to leave the lunch before my food had arrived in order to get to the session. It was good to get to a lot of the meeting, though, and to put some faces to some names.

(More later).

SBL: Journey Home

It turned out that I had very limited time to use the blogging machine during the SBL Annual Meeting, so I will write up my diary on my journey home, which has already begun. I am blogging, with a pint of Sam Adams, from a bar called Tequileria at the airport at Phoenix, Arizona, having left San Diego earlier this morning. I've had a great conference with lots of great conversations, some good laughs, some excellent intellectual exchange and, as usual, not enough sleep and too much rushing around. But I am looking forward very much to getting home later. Not only is there the special new Doctor Who Children in Need scene that aired last Friday to look forward to (and I promised the kids that I would not watch it on my own while I was away), but there are the last two episodes of Sarah Jane Adventures, the Thanksgiving break which gives us several days off from work and school; and most excitingly, tomorrow England play Croatia for a place in Euro 2008. I found time on Saturday afternoon to check online and was delighted to see that Israel had beaten Russia to throw us a lifeline. So lots to look forward to in the coming days, and lots of interesting stuff to reflect on from the last few days at the SBL, more of which anon.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Mark-Q Overlaps VI: The Direction of Dependence

This is the sixth and final post in my current series on the Mark-Q Overlaps (so-called), in which I would like to build on the issue of the high verbatim agreement between Matthew and Luke in the pericope under discussion in the Q Section where I will be presenting, Matt. 3.7-12 // Mark 1.7-8 // Luke 3.7-9, 15-17 (John's Preaching).

6. What is the direction of dependence?

If the extraordinarily high verbatim agreement between Matthew and Luke points to a direct link between them here, we should not bypass the all important question of the direction of dependence. Paul Foster has recently made the point with force -- why Luke's use of Matthew? Why is this almost always the direction of dependence favoured by Q sceptics? In this pericope there is a strong presumption in favour of Matthew's redaction expansion of Mark, and Luke's copying of Matthew. The language, imagery and rhythm of the new material is Matthean through and through, and to the extent that we would not hesitate to ascribe it to Matthew if it were in Matthew alone. Let me give two representative examples:

(1) Matt. 3.7 // Luke 3.7: γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, τίς ὑπέδειξεν ὑμῖν φυγεῖν ἀπὸ τῆς μελλούσης ὀργῆς; ("Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?"). Matthew will use this offensive vocative + rhetorical question (labelled an echidnic by Michael Goulder) twice again in remarkably similar forms, 12.34, γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, πῶς δύνασθε ἀγαθὰ λαλεῖν πονηροὶ ὄντες ("Brood of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil?") and 23.33, ὄφεις, γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, πῶς φύγητε ἀπὸ τῆς κρίσεως τῆς γεέννης ("Snakes, brood of vipers! How can you flee from the judgement of gehenna?"). I think we should resist the temptation to play these links down. We are not dealing with everyday phrases. The imagery (snakes' offspring), the rhythm (echidnic) and language (wrath / judgement / gehenna) is strikingly Matthean and tells us in which direction the borrowing is going.

(2) 3.10: πᾶν οὖν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν καλὸν ἐκκόπτεται καὶ εἰς πῦρ βάλλεται ("Therefore every tree not producing good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire"). Virtually the identical sentence occurs again in 7.19. Once again it is not just the language but also the imagery that is Matthean. Even my introductory New Testament class knows that Matthew's is the Gospel that exploits harvest imagery to the tell the story of judgement and hell-fire. The Matthean apocalyptic scenario, here appearing for the first time in the Gospel, will be repeated at regular intervals: (a) Demand for good fruits / good works; (b) Separation at the Eschaton; (c) Burning of those whose deeds are evil.


What we have, then in this pericope, is agreement between Matthew and Luke that is far too close to be mediated via a third source. The strong indication of direct borrowing encourages us to ask the question about direction of dependence, and we are helped by the pervasive presence of Matthean language, imagery, rhythm and thought. These major agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark are at the high end of the spectrum of agreement between Matthew and Luke against Mark, and we should avoid the tendency to group together such passages and treat them as a different category of agreement, so missing the fact that Matthew and Luke agree in major ways against Mark, something that contradicts the case for their independence. It is time to take the evidence for Luke's use of Matthew seriously. It is time to take our leave of Mark Q Overlaps.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

SBL Annual Meeting I

Along with many other of the bibliobloggers, I am here in San Diego at the SBL Annual Meeting. I haven't had any time to blog yet, but hope to do so in due course. I am writing on Saturday late afternoon not long after attending the session on Richard Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. I was pleased with how it went since I had the (easy) job of setting it up and inviting the speakers, Richard Bauckham, John Kloppenborg, James Crossley and Adela Yarbro Collins. It was chaired by Jeff Peterson. Kloppenborg, Crossley and Yarbro Collins each read their reviews, Bauckham responded, there was a little panel discussion and then it was opened to the floor. It was pretty well attended -- it filled one of the huge rooms. I don't have the energy to summarize the papers or the comments at the moment; perhaps later. I was pleased with myself because my well-known and shameful habit of falling asleep in sessions was only marginally in evidence at this one. I slept for over four hours of the five hour flight from Raleigh Durham to Phoenix last night, and it seems to have set me up well for this.

As usual, it's a case of going from one interesting meeting to another, and meeting other old friends and colleagues by accident along the way. I did manage to make it briefly to the "e-listers" meeting this morning, where I met several of the biblioblogging fraternity, and no doubt a number of them are blogging the meeting too.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Future of the New Testament Gateway II

This is the second of two posts on the future of the New Testament Gateway (part one here), which I am using to summarise and reflect on my presentation at CARG (Computer Assisted Research Section) at the SBL Annual Meeting in San Diego. I had become so wrapped up in my Mark-Q Overlap posts that I neglected to blog about this other presentation too, and now I am filling that gap.

I began by defining what I mean by The New Testament Gateway, something that is not self-evident given the fact that I use the domain name for all my web materials (and some others too). I went on to ask who it was for, arguing that the internet has changed in the last decade, and that an elaborate public book-marking system is no longer important for scholars in the field, who know how to search for relevant scholarly material on the net. Next, I would like to explore the implications of this.

3. The New Testament Gateway as a teaching resource

If the future for gateway sites like this is for them to be targeted specially at students, there are some implications for the direction of the site. And here comes what may be the most risky part of my presentation: my plans to retire elements of The New Testament Gateway. I would like to retire (a) some major sections of the site and (b) some individual elements within existing sections in order to refine those sections for the focus on teaching. In using the word "retire", let me explain what I mean. I will not delete anything from the server, but will stop updating certain sections of the site. I will be letting them enjoy their retirement, in other words. There is no cull. Regular readers may know that I have already done this with other sister sites, like the All-in-One Biblical Resources Site, which I had to retire last year. It is still on the web, it is still getting used, but I can't any longer update it, for technical and time reasons. I have also previously retired other sections of the site. Notices, Featured Links, Logbook and Bookshelves were all retired in 2003, when I began this blog.

(a) Retiring Major Sections of the Site

Among the sections that I am retiring is the one on Scholars and Societies. This began as an attempt to find a central location for listing New Testament scholars, largely on the grounds that it was not always easy to hunt them out on the web, and also on the grounds that there were not that many of them on the web. These days, everyone has a web presence of some kind, even if just a faculty page, and it is very easy to find people. This part of the site takes a lot of upkeep for relatively little reward. The same sorts of considerations are true with respect to Journals, Art and Images and some of the General Resources.

There are also background and context sections that perform no reasonable function now on this site, and which are done elsewhere far, far better, and these include Early Church and Patristics, Ancient World (but keeping Maps) and Judaica.

One other major part of the site needs a major overhaul, the Jesus in Film pages. This is something of a speciality niche, but it is a very popular section of the site, so it needs a major update rather than retirement. I will be asking for help on this section, and may even consider loosing it off from the main site and giving it its own lease of life.

(b) Retiring Individual Elements in Site Sections

There are several superfluous pages on the site which can be retired. I have separate pages, for example, on the e-lists related to each subject area, which means that I have to keep not only the main e-lists page (which will stay), but also all these individual pages. There are other pages too that, while potentially useful , have never taken off, like course materials (e.g. Historical Jesus course materials). This act of trimming down the site will help it to be leaner, more focused, I hope stronger.

(c) Refining Existing Sections -- Articles

Those are the negative sides of the overhaul. The positive side to it will be the focus on providing a strong gateway site for students. When I began all the many pages on the site that list on-line articles, it was actually possible to be exhaustive, so any academic article that was available free-to-all online made it onto the section in question. However, there are now so many free-for-all articles available, and many of them will never be of interest to undergraduate students, so it is worth focusing attention on articles that are genuinely useful to undergraduates who are exploring the topics in question.

4. Not forgetting learners outside the academy

I realize that many of the users of The New Testament Gateway are people with no current direct involvement in the academy, and I would like to add a word of reassurance that I have not forgotten them and will not forget them. One of the things that this large group of users brings to the site is an interest in participating extra-murally in the academy, to explore a range of academic resources in their subject area of interest. My hope is that the needs of this group will be adequately served in the reworked site. I will continually to be interested to hear their input.

5. What about the Scholars? We use it too!

I would like to underline that just because the primary focus of the site is for teaching, that does not mean, I hope, that it will stop being useful to scholars too. Indeed, since New Testament scholars are almost all New Testament teachers, I hope that they will continue to stay familiar with the site and to recommend it to their students as well as outside enquirers. I hope too that they will continue to make suggestions, provide feedback and so on. It is worth adding that it should always be possible to find lots of material of interest to the scholar on the site. To take one important example, I get regular queries about Greek fonts and Greek texts, and one of the most valuable elements in the site, apparently, is the gateway I provide to the good materials here (Greek Fonts).

6. The Time Factor

When other people were talking about my site and other "megasites", they often talked about their concerns over my time. I always used to laugh it off a little and say that I enjoyed doing it and I didn't mind staying up late at night, if necessary, to keep it on the road. But their concerns were serious, and they were far more relevant than I realized. One of the things about an academic career is that there are ever more pressing demands on one's time, year on year. I look back and marvel at how much time I had to spend on the site a decade ago. To some extent I have attempted to alleviate this problem by getting very good at saying "No". I have turned down many, many interesting projects because I would rather focus on the New Testament Gateway in my spare time, and since I can't help thinking that there are other people who would be just as good, or better, on those other projects than I. Nevertheless, the time factor remains a major concern, all the mores so given the fact that I love writing and have to prioritize that.

There is a straightforward solution to this problem: get more people involved. But the question is one of logistics. How is it best to do it?

7. Bringing Others on Board

When I began to blog on these issues earlier this year (see The Future of the New Testament Gateway, 20 February), I mentioned that I was planning to open up the site to more team members, and even talked about adding some "Wiki functionality". The reaction to this was pretty interesting. A number of people really balked at the idea of opening up the site and argued, rather generously, that one of the reasons the people liked the site was because it had an author who was himself selecting, linking and annotating quality resources. I think the notion of "Wiki functionality" rather scares people, so I am dropping the term, but what I am bringing others on board to help with the running of the site, enthusiasts and experts who I know will make a big difference.

8. The Practical Side: How to Effect the Changes

Earlier in the year, I opened up a little consultation with a group of interested experts and we talked about a variety of ways of transforming the site, making it easier to update and adding some extra functionality. In the end, I decided on a very simple solution, and in August I revealed the New New Testament Gateway Prototype which you can see here for one major section of the site:

The Greek New Testament Gateway (Test)

I am using Blogger as my content management system, but publishing to the server. Blogger does everything I need in a very simple way, an easily adjustable template, RSS feed, comments and "email to" facilities, and, of course, easy-to-add team members. Migrating the existing site to the new format will take a little while, but not very long, and progress is already well under way. The aim is to give people something similar to what they have been used to, but with a leaner, simpler look, and a bit more functionality. In this way, I hope that we are on course for a successful second decade of the New Testament Gateway. Let's hope that I am still writing blog posts about it on its twentieth anniversary in 2017.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mark-Q Overlaps V: the degree of verbatim agreement

This is the fifth in my current series of posts on the Mark-Q Overlaps (so-called), in which I would like to make a new point about the degree of verbatim agreement between Matthew and Luke in the pericope under discussion in the Q Section where I will be presenting, Matt. 3.7-12 // Mark 1.7-8 // Luke 3.7-9, 15-17 (John's Preaching).

5. The Degree of Verbatim Agreement

The point here is a simple one, but it is one that I have not seen anyone else make in discussion of the Synoptic Problem. The degree of agreement between Matthew and Luke in double tradition material is often too high for them to have been copying from another source. John Kloppenborg helpfully draws attention to this "extremely high verbal correspondence . . . in a significant number of instances" (John S. Kloppenborg, "Variation in the Double Tradition and an Oral Q?", ETL 83 (2007), 53-80, 53) including the one currently under discussion:
Matt 6.24 // Luke 16.13 (98%), Matt 12.43-45 // Luke 11.24-26 (93%), Matt 11.20-24 // Luke 10.13-15 (90%), Matt. 3.12 // Luke 3.17 (88%), Matt. 12.27-32 // Luke 11.19-23 (88%), Matt 23.37-39 // Luke 13.34-35 (85%), Matt. 3.7-10 // Luke 3.7-9 (85%).
These figures "are based on the number of common words divided by the total number of Lukan words" (53, n. 1). Kloppenborg helpfully draws special attention to our pericope:
In the last named pericope, Matthew has 76 words in Greek, 61 or 80% of which are identical with Luke in lexical form and inflection. This would rise to 63 or 83% if καρπόν and ἄξιον are included as agreements. Luke's version has 72 words in Greek, 61 or 85% are identical with Matthew, 63 or 87.5% if καρπούς and ἀξίους are counted as agreements. (53)
As Kloppenborg rightly makes clear, "the extraordinarily high degree of verbatim agreement" here makes theories of an oral mediation of such material impossible. And one might add that there are some striking verbatim strings of agreement here, of 12, 12.5, 20 and 24 words. The latter string, of 24 words, is Matt. 3.9-10 // Luke 3.7b-9.

In the handout that I have produced for the SBL session on Mark-Q overlaps where I will present my paper on this, I have produced a synopsis of Matthew, Q (IQP) and Luke on this so that one can see quickly and easily just how much verbatim agreement there is in this passage. Indeed, what is remarkable is how little disagreement there is. I have coloured all the agreement grey, and there is very little white left. One of the reasons for doing this in three columns is to remind ourselves of the fact that on the Q theory, what we have here are triple agreements. We get so used to thinking about this material as "double tradition", in the sense that it is present only in Matthew and Luke among the extant texts, that we can easily forget that for Q theorists, the agreements here are triple agreements, between Matthew, Q and Luke.

This leads us to an interesting question about the degree of verbatim agreement here between Matthew, Q and Luke. Does one ever see this kind of agreement between Matthew, Mark and Luke? Are the triple agreements in Matthew, Mark and Luke similar in extent to the triple agreements between Matthew, Q and Luke? The question that I am asking here is, I think, a new one. If anyone else has asked this question, then I have missed it. The question itself is an important one, so let me take a little time asking it in another way so that we can be clear about what is at stake.

According to the Two-Source Theory, Matthew and Luke are both independently using Mark and Q. We have access to Mark, so we have an idea what Matthew and Luke look like when they are working from a shared source. We know the degree of verbatim agreement to expect. Our question, then, is whether the degree of verbatim agreement is similar when they are using Q. In his recent ETL article, Kloppenborg reproduces a chart from Charles E. Carlston and Dennis Norlin, "Once More -- Statistics and Q", HTR 64 (1971): 59-78 (71):

Triple Tradition Matt Luke Avg. Double Tradition Matt Luke Avg.
Narrative 50.2% 46.9% 48.5%
55.7% 51.8% 53.7%
Words of Jesus 63.5% 68.3% 65.8%
69.5% 73.6% 71.5%
Misc. words 56.7% 60.6% 58.5%
87.5% 80.9% 84.1%
Average 56.0% 56.0%56.0%
69.8% 72.2%71.0%

For those who find figures instantly off-putting, let me express this in words. Matthew and Luke show consistently higher degrees of verbatim agreement in double tradition than they do in triple tradition. One cannot say in response to this, "But this is because double tradition is primarily sayings material" because the pattern is the same with respect to triple tradition sayings vs. double tradition sayings as it is with respect to triple tradition narrative vs. double tradition narrative and so on. Carlston and Norlin sum this up by noting that "the use of 'Q' is even more conservative than the use of Mark, possibly something like 27 per cent. more conservative" (Carlston and Norlin, 1971, 77). This is an anomaly on the Two-Source Theory. Why should Matthew and Luke apparently be so much more conservative in their use of Q, not least given their known respect for Mark's order?

The point of interest here is that the statistics make sense on the assumption that Luke is borrowing directly from Matthew in the double tradition (and Mark-Q overlap) material. They cohere with a scenario in which the double tradition is due to direct borrowing, Matthew to Luke, rather than mutual use of a shared source.

James Robinson once hinted that the all important clues to Q's existence might show up early in the document. I think Robinson was right. The remarkably high degree of verbatim agreement that shows up right at the beginning of Q is an important clue to the identity of the material as a whole. Here, as often elsewhere in Matthew and Luke, the agreement points to direct borrowing by Luke from Matthew, and not mediation via an unknown, hypothetical source.

Note: Carlston and Norlin's figures were criticized by Sharon Lea Mattila and subsequently revised downwards by them, but with the same relative degrees of agreement. Moreover, Carlston and Norlin noted that the same observations hold true with respect to the figures produced by Honore in 1968. (The issue relates to how one counts. Does one count only identical lexical forms, in the same number, case etc.? Can one count synonyms, etc.?). Mattila's 2004 article further criticizes the Carlston and Norlin case, but there are some difficulties with Mattila's re-count which I hope to outline on another occasion.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mark-Q Overlaps IV: Back to the Continuum

This is the fourth in my current series of posts on the Mark-Q Overlaps (so-called). In this post, I respond to a second point of critique in Tuckett's review of my Case Against Q (see previous post for bibliographical details).

4. Is there really a continuum?

Tuckett (402) writes:
Goodacre contents himself with the general point about Luke's using Matthew's additions to Mark, and/or referring to different levels of "agreements" against Mark here; he talks about a "broad spectrum" and a "sliding scale" (p. 161) or a "continuum" (p. 163) of the level of Matthew-Luke agreements against Mark. However, he never analyses any of these "overlap" passages in any detail. And in terms of any "broad spectrum", the trouble is that there is not much by way of a "continuum": there are examples at both ends of the spectrum but not much in between.
Is Tuckett right? Is there really the kind of continuum of influence of Matthew on Luke that I claim? In retrospect, I should perhaps have spelled out the range of agreement between Matthew and Luke by giving examples, so I will fill in that gap here.

The two ends of the spectrum are straightforward. The presence of triple tradition passages featuring only a handful of minor agreements hardly needs mentioning. It is worth pointing out only that what I previously called "pure triple tradition" is in fact very difficult to come by, i.e. there are very few pericopae that feature no minor agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark. There are several passages, though, that have only one or two minor agreements. The other end of the spectrum, pure double tradition, where Mark is not present at all, is also straightforward. But what about all the material in between?

Let us take a look at the degree of agreement between Matthew and Luke in so-called Mark-Q overlap passages. The following figures are from E. P. Sanders (see previous post for bibliographical details, 457-8):

(1) Matt. 3.1-12 // Mark 1.1-8 // Luke 3.1-18 (John the Baptist): 94 Matt-Luke agreements against Mark out of 345 words in Luke (27%).

(2) Matt. 3.13-17 // Mark 1.9-11 // Luke 3.21-2 (Baptism of Jesus): 3 Matt-Luke agreements against Mark out of 43 words in Luke (7%).

(3) Matt. 4.1-11 // Mark 1.12-13 // Luke 4.1-13 (Temptation): 114 Matt-Luke agreements against Mark out of 203 words in Luke (56%).

(4) Matt. 3.23-30 // Matt. 12.25-32 // Luke 11.17-23, 12.10 (Beelzebub): 65 Matt-Luke agreements against Mark out of 146 words in Luke (45%).

(5) Matt. 4.30-32 // Mark 4.30-2 // Luke 13.18-19 (Mustard Seed): 11 Matt-Luke agreements against Mark out of 40 words in Luke (28%).

So in this selection of key Mark-Q overlap passages, we have Matt-Luke agreement ranging from 7% of Luke's words in a given pericope to 56% in a given pericope, with agreement levels well spaced between that range, at 27% and 28% and 45%. If we were to sample particular sub-pericopae within the larger pericopae, we will sometimes see a remarkably high degree of agreement. In Matt. 3.12 // Luke 3.17, for example, 88% of Luke's words agree with Matthew; in Matt. 3.7-10 // Luke 3.7-9, 85% of Luke's words agree with Matthew's. To place this in context, this kind of agreement is as high as one sometimes sees in the pure double tradition material.

What, though, of the Minor Agreements? Given that there are plenty of pericopae with just a handful of Minor Agreements, clearly there are plenty of pericopae that have a percentage lower than the 7% we see in the Baptism. To take just a few examples to make the point about pericopae like this:

(6) Matt. 8.1-4 // Mark 1.40-45 // Luke 5.12-16 (Leper): 5 Matt-Luke agreements against Mark out of 98 words in Luke (5%).

(7) Matt. 9.1-8 // Mark 2.1-12 // Luke 5.17-26 (Paralytic): 12 Matt-Luke agreements against Mark out of 212 words in Luke (6%).

(8) Matt. 9.9-13 // Mark 2.13-17 // Luke 5.27-32 (Levi): 5 Matt-Luke agreements against Mark out of 94 words in Luke (5%).

Given that the lowest level of agreement in a Mark-Q overlap pericope is 7%, in the Baptism, it seems that we already have evidence of a range of agreement, from low to high, across Minor Agreements, through Mark-Q overlaps, through pure double tradition. But it is worth asking whether there are any (non Mark-Q overlap) triple tradition pericopae in which the number of Matthew-Luke agreements against Mark are as great as 7% of the total Lucan words in the pericope. If so, we will be able to see that this continuum is one in which the supposedly different categories in fact overlap with one another. It is interesting to note that there are indeed such pericopae:

(9) Matt. 14.13-21 // Mark 6.30-44 // Luke 9.10-17 (Five Thousand): 15 Matt-Luke agreements against Mark out of 164 words in Luke (9%).

(10) Matt. 21.1-9 // Mark 11.1-10 // Luke 19.28-38 (Entry into Jerusalem): 12 Matt-Luke agreements against Mark out of 167 words in Luke (7%).

(11) Matt. 21.23-27 // Mark 11.27-33 // Luke 20.1-8 (Question About Authority): 10 Matt-Luke agreements against Mark out of 118 words in Luke (8%).

(12) Matt. 22.34-40 // Matt. 12.28-34 // Luke 10.25-28 (Great Commandment): 18 Matt-Luke agreements against Mark out of 73 words in Luke (25%).

(13) Matt. 26.57-75 // Mark 14.53-72 // Luke 22.54-71 (Trial and Peter's Denial): 25 Matt-Mark agreements against Mark out of 263 words in Luke (9.5%).

These examples show the degree of agreement between Matthew and Luke against Mark is sometimes higher in passages with "Minor Agreements" than it is in passages that are labelled "Mark-Q overlap". In other words, it is clear that there is not only a continuum with different degrees of agreement from low (triple tradition passages with few Minor Agreements) to high (Mark-Q overlap passages with many Major Agreements), but there is also some overlapping between the degree of agreement between Matthew and Mark in passages normally designated Mark-Q overlap and passages normally designated triple tradition.

Note 1: the figures for the triple tradition passages are extrapolated from A. M. Honore, "A Statistical Study of the Synoptic Problem", NovT 10 (1968): 95-147. There are some minor differences here with the Sanders figures for Mark-Q overlap passages above (though none that affect the conclusion), and I will correlate these in due course.

Note 2: Passage (12) has sometimes been assigned to Q, and so it would be another Mark-Q overlap. Passage (2) is sometimes not assigned to Q, so it would not be a Mark-Q overlap. In order to avoid subjectivity, I have simply taken as Mark-Q overlaps triple tradition passages that are included in Q by the International Q Project. There are other Mark-Q overlap passages that I have not included here because of difficulties in pericope division and counting.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mark-Q Overlaps III: Minor Agreements between Mark and Luke

This is now the third post in the current series on Mark-Q Overlaps, in which I would like to respond to comments from Christopher Tuckett in a review of my book.

3. Major Agreements between Matthew and Luke; Minor Agreements between Mark and Luke

Christopher Tuckett (Review of The Case Against Q, NovT 46 (2004): 401-403) acknowledges my points concerning Mark-Q overlap passages summarized in the previous post and comments:
In these passages [viz. Mark-Q overlaps], one can indeed refer to Luke’s use of Matthew’s additions to Mark, and/or to extensive non-trivial Matthew-Luke agreements. However, any non-Q theory has to explain Luke’s apparently almost pathological refusal in some of these texts to use any Markan material at all (e.g. the Beelzebul controversy, or the Mustard Seed). As Gerald Downing argued many years ago, Luke’s procedure on the Farrer-Goulder-Goodacre model appears totally at odds with his procedure elsewhere (where, according to Goodacre and others, Luke knows Mark far better than Matthew and uses Mark in preference to Matthew). In these passages, Luke must have studiously avoided all the points where Matthew and Mark agree and reproduced only Matthew’s additions to Mark. (402).
The description of the data here is inaccurate. It is not the case that Luke lacks Marcan material in these passages. Both of the specific examples given by Tuckett, the Beelzebub pericope (Matt. 12.25-32 // Mark 3.23-30 // Luke 11.17-23, 12.10) and the Mustard seed (Matt. 13.31-2 // Mark 4.30-32 // Luke 13.18-19), feature several triple agreements, as well as minor agreements between Mark and Luke. On Sanders's count (E. P. Sanders, "Mark-Q Overlaps and the Synoptic Problem", NTS (1973): 453-65, 458), the Beelzebub Controversy features 31 triple agreements, 35 Matthew-Mark agreements, 5 Mark-Luke agreements and 65 Matthew-Luke agreements. Similarly, the Mustard Seed, on Sanders's count, features 14 triple agreements, 11 Matthew-Mark agreements, 6 Mark-Luke agreements and 11 Matthew-Luke agreements. There is no "almost pathological refusal" to include Marcan material here. It is true, of course, that there is a substantial degree of agreement between Matthew and Luke against Mark in these passages, and it is this that forces Q theorists to view these as "Mark-Q overlap"; there are far too many Matthew-Luke agreements for these to be the result of independent redaction.

Let us be clear about how the situation is explained on the Farrer Theory. It is quite straightforward. On occasions like this, where Matthew is the middle term among the Synoptics, Luke is working with Matthew as his primary source and not Mark. The usual triple tradition situation, where there are major agreements with Mark and minor agreements with Matthew, is reversed and, instead, there are major agreements with Matthew and minor agreements with Mark. If Luke is working with both Matthew and Mark, it is not surprising that on occasions Luke turns to Matthew as his primary source, even in triple tradition material. It is interesting to see how often this happens where Matthew has a fuller account than Mark, in the John the Baptist material, the Temptations, Beelzebub, the Mission discourse.

The article to which Tuckett refers, by F. Gerald Downing, has now been answered persuasively by Ken Olson, "Unpicking on the Farrer Theory" in Mark Goodacre and Nicholas Perrin (eds.), Questioning Q (London: SPCK, 2004): 127-50.