Saturday, August 25, 2012

Plagiarism in the Telegraph's obituary of Marvin Meyer

I commented yesterday on the error-laden obituary of Marvin Meyer in The Telegraph.  It turns out that the errors are not the worst of it.  Chunks of the piece have been plagiarized.    I am grateful to Todd Brewer in comments for drawing attention to the following points, which I here develop and illustrate with underlining of the verbatim agreement so that there can be no mistake.

Wikipedia's article on The Gnostic Gospels begins as follows:
The Gnostic Gospels are a collection of about fifty-two texts supposedly based upon the ancient wisdom teachings of several prophets and spiritual leaders including Jesus, written from the 2nd to the 4th century AD.
The Telegraph obituary copies this as follows:
The Gnostic Gospels are a collection of about 52 texts supposedly based upon the teachings of prophets and spiritual leaders, including Jesus, written from the 2nd to the 4th century AD
It is practically verbatim. If the obituary writer is dependent on Wikipedia, it's not surprising that the piece is riddled with errors.

An article in last year's New York Post, The new New Testament, by Maureen Callahan, features the following statements:
These writings, 52 in all, date from between 150-300 AD and offer profoundly differing accounts of the life and death of Jesus Christ . . . .
. . . . The Gospel of Philip ridicules the idea of a virgin birth and of Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead and anyone who would believe either. The Apocalypse of Paul also claims that Christ’s rise from the dead was spiritual, not physical. The Gospel of Mary suggests a sexual relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene (which served as the basis for “The Da Vinci Code,” Dan Brown’s loopy 2003 bestseller). 
This passage appears to be the basis for the Telegraph's problematic paragraph I mentioned yesterday:
These writings offer profoundly differing accounts of the life and death of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Philip, for example, ridicules the virgin birth and Christ’s bodily resurrection; The Apocalypse of Paul also claims that Christ’s rise from the dead was spiritual, not physical; The Gospel of Mary suggests a sexual relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
This is plagiarism pure and simple, and like many plagiarizing students, the author is copying from someone else because s/he does not understand the issues him/herself, carrying over the errors from the source piece.

I am grateful also to Todd Brewer in comments for noticing other elements in the article that appear to be plagiarized.  Take this paragraph from a New York Times article in 2003, The Heresy That Saved a Sceptic,
Early Christians were subject to unimaginable persecutions, and church fathers believed that for Christianity to survive, there had to be a unified belief system, Ms. Pagels said. Some time around A.D. 180, Bishop Irenaeus of Lyons denounced all gospels but Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as heretical, ''an abyss of madness and of blasphemy.''
About 50 years after Constantine's conversion early in the fourth century, the New Testament became Christianity's official text.
This is the basis for the first paragraph of the Telegraph obituary:
What we know as the New Testament – the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles, and the Book of Revelation – was actually born of thousands of texts and gospels circulated among the early Christians. Members of the new faith were subject to persecution, and the Church fathers felt that for the faith to survive, there had to be a unified belief system. Some time around AD 180, Bishop Irenaeus of Lyon denounced all gospels but Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as heretical. Later, about 50 years after Constantine’s conversion early in the fourth century, the New Testament became Christianity’s official text.
Notice Elaine Pagels's characteristic use of "Bishop Irenaeus" finding its way into the plagiarized piece, though her name itself is, of course, removed in the copied text.  The copied version has several other typical signs of plagiarized texts, abbreviation by omission of colourful (and tell-tale) detail ("an abyss of madness and of blasphemy") and the substitution of metaphors ("the new faith . . the faith") that in due course revert, by fatigue, to the original wording ("Christianity").

In comments, Todd Brewer notes that there are probably other elements in the piece that are plagiarized too.  He is right.  One major source is the article by Thomas Bartlett, The Betrayal of Judas, in The Chronicle of Higher Education from May 2008, including here:
As he translated, a startling portrait of Judas Iscariot emerged. This was not the reviled traitor who betrayed Jesus with a kiss. This was the trusted disciple, the close confidant, the friend. This was a revelation.
This is rewritten in the Telegraph obituary as follows:
As Meyer began translating the text, a startling portrait of Judas Iscariot emerged. Instead of the traitor who betrayed Jesus with a kiss, he found Jesus’s best-loved disciple and friend, a man singled out to receive mystical knowledge and a hero who helps Jesus return to the realm of the divine and fulfil his destiny as Messiah.
Bartlett's article in The Chronicle continues as follows:
When the Gospel of Judas was unveiled at a news conference in April 2006, it made headlines around the world -- with nearly all of those articles touting the new and improved Judas. "In Ancient Document, Judas, Minus the Betrayal," read the headline in The New York Times. The British paper The Guardian called it "a radical makeover for one of the worst reputations in history." A documentary that aired a few days later on National Geographic's cable channel also pushed the Judas-as-hero theme. The premiere attracted four million viewers, making it the second-highest-rated program in the channel's history, behind only a documentary on September 11. 
This paragraph is copied in The Telegraph obituary like this:
When the Gospel of Judas was unveiled at a news conference in April 2006, it made headlines around the world, The Guardian hailing the work as “a radical makeover for one of the worst reputations in history”. Meyer subsequently travelled to Egypt to film a documentary about the discovery, aired later on National Geographic’s cable channel, that attracted record audiences.
Once again, there is abbreviation.  Some is innocuous -- there is no need for a British paper to explain what The Guardian is so that note is dropped.  But the note that "Meyer subsequently travelled to Egypt" is a poor summary of the Chronicle's accurate order of events.  And "record audiences" is also a poor summary of the Chronicle's more nuanced statements on the TV ratings.

Immediately after the above paragraph in the Chronicle, is the following:
But almost immediately, other scholars began to take issue with the interpretation of Meyer and the rest of the National Geographic team. They didn't see a good Judas at all. In fact, this Judas seemed more evil than ever. 
This is taken over by the Telegraph obituary like this:
But almost immediately, other scholars began to take issue with the translation, disputing Meyer’s interpretations of key passages which converted Judas from arch villain to hero.
In the Chronicle article, Bartlett writes in detail about April DeConick's critique:
She started the next day on her own translation of the Coptic transcription, also posted on the National Geographic Web site. That's when she came across what she considered a major, almost unbelievable error. It had to do with the translation of the word "daimon," which Jesus uses to address Judas. The National Geographic team translates this as "spirit," an unusual choice and inconsistent with translations of other early Christian texts, where it is usually rendered as "demon." In this passage, however, Jesus' calling Judas a demon would completely alter the meaning. "O 13th spirit, why do you try so hard?" becomes "O 13th demon, why do you try so hard?" A gentle inquiry turns into a vicious rebuke.
The passage is is carried over more vaguely, and with substantial abbreviation, in the Telegraph piece:
In another passage Meyer’s translation has Jesus saying to Judas “O 13th spirit, why do you try so hard?” An alternative translation is “O 13th demon, why do you try so hard?” turning a gentle inquiry into an angry rebuke.
The Telegraph piece, which is focusing on Meyer, omits mention of the rest of the National Geographic team and does not give DeConick's name.

The Telegraph obituary does, however, mention James Robinson, and it spends time detailing the controversy between the two men.  As Todd Brewer points out (comments), the material here appears to be gleaned from an article in the LA Times, "Was it virtue or betrayal", by Louis Sahagun, from January 2007.  But that article does not feature the detail that Meyer sported "a silver hoop in his left ear", which I suspect is carried over from the LA Times obituary, where the same phrase occurs.

I think that it is disgraceful that The Telegraph's obituary of Marvin Meyer is a patchwork of passages plagiarized from different electronic articles and I would like to suggest that they acknowledge what they have done, issuing a full apology, and replacing the plagiarized piece with something that appropriately honours Professor Meyer's memory.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Marvin Meyer - Telegraph Obituary

The Telegraph has just published its obituary of Marvin Meyer:

Marvin Meyer
Marvin Meyer, who has died aged 64, was an expert on Gnosticism whose translation of the Gnostic Gospel of Judas challenged the traditional portrayal of Judas Iscariot as the Apostle who betrayed Jesus.

I am delighted to see The Telegraph honouring Marvin Meyer's life and work by publishing an obituary, but unfortunately, there are some rather sweeping generalisations and questionable elements in the piece, including the following:
The Gnostic Gospels are a collection of about 52 texts supposedly based upon the teachings of prophets and spiritual leaders, including Jesus, written from the 2nd to the 4th century AD. 
The number "52" is the number of tractates found among the Nag Hammadi codices, not all of which are "Gnostic" and not all of which are "Gospels".  Moreover there are "Gnostic Gospels" not found among the Nag Hammadi codices.  The obituary goes on to mention Nag Hammadi but appears unclear about how these things line up.  The following is also not entirely accurate:
These writings offer profoundly differing accounts of the life and death of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Philip, for example, ridicules the virgin birth and Christ’s bodily resurrection; The Apocalypse of Paul also claims that Christ’s rise from the dead was spiritual, not physical; The Gospel of Mary suggests a sexual relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
The idea that the Gospel of Mary suggests a sexual relationship between Jesus  and Mary Magdalene is false.

Most of the piece is devoted to the controversy over the Gospel of Judas, with a couple of paragraphs of obituary proper at the end.  It is a shame that The Telegraph did not think to fact-check its obituary before publication.  The kind of confusion found in the piece does not honour the work of a fine scholar.

Update (Saturday 25th): It's worse.  The piece is in fact plagiarized.

Christopher Evans - Guardian Obituary

The Guardian last week published its obituary of Christopher Evans. I was not able to post it at the time because I was away:

Inspiring teacher of theology and authority on the New Testament
Richard Eyre
The Rev Christopher Evans, who has died aged 102, was one of the foremost teachers, and an outstanding investigator, of the New Testament. His brilliant, alert and inquiring mind persisted into extreme old age, enabling him to act as a bridge between the leading scholars of the 1930s and 1940s and those of the early 21st century . . . .

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Marvin Meyer - LA Times Obituary

I was very sorry to hear last week of the death of Marvin Meyer.  Today's LA Times has an obituary:

Marvin W. Meyer dies at 64; expert on Gnosticism
The specialist in early Christianity helped translate the Gospel of Judas, which he said portrayed the disciple as a hero, not a villain, for betraying Jesus and setting in motion the Crucifixion.
Marvin W. Meyer, an expert on Gnosticism and ancient texts about Jesus outside the New Testament who challenged the traditional portrayal of Judas Iscariot as the ultimate biblical villain, has died. He was 64.
Meyer, whose book "The Gospel of Judas" sold more than 1.2 million copies and prompted frequent guest appearances on television documentaries and other programs, died Aug. 16 of complications from melanoma, according to his wife, Bonnie.
The tanned, athletic man who wore rumpled khakis, oversized shirts and a silver hoop in his left ear "was our Indiana Jones," said James L. Doti, president of Chapman University in Orange, where Meyer held the Griset Chair in Bible and Christian Studies and was director of the Albert Schweitzer Institute . . . .
I have been away from the blogs recently so have not had the chance to catch up with tributes to Prof. Meyer on the net, but I look forward to doing so.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Christopher Evans - Telegraph Obituary

The Telegraph has published its obituary of Christopher Evans:

The Rev Professor Christopher Evans
The Reverend Professor Christopher Evans, who has died aged 102, was one of the most interesting New Testament scholars of his day.
Evans combined a sceptical attitude to the historicity of much of the New Testament with a deep personal faith. Thus he was cautious and tentative about the Empty Tomb while emphatic in his preaching of the truth of the Resurrection of Christ. His special gifts as a teacher allied to a very attractive personality enabled him to exercise considerable influence in Oxford, Durham and London over some 30 years . . . 
. . . . Christopher Francis Evans was born in Birmingham on November 7 1909 and went from King Edward’s School in that city to Corpus Christi, Cambridge, where he came under the influence of Sir Edwyn Hoskyns, a New Testament scholar of international repute. Evans was eventually to move to a much more liberal position than that of his mentor, but while in Cambridge he learned a great deal from Hoskyns and took a First in Theology . . . .
 . . . But his magisterial commentary on St Luke’s Gospel, published in 1990, long after his retirement, was widely acclaimed and is likely to remain the standard work on its subject for many years . . .
I've excerpted some of my favourite pieces, but of course you should read it all.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Vertical Blogs vs. Horizontal Blogs

In the early days of blogging, when there were only a handful of us at it (among biblioblogs, Davila, McGrath, West, Carlson, Cook, AKMA, Williams, Brannan, Seland and co), it was pretty easy to have a conversation if you wanted.  You only had a handful of blogs to read. I used to look forward to the day when more would join in.  Excuse me if this sounds disgustingly nostalgic, but I liked the conversational aspect of the the blogs, the exchange of ideas that made them like a virtual academic common room.  Several of us had cut our teeth on the academic e-lists that were in their heyday in the late 1990s and often the blogs took over where they left off.  As the popularity of the e-lists waned, so the blogs increased in popularity, all the more so as several of the bloggers were those who already had an internet presence, whether through websites, e-lists or both.

Now there are so many blogs in our area that it is practically impossible to keep up.  Broadly speaking, this is a wonderful thing.  There is a richness of resources available, a hundred different conversations on lots of different topics.  I am often lost in wonder at how many brilliant conversations are taking place.  Although, of course, the blogs vary in quality, I tend to be impressed -- I learn a huge amount, often far more than I learn from journals or monographs, from those who blog in our area.  Perhaps it's something about the skills required to write in a digestible, current, coherent format that makes the blogs in our area so strong.

I have always thought of the blogs as being "horizontal", sharing with one another, interacting with one another, critically engaging with one another in a kind of global conversation.  I love it.  I think of it as a community in which I participate, often unevenly, often passively, usually quietly, listening rather than contributing, but still part of the community.

But there is a new trend too over the last year or two towards a different kind of blog, what I call the "vertical" blog.  I don't mean to be critical here (and even if I were, the bloggers concerned would not read my post anyway, so it would not matter), but the vertical blog conceives of the blogging phenomenon a little differently.  It sees blogging less as a conversation among like-minded colleagues and more as a kind of educational service, a means of disseminating the results of scholarship to a broader audience than can be reached through books alone.

The vertical blog is usually written by a senior, well respected professor in the discipline who is taking time to set out the issues for the broader public.  As such, the vertical blog performs a hugely important service, touching many who might well be turned off by the wordy, technical, in-house nature of some of the horizontal blogs.  Just take my frequent posts on the Synoptic Problem over the last nine years, for example.  They generally get few comments, and occasional expressions of bafflement.

Vertical bloggers generally just look up and down, up at the post that they have written and down at the comments that it has generated.  This kind of blog does not look sideways to engage in discussions with the myriad other bloggers, perhaps not surprisingly given the ever-increasing numbers of us.

The vertical blogs have value for the rest of us, the horizontal bloggers.  Most importantly, they are granting the medium a kind of legitimacy that may in the long run be hugely beneficial.  Blogging is no longer a kind of fringe-activity for the mavericks on the edge of the academy.  Now even the big boys and girls are doing it.

Although I am grateful for the advent of the vertical blogs, I must admit that I still have a preference for good, old-fashioned conversations among the horizontal bloggers who read one another, listen to one another and engage critically with one another.  But it is a personal preference, and it may well simply be the result of a kind of nostalgia for the way we used to live.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Christopher Evans has died, aged 102

I was sorry to hear yesterday of the death of Prof. Christopher Evans, aged 102.  David Mealand, over on Xtalk, shared the following:
This announcement was issued recently by Corpus Christi College, Oxford
We were saddened to learn today of the death of The Revd. Christopher Evans FBA, Emeritus Fellow, Chaplain and Divinity Lecturer at Corpus (1948-58) at the age of 102 on 30 July. His funeral will be held on Monday, 6th August at 12.15 at All Saints, Cuddesdon.
Prof. Evans also later held the Lightfoot chair at the University of Durham, and then a chair in New Testament in the University of London, King's College.
There was also an announcement in The Times.  I am sorry that I did not see this in time to post it before the funeral yesterday.  I will link to any online obituaries here as soon as they are published.

Christopher Evans was a brilliant New Testament scholar.  His commentary on Luke (1990) is probably the best scholarly commentary on Luke available in the English language and came as the crowning achievement of a fine career.  Professor Evans was a kind and gracious man, who even in his eighties was able to find time to encourage a young post-graduate student in Oxford.  I named my doctoral thesis, subsequently my first book, after an article he published in Theology in 1979, "Goulder and the Gospels".  I saw him last in Birmingham at the SNTS in 1997 when he came along to the Synoptic Problem chaired by the late David Dungan.  On that occasion too, Christopher Evans was a model of grace and wisdom.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Thomas and the Gospels: Excerpt from Chapter 1, on "Order"

It's time for another excerpt from my forthcoming Thomas and the Gospels.  At one point in Chapter 1, "First Impressions", I am looking at several key arguments that are made for Thomas's independence of the Synoptics, the arguments from genre, from order and from tradition history.  Here, is a part of the section on order:

The argument from the difference in order between the Synoptics and Thomas is at first sight impressive. Given the large number of parallel sayings in Thomas and the Synoptics, it is surprising that there are so few parallels in order. Yet the argument proceeds in large part from the unrealistic expectations that are thrown up by our familiarity with the Synoptics, where parallels in order are so frequent and sustained. It is easy to default to thinking that the remarkable extent of the parallel order among Matthew, Mark, and Luke is somehow the norm. Stephen Patterson thus begins his discussion of the question by looking at the agreements in wording and order among the Synoptics, looking for the same kind of thing in relation to Thomas and the Synoptics. He regards it as a requirement in a theory of literary dependence for the scholar to demonstrate that “the sequence of individual pericopae in each text is substantially the same.”

The extraordinary degree of agreement among the Synoptics has spoiled us. It has created unrealistic expectations when we look at other similar documents. Moreover, the argument essentially reverses a valid positive argument about literary relationships such that it becomes a flawed negative argument about literary relationships. It is true, in discussions of the common order among the Synoptics, that the substantial agreement in order among Matthew, Mark, and Luke necessitates theories of a literary relationship. But one cannot legitimately reverse that positive argument and make the absence of substantial agreement in order a sign of the lack of literary relationship. The relative lack of agreement in order between Thomas and the Synoptics of course leaves a literary link still to be demonstrated, but it does not show the absence of a literary link.

It is important to remind ourselves also that one of the reasons for the sustained agreements in order among the Synoptics is the key presence of common narrative sequence. The Synoptic evangelists are much more conservative in the order of narrative material than they are in the order of sayings material. This is particularly the case in the double tradition material, which often appears in different contexts in Matthew and Luke. Either Matthew or Luke (or both) has removed a lot of double tradition sayings material from the contexts in which he found it. Given that Thomas has no narrative contexts into which to slot its sayings material, it is not surprising that its sayings appear in a very different order from that found in the Synoptics.

Furthermore, the abbreviated, disconnected nature of the Thomasine sayings lends itself to a looser structure. The form of the sayings relates directly to Thomas’s redactional profile, the mysterious Gospel in which enigmatic, self-contained sayings, at best only loosely related to one another, are stacked up in baffling succession. The very success of the Gospel lies in its attempt to unnerve the reader, especially the outsider. This disconcerting aim reinforces the necessity for mysterious, pithy sayings, largely devoid of contextual clues to their interpretation. If Thomas’s redactional aims require particular forms, those forms themselves cohere with Thomas’s order, or lack of it.

This is a point to which we will return, and one that requires a little more exploration. For the purposes of this discussion about order, the important thing is to notice the way in which the author of Thomas is able to compound the nature of his enigma by surprising the hearer with constant changes of gear. It is not just the sayings themselves that shock and surprise, but also the bizarre juxtaposition of apparently contrasting ideas, side by
side. This is a key point: if the author of Thomas is aiming at coherence, he has failed. It is unlikely, however, that he is attempting to be coherent. Rather, his Gospel is aiming at enigma, and this is why it announces itself as an enigma from the beginning (Incipit, 1), and why it orders sayings in this apparently incomprehensible way. If one thing is clear about Thomas, it is that it is not clear. Modern interpreters with their bright ideas about
Thomas’s arrangement run the risk of attempting to explain what the author wishes to leave unexplained, blunting the author’s purpose by a artificially conjoining and deciphering sayings that resist that kind of work.

(Thomas and the Gospels: The Case for Thomas's Familiarity with the Synoptic Gospels (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012), 14-16)

Saturday, August 04, 2012

John Drane's unacknowledged use of my work in Introducing the New Testament

Regular readers will know that I like to check up on the treatment of the Synoptic Problem in the introductory New Testament textbooks.  As a student of the Synoptic Problem myself, I am always fascinated to see how the topic is getting taught to undergraduate students.  I do have a dog in the fight in that I have argued in books, websites, podcasts, articles and so on for a particular solution, the Farrer Theory, which affirms the Priority of Mark's Gospel but dispenses with Q by suggesting that Luke knows Matthew as well as Mark.

Some New Testament introductions ignore the Farrer Theory; others provide minimal, weak or flawed coverage.  Somehow, I had never thought to check, until recently, on the coverage in one of the most popular New Testament Introductions of all, John Drane's Introducing the New Testament, now in its third edition at Fortress.  As well as checking out the third edition, I found out that I already owned the second edition courtesy of Logos Bible Software.  The story of what I found is an interesting one.*

Drane's coverage of the Synoptic Problem broadly supports the Two-Source Theory but has an extra section entitled "New light on old problems", the first subheading of which is "Did Q really exist?" (177-8).  As I read through this section, I thought to myself, "This looks familiar."  In fact, it was very familiar.  The section is derived from a web page that I composed back in 1997 called Ten Reasons to Question Q.  Although the section in Drane's book is derived from my web page, it does not mention me and it does not cite the web page.

Drane appears to work in sequence through my ten points, abbreviating and paraphrasing, sometimes adding some extra material.  He begins:
There is no hard evidence of its existence. In spite of the confidence with which scholars have reconstructed Q, and even claim to be able to give an account of its own literary history and development, no one has ever seen it. There is not even a fragment of any ancient manuscript of Q, nor is there a single reference to its existence anywhere in ancient literature.  Nineteenth-century scholars believed that Papias was referring to Q in his statement that Matthew ‘compiled the logia in the Hebrew language' . . . . (184)
This is a version of my points 1 and 2:
1. No-one has ever seen Q
Current literature on Q abounds with editions of Q, investigations into its strata, studies of the communities that were behind it and analyses of their theology. In such circumstances, it is worth allowing ourselves the sober reminder that there is no manuscript of Q in existence. No-one has yet found even a fragment of Q.
2. No-one had ever heard of Q
No ancient author appears to have been aware of the existence of Q. One will search in vain for a single reference to it in ancient literature. For a while it was thought that 'the logia' to which Papias referred might be Q. Indeed, this was one of the planks on which the Q hypothesis rested in the nineteenth century. But no reputable scholar now believes this.
Drane's next bullet point begins as follows:
There are no other ancient documents that look like Q. Though some Gnostic gospels (especially the Gospel of Thomas) provide a kind of parallel for interest in collecting sayings of Jesus, and though such interest seems inherently likely among his followers, Q is not actually like Thomas in that it contains some narrative material as well. It is therefore difficult to identify a specific genre to which Q might belong (184-5).
This appears to be based on my point 3**
3. Q is unparalleled in genre
There is no ancient document that looks like Q. Some have claimed that the Gospel of Thomas provides an analogy since it, like Q, is a 'sayings Gospel'. However, there is no parallel in Thomas for the narrative material that has always been problematic for the Q hypothesis, the Temptation (Matt. 4.1-11 // Luke 4.1-13), the Centurion's Boy (Matt. 8.5-13 // Luke 7.1-11) and the Messengers from John (Matt. 11.2-19 // Luke 7.18-35). Some Q scholars, aware of this difficulty, are currently engaging in a desperate search for a genre for Q.
Drane's third bullet point reads:
In a considerable number of passages, Matthew’s and Luke’s texts agree over against Mark’s, in either wording or order. This can generally be explained by the assumption that, at some points, there was overlap between Mark and Q, and that Matthew and Luke preferred the fuller version generally believed to be contained in Q. However, some of these agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark are found in the story of Jesus’ death (compare, for example, Matthew 26:67–68 / Luke 22:63–64 with Mark 14:65), and since every account of the scope of the hypothetical Q has concluded that it did not contain a passion narrative, some scholars want to argue that this phenomenon can more easily be explained on the assumption that Luke used Matthew than by reference to the traditional view that both of them used Q (185).
This is a condensed summary of my points 4-7.  I will not quote those in full here but will draw attention to some pertinent elements:
But the existence of agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark in these very passages suggests otherwise . . . . 
Since the Q hypothesis is founded on Luke's independence of Matthew, agreement like this, agreement against Mark in both wording and order, should not be present. But the force of such major agreements tends not to be felt because of appeal to the phenomenon of 'Mark-Q overlap', both here and elsewhere (e.g. the Temptation; John the Baptist; Beelzebub) . . . . 
If one were to find a Minor Agreement between Matthew and Luke in the Passion narrative (Matt. 26-28 // Mark 14-16 // Luke 22-24), then this would be stronger evidence still against the existence of Q, for no-one thinks that Q has a Passion Narrative.  The good news is that there are several Minor Agreements in this material, the most striking of which is this: Matt. 26.67-8 // Mark 14.65 // Luke 22.63-4
Given the condensing of my points here, there are fewer verbal links in Drane's paraphrase.  However, there is a tell-tale sign of "editorial fatigue" in that Drane begins by writing "the story of Jesus' death", presumably with his introductory audience in mind, but he subsequently drifts into my wording "a passion narrative" later in the paragraph.

Speaking of fatigue, Drane's fourth bullet point (the final one in the second edition, 185, penultimate in the 3rd, 179) begins by paraphrasing my point 8 ("The Phenomenon of Fatigue"):
The existence of Q has also been questioned on the basis of considerations related to the way in which ancient authors might have operated. It has been claimed that when a writer is using a source, while the information might be sharpened up and reshaped at the beginning of the day, as tiredness sinks in there will be a tendency to revert to the underlying patterns of whatever source is being used—and that in the case of the so-called Q material, such evidence always shows Luke reverting to Matthew’s forms of expression. For example, in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14–30; Luke 19:11–27) Matthew has three servants, and Luke has ten. But as the story is told, Luke mentions ‘the first’, ‘the second’, and then ‘the other’ servant (19:16, 18, 20), which is easier to understand if Luke knew Matthew than if both of them were using the hypothetical Q. 
This is how I had phrased this summary of my own argument:
When one writer is copying the work of another, changes are sometimes made at the beginning of an account which are not sustained throughout - the writer lapses into docile reproduction of his / her source. This phenomenon of 'fatigue' is a tell-tale sign of a writer's dependence on a source . . . .
It is revealing that this phenomenon also occurs in double tradition (Q) material, and always in the same direction, in favour of Luke's use of Matthew. Take the Parable of the Talents / Pounds (Matt. 25.14-30 // Luke 19.11-27). Matthew has three servants throughout. Luke, on the other hand, has ten. But as the story progresses, we hear about 'the first' (19.16), 'the second' (19.18) and amazingly, 'the other' (ho heteros, Luke 19.20). Luke has inadvertently betrayed his knowledge of Matthew by drifting into the story-line of his source (see further my 'Fatigue in the Synoptics', NTS 44 (1998), pp. 45-58).
As in other places above, Drane uses synonyms where possible, "When a writer is using a source" for "when one writer is copying the work of another", "But as the story is told" for "But as the story progresses", "tiredness" for "fatigue", and so on.  Curiously, this excerpt actually illustrates the phenomenon that it is describing, with the wording closer to my wording as the paragraph progresses.

The second half of Drane's fourth bullet-point reads:
Those who wish to dispose of Q also argue that the very notion of gospel writers using sources in this way is a legacy from a previous generation which adopted a ‘scissors and paste’ approach to literature, which can no longer be sustained—and if M and L as separate written sources should be jettisoned, then so should Q.
This is a paraphrase of my penultimate point:
9. The Legacy of Scissors-and-Paste Scholarship
Q belongs to another age, an age in which scholars solved every problem by postulating another written source. The evangelists were thought of as 'scissors and paste' men, compilers and not composers, who edited together pieces from several documents. Classically, the bookish B. H. Streeter solved the synoptic problem by assigning a written source to each type of material - triple tradition was from Mark; double tradition was from 'Q'; special Matthew was from 'M' and special Luke was from 'L'. Most scholars have since dispensed with written 'M' and 'L' sources. The time has now come to get up-to-date, and to dispense with Q too.
This is a good paraphrase, retaining the sense and structure of my point but rewording with things like "previous generation" for "another age".  I must admit that I am not that keen on Drane's use of "dispose of" to replace"dispense with".

Drane's piece therefore paraphrases my "ten reasons to question Q" in order, with points 4-7 significantly condensed and point 10 omitted.  The paraphrase is well done, with effective use of synonyms and generally good summaries of my points.  There are words and phrases in common but overall the verbatim agreement is relatively limited.

It is difficult to know quite how to react to this.  On one level, I am surprised that it has taken me until now to spot it given that the passage in question has been in the book since the second edition of 1999.   I suppose that I am also pleasantly surprised to see my arguments repeated in a New Testament Introduction, even if it is without acknowledgement.  At least some of the key Q sceptical arguments are getting a hearing in an introductory textbook.

Moreover, it would be fair to say also that the genre of introductory textbook does not tend to encourage citation in the same way that scholarly monographs and articles do.  However, given the difficulty that we have in universities and colleges in training students to cite their sources, and to attribute arguments to those who made them, I think on balance that I am not happy with what the author has done here.

The basis of the plagiarism tutorials that we provide at Duke University are the imitation of good scholarly procedures, and that includes "failure to cite a source that is not common knowledge".  One way to think about this is to imagine if a passage came in like this in a student's work in my New Testament Introduction class.  What I would do would be to point out that the student has simply paraphrased a web page without citing the source.  The student in question would be unlikely to get a good grade and would probably be referred to the plagiarism tutorials previously mentioned.

I would be interested to hear what others think.  Am I being fair to Drane?  Is it OK to use scholars' web pages without acknowledgement?

I should conclude by underlining that in this post I just want to sketch out the evidence and to ask the questions.  I am not making any accusations.  Nevertheless, I do have a suggestion for a moral for the future.  If anyone is inclined to plagiarize scholarly work, it is probably not a good idea to plagiarize experts on source criticism.

* Note: there are some slight expansions in the third edition including an extra bullet point (178) that is not derived from my web page.  Most of the pages numbers above refer to the second edition.

** Note: Drane is writing in 1999 and so dependent on an earlier version of the website, and it is that earlier (1997) version of the site that I am here quoting.  As it happens, this is one of the things that I first noticed when reading Drane -- I recognized the older wording of my site, wording that on this point  I subsequently re-worded.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012