Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Different Source Theory Implications part 2

Previously when writing about theological implications for one’s synoptic solution, I was rather dismissive of the suggestion that there were any real differences between source theories. Let me quote the notion as expressed by Scot McKnight, "A Generation Who Knew Not Streeter: The Case For Markan Priority," chapter 3 in, David Alan Black and David R. Beck (eds.) Rethinking the Synoptic Problem (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 95,

Griesbach and Oxford proponents differ substantially; and the differences are enormous in implication. But they are united in this: the problem is worthy of study, and it makes a difference for interpretation, for history, for theology, and for pastoral theology.[footnote]55

55 J. S. Kloppenborg, "The Theological Stakes in the Synoptic Problem," in The Four Gospels--1992: Festschrift Frans Neirynck, ed. F. van Segbroeck et al.; 3 vols., BETL 100 (Leuven University Press), 1:93-120, provides an excellent example of how modern scholars sort out the differences that various solutions offer.
I believe this to be grossly overstating the case. I have since tracked down Kloppenborg’s article and wish to comment here. Kloppenborg only compares two synoptic theories for comparison, and I guess the reason he chose to compare the Griesbach Hypothesis with the Two Document Hypothesis was because of the contrast in hypothesized sources for Griesbach’s theory (whereby Mk is no source at all and neither is Q). Although I would not see these two solutions as the top contenders it is foreseeable if one chose some "modified two-source theory" or "three-source theory" to compare with the Farrer theory there would obviously be even less difference. But even with these two contrasting source theories, Kloppenborg comes up with few results. In fact there are basically only three differences he asserts:

(1) On the Griesbach Hypothesis, the author of Mk "accentuates Jesus’ shunning of his family" and "views Jesus’ family as unbelieving opponents," "systematically vilified the disciples" and "omits any positive sign of the rehabilitation of the disciples, apart from the residual comments in 1428 and 16,7 (both taken from Matthew)" basically, "an eirenic view of Mark is not possible. On the GH, Mark is combative not complementary." But is not Mark’s theology rather combative on any source theory? I doubt very many would disagree with the above assessment of Mark’s theology even from the perspective of Markan priority. Mark strikes me as negating all kinds of views about Jesus (and those who supposedly knew Jesus) and I do not place Mk last.

(2) On the GH Mark has "removed from his christological portrait the motif of Jesus as the apocalyptic judge." But once again, this motif is still a conspicuous absence on the 2DH since this motif was present in Q (in canonical Mk Jesus is not the apocalyptic judge, which again seems deliberate to me—again points negatively made). This was, as I already suspected, disappointing for a section dealing with consequences affecting "christology, soteriology, ecclesiology" and Kloppnborg does himself admit that "for the most part it is not possible to argue that one scenario of development is more probable than another."

(3) Finally Kloppenborg brings out the theological implications of the Q hypothesis: "The most remarkable difference between Q and the narrative gospels lies in the valuation of the theological importance of Jesus’ death." Kloppenborg wishes to affirm that "the impression of normitivity, ubiquity and appropriateness" is an expectation that is merely generated by "the fact of a canon." In other words, Kloppenborg is saying that Paul’s theology of the cross "has mislead generations of scholars into thinking that this rhetoric was successful in promoting his vision and that this vision was representative of the various Christianities alive in the Mediterranean basin." I have no problem with this notion but I must ask, Would it not be considered Lk’s own intention (on the 2DH and the Farrer theory) to portray Jesus’ death as more martyr-like and less sacrificial (for sins)? For author Luke, Jesus’ death was necessary (rather than salvific) so again I don’t really see how Q makes much difference. Kloppenborg’s concludes "that the 2DH implies the existence of early Christians who did not (yet?) see the need of an account of the death of Jesus" but it is not only the 2DH that implies this.

Kloppenborg’s article is intended to raise "critical self-consciousness" "exposing the theologies which are implied by each source hypothesis" but I remain unconvinced that many differences exist, especially since they are not our only Christian documents from the first century.

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