Thursday, December 28, 2006

Dunn and Burkett

One aspect of the synoptic problem is particularly unclear, and I wish someone would at least bring some clarity in discussing it. I think it is relevant to mention Delbert Burkett's approach here because it is really the flip side of Dunn's approach (discussed here and here) where I made observations regarding our inability as yet to know whether we can properly distinguish between an oral source and a written source. And an extension of this is our inability to recognize "re-oralization" of a tradition (i.e. deliberately writing in an "oral mode").

I must mention another article of Dunn's, "Matthew's Awareness of Markan Redation," in The Four Gospels--1992: Festschrift Frans Neirynck, ed. F. van Segbroeck et al.; 3 vols., BETL 100 (Leuven University Press), 2:1349-59, in which he proposes that Matthean avoidance of so-called Markan redaction is often due to Mt not knowing it to be from his own tradition and thus avoiding it by inserting his own oral version (i.e. rather than making a literary/editorial 'change' the decision is already made for him to simply include his known version).

It seems like a pre-empted answer to Burkett's reasoning as to why Markan redaction is so mysteriously missing from both Mt and Lk if one assumes a theory of Markan priority. Is Markan redaction missing from Mt & Lk because they didn't know those parts (as per Burkett) or because Mt and Lk recognized these parts as somehow foreign sounding and so simply replaced them with their own known/home version of traditions (per Dunn)?

There is something appealing about Dunn's approach in that certain Markan redactional features missing in Mt and Lk (and highlighted by Burkett) are not so surprising when we grant the Evangelists the ability to recognize and avoid Markan redaction. And I think this would answer Burkett's objection that Mk cannot be the source of Mt and/or Lk. It also seems like an attempt to save the two-source theory!

Strangely, Dunn also wishes to see the relative lack of variation in the synoptic passion accounts as evidence that it was "relatively more fixed at a very early stage." But can we really have it both ways? A presence of variation indicates oral (i.e. against redactional changes) and a lack of variation indicates oral? Would not a lack of variation indicate more literary dependence according to Dunn's own logic?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Bauckham's source theory part 2

I can answer the question I had last post. A few pages further Bauckham does acknowledge that other traditions attached themselves onto eyewitness traditions but apparently does not (yet) concede anonymous ones (but I guess I'll have to keep reading). From page 131,

These three Gospels [Mk, Lk, Jn] all use the literary device of the inclusio of eyewitness testimony in order to indicate the main eyewitness source of their story. This does not, of course, exclude the appropriation also of material from other witnesses, and we shall see that these Gospels also do that.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bauckham’s source theory

I managed to seize a few hours of reading time on Bauckham’s book, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony, bringing me so far up to chapter 6 (out of 18). I was quite impressed with Bauckham’s perspective on Papias (chapter 2) i.e. that Papias doesn’t refer to anonymous oral traditions (rather oral history connected to eyewitness testimony).

On the other hand where I left off reading Byrskog’s book was on page 137:

As a parallel to the development of the Q material, Migaku Sato brings attention to the phenomenon of "Fortprophetie" behind the Old Testament prophetic writings. The disciples of a prophet continued to prophesize, and they di so by employing the languagge of the prophet master himself, the "Meistersprache". This is most evident in the book of Isaiah…both Second Isaiah and Third Isaiah – at least according to Isaiah 60-62 – linked their prophetic message substantially with the tradition attributed to Isaiah of Jerusalem. And they never identified themselves as independent prophets; they remained anonymous, assuming the identity of the prophet master to whom they adhered. Even external influences from other prophets, which might have been somewhat foreign to the Isaiah tradition, were integrated and attributed to the one specific prophet of Jerusalem.

So whereas Byrskog’s model would affirm anonymous disciples adding anonymous traditions to the one tradition (of ‘Jesus the Only teacher’) Bauckham’s model drops all anonymity and goes for named informants and named disciples. But I wonder whether he is going to discuss the difference between what collectors (of traditions) thought they were collecting and what exactly had been collected. It is surely on thing to pass along that so-and-so said/taught such-and-such a thing, but is Bauckham also going to argue that just because people thought nothing else had accumulated to the tradition that nothing else had accumulated? I guess I’ll have to keep reading.

I was pleased to see in chapter two Bauckham interacting with Dunn in a footnote (n71 p34):

Dunn here simply assumes that the Gospels were primarily the product of the community tradition, but this is not at all how Luke 1:2 represents the matter.

Bauckham would believe rather that Luke did try to behave as an oral historian would. Lk’s "eyewitnesses" "from the beginning" apparently refers to those who were personally familiar with the events but even more interesting to me is that parekolouthekoti means “thoroughly understood” or “informed familiarity” (following Moessner). I.e. Luke intends to tell ‘the whole story’ [my phrase] because he now knows/understands ‘the whole story’!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Gospel memorization model

I have just seen and read the following little journal article:
Dennis Ingolfsland, "Jesus Remembered: James Dunn and the Synoptic Problem," Trinity Journal (Fall, 2006), 187-97.

Ingolfsland criticizes Dunn's adherence to the two-source theory rather than "follow his method to its logical conclusion" but it is not clear to me what exactly Ingolfsland would say is Dunn’s method. Instead Ingolfsland goes on to propose his own solution to the synoptic problem (or is it the logical conclusion of Dunn’s method?) that Gospel authors like Luke were taught to memorize previous Gospels like Mk and Mt:

There is nothing improbable with the assumption that local church elders taught potential leaders to learn gospels like Mark or Matthew by memory [footnote 46]—a common teaching method in both Greek and Jewish cultures of the time.

Luke’s extensive knowledge of both Matthew and Mark may imply that he himself had memorized those gospels. [footnote 47]

I doubt this is the logical conclusion to Dunn’s method. And I’m also not sure that this solution is new. There may be similar versions of this type of ‘composition model’ already. In fact I guess one could accept this model and still be a Farrer theorist—or does the Mk-Mt hypothesis imply textual dependence (rather than literary memorization)?

There really are many more types of composition models than most introductions to the matter would care to admit. I’m looking forward to reading Bauckham’s eyewitness model.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


It will be difficult for me to post over the next two weeks. I'm already about two weeks behind reading emails but I see that Synoptic-L has been a little more active recently.