Saturday, March 24, 2007

Lk's use of Mt? (lecture notes part three)

My opinion on the likelihood of the theory that Lk used both Mk and Mt. . .
I think the Farrer theory rightly questions the assumptions that Lk’s version of the Mt-Lk Double-Tradition (‘Q’ material) is less redactional than Mt’s. Luke should be considered as an author who has shaped and interpreted his sources (just like the author of Mt has, and maybe even more so). So the theory is better than assuming that Lk provides us with the original order of Q and/ or the original wording. But there is not enough clear evidence to show that Lk used Mt as a source for all of the ‘Q’ traditions. We simply do not know the extent of Mt or Lk’s non-Markan sources. Future studies on the Mt-Lk overlap of traditions will definitely be welcomed.

The Law and The Gospel: Gospel as Invitation and The Need for Repentance (Pharisees Think They Don’t Need it)
· Only some Pharisees were convinced Jesus' disciples broke the Sabbath (6:1-5) See Exod 34:21 & Deut 23:25 for laws.
· Blessed is anyone who takes no offence at Jesus (7:1-50) · Jesus tells the self-righteous lawyer "Go and do likewise" (10:37)
· If one wants a future/salvation/life/to be acceptable . . . one has to recognise the need for repentance (13:1-5) · Be Humble or Be Humbled (14:11)
· Leaders are refusing to enter (14:16-24)
· In the eyes of the religious leaders the Gospel is undermining their authority as custodians of the Law and Prophets. They see the Gospel as threatening, rather than as exciting and part of God's continued plan of salvation. (16:16-24)
· The Law and the Kingdom/Reign of God, (Rich man poor man, 16:19-31) thus. . . · Lk tends to agree with the overall import of Scriptures (‘Law and Prophets’) as affirming Jesus’ behaviour and message i.e. If the religious leaders actually did believe the Law and the Prophets, they would not be offended by Jesus' behaviour and message. (16:29)
· Hence "The Kingdom/Reign of God is already within your grasp" its potential exists now! (17:21)
· Difference between Pharisee and the tax collector -- one recognises the need for repentance (18:10-14) cf. Deut 26:10-15 on model prayer.

Eric Franklin, Luke Interpreter of Paul, Critic of Matthew (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1994).
Mark Goodacre, The Case Against Q: Studies in Markan Priority and the Synoptic Problem (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 2002), chapters 5-7.
Mark Matson, “Luke’s Rewriting of the Sermon on the Mount,” in Mark Goodacre and Nicholas Perrin (eds.) Questioning Q: A Multidimensional Critique (InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, 2004), 43-70. [online @] Mark Allan Powell, “The Religious Leaders in Luke: A Literary-Critical Study,” Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 109, No. 1 (Spring, 1990), 93-110: “Excursus: A Brief Comparison with Matthew,” 108-109.

Texts For Discussion [I've uploaded them in pdf]
(Translation is taken from the NET Bible)

Lk as critic of Matthew? Lk as reaction to Mt's portrait of Jesus?
In Mt the Pharisees are irredeemably opposed to Jesus (and the kind of kingdom he represents). Has Lk rejected the Matthean perception of the Pharisees? Mt calls them "evil" whereas Lk appears to have held out hope for them. It is difficult to argue why or how one author has rejected themes present in another author. How would we know if Lk was opposed to certain aspects of Mt’s presentation of Jesus? The Farrer theory requires that we find remnants of Mt in Lk. But at the same time requires that the material has (apparently) been completely rewritten!

Mt 11:13// Lk 16:16. Jesus only discusses the law once in Lk so this pericope is very interesting. It is a response to the Pharisees who were denigrating Jesus’ message (of grace and repentance). Jesus in effect replies (Although his answer depends on how the verb is read…!): “Don’t worry, you may see all kinds of unsavory people entering the kingdom but it’s not by bending the rules—the rules are still the same, of course the law is still the law despite what you Pharisees have done to it [allowing adultery through divorce]!”

Jesus (Not) in Competition with the Temple (Markan themes rejected)

  1. In the ‘Plucking Grain on the Sabbath’ controversy (Mt 12:1-8// Mk 2:23-28// Lk 6:1-5) Jesus claims to be more important than the Temple in Mt. Does Lk reject this notion or is it omitted because it is not in Lk’s source?
  2. Jesus and the Temple (cf. Mt 27:40// Mk 15:29// Jn 2:19-21) Lk never acknowledges that people thought Jesus had threatened to destroy the Temple (other than predict its doom in Mt 24:1-2// Mk 13:1-2// Lk 21:5-6).
  3. Lk omits the incident of Jesus’ cursing of the fig tree (in Mt and Mk Jesus’ actions in the temple are related to his cursing of the fig tree as symbolic of cursing the Temple).
  4. Mt 21:12// Mk 11:15// Lk 19:45-48. Jesus’ actions in the Temple are less controversial in Lk. Note the difference (the chief priests get upset not because Jesus’ actions against the sellers is controversial but because his teaching is too influential—reiterated again in Lk 21:37-38).
  5. Jesus Death as Atoning for Sins? (Mt 20:28// Mk 10:45) Lk omits this saying. Why?

Learning more about Gospel of Thomas

I was delighted to receive several comments regarding my previous post on the Gospel of Thomas. I was inspired by the comments to want to learn more about GThomas and so I joined the GThomas group:

It will, of course, take me some time to work out my own opinion about the relationship (if literary) between GThomas and the synoptics. Like the synoptic problem it doesn't seem to be an easy one to decide.

Lecture notes part two for BN203/303, March 21, 2007

Traditions Taken From ‘Q’ or From Mt?
Does one’s source theory make any difference when interpreting Lk?

I will begin by introducing the following points:

  • Lk appears to reject Mt’s birth narrative. Is Mt’s narrative too hostile? Jesus arrives in Lk more peacefully without causing antagonism or turmoil. Mt could well have been a catalyst for Lk. Mt provided Mk with birth narratives and resurrection stories which paved the way for Lk to do the same sort of thing.
  • Lk is not afraid to provide a new context for old material (which is how we would expect educated persons/rhetorically trained to write).
  • The Farrer theory supposes that Lk was respectful of the traditional material but not of its editorial use in Mk and Mt (which he knew to be that of Mk’s and Mt’s) i.e. Lk (& Mt) could recognise redactional features from another evangelist and so felt free to leave or modify such elements—but Lk respected Mk’s contexts for material more than Mt’s (but it is more practical to follow one as a chronological base and it is not surprising that Lk chose Mk since Mk was an older Gospel—by the time Lk writes most Christians will have already heard Mk read on at least one occasion) whereas Mt was more like a Church manual, a teaching manual and was in fact based on Mk (which Lk could easily see). Lk therefore recognised that Mt’s arrangement of material was clearly Mt’s own preference serving Mt’s own purpose and so Lk felt free to make his own arrangement using the same kind of material (i.e. Lk used Mt primarily as a source for more sayings).
  • Has Lk ‘added’ four woes (against the rich) to the blessings found in Mt 5:3-12 (Creative addition?). Scholars have often presumed that many differences are due to ‘Q’ whereas Lk may be shaping the material as much (or more) than Mt has.
  • Lk has discarded heaps of material in Mt on Instruction for the Church. Was there a problem with Mt’s portrait of Jesus?
  • In Lk Jesus is never harsh on the Sadducees (i.e. unlike Mt’s portrait of Jesus, in Lk Jesus never rebukes/ condemns the Sadducees). Why? Has Lk deliberately removed this condemnation for some reason?
  • Similarly Lk’s Jesus never condemns the scribes. Why not?
    Pharisees eventually disappear and play no role in plotting Jesus’ death (or handing Jesus over). Pharisees are favourably portrayed in Acts.
  • Lk omits almost two whole chapters in Mk (Mk 6:45-8:46) was this because Lk did not want to address issues of dietary laws until Acts 10?
  • Lk reduces the focus off the law (Does Lk see Mosaic law = custom?) Lk does not oppose the Law/Torah but tends to be more so concerned about the ‘moral law’ of welcoming those considered to be outsiders/ outcasts and caring for the poor.

Jesus (Not) a Lawgiver (see previous post)

The remaining lecture notes will have to be posted separately (as part three) since blogger is not being very obliging. . .

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Lecture Outline for BN203/303

I'm likely giving a lecture next Wednesday in the "Luke" course on the difference in interpreting Lk on the Farrer theory (i.e. if Lk used Mt instead of Q). The lecture may only be for one hour. Here is the outline so far:

The Farrer theory produces two main differences for our interpretation of Lk:

(1) It makes Lk considerably more creative as an author (scholars have tended to assume that Lk preserved more of the original order and wording of Q than Mt did).

(2a) It means that Lk has treated Mt differently than he treated Mk (Lk kept Mk’s chronology and sayings largely in tact), in other words. . .

(2b) It makes Lk critical of Mt (i.e. not only does Lk not stick to the order and wording of Mt but also Lk deliberately rejects themes important to Mt’s portrait of Jesus).

The Farrer theory implies that we should not underestimate Lk’s creativity and ability to transform and omit material found in Mt (and so we should not assume that Lk is simply a compiler of ‘Q’ traditions, replicating the order and wording he already found). I.e. the bulk of overlapping material Lk shares with Mt is taken by Lk directly from (and transformed from) Mt’s Gospel. How then has the resulting material changed in the process? The first theme we will look at (supposedly rejected by Lk on the Farrer hypothesis) is Jesus (Not) a Lawgiver.

Jesus (Not) a Lawgiver. In Mt Jesus is the Lawgiver for the New Community of believers (Mt’s emphasis has Jesus providing Instruction for his Church virtually providing a Church Instruction Manual, cf. the Didache). On the Farrer theory this presentation of Jesus would be deliberately critiqued by Lk. The following three points were made by Samuel Sandmel, A Jewish Understanding of the New Testament (London: SPCK, 1974). I have slightly expanded them since Sandmel barely gave them a sentence each:-

1. Many of the same commandments given in Mt’s Sermon on Mount are relayed in Lk but not in the form of new commandments (i.e. Jesus not a lawgiver as in Mt where Jesus is giving out ‘new and improved rules on living’ i.e. Mt 5:21-43 “You are familiar with the teaching on . . . now I give you an even stricter one to abide by. . . .”) since in Mt Jesus is portrayed extending the same laws even further. Lk tones down the contrast by avoiding the notion that Jesus gave out ‘new’ commandments. There is only one noticeable contrast (in Lk 6:27 [a remnant of Mt?] “but to you who are listening I say. . . ”) which is not contrasted with older familiar teachings (as in Mt) but is simply given as an elucidation of the previously mentioned blessings and miseries (i.e. to keep on loving their overlords and slanderers from verses 6:22-23 as model behaviour).

2. The Lord’s Prayer in Mt has Jesus give as instruction. In Lk instead it is the disciples who asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. 3. Mt 22:34-40// Mk 12:28-34// Lk 10:25-28. Unlike the other accounts, when Lk comes to relaying the greatest commandment it is not Jesus who gives the commandment.

However. . . what about Lk 18:18-24 where Jesus does relay the commandments!

For a more recent attempt to explain Lk’s modification of Mt’s Sermon on the Mount, see Mark Matson, “Luke’s Rewriting of the Sermon on the Mount,” in Mark Goodacre and Nicholas Perrin (eds.) Questioning Q: A Multidimensional Critique (InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, 2004), 43-70. [or online @]

It is difficult to argue why or how one author has rejected themes present in another author. How would we know if Lk was opposed to certain aspects of Mt’s presentation of Jesus? These notes are not finalised, and I'm wondering whether to concentrate further on this theme, or introduce another theme.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Oral Culture, Hypertext Culture

Loren Rosson has an interesting post here comparing oral culture and hypertext culture.

Lk's use of Mt

Semester is just beginning here in Melbourne, and I have been asked to give a lecture on what difference it makes to interpreting Lk if Lk has used Mt (as well as Mk).

So I am about to put together some more lecture notes which will then be included here.