Saturday, August 18, 2007

Happy 1st Blogiversary to me!

I haven't dedicated as much to this blog as I would have liked to but fortunately the postings have not yet ceased!

The poll on the Q hypothesis has caused some confusion about what it asks and will need to be redone. Perhaps I will replace it with a different poll.

There still remains more summaries to come of the past year's posts...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Year of Source Theory Blogging - Part Three

I wrote several posts last September trying to ascertain what teachers were teaching regarding the Q hypothesis seeing that the symbol 'Q' is used to mean various different things. I received some feedback from Stephen Carlson and Mark Goodacre on the issue, both who prefer to maintain that the Q hypothesis supposes a written source to account for the common Mt-Lk material (and both of whom believe that Luke actually copied the material from Matthew rather than Q).

I have now added a poll on Q to the sidebar which will run for the remainder of the year, but I may choose to run it indefinitely since the progress of results are always available anyway.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Year of Source Theory Blogging - Part Two (Dunn)

Recapping my four previous posts on James Dunn's source theory [Aug 27; Oct 14; Dec 9; Dec 28]: Dunn's theory has an unresolved tension in that both Mk and Q are regarded as simultaneously written and oral sources. Whether Dunn regards 'Q' as being an oral source (or sources) is still not completely clear--Dunn has only explicitly argued that the first layer of Q (Q1) be seen as 'oral ' [see his "Q1 as oral tradition," in Markus Bockmuehl and Donald A. Hagner (eds.) The Written Gospel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 45-69]. I concluded humorously that "It seems Dunn wants to have his Q and eat it too!" Perhaps Dunn eventually intends to demonstrate that the remainder of 'Q' should also be seen as oral.

However, what is more surprising is Dunn's article "Matthew's Awareness of Markan Redation," in F. van Segbroeck et al (eds.), The Four Gospels--1992: Festschrift Frans Neirynck, (3 vols.; BETL 100; Leuven University Press), 2:1349-59, in which Dunn argues that Matthew recognised Markan redaction in Mark and so avoided it consciously. Dunn appears to suggest that this indicates that Matthew was already familiar with many of the stories written in Mark and/or that Matthew used his Markan source in an 'oral mode.'

I am not aware whether other scholars have drawn attention to this but it seems to have anticipated Delbert Burkett's assertion that Markan redaction is suspiciously absent is Matthew and Luke. Whereas Burkett sees such an absence as undermining the notion that Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source Dunn sees it as evidence that Matthew could readily recognise Mark's own redaction of oral traditions. There is something persuasive about such an argument and I wish other scholars would comment on it.

Somewhere in my posts on Dunn I mentioned that when we speak of the 'oral period' we really should recognise that we are merely referring generally to the period prior to the Gospels being written down (and published?) since we do not know whether it was really a distinct period of 'oral transmission.'

Also I mentioned that the healing traditions appear to share less verbal/phrasing aggreements than other traditions which may be a consequence of them being widely used oral traditions. I have not researched this properly, but it deserves more attention (as a good candidate for oral story-telling that Matthew and Luke need not be completely dependent on Mark for these stories).

I also mentioned two reviews of Dunn's source theory:
David Neville, "The Demise of the Two-Document Hypothesis? Dunn and Burkett on Gospel Sources," in PACIFICA 19 (Feb 2006), 78-92.
Dennis Ingolfsland, "Jesus Remembered: James Dunn and the Synoptic Problem," Trinity Journal (Fall, 2006), 187-97.

Each of these reviews sees Dunn's source theory as undermining the Mk-Q hypothesis. But it is still not clear exactly what Dunn's source theory entails for Mark and 'Q.' I am amicable to seeing most of 'Q' as potentially stemming from oral sources. I am also comfortable with seeing the authors of Matthew and Luke capable of recognising (and avoiding) Markan redaction (so as to maintain a more 'oral mode' of writing).

However, like Dunn, I am not willing to abandon literary dependence and I think Dunn has tried to incorprate oral and written together in what seems to be an impossibly complex and contradictory task. I wish I knew what to call such a theory (I wonder if Dunn has named his theory yet)?

Monday, August 06, 2007

A Year of Source Theory Blogging - Part One

In less than two weeks this blog will be a year old so for the next couple of weeks I will present a series of posts bringing together the previous year's blogging.

This blog has intended to focus on "Introducing the Synoptic Problem to students" as "A blog on the synoptic problem aimed at furthering student thought and participation." There are already websites around introducing the synoptic problem (see sidebar) and many of these are certainly more helpful and informative than most introductions available in print. Yet students need to be encouraged to see and understand the types of arguments being used. We should be seeing more students (and eventually more scholars) agnostic as to the 'best' source theory rather than settling for what one's lecturers espouse (e.g. 2ST, Farrer, Griesbach).

Students should be encouraged to look at the assumptions for how a theory resolves a problem (and the type of problem being solved). My own experience with the Gospel pericopes does not yet indicate the nature of the non-Markan sources appearing in Luke (granting that Luke depended on something almost identical to Mark). I can now see this agnosticism present throughout my past year's blogging. OK, now for a year's recapping and distillation of thoughts part one...

This blog began when I posted my lecture notes for BN101 held at Whitley College August 2006. Here I used the terminology look-alike gospels as a student-friendly description for the 'Synoptic Gospels.' The lecture emphasised the three kinds of similarities:
similar CONTENT (displayed in a Venn diagram),
simliar PHRASING (displayed in a Synopsis), and
similar ORDER of passages/pericopes (as displayed in Allan Barr's diagram/chart).
It is these three features (and the lack of these three features held in common with the fourth Gospel) which suggests evidence of a literary relationship between the Synoptic Gospels. The 'problem' (or type) of this relationship is more so a modern problem arising as a historical enterprise to explain the use of 'sources' though pre-modern responses demonstrate some awareness of a concern with the problem of Gospel differences (thought to potentially undermine the historicity or veracity of the Gospel accounts). Ironically, it is not now the differences but the similarities in CONTENT, PHRASING and ORDER which present reason to suspect direct copying and often thought to be potentially more devastating (in terms of historicity).
My initial lecture notes helpfully grouped arguments for Markan priority into three categories:
Flawed Arguments (order of pericopes; length of pericopes; lower/higher Christology);
Inconclusive Arguments (difficult passages-Mark has more of them; vocab statistics); and
Substantial Arguments (editorial fatigue; tight plotting of Mark).

What I could have made clearer is that those who oppose Markan priority are basically correct that Markan priority is more of a belief (or 'working hypothesis') than a scientific fact given the current tests and results are rather tentative and often reversable. Assuming Mark to be a source of both Matthew and Luke makes reasonable sense of all three Synoptic Gospels (but so do other source theories).

My initial interest in the synoptic problem is mentioned briefly in my third post and in the latter part of my sixth post. Basically as an undergraduate student I found the introductions to the synoptic problem available in print very disapointing and unhelpful so I wrote an essay demonstrating this(part A evaluating six standard intros; part B looking at arguments for and against Matthean posteriority). The essay is made available in the side-bar (Solving the Synoptic Problem for Students?).

Thanks to Stephen Carlson in January I had to correct my earlier assertion that Henry Owen (1764) was the first to suggest direct literary dependence (interrelationship) since it appears that the notion might be dated even earlier (e.g. Hugo Grotius, John Mill, J.J. Wettstein). However I concluded that we still need to distinguish between:

(a) those who believe that the later Gospel compositions were written with some knowledge of the predecessors work (Augustine’s position); and
(b) those who believe that an author fully ‘depends’ on an earlier work for the material (without which they would probably lack the material).

The latter category has produced various models all claiming some notion of 'dependence' but due to the belief that certain material would have (or could have) been available in more than one document or in the form of oral traditions (rendered even more complex by secondary and tertiary orality--i.e. as a written work develops an oral life of its own) it is impossible to know whether Luke's Gospel depends on the text/document of Matthew's Gospel for all the overlapping material (and/)or whether Matthew and Luke shared a common source or whether Matthew's Gospel (or portions of it) had entered into a second level of orality and could be recalled/remembered by the author of Luke.

To update on an older exchange between Carlson and myself (see link in sidebar) which debated whether Luke's dependence on Matthew should be seen as any more plausible than the two's dependence on shared source/s (i.e. Mk-Mt-Lk vs. Mk-Q-Lk). I think our definitions of plausibility were not identical. What is it that would make us perceive that the Mt-Lk double tradition (1) originated with Matthew's text and/or (2) was only available to Luke via Matthew? So neither the Mk-Q or Mk-Mt theory should be presupposed as more logically plausible since even though the Mk-Q theory demands a common hypothetical source (Q) the Mk-Mt theory demands that Luke owes all of its 'Q' material solely to the text of Matthew making the Farrer theory less agnostic about the material, which could actually represent multiple traditions/sources. Only at a basic mathematical/logical level does Farrer hold the advantage by simplifying the Mt-Lk overlap. Yet only the John Baptist traditions share a close enough verbal similarity (phrasing) to demand literary dependence for this material (which would either indicate very little direct borrowing from Matthew or give us an extremely small Q!)

My next post will review my posts on Dunn's source theory and attempt to bring some clarity to my earlier disorganized posts.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Celebratory Overview Coming Up

This blog is almost one year old, so in my next post I will draw together the insights posted here over the past year, as a celebratory/birthday overview. Although this blog receives very few visitors (15-20 views a week) I still think it has been a worthwhile endeavour and hopefully an overview will help establish this.