What do members think of E. P. Sanders' The tendencies of the Synoptic Tradition
(Cambridge Univ. Press, 1969)?
My recollection is that there was about as much evidence of shortening of accounts as lengthening. Are we just looking at examples, regardless of whether we want them to be shortened or lengthened versions of some other account, that are all reversible? There are supposed to be literary clues to determine whether some account has been shortened or lengthened, but are they based on reality or wishful thinking?
Preface page xi
List of Abbreviations xiii
I THE PROBLEM 1
The Need for Criteria 1
The Present Situation and the Task 8
Analysis of the form-critical method of establishing the tendencies of tradition, 13;
Evaluation of the form-critical method of establishing the tendencies of the tradition, 21;
The relation of this study to Memory and Manuscript, 26
The Material 29
The textual tradition, 29;
The early Fathers, 35;
The Apocryphal Gospels, 40
The Categories 45
II INCREASING LENGTH AS A POSSIBLE TENDENCY OF THE TRADITION 46
Method of Citation 51
The Evidence from the Post-Canonical Tradition 53
Addition of all or part of an Old Testament quotation, 53;
Omission of all or part of an Old Testament quotation, 54.;
Additions to speeches, 54;
Omissions from speeches, 56;
Addition of speeches, 57;
Omission of speeches, 58;
Addition of dialogue, 59;
Omission or curtailment of dialogue, 60;
The creation of new scenes and events, 60;
Addendum: Creation of new material, 61;
Addition of actions, 61;
Omission of actions, 62;
Addenda: Other instances of expansion, 63;
Other instances of abbreviation, 64;
Instances in which the shorter of two possible readings is chosen, 66
The Evidence from the Synoptic Gospels 69
Old Testament quotations in one Gospel but not in another, 69;
Speeches longer in one Gospel than in another, 71;
Speeches present in one Gospel but not in another, 74;
Dialogues in one Gospel but not in another, 76;
Scenes and events in one Gospel but not in another, 78;
Actions in one Gospel but not in another, 80;
Miscellaneous differences of length, 82
III INCREASING DETAIL AS A POSSIBLE TENDENCY OF THE TRADITION page 88
The Evidence from the Post-Canonical Tradition 96
The addition of the subject, 96;
The omission of the subject, 101;
The addition of the direct object, 104;
The omission of the direct object, 105;
The addition of indirect objects and equivalent pros phrases, 107;
The omission of indirect objects and equivalent pros phrases, 110;
The addition of non-adjectival prepositional phrases, 112;
The omission of non-adjectival prepositional phrases, 114;
The addition of adjectives and adjectival phrases, 116;
The omission of adjectives and adjectival phrases, 118;
The addition of a noun in the genitive, 119;
The omission of a noun in the genitive, 121;
The addition of a personal pronoun in the genitive, 122;
The omission of a personal pronoun in the genitive, 126;
The addition of a noun to a proper name, 128;
The omission of a noun from a proper name, 129;
The addition of a proper name to a noun or its equivalent or to another proper name, 129;
The omission of a proper name from a noun or its equivalent or from another proper name, 130; Other additions of proper names, 131;
Omissions of proper names, 132;
The substitution of a proper name for a noun or pronoun, 133;
The substitution of a noun or pronoun for a proper name, 134;
The substitution of a noun for a pronoun, substantive adjective, or participle, 135;
The substitution of a pronoun for a noun, 136;
The addition of a noun to a pronoun, substantive adjective, or substantive participle, 137;
The omission of a noun from a pronoun, adjective, or participle, 138;
The addition of circumstances, 139;
The omission of circumstances, 140;
The addition of explanations, 140;
The omission of explanations, 141;
The addition of conclusion and result, 141;
The omission of conclusion and result, 142;
The addition of emotion, 143;
The omission of emotion, 143;
The addition of miscellaneous details, 143;
The omission of miscellaneous details, 144
The Evidence from the Synoptic Gospels 146
Subjects in one Gospel but not in another, 152;
Direct objects in one Gospel but not in another, 155;
Indirect objects and equivalent pros phrases in one Gospel but not in another, 157;
Prepositional phrases in one Gospel but not in another, 160;
Adjectives and adjectival clauses in one Gospel but not in another, 163;
Genitive nouns in one Gospel but not in another, 165;
Genitive pronouns in one Gospel but not in another, 167;
The use of a noun with a proper name in one Gospel but not in another, 168;
The use of a proper name with a noun or with another proper name in one Gospel but not in another, 169;
Other instances of proper names in one Gospel but not in another, 170;
The appearance of a proper name in one Gospel where a noun or pronoun appears in another, 171;
The appearance of a noun in one Gospel where a pronoun appears in another, 173;
The use of a noun with a pronoun in one Gospel where only a pronoun appears in another, 174;
The use of a phrase indicating circumstance in one Gospel but not in another, 176;
Explanations in one Gospel but not in another, 179;
Conclusions and results mentioned in one Gospel but not in another, 180;
Emotions mentioned in one Gospel but not in another, 181;
The presence of miscellaneous details in one Gospel but not in another, 182
IV DIMINISHING SEMITISM AS A POSSIBLE TENDENCY OF THE TRADITION page 190
The Evidence from the Post-Canonical Tradition 209
The change of other conjunctions to kai, 209;
The change of kai to other conjunctions, 211;
The creation of parataxis by changing a participle to a finite verb and adding kai, 212;
The avoidance of parataxis by changing a finite verb with kai into a participle, 213;
Addendum: Other instances of parataxis, 213;
The omission of the conjunction: creation of asyndeton, 214;
The addition of a conjunction: avoidance of asyndeton, 217;
Addendum: Other instances of asyndeton, 220;
Verbs changed to the historic present, 221;
Verbs changed from the historic present, 222;
Addendum: Other instances of the historic present, 223;
The use of heis for tis; the addition of heis, to mean tis, 224;
The change of heis to tis; the omission of heis with the meaning of tis, 224;
Wording made more Semitic, 225;
Wording made less Semitic, 226;
Addendum: Semitisms in material not strictly paralleled in the Synoptics, 227
The Evidence from the Synoptic Gospels 232
The use of kai in one Gospel but not in another, 233;
The use of a finite verb with kai in one Gospel where another Gospel has a participle, 237;
The use of asyndeton in one Gospel where another Gospel has a conjunction, 240;
The use of the historic present in one Gospel but not in another, 242;
The use of heis in one Gospel where another has tis, 246;
More Semitic wording in one Gospel than in another, 246
V DIRECT DISCOURSE AND CONFLATION 256
The Use of Direct Discourse 256
The Evidence from the Post-Canonical Tradition, 258;
The Evidence from the Synoptic Gospels, 259
The Evidence from the Post-Canonical Tradition, 265;
The Evidence from the Synoptic Gospels, 268
VI CONCLUSIONS page 272
Summary of Results 272
The Synoptic Problem 276
The Pre-Canonical Tradition 279
Translation Variants 286
Suggested Exceptions to the Priority of Mark 290
The Christian Method of Transmission of Tradition 294
Semitisms and the Provenance of Documents 297
Selected Passages 301
 CHAPTER VI
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
Since the individual results of this study have been summarized throughout the body of the work, it will not be necessary to offer a lengthy conclusion here. We may briefly indicate the principal results of the study, and then discuss the significance of this study for the Synoptic problem and the study of the pre-canonical Synoptic tradition. The principal conclusions, then, are as follows:
There are no hard and- fast laws of the development of the Synoptic tradition. On all counts the tradition developed in opposite directions. It became both longer and shorter, both more and less detailed, and both more and less Semitic. Even the tendency to use direct discourse for indirect, which was uniform in the post-canonical material which we studied, was not uniform in the Synoptics themselves. For this reason, dogmatic statements that a certain characteristic proves a certain passage to be earlier than another are never justified.
On all points it was necessary to consider the question of editorial tendencies. Some particular writers would have an editorial custom contrary to the general course of development. For the sake of convenience, the tradition is often personified; that is, it is given characteristics of its own. We have spoken in this manner in this work. At each point, however, we were reminded that the tradition has no tendencies apart from the sum of the tendencies of the individuals who transmit it. To say that the tradition tends to become more specific is actually to say that, more often than not, the transmitters tend to make it more specific. For this reason, we must always give room for human differences and be alert to the editorial tendencies of each particular writer.
A brief digression to consider a modern parallel may make this point clearer. The stock market resembles the Christian tradition in many respects. Both are personified. Just as it is said that ‘the tradition tended to become more specific’, it is  also said that ‘the stock market did so and so’. The market is said not only to go up or down, but to hesitate, waver, and even spit.1 After a period of hesitation, it ‘decides’ to move in one way or another. Further, the market, like the tradition, is said to operate according to certain laws. Thus, to take one of the simplest of the stock market ‘ laws ’ as an example, it is said that a sharp increase of odd lot purchases over odd lot sales indicates the approaching end of a bull (rising) market. The reasoning behind the ‘law’ is that those who buy odd lots (usually fewer than one hundred shares), the small investors, are always on the wrong side. Small investors are thought to buy at the top and sell at the bottom.2 It is clear that this ‘law’, like all other ‘ laws ’ of the stock market, is only a law in the sense that it is an observation based on the behavior of most of the individuals who buy and sell stocks. It is thus possible not only that an individual small investor could break the ‘ law ’ and be on the right side of the market, but even that, through better public advice, a majority of small investors could be on the right side, thus reversing the ‘law’. Although it is convenient in discussing the Christian tradition, as in discussing the stock market, to personify it and attribute to it a regular form of behavior which can be characterized by laws, it must never be forgotten that this is only a convenience of speech, and that the ‘laws’ do not necessarily control the behavior of individuals. This consideration does not prevent us from identifying general tendencies of the transmitters of early Christian tradition, but it cautions us against too easily supposing that each individual transmitter conforms to the general pattern.3
Some tendencies which have been thought to have been generally operative among the transmitters of the early Chris-
1 See The New York Times, Sunday, 27 Feb. 1966, section 3, p. 1, col. 3: ‘The stock market, which has been trying to say something for more than a month, spit it out last week.’
2 It is perhaps worth noting that this law of the market, like the form-critical laws of the Christian tradition, is oversimplified and applied too inflexibly when used by those who are dependent on the experts. The statement of the odd lot law just presented is derived from newspaper accounts. A much more sophisticated, complex, and flexible version is presented by professional stock market technicians.
3 A similar problem is the application of ‘national characteristics’ to individual citizens of the nation. It may be more or less valid to characterize national groups in certain terms, but to suppose that any individual from that group must fit the stereotype is often misleading and unfair.
tian tradition have been shown not to have been so common. Thus we have seen that the material did not necessarily grow in overall length1 and did not necessarily become less Semitic.2
Some tendencies, however, appear to have been fairly common. On the whole, there was a tendency to make the material more detailed3 and a considerable tendency to change indirect to direct discourse.4 Speeches, conversations, and scenes were frequently added to material which was being used, but abbreviation was common enough to make the use of these categories dubious.6 Unless there are offsetting considerations (for example, the redactional tendency of a certain editor), it may be held that material which is richer in detail and direct speech (and perhaps also in speeches, conversations, and scenes) is probably later than parallel material less rich in these items. Even here, however, certainty cannot be achieved. One may only say that the balance of probability is that material richer in detail and direct speech is later. Further, these criteria should be applied to an entire document, and not to any one pericope. The canons are not so certain that one may say that a detail in one of Matthew’s pericopes proves it to be later than the parallel in Luke. Yet if the pericope in Matthew has several different aspects which are characteristic of later tradition, it may be justifiable to argue that Matthew’s pericope is probably later than Luke’s.
Since it may appear that the principal force of this section of the study is negative, I should emphasize its positive aspects. In arguing that the criteria which have claimed our attention cannot be simply applied to any one passage to test its antiquity, I have attempted to counteract certain abuses of these criteria. They have often been used as if they were all of equal weight and all universally applicable, as if the tradition uniformly moved in one direction or other. It has become evident that some of the criteria which have been used ought not to be used at all. To this extent, the study is negative. But other criteria have been shown to be useful. Here I have tried to determine how strong each criterion is in order to establish relative degrees of confidence with which the criteria should be used. This is intended as a contribution on the positive side. As long as
1 See above, p. 68.
2 See above, p. 230.
3 See above, p. 146.
4 See above, p. 259.
5 See especially pp. 64-6 above.
 scholars had only a large number of possible criteria with no way of determining their relative reliability, and, indeed, with different scholars taking totally opposite positions on some of the criteria, these criteria were really useless, even though they were employed. Perhaps a step has been taken here toward improving this situation. In saying that certain criteria do not always hold true, but hold true more frequently than not, I have tried to show how they must be used and what degree of confidence should be attached to each of them. The degree of confidence which each criterion deserves cannot be stated statistically (e.g. this criterion holds true three times out of five), but rather in general terms of strength or weakness. Such assessments have been made throughout this study.
In some categories of the present study, we saw that the tradition followed no more or less regular tendency. No criteria can be derived from such categories. In other cases, however, a tendency to change in one way or other was more or less pronounced, and from these categories useful criteria may be derived. The strength of each criterion depends upon the degree of uniformity shown by the post-Synoptic tradition on each point. The relative strength of each of the useful criteria may now be indicated by way of summary. Numbers in parentheses refer to the chapters in which each item is discussed.
Not Very Strong: new speeches (II); new scenes (II); addition of adjectives (III); addition of nouns to proper names (III).
Fairly Strong: new dialogues (II); addition of subjects (III); genitive pronouns (III); addition of proper names to nouns (III); nouns substituted for pronouns (III); nouns added to pronouns (III); addition of circumstances (III).
Strong: addition of proper names (iii) ; substitution of proper names for nouns and pronouns (iii) ; addition of miscellaneous small details (iii) ; addition of genitive nouns (iii) .
Very Strong: direct discourse and first person (V).
Does it add to our understanding of which accounts might be prior to others?
Did Sanders make his case and establish criteria, or not?