Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and Mark?

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and M

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed May 24, 2017 6:29 am

In book 10 of his Commentary on John, Origen asserts that there are discrepancies between the gospels, and uses these discrepancies to support his point that one has to read the gospels mystically rather than literally. Thing is, though, he generally has no difficulty at all in lining Matthew, Mark, and Luke up (even referring to them several times as "the three"); it is John that causes the difficulties.

My impression, Kunigunde, is that the discrepancies among the synoptic gospels were no more than a parlor game to the church fathers, a minor challenge to their harmonizing skills, whereas the discrepancies between the synoptic gospels and John were a bloody field upon which major battles were fought between Quartodecimans, Montanists, Alogoi, Valentinians, and Catholics.
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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and M

Post by JoeWallack » Wed May 24, 2017 7:13 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:The gospels of Matthew and Mark evince many individual differences, of course, but what I am seeking is ancient discussions of those differences, especially discussions which may relate to differences in their order (whatever that term may mean, whether chronological or aesthetic or what have you). The background here is Papias, whose elder (John) apparently asserted that the gospel of Mark was out of order in some way. It is commonly assumed that it was out of order by virtue of comparison with the gospel of Matthew, the only other gospel mentioned by name in the fragments of Papias that we possess (and also as an assertion of the same elder). So I am seeking ancient notices of the differences in "order" (τάξις) — or any other, possibly related differences — between Matthew and Mark: who noticed them, and what did they make of them?

Thanks in advance.

Ben.
JW:
Well you already have the best related page on the subject:

Papias of Hierapolis

The key quote and where I think you take the wrong turn:
And if anyone chanced to come along who had followed the elders, I inquired as to the words of the elders, what Andrew or what Peter had said, or what Philip or what Thomas or James or what John or Matthew or any other of the disciples of the Lord [had said], the things which both Aristion and the elder John, disciples of the Lord, were saying. For I did not suppose that things from books would profit me as much as things from a living and remaining voice.
Papias is c. before Justin who is c. 150. I have faith that history (real) is as follows:

1) Jesus' disciples are the source for Q = mainly Jesus' sayings. Your papers are not in order

2) When Papias refers to what "Mark" wrote he is referring to Q.

3) Papias is aware of GMark but knows it is fiction and not written by anyone who knew Jesus. This is what Papias is referring to above (books). Likeunwise for Paul. Papias knows Paul wrote fiction and did not know Jesus so no reason to mention.

4) Marcion edits GMark and creates MLuke and has commercial success using. Anonymous author fits his/Paul's revelation source.

5) As time passes Gospel is superior marketing tool compared to history. Orthodox Christianity retaliates with GLuke. Justin time. GLuke has same dual purpose of Yankees targeting top free agent from Red Sox:
  • 1. Gives you top asset.

    2. Takes top asset away from competition.
In Justin's time, still no mention of Paul.

6) Marcion still has marketing advantage with Canon of MLuke and Paul. Acts is written to convert Paul to orthodox Luke. Now I have a macine gun too

7) c. Irenaeus orthodox Christianity has its Canon and polemic advantage of claiming the source is history.

Ben, the reason for the lack of reasonable explanations for what you are looking for is it is unlikely that Papias was referring to Mark writing GMark.


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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and M

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed May 24, 2017 8:40 am

JoeWallack wrote:Papias is c. before Justin who is c. 150. I have faith that history (real) is as follows:

1) Jesus' disciples are the source for Q = mainly Jesus' sayings.

2) When Papias refers to what "Mark" wrote he is referring to Q.
Papias characterizes what Mark wrote as "what the Lord had said and done." I am not sure I even think a Q document like the one usually imagined actually existed, anyway, so this one is going to be a hard sell for me.
3) Papias is aware of GMark but knows it is fiction and not written by anyone who knew Jesus. This is what Papias is referring to above (books). Likeunwise for Paul. Papias knows Paul wrote fiction and did not know Jesus so no reason to mention.
I do think there was an entire stream of tradition that was not very keen on Paul, and Papias and Justin may well have been a part of that (there is one Papian fragment, very much disputed, in which Papias may refer to Paul as "the apostle"). And I do think that Papias had both texts he mentions (one text by Mark and at least two translations of the putative Hebrew Matthew) in mind as part of the "books" he was not following so much. I think it is going too far to say that Papias regarded any of these as "fiction" (and the term may be anachronistic in this context). If what Papias refers to as written by Mark is actually Q, what makes you think that Papias knew our gospel of Mark in the first place?
Marcion still has marketing advantage with Canon of MLuke and Paul. Acts is written to convert Paul to orthodox Luke.
I think "convert" may be too strong a word here, but I do think that Acts was trying to unify disparate strands and groups. It may also have been trying to mute the more vociferous voices from the Johannine tradition by making Paul predict it in his speech to the Ephesian elders:

Acts 20.29-31: 29 I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men [elders!] will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.

Compare this passage in John:

John 10.11-13: 11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.

Is the Jesus of John predicting that Paul is going to come to Ephesus, teach weird stuff, and then leave for ports unknown instead of staying and caring for the church there? And is Acts putting words in Paul's mouth that turn around and paint (some of) the elders of Ephesus (compare Papias' dedication to inquiring as to the words of "the elders") as the wolves instead? And Paul's three years with the Ephesians may be a recall of Jesus' ministry in the gospel of John, which often comes out (and fairly naturally) to 3 years (as in Epiphanius, for example), though maybe I am stretching things with this bit.

Even if I do not have all of that exactly right yet, I definitely think that something is going on in Ephesus between (followers of) Paul and (followers of) John. The two groups do not finally seem to synthesize until either (possibly) Polycarp or (definitely) Irenaeus (still investigating the Polycarp angle there).
Ben, the reason for the lack of reasonable explanations for what you are looking for is it is unlikely that Papias was referring to Mark writing GMark.
I think there probably is a reasonable explanation, as it happens: one having to do with all that Ephesian/Johannine tradition I have been alluding to, but I am exploring other angles (such as the somewhat common notion that Papias was comparing Mark to Matthew) to make sure I do not leave anything out. I think Bernard's reconstruction, whereby Luke is what Mark (whichever text that may be) and (Greek) Matthew are both being compared to is a better one, but it hits some dead ends, in my opinion. Kunigunde's (extremely brief) reconstruction, whereby unwritten tradition from certain named tradents is what Mark and Matthew are being compared to is absolutely spot-on, I believe. But what did that tradition look like? I think it looked somewhat Johannine, for lots and lots of reasons.

Your switch between the gospel of Mark and Q is clever, but I am something of a Q skeptic (even though I am certain that Matthew is not always more primitive than Luke in the double tradition), so that is an issue for me. And there is always that bit from "Peter's memoirs" about the Boanerges brothers in Justin, which can, without much jostling, be aligned with Papias' statement about Mark being derived from Peter. And the fact that Mark is described as having written "what was said and done" by the Lord is something to consider, as well.
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Thu May 25, 2017 8:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and M

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Wed May 24, 2017 12:23 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:Well, that is not different at all (at least not from me). :) That is exactly what I think Papias or his elder is saying. He is tracing the source of the lack of order in gospel texts, and in the case of Mark that source was the ad hoc nature of Peter's teachings; Mark himself wrote things down faithfully. (In the case of Matthew the source was the translation process; as we know, that term "translation" could mean a lot more than just word-for-word rendering in antiquity.)
...
This would fall under #2 on my list, and seems very reasonable; it is, in fact, the option I am currently most in favor of. And I am (not on this thread, but in my spare time) collecting ideas of what that tradition may have looked like.

Yes. I overlooked that. Sorry.

Ben C. Smith wrote:My impression, Kunigunde, is that the discrepancies among the synoptic gospels were no more than a parlor game to the church fathers, a minor challenge to their harmonizing skills, whereas the discrepancies between the synoptic gospels and John were a bloody field upon which major battles were fought between Quartodecimans, Montanists, Alogoi, Valentinians, and Catholics.

Agreed. I would say especially the discrepancies between GMatthew and GJohn as the gospels of two “disciples” were the major problem.

Bernard Muller wrote:And gMark was compared to gLuke for his order. GLuke is the only gospel which claim to be in order.

Btw I think there could be a further explanation of what Papias wrote. Well, if we read it as “Mark was not in order” then we remember Luke’s claim and we think that it was a critique by Papias. On the other hand, the rest of Papias’ statement is clearly not a critique.

Papias critical point seems to be the anecdotal form of Mark’s account and this reminds me of the schorlarly claim that Mark’s stories are like “pearls on a string”. The critique could be that GMark is just “a bunch of anecdotes” and therefore not an acceptable ancient “bios”. It would be interesting to know whether the Greek words “οὐ μέντοι τάξει“ could mean something like “he wrote not systematically” or so.

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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and M

Post by Bernard Muller » Wed May 24, 2017 1:23 pm

Btw I think there could be a further explanation of what Papias wrote. Well, if we read it as “Mark was not in order” then we remember Luke’s claim and we think that it was a critique by Papias. On the other hand, the rest of Papias’ statement is clearly not a critique.
I agree this is not a critique. But, for me anyway, it seems that Papias was addressing concerns and observations about what he heard from his community: gMark was out of order as compared with ... what?
Neither "John" or "Matthew" claimed to have an orderly account of Jesus' sayings or deeds, but "Luke" did.
Papias critical point seems to be the anecdotal form of Mark’s account and this reminds me of the schorlarly claim that Mark’s stories are like “pearls on a string”. The critique could be that GMark is just “a bunch of anecdotes” and therefore not an acceptable ancient “bios”. It would be interesting to know whether the Greek words “οὐ μέντοι τάξει“ could mean something like “he wrote not systematically” or so.
Cordially, Bernard
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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and M

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed May 24, 2017 1:27 pm

Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:Papias critical point seems to be the anecdotal form of Mark’s account and this reminds me of the schorlarly claim that Mark’s stories are like “pearls on a string”. The critique could be that GMark is just “a bunch of anecdotes” and therefore not an acceptable ancient “bios”. It would be interesting to know whether the Greek words “οὐ μέντοι τάξει“ could mean something like “he wrote not systematically” or so.
Lucian, How to Write History 47-48:

1 As to the facts themselves, [the historian] should not assemble them at random, but only after much laborious and painstaking investigation. He should for preference be an eyewitness, but, if not, listen to those who tell the more impartial story, those whom one would suppose least likely to subtract from the facts or add to them out of favor or malice. When this happens let him show shrewdness and skill in putting together the more credible story. 2 When he has collected all or most of the facts, let him first make them into a series of notes [ὑπόμνημά], a body of material as yet with no beauty or continuity. Then, after arranging them into order [τάξιν], let him give it beauty and enhance it with the charms of expression, figure, and rhythm.

The ancient process of book publication seems to have had (at least) two distinct stages: first there were notes; then there was a published book, polished and ready to go. Here is Galen on such notes, from the prologue of Concerning His Own Books:

Why the many read my [books] as their own, you yourself know the reason, most excellent Bassus. For they were given to friends and disciples without inscription, as nothing was for publication, but were made for those who requested to have notes [ὑπομνήματα] of what they heard.

This ought to remind us of Eusebius' quotation of Clement of Alexandria in History of the Church 6.14.5-7, where "many called upon Mark" to write what Peter had preached, and Mark, "having made the gospel, gave it out to those who had requested it."

Such "notes" are not supposed to be "in order" yet. Here again, Papias is not critiquing Mark himself; he is actually giving him excuses for a work which was considered to be out of order.

Often Greco-Roman figures would write their own memoirs (Latin commentarii), which would actually be thought of as belonging to the "notes" stage of the process, ready for an historian to take up and turn into something more polished. Amusingly, Julius Caesar's memoirs caused problems for those who would wish to turn them into histories, as Suetonius relates in Life of Julius Caesar 56:

[Cicero writes:] He wrote memoirs [commentarios] to be strongly commended indeed. They are naked, straightforward and lovely, stripped of the vesture of every adornment of oration; but while he wished others to have these things prepared, whence those who wished to write a history might assume, he ended up gratifying the inept, who wish to use the curling-irons on them. Sane men, in fact, he deters from writing.

[Hirtius writes:] They are so approved in the judgment of all men as to have taken opportunity away from writers, rather than to have offered them one. Our admiration for his accomplishment, nevertheless, is greater than that of the rest; for they know how well and faultlessly, and we also how easily and quickly he wrote them out.

This strikes me as the highest praise possible for a writer: even his rough draft was a masterpiece.

But the point for our purposes seems to be that Papias is excusing Mark's actions ("he did not err") on the grounds that his text was supposed to be a first step, not a published work. This idea is what leads, I think, to Clement's story about Mark being requested (like Galen was) to write something up from Peter's oral preaching (like Galen's notes were written up from his oral lectures). This idea also lies behind Stephen Carlson's translation of the verb προγεγράφθαι in Clement's comments (referred to above) as "published openly" (not "written beforehand"): Matthew and Luke were ready for publication, while Mark was still just a set of notes, handed out for the needs of Peter's audience.

(How far this early Christian impression of the gospel of Mark reflects the author's intentions is open for discussion, obviously.)
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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and M

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed May 24, 2017 2:29 pm

Bernard Muller wrote:Neither "John" or "Matthew" claimed to have an orderly account of Jesus' sayings or deeds, but "Luke" did.
Oh, I think John is claiming a lot about the order of things:

2.11; 4.54: 11 This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him. .... 54 This is again a second sign that Jesus performed when He had come out of Judea into Galilee. [Translation: the synoptics do not have the correct order of miracles.]

2.13; 5.1; 6.4; 18.28: 2.13 And the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. .... 5.1 After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. .... 6.4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. .... 18.28 They led Jesus therefore from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium in order that they might not be defiled, but might eat the Passover. [Translation: the length of Jesus' ministry in the synoptics is too short, and Jesus made more than one climactic trip to Jerusalem.]

3.24: 24 For John had not yet been thrown into prison. [Translation: all the stuff before this, including Jesus' first miracle and the cleansing of the temple (!), occurred before John was thrown into prison, not afterward as the synoptics would have it.]

13.1-2a: 1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. 2a During supper.... [Translation: the synoptics were wrong to treat the Last Supper as if it had been the Passover meal; this was still before the Passover meal. Confer 19.31.]

20.24, 26: 24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. .... 26 After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. [Translation: the first appearance was to ten disciples, not to eleven as the synoptics say.]

21.14: 14 This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead. [Translation: the synoptics got their order wrong even for the resurrection appearances.]

Consider the miracle sequence, and recall Papias' words about Mark:

Eusebius, History of the Church 3.39.15a: 15a And the elder would say this: Mark, who had become the interpreter of Peter, wrote accurately, yet not in order [Rufinus: non tamen per ordinem], as many things as he remembered of the things either said or done by the Lord.

Now compare the Muratorian Canon about John:

Muratorian Canon, lines 26-34a: What marvel, therefore, is it if John so constantly also in his epistles offers single points, saying about himself: "What we saw with our eyes and heard with our ears and our hands handled, these things we wrote to you?" For so he professes to be, not only an eyewitness and earwitness, but also a writer of all the miracles [mirabilium] of the Lord in order [per ordinem].

Mark according to Papias: not in order. John according to the Canon: in order.

Or consider the timing of the Last Supper and the crucifixion, and take note of what Apollinaris of Hierapolis wrote, a successor to Papias:

There are some, then, who raise disputes about these things through ignorance, thus suffering from a pardonable circumstance, for ignorance does not admit of accusation but rather requires further teaching; and they say that on the fourteenth the Lord ate the lamb with the disciples, and that on the great day of Unleavened Bread he himself suffered, and they report Matthew as speaking thus, just as they opine. Wherefore their opinion is at discord with the law, and the gospels seem to be at variance against them. .... The fourteenth is the true Passover of the Lord, the great sacrifice, the child of God instead of the lamb....

The natural reading of Matthew (and Mark and Luke): incorrect. (The natural reading of John: correct.)

This is just part of why I think that the Johannine "order" of things is what Papias was comparing Matthew and Mark to. It is not necessarily that Papias (or his elder) knew the gospel of John itself; rather, a body of distinctly Asian tradition was being built up which gave its own spin to how things had gone during Jesus' ministry. This tradition was not arbitrarily remembered just for the sake of being contrary. The date of the Passover, for example, was very important to the Quartodecimans (even though I do not think John itself had anything to do with the origins of that Asian custom; I think the gospel of John simply reflected its time and place and was thus put to good use later in the controversy). Ireneaus mentions some groups which drew symbolism from a 12-month dominical ministry, and it is to John that he turns for a different picture. People opposing Montanism used the contradictions between John and the synoptics to nullify John and thus pull the rug of the Johannine Paraclete out from under the New Prophets' feet. These things mattered.
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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and M

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed May 24, 2017 2:42 pm

(This is why, Bernard, I am asking for examples of discrepancies between Matthew and Mark, and now after your points between Mark and Luke, which the ancients noticed and cared about. I can find reams of examples between John and the other synoptics, as a group, but not very many intrasynoptic examples. I am drawn to treating the Lucan preface as a voucher for the synoptic order, not against Matthew and Mark but against the Asian traditions as preserved in John, though Luke has indeed modified things slightly to conform to a few Johannine points of order, perhaps as a compromise to some extent.)
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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and M

Post by Peter Kirby » Wed May 24, 2017 2:43 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:(This is why, Bernard, I am asking for examples of discrepancies between Matthew and Mark, and now after your points between Mark and Luke, which the ancients noticed and cared about. I can find reams of examples between John and the other synoptics, as a group, but not very many intrasynoptic examples. I am drawn to treating the Lucan preface as a voucher for the synoptic order, not against Matthew and Mark but against the Asian traditions as preserved in John, though Luke has indeed modified things slightly to conform to a few Johannine points of order, perhaps as a compromise to some extent.)
Interesting and compelling idea. Kudos.
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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and M

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed May 24, 2017 2:54 pm

Peter Kirby wrote:Interesting and compelling idea. Kudos.
Thank you.
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