It's all yours (Was about a non-Nazareth indicator)

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
Joseph D. L.
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Re: It's all yours (Was about a non-Nazareth indicator)

Post by Joseph D. L. » Mon Nov 27, 2017 12:08 am

Nonsense. It is observable dara that Theophilus was the “most excellent” high priest in 41 AD, which is fully consisrent with Luke’s Gospel, and a fine fit for historical, archaeological and internal observations.
What observable data, and historical, archaeological and international observations are you referring to?

There are many indications in Luke's prologue (which I believe wasn't original to it, I will admit) which places it's time of composition much later than what you maintain. Going through it verse by verse:
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us
Here it is acknowledged that the writer of this prologue is familiar with others who have like wise attempted to compose similar narratives. He notes that it is not just one, or two, but many. Supposing a timeframe of less than ten years between the crucifixion and resurrection (if you believe such things) and the writing of Luke would mean that 1) the transmission of tradition had already spoiled by the time of Luke for him to be compelled enough to write his own text, and 2) if Luke also composed Acts of the Apostles for this same Theophilus as a companion to his Gospel at the same time then he was anticipating the figures of Theudas and the Egyptian by five years and ten years respectively.
just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us
The writer's language implies that that a great deal of time has elapsed between the initial preaching of the good news to his own day. Your proposal makes it appeare hyperbolic.
it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus
The question as to why Theophilus the high priest would be interested in something he would consider blasphemous must be raised. And again, the writer implies a great length of time separating himself from these purported events.
that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
This is perhaps the biggest clue that the intended receiver is not Theophilus the high priest. Nor is there any historical evidence that Theophilus converted to Christianity.

The most likely scenario is that the writer is referring to Theophilus, bishop of Antioch. Other traditions hold him to be a Jew in Alexandria, which may or may not imply Mark, the founder of the Alexandrian church. But again, I hold the prologue to be a late appendage onto the text, meaning it's of no use in dating the Gospel.

neilgodfrey
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Re: It's all yours (Was about a non-Nazareth indicator)

Post by neilgodfrey » Mon Nov 27, 2017 1:04 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sun Nov 26, 2017 7:25 am
neilgodfrey wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:03 pm
What I find interesting with the hypothetical background to the gospel that is the mainstay of so much textual criticism is that it derives directly from a naive reading of the gospel itself. It assumes without warrant (and some might say even in the face of indications to the contrary) that the story is based on historical events or is meant to be some sort of historical biography.
I plead innocent of all such charges.
I am attempting to address the argument, the principle or point. I am not accusing anyone of anything unless I explicitly do so.
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sun Nov 26, 2017 7:25 am
What external data, independent of the gospels, do you have for the proposition that Mark is prior to a number of other gospels, including John? I would love to see a defense of Marcan priority that does not depend on interpreting internal evidence.
There is some misunderstanding here, sorry.

We know that the synoptic gospels share a literary relationship. The evidence is there -- we can identify it in all three gospels. We don't need to hypothesize that Matthew probably or might have had a literary relationship with Mark in the way we hypothesize, without independent corroboration, that oral traditions were sources of the Gospel of Mark.

That is my fundamental point.

If we are going to present a new judgement that an analysis of the demonstrable textual evidence before us in the various gospels should be interpreted differently as to which gospel was prior, then so be it.

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Re: It's all yours (Was about a non-Nazareth indicator)

Post by neilgodfrey » Mon Nov 27, 2017 1:10 am

Ulan wrote:
Sun Nov 26, 2017 8:47 am
This is exactly what I meant. You mix up your "hard, observable, readable data" with your interpretation of these data points, which is exactly the same thing you accuse others of doing. Those people who have a different model of the sequence of gospels don't use any different "hard, observable, readable data". They just interpret them differently.
But we have no 'hard, observable, readable data" upon which we can securely base an oral tradition as a source for the Gospel of Mark. The hypothesis that there was such a tradition prior to the gospel is a model that is entirely hypothesis. There is no mixing up interpretation with hard data there. There is only hypothesis, alone, in our heads entirely.

Ulan
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Re: It's all yours (Was about a non-Nazareth indicator)

Post by Ulan » Mon Nov 27, 2017 3:17 am

neilgodfrey wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 1:10 am
Ulan wrote:
Sun Nov 26, 2017 8:47 am
This is exactly what I meant. You mix up your "hard, observable, readable data" with your interpretation of these data points, which is exactly the same thing you accuse others of doing. Those people who have a different model of the sequence of gospels don't use any different "hard, observable, readable data". They just interpret them differently.
But we have no 'hard, observable, readable data" upon which we can securely base an oral tradition as a source for the Gospel of Mark. The hypothesis that there was such a tradition prior to the gospel is a model that is entirely hypothesis. There is no mixing up interpretation with hard data there. There is only hypothesis, alone, in our heads entirely.
Sure, the hypothesis is based mostly on the text of gMark alone. I'm not even sure that Ben or I have made this specific claim that the sources were oral, as we also just consider the data (the text itself). But let's not forget that this specific exchange was triggered by your statement that gMark was the first gospel. An interpretation, this time based mostly on three religious texts. Three texts is certainly better than only one to base a hypothesis on, a hypothesis which only deals with the relationship between these three texts and nothing else. I give you that much. This has certainly influence on how sure we can be of any conclusions we draw. I don't see anyone falling into this specific trap of taking any interpretations "as gospel" here though.

I'm completely fine with seeing gMark as the first gospel. As an aside, this is also the best case to base a "mythicist" scenario on (in combination with a few interpolations into Pauline letters). And yet, I agree that some layers are there in gMark. They are in need of explanation. I don't see anything wrong with thinking different scenarios through. I'm aware of the point that we cannot hope to get any answer to the question which scenario is correct.

In summary, I don't actually see more than tiny differences in our view of these things. I just think it's fine to speculate as long as you don't want to oversell your speculation as a definite answer.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: It's all yours (Was about a non-Nazareth indicator)

Post by Ben C. Smith » Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:22 am

neilgodfrey wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 1:04 am
We know that the synoptic gospels share a literary relationship. The evidence is there -- we can identify it in all three gospels. We don't need to hypothesize that Matthew probably or might have had a literary relationship with Mark in the way we hypothesize, without independent corroboration, that oral traditions were sources of the Gospel of Mark.
You are absolutely right. There is amazingly solid evidence that the three synoptic gospels share a literary relationship of some kind. I completely agree that we need no external evidence to establish that point.

But that is not the claim of yours that I was addressing.

This is:
neilgodfrey wrote:It is reasonable to argue that Mark was the main source for the other three canonical gospels. It is very reasonable to argue that our canonical gospels, at least in their original (pre-canonical) forms, preceded the other gospels we have. One of them had to be the first and there is strong evidence Mark fits the bill. That's working with the evidence.
Ulan responded to you:
Ulan wrote:I think at this point you are leaving your own criteria behind. Sure, it "is reasonable that Mark was the main source for the other three canonical gospels". It's a judgment call. We don't have any solid evidence for this claim. This is even more true for the claim that "[w]e don't know of any gospels prior to Mark". Maybe. Maybe not. I say this by the way even though I generally agree with this point of view.
To which you replied:
neilgodfrey wrote:No, the claim is based squarely on observable data. Yes, it is a judgement call, but it is based squarely on the evidence before our eyes. It is based on hard, observable, readable data.
Your claim that there is strong evidence that Mark was first is the claim I was addressing. What evidence would that be, then? Is it not entirely internal evidence? Is it not a matter of interpreting little clues within the texts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke themselves? Interpretation of the data is not the same as "hard, observable, readable data." It simply is not.

If Mark and Matthew share a 15-word stretch of verbatim text inside a 15-pericope stretch of undated events strung together in exactly the same order, well, that is good evidence of a literary relationship. We agree there 100%, I think. But it says nothing about Marcan priority. So... what does, in your judgment? What are these hard data that argue for Marcan priority?

(I myself think that Mark came before Matthew, for example, but I would never classify my reasons for thinking this as "hard data" — no, it is an interpretation of the data, just like everybody else's synoptic theory is.)
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neilgodfrey
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Re: It's all yours (Was about a non-Nazareth indicator)

Post by neilgodfrey » Mon Nov 27, 2017 12:52 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:22 am
neilgodfrey wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 1:04 am
We know that the synoptic gospels share a literary relationship. The evidence is there -- we can identify it in all three gospels. We don't need to hypothesize that Matthew probably or might have had a literary relationship with Mark in the way we hypothesize, without independent corroboration, that oral traditions were sources of the Gospel of Mark.
You are absolutely right. There is amazingly solid evidence that the three synoptic gospels share a literary relationship of some kind. I completely agree that we need no external evidence to establish that point.

But that is not the claim of yours that I was addressing.
And I did not say that it was. I made my statement as part of an attempt to explain my point of view, my argument. It appears to me that we are not understanding or communicating with each other.
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:22 am
This is:
neilgodfrey wrote:It is reasonable to argue that Mark was the main source for the other three canonical gospels. It is very reasonable to argue that our canonical gospels, at least in their original (pre-canonical) forms, preceded the other gospels we have. One of them had to be the first and there is strong evidence Mark fits the bill. That's working with the evidence.
Ulan responded to you:
Ulan wrote:I think at this point you are leaving your own criteria behind. Sure, it "is reasonable that Mark was the main source for the other three canonical gospels". It's a judgment call. We don't have any solid evidence for this claim. This is even more true for the claim that "[w]e don't know of any gospels prior to Mark". Maybe. Maybe not. I say this by the way even though I generally agree with this point of view.
To which you replied:
neilgodfrey wrote:No, the claim is based squarely on observable data. Yes, it is a judgement call, but it is based squarely on the evidence before our eyes. It is based on hard, observable, readable data.
Your claim that there is strong evidence that Mark was first is the claim I was addressing. What evidence would that be, then? Is it not entirely internal evidence? Is it not a matter of interpreting little clues within the texts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke themselves? Interpretation of the data is not the same as "hard, observable, readable data." It simply is not.
Yes, the judgement of priority is based on "internal evidence". Entirely. I have not denied that. I have said that yes, that is the case. That is so.
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:22 am
If Mark and Matthew share a 15-word stretch of verbatim text inside a 15-pericope stretch of undated events strung together in exactly the same order, well, that is good evidence of a literary relationship. We agree there 100%, I think. But it says nothing about Marcan priority. So... what does, in your judgment? What are these hard data that argue for Marcan priority?

(I myself think that Mark came before Matthew, for example, but I would never classify my reasons for thinking this as "hard data" — no, it is an interpretation of the data, just like everybody else's synoptic theory is.)
I think we are getting hung up on a digression to the main argument.

Literary analysis of texts and relationships between texts is standard and unproblematic. The more I try to stress that I don't dispute that point the more confusion seems to arise over my main argument.

There is a difference between doing literary analysis and interpretations etc from the independent bits of evidence we have on the one hand, and postulating processes and models for which we have no independent evidence at all.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: It's all yours (Was about a non-Nazareth indicator)

Post by Ben C. Smith » Mon Nov 27, 2017 3:11 pm

neilgodfrey wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 12:52 pm
Literary analysis of texts and relationships between texts is standard and unproblematic.
Would you agree that postulating lost/nonextant sources behind extant texts is also standard and unproblematic in ancient, classical, and medieval studies (let us say, for the sake of example, lost sources behind the writings of Plutarch or Diodorus Siculus or Thucydides)?
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neilgodfrey
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Re: It's all yours (Was about a non-Nazareth indicator)

Post by neilgodfrey » Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:01 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 3:11 pm
neilgodfrey wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 12:52 pm
Literary analysis of texts and relationships between texts is standard and unproblematic.
Would you agree that postulating lost/nonextant sources behind extant texts is also standard and unproblematic in ancient, classical, and medieval studies (let us say, for the sake of example, lost sources behind the writings of Plutarch or Diodorus Siculus or Thucydides)?
We hardly need to "postulate" lost sources behind many such works because they explicitly indicate their uses of sources that we no longer have.

But this is not my point. It is fine to hypothesize anything we want, but a hypothesis needs to be tested and not used as if it is a "fact" through which to interpret our gospels prior to such testing. Otherwise, how do we avoid circularity? (I have read a few NT scholars admit their studies are trapped in this circularity but don't know what else to do about it.)

Besides, many of the source criticisms we regularly encounter with, say, the Gospel of Mark, are not simply appeals to sources. It is obvious to most of us that that gospel was reliant upon sources of some kind at some points: the opening lines explicitly appeal to the prophets as sources, for example; and details about John the Baptist are clearly sourced from the Elijah narrative, and so on.

What I don't know if we have any precedent for, however, is the notion that, say, an author took a sentence or image from one source before him and clumsily or cleverly inserted it into the middle of a passage or words from another source to make something new, and so on, thus creating a patch-work narrative derived from various sources.

The process I just described (and that is at least implied in much source criticism) is not the same as an author having a constellation of passages and sayings from the Jewish Scriptures in his head and looking for opportunities to allude to as many of these as possible, say.

neilgodfrey
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Re: It's all yours (Was about a non-Nazareth indicator)

Post by neilgodfrey » Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:31 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 3:11 pm
Would you agree that postulating lost/nonextant sources behind extant texts is also standard and unproblematic in ancient, classical, and medieval studies (let us say, for the sake of example, lost sources behind the writings of Plutarch or Diodorus Siculus or Thucydides)?
Thucydides is a great example. I believe that for a long time many ancient historians generally assumed that Thucydides relied upon eyewitness sources for his description of the Athenian plague, even though Thucydides does not himself say this. His description is very vivid. The sort of detail that we expect from eyewitnesses. But a closer examination demonstrates that Thucydides was in fact relying upon literary sources mixed with the normal imagination of anyone who would try to picture what we would expect to witness in that circumstance.

Another interesting parallel with Thucydides is that for a long time scholars believed that Thucydides' description of the plague was all very accurate because it used very technical medical language of the day; one thinks of the once popular view that Luke was a physician partly on the basis of his supposed medical language. In both cases the claims (even the lists of words and meanings supposedly offering proofs of technical medical terms) were eventually proven to be misplaced.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: It's all yours (Was about a non-Nazareth indicator)

Post by Ben C. Smith » Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:51 pm

neilgodfrey wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:01 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 3:11 pm
Would you agree that postulating lost/nonextant sources behind extant texts is also standard and unproblematic in ancient, classical, and medieval studies (let us say, for the sake of example, lost sources behind the writings of Plutarch or Diodorus Siculus or Thucydides)?
We hardly need to "postulate" lost sources behind many such works because they explicitly indicate their uses of sources that we no longer have.
Okay, let me refine the question. Would you agree that postulating lost/nonextant sources behind extant texts, even when the author has not referred us to that particular source, and we have no name or provenance for it, is standard and unproblematic in ancient, classical, and medieval studies (let us say, for the sake of example, lost sources behind the writings of Plutarch or Diodorus Siculus or Thucydides)?
But this is not my point. It is fine to hypothesize anything we want, but a hypothesis needs to be tested and not used as if it is a "fact" through which to interpret our gospels prior to such testing.
Completely agreed. I would add only that it is also fine to hypothesize stuff, even without direct testing being an option yet, so long as one uses the appropriate qualifying language ("this is a suggestion," "one possibility is," and so on).
Besides, many of the source criticisms we regularly encounter with, say, the Gospel of Mark, are not simply appeals to sources. It is obvious to most of us that that gospel was reliant upon sources of some kind at some points: the opening lines explicitly appeal to the prophets as sources, for example; and details about John the Baptist are clearly sourced from the Elijah narrative, and so on.
I agree with all of that, but I am referring to other sources which are not mentioned by Mark (not the scriptures, therefore). Or about hypothetical sources like Q, for instance. (And I am not exactly a huge Q fan.) Let us take that latter case, just for kicks. Would you agree that hypothesizing the mutual independence of two texts with overlapping content, to the point where a lost source text behind the two of them becomes necessary, is common and unproblematic in ancient, classical, and medieval studies?
What I don't know if we have any precedent for, however, is the notion that, say, an author took a sentence or image from one source before him and clumsily or cleverly inserted it into the middle of a passage or words from another source to make something new, and so on, thus creating a patch-work narrative derived from various sources.
What about the extant Diatessara, some of which can combine in single sentences material from 3 or even 4 different gospels? Or what about Luke 3.1-18?

3.1-2, Luke.
3.3, Matthew ("all the region of the Jordan"), Mark ("preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins").
3.4-6, Isaiah.
3.7-9, Matthew.
3.10-15, Luke.
3.16, Mark.
3.17, Matthew.
3.18, Luke.

This presumes that Luke used both Mark and Matthew. If you hold to the 2-source theory you can just switch out Matthew for Q. If you hold to some other theory, there are other passages which show the same sort of interwoven complexity. There is no escaping this in the synoptic problem. No matter who copied from whom, on any somewhat simple theory of synoptic relationships (that is, one not involving more than a couple of lost sources or extensive scribal harmonization), somebody took materials (from individual yet significant words all the way up through phrases and sentences to blocks of sentences) from one source and spliced them in and out of another source along with their own additions.
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