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

Post by neilgodfrey » Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:16 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:51 pm

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)?
I think those authors tell us they are using sources, don't they? I discussed the Thucydides example in a recent comment.
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:51 pm
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).
I know you are. But I was trying to make clear (because some comments and criticisms seem to not understand my position on sources) what my position is. Some comments seem to indicate that others think I am denying our ability to know if an author used sources.
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:51 pm
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?
Unproblematic? Common? I don't know about medieval studies but where to ancient historians or classical scholars arrive at anything comparable to a Q document?

Can you give me examples of what you are thinking of?

But again, the question seems to be based on a misunderstanding of the point I am trying to make. There is nothing wrong with a literary analysis of two texts hypothesizing a common debt to a third text. (That's process is very much the reverse of the editing practice that seems to be assumed in some source criticism where one begins with the assumption of a tradition and then proceeds to find the confirmation for that assumption in the known text.)

I don't see the relevance of the Q analogy to the point at issue for me.
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:51 pm
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?
The Dia is not a creative work of an author, as far as I am aware. It is a studied compilation or harmonization of four known sources. There is no new narrative being created, only a melding of existing texts/narratives as I understand it.

I don't know of any author who wrote a work like the D that Tatian compiled. Surce critics don't suggest that Mark was trying to "harmonize" sources like Tatian was doing.
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:51 pm

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.
We are going around in circles. This has no relevance that I can see to the point I have attempted to make. There is a difference between use of sources and "source traditions" -- oral traditions that had a certain varied trajectory, sometimes bifurcating, etc over the years -- behind the gospels.

Of course many authors -- not only the evangelists -- were creative with their use of sources. But if I try to repeat that claim I fear I will be told that's not the point you are addressing??

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

Post by Ben C. Smith » Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:20 pm

neilgodfrey wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:16 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:51 pm

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.
We are going around in circles. This has no relevance that I can see to the point I have attempted to make. There is a difference between use of sources and "source traditions" -- oral traditions that had a certain varied trajectory, sometimes bifurcating, etc over the years -- behind the gospels.
You wrote:
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.
Are you telling me you were referring to oral sources here? (I will return to the rest later.)
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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 5:21 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:20 pm
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.
Are you telling me you were referring to oral sources here? (I will return to the rest later.)
Both written and oral.

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

Post by neilgodfrey » Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:24 pm

Ben, I am not disputing the use of sources, either oral or written. And I see many instances in a wide range of ancient literature demonstrating authors being very creative and subtle with their use of sources and very unimaginative, too.

I am not sure what you think it is that I have attempted to argue.

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

Post by Ben C. Smith » Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:25 pm

neilgodfrey wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:21 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:20 pm
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.
Are you telling me you were referring to oral sources here? (I will return to the rest later.)
Both written and oral.
Well, then, with respect to written sources for the moment, how is Luke 3.1-18 not exactly what you said we do not have precedent for?
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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 5:38 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:25 pm
neilgodfrey wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:21 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:20 pm
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.
Are you telling me you were referring to oral sources here? (I will return to the rest later.)
Both written and oral.
Well, then, with respect to written sources for the moment, how is Luke 3.1-18 not exactly what you said we do not have precedent for?
I have addressed the prologue various times before. See Luke's prologue.

But as with my comments recently on Papias, let's just take the common interpretation/translation:
Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled[a] among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.
The prologue does not describe a process of editing and patch-working that appears to be the model framing the sort of source criticism I have been attempting to address.

I don't know what you think I am arguing; I don't know what you think my point has been from the get-go.

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

Post by Ben C. Smith » Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:49 pm

neilgodfrey wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:38 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:25 pm
neilgodfrey wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:21 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:20 pm
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.
Are you telling me you were referring to oral sources here? (I will return to the rest later.)
Both written and oral.
Well, then, with respect to written sources for the moment, how is Luke 3.1-18 not exactly what you said we do not have precedent for?
I have addressed the prologue various times before. See Luke's prologue.

But as with my comments recently on Papias, let's just take the common interpretation/translation:
Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled[a] among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.
The prologue does not describe a process of editing and patch-working that appears to be the model framing the sort of source criticism I have been attempting to address.

I don't know what you think I am arguing; I don't know what you think my point has been from the get-go.
At this point I am just trying to pin your opinion down on one thing — just one — to see if we can possibly understand each other.

What is the above in reference to, Neil? I referred to Luke 3.1-18; I even listed the exact verses and their sources (Mark, Matthew, and Isaiah) as an example of a "patchwork" effect resulting from combining different sources right down to individual sentences at times. And now you are talking about the Lucan prologue for some reason.

So, once again, why is Luke 3.1-18 not an example of a patchwork text, an author inserting material from one source into material from another source (like Luke inserting material from Mark and Isaiah in between material from Matthew)?
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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 7:15 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:49 pm

At this point I am just trying to pin your opinion down on one thing — just one — to see if we can possibly understand each other.

. . . .

What is the above in reference to, Neil? I referred to Luke 3.1-18; I even listed the exact verses and their sources (Mark, Matthew, and Isaiah) as an example of a "patchwork" effect resulting from combining different sources right down to individual sentences at times. And now you are talking about the Lucan prologue for some reason.

So, once again, why is Luke 3.1-18 not an example of a patchwork text, an author inserting material from one source into material from another source (like Luke inserting material from Mark and Isaiah in between material from Matthew)?
Yes, you did, and I impatiently read your previous comment as a question about the prologue. I apologize.

Are you able to use the same methods by which you detected the various sources in that Mark pericope discussed earlier in detecting Luke's sources in 3:1-18? Or do we need to have Mark, Matthew and Isaiah all with us to identify them?

I ask that question because I think "Luke" is writing like a real author, creatively adapting his sources (Mark and Matthew in particular) to produce a new story. He has various sources in front of him, has assimilated them well in his creative brain, and proceeds to make a new cake from all the ingredients. That's not uncommon for authors, not even for ancient ones. It is difficult to imagine "Luke" studying the various sources before him and marking different passages in each of them to see how he can combine them, or studying two similar narratives and working out how he has to somehow use them both. Luke has worked with his sources to create something new and it would be difficult to describe his narrative as an artless "patchwork".

I don't think Luke demonstrates the same awkward or less awkward tell-tale signs of piecing together different sources as source critics sometimes (often) argue is the way Mark wrote. That sort of analysis suggests a process of writing that I don't think anyone practised.

I hope that's clearer.

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

Post by neilgodfrey » Mon Nov 27, 2017 7:30 pm

Ben has led me to rethink something I earlier wrote. When I said I do not believe the way the evangelists are said to have composed their gospels has any parallel in the wider literary culture of the day, I see now that I over-spoke. What was on my mind was the view of someone looking at a range of sources before him and more like an editor than an author attempting to piece this and that piece from each together to create a new story. "Mark" is sometimes depicted as writing like that.

Certainly that's not how Luke wrote, as I discuss in the comment above.

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

Post by Ben C. Smith » Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:14 pm

neilgodfrey wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:16 pm
I don't know about medieval studies but where to ancient historians or classical scholars arrive at anything comparable to a Q document?

Can you give me examples of what you are thinking of?
Sure:

A. B. Bosworth, "History and Artifice in Plutarch's Eumenes," in Plutarch and the Historical Tradition, pages 63-64: Plutarch describes how, on his way under guard to Antigonus’ camp, Eumenes harangues his former troops and asks for death (Eum. 17.6–11). There is no such incident in Diodorus, who skips rapidly over the distasteful business, nor for that matter in Nepos who is, if anything, more laconic. For comparison we must turn to Justin, who has the same story of Eumenes’ address to the Silver Shields and, as tends to happen when rhetoric is at issue, his wretched travesty of an epitome broadens into a fairly full reproduction of his exemplar, Pompeius Trogus. It coincides remarkably with Plutarch. .... [There] is material common to both versions. Each has a minimal amount of extra detail and slight variation in the rhetorical shaping, but it is beyond doubt that the two speeches come from a common source.

Why a common source? Why not assume that Plutarch is simply copying directly either from Justin or from Trogus, whose work Justin epitomized? Well, because it is commonly held that Plutarch wrote independently both of Trogus and of Justin. If Plutarch was independent of Justin/Trogus, but has stuff in common with Justin/Trogus, then both must depend upon a common source (and this source both is lost to history and, to the best of my knowledge, goes unmentioned by Plutarch). This is the same basic structural process as arguing that Luke and Matthew are independent of one another; therefore both must have relied on a third source (Q).

If you wish to point out that classicists do not pile slenderer and slenderer hypotheses upon this hypothesis like Q scholars do, boy, I hear ya. As far as I know, they postulate the common source and do not do much with it beyond that (they do not dream up entire "Q communities" and trace their history through the darkness). So, if that is your point, I am in full agreement. But I cannot always tell what your point is, and I happen to know that the mere postulation of a lost source used in common by two extant sources (like Q with relation to Matthew and Luke) is hardly a rare thing in classical, ancient, and medieval history.

Here is another example, also from Plutarchian scholarship:

Christopher Pelling, Literary Texts and the Greek Historian, page 46: The desire to supplement Thucydides is visible elsewhere. At Alc. 20–1, for instance, he gives an unusual amount of detail, especially names, concerning Andocides’ imprisonment, and at Per. 29–33 there is a marvellous nest of stories concerning the outbreak of the war; in each case he is filling out cases where Thucydides was reticent. In the last third of Alcibiades (and Lysander and Agesilaus are similar) he similarly supplements Xenophon with material from elsewhere, especially for exploits which show Alcibiades at his most bold, resourceful, or cunning: the way he enticed the enemy out of Cyzicus, for instance, or the confident bluff which won over Selymbria, or the ruse which took Byzantium (28, 30, 31). Most of this material is anecdotal, though some will come from historiographic sources (these last cases are close enough to Diodorus to suggest that both draw on the same historiographic tradition).

Again, the common sourcing from "the same historiographic tradition," as opposed to Plutarch simply copying from Diodorus, is necessitated by the common argument that Plutarch wrote independently of Diodorus:

Edward M. Anson, Eumenes of Cardia, A Greek Among Macedonians, pages 35-36: When the different methodologies and objectives are taken into account, the three narratives still bear a remarkable similarity. Moreover, while an argument from silence is hardly the best evidence, it appears clear that Plutarch did not use Diodorus’ history. While there are references to Hieronymus’ history (Plut. Pyrrh. I7. 7, 21. 7, 27. 8; cf Demetr. 39. 5), and Plutarch is not averse to name dropping, there are no references to Diodorus anywhere in the corpus of Plutarch’s writings.

And there are many more examples of scholars arguing that Plutarch used a source for materials which bear no parallels to extant texts. (These cases are not analogous to Q, since Plutarch is the only extant source which bears the material in question; they are more like Streeter's M or L, or like a lot of people's proto-Marcan sources.) Sometimes most scholars agree that a source was used; sometimes most scholars agree (or have come to agree) that Plutarch is simply being creative; and at other times there is debate on whether or not a source was used.
neilgodfrey wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 7:15 pm
Are you able to use the same methods by which you detected the various sources in that Mark pericope discussed earlier in detecting Luke's sources in 3:1-18? Or do we need to have Mark, Matthew and Isaiah all with us to identify them?
In the case of Luke 3.1-18? No. But in other cases, yes. I gave an example of this earlier: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3616&p=77915#p77890 (Luke 5.12-16), and there are quite a few more. We can in no way expect seams like that to happen every time; that would be crazy. We are basically waiting patiently for the author to slip up, and s/he is not necessarily going to slip up every single time s/he writes a new pericope.

So, in Luke 3.1-18, if we did not have Mark and Matthew to hand, I would almost certainly not know (with the tools at my disposal so far) that Luke sourced most of that passage from other texts. It has been my intent for a while now, however, to find instances (like Luke 5.12-16) of certain kinds of seams which we can tell have resulted from source manipulation, and then see if we can find the same kinds of seams in Mark. I think we can, and I have made those arguments, moving from the known (seams in Luke or Matthew based on following Mark) to the unknown (seams in Mark based possibly on following somebody else). I do not expect you to agree with them, but that has been an interest of mine for some time.
I ask that question because I think "Luke" is writing like a real author, creatively adapting his sources (Mark and Matthew in particular) to produce a new story. .... It is difficult to imagine "Luke" studying the various sources before him and marking different passages in each of them to see how he can combine them, or studying two similar narratives and working out how he has to somehow use them both. Luke has worked with his sources to create something new and it would be difficult to describe his narrative as an artless "patchwork".
Honestly, I fail to see how the Arabic Diatessaron fails to qualify as your patchwork text, then. It adds very little to the four gospel texts, takes very little away, and is woven together phrase by phrase, sentence by sentence, and block by block; also, it is very easy to imagine the harmonist studying the various sources before him and marking different passages in each of them to see how he can combine them; I am not even sure how else s/he could have done it. If neither the Arabic Diatessaron nor Luke 3.1-18 qualify as what you are talking about, please give an example (even hypothetical, if necessary) to let me know.
I don't think Luke demonstrates the same awkward or less awkward tell-tale signs of piecing together different sources as source critics sometimes (often) argue is the way Mark wrote. That sort of analysis suggests a process of writing that I don't think anyone practised.
Have you read Goodacre's argument to the contrary ("Fatigue in the Synoptics")? He documents several examples of telltale awkwardness in Luke's editing of Mark and Matthew/Q.

As a reminder of something I have said several times before, if you ever think you hear me arguing that Mark did something to hypothetical sources other than what Matthew and Luke did to Mark and either each other or Q, then you have probably misheard me. My whole method is to look at how Luke and Matthew treated Mark (or at how other ancient authors treated their sources), seeking telltale signs of editing, and upon finding them applying that knowledge to Mark to see whether he shows any of the same signs.
[Luke] has various sources in front of him, has assimilated them well in his creative brain, and proceeds to make a new cake from all the ingredients. That's not uncommon for authors, not even for ancient ones.
Really? I would love some examples. Ken Olson, for instance, has made the following claim (in his Master's thesis):

From this brief survey, it appears that classical writers did indeed combine or “conflate” different written sources. Such conflation, however, was achieved by the interweaving of different episodes, what we may call “block-by-block” or “macro” conflation, rather than close conflation of different accounts of the same episode, which we may call “close” or “word-by-word” or “micro” conflation. The usual procedure of a classical author with more than one source was to choose one source as the basis for his account for any single episode.

And I have found quite a few claims by other scholars confirming this same claim, including several claiming that Plutarch followed only one source at a time for each episode or topic. And I have found this to be the case for Josephus, as well, in his use of Chronicles and King(dom)s, at least so far. I have been largely unable to find ancient texts besides the gospels and the Diatessaron which seem to bounce back and forth between different sources in the same pericope/episode (as we find in Luke 3.1-18 and rather many other passages in the synoptics). So please let me know if you have viable examples from other ancient texts; I have been on the lookout for them.

I actually have some thoughts about why the gospels might show this kind of interweaving of different sources and other ancient texts might not, but I have to be relatively sure that other ancient texts actually do not do this, and it is slow going, to say the least.

(If you did not mean that you knew of examples of texts which used sources line by line like we find in Luke 3.1-18, then please just ignore this part.)
neilgodfrey wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 7:30 pm
Ben has led me to rethink something I earlier wrote. When I said I do not believe the way the evangelists are said to have composed their gospels has any parallel in the wider literary culture of the day, I see now that I over-spoke. What was on my mind was the view of someone looking at a range of sources before him and more like an editor than an author attempting to piece this and that piece from each together to create a new story. "Mark" is sometimes depicted as writing like that.
I do not think that Mark simply pieced stuff together like an editor (with no authorial aspirations), but not because it never happened in antiquity. I think some of the extant Diatessara are examples of someone taking sources (the gospels) and stitching them together, with little or no authorial input of his/her own.
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