Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and Mark?

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Ben C. Smith
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Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and Mark?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue May 23, 2017 8:33 am

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.
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Kunigunde Kreuzerin
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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and M

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Tue May 23, 2017 12:02 pm

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?
I'm not sure you will find what you seek, but here is one.

Chrysostom, Homily 28 on Matthew
Matthew 8:23-24.

"And when He was entered into a ship, His disciples followed Him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves, but He was asleep."

Now Luke, Luke 8:22 to free himself from having the order of time required of him, says thus, "And it came to pass on a certain day that He went into a ship with His disciples;" and Mark in like manner. But this evangelist not so, but he maintains the order in this place also. For they did not all of them write all things in this way. And these things I have mentioned before, lest any one from the omission should suppose there was a discordance.

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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and M

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue May 23, 2017 12:30 pm

Good one. Thank you, Kunigunde.

I am not sure I will find what I am really seeking, either. Mark's gospel just was not explicitly referred to all that often until pretty late in the game, when the great commentaries started to be written.
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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and M

Post by Bernard Muller » Tue May 23, 2017 2:03 pm

I think the Matthew's logias of Papias was not about Matthew's gospel.
And gMark was compared to gLuke for his order. GLuke is the only gospel which claim to be in order.

If that's the case, I noted in http://historical-jesus.info/gospels.html:
>> Why would Papias write that?
Most likely because he was addressing an on-going concern: in some cases, GMark order is conflicting with the one of other gospels, such as GLuke (see next). That would be causing disputes. Consequently, in order to solve the problem, Papias provided an explanation (allegedly) from presbyter John (dead by then!):
"And the presbyter said this. Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him. But afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who accommodated his instructions to the necessities, but with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord's sayings."

With GLuke as the reference, whose author claimed:
"it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account ..." (1:3)
what would look out-of-order in GMark?
As examples:
A) About doings:
a) The visit to Nazareth:
- GLuke (4:16-30): at the start of Jesus' public life
- GMark (6:1-6): much later
b) The anointment:
- GLuke (7:36-38): before the trip to Jerusalem
- GMark (14:3): in Bethany, after arriving in the holy city
B) About sayings:
a) Lk10:27 <=> Mk12:30-31a
b) Lk16:18 <=> Mk10:11-12
c) Lk17:2 <=> Mk9:42
d) Parts of the apocalyptic speech (GMark13:1-37) are placed somewhere else in GLuke:
Lk12:11-12 <=> Mk13:11
Lk17:31 <=> Mk13:15-16a
C) About relative location of sayings and doings:
In relation with the feeding of the 5000 (Lk9:10-17 & Mk6:30-44), the parable of the mustard seed appears after in GLuke (13:18-19), but before in GMark (4:30-32).

Notes:
a) Papias reported also about sayings (oracles) compiled in Aramaic by "Matthew". Because those are sayings ("logias") only, I do not see here any relation with GMatthew, more so owing to "compiled" (rather than "composed"), as shown in most copies of Eusebius' work (HC). Furthermore, the fact that "Matthew" was attributed a collection of sayings (therefore emphasizing Jesus as a sage) is supported by the gospel of Thomas: logion 13 "... Matthew said to him, "You are like a wise philosopher."..."
Once again, it seems Papias was addressing concerns when he wrote:
"Matthew compiled the sayings in the Aramaic language, and everyone translated them as well as he could [explaining why the "logias" came in different versions!]."
(See here for more details [http://historical-jesus.info/q.html, then search on >> 6) Arguments for separate "Q" document(s): << about why some Q sayings were written first in Aramaic and then translated differently], explaining the "Q" sayings might incorporate Matthew's logias) <<

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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and M

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue May 23, 2017 2:23 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote: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....
One issue that I have with such assumptions is simply that Papias and his elder do not seem to have access to the document(s) necessary to demonstrate that some of them are out of order. On the Marcan side, they have (at most) only Mark, which is alleged to be out of order because it was based on Peter preaching to people's needs. On the Matthean side, they mention at least three documents: an original Hebrew Matthew and a plural number of translations (therefore at least two of them). They claim that, while Matthew wrote the Lord's logia in order, his translators translated them "as he was able," implying some kind of deficit (though not necessarily charging them with gross error). So the only way they could know that Mark is out of order vis-à-vis Matthew is by consulting the original Matthew, which is not part of the claim in the quotations that we have.

There are a few ways out of this quandary:
  1. Eusebius mentions that Papias recounted a story that is also found in the gospel to the Hebrews. Perhaps, then, Papias or his elder had that (lost) gospel to hand (or some other that goes unmentioned in our extant fragments, even possibly our canonical version) and assumed for some reason that it, of all the Greek "translations" of a putative Hebrew Matthew (the existence of which is widely doubted by scholars of many stripes), happened to preserve the original Matthean order. The trouble with this supposition, of course, is that the words we actually have from Papias do not make a distinction between the various translations; rather, the distinction is between the original Hebrew (in order) on the one hand and the translations as a group (done up as the translators "were able") on the other. Besides, confronted with two or more translations, what would be the basis for declaring one as better preserving the order of the original than the others? Some kind of external knowledge seems implied; either that or internal knowledge of the original Hebrew (which would be impossible if it is a figment invented precisely in order to allow the assumption that Matthew wrote things in order).
  2. Perhaps, along those very lines, Papias and John do have access to traditions which imply that the order both of the Matthean translations and of the Marcan text are deficient in some way.
  3. Or perhaps, along those same lines, Papias and John do have access to another text which implies that the order both of the Matthean translations and of the Marcan text are deficient in some way.
So the matter does not seem as simple as blithely comparing our canonical Mark with our canonical Matthew and assuming that those are the relevant differences on the table. MacDonald is one of the modern scholars (in Two Shipwrecked Gospels) who is not altogether clear on this point. He writes:

Norelli agrees with other scholars that there never was a primitive Semitic Matthew; it was invented to explain similarities and differences in two or more texts or books in circulation that differed from each other and that were attributed (at least by some) to Matthew.

Without an original Hebrew Matthew (written in order) to consult, Papias and his elder are left with two (or more) texts which MacDonald goes on to characterize, from their point of view, as "flawed translation of Matthew’s composition into Greek." MacDonald assumes that our canonical gospel Matthew is one of these flawed texts, but he does not clarify why, if Papias and the elder knew it to be flawed, they would treat its order and contents any differently than they would treat the other flawed translation. To what were Papias and the elder John comparing these translations in order to find one better than the other? Certainly not to Mark, since MacDonald characterizes Mark, again from Papias' and the elder's point of view, as a "faithful Greek translation" of Peter's preaching, which for understandable reasons was "not in proper order." A faithful rendition of a tradition "not in order" is no better and no worse than a flawed rendition of a text "in order" — so how did they know they were defective in some way in the first place?

These considerations make me look hopefully to #2 and #3 on the list above: I suspect that Papias and his elder were comparing both the flawed translations of Hebrew Matthew and the text attributed to Mark to something else: either another tradition or another text. I am trying to see if I can persuade myself otherwise by collecting instances, on this thread, of issues between Matthew and Mark which the early church fathers (A) noticed and (B) cared about.
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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and M

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue May 23, 2017 2:31 pm

Bernard Muller wrote:I think the Matthew's logias of Papias was not about Matthew's gospel.
And gMark was compared to gLuke for his order. GLuke is the only gospel which claim to be in order.
Yes, we have done this before. The gospel of Luke being the source for Papias' and his elder's proper order would fit into my option #3 on the list above ("Papias and John have access to another text which implies that the order both of the Matthean translations and of the Marcan text are deficient in some way"): Luke would be that text.

As you probably recall, I cannot seem to persuade myself of this solution, simply because I see no evidence that Papias knew Luke. There is exactly one saying which seems to parallel Luke in all of his fragments, and it is questionable on other grounds.
If that's the case, I noted in http://historical-jesus.info/gospels.html:
>> Why would Papias write that?
Most likely because he was addressing an on-going concern: in some cases, GMark order is conflicting with the one of other gospels, such as GLuke (see next). That would be causing disputes.
What I am looking for on this thread is actual patristic evidence of those disputes.
Consequently, in order to solve the problem, Papias provided an explanation (allegedly) from presbyter John (dead by then!):
"And the presbyter said this. Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him. But afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who accommodated his instructions to the necessities, but with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord's sayings."

With GLuke as the reference, whose author claimed:
"it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account ..." (1:3)
what would look out-of-order in GMark?
As examples:
A) About doings:
a) The visit to Nazareth:
- GLuke (4:16-30): at the start of Jesus' public life
- GMark (6:1-6): much later
b) The anointment:
- GLuke (7:36-38): before the trip to Jerusalem
- GMark (14:3): in Bethany, after arriving in the holy city
B) About sayings:
a) Lk10:27 <=> Mk12:30-31a
b) Lk16:18 <=> Mk10:11-12
c) Lk17:2 <=> Mk9:42
d) Parts of the apocalyptic speech (GMark13:1-37) are placed somewhere else in GLuke:
Lk12:11-12 <=> Mk13:11
Lk17:31 <=> Mk13:15-16a
C) About relative location of sayings and doings:
In relation with the feeding of the 5000 (Lk9:10-17 & Mk6:30-44), the parable of the mustard seed appears after in GLuke (13:18-19), but before in GMark (4:30-32).
Yes, I know very well that you (A) notice and (B) care about these differences in order. So do I! Very much. But did the early church? That is my question. (If you want to slightly change the topic of this thread and supply examples from early church fathers who noticed and cared about differences between Mark and Luke, by all means, please do so. I would be very interested to see examples.)
Papias reported also about sayings (oracles) compiled in Aramaic by "Matthew". Because those are sayings ("logias") only, I do not see here any relation with GMatthew, more so owing to "compiled" (rather than "composed"), as shown in most copies of Eusebius' work (HC).
I completely disagree with characterizing logia as "sayings only." I think we have been over this before, too.
Once again, it seems Papias was addressing concerns when he wrote:
"Matthew compiled the sayings in the Aramaic language, and everyone translated them as well as he could [explaining why the "logias" came in different versions!]."
I agree he was addressing concerns here. The debate is over which concerns.

Thanks, Bernard. Your stuff is always interesting and worth reading, even when there seems little hope for agreement between us on some issues.
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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and M

Post by Bernard Muller » Tue May 23, 2017 4:23 pm

to Ben,
There is exactly one saying which seems to parallel Luke in all of his fragments, and it is questionable on other grounds.
Can you tell me which one?
And in Papias' known segments, do we have parallel(s) of gMatthew?

You must know that seeing Logia as meaning a gospel or narrated story put you in the minority: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logia

Logia is used 4 times in the NT, and in all cases it means sayings and not a narration: Acts 7:38; Romans 3:2; Hebrews 5:12; 1 Pet 4:11.
In Romans 3:2-4, the logia (oracles) are the words (sayings) of God:
"Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews are entrusted with the oracles of God.
What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?
By no means! Let God be true though every man be false, as it is written, "That thou mayest be justified in thy words, and prevail when thou art judged.""


Furthermore, logia is plural. gMatthew" is one gospel.

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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and M

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue May 23, 2017 5:35 pm

Bernard Muller wrote:to Ben,
There is exactly one saying which seems to parallel Luke in all of his fragments, and it is questionable on other grounds.
Can you tell me which one?
Andrew of Caesarea, On the Apocalypse, commentary on Revelation 12.7-9. This is in Armenian. Many doubt it is even a genuinely Papian fragment, and nobody knows where exactly the quotation is supposed to end.
And in Papias' known segments, do we have parallel(s) of gMatthew?
Papias discusses the death of James and John, a clear parallel to Matthew 20.20-24 = Mark 10.35-41 (lacking in Luke). And, of course, he actually mentions Matthew and Mark by name (yes, I know he may not have been referring to our canonical texts, but he says nothing about Luke in our extant fragments). There are very few true parallels to any of the NT texts, probably because it would do Eusebius and company very little good to quote earlier church fathers quoting the NT; the tendency is to quote people being unique or original.

Now, I am sure a response might be that Papias shows a lot of parallels with Acts. And that is true. I just happen to think that Papian dependence upon Acts is the wrong answer to the question. YMMV. I have a lot more to say about this, but it will take time, as I am still working on a number of ideas to do with Papias.
You must know that seeing Logia as meaning a gospel or narrated story put you in the minority: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logia
The majority is wrong. It happens.
Logia is used 4 times in the NT, and in all cases it means sayings and not a narration: Acts 7:38; Romans 3:2; Hebrews 5:12; 1 Pet 4:11.
In Romans 3:2-4, the logia (oracles) are the words (sayings) of God.
Oh, there is no doubt that logia are words. But, then again, all books are words (except coloring books). I believe Romans 3.2 is talking about the entire Hebrew body of scripture; as Leon Morris says in his commentary on Romans, "It is better not to restrict the expression but to see it as referring to the whole Old Testament revelation," or as Frank Matera says in his, that "it seems best to follow C. K. Barrett... and Fitzmyer..., who take it as referring to the whole of Scripture." It is similar to how people call the Bible the "word of God" (and the Bible has both sayings and narratives, and much else). Same in Hebrews 5.12: the readers require instruction in the scriptures as a whole (not just in those parts that God actually speaks).

More specifically, Papias says that "Mark, who had become the interpreter of Peter, wrote accurately, yet not in order, as many things as he remembered of the things either said or done by the Lord," yet he also says that Mark came from Peter's preaching, which was not an orderly arrangement of the lordly logia. So is Papias suggesting that Peter gave only the Lord's sayings, but Mark somehow wrote down both the sayings and the narratives which contain them? Hardly. Peter preached what the Lord had said and done, and Mark wrote what the Lord had said and done down (though not in order), and those things that were written down were logia, because writing involves words, in this case special words (oracles, logia).
Furthermore, logia is plural. gMatthew" is one gospel.
One gospel with lots of words.
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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and M

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Wed May 24, 2017 6:09 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Bernard Muller wrote:I think the Matthew's logias of Papias was not about Matthew's gospel.
And gMark was compared to gLuke for his order. GLuke is the only gospel which claim to be in order.
Yes, we have done this before. The gospel of Luke being the source for Papias' and his elder's proper order would fit into my option #3 on the list above ("Papias and John have access to another text which implies that the order both of the Matthean translations and of the Marcan text are deficient in some way"): Luke would be that text.

As you probably recall, I cannot seem to persuade myself of this solution, simply because I see no evidence that Papias knew Luke. There is exactly one saying which seems to parallel Luke in all of his fragments, and it is questionable on other grounds.
And I have a different impression ;)

I think Papias (or the presbyter) didn't say that Mark made an “error” but Peter in some sense. The reason why Mark is out of order is according to Papias, that Peter made his teachings anecdotally and that Mark wrote down what he remembered.
Peter, who would make the teachings anecdotally but not exactly an arrangement of the Lord's reports
I think Papias made no comparison between Mark and Matthew. My impression is rather that Papias preferred the oral tradition handed down by Aristion and the presbyter.
And in his own writing he [Papias] also hands down other accounts of the aforementioned Aristion of the words of the Lord and the traditions of the presbyter John ...
But whenever someone who had followed the presbyters came along, I would carefully ask about the words of the presbyters, 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, and which Aristion and the presbyter John, disciples of the Lord say too. For I did not assume that whatever comes from books is as helpful to me as what comes from a living and lasting voice.

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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and M

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed May 24, 2017 6:18 am

Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:And I have a different impression ;)

I think Papias (or the presbyter) didn't say that Mark made an “error” but Peter in some sense. The reason why Mark is out of order is according to Papias, that Peter made his teachings anecdotally and that Mark wrote down what he remembered.
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.)
I think Papias made no comparison between Mark and Matthew. My impression is rather that Papias preferred the oral tradition handed down by Aristion and the presbyter.
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.
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Wed May 24, 2017 6:31 am, edited 2 times in total.
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