Alternating Marcionite and synoptic priority & posteriority?

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Ben C. Smith
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Alternating Marcionite and synoptic priority & posteriority?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Aug 21, 2015 12:22 pm

I want to point out an interesting (to me, at any rate) phenomenon that I noticed while assembling one of the passages from the Marcionite gospel.

In Greek, the personal pronouns (I, me, you, he/she/it, him/her/it, we, us, they, them) are not grammatically required in a sentence which lacks an explicit noun serving as subject; the conjugation of the main verb itself carries the sense of the pronoun with it, making the pronoun itself redundant.

When a Greek author uses a personal pronoun as subject anyway, it is usually for emphasis. A sentence with a second person singular main verb might simply mean something like: "You love me." Add the Greek personal pronoun, however, and it will mean something like: "You love me," with emphasis, or: "You yourself love me."

Often the personal pronoun will be explicitly expressed along with the word καὶ, which in such cases means "also" or "even" or the like, and the word οὕτως, which means "thus" or "so" or "in the same way." These three words in combination give the effect of: "In the same way you also love me," which implies a comparison with something that has come before; for example: "My dog loves me; and in the same way you also love me."

Here are some live examples of this expression:

Matthew 7.12: 12 All things, therefore, as many as you should wish men to do for you [ἐὰν θέλητε ἵνα ποιῶσιν ὑμῖν οἱ ἄνθρωποι], so you also [οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς] do for them; for this is the law and the prophets.

Matthew 23.27-28: 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you, too [οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς], outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Mark 7.17-18a (NASB, slightly modified): 17 When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. 18a And He said to them, “Are you also so [οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς] lacking in understanding?

Luke 17.7-10 (NASB): 7 “Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’? 8 But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’? 9 He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? 10 So you too [οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς], when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’”

1 Corinthians 14.11-12 (NASB): 11 If then I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be to the one who speaks a barbarian, and the one who speaks will be a barbarian to me. 12 So also you [οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς], since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.

Colossians 3.13b (NASB): ...just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you [οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς].

In Matthew 7.12, the emphatic you also compares with (other) men who might have an opportunity to do good or evil to you; in Matthew 23.27-28 it compares with the subject of the preceding analogy, the whitewashed tombs full of bones; in Mark 7.17-18a it compares with the crowds outside; in Luke 17.7-10 it compares with the slave in the parable; in 1 Corinthians 14.11-12 it compares with Paul, the writer; and, in Colossians 3.13b, it compares with the Lord.

However, we find a somewhat unusual situation when we come to Matthew 24.32-34 = Mark 13.28-30 = Luke 21.29-31. These three parallel passages are laid out in the following table, alongside the Marcionite version of the same passage, for comparison:

Matthew 24.32-34 (NASB).Mark 13.28-30 (NASB).Luke 21.29-31 (NASB).Luke 21.29-31 (Marcion).
32 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know [γινώσκετε] that summer is near;
33 so, you too [οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς], when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.
34 Truly I say to you, this generation [ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη] will not pass away until all these things take place.
28 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know [γινώσκετε] that summer is near.
29 Even so, you too [οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς], when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door.
30 Truly I say to you, this generation [ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη] will not pass away until all these things take place.
29 Then He told them a parable: “Behold the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know [γινώσκετε] for yourselves that summer is now near.
31 So you also [οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς], when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near.
32 Truly I say to you, this generation [ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη] will not pass away until all things take place.
29 {He told them} a parable. “See the fig tree and all the trees. 30 When they are budding forth fruit, men know [γινώσκουσιν οἱ ἄνθρωποι] that the summer is nearing.
31 Even so you also [οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς], when you see these things happening, know that God’s Kingdom is near.
32 ...the heaven and the earth [ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ] will not pass away except all things be accomplished.

The close verbal similarities are indicative of the usual textual interrelationships amongst the synoptic gospels. In this case, however, to what is the emphatic you also comparing itself in the preceding material? The previous line affirms that you know that summer is near; it seems quite redundant to now emphatically say: "So you also recognize that he is at the door." You is awkwardly being compared to you. (The "also" might be explained as leading to a new action required of the readers: you read fig trees just fine, so now you ought also to read the signs of the times. But the emphatic ὑμεῖς does not easily yield to this explanation.)

The Marcionite version, however, has miscellaneous men (humans) as the subject of the previous clause, and after such a construction the emphatic you also makes perfect sense: just as men read the signs of the times, so you also should read the signs of the times. It looks to me as if the Marcionite gospel preserves the more original wording of this saying; at some point in the transmission, the miscellaneous "men" who know about fig trees was changed into "you" knowing about fig trees, with the result that the emphatic you also of the next verse now looks out of place. This points to the priority of the gospel that Marcion published, edited, or created with respect to the synoptics.

However, in the very next verse, we get what I take to be the reverse situation. Where the synoptics affirm that "this generation" will not pass away until all things are fulfilled, the Marcionite gospel affirms merely that "heaven and earth" will not pass away before that point in history is reached. As Bernard Muller points out:

Because gMarcion was written well into the 2nd century, Marcion had obvious reason to make a change: since "all things" included the advent of the Kingdom (21:25-28), it was evident Jesus' generation had died down before the big event.

I have to admit, a change from "this generation" (which might easily be read as a false prophecy on the lips of Jesus) to "heaven and earth" seems more likely to me than the reverse. This points to the priority of the synoptics with respect to the Marcionite gospel.

The combination of both observations, if accurate, would leave us in a position in which neither the synoptics (as a group) nor the Marcionite gospel copied directly from the other; rather, both copied from a previous text of some kind, each making its own changes to that text in some cases yet leaving it alone in other cases.

Of course, this is just one such passage in each direction, and one passage might be a fluke (or perhaps even one or both of these passages might admit just as easily of another interpretation). I am interested in other such passages that might serve to confirm either or both of the above possibilities. (Bernard, I know you have other examples at that link above, and I hope to address them at some point.)

Ben.
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Re: Alternating Marcionite and synoptic priority & posterior

Post by andrewcriddle » Fri Aug 21, 2015 12:46 pm

My problem with believing Marcion's gospel to be original here, is that it requires all three synoptics to have been changed so as to be less clear, without any obvious doctrinal reason for the change.

It is on the whole more likely that the tradition behind Marcion has clarified the text.

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Re: Alternating Marcionite and synoptic priority & posterior

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Aug 21, 2015 1:41 pm

without any obvious doctrinal reason for the change = two powers in heaven contrary to the Imperial interest in reshaping all contemporary religious forms after the doctrine of monarchianism. In short the original form of Christianity didn't fit into the ecumenicism of the age. Remember that even some of the late Severian Emperors had Jesus and Moses in their pantheon of divine witnesses of the one God.
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Re: Alternating Marcionite and synoptic priority & posterior

Post by John2 » Fri Aug 21, 2015 3:16 pm

Ben wrote:

"The combination of both observations, if accurate, would leave us in a position in which neither the synoptics (as a group) nor the Marcionite gospel copied directly from the other; rather, both copied from a previous text of some kind, each making its own changes to that text in some cases yet leaving it alone in other cases."

This reminds me of what Celsus said about textual corruption during the second century CE:

"Certain of the Christian believers, like persons who in a fit of drunkenness lay violent hands upon themselves, have corrupted the Gospel from its original integrity, to a threefold, and fourfold, and many-fold degree, and have remodelled it, so that they might be able to answer objections" (Against Celsus 2:27).
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Re: Alternating Marcionite and synoptic priority & posterior

Post by Adam » Fri Aug 21, 2015 7:25 pm

In the bad old days here and particularly on FTDB, if ever anyone gave me any support, it was Andrew Criddle. Now here comes a thread in which everyone in advance has taken my position (like my Evolving Proto-Gospel) EXCEPT for Andrew.

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Re: Alternating Marcionite and synoptic priority & posterior

Post by Bernard Muller » Fri Aug 21, 2015 10:34 pm

Again, I do not see a problem here.
"and you also" started with gMark with "you" being the later Christians but the other "you" in 13:32 means the disciples with Jesus on the mount of olives.
"Mark" got carried away and had Jesus addressing later Christians. This is not unique in gMark mini-apocalypse. Actually it is all over it, but most obvious in 13:14 ("let the reader understand") and "now" in 13:19. See http://historical-jesus.info/appd.html for details.
"Matthew" and "Luke" basically copied gMark on that matter (the two "you") but Marcion made a correction and replaced the first "you" by "men".
And why would "Luke", if writing her/his gospel from gMarcion, would replace "men" by "you", rendering "and you also" very awkward? "Luke", a good Greek writer, would not make that mistake, except if copying something from gMark.

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Re: Alternating Marcionite and synoptic priority & posterior

Post by Giuseppe » Sat Aug 22, 2015 12:16 am

What I find suggestive, when you accept that
both copied from a previous text of some kind, each making its own changes to that text in some cases yet leaving it alone in other cases.
is that this previous text (according to prof Klinghardt, better preserved by Marcion) reflects already a strong clash between opposing views (the topic of 'Jesus versus disciples', in primis, or even better the inner dialectic 'Jesus versus John the Baptist') that comes back to a different Jewish context from the more gentile later context where marcionites opposed proto-orthodox.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Alternating Marcionite and synoptic priority & posterior

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Aug 22, 2015 9:38 am

Bernard Muller wrote:"and you also" started with gMark with "you" being the later Christians but the other "you" in 13:32 means the disciples with Jesus on the mount of olives.
"Mark" got carried away and had Jesus addressing later Christians. This is not unique in gMark mini-apocalypse. Actually it is all over it, but most obvious in 13:14 ("let the reader understand") and "now" in 13:19. See http://historical-jesus.info/appd.html for details.
So you replace one awkwardness with another, two adjacent instances of "you" which apply to two different groups, whereas the Marcionite version contains no such issues to explain.
And why would "Luke", if writing her/his gospel from gMarcion, would replace "men" by "you", rendering "and you also" very awkward?
Because at this point Luke is copying principally from Mark.

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Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Sat Aug 22, 2015 9:51 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Alternating Marcionite and synoptic priority & posterior

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Aug 22, 2015 9:44 am

andrewcriddle wrote:My problem with believing Marcion's gospel to be original here, is that it requires all three synoptics to have been changed so as to be less clear....
It actually requires this to happen only once, and then the other synoptics copied what the first had written.
...without any obvious doctrinal reason for the change.
Do all changes have to be doctrinal? Are there not literally hundreds of changes between the three synoptics which lack obvious doctrinal motivation?

Ben.

ETA: Also, as for the synoptics being changed so as to be "less clear", I dispute that anything is actually unclear in any of these passages, Marcionite or synoptic. Whether it is "you" or "men" who notice the physical signs, the point remains the same: just as physical things like fig trees offer signs of upcoming changes, so history itself offers signs of upcoming changes. The issue is not the overall clarity but rather the unexpectedness of "so also you" after "you". It sounds like whoever wrote "so also you" had some other entity besides "you" in the background, and it is the Marcionite text which supplies that background: "men".
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Sat Aug 22, 2015 9:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Alternating Marcionite and synoptic priority & posterior

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Aug 22, 2015 9:48 am

... and does a prosecuting attorney need to provide a motive in order to charge someone with an offence?
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