Earliest First Tier/Second-Earliest Second Tier?

Discussion in 'Theology' started by Operacast, May 14, 2009.

  1. Operacast

    Operacast Member

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    Having studied the Gospels in editions ranging from Funk & Miller to Harper/Collins to the New Revised, etc., all I've gleaned has been strictly from translations and from modern analysis from the likes of Crossan, Funk, Kloppenborg, Borg, Mack, etc. For years, I would have essentially agreed that the first tier materials, chronology, are the earliest Paulines, Q (as redacted primarily in Luke), and Thomas.

    Then I came across -- just in the past year or so -- a seemingly detailed analysis of the original Koine Greek texts, purporting to find where certain stylistic affinities in basic idioms and characteristic turns of speech lie in the originals and making conclusions accordingly. All well and good, except (so far?) I only seem to find this kind of analysis on line and not in the bricks-and-mortar off-line world (which I frankly trust a bit more than the on-line world [whether irrationally or not]). The conclusions reached in these new studies are boiled down in these three on-line pages --

    -- A statistical approach to the synoptic gospel problem

    interpretation

    Q_forgery --

    -- and the nub is that distinct affinities in linguistic style in the original Koine Greek have (apparently?) been found between the parallel "Q" passages present in both Matthew and Luke and much of the bulk of Matthew elsewhere -- not the bulk of Luke, and not Thomas, and not an individual "set of linguistic fingerprints" of its own either! This has really "rocked my world", so to speak. Since I'm more inclined to place some value in detailed philological and statistical analysis than in analysis primarily based on philosophical preferences only (which can be maddeningly subjective), I was delighted to come across this (what to me is/was) more nuts-and-bolts approach dealing with the original texts, which I'm still not equipped to read in their original myself. But while delighted to see that detailed stylistic analysis of the originals has emerged in the most recent decades, the fact that I see such studies rarely referenced elsewhere has made me leery of leaping to too many conclusions. That is, certain (surprising) conclusions do leap to mind, but since they upend certain conclusions reached in the Jesus Seminar, etc., and contradict certain conclusions that I admit I've long accepted myself, I'd feel better if some less partial eye, and one thoroughly versed in Koine Greek, were to vet this new research and the three cited (above) web pages first.

    Consider: if the parallel Q passages have their strongest stylistic/linguistic affinity with Matthew after all, then that could mean -- for starters -- that the long-held assumption that Luke comes closest to preserving the Q original (due primarily to Luke's more fragmented -- and so less edited(?) -- presentation of these parallel passages) could be in question. In addition, if Q's strongest affinity is with Matthew rather than having an individual linguistic "set of fingerprints" of its own, then that -- maybe -- could point to Q emanating primarily from a stratum closer to Matthew than to the earlier Thomas/Pauline stratum, thus inadvertently casting Mark as closer to First Tier material than before, possibly superseding Q chronologically.

    All that would go against what I readily concede has long been my subjective impression: that a "committee" is far less likely to have cobbled together the "Love your enemies" nexus of sayings in Q than one lone counter-cultural individual who (it would seem) has less of an incentive for group cohesion than would a whole committee. For altruism this startling, it remains unlikely, though not impossible, that a mere transcribing disciple -- however dedicated to the spirit of Jesus' sayings -- would bother to offer caveats admonishing a general love of one's opponents when his primary concern would be to promote an acceptance of Christians and Christianity above all.

    Again, it remains barely possible that someone else sincerely extrapolated Jesus' message through proselytizing with admonishments so profoundly selfless and specific as these, admonishments not strictly reflecting the letter of Jesus' own formulations at all, merely their spirit. Nevertheless, that still seems unlikely. I recognize the cogency of what others have argued, that a later more pluralistic outlook could conceivably emerge in later generations after all. But cogent as that sounds, it still seems (marginally) less likely to me.

    Of course, weighed against that is this new statistical analysis I've cited in this post, which could really end up placing Mark as earlier than any Q material once and for all. Before jumping to such a conclusion, my initial reluctance to do so leads me to say that I'd very much appreciate anyone else's more qualified efforts here in gauging the Web pages I've already cited above and in indicating for the rest of us just how valid this new statistical analysis really is. Ideally, I'd like to hear from someone thoroughly conversant with the original Koine Greek texts first of all. Can we dismiss this new statistical analysis cited above as a crank exercise? Has there already been precisely this kind of survey already done elsewhere that has led to an entirely different conclusion, that the Q material does indeed have an altogether individual "set of linguistic fingerprints" after all, separate from either Matthew's or Luke's? Does anyone know? Or could this really be a significant breakthrough, based on possibly stronger grounds than the (more subjective, IMO) impressionistic philosophical grounds that have led me and others to (wrongly?) accept Q material both as First Tier hitherto and also as unrelated chronologically to either Matthew or Luke?

    Any thoughts on this would be gratefully received. Please?

    Thanks,

    Operacast
     
  2. Dream

    Dream New Member

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    Well, branching from your first link, this explanation was the quickest and most helpful thing for me. It quickly explains the basic positions of the different schools, and I see that the scholars have developed a sort of taxonomy to classify the theories. After looking at the concordance' three digit coding scheme which categorizes each Koin word by whether it occurs in Matt, Mark, Luke, I noticed that there are 3^3=27 possible codings but the concordance actually only uses 19 out of those. Obviously certain ones (such as 000 and 111 ) could not be useful.

    So let me see if I am getting it: The idea is you take your 800 basic Koine words and find out how frequently each is shared in the modern texts Matt Mark or Luke and based on it you make a statistical prediction about how frequently you'd expect that word to appear in a given documentary model's source texts, right?

    Then that gives you a measure of how likely it is that a certain word was written by Mark then copied by Luke, or copied by Luke etc. The author concludes, mathematically, the best model is likely the 3SH model or else maybe the Farrer Hypothesis. Also he provides heavy support for Markan priority, which helps other scholars to know which model to spend more time on. I cannot check the math etc, but the idea seems brilliant and sound.

    (to me it seems brilliant. I don't read Koin)
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2009
  3. Francis king

    Francis king New Member

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    hey, I can't add any intellectual imput here, but, sheesh... this is why I love it here! and I'm posting merely so I can easily retrace my steps to here, where I can look at the links myself in greater detail- cheers ppl..
     
  4. Operacast

    Operacast Member

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    A thought occurs to me:

    I've been further scrutinizing the implications of "dave gentile"'s statistical analyses of the Synoptics and their vocabularies at
    www.davegentile.com/synoptics/Synoptic_m...

    Now it may be that others have (kinda, sorta) reversed the implied nomenclature on some of the documents under scrutiny here already, and that I'm just submitting the equivalent of old hat. But since one of the key conclusions coming out of this study is that


    "“Q” is a later document than Mark, and that this combined with its Matthian themes and vocabulary suggests that it was a forgery in the name of the disciple Matthew, in order to justify the production of the gospel of Matthew"


    www.davegentile.com/synoptics/Q_forgery....


    , I'm therefore wondering if we might be "looking at the telescope through the wrong end", so to speak.

    Time to explain: While I recognize that Mark and Matthew themselves are most likely figures whose names merely got attached to specific Gospels and that other people probably wrote them, the fact is that real authors certainly penned these two Gospels in the first place -- or we wouldn't have these texts to read at all!:) So when I refer from here on out to the author Mark and/or the author Matthew, I'm really referring to the specific authors whose own first texts first got attached to the names Mark and Matthew, not to Mark and Matthew by name.

    O.K, here goes: Has anyone suggested that the original author whose work first got attached to the name Matthew was in fact the writer of the "Q" Gospel, that the "Q" Gospel when extant got called the Gospel of Matthew, and that if there is any "fake" in this picture at all, it is the purported Matthew Gospel that is familiar as such and has survived with all its fanciful narrative material added in, partly from the Mark text and partly from other less definable sources, including the "faker"'s own imagination?

    In other words, let's try this chronology on for size. Mark (or the writer called Mark) writes his Gospel, as preserved in the slightly shorter Vaticanus/Sinaiticus ms. tradition. Then, Matthew (or the writer called Matthew) writes his Sayings/Q Gospel separately, and that gets to be called the Matthew Gospel. Then, a faker who is imitating the Matthew style bases his Gospel on a collation of the real Matthew Gospel (which is the Sayings/Q) and the Mark Gospel. Then Luke (or the writer called Luke) takes the real Matthew Gospel (i.e., Q) but ignores the later fake Matthew with all that narrative stuff and collates the original Matthew Sayings with Mark and with his own imaginative connective tissue instead, working out his own version of the story.

    Putting aside my undoubtedly clumsy way of terming certain aspects and strata here (I'm out of practice), do the basic chronological essentials suggested here seem to fit with the statistical patterns shown in the web site referenced at the top of this posting?

    Another curious aspect here: a certain Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis in Anatolia (c 60 - 130), was once quoted as having remarked ""Matthew compiled the logia (τὰ λόγια) in the Hebrew language, and each person interpreted them as he was able."

    Logia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    "Logia" are in fact sayings, not a historical narrative. I'm thinking now that rather than being momentarily absent-minded, as some scholars have sometimes inferred, Papias may have been accurately referring to a genuine Sayings Gospel, which was actually regarded at the time as coming from Matthew. This could be, in fact, strengthening evidence that the original Matthew was exactly this elusive now-lost Q Gospel that so many scholars have set up as a hypothesis and that may really have predated the narrative Gospel of Matthew that we all know.

    Thanks,

    Operacast
     
  5. Dream

    Dream New Member

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    I like your idea for the Q source. I know nothing about Papias, but what he is saying sounds like it fits. The liturgy supposedly came before the 'Scripture' as the sayings have come to be used. It makes a lot of sense that the things about Jesus were passed about as sayings. One thing that should stand out to you is that any saying can mean different things to different people, especially children vs. adults. Definitely what Papias said fits the rough model in my mind of the mythic Jesus, but it also supports a literal Jesus. Also Papias was (compared to us) very close to the original sources; so if he felt they were important enough to invest his life in it speaks very well for them.
     

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