Thursday, March 14, 2013

Good Ideas for Criticism - #1 Fatigue

There have been several brilliant ideas which have come forth from various categories of New Testament, and really all literary forensic studies which should be more widely accepted, and more importantly used as measuring sticks to validate and invalidate - or at the least be used as tools to investigate - theories. Today I will throw out one of them.

The first idea I found brilliant is that of redactor fatigue. Mark Goodacre has used it extensively in his
arguments on the Synoptic Problem. He has long argued that Luke was built from Mark and Matthew, without use of Q (he believes it is a fiction of scholarship - you can be right even when you are wrong it seems) as he argues here

In a nutshell what Goodacre is saying is that if you are redacting a document, as say the Catholic editor was doing with Marcion's Apostolikon or with his Gospel, then you are bound to be inconsistent, and miss some of the prior theology or grammar or characters that you wanted to change to the new form. Further the concept argues that the changes are more likely to be consistent at the start of the document or the start of a section (i.e., where you start work the next day) then as time passes fatigue sets in and some of the older style and words slip past the redactor.

There are two words or word sets that I most associate with Luke in his redaction of Marcion's Gospel and in his work Acts of the Apostles. They are τε καὶ (Note: τε never occurs in Marcion) and παραχρῆμα which contain absolutely no theological value over the word they replaced. While the former is not of much interest for fatigue, as it's requires a redactive pairing like ἀρχιερεῖς τε καὶ γραμματεῖς in Luke 22:66 and so is secondary, the latter παραχρῆμα (roughly the same as 'in a word') which is a stylistic form of  'immediately' that occurs throughout Luke and Acts, but also two verse of Matthew, 21:19 and 20.

When Luke redacted Marcion's Gospel, sometime he inserted new material with παραχρῆμα as part of the text, witness 1:64, 13:13, 19:11; while in other places he sought to replace the εὐθέως (always εὐθὺς in Mark) as witness 8:44, 47, 55 (Mark 5:29, 30, 42 respectively), 18:43 (Mark 10:52/Matthew  20:34), and 20:60 (Matthew 26:74/Mark 14:72).

But fatigue hit the redactor and he missed some spots. Luke 5:13 still reads εὐθέως agreeing with Matthew 8:3 and the parallel expanded text of Mark 1:42 (εὐθὺς); and he completely missed all the verses that the Marcionite writer/redactor inserted εὐθέως in the first place and the parallel synoptics of Matthew and Mark completely lack. The clearest example of such an enhancement in Mracion is Luke 21:9 reading ἀλλ' οὐκ εὐθέως τὸ τέλος, while the parallel in Mark 13:7 reads ἀλλ' οὔπω τὸ τέλος (Matthew 24:6 reads οὔπω ἐστὶν). That this is a Marcionite edit is clear from Galatians 1:16 famous statement of Paul εὐθέως οὐ προσανεθέμην σαρκὶ καὶ αἵματι, the only occurrence in Paul and attested in Marcion. Its use appears to have been in transitional phrases in other parts of Luke (12:36, 54, 14:5, 17:17) without parallels. - that these transitional phrases lacking parallel were not changed to παραχρῆμα while verses with parallel were, tells me this was a deliberate stylistic makeover.

The ramifications are significant. What this argues is vocabulary and terminology from a prior layer will likely seep throw a redaction, and the reason is fatigue. But the redactors vocabulary will not appear be present in the earlier document. Hence Marcion's text lacks παραχρῆμα and τε but the redacted material still has his signature εὐθέως present in places where the redactor missed it.

Again this would not be obvious were it not for Mark Goodacre's promotion of the concept. Of course he made up his mind on how the Synoptic Problem is solved, and because his answer doesn't fit all the evidence (same problem really with all the theories) and he dismisses the entire 2nd century authorship issue (seems almost all Synoptic scholars do) he spends his time trying to explain away the anomalies. Oh well.

A second concept that I have found brilliant, and well suited for higher critical examination of the New Testament, is that of Jesus Communities. This concept grew out of the search for the writers of the mythical Quelle document ("Q"), trying to understand their social communities. This is a far more interesting idea, one which has been misapplied. I will tackle that in another post.

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