Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Vocabulary of Luke and Marcion: Commentary on John Knox (1942)

One of the most important books that should have upended Synoptic Study, and yet largely ignored, is John Knox's Marcion and the New Testament (1942). Although the work is largely nothing more than a serious of comments on others work, especially Harnack, with Knox adding nothing more than his opinion of various positions from the sophistry of their words, there is however a unique and important section worth keeping.

For the Gospel of Luke and Marcion's Gospel, Knox has undertaken to to study the vocabulary and try to establish the relationship of Marcion's Gospel and the Gospel of Luke. He developed a table of verses to help illustrate that I provide a link to.

Chapter 4 Marcion's Gospel and the Gospel of Luke is a lot more interesting, when Knox actually gathers evidence and takes a critical eye - lacking in his analysis of the epistles - to the Gospel. In Part III he calls out Sanday's analysis which underpinned the opinions of Burkett and Plummer, as well as paralleled in some sense Harnack's, who held that Marcion's Gospel was not prior to Luke.

(Marcion and the New Testament p90-92)
But, when we consult Sanday, we are confronted by this amazing fact: Sanday's whole inquiry into the vocabulary and style of Marcion's Gospel seems to have been conducted without any reference to the text of Marcion's Gospel. It apparently has been assumed that if Marcion had a Lukan pericope, he had it in precisely the form in which it is found in our Luke. The consequence is that Sanday's elaborate demonstration revolves itself into a proof merely of the linguistic homogeneity of our Gospel of Luke, a matter which has never been in doubt, and the evidence cited has no necessary relevance to Marcion's Gospel.

Knox lays the wood on Sanday's failure to validate the data as he continues:

Sanday points to any number of characteristic or peculiar Lukan words and shows that they are found in parts of our Luke which Marcion did not have. This will be very impressive if they are also to be found in what Marcion did include. But this is precisely the point ignored in the analysis. As a matter of fact, most of the terms cited by Sanday are not to be found in the recovered text of Marcion's Gospel. There is no way of knowing whether they were originally there or not.

To take and example:"With Matthew," writes Sanday, "ἔλεος is masculine, with Luke neuter; so five times in chapter one and in 10:37, which was retained by Marcion." The point is, of course, that if Marcion had 10:37, but did not have chapter 1, the appearance of the neuter ἔλεος in both places would indicate that the writer of chapter 1 also wrote 10:37, and therefore wrote the Gospel which Marcion used. But not only is it by no means certain that Marcion's Gospel contained the parable of the Good Samaritan (to which 10:37 belongs) -it belongs to the "C" category in the analysis above- but it is also quite certain that no single fragment of Marcion's text of the parable, if he did possess it, has been found. But the argument first takes for granted that Marcion had the parable, then assumes that in the form in which Marcion had it the parable must have contained the word ἔλεος, and finally that it contained it as a neuter rather than as a masculine.

Sanday summarizes: "The verified peculiarities of St. Luke's style and diction are found in the portions of the Gospel which Marcion omitted in a proportion averaging considerably more than one to each verse." But the "verified peculiarities" are peculiarities of our Luke, not necessarily of Marcion's Gospel unless the actual recovered text of Marcion's Gospel can be shown to contain them. To show that the characteristic term are to be found in sections of the canonical Gospel to which sections of Marcion's Gospel more or less closely corresponded is not enough. For it is quite obvious that the author of Luke-Acts would have placed his imprint upon the style of Marcion's Gospel if he had used it as a source, just as he is generally recognized to have done in his use of Mark. If I may quote Plummer again, making what is obviously a necessary emendation: "Only those who have worked through the passages expunged by Marcion, carefully marking what is peculiar to Luke or characteristic of him [and is also known to have belonged to Marcion's Gospel], can estimate the full force of this argument." But this vital question as to whether Marcion's Gospel (as distinguished from that part of our Luke corresponding in some degree to Marcion's Gospel) is known to have contained the peculiar or characteristic Lukan terms is altogether ignored by Plummer and all his predecessors, including the author of Supernatural Religion, who had the strongest reasons for not ignoring it.
I find this analysis extremely sound, and only with he had applied the same rigor to the Epistles. It was good he deflated the argument of Lukan priority. But, getting back on subject, Knox does an extraordinary thing, and does better, he actually builds a vocabulary list which is fairly complete to demonstrate with style and vocabulary the likelihood of Marcion prority. Hopefully this work wont be lost, and scholars like Matthias Klinghardt will make use of it in their studies.

My eventual goal is to do the same with Paul.

Errata: the reconstruction of 1 Corinthians is in need of some revision, as I discovered aedificationem / οἰκοδομὴν which found in verses 14:3, 5, 12, 26 is not present in Marcion's text of 2 Corinthians (definitely not for 5:1, 10:18, and 12:9, but unknown at the moment for 13:10). Tertullian quotes 2 Corinthians 5:1 in a long and complete passage of text without οἰκοδομὴν ἐκ θεοῦ (aedificationem ex Deo). I noticed it because I was responding to Andrew Criddle, as I had a list of perhaps ten confirmed locations in Marcion's Paul that lacked τοῦ θεοῦ or its equivalent. 2 Corinthians 5:1 is an excellent example, because it lacks reference to Jesus, and merely elevates the phrase "edified by God" to clarify who built the heavenly tabernacle (no manuscript support for Marcion's reading without it), underscoring the tendency of scribes in want to clarify such matters.

Future Entry: Sometime this month I will post a list with commentary of Christian interpolations of both Josephus and some Church Writers. What drives me to this is the realization of how few people realize that Justin's 1st Apology, Chapter 26, is an interpolation (also the last sentence of chapter 25). This has allowed the myth to be perpetuated that Justin confronted Marcion. There is not the slightest reason for a digression into internal heresy, as the prior chapter talks about Greek myths and about the various deviant deeds, and the chapter after talks about not exposing Christian children to such wickedness and deviance. The digression into a stock story of Simon Magis (including the famous erroneous misread ΣΙMΩΝΙ ΔΕΩ ΣΑΓΚΤΩ) and then Marcion has no place in the surrounding discussion, and is never revisited in the apology. Hopefully this interpolation can be tossed on the trash bin.

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