|Alan Garrow Didache
the problem page
My presentation began by noting that, hidden within the $1,000 Challenge, was a rather special moment. This moment occurred when Bart Ehrman (rightly) observed that there was 'no one better to respond' to Garrow’s theory than Mark Goodacre. This allows the observation that Goodacre is the best person to find the worst flaw in Garrow’s theory. It follows, therefore, that if the worst flaw he identifies in the Matthew Conflator Hypothesis (MCH) is not a flaw, then the MCH solves the Synoptic Problem (SP). This section of the argument is covered in the following 9 minute video:
My next move was to point out, for purposes of comparison, two major flaws in the mainstream hypotheses.
The major problem I noted for the Two Document Hypothesis (2DH) is that it relies on the foundational premise that Luke could not know Matthew and that Matthew could not know Luke. Most scholars generally pay lip service to the second part of this requirement but, in reality, they very rarely give it any attention. And, so long as we are without a good reason why Matthew could not have used Luke, the 2DH is logically illegitimate. If, in the course of our discussion a good reason why Matthew could not have used Luke emerges, then all will be well. In the meantime, however, this fundamental weakness remains.
The flaw I identified in the Farrer Hypothesis (FH) was that, under this hypothesis, Luke rather rarely treats Mark in the way that, under this hypothesis, he is required to treat Matthew. Indeed, Luke treats Mark in a way that is entirely conventional, but, under the FH, Luke is required to treat Matthew in ways that are exceptionally physically challenging and historical unprecedented. [A more detailed presentation of this argument is set out in Video 3/5: of my main presentation of the MCH.] A briefer summary of the flaws in the 2DH and FH are set out in the following 4 minute video.
I then moved on to consider the flaw that Mark Goodacre identified in the MCH in the course of the $1,000 Challenge. Goodacre’s criticism had focused on my suggestion that high levels of verbatim agreement between Matthew and Luke are best explained by Matthew copying Luke directly, while low levels of agreement are the product of Matthew conflating Luke with another source. I conceded Goodacre’s point on both counts. I noted that it is, of course, always possible that low levels of agreement may simply be the product of Matthew’s own creative contribution when handling Luke. And, that if Matthew should happen to conflate Luke and Mark where Mark has little to add to what Luke has to offer, then the result is likely to include passages where Matthew and Luke agree very closely. What I maintained, however, was that (in each of the periscopes under scrutiny in the Challenge) Matthew consistently behaves precisely as the MCH predicts – conflating related passages of Mark and Luke. Consequently, I moved to suggest that the ‘flaw’ Goodacre identified in the course of the Challenge was a problem in the wording of my presentation, not a flaw in the underlying model. This discussion is set out in the following 12 minute video:
The central thrust of my presentation, as a whole, was to point out that scholars have assumed there must be some good reason why Matthew could not have used Luke - but without actually knowing what that reason might be. This is why Mark Goodacre's involvement is so important. Goodacre, because of his extensive and widely respected expertise, can be relied upon to find the most substantial problem with Matthew's use of Luke. It will be significant, therefore, if the worst problem he can identify turns out to be an insubstantial one.
Mark Goodacre's response fell into three sections:
1) A reassertion of the presence of cases where there are high levels of verbatim agreement between Matthew and Luke – even when Matthew has access to another related source.
2) A defense of the suggestion that Luke (under the Farrer Hypothesis) uses Matthew as he also uses Mark.
3) Three reasons why Matthew could not have used Luke.
The structure of this response confirmed what might already have been suspected: the debate over the wording of Garrow’s analysis of high and low agreement passages has no impact on the question of whether Matthew could, or could not, have used Luke. This latter issue being reserved for the third section of the response.
In section 2) Goodacre pointed out occasions when Luke’s treatment of Matthew (under the FH) is of a kind with Luke’s treatment of Mark. The difficulty here, however, is one of scale. Luke is required to repeatedly and extensively use Matthew in ways that are inconsistent with his treatment of Mark.
In section 3) Goodacre moved on to offering specific reasons why Matthew could not have used Luke. This section appeared to offer a preview of a paper for SBL Denver, 2018, 'Why not Mattthew's Use of Luke?' the abstract of which reads:
A recent resurgence in support for Matthean Posteriority (Alan Garrow; Rob MacEwen) builds on the secure footing of Marcan Priority alongside growing skepticism about Q. Could it be that advocates of the Farrer Theory have the direction of dependence wrong, and that Matthew knew Luke? The case for Matthean Posteriority refreshes the discussion of the Synoptic Problem by providing a new and interesting challenge, but the case for Luke’s use of Matthew remains strong: (a) Matthew’s redactional fingerprints repeatedly appear in material he shares with Luke; (b) Luke often shows “fatigue” in his versions of double tradition material; (c) Luke betrays knowledge of Matthean literary structures; and (d) Matthew fails to include congenial Lucan details on politics, personnel, and geographical context.
The difficulty with all these arguments is that they are reversible or inconclusive:
a) ‘Matthew’s redactional fingerprints’ may indeed be original to Matthew and then occasionally copied by Luke. It is also possible, however, that Luke is the originator of a particular turn of phrase that Matthew then admires sufficiently to replicate on several occasions.
b) It is possible that in, for example, the Parable of the Talents, Luke’s fatigue causes him to confuse Matthew’s tidy and logical parable. It is also possible, however, that Matthew observed Luke’s confused parable and determined to tidy it up.
c) Luke may have been familiar with Matthew’s literary structures. It is also possible, however, that Matthew’s literary markers were, in the first instance, constructed out of raw materials provided by Mark and Luke – and then repeated throughout Matthew’s Gospel.
d) Luke certainly does include many details of politics, personnel and geographical context that do not appear in Matthew. It is very difficult to argue, however, that Matthew should be required to include such details when writing a gospel with a very different agenda.
Some time ago I provided a more detailed treatment of points a), b) and c) in a blog post entitled ‘What does Mark Goodacre think?’
Three main takeaways
For me, this lively and highly enjoyable session highlighted three points in particular:
1) The flaw Goodacre identified in Garrow’s presentation during the $1,000 Challenge is easily corrected and does not impact the question of whether Matthew used Luke.
2) Goodacre’s defense of Luke’s treatment of Matthew remains incomplete. The Farrer Hypothesis requires Luke to treat Matthew in an extraordinarily complex fashion. By contrast, the Matthew Conflator Hypothesis requires Matthew to treat Luke in ways that are fully consistent with Matthew’s treatment of Mark (with the exception of the omissions: Matthew omits very little from Mark but must omit substantial sections of Luke). (For a consideration of these omissions see Video 4/5 in my main presentation of the MCH.)
3) Goodacre’s specific arguments against Matthew’s use of Luke are reversible and inconclusive. If these arguments are the most substantial that an expert of Mark Goodacre’s stature can assemble, then the case for Matthew’s use of Luke deserves very careful attention.
Your own $1,000 bill
In the course of the BNTC session I gave everyone present their own comedy $1,000 bill - featuring BH Streeter wearing a wry smile:
On the reverse was an opportunity to express interest in a wider and more detailed debate between advocates of the 2DH, FH and MCH:
If you would like to see such a debate, then please respond below - indicating where you'd like the debate to take place: at SBL, BNTC, or some other venue.
Alan Garrow is Vicar of St Peter's Harrogate and a member of SCIBS at the University of Sheffield.