|Alan Garrow Didache|
the problem page
This poster serves as an abstract for a paper due to be delivered at this year's British New Testament Conference. The text version is available here.
If you enjoy spot the difference:
In a recent Facebook exchange a well-informed conversation partner made an observation along the lines: isn't it remarkable that supporters of the Farrer Hypothesis, Two Document Hypothesis and Matthew Conflator Hypothesis (FH, 2DH and MCH) can all look at the same data and confidently read it as pointing to their favoured solution to the Synoptic Problem - and not their opponents'? I'd like to try to explain how this happens using the illustration of Brexit.
The case for Brexit is clear. A country wishing to have control over its own destiny cannot afford to be governed by other people in another country, etc. - it's obvious!
The case for the UK remaining in the European Union is clear. Our economic systems are inextricably linked with that of our European partners. To rip away from those systems would be economically disastrous, etc. - it's obvious!
Depending on whether you find the political or the economic argument more compelling, you choose your side in the debate. Having made that decision this then provides the lens through which all further data is viewed. Those who disagree with you seem increasingly blind and obtuse. 'Why can you not see the negative effects of your position!' - we scream as the divide gets wider. At the same time, the weaknesses of our own position go through a process of minimisation; they pale into insignificance beside the monstrous problems with the other side of the argument.
Something similar has happened, I think, in the debate between supporters of the 2DH and the FH. The former are usually open about the fact that their hypothesis doesn't perfectly resolve every bit of data - but they stick with it because they are so convinced that Luke's use of Mathew is impossible. Farrer supporters, on the other hand, are frustrated by the fact that their opponents continue to wave away evidence that, in any other context, would be taken as a clear indication of direct copying between Matthew and Luke.
So long as we are forced to choose between binary options, 2DH or FH, Leave or Remain, there is a tendency to focus on one piece of data, form a position on that basis, and then read all the other data through that lens - constantly highlighting the difficulties of the opposite view while seeking to minimise or explain away the problems in our own back yard.
In the case of Brexit, unfortunately, we can't wind back the clock. If we could, then we might be able to take different decisions to avoid the mess we're in now.
In the case of the Synoptic Problem, however, we do have that luxury. In my article "Streeter's 'Other' Synoptic Solution: The Matthew Conflated Hypothesis" I wind back to some false decisions made by BH Streeter and scholars of his generation - which have been repeated (and thereby consolidated) ever since. Streeter made two critical logical errors. 1) He assumed that arguments against Luke's use of Matthew amounted to arguments against Matthew's use of Luke. 2) He assumed that evidence that Matthew and Luke shared a source or sources (other than Mark) amounted to evidence that Matthew and Luke had no direct contact with one another. Both these assumptions are false. We will never escape the Synoptic Problem's binary bind until we reckon with these simple, unavoidable errors.
When the errors of the Streeter generation are acknowledged, the log-jam eases. A third option, which preserves all the benefits of the 2DH and also the benefits of the FH, comes into view. It is no longer necessary to choose an option that is 'not as bad' as the binary alternative, it is possible to choose an option that resolves all the data while allowing every player, Mark, Luke and Matthew, to behave in a consistent manner. Mark wrote first, Luke incorporated Mark in blocks, Matthew used Mark as a spine and conflated in related material from Luke and other sources (some of which were also known and used by Luke) to create his thematically arranged gospel.
That, then, is my explanation of why three scholars can look at the same data with such variable results. The first two are caught in a binary contest where both sides have significant strengths as well as significant weaknesses. When, however, the basis of that binary set-up is challenged, a third way of looking at things can come into view.
In scholarship we have the freedom to retrace our steps and untangle the mistakes of our predecessors. Most unfortunately, we don't have the same privilege in politics.
Tobias Hägerland's recent article, "Editorial Fatigue and the Existence of Q", NTS (2019), 190-206, makes an important contribution to the debate by calling into question Mark Goodacre's assertion that there are instances where Luke shows fatigue in his handling of Matthew, but none where Matthew shows fatigue in his handing of Luke. Having called into question cases where Luke supposedly shows fatigue in relation to Matthew, Hägerland goes on to conclude:
Against Goodacre's claim that editorial fatigue does not occur in Matthew's handing of the double tradition, I have developed Allison and Davies' suggestion that Matt 3.7-12 provides an example of 'imperfect editing' of Matthew's source material, which in this case cannot be limited to the Markan source. When compared to Luke's handling of the same material, Matthew can be seen to exhibit fatigue. As Matthew's use of Luke remains unlikely on other grounds, it appears most reasonable to postulate Q as Matthew's source here.
Thus, Hägerland claims to have found an occasion when the differences between Matthew and Luke are best explained by Matthew working from Luke but failing to be entirely consistent in his editing of Luke. This might seem like a good time to propose that Matthew used Luke directly. Nevertheless, Hägerland steers away from this conclusion on the basis that: 'Matthew's use of Luke remains unlikely on other grounds'. When these 'other grounds' are taken into account, Hägerland suggests, the only way to explain the data is to propose that Matthew and Luke both used Q.
This line of reasoning would be legitimate if the 'other grounds' for believing that Matthew did not use Luke were either self-evident or well known. Truly, they are not. The assumption that Matthew could not have used Luke was based, in the initial instance, on an appeal to Alternating Primitivity. However, as demonstrated in Video 1, Alternating Primitivity is entirely irrelevant to the question. Since Streeter made the assumption that Matthew's use of Luke may safely be ignored other scholars have followed suit. For example, Robert Stein, in Studying the Synoptic Gospels (2001) assures the reader that Matthew's use of Luke faces 'insurmountable problems' (p. 76) - but the only problem he cites is Alternating Primitivity. Similarly, Chris Tuckett, in Q and the History of Early Christianity (1996) muses: 'For various reasons ... Matthean dependence on Luke is hardly ever advocated, though one sometimes wonders why given the tendency of many to believe that Luke's versions is very often more original.' (p. 4). Thus, Tuckett shows a flicker of awareness, but not enough to break his stride. Paul Foster's objections to Matthew's use of Luke, in, "Is it Possible to Dispense with Q?" NTS (2003) also include Alternating Primitivity. In addition, Foster cites Matthew's omission of Special Luke material. This would only be problem, however, if it could be shown that there is some element of Special Luke that Matthew would have been bound include. Foster's third and final objection is pleasingly ironic. He notes that there are occasions when Matthew appears ignorant of Luke’s additions to Mark. If Matthew were to duplicate Luke's additions to Mark this would create a very real problem for the Two Document Hypothesis. It might even be worth trying to give a name to such a phenomenon. How about 'Minor Agreements'?
A more creative attempt to find a reason for rejecting the case for Matthew's use of Luke was offered by F Gerald Downing in, 'Plausibility, Probability, and Synoptic Hypotheses', ETL (2017). Downing's approach rests on the idea that ancient authors would have scoured their sources to find sequences of thirty letters or more where those sources agreed verbatim and, having done so, they would have felt compelled to include these phrases (no matter how incidental) into their own narrative regardless of the impact on the style, theology, economy of their own creation. Downing finds the fact that Matthew fails to comply with this supposed norm a compelling reason to suggest that he could not have used both Mark and Luke. That Downing resorts to such an extraordinary approach might be considered revealing in itself.
Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with Mark Goodacre's reasons for rejecting Matthew's use of Luke, which are reviewed here, and also in Rob MacEwen's report of Goodacre's paper at SBL Denver in 2018. Perhaps most important among them is his identification of instances where Luke shows fatigue in his handling of Matthew (but not the reverse). This, however, is precisely the argument that Hägerland's article is concerned to undermine.
So, where does this leave us? Worn out in the search for those 'other grounds' or not yet quite fatigued?
I’d like to use this final Calendar entry to express my admiration and gratitude for Mark Goodacre. Mark may not take this as much of a compliment, but he is my kind of scholar. I admire his willingness to challenge the prevailing consensus, I enjoy the ease and clarity of his written prose, and I very much appreciate his willingness to present 'live' rather than reciting a full script. The aspect of his scholarship for which I am most grateful, however, is his willingness to engage. By engaging with the $1,000 Challenge, being willing to respond to my paper at BNTC 2018, and then presenting the paper, ‘Why not Matthew’s use of Luke?’ at SBL Denver 2018, Mark has done more than anyone to alert the wider scholarly community to the fact that an alternative solution to the Synoptic Problem is a topic of current scholarly debate. And, now that scholarly attention is focussed in this direction, Mark Goodacre’s SBL paper offers an important opportunity to learn whether this route is worthy of further attention and exploration.
Mark Goodacre’s paper ‘Why not Matthew’s use of Luke?’ presents such an opportunity because of the calibre of its presenter. Mark has spent the majority of his distinguished scholarly career promoting and defending the Farrer Hypothesis. This means he is superbly equipped to find the worst flaw in the case for Matthew's use of Luke – as well as being highly motivated to do so. In short, if Mark Goodacre cannot find the flaw in the case for Matthew’s use of Luke, then it is doubtful that anyone can. With this in mind it is worth noticing what is missing from the abstract for his SBL paper:
Why Not Matthew's Use of Luke?
It may be that, in the months between writing this abstract and actually delivering the paper, Mark Goodacre will have identified some more substantial reason for rejecting the case for Matthew’s use of Luke. Taking the abstract as it stands, however, note what is missing:
First, there is no suggestion that Mt3rd requires multiple, improbable levels of coincidence – the weakness that most seriously undermines the 2DH.
Second, there is no suggestion that Mt3rd requires Matthew to treat one of his sources in a way that is unique in the period, mechanically/physically exceptionally demanding, and out of tune with the way Matthew treats his other sources – the type of weakness that most seriously undermines the FH.
What remains instead are four phenomena that are all open to more than one interpretation; they are all capable of being explained if Matthew used Luke.
If this is how things continue to stand after SBL session S18-347 (Sunday 18th November, at 4.00pm in Room 302 (Street Level) – Convention Centre (CC)), then a new era of enquiry will have been thrown wide open. And if that does indeed happen, then anyone seeking a solution to the Synoptic Problem more satisfying than those repeatedly discussed to date, will have yet another reason to thank Mark Goodacre.
If you've not seen all the previous entries in the Calendar, I recommend some particular highlights:
Day 4: Richard Bauckham answers the question: How did you come to think that Matthew probably used Luke?
Day 11: Ron Huggins tells the story behind his article 'Matthean Posteriority: a preliminary proposal', NovT (1992)
Day 21: Tim Murray offers his reaction to the Garrow/Goodacre debate at BNTC 2018.
Supporters of the Two Document Hypothesis do not claim that their hypothesis is flawless:
"[E]ven though I have (unashamedly?!) sought in this paper to argue that the weaknesses of the 2DH are possibly less than those of other competing hypotheses today, I hope that I have shown that this theory too is open to questioning. It would be a brave, even foolhardy, person who claimed absolute certainty for the correctness of his/her viewpoint."
“No hypothesis is without its difficulties, and for any of the existing Synoptic hypotheses there are sets of data which the hypothesis does not explain very well”
When pressed to be more specific, 2DH supporters generally point to the problem of the Minor Agreements – places where Matthew and Luke agree against Mark. For example, Gerald Downing, in ‘Plausibility, Probability, and the Synoptic Hypotheses’ ETL (2017) 313-337, devotes considerable attention to attempting to explain the most famous of all the Minor Agreements: Matthew and Luke have: ‘Prophesy … who is it that struck you?’, whereas Mark has only ‘Prophesy!’ (Mark 14.65//Luke 22.65//Matt 26.68).
In my view, however, the Minor Agreements – though certainly problematic for the 2DH – are not its worst weakness. A much more severe problem is posed by those passages where Matthew and Luke agree almost exactly (and where there is no direct parallel in Mark). The problem, in a nutshell, is that ancient writers tended not to copy their sources verbatim. Matthew’s treatment of Mark is unusual in this regard inasmuch as Matthew sometimes copies Mark with a high degree of verbatim faithfulness. Luke’s treatment of Mark is, however, more conventional – he tends to paraphrase, rather than copy Mark word for word. We can see in some detail what happens when one author paraphrases his sources while another is more faithful, by looking at the extent to which Matthew and Luke exactly agree in their treatment of Mark. The answer is that they never come close to both copying Mark in exactly the same way for a whole paragraph. The closest they come is in The Parable of the Fig Tree (Matt 24.32-36//Mark 13.28.32//Luke 21.29.33) where 37% of the 86 words fall within Strings of Verbatim Agreement of 4 words or more. The next closest example is, ‘If any man would come after me …’ (Matt 16.24-28//Mark 8.34-9.1//Luke 9.23-27), where 29% of the 110 words fall within strings of verbatim agreement of 4 words or more. Beyond this there is no other example where more than 20% of a given paragraph falls within Strings of Verbatim Agreement of 4 words or more that are identical in Matthew, Mark and Luke.
Contrast this with the numerous occasions where 96-50% of the words shared by Matthew and Luke fall within Strings of Verbatim Agreement of 4 words or more (e.g. Matt 6.24//Luke 6.13; Matt 3.12//Luke 3.17; Matt 23.37-39//Luke 13.34-35; Matt 3.7-10//Luke 3.7-9; Matt 12.43-45//Lujke 11.24-26; Matt 11.25-27//Luke 10.21-22; Matt 24.45-51//Luke 12.41-46; Matt 6.22-23//Luke 11.34-36; Matt 7.7-11//Luke 11.9-13; Matt 13.33//Luke 13.20-21, and others).
What the 2DH requires, therefore, is that Luke had a particular desire to copy Q exceptionally closely – significantly more closely than he copied Mark. Moreover, this desire has to be mirrored by Matthew – who is required to have had the same attitude to the same passages. Moreover, Matthew and Luke are required coincidentally to have had access to virtually identical copies of Q – even though they were writing in times and places that prevented them from having any direct knowledge one of the other. Q is generally understood to be significantly more ancient than Matthew and Luke and is sometimes attributed to village scribes in rural Galilee. If this were indeed the case, it is necessary to suppose that Matthew and Luke both inherited versions of Q that had been virtually identically adapted (or left pristine) over the decades. Furthermore, it is necessary to suppose that Matthew and Luke both thought that the text of Q they had inherited was, for significant passages, incapable of further improvement (or they both happened to improve it in virtually identical ways). When, in addition, you notice that very high levels of verbatim agreement sometimes occur in the so-called Mark-Q overlap passages (e.g. The Beelzebul Controversy, Matt 12.22-30//Luke 11.14-23), then the credibility of the 2DH is stretched still further. That is to say, even though at least two distinctly different versions of such events were in circulation (as evidenced by Mark 3.22-27 and perhaps also by Matt 9.32-34; John 10.19-21 and Thomas 35) the copies of Q that came down to Luke and Matthew were both equally unaffected (or equally affected) by that environment of diversity.
If there were some really cast iron reason why Luke could not have used Matthew and Matthew could not have used Luke, then, of course, we would no choice but to accept these exceptional levels of coincidence (and the many further examples set out by, for example, Francis Watson in Gospel Writing(Eerdmans, 2013) 117-55). The difficulty is, however, that no-one has yet shown that Matthew could not have used Luke. (NB. As demonstrated in the full Matthew Conflator Hypothesis presentation, the standard arguments against Luke’s use of Matthew do not work in reverse). This means that we are not required to imagine (as supporters of the 2DH must), that Matthew and Luke both happened to inherit virtually identical versions of Q and happened to treat them virtually identically. Instead we can propose that passages where Matthew and Luke agree almost exactly are simply the product of Matthew copying Luke much as he also copied Mark.
For texts and charts relevant to this discussion, see Video 2.
Back in 1996 Mark Goodacre was prepared to allow that the Farrer Hypothesis, as defended by Michael Goulder, includes weaknesses as well as strengths:
Goulder makes ... numerous criticisms of traditional approaches which his opponents will ignore at their peril and, further, his thesis has many strong points. One virtue is the simplicity of his solution to the Synoptic Problem. Another is the explanatory power of his thesis: frequently Goulder sheds new light on famous difficulties.
Mark Goodacre's observation that Goulder's theory, 'demands a degree of complexity in the application which partly undermines its credibility' has been very frequently echoed in subsequent scholarship - albeit more forcefully and with greater attention to the realities of ancient compositional practices. Luke, under the Farrer Hypothesis is required to perform an extraordinarily complex set of operations on Matthew, while treating Mark in a very much more traditional and straightforward manner. All this might be forgivable if it were clearly the only way to avoid the serious problems encountered by the Two Document Hypothesis - but it is not. The difficulties faced by the Two Document Hypothesis and the difficulties faced by the Farrer Hypothesis are both resolved if we allow ourselves to contemplate a relatively simple alternative: Matthew used Luke.
Tim writes: "Like a few others, I abandoned my chosen stream at BNTC for this particular session as I was intrigued to see what Mark Goodacre had to say about Alan Garrow’s MCH. Having always been quite sceptical about Q (and even more so reading scholarship that was attempting to identify levels of redaction on Q and then speculate quite fancifully about the issues facing ‘Q communities’ at various stages of their existence…), I read Goodacre’s Case Against Q as a MRes student and that, for me, put the nail in Q’s coffin. I did not give much thought to whether Matthew used Luke or Luke Matthew and was happy to accept Goodacre’s version of the FH (although the awareness that Hengel argued for the reverse has always made me think at some point I should get around to looking into this!).
My doctoral studies did not really address the Synoptics so I pursued the issue no further, however towards the end of my PhD I was made aware that Garrow’s thesis was attracting the support of some serious scholars. Without making the effort to watch the videos or read any of Garrow’s work I turned up to the debate expecting Goodacre to offer some substantial critique against the MCH, especially given his role in the $1000 challenge. From that context, here were my reflections:
Like I say, these are the reflections of a non-synoptic scholar, but I think I understood the thrust of the arguments. To my mind it certainly established that Garrow’s thesis could not be easily dismissed (otherwise Goodacre would surely have done that, but he wasn’t able to). I look forward to further debates."
The BNTC 2018 session caused Tim to review his assumptions. A similar shaking up of assumptions features at the start of the stories told by Ron Huggins, Rob MacEwen, Erik Aurelius, Richard Bauckham, and myself. Who knows, perhaps Mark Goodacre's session at SBL will encourage others to embark on a similar journey.
The past few posts have focused on the question of the greatest weaknesses in the case for Matthew’s use of Luke – a subject relevant to Mark Goodacre’s paper at SBL this Sunday - 18th November, 2018.
The reason for this focus on weaknesses is that the Synoptic Problem will come closest to being solved by the hypothesis that has the most minor, or most easily resolved, ‘greatest weakness’. In today’s post I will consider potential candidates in the case for Matthew’s use of Luke (and Mark).
On Day 1, I notionally put a question to Bart Ehrman: What do you think is the best reason to reject the notion that Matthew used Luke? I asked this because, in the course of the $1,000 Challenge, Bart expressed his complete confidence that my ideas ‘simply don’t work’. What has emerged in my ongoing conversation with Mark Goodacre (at BNTC 2018), however, is that the point Goodacre made in the course of the $1,000 Challenge had no bearing on the question of whether Matthew used Luke – despite this being clearly identified as the point at issue. Nevertheless, Bart was evidently completely convinced by something. Unfortunately, I haven’t, as yet, had any luck finding out what that something was. Any help on this point gratefully received.
Paul Foster in, “Is It Possible to Dispense with Q,” Novum Testamentum 45.4 (2003) 336, might be taken as suggesting that the greatest weakness of the Matthean Posteriority Hypothesis is its inability to account for incidents of Alternating Primitivity. As I have sought to demonstrate elsewhere, however (see Video 1), Alternating Primitivity, if it does indeed occur, has no bearing whatsoever on the question of whether Matthew used Luke directly. This phenomenon is only relevant to the separate question of whether Matthew and Luke might also have made use of shared sources.
F Gerald Downing in, “Plausibility, Probability, and Synoptic Hypotheses” ETL 93.2 (2017) 313-337, identifies what he sees as a really critical weakness in the case for Mt3rd. It is absurd to imagine, he proposes, that a Matthew who knew of both Luke and Mark would fail precisely to copy both his sources wherever those sources agree exactly (in their rendering of strings of thirty-plus letters in sequence). It might equally be said, however, that it is absurd to imagine that Matthew would painstakingly work through Mark and Luke to identify such exactly agreeing material, no matter how incidental. Such an exercise would not only be exceptionally laborious – both when it comes to locating such passages and also when it comes to inserting such passages in Matthew’s wider narrative – but also it would run counter to an important Matthean agenda: to draw together similar-but-different teachings of Jesus (as found in various sources) into a single, carefully organised, more generally comprehensive, whole. More on this subject may be found in Days 14-17 of the Calendar.
The majority of the direct and indirect contributors to this thread have settled, in one way or another, on one particular aspect of Mt3rd as likely to be its greatest weakness: the problem of omissions. That is to say, if Matthew knew Luke, why did he not make more substantial use of what Luke had to offer? This question is expressed in various ways by Verheyden (in quotation), Huggins, MacEwen and Garrow. It is an issue that also makes an appearance in the abstract for Goodacre’s SBL paper: “Matthew fails to include congenial Lucan details on politics, personnel, and geographical context.” It is true that, if it were possible to find an element of Luke’s text that Matthew would have been all but bound to include, then this would represent a serious problem. If, however, it is possible that Matthew had reasons to omit this material for the sake of economy, theology or practicality, then the problem is a good deal less marked. In addition, what may be said with some confidence is that the mechanics involved are straightforward. Of all the techniques in the author/copyist’s toolkit, the simplest is 'omit'.
On Sunday 18th November at 4pm (Session S18-347), Mark Goodacre will provide a fuller explanation of what he sees as the most significant weaknesses in the case for Matthew’s use of Luke. If you’re at SBL/AAR Denver 2018, why not assess for yourself whether there is real substance to the problems he raises?
Ron writes: "When it comes to the question of the biggest weakness in the case for Matthew's use of Luke I have to admit I have been somewhat disappointed over the years at how little feedback I have gotten as to potential weaknesses in my theory from two-source defenders. When Edinburgh’s Paul Foster addressed Matthean Posteriority in an article he wrote back in 2003, an article in which he explored the question of whether Q can be dispensed with, the primary objection urged against my view was that ‘[t]he issue of primitivity still creates the difficulty that the most primitive version of double tradition material is not the exclusive possession of either Matthew or Luke, but seems to alternate between the two gospels.’ He then includes a footnote indicating that this is ‘acknowledged by Huggins.’ But to say that I ‘acknowledged’ this was not right. In fact I didn’t, I only said that it would be a problem if it were the case.
Then when Leuven’s Joseph Verheyden wrote a paper against Matthean Posteriority to be read at the 2010 Atlanta SBL, he mainly targeted the arguments of other defenders of the view, who approach it from differing directions from the one I take. He really only faults me once in the paper, in a passage which, to the best of my recollection, he did not actually read in the presentation itself:
‘And if Luke was granted only a marginal role as a source, why would Matthew have cared for looking it through to make some emendations to Mark’s text here and there? It is true, of course, that there is no rule on how much an author should take over from his source, but it is certainly not a rule either that, as Huggins argues, “the very extent of the material Luke has in addition to Mark rules against assuming that Matthew would have tried to include both to the same extent.” One would rather expect the opposite to be the case: provided with this amount of extra material, why could Matthew not have indulged in it without setting any limits for himself?’
But in my own mind my argument there still satisfies there. The limits Matthew set upon himself were in no way arbitrary. In defense of this I would point, for example, to what my view would interpret as Matthew’s bringing woes pronounced by Jesus in different places in Luke together to present as a single unit in his twenty-third chapter. The way he gleans the woes from Luke 11’s story of the dispute over hand washing at a Pharisee’s house, yet without retaining anything further from the original context in which the woes appeared, is illustrative of his larger approach. Matthew's basic text was Mark which he supplemented in a such a way that it is fairly easy to follow what he is doing a he goes along. And so, while both of these criticisms may be reckoned by some to be the ‘greatest weakness,’ of my view, that is not how they strike me.
I leave aside for another occasion discussion of one other treatment which has been presented, which does not reflect an awareness of my particular understanding of Matthew’s compositional process, nor in fact of any of my arguments, but which nevertheless definitively claims to disprove my thesis, namely F. Gerald Downing’s “Plausibility, Probability, and Synoptic Hypotheses,” Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses 93.2 (2017): 313-37. For the time being I commend to my reader the very satisfactory response Alan Garrow has provided, in his last few posts.
So, in the end the question of the ‘greatest weakness,’ does come back to me. When I read my synopsis I do not find myself hitting a brick wall as I once did when trying to validate first Griesbach then Farrer. But I do encounter uncertainty as to whether two statements in the conclusion of my original article are really true. The first statement was:
“Matthean Posteriority, with the single qualification that Matthew viewed Mark as his primary but Luke as a supplementary source, appears to be a simple and compelling solution to the problem of Synoptic relationships.”
I often find myself asking: “is it really?” Is that “single qualification” really adequate to cover all we see going on in the double tradition, in the material normally identified as Q? And my question keeps bringing me back to the original language of my statement. Yes it does “appear to.” But I would like to be able to come to a place where I could state that more definitively.
Then, in my second statement I suggested that,
‘an examination of the infancy and resurrection narratives with an eye on known Matthean redactional preferences does nothing to undermine the conclusion that in these sections Matthew has been informed but not controlled by his familiarity with Luke.’
But again, are the words ‘does nothing to undermine’ too definitive? After all, there are significant differences that can legitimately be thought to point to Matthew and Luke’s not knowing one another’s Gospels, including, for example, the completely different genealogies. Now when comparing the Farrer Hypothesis with my solution in these sections it seems obvious to me that Matthean Posteriority makes more sense, but when comparing it with the two-source theory again I sometimes wonder. Should I have written ‘need not undermine’ instead of ‘does nothing to undermine’? Perhaps.
Ultimately, my ongoing questioning in both cases stems from a desire for greater certainty than may ever be achievable given the nature of the evidence. A certain level of healthy doubt, as it were, may just go with the territory when it comes to trying to credibly sort out the question of literary interdependencies in the Synoptic Gospels."
Paul Foster, “Is It Possible to Dispense with Q,” Novum Testamentum45.4 (2003): 336.
Ibid., 336, n. 98.
Joseph Verheyden, “A Road to Nowhere?: A Critical Look at the “Matthean Posteriority” Hypothesis and What It Means for Q,” (2010): 8-9.
Ronald V. Huggins, “Matthean Posteriority: A preliminary Proposal,”Novum Testamentum34:1 (1992): 22.
Alan Garrow is Vicar of St Peter's Harrogate and a member of SIIBS at the University of Sheffield.