|Alan Garrow Didache|
the problem page
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.