|Alan Garrow Didache|
the problem page
People sometimes ask me, 'What does Mark Goodacre make of your theory that Matthew used Luke?' The best answer I can give, for the time being, is to refer to passages in his past publications. The following are (I think) all the specific arguments he's presented against Matthew's use of Luke. I'd be glad to know if there are more ...
Mark Goodacre (pictured) is a leading advocate of Luke's use of Matthew. He is Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Duke University.
i) Surely all those 'sensible' scholars can't be wrong?
One general remark provides a larger context against which to read Goodacre's rare specific remarks on Matthew/Luke: "The theory that Matthew has read Luke ... is rarely put forward by sensible scholars and will not be considered here" (The Synoptic Problem: A Way Through the Maze, 2001, p. 108). This remark is significant for two reasons. First, it shows that the principal reason why Goodacre did not seriously consider the option that Matthew might have used Luke is that, well, others had also not seriously considered it. This is not a very good reason. Second, it shows that, when Goodacre does address the possibility directly, he does so with the prior conviction that the theory may be dismissed relatively easily. This might explain why, in the passages quoted below, he sometimes expresses high levels of certainty even though, when the data is read more carefully, such confidence might not be particularly 'sensible'.
ii) Matthean language reappears in Luke
Mark Goodacre notes that Matthew uses a particular form of words at the end of each of his great Discourses (Maze, p. 153):
Mt 7.28-29 And it came to pass that when Jesus had completed these words …
Mt 11.1: ‘After Jesus had finished instruct[ing] his twelve disciples …’
Mt 13.53: ‘When Jesus had finished these parables …’
Mt 19.1: ‘When Jesus had finished saying all these things …’
Mt 26.1: ‘When Jesus had finished saying all these things …’
This type of arrangement, Goodacre claims, bears the "unmistakable mark of Matthew’s hand" (p. 153) and that it is significant, therefore, that Luke uses a similar formula:
Lk 7.1: ‘When Jesus had finished all these sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered into Capernaum. And a certain Centurion’s slave …
According to Goodacre, this shows "if further indication were needed" that Luke knows Matthew. But is this the only possible explanation for the data?
If Matthew was in the habit of conflating Luke and Mark then the same data could be accounted for as follows:
A problem with arguments from so-called Mattheanisms is that is presupposes Matthew’s interest in being original. However, the very distinctiveness of Matthew’s style may be a sign, not of his own originality, but of his preference for the limited pallete of vocabulary and phraseology provided by his various sources. This can give the impression that a particular word or turn of phrase is somehow characteristic of Matthew, when it might only indicate its presence in one of the sources on which he relied.
iii) Matthew’s explanatory addition is repeated by Luke
In Mark’s version of the Passion Narrative the soldiers taunt Jesus and demand that he ‘Prophesy’ (Mk. 14.65). Intriguingly, Matthew and Luke agree against Mark in making the explanatory addition ‘who was it that struck you?’ (Mt. 26.68 //Lk. 22.64). Goodacre describes Matthew as, "typically attempting to clarify the rather darkly ironic Markan scene", and so the repetition of this additional phrase in Luke is taken as demonstrating Luke’s knowledge of Matthew (Maze, p.146). Goodacre evidently regards this as proof of a high order: "Matthew typically explicates and simplifies the ironic scene by adding a five word question, ‘Who was it who smote you?’, and he is followed by Luke, as clear a sign as one could want that Luke knows Matthew" (Maze, p. 164 – emphasis added). Does Luke really have such evident distaste for clarifying Mark that it is impossible that he could have added these five words - which were then subsequently picked up by Matthew?
Mark Goodacre’s final, and therefore perhaps his favourite, argument for Luke’s knowledge of Matthew uses the concept of fatigue or docile copying. Thus he observes that Matthew and Luke differ distinctly in their presentation of the parable of the talents/pounds. Luke’s version of this parable has a number of curious inconsistencies. He begins with ten servants who each receive ten pounds. As the story progresses only three of servants are featured. The first two servants receive cities as their reward, ten and five respectively. The third servant’s pound is then given to ‘the one who has ten pounds’ – even though this servant has ten cities and, if he’d been allowed to keep his pounds he would have had eleven. Matthew’s version on the other hand does not contain these inconsistencies. Thus, there are three servants throughout. They receive five, two and one talent respectively. The one talent of the final servant is, ultimately, given to the one who has earned another five, and who thus has ten. As Goodacre notes, Matthew’s version is "simpler, more coherent and easier to follow" (‘Fatigue in the Synoptics’, NTS 1998, p. 55). So, what is the best way of accounting for the variation between the two versions? For Goodacre, "a straightforward explanation is at hand: Luke has attempted to reframe the parable that he found in Matthew but his ambition, on this occasion, exceeds his capability. Editorial fatigue soon drags the plot of the parable back to Matthew, with its three coherent servants, the first earning his five coherent talents" (‘Fatigue’, p. 56).
The Gospel writers are human beings and so they can be expected to have the occasional off day. However, it does seem unlikely that Luke, if confronted by Matthew’s simple, coherent and easy to follow parable, would have proceeded to make such a mess of it. Is it not at least as likely, if not more so, that Matthew, if confronted by the inconsistencies of Luke’s version, would have acted to rationalise and improve them?
To bolster his case Goodacre claims that there are "several clear cases in the Double Tradition" (Maze, p. 155) of Luke showing editorial fatigue in his use of Matthew. Given this wealth of choice we can expect a presentation of the best examples. First, in the healing of the Centurion’s slave Goodacre notes that Luke begins by talking about the slave as a ‘doulos’ (Lk 7.2; cf. 7.10) in contrast to Matthew’s use of ‘pais’ (Mt 8.6). Later on in the story, however, Luke, supposedly under the influence of fatigue, drifts into using Matthew’s word ‘pais’ (Lk. 7.7//Mt 8.8) (p.155). What Goodacre fails to mention is that Luke uses doulos, a term of objective description, when describing the slave from the narrator’s point of view, and pais in the context of the Centurion’s direct (reported) speech. There is no inconsistency or ‘error’ to be explained here. Luke’s variation simply serves to indicate that the relationship of the slave to the Centurion is different from the relationship of the slave to the narrator (Lk. 7.2).
Goodacre cites one further example from the stock of "several clear cases in the Double Tradition" (p. 155). In Luke’s description of the mission of the twelve (Lk. 9.1-6; Mk 6.7-12; Mt. 10.5-15) he follows Mark in not specifically mentioning that the disciples are sent to towns. Where then does the mention of leaving a ‘town’ come from towards the end of Luke’s version? According to Goodacre, Luke copied this from Matthew, who does mention towns at the beginning of his version (Maze, p.155). It remains possible, however, that Luke had an independent motivation for inserting ‘town’ into his treatment of Mark 6.8-11, which reads:
He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.’
These instructions are potentially ambiguous. What is the ‘place’, is it the house or the town? If it were interpreted as the house, then it might appear legitimate for the disciples to simply go to another house and try again. In the Luke’s sending out of the Seventy, however, the following instructions are given:
After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!” And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the labourer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.” I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town. (Luke 10.1-12)
This passage specifically forbids moving about from house to house. The insertion of ‘town’ in Luke’s version of Mark 6.8-11 confirms that the instructions to the twelve are consistent with the instructions to the seventy; they are not to move from house to house, as Mark’s instructions might otherwise be taken to allow.
The critical point here is that Goodacre’s explanation for Luke’s inclusion of the single word ‘town’ is not the only explanation.
Where are the 'sensible' scholars?
At a Synoptic Problem conference in Roskilde, Denmark 2015 most of the delegates (pictured) replayed the familiar pattern of interaction that has been repeated again and again over recent decades. Supporters of the Farrer Hypothesis pointed out the (real) strengths of their own hypothesis and the (equally real) weaknesses of the Two Document Hypothesis. And the supporters of the Two Document Hypothesis returned the compliment in kind. This is really not a sensible way to proceed. Having established that there are real problems with both hypotheses it is time to try something new. An illustrated video presentation of my New Testament Studies article on Matthew's use of Luke is available here.
Alan Garrow is Vicar of St Peter's Harrogate and a member of SCIBS at the University of Sheffield.