Friday, August 02, 2013

The Synoptic Problem and Ptolemaic Cosmology

There have been some rather interesting solutions to the question of the interrelationship of the Synoptic Gospels.

Most students of Gospel studies know this...


Which led to this...



Which necessitated this...


Which gave way to this...




Which was rejected in favor of something more believable, like this...


Or even this...



Which brings me back to this...



Go here (and here) for the way towards a Copernican revolution.


8 comments:

Leroy said...

I think formally that the same sorts of arguments undercutting Q could and should undercut Markan priority. I think the Augustinian solution has its merits. It'll be a lifelong project for me.

Deacon Sean said...

I especially like how the last one manages to slide the Gospel of Thomas in there.

J. L. Watts said...

Ha.

Peter -> Mark. Everything else is history.

Lee Gilbert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lee Gilbert said...

Under his point #1 from "Ten Reasons to Question Q" Goodacre writes,
"Current literature on Q abounds with editions of Q, investigations into its strata, studies of the communities that were behind it and analyses of their theology. In such circumstances, it is worth allowing ourselves the sober reminder that there is no manuscript of Q in existence. No-one has yet found even a fragment of Q."

This brought to mind a passage I recently encountered on the blog of the redoubtable Edward Feser which more than confirms my suspicion that many biblical scholars have rendered the discipline of Biblical scholarship ludicrous in the eyes of scholars from other disciplines:

"I consider much of modern biblical “scholarship” totally worthless. Bad enough is the false methodological naturalism it simply takes for granted without any serious philosophical argumentation whatsoever. (Bultmann’s famously glib dismissal of supernaturalism as out of place in the “age of the wireless” has long been an object of ridicule among Christian philosophers, and the philosophical acumen of biblical scholars since his time hasn’t gotten any better.) But there is also the ludicrous methodology of boldly reconstructing hypothetical texts, indeed hypothetical texts within hypothetical texts, identifying hypothetical oral traditions and the like underlying these hypothetical texts, reconstructing the theology and ethos of the “communities” who allegedly produced these purported traditions and texts, and then confidently claiming to have discovered on the basis of this set of fantasies what e.g. the historical Jesus (and/or the original “Jesus movement”) “really” believed. What is amazing is not that traditional Christian belief has survived in the face of this “challenge”; what is amazing is that this preposterous pseudo-historical method ever survived the laugh test in the first place."1

To me this verges on the tragic, because Feser is a first rate philosopher, a good Catholic and could be/should be brought up to speed on a judicious use of the historical-critical method. He could yet make a significant theological contribution. Then also there are probably many people who have considered Biblical studies, but on encountering Q, and the documentary hypothesis and etc. have decided that no, they would never be able to maintain their intellectual integrity while being expected to parrot these notions in order to get their degrees. Then there is the huge problem of our seminaries being staffed by professors who have swallowed Q and the JEPD theory and who knows what else and expect their students to do the same. This has resulted in many stupidities, among them my own archbishop referring to Q in a homily, to say nothing of appalling lacunae.in the Scriptural education of our priests. It is a bizarre and intolerable situation and with Feser I truly cannot think of a better solution than laughter. In a recent lecture Fr. James Swetnam S.J. referred to the ordinary procedure at Biblical conferences as a kind of minuet. One could wish that they were more like the House of Commons, where cries of "Balderdash," and "Utter tripe!" were not unheard. This would save a lot of reparative scholarship, for one thing, and may earn us the respect of our colleagues in academia for another. Perhaps a "laugh test" is truly the crying need of Biblical scholarship and the Church today.


1Edward Feser's, "Walters on TLS," Online: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Q has been disqualified already, enough with Q. As for Markan priority, same thing. Its sole basis was to attack some Mathew passages. Doing theologianology is a circular argument.

The Deuce said...

The following seems plausible to me:

1) Matthew writes Matthew in Hebrew
2) Mark writes Mark, using Matthew as a source.
3) Luke writes Luke, using Mark as a source
4) Matthew makes a Greek translation of Hebrew Matthew, using Mark (which already contained a Greek translation of much of his book) as a guide, resulting in the Matthew that we know today.

Lee Gilbert said...

As prima facie evidence that the concerns expressed in my comment above are well-warranted, this post from The Sacred Page "The Synoptic Problem and Ptolemaic Cosmology" has been linked at http://culturewarnotes.com/wp/ under the headline, "Why Biblical Scholars are Drooling Idiots." Of course, that headline doesn't exactly rise to the level of serious criticism, either, or reflect the assessment of a serious person, but such is the reputation that biblical scholars seem to have earned for ourselves by taking Q and the Documentary Hypothesis etc., etc. seriously. I'll admit that my evocation of a bible conference with the ethos of the House of Commons may have been a bit over the top, but it seems clear that Biblical scholarship is not passing the laugh test in certain quarters.

Perhaps being ourselves utterly dismissive of these far-fetched constructs is the way to go to create a haven for serious scholars and to clear away a lot of time wasting intellectual and spiritual rubbish. This, I know, is not the moderate and circumspect language of biblical scholars, and that in itself may be a very substantial part of our problem. It is so impolite to say that the emperor has no clothes and to provoke gales of laughter at his expense. Yet, our fear of stating the obvious can only end in our being dismissed as ridiculous ourselves. "The Synoptic Problem and Ptolemaic Cosmology" and Goodacre's book are surely steps in the right direction.