March 17, 2009

Can Anyone Confirm or Deny This?

I was twelve. I thought the winning answer was Professor Plum in the Conservatory with the lead pipe. Nobody could disprove it, so I got to look in the envelope. Unfortunately, two out of three counted as a loss.

Now I'm thirty-four. I think Matthew kept an intermittent journal during Jesus' ministry, which supplied much of Mark's material when he wrote in the early 50's AD. Then, in the late 50's, Luke used Mark's Gospel and Matthew's notes, plus first hand interviews, while living in Caesarea. By the early 60's, conflict between diverging streams of Jewish-christianity in Judea inspired Matthew to convert his own notes into a full composition, also borrowing material from Mark and Luke.

I'm pretty sure nobody can disprove that. Naturally, it's also unprovable. Now if only I could find that dang envelope! ;)

4 comments:

Celucien L. Joseph said...

Where would you place "Q"?

Bill said...

If 'Proto-Matthew' preceeds Luke, there's no need for "Q".

samnunnally said...

Bill - Two questions:

1) Have you ever investigated Kenneth Bailey's belief in Luke's "field research" as the original gospel? I came across it in the second chapter of his book "Jacob and the Prodigal." Any thoughts on that?

2) The like the idea of removing the need for "Q" - but a proto-Matthew still requires written documentation for the gospels. Where does oral tradition fit in to all of that? If the oral tradition was strong enough, is there a need for a proto-Matthew, much less a "Q"?

Sam

Bill said...

Hey, Sam. I've not read Bailey - thanks for the tip - but I absolutely believe Luke did "field research" during Paul's Caesarean imprisonment. However, Luke also says many before him had undertaken to compile an account. Mark is one. Matthew's "journal" would be two. (A related question is whether two is enough to equal "many". But that's two for starters, at least.)

To your second question, I would assume oral tradition continued to flourish alongside the existence of early documents. Generally, I'd suppose the ratio of story tellers to story readers would have been approximately that of english readers to greek readers today. Obviously, one is more common by far, despite the other's prevalence among the more highly educated.

To your final question - as I understand it, the nature of the Synoptic problem suggests that "Q" cannot be eliminated unless Luke had access to Matthew's written material. Since I believe Matthew's Gospel fits best in the 60's AD, when Luke had already departed, I suggest Luke had access to Matthew's early written material before Matthew himself turned that material into a finished work.

My personal spark for this theory was trying to imagine which New Testament person would have been most likely to write things down before any other. Levi the tax collector fits that bill nicely, I think. I brainstormed about this very openly last summer. Obviously, I'm still thinking about it today...

Thanks for the feedback, and please keep it coming! :)

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