martes, 3 de enero de 2012
The Priority of Mark Revisited: ¿Multiple Attestation?
The prevalent hypothesis in the Synoptic Problem is the acceptance that Mark wrote first with some sort of help from other source. The reasons for this are in part sociological and in part ecclesiastical as well as theological. Summarizing what took centuries, the social prevalence for the priority of Mark hypothesis stems from Eichorn, and was supported by most of latter scholars, except the School of Tubingen in its founding stage that supported the priority of Matthew (D. Strauss, F. C. Bauer and Stieffert). The ecclesiastical point is that according to Papias Mark wrote following the teachings of Peter which is important for the Catholic Church; and the theological side to the priority of Mark hypothesis is that if Mark is third to Matthew and Luke, the verses he has of its own are so scant that there seems to be no reason to have been written at all. This last view has a solid answer from the point of view of redaction criticism.
According to the expert in the field professor William R. Farmer, first it was Lessing who suggested “the single most powerful idea fructifying in the entire history of the Synoptic Problem, the idea of an Ur-gospel.”[i] This hypothetical source opened the door to postulate many other sources or, in Farmer words, it “contains the seed for an infinite variety of growth.”[ii] After Lessing it was Griesbach who helped to give a name to this phenomenon. “While Griesbach printed some passages of John, he included the entire texts of only Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Therefore, these three Gospels, which were featured in his ‘Synopsis,’ came to be known as the ‘Synoptic’ Gospels.”[iii] From then on, this problem came to be known as the “Synoptic Problem”. Later Eichorn examining different hypothesis concluded that the Ur-Gospel was an Ur-Marcus. Since then the “Mark first” hypothesis has won immense support.[iv]
But Farmer adheres to a different position. He estimates that the Gospel of Matthew was written first, following the idea of Augustine, and all the tradition of the middle ages. This makes a difference for the criteria of multiple attestation in form criticism. Stein says: “It is obvious from the start that the usual application of this criterion is based upon a particular solution of the Synoptic Problem. Recently this solution, that of Lachmann and Streeter, (Matthew used Mark, ‘Q,’ ‘M;’ Luke used Mark, ‘Q,’ ‘L’) has been challenged and in the minds of some scholars ‘refuted.’”[v]… “If the Griesbach hypothesis (Luke used Matthew; Mark used Matthew and Luke) is correct, this would mean that we have essentially only the following sources for the Synoptic Gospel: Matthew and “L” (the material in Luke not found in Matthew), for Mark’s contribution would be minimal since 95% of Mark is found in Matthew or Luke.”[vi] Stein adds: “It is, of course, true that behind Matthew there would be sources that could serve as witnesses; but it would be for all practical purpose impossible to ascertain just what these sources were even as it is “impossible,” assuming the Lachmann-Streeter thesis, to ascertain the sources used by Mark.”[vii]
I guess that what is important here is to show how one questionable idea colludes with another to which it lends its support to make both pass as good scholarship. Farmer, who taught for ten years doctoral students the priority of Mark hypothesis, brings this to our attention. “In 1961, while addressing the Chicago Society of Biblical Research, I referred to the ‘Lachman Fallacy’… At that time I said: ‘The number of textbooks and lecture rooms in which this logical fallacy has been perpetrated is legion. I used it in my class for ten years. I estimate that there are at least three hundred intelligent human beings loose in the world who firmly believe in the priority of Mark because of the convincing use I made of that particular non sequitur.’”[viii] In other words, “the criterion of multiple attestations is still usable but would be of lesser value since we shall have lost entirely one witness―’M’ and due to size (the 5% of Mark not obtained from Matthew) for all real purposes have lost another―Mark!”[ix]
The fallacy to which Farmer refers is the idea that if Matthew and Luke made independent use of Mark as a source, from that idea cannot be implied the order or priority of Mark, as it is always assumed. If Matthew, Mark, and Luke are directly related rather than indirectly related through some earlier source which all three have independently copied, than the phenomenon of order no more supports the priority of Mark than the priority of Matthew or Luke.[x] According to Stein: “The man most responsible for this challenge and the revival of the Griesbach hypothesis (Matthew was first and was used by Luke; Mark used Matthew and Luke) is William R. Farmer, The Synoptic Problem: A Critical Analysis (MacMillan, 1964).”[xi]
The Evangelists did receive revelation; so they are not men of “scissors and glue,” who “cut and pasted”. They wrote books with an argument of their own, which intended to tell the story of Jesus. And that has been the solid answer validated time and again from the point of view of redaction criticism. Therefore, how much of the material is repeated by one or the other writers is important but is not the crux of the matter.
[i] William R. Farmer, The Synoptic Problem: A Critical Analysis, 4. What Lessing propose is highly improbable as it is imaginative. He said that since Christians were called first Nazarenes in Acts 24:5, they could have produced a written Gospel based on oral traditions of the apostles which is mentioned by some apostolic fathers as the Gospel of the Hebrews or some times the Gospel of the Nazarenes. Farmer adds “This hypothetical Gospel was written in Aramaic and originated soon after Jesus’ death”. Ibid.
[ii] Ibid., 5
[iii] Ibid., 5
[v] R.T. France & David Wenham, eds Gospel Perspectives, Vol. 1, Robert H. Stein, “The ‘Criteria’ for Authenticity,” 230-231
[vi] Ibid., 231
[vii] Note 17, Ibid., 232
[viii] Farmer, Ibid., viii
[ix] R.T. France & David Wenham, Ibid., 231
[x] Farmer, Ibid., 66
[xi] R.T. France & David Wenham, Ibid., 232 note 16. I met Mr. Farmer in a class on the Synoptic Problem by the late Dr. Harold Hoehner, who by the way, also supported the priority of Matthew. Farmer taught at Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology.