More on Luke Being the Last

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

The evangelist portrait from the Gospel of Luke
Image via Wikipedia

There are some interesting articles discussing the place of the Gospel of Luke in relation to John and the other gospels:

Acts 4:19-20—An Overlooked First-Century Clue to Johannine Authorship and Luke’s Dependence upon the Johannine Tradition


The John, Jesus, and History Project-New Glimpses of Jesus and a Bi-Optic Hypothesis

I would prefer to take more time to explore literary relationships before going too far with the assumptions in these for oral traditions.

When I get time to digest some of these more, I would like to compare them with other studies that place Acts very late, and our canonical form of Luke also late. By late I mean the latter half of the second century, from the time of, or even very soon after, Justin Martyr.

I have flirted from time to time with the works of Matson, Shellard, Lawrence Wills, Tyson, Pervo and others tend to think there are some neat political and doctrinal (catholicizing) reasons for placing our canonical Luke-Acts as the last composed of our NT gospels. Luke, I wonder, draws on Mark, Matthew, John, the Gospel of Peter and the Protoevengelium of James, and whatever was proto-Luke (probably a Marcionite gospel).

If Luke was the last and was consciously an attempt at unifying and catholicizing the gospels out there in the field, it would, I think, provide additional explanatory power to why he might have changed Matthew’s birth scene and the Sermon on the Mount. Those were very Mosaic, and Luke was looking very much for a Jerusalem and OT grounded religion, but Moses per se was too divisive. No time to discuss details now, but I am tossing this in as a thought-reminder to come back to.

Acts, its companion, was modeled on the legend of the founding of Rome: the hero, like Aeneas, leaving Jerusalem and voyaging via Troy (and via many tribulations) to establish the new Jerusalem at Rome. I began this blog with a series of posts exploring the hints of this in Acts, but ran out of steam when I found myself unable to get ready access to all the sources (and time) I needed to complete the project. It was a theme that I had often wondered about, and then when I read Marianne Bonz’s Past As Legacy. I decided to see if I could build on that to see if I could find a stronger case.

Will be on the road again next few days so don’t know how much will be able to do with blogging, let alone catch up reading. But by typing this post at least I’m creating a reminder for myself to come back to this when time permits.

The following two tabs change content below.

Neil Godfrey

Neil is the author of this post. To read more about Neil, see our About page.

Latest posts by Neil Godfrey (see all)

If you enjoyed this post, please consider donating to Vridar. Thanks!

32 thoughts on “More on Luke Being the Last”

  1. If Luke’s Theo is the second century bishop, I can find nothing in either Luke or Acts that precludes them from being written after the time of Justin Martyr. Of course, the argument is going to be that Luke was Paul’s proctologist and sailing buddy and that any infidel questioning this historical fact has been refuted long ago…

  2. There is no reason that a later redactor may have put theo’s name in the text at the time of justin martyr. Just because the old testament has this sort of revisionism it doesn’t mean that a later copier didn’t harbour the same bishop aggrandising tendencies.

    The thing is, would this sort of predilection be spotted elsewhere in the text, has theo been elevated to a major player, a moderate discussion or a passing jibe?

    Heads and hands were easily removed in those days. I’d say its a clincher that justin has related prose that he considered history (no, no, no, not the plot for zeitgeist)

  3. We don’t really know who Theophilus was do we? It appears to have been a pretty popular name (after all, who wasn’t a ‘lover of God’?). If we are going to play this game then the apologists could just as easily say it’s Theophilus ben Ananus or Mattathias ben Theophilus (see the wikipedia page on Theophilus), which would rescue a 1st century date for Luke.

    1. True, though when all the relevant data is included, the probability of this Theo being one of those you mentioned seems less likely. Take, for instance, Luke’s portrayal of Paul in Acts versus Paul’s portrayal of Paul in Galatians and both Mark’s and Paul’s portrayal of Peter versus the Luke/Acts’ portrayal of Peter.

      1. Well, according to the Theophilus wikipedia article there are those who seriously believe Theophilus to be one of the High Priests. You may be right that that is unlikely, but then there were also many Theophiluses that we don’t even know about. Luke could easily be writing to any of those. There’s also this idea that Luke was not even writing to an individual, but to Christians as ‘lovers of God’ and at the same time adopting a Greco-Roman historian’s style of writing. I don’t know about this, but I think it’s really hard to pin this one down.

        Also, we do know that Theophilus, the bishop of Antioch, knows the Gospel of John and he even attributes it to John. As far as I know there’s no textual evidence he also knew Luke’s Gospel. Of course, perhaps Theophilus only received Luke’s Gospel after writing his book to Autolycus, and of course it’s possible he did know Luke’s Gospel, but chose not to use it. Still, without any positive evidence that THIS Theophilus in Luke’s Theophilus my position remains that we just don’t know who he is.

          1. Oh, I see. Well, the date of Luke is something that really interests me and if the case could be made that this bishop is Luke’s Theophilus I have some rethinking to do. For me that’s just a little to late as I think Justin Martyr knows Luke’s Gospel and also that Marcion abridged Luke’s Gospel. I also think Polycarp’s letter to the Phillipians is dependent on Luke. On the other hand, I think Luke knows Mark, Matthew, John and he’s also dependent on Josephus. All this makes me think Luke is somewhere around 130 (give or take a decade).

            1. I think that Marcion had an earlier version of Luke that was closer to Mark, if it was not, in fact, Mark. That “Luke” edited this earlier work. That this editor knew Matthew, Mark(ion) and John and that this editor is also the author of Acts and possibly even the Pastorals, as well as the final editor of the Pauline corpus.

              1. At least we agree on Luke’s knowledge of Mark, Matthew and John! That’s already a pretty strong agreement. I only know two scholars who would agree with this (Matson and Shellard).

  4. Neill, I’m pleased we agree on the plausibility of Luke using Mark, Matthew and John, but I’m surprised that you would add the Gospel of Peter and the Protoevangelium of James (I’m also not to keen on proto-Luke but at least that has some scholarly support). Why do you think it is more likely that Luke used the Gospel of Peter and the Protoevangelium of James than vica verca?

    1. I don’t know of course, but what I wonder about are the following:

      1. Luke’s bringing Herod into the trial of Jesus. Now this seems so awkward, gratuitous, weird as it stands. What’s the narrative point? (I can explain most other details in Luke as relating to a narrative and/or theological agenda, but not this. As Price says, why would Herod send him back to Pilate after seeing nothing wrong with him? Pilate had tried to palm him off to Herod, but Herod sent him back? What gives here? Does the answer have anything to do with the belief (expressed in both Justin Martyr and the Gospel of Peter, that it was Herod the (“last”) King of the Jews who crucified Jesus, not Pilate. Pilate’s governorship is only a time-marker in Justin Martyr. Herod does the dirty — just as in the Gospel of Peter. Is Luke struggling here to bring Herod into the crucifixion narrative as part of a catholicizing agenda? If so, that would explain the awkwardness and inconsistencies surrounding his appearance.

      2. As for the Proto-James gospel, was this Luke’s inspiration for his alternative birth scenario to replace that of Matthew? Matthew is portraying Jesus as a superior Moses doppelganger from the moment of his birth. But Moses clearly stood for one partisan side of the various Christian controversies in the second century. If Luke knew Matthew it is very difficult to explain some of his variants. But if he knew both Matthew and the Protoevang. then he had a choice. I wonder if he adapted the latter to create what became the/a canonical birth narrative. (Justin Martyr seem to me to have known the Protoevang. gospel — but why do you think he also knew Luke? (I don’t have my notes with me to see if that is a bizarre question. I have typed up my understanding of what Justin knew at my website: http://vridar.info )

      I have also done a series of posts from Tyson on a recent argument for canonical Luke being very late. And I think I did the same re Acts from Pervo’s book on Dating Acts. All under the “Book review and comments category on this blog.)

      Right now I’m at Phuket in Thailand and struggling with a less than ideal free internet computer at my hotel. So it’s difficult to say much more on this sticky keyboard and difficult screen/speed. So will leave those two thoughts as an initial reply for now. Will be back to a more normal environment and connection next week.

      1. Neil, have you considered the Slavonic Josephus storyline re the wonderworker? There is no Herod in that storyline but there is a very interesting aspect of that storyline that might throw some light on why Herod was brought into Luke’s storyline. In the Slavonic Josephus account the wonderworker appears before Pilate two times. After the first appearance he is released – and goes back to his doing good deeds. It is the second appearance that leads to the crucifixion. Sure, Luke has Jesus being sent to Herod – but Herod Antipas has no legal jurisdiction in Jerusalem (Jesus being from Galilee being Luke’s reason for Pilate sending him to Herod – who just happens to be in Jerusalem…). Since most of the Jesus storyline occurs in Galilee – outside of Jerusalem – Herod being brought into Luke’s storyline could simply be an indication that a considerable time period occurred between the two appearances before Pilate, the Roman representative. A time when the wonderworker goes back to Galilee to continue his good deeds.

        This is of course just an attempt to make some sense of Herod being in Luke’s storyline. Historically, since Luke does not name, identify, Herod – it’s possible to draw upon a far wider time period for a historical event that could have been used, found to be meaningful, for the creation of the Jesus mythology: The 37 bc crucifixion and beheading of Antigonus – who Herod the Great sent to Mark Anthony at Antioch. (which is 70 years prior to the gospel crucifixion storyline – 33 ce…..)

        Wikipedia: “Antigonus II Mattathias was the only anointed King of the Jews (messiah) historically recorded to have been scourged and crucified by the Romans. Cassius Dio’s Roman History records: “These people [the Jews] Antony entrusted to a certain Herod to govern; but Antigonus he bound to a stake and scourged, a punishment no other king had suffered at the hands of the Romans, and so slew him.” In his Life of Antony, Plutarch claims that Antony had Antigonus beheaded, “the first example of that punishment being inflicted on a king”.

        John, Mark and Matthew keep Herod out of the Jesus crucifixion storyline. Luke seems to be indicating that there are two stories here – not one story. Already, with his take on the birth narrative, Luke (whoever) has moved the goalposts. If the Jesus mythology is dealing with a composite Jesus construct, ie it is taking bits and pieces from historical events in order to add colour to the Jesus image, then a dual storyline, a merged historical storyline, could provide an avenue for investigating Christian origins. …

        Slavonic Josephus:
        “And he sent and killed many of the people and brought in that wonderworker. After inquiring about him Pilate understood that he was a doer of good, not of evil, [and] not a rebel, nor one desirous of kingship; and he released him. For he had cured his wife, who was dying.

        And he went to the usual places and performed his usual deeds. And again, as more people gathered around him, he became renowned for his works more than all [others]. Again the lawyers were struck with envy against him. And they gave 30 talents to Pilate that they should kill him. And he took [it] and gave them liberty to carry out their wishes themselves. And they sought out a suitable time to kill him. For they had given Pilate 30 talents earlier, that he should give Jesus up to them. And they crucified him against the ancestral law, and they greatly reviled him.”

        1. I need to think more about your scenario. It does sound like there are story elements in Josephus that could have been used.

          I also wonder from your quotation of Slavonic Josephus if that relates to the Gospel of Peter. It reads like a perfectly coherent scenario to be attached to the surviving portion we have of the Gospel of Peter. (This has Pilate and Herod in cahoots, but Pilate washes his hands and leaves the dirty deed for Herod to carry out.) But this can only be speculation. So much has been lost.

          1. Yes, it looks possible that the Gospel of Peter has taken it’s idea re Herod from the gospel of Luke – Slavonic Josephus making no mention of Herod re the crucifixion scenario – only the two storylines, one in which Pilate releases the wonderworker and the second story re Pilate and the 30 talents. (and is there not a difference between the gospel of John and that of Mark re the 6th hour and the 3rd hour – indicating, perhaps, two storylines…..)

            It’s an interesting point that Luke chooses to introduce Herod into his storyline. Luke is usually taken to be the gospel historian, the one seeking to write an orderly account of events. But, to my way of thinking, Luke is not just writing about events from 6 ce to 29/30 ce. Both these dates can be viewed as ending a 70 year period. (from 63 bc, Pompey’s siege of Jerusalem, and from 40 bc, when Lysanias was ruler in Abilene – and Herod the Great became King in Rome. ) By bringing a Herod into the crucifixion storyline, Luke is again looking back to an earlier historical period – when Herod the Great, after his siege of Jerusalem, sent Antigonus to Mark Anthony who put him on a stake, scourged him and also beheaded him. (37 bc which is 70 years back from 33 ce.)

            So, while OT prophecy and stories have indeed been a source for much of the Jesus storyboard – that storyboard has also turned to more recent historical events for meaningful elements: The cutting of, by Simon Peter, of the ear of the slave of the high priest – Antigonus had the ears of the High Priest, Hyrcanus cut off (to prevent him from ever serving in that position again). The trilingual sign over the cross – Antigonus had his coins minted in two languages: One side with Hebrew – Mattatayah the High Priest and Council of the Jews – the other side Greek – King Antigonus.

            Was the Antigonus history as a ‘model’ for the gospel crucifixion storyboard? Interestingly, Slavonic Josephus only later adds the mythology – the temple curtain shredding and other signs only added at a later retelling of the story.

            Yes, I know, Slavonic Josephus is dated around the 11th or 12th centuries – but that is only dating the translation. The Jesus storyline within Slavonic Josephus could well be a very early account of the story – a bare bones storyline that has later been developed. Who knows for sure – but it would be quite something if all those searching for Q – ie for an early source document – could be, in the case of Slavonic Josephus, having it before their eyes but failing to comprehend it for what it is…..

            1. Hi Mary,

              Your posts generally approach the questions from a perspective that requires a lot more investigation for me to know how to respond. But one detail you mention that I has struck me in this idle hour between activities in a fabulous Phuket, Thailand weekend, is the reference in Josephus to the cutting off of the high priests ears. Unless cutting off ears was a common everyday thing to happen to any old body in those days, the fact that it is a part of the history (as reported in Josephus) does force one to pause when considering the Gospel narrative of the cutting off the ear of the servant of the High Priest.

              I have a half completed draft waiting to post next week in which I look at Nickelsburg’s argument that Peter was being depicted in the Gospels — or specifically the Gospel of Matthew — as the ideological replacement to the Jerusalem High Priest.

              It is an interesting observation you have raised in this context.

      2. That’s an interesting thought on the relationship between GPeter and GLuke. I’ve read a lot of Price, but this idea is new to me (where can I find it?). At some point I’ll take another look at the Gospel of Peter’s relationship to the synoptics.

        With regards to the protevangelion of James vs Luke I don’t really see much in Luke’s infancy narrative that is hard to explain. I consider Luke to be quite creative and Luke obviously was aware of Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus as a new Moses. This does not appear to be Luke’s view. Luke puts much more emphasis on Jesus as a prophet than Matthew does and therefore he finds allusions to Samuel 1-2 much more appropriate than all of those Matthean allusions to Moses. Even outside of the infancy narrative he finds it necessary to take away the Moses allusion with Jesus giving his new law on the mountain in Matthew and instead has him go down from the mountain before his sermon on the plain.

        Also, I do actually find it plausible that Luke-Acts was written partly in response to Marcionite teachings. To emphasize Jesus’s relationship to Judaism his narrative outline in Luke-Acts is very generally ‘first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles’. Having Jesus circumcised and brought to the temple is part of the ‘first to the Jews’ theme (we also have Jesus as a teenager in the temple of course). Jesus is born as one of the Jews and he focuses all his efforts on the Jews all throughout the Gospel. Very significant is also Luke bringing the rejection at Nazareth forward, which shows so nicely Luke’s purpose in his Gospel. Jesus comes first to the Jews, but he is ultimately rejected by them – enter the Gentiles (in Acts – but with some foreshadowing of this already in his Gospel). Heck, even Luke’s great omission of Markan material is because Luke avoids Jesus directly interacting with the Gentiles and their land. Luke even prevents Jesus from coming into direct contact with the Centurion while he heals his servant (and at the same time this healing foreshadows the turn to the Gentiles with the words ‘verily, not even in Israel have I found such faith’).

        Given Luke’s different view of Jesus relative to Matthew as well as his narrative plot of having Jesus come as one of the Jews and focusing all his attention on them, what makes it so hard to understand Luke’s changes relative to Matthew. I think I side with Goodacre on this one and don’t really see a problem.

        What about Justin? Well, clearly Justin has much stronger parallels with Matthew than with Luke, but they are still there and they need to be explained. Most of them are thought to be be harmonizations of Matthew and Luke (so Koester for example), but there’s also an isolated bit of uniquely lukan material:

        1 Apology 17.4: “Whom God has given more, even more will be demanded from him.”

        Luke 12.48: “From everyone to whom much has been given much will be required, and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.”

        We also have (from Koester’s Ancient Christian Gospels, p. 381):

        Dial. 100.5 … that the spirit of the Lord would come upon her and the power of the Most Hogh would overshadow her; therefore the holy one that is born from her should be called Son of God, she answered, “let it be to me according to your word.”

        Luke 1.35, 38: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the holy one that is born from you shall be called Son of God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

        Koester also thinks Justin’s reference to Cyrenius is dependent on Luke 2:2.

        Aprt from these clear parallels much more typical of the relationship between Justin, Matthew and Luke is that Justin often has sayings that partly parallel Matthew and partly parallel Luke. Koester considers these to be harmonizations. You can check them out in his book Ancient Christian Gospels. I actually used to play with the idea that perhaps Justin used Matthew and that the Matthean text he knew happened to have the Lukan elements (as the Matthean text that we have certainly is not the text anybody in the 2nd century had). I don’t think this quite works though and that Justin’s primary use of Matthew with additional secondary knowledge of Luke is more plausible. I’m open to alternatives though.

          1. That’s possible of course. So far I have not seen anybody attempting to demonstrate this. I have considered a variant of this where Justin Martyr’s text is an earlier version of Matthew (as the parallels with Matthew are much stronger). I couldn’t quite make it work and still favor the mainstream view that Justin Martyr is dependent on Matthew and Luke. If anybody could provide a good case for an alternative I’d be interested.

            1. What makes me uncomfortable with the way we use Justin Martyr are those passages in his writings that sound awfully reminiscent of passages in Romans, or the epistles of John. If Paul was the Marcionite apostle, and Justin nowhere makes any mention of Paul, presumably because he was claimed by the Marcionites, how do we account for that Romans 11 passage. (Sorry, will have to try to dig out the exact reference tomorrow,)

              I know at least one scholar who has argued that the passages in Justin that refer to the Memoirs of the Apostles have all the appearance of being later insertions. They apparently only pop up when a certain theme is introduced, and are oddly absent in other places where they would be expected to appear.

              How much of the Justin Martyr texts that we read is really original to him?

              1. There are a lot of interesting issues concerning Justin Martyr. His version of the kingdom and kids/rebirth saying is close to the Johannine version and not the synoptic version. He also has a parallel to a Matthew saying that happens to be closer to the James version (which is where I think Matthew got it) and he also has a clear parallel to the Gospel of Peter (sorry, I also don’t have the texts with me right now). There are many more interesting parallels with other texts. The situation is definately more complex than Justin Martyr just knowing our versions of Matthew and Luke and no other Gospels. That’s pretty obvious.

  5. As for Theophilus (=god-lover), I wonder how impressed “he” would have been to have simply been told, Hey, I have all the facts here that will explain everything, yet at the same time not name a single source for verification purposes. Hell, the author does not even put his own name on it. This strikes me as an attempt to create an appearance of authenticity without being overly burdened by a need to record any identities of either any eyewitness or author. What do these facts suggest about the nature and function of both Luke and Acts?

    1. I’m not terribly convinced that “Theophilus” is supposed to be the name of an individual at all. The coincidence that “Luke” is addressing the text of his books to a man named “friend of God”. Theophilus feels more like a title – almost as if Luke had used the “brother” instead we might be arguing who the particular “Adelphos” he was addressing the book to might be.

      The phrasing of the intros feels as much like something you might pass on to an initiate who has been introduced to the faith and is looking for the whole story of the faith as it does the result of a historian commissioned by a believer to compose a history.

      Am I way off base with this? Is there a particular reason outside of the fact that we know that there were people named “Theophilus” to think that it is supposed to be a proper name at all rather than a title?

  6. A few comments:

    1. Much of “Luke” is actually Marcion, who predated Luke. Marcion, however, did not influence any gospels besides Luke. Luke-Acts is indeed very late (though like Neil, I think Marcion’s gospel was earlier than people think).

    2. The relationships between Marcion’s gospel (“Mc”) and GJn are explained by their use of a proto-gospel pG.

    3. Marcion’s introduction of Herod into the PN was indeed based on GPet (which predated both Marcion and Matthew’s gospel).

    4. There is indeed a distance relationship among GPet, the proto-gospel pG, and Slavonic Josephus, which I will someday blog about. In short, I am convinced that in pG, Jesus was indeed arrested twice, just as the Slavonic TF says he was–this is reflected in the Johannine timeline, and was adapted by Mark–actually by Secret Mark–into the canonical timeline we know today. Basically if anything is a record of what historically happened, the Slavonic Testimonium is it.

    I show most of this in the diagrams for my Hyper-Synoptic Hypothesis, found on my blog.

    1. Slavonic Josephus as “a record of what historically happened”? (re the Jesus story). Hardly. What should always be kept in mind when reading Josephus is the fact that he himself (whoever he was or whoever is writing under that name) claims other roles for himself besides that of historian: Josephus is a priest, he has prophetic dreams and is able to interpret them. In other words, Josephus does not just function as a historian. He is also a prophetic historian ie he can view history through a prophetic lens.

      War Book 111 ch.V111 sect. 3

      “…he called to mind the dreams which he had dreamed in the night-time, whereby God had signified to him beforehand both the future calamities of the Jews, and the event that concerned the Roman Emperors. Now Josephus was able to give shrewd conjectures about the interpretations of such dreams as have been ambiguously delivered by God. Moreover, he was not unacquainted with the prophecies contained in the sacred books, as being a priest himself, and of the posterity of priests; and just then he is in ecstasy; and setting before him the tremendous images of the dreams he had lately had, ……he put up a secret prayer to God……….And I protest openly, that I do not go over to the Romans as a deserter of the Jews, but as a minister from thee”.

      Prophetic Figures in Late Second Temple Jewish Palestine: The Evidence from Josephus: Rebecca Gray:

      “Josephus presents himself in two different, but overlapping, prophetic roles. He appears , first, as a Jeremiah-like figure, a priest who denounces sin and preaches repentance, whose message is the submission to foreign rule is God’s will, who stands fast against the delusions of false prophets and rebels, and who is concerned, above all, with preserving God’s holy temple. He claims to have been called to perform this role in a dramatic moment of revelation he which in appears, secondly, as a Daniel-type figure, an esoteric wise man who can interpret the meaning of even the most difficult dreams and omens, who understands the prophecies of the sacred books, and who knows God’s plans for kings and kingdoms’ in this portrait, too, I noted a certain priestly element. Like Daniel, Josephus was to rise to a position of prominence under a foreign ruler as a result of his prophetic gifts and would be subject to accusations from envious opponents and rivals.”

      Also of note is : : Dreams and Dream Reports in the Writing of Josephus, A Traditio-Historical Analysis: Robert Karl Gnuse.

      And lets not forget that Josephus is also a Hasmonean – with all of what that would contribute in writing a history of the Herodian time period. (I sometimes think one could substitute Herodians for Jews in reading GJohn and get a more historical perspective of the time period.)

      Looking to Josephus for historical evidence needs to be done cautiously. Reading history from a ‘prophetic historian’ needs to be undertaken with care.

    2. I see you have 21 literary relations in your model. I hope you will attempt to demonstrate why these relations are more plausible than the mainstream view.

      The most obvious error from my perspective in your model is that you have the Gospel of the Ebionites prior to GLuke and GMatthew. I agree with the traditional view that the Gospel of the Ebionites is dependent on multiple synoptic Gospels and you can see this most clearly in the baptism of Jesus where the Gospel of the Ebionites has each of the three different ‘words from God’ (and even the correct western variant of the Lukan text as demonstrated by Ehrman). This is one of the most obvious harmonizations we have in any of our texts I would say.

  7. maryhelena: I did say “*if* anything is a record” 🙂

    Bill Warrant: but let’s look at the traditional synoptic hypotheses. Farrer-Goulder has three literary connections: Mk-Mt, Mk-Lk, and Mt-Lk. But to explain GJn you need to add, at the very least, Mk-Jn. So that’s four.

    A two-source hypothesis would make five (Q-Mt, Q-Lk, Mk-Mt, Mk-Lk, and Mk-Jn).

    But we’ve just been discussing how GLk resembles GJn. So you need to add another. We’re up to six.

    Now assume that GTh is derivative of the canonicals. That adds four more connections. Making ten.

    Now assume that GPet is derivative of the canonicals. There are links among GPet and all four canonicals. We now have fourteen connections.

    Now assume Secret Mark is derivative of canonical Mark. That makes fifteen. But we also know that there are relationships between Secret Mark and all four canonicals–indeed, this is the basis for Francis Watson’s argument for forgery. So that adds three more connections, making eighteen.

    Now assume Marcion edited GLk. We have nineteen.

    Now let’s say GEbi is derived from GMt. We have twenty. And then say GNaz is also derived from GMt, and we have twenty-one. But then, there are relationships between GNaz and GLk-Ac as well, so we reach twenty-two.
    Then there is also the relationship between GEbi and GTh, and GNaz and GTh, so we reach twenty-four. We’re already ahead of my count. If we include M and L, we reach twenty-six. Should we add the Signs Source? Twenty-seven.

    And four of my connections are due to my use of a proto-gospel, which in the more usual hypotheses is just covered by “oral tradition”–so they have the same connections as I do; they just think it isn’t literary. If my proto-gospel were just an oral tradition, I would have only seventeen connections. And one or two of my connections are tentative, and I will probably clean them up a bit later, leaving me with even fewer.

    So my hypothesis is actually a simplification of current theory.

    1. the_cave: maryhelena: I did say “*if* anything is a record” 🙂
      OK – apologies if I read you wrong…..
      Indeed, Slavonic Josephus could well be the oldest version of the Jesus story…

  8. Cave,

    Yes, but making a good case for anyone of these literary relations is already worth a PhD thesis. How are you gong to make a case for each and every one of these relations?

  9. I will only do my best to show that the Hyper-Synoptic Hypothesis is plausible–as plausible as any other synoptic solution. And I will show (IMO) that is has depth and scope–it explains some famously knotty problems, and it explains multiple phenomena all at once. If it seems ambitious, so be it–I think its merits will be visible to those who understand the issues, over time. It will probably take me several more months to flesh out the most important arguments. (And FWIW, I’ve spent the past ten years on it. Besides, my work is based on the efforts of those scholars who came before me, notably Helmut Koester, but also qualfied and intelligent amateur scholars like David Ross, Michael Turton, and Roger Viklund. I would argue that my efforts are not much more ambitious than theirs.)

    And GEbi is somewhat incidental to my diagram–I mostly include it for the sake of completeness. It could be that it belongs in a slightly different location–the diagram is somewhat fluid on the Matthean side, and I would not be surprised if it still needs a little attention there. I placed GEbi prior to GMt because it is written from the perspective of Matthew, and therefore seems to be the inspiration behind a gospel called “according to Matthew”. If it is a conflation, it seems a poor one–indeed, the only detail GEbi includes from either Matthew or Luke’s birth narratives is that John was an Aaronite, and the son of Zachary and Elizabeth. It seems hard to believe that the author of GEbi, if he had both birth narratives before him, would preserve this one detail, but throw out all the rest, and convert Matthew and Luke’s strongly incarnational theologies into an adoptionist one. And it seems unlikely to me that adoptionism could be posterior to an incarnational theology at all; rather, it should be prior to it (and indeed was, in GMk).

    It’s not impossible, of course, that GEbi is in fact derivative of GMt and GLk; I just find it unlikely.

    To be sure, there are also clear connections between GEbi and GLk. I was hopeful that all those could run through GNaz as an intermediary. Obviously “today I have begotten you” can’t be one of them, since we know that the GNaz baptism doesn’t use that phrase. Maybe GEbi and GPet need to switch places in my diagram–I considered that arrangement, too. Or maybe I’m just missing a link between GEbi and GLk. I once considered one, and it’s easily fixed. The real question here is, how can we distinguish between a harmonization, and an elaboration?

  10. BTW, it gets even worse for the traditional theories–they have to rely on a process of inter-gospel emendation to explain numerous features. Thus, each canonical gospel uses each other gospel as a literary source as well, adding 4×3=12 sources, bringing our new grand total to 39 lines of literary connections among the four gospels, the apocryphals, and their sources, even for the simplest traditional theories. So my hypothesis reduces these connections by more than half.

    Now, of course I think there were all sorts of emendations that went on for centuries. But I argue that this process of emendation goes all the way back to the very beginning of the textual tradition–it’s not as though there’s some sort of demarcation line, before which all mongraphs were pure, and after which the “authentic” texts became “corrupted” by emendation. The manuscript traditions form a continuum, reaching back to the very moment of authorial creation, when the first text we would recognize as a “gospel” was written down. The process of emendation has been going on since the first scribe made the first copy of the first written manuscript of this first gospel text. Meaning that in its earlier phases, “corruption” was nothing more than gospel-writing. The transition from composition and redaction to correction and emendation was gradual, not abrupt.

    And I think this realization is revealing–it shows us that there were no pure monographs of each canonical gospel that later became corrupted by scribes. There were, of course, original documents, but we should not expect these to be clear-cut versions of what we call “Matthew” “Mark” “Luke” or “John”. Instead, there is a “Matthean” tradition, a “Markan” tradition, a “Lukan” tradition, a “Johannine” tradition, and they themselves are only branches of earlier traditions that would not have known such distinctions.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Discover more from Vridar

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading