Re: Q and Papias

on Sat, Oct 29th, 1994, David wrote

>On Sat, 29 Oct 1994, Carl W Conrad wrote:
> On 27 Oct 1994, STEVE SCHAPER wrote:
> >  
> >  Identical? No. Curiously different in wording, while being very similar. The
> > closest analogy I've seen are separate eyewitnesses writing down what they've
> > remembered of a speech or major event.
>In many cases the differences in wording can be explained simply as
>"Matthew's" improving (in his eyes) or changing a term in Mark that was
>found inappropriate or inelegant.

     This seems to me to be begging the question.  It assumes that Matthew used Mark and Q and based on that hypothesis, posits "an" explanation for the
differences. If not bounded by this hypothesis, there are other options, at 
least some of which I find more attractive.  My problem with this notion
of "improving" is that to make Q work, a whole slew of auxillary hypotheses
must be developed to account for problems.  WHile not defending another view
as such, I wold consider a hypothesis with that many holes to plug to have a
very slim chance of representing reality, as I would for any other 
hypothesis that lives or dies by a multitude of auxillary hypotheses which are
little more than speculation.  We're not talking here about something fairly
plain like the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20.  I'd prefer a hypothesis that
answers basic questions like why the wording differs without having to resort
to other, IMHO questionable, speculations about how to account for the 
problems.  That mine mean no theory at all I suppose, but is it really a
problem to just read each Gospel and attempt to interpret its picture of
Jesus without deciding how/why Matthew's version of a pericope differs from 
Mark's?  I'm NOT saying, "Don't compare them".  I'm saying "Don't base your
analysis of their differences on a problem-ridden hypothetical construction
that does not seem to add anything to our understanding of what the text 
as it stands meant to its author and audience."  I am also NOT saying it
is a waste of time to ask questions about sources.  As long as such 
questions can only receive hypothetical answers, however, I don't want to base
my understanding of the text upon them.  Is that a reasonable approach?

Ken Litwak  

Ken Litwak