Q and Papias

JOHNSOST@cgs.edu (Steve Johnson) wrote:

>	I am still waiting for an argument that adequately accounts for the
>poorer quality Greek that consistently characterizes Mark over against 
>Matthew or Luke from those who reject the argument that Matthew and Luke
>improved the markan text.  

     I had hesitated to enter this discussion since questions concerning Q
and the Two Source hypothesis are not of burning interest to me.  I'm willing
to work with the text we have.  But Steve's challenge is of interest, since I
have thought some about questions of priority among the Evangelists.  

     I can't say that I "reject the argument that Matthew and Luke have
improved the markan text."  IMO, we shouldn't reject out of hand any of the
hypotheses that are not blatantly self-contradictory or based on known
falsehoods, for we are not talking about certainties in these matters but
about probabilities.  Even the most highly improbable hypothesis might be
true as long as it doesn't contradict established facts and logic.  Of course
we may choose a working hypothesis from among the most probable of the
possibilities, and this is what both the proponents of the Two Source
hypothesis and (Griesbach-)Farmer believe they have.

     Many of those who have come at the problem of sources and priority among
the Evangelists, dismiss Papias's testimony - as reported by Eusebius (Ch.
Hist. 3:39:15,16) - as either undecipherable or _prima facie_ unreliable.
 This has given rise to arguments and hypotheses based on the text itself.
 The text, and the agreement and differences among the Evangelists certainly
must be given weight as valuable evidence.  But we may be making a mistake by
tossing out the only exterior evidence available to us, in rejecting Papias
out of hand.  It may be that by integrating pertinent data from the testimony
of Papias we may make headway on the matter of the priority and the nature of
the interdependence of the Gospel witnesses.

     Papias's use of the term LOGIA in referring to the writings of Matthew
has been a stumbling block for some who claim that we can't know if his
reference is to a Gospel or what.  If, from the few quotes we have from
Papias, we may judge by how he employs LOGION in other places, it might be
profitable to note that he uses the same word to speak of the information
that Mark (according to Papias's testimony) collected from Peter.  He speaks
of Peters account of TWN KURIAKWN ... LOGIWN.  Since, in the context of
Papias' mention of Mark's gospel, the name LOGIWN is given to the material of
which Mark's Gospel was composed, it seems safe to conclude that in the
similar context in reference to Matthew, LOGION must have a similar meaning.

     If then, Papias is talking about a document with essentially the content
of what we know as Matthew when he says, "MATQAIOS MEN OUN E(BRAIDI DIALEKTW
TA LOGIA SUNETAXATO....", we should probably consider the possibility that
Matthew was written originally in the Aramaic tongue.  If this were so, then
Matthew, at some early point, was translated into Greek.  If the Gospel of
Mark were already extant in Greek when Matthew was translated (although not
necessarily writen before Matthew), it would not be illogical to think that
the person who was translating could have had a copy of Mark available and
have conformed Matthew's language to Mark's wherever common subject matter
permitted.  Such a scenario would also account for the better style of
Matthew, for the translator would not feel absolutely obligated to slavishly
follow Mark if Matthew's text did not warrant or if Mark's style were not
eloquently expressed in certain passages.  Luke, who said that he used
sources, would have worked from both Aramaic Matthew and from Mark which
would account for his often agreement with Mark against Matthew if we may
assume that Greek was Luke's native tongue, and so he would naturally be more
apt to use Mark in those passages where the latter and Matthew covered the
same material.  And Luke's inclusion of what is called Q material would be
his translation from Matthew's Aramaic.

     Please understand that I don't present this conjecture as something by
which I sink or swim.  As mentioned above, what we are looking for is
plausibility, not certainty.  IMHO, however, this is one scenario that could
account for the better style of the Greek in Matthew and Luke than in Mark.

David L. Moore