Thursday, April 9, 2009

Jesus Remembered




Recently James Dunn published Jesus Remembered, a roughly one thousand page tome in which he presented a new method for the historical study of Jesus. Although Dunn strongly endorsed the two-source theory, his new method for studying Jesus opens what may be a previously unexplored option for a solution to the synoptic problem. This article will provide an overview and analysis of Dunn’s historical method and will attempt to demonstrate that, if taken to its logical conclusion, it may provide a better solution to the synoptic problem.
Since the foundation of Dunn’s method is the work of Kenneth Bailey, a substantial part of the article will be devoted to reviewing Bailey’s work as the background for understanding Dunn.


Kenneth Bailey is a New Testament specialist who has lived and worked in Middle Eastern communities for forty years.[2] He argues that cultural insights on the way in which these villages use oral tradition, combined with the “standard critical tools of Western scholarship” and knowledge from ancient literature can provide windows into the formation of the Gospels that have never before been explored.[3]

Bailey distinguishes between three kinds of oral tradition: formal controlled, informal controlled, and informal uncontrolled. Bultmann is used as an example of the later. Bultmann believed that the earliest followers of Jesus were not interested in preserving the Jesus tradition, that much of this tradition was, therefore, the creation of early Christian communities, and that it was possible to distinguish between various layers of the tradition behind the Synoptic Gospels.[4] Since Bultmann’s model envisioned no formal teachers or students, and therefore, no controls on the transmission of the oral tradition, Bailey calls this model “informal, uncontrolled tradition.”[5]

The Scandinavian school of Riesenfeld and Gerhardsson provides an example of formal controlled tradition.[6] Gerhardsson studied the teaching techniques of ancient Jewish rabbis and concluded that their students learned using notes, repetition and memorization.[7] The process is formal in that teachers are involved, and controlled since memorization insured accurate transmission.

According to Bailey, practices consistent with both the Bultmannian and Scandinavian models are still found in the Middle East today. Informal uncontrolled tradition can be seen in wild rumors like “atrocity stories” in which three people killed in a random explosion can quickly expand to “a story of 300 people massacred in cold blood”.[8] Formal controlled tradition can be seen in the fact that Eastern Orthodox priests memorize hundreds of pages of liturgy, and Muslim clerics memorize the entire Qur’an.[9] It is not, however, just the professional clerics who are adept at memorization. Bailey recalls an Arab taxi driver who once recited the entire book of Psalms to him by memory.[10]

Bailey contends that the Synoptic Gospels are too similar to each other to be the product of uncontrolled oral tradition, and too different from each other to be the product of formal controlled oral tradition.[11] He argues that if the Gospels were the product of formal controlled oral tradition involving notes and memorization, one would not expect the amount of variation that exists between parallel Gospel passages.

Bailey, therefore, proposes a third option: “informal controlled oral tradition.”[12] Examples of this can be found all over the Middle East where people in isolated communities[13] meet in social gatherings nearly every night to preserve their community’s heritage by reciting poems and retelling stories.[14] The meetings, called haflat samara (“a party for preservation”), are informal in the sense that there are no teachers or students, but they are controlled in the sense that those who tell the stories must do so within strict limits.

The stories told in the haflat samra involve three levels of flexibility. On one end of the spectrum are jokes, casual news of the day, and inter-communal violence which can be told with great flexibility.[15] Poems and proverbs are on the other end of the spectrum and must be told verbatim.[16] Historical stories and parables that are important to the identity of the community fall in between. These can be told with some degree of flexibility, which means that the dialog, the order of events and minor details can be changed slightly to reflect the story teller’s style and interests, but the core of the story cannot be changed at all.[17] The community considers the correct telling of these stories to be crucial to their identity so if the storyteller errs, he is subject to the shame of immediate public correction.[18]

While Bailey believes that some of the material in the Gospels may have been formally memorized as envisioned in the Scandinavian model, he is convinced that the informal controlled tradition best accounts for the variation found in the Synoptic Gospels. Stories about Jesus had to be preserved accurately, Bailey insists, or the foundation for the communities’ very existence would be undermined.[19]


Dunn follows Bailey in insisting that Bultmann’s model does not adequately explain the data found in the Synoptic Gospels. Dunn argues that Bultmann’s whole perspective was anachronistic in that he essentially applied a literary model to an oral culture. While Bultmann envisioned the Jesus tradition as a series of layers in which editors of later layers arranged and edited earlier traditions, Dunn insists that “In oral transmission a tradition is performed, not edited”.[20] On the other hand, Dunn agrees with Bailey that Gerhardsson’s model cannot easily explain the differences in the Synoptic traditions.[21]

Dunn, therefore, not only advocates Bailey’s model of informal controlled tradition, but adds to the thesis by arguing that support for this model can be found within the text of the New Testament itself. Dunn argues that “if the Gospels tell us anything they surely tell us that the first Christians felt the need to explain themselves by telling stories about Jesus….”[22] Further, “Paul was careful to refer his churches back to such foundation traditions...,” [23] including traditions about community[24] and about how new converts should conduct their lives.[25]
Confirmation is also seen in the themes of teaching[26] and witness bearing in the New Testament.[27] The prominence of these themes suggests that early Christians placed great emphasis on witnessing and teaching about Jesus. Even more prominent is the theme of remembering, which is found not only in the New Testament but in the apostolic fathers as well.[28]

Dunn concludes that the New Testament provides substantial evidence that Jesus’ earliest followers were careful to preserve and pass on the Jesus tradition,[29] and that the stories were, therefore, not just the free creations of creative communities as Bultmann imagined.[30]

On the other hand, Dunn points out that stories such as the healing of the centurion’s servant,[31] the stilling of the storm,[32] and other stories in the double or triple tradition, are all worded differently enough to question the idea that these stories were passed on through memorization.[33] While these stories show evidence of abbreviation, omission, clarification, and explanation, the core of the story always remains the same.[34] Dunn relies on Bailey to show that this is precisely the nature of story-telling in Middle Eastern culture.[35]

Dunn is convinced, therefore, that “the oral character of the traditioning process” is still evident in the Synoptic gospels. Dunn likens the process to a continuous run of some classic play in which the dialog and oral interpretation may change slightly, but the plot remains essentially the same.[36] He argues that while there are variations in the Gospel stories, elements of the Jesus tradition which are consistent from Gospel to Gospel are part of the core and go back to the remembrances of the earliest followers of Jesus.[37]

Dunn argues, therefore, that any feature which is characteristic within the Jesus tradition and relatively distinctive of the Jesus tradition[38]most likely reflects the original impact made by Jesus’ teaching and actions on his first disciples.”[39] To find this core of characteristic features Dunn uses numerous charts, placing parallel texts side by side as in a Gospel synopsis.[40] He then identifies and critically analyzes those elements that are consistent across the tradition, separating the core from the variables that change from Gospel to Gospel.[41] He uses the core traditions to support his view of the historical Jesus.

Dunn assumes that traditions appearing in Matthew, Mark, and Luke are essentially independent “performances”, although, paradoxically, he strongly affirms his belief in the two-source theory which, of course, is a theory of literary dependence. As argued below, this combination tends to undermine his whole thesis.


The most immediate concern regarding Dunn’s proposal is the question of whether it is valid to read modern Middle Eastern culture back into the first century. Bailey himself answers this objection, affirming that ancient evidence must always take precedence over modern cultural observations.[42] He insists, however, that in the absence of ancient evidence the only choices available are to build models either from modern Middle Eastern culture or from modern western culture. It is modern western culture, he argues, that has formed the basis for critical Gospel scholarship for over one hundred years.[43]

Dunn however, advanced Bailey’s case by showing that the issue is not lack of ancient evidence since support for Bailey’s model comes not just from modern Middle Eastern culture, but from the New Testament itself.

A more serious issue is that while Bailey and Dunn argue that the Synoptic Gospels are the result of informal controlled oral tradition, both go out of their way to affirm the two-source theory. This seems a little like trying to mix oil and water and raises the question: Were Matthew and Luke copying from and redacting Mark and Q as the two source theory proposes, or were they retelling oral tradition? [44]

Dunn tries to resolve this problem by arguing that many of the Jesus traditions would have taken definite shape before the Evangelists wrote them down, and that Matthew and Luke in particular “would probably have known many of these oral traditions independently of their knowledge of written collections, including Mark and Q.”[45] This may well have been the case, but it begs the question: Were Matthew and Luke re-telling oral traditions or were they copying and redacting Mark and Q? These seem to be almost mutually exclusive options.

Dunn uses parallel columns of the text of Matthew, Mark and Luke to recover what he believes are the core elements in the Jesus tradition. This may be a perfectly valid methodology if Matthew, Mark and Luke were independently re-telling oral tradition about Jesus. But if Matthew and Luke simply copied from Mark and Q, similarities would not be the product of core oral tradition, but simply the fact that Matthew and Luke copied from Mark and Q.


While Dunn’s hypothesis is good, it falters by trying to combine the two-source theory with the informal controlled oral tradition model. The easiest solution would be for Dunn to drop his insistence on the two-source theory and to follow his method to its logical conclusion.

For example, suppose Papias was taken seriously when he insisted that Mark, the traveling companion of Peter, took special care to write down accurately what Peter had been preaching about Jesus. We might imagine that Mark, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, selects and retells some of these stories in his own words, taking care to maintain the core of the story as accurately as possible, which is consistent with the informal controlled tradition model. The Gospel of Mark then evidently became quite popular in Christian circles as evidenced by its use by Matthew and Luke.[46]

Since early preachers like Paul could not always stay in one place very long, since manuscripts were expensive to produce and since many Christians may have been illiterate, there is nothing improbable with the assumption that local church elders taught potential leaders to learn gospels like Mark or Matthew by memory[47]--a common teaching method in both Greek and Jewish cultures of the time.

Luke’s extensive knowledge of both Matthew and Mark may imply that he himself had memorized those Gospels.[48] Luke uses these sources, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to tell the story of Jesus in his own Gospel. For whatever reasons, he generally chooses to follow Mark’s outline and often quotes Mark verbatim; but, in keeping the informal controlled oral tradition model, he has a degree of freedom to tell the story in his own style and in his own words. As a skillful storyteller, Luke interweaves material from oral tradition, eyewitness testimony and the material he had memorized from Matthew into Mark’s outline.

This simple proposal answers many of the questions that have plagued synoptic theories for over a century. 1) It explains the similarities in the gospels by the fact that Luke had memorized Mark and much or all of Matthew. 2) It explains dissimilarities by appealing to the informal controlled tradition model which allows the story teller to tell the story in his own words as long as the story is accurate and the core remains the same. 3) It explains why Matthew and Luke follow Mark’s outline when according to Papias, Mark was not written in chronological order. 4)
It explains that many pericopes appear out of order due to the fact that informal controlled oral tradition allows for changes in the order. 5) It agrees with all of the arguments that have convinced most scholars of the priority of Mark,[49] although the priority of Mark is not an essential feature of this proposal.


Some will undoubtedly object to this proposal on the grounds that it is improbable that someone would memorize all of Mark and/or Matthew. Yet that judgment of improbability may be the result of our own cultural bias.[50]

The importance of memorization in the Middle East has been clearly demonstrated by numerous scholars. Although some of these studies have been charged with being anachronistic, this charge seems a little disingenuous because the alternative consists largely of modern western cultural models.[51]

Could it be that Gospel memorization appears unlikely to western scholars because most of us have never memorized entire gospels?[52] Have scholars projected a modern western bias against memorization unto an entirely foreign culture in which books were not readily available and people regularly learned by memorization?

If memorization still seems improbable, however, consider the most popular alternative: the two-source theory. Many have been so conditioned to accept the idea of “Q” we forget that postulating a lost source is always problematic and should be used only as a last resort. Stein concedes, “The Q hypothesis is not without its problems, but it possesses fewer difficulties than alternative hypotheses.[53]

But just because it possesses fewer difficulties does not lessen the magnitude of the difficulties. For example, is it really reasonable to propose the kind of copying gymnastics[54]necessary for Matthew to copy from Mark and Q? We would have to imagine for example, that Matthew has a blank scroll in front of him as well as scrolls of Mark and Q. The material in Matthew 3:1-6 is borrowed from Mark 1:2-6.[55] Matthew then inserts material from Q3 and then continues with Mark 1:7-39. He then rolls his scroll of Mark forward[56] significantly to copy from Mark 7:7-13 after which he rolls his Q scroll forward to copy from Q6. He then jumps forward even further in his Mark scroll to chapter 9 before rolling his scroll back to Mark 4. Then it’s back to the Q scroll which he unrolls even more to copy from Q16. Next he returns to his Mark scroll, unrolling it from Mark 4 all the way up to Mark 11:25, before backing up his scroll to Mark 9:43-48…and so it goes.[57]

Quite frankly, this would not be easy even for someone who was cutting and pasting with a word processor. How much more difficult for someone who was copying by hand while rolling and unrolling handwritten scrolls that didn’t even have spaces between the words, much less chapter and verse divisions![58] In fact, for someone to know just where in the scroll to look for the exact information he needed, he would almost have had to memorize the entire gospels anyway!

Goodacre[59] and others,[60] however, have shown that problems with the two source theory are much more substantial than usually recognized. In addition to the problem of postulating a lost source and assuming literary gymnastics improbable, if not impossible, for ancient scribes, other equally improbable assumptions must be imagined in order to salvage the Q theory. 1)

The fact that the number of so-called “minor agreements”[61] range as high as the seven hundreds to over two thousand[62] make it improbable that these are accidental.[63] 2) It is even more problematic that, in order to salvage the theory, some Q theorists have felt it necessary to postulate textual corruption--without evidence--to account for these minor agreements. 3) Nearly fatal to the theory is the fact that some Q theorists, again, in order to salvage the theory, have found it necessary to postulate a special category of Q/Mark overlaps[64] to account for the Matthew/Luke extensions to some of Marks stories.[65]
Goodacre has demonstrated that there is, in fact, a whole spectrum of agreements ranging from minor agreements, to some so significant that the category Q/Mark overlaps had to be developed, to agreements so significant that the lost document of Q itself had to be imagined. When all of these factors are considered, is the two source hypothesis really more plausible than a simple hypothesis involving memory and informal controlled oral tradition?

This article proposes that Luke did use Matthew but we are not to envision an author laboriously rolling and unrolling scrolls of Matthew and Mark to scatter snippets of teachings all over his gospel. Rather we are to envision a man who had memorized all or large parts of Matthew’s and Mark’s Gospels and who draws on these teachings from memory as he writes his own gospel.

The problems with the two source theory and other literary models are significant and are, after over one hundred years, still in heated dispute. On the other hand, by simply dropping the modern western cultural bias against memorization and recognizing the informal controlled tradition model proposed by Bailey and Dunn, many of the problems associated with the process involved in producing the synoptic gospels are eliminated.


Dunn has produced a monumental work on the historical Jesus that deserves to take its place on the shelf next to the works of N.T. Wright and John Maier. His methodology for studying Jesus, however, is seriously flawed by the fact that he retains the two-source theory as part of his model. If he were to drop his insistence on the two source theory and follow his own studies to their logical conclusion, i.e. that the synoptic gospels are the product not of literary dependence, but of a combination of memorization and informal controlled tradition, his method of looking for the core elements in the Gospel stories might
be very promising indeed.

[1] This article was originally published in Trinity Journal (27 NS)
[2] Kenneth Bailey, “Middle Eastern Oral Tradition and the Synoptic Gospels.” Expository Times (106 S, 1995): 363.
[3] Kenneth Bailey, Poet & Peasant (Grand Rapids : Eerdmans, 1976, 1983), 30. Bailey’s resources consisted primarily of twenty-five people, mostly Arab pastors, who lived in communities from Iran to the Sudan (Bailey, Poet, 35-36). These are people who 1) who have lived for at least the first 25 years of their lives in isolated peasant communities 2) have been friends for at least five years and 3) who know the Bible well enough to understand the questions (Bailey, Poet, 35).
[4] Bailey, “Informal Controlled Oral Tradition and the Synoptic Gospels”, Asia Journal of Theology, (April,1991): 36
[5] Ibid., 36
[6] Ibid., 35-37.
[7] Although Gerhardsson’s work has been sharply criticized for reading later Rabbinic teaching methods back into the first century, Bailey notes that “No other alternative is described in the writings of the period” which means that scholars can either read second century Jewish practices back into the first century, or they can postulate some other transmission method, often “modeled after the researcher’s own inherited Western experience and imagination” (Bailey, Informal, 34-37).
[8] Bailey, Informal, 38
[9] Ibid., 39; Bailey, Middle, 364
[10] Bailey, Middle, 364, 365
[11] Ibid., 364
[12] In Poet & Peasant, Bailey expressed his concern that previous works on parables either allegorized them or subconsciously assumed that first century Middle Eastern people thought like 19th and 20th century western writers (Bailey, Poet, 28-29). While it is true that others have written on Middle Eastern culture, Bailey finds that much of what has been written was spotty and incomplete (Bailey, Poet, 34). Some material was written by people who traveled through the Middle East but stayed only a relatively short time. A few stayed longer, like Dalman who wrote seven volumes on Palestinian life, but his work was that of a western professor looking in from the outside (Bailey, Poet, 34). Still others have written valuable material, but their studies were largely confined to individual villages (Bailey, Poet, 34). By contrast, Bailey calls his perspective the view from the “mastaba” which is the bench outside a Middle Eastern peasant’s home where friends gather and talk for hours (Bailey, Poet, 34).
[13] Bailey notes that the people in these communities are not only isolated from the rest of the world, they have the highest regard for “changelessness. ”In many villages, the title “Hafiz al-taqalid” -- “preserver of customs--” is the highest compliment a person can receive. (Bailey, Poet, 32).
[14] Bailey, Poet, 32; Bailey, Informal, 39-40; Bailey, Middle 363-364
[15] Bailey, Informal, 45; Bailey, Middle, 364, 366. “The types of material that appear in the Synoptic Gospels include primarily the same forms of material that appear in the informal controlled oral tradition such as proverbs, parables, poems, dialogues, conflict stories and historical narratives” (Bailey, Informal, 50).
[16] Bailey, Informal, 42. Kloppenborg specifically cites Bailey when he says that “Hypotheses that have tried to trace the double tradition material exclusively to oral tradition have either ignored or minimized these agreements or have made romantic, quite unrealistic, assumptions about the nature and faithfulness of oral tradition.” Kloppenborg says that Bailey concedes that in “informal controlled’ transmission which is most likely to remain stable are proverbs, poems (where there are metrical constraints) and the punch lines in stories and parables, rather than the entire speech or narrative portion.” But this completely misrepresents Bailey whose entire point was that the core material in these stories remains unchanged and is remarkably reliable. John Kloppenborg, Excavating Q (Minneapolis : Fortress Press, 2000), 57.
[17] Bailey, Informal, 44-45; Bailey Middle, 365.
[18] Bailey, Middle, 365. Bailey recalls an incident in which he asked someone about the village traditions. As the person responded, he was interrupted by others who said he wouldn’t understand because he was not from that village and had only lived there 37 years (Bailey, Informal, 40)!
[19] Bailey, Informal, 50-51.
[20] James Dunn, Jesus Remembered (Grand Rapids : Eerdmans), 248-249. “This line of thought links in with the other assumption, which has become debilitating pervasive: that each document belongs to and represents the views of only one community, and that the tensions within and among the documents indicate rival camps and already different Christianities. In short, the suggestion that there were churches who knew only one stream of tradition--Jesus as a miracle worker, or only as a wisdom teacher--has been given far too much uncritical credence in scholarly discussions on the Gospels and ought to have been dismissed a lot sooner” (Dunn, Jesus, 251-253)
[21] Ibid., 198.
[22] Ibid., 176.
[23] 1 Cor 11.2, 23; 15.1-3; Phil 4.9; Col 2.6-7; 1 Thess 4.1; 2 Thess. 2.15; 3.6
[24] 1 Cor 11.2, 23 (Dunn, Jesus, 176)
[25] Phil 4.9; 1 Thess 4.1; 2 Thess 3.6; Col. 2.6-7 (Dunn, Jesus,176)
[26] Acts 13.1; Rom 12.7; 1 Cor 12.28-29; Eph 4.11; Heb 5.12; Jas 3.1; did. 15.1-2 (Dunn, Jesus,176).
[27] Acts 2:32; 3:15; 5:32; 10:41; 13:31; 22:15, 18; 23:11; 26:16; John 1:7-8, 15, 19, 32, 34; 3:26, 28; 5:32; (Dunn, Jesus, 177-178).
[28] 1 Cor. 11:2; 2 Thess 2:5; 1 Cor. 11:24-25; Luke 22:19; 2 Tim. 2:8, 14; Rom. 1:3-4; John 14:26; 15:27; 2 Pet 1:15; 3:2; Rev. 3:3; 1 Clement 13:1-2; 46:7-8; Polycarp, Phil. 2:3; Papias, Justin, Dial. 18:1; Apol. 14:4; Dunn, Jesus, 178-180).
[29] Dunn, Jesus, 180, 186.
[30] Ibid., 223.
[31] Matt 8.5-13 and Luke 7.10
[32] Matt 8.23-27; Mark 4.35-41 and Luke 8.22-25
[33] Dunn, Jesus, 212-221.
[34] Ibid., 224.
[35] Dunn notes that a good example is found in the book of Acts which contains “three separate accounts of Paul’s conversion by the same author, yet they are all strikingly different in detail.” “While the details vary, what was evidently the core of the story, the exchange between Saul and the exalted Jesus, is word for word the same in each account (Dunn, Jesus, 211).
[36] Ibid., 334.
[37] Ibid., 329.
[38] In comparison with other Jewish traditions.
[39] Dunn, Jesus, 333.
[40] It is important to note that Dunn is not looking for instances of multiple independent attestation which is essentially reductionist in nature in that any parallels occurring in Mark and Matthew, or Mark and Luke are reduced to a single source--Mark. Any parallels between Luke and Matthew are reduced to only one source--Q. Dunn treats the double and triple tradition as independent sources.
[41] Dunn envisions this oral traditioning process developing during Jesus’ own ministry as the disciples mulled over what Jesus had taught (Dunn, Jesus, [41]). New churches would have been established on a foundation of core teaching about Jesus and new converts would have been taught this foundational tradition from the beginning. Dunn argues that the modern idea that much of this Jesus tradition would have been the creation of Christian prophets is simply not supported by the evidence.
[42] Bailey, Poet, 37
[43] Bailey, Middle, 363; Bailey, Poet 37. Bultmann often compared the Gospels to stories of modern western fairy tales. Bultmann writes “This form is also found in fairy-tales, e.g. in different variations among the Low German fairy-tales edited by W. Wisser.” “In the same way a sentence is sometimes added at the end of a fairy-tale. Thus a Russian story ends with the proverb…” “In Caucasian and Swiss stories alike all sorts of jests are attributed to King Solomon. In German anecdotes and fairy-tales, ‘Old Fritz’ has been made a hero…”. Rudolf Bultmann, History of the Synoptic Tradition (Peabody, MA : Hendrickson, 1963), 183, 187, 229.
[44] Some might imagine that possibly the parts of Matthew that are parallel with Mark were copied from Mark, and that the sondergut in Matthew comes from informal controlled tradition--but that is not what Bailey or Dunn propose. Dunn in particular, proposes that it is precisely in the parallel passages, not in the sondergut, that we can get back to the core of oral tradition.
[45] Dunn, Jesus, 336.
[46] Assuming the priority of Mark, for sake of argument.
[47] Second Timothy 2:2 sounds remarkably like the uncontrolled oral tradition model proposed by Dunn: “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust (paraqou) to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Paraqou is a middle form of paratiqhmi which, interestingly enough, was used by Plotinus in the sense of “store up in one’s mind.” Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon. (Oxford, England : Oxford University Press, 1940), 1327.
[48] Reike notes that “Luke even had opportunities to share experiences with Mark (Phlm 24), who had been a Greek-speaking hearer of Peter in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12) and then followed Peter and Paul to Cyprus (13:5) as their assistant…” Bo Reicke, The Roots of the Synoptic Problem (Philadelphia : Fortress Press, 1986), 52
[49] See, for example, Robert Stein, Studying the Synoptic Gospels (2nd ed. Grand Rapids : Baker, 2001), 49-96.
[50] Blomberg notes, “Memorization was highly cultivated in first-century Jewish culture…it was the predominant method of elementary education for boys. The disciples of the prophets had memorized and passed on their founder’s words. Venerated rabbis had at times committed the entire Bible (our ‘Old Testament’) to memory…Still none of this would have precluded the disciples from paraphrasing, interpreting, and rearranging the material they had learned; that, too, was the convention of the day” (Blomberg, Craig. Jesus and the Gospels (Nashville : Broadman & Holman, 1997), 84.
[51] Eta Linnemann, one of Bultmann’s students, asserted that “The data from folk tale research of the Brother’s Grimm and the folk song collection of Arnim and Brentano were blindly transferred onto the Gospels. Eta Linnemann, The Wrong Foundation. Unpublished paper presented at an annual conference of the Evangelical Theological Society (no date was listed, but the date was between 1999 and 2003). Reicke adds that “The use of folklore to illustrate oral traditions behind the written Gospels was a starting ground for pioneers of form-critical studies…” (Reike, Studying, 1986).
[52] Though it was reported that F.F. Bruce had memorized the entire Bible in the original languages! Gasque, W. Ward. “The Legacy of F.F. Bruce.” Christianity Today, (November 5, 1990) 19.
[53] Robert Stein. “Synoptic Problem” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (Downers Grove, IL : IVP, 1992), 791.
[54] Cf. Bailey, Informal, 34-37.
[55] Of course these texts did not have chapter and verse divisions. Chapter and verse numbers are used here as the most convenient way to illustrate the jumping around in the text that the two source theory requires.
[56] Unless, of course, we imagine that he had completely unrolled both his Mark and Q scrolls and while he himself moved back and forth to find his information.
[57] Kurt Aland, Synopsis of the Four Gospels; Greek-English edition… (10th edition. Stuttgart : German Bible Society, 1993), 341-342. See also the charts in Kloppenborg, Excavating Q. 21, 68-71. Reicke would seem to agree: “Because the Q material of Matthew and Luke is characterized by such complete disharmony in the order, all speculations on changes made in a written source are contestable. Whether one Gospel is believed to have been the source of the other, or an unknown document like the so-called logia source is made responsible for the similarities, the literary manipulations presumed must seem absurd. A normal person would not cut out such a great number of text pieces from a book on his desk and then shuffle the cards in order to get all pieces distributed on completely different parts of his manuscript” (Reicke, Studying, 186).
[58] The process is no less torturous under the Augustinian, Griesbach or Farrar/ Goulder theories. See Kloppenborg, 40.
[59] Goodacre, Mark. The Case Against Q (Harrisburg, PA : Trinity Press International, 2002).
[60] E.g. E.P. Sanders and Margaret Davies. Studying the Synoptic Gospels (Philadelphia : Trinity Press International, 1989). Bo Reicke. The Roots of the Synoptic Problem (Philadelphia : Fortress Press, 1986).
[61] Minor agreements are instances in the triple tradition in which Matthew and Luke agree with each other in wording over against the wording of Mark. These are used as evidence that Luke did in fact know of Matthew’s gospel, contrary to the two source theory with postulates that Luke did not know Matthew’s gospel, thus making it necessary to postulate a lost source, Q, to account for the much broader similarities between Matthew and Luke. Sanders and Davies note: “The minor agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark in the triple tradition have always constituted the Achilles’ heal of the two-source hypothesis. There are virtually no triple tradition pericopes without such agreements (E.P. Sanders and Margaret Davies, Studying the Synoptic Gospels (Philadelphia : Trinity Press International, 1989)
[62] Goodacre, Case, 153.
[63] While conceding that “minor agreements do not decisively prove or disprove the independence of Matthew and Luke”, Sanders and Davies calculate the number of minor agreements to be about one thousand and conclude that “It is our judgment that this is too many to attribute to coincidence and similar editorial policies, and that thus we should posit some relationship between Matthew and Luke in addition to or instead of their independent use of Mark (Sanders and Davies, Studying, 73; emphasis theirs).
[64] Goodacre, Case, 163.
[65] Noting that the number of Q/Mark overlaps could be substantial depending on how they are counted, Sanders and Davies write: “The expansion of Q and the possibility that Mark knew Q shake the foundations of the two-source hypothesis. But if the agreements between Matthew and Luke are not attributed to overlaps between Mark and Q, it becomes difficult to maintain that neither Matthew nor Luke knew each other.” (Sanders and Davies, Studying, 80).