did not focus his attention on the character or processes of oral tradition, so his contribution is somewhat tangential to the present concerns. Nevertheless, his insights into the formation of the Gospels are of considerable relevance — two in particular.
First, he observed that the Gospels retain a clear distinction between pre-Easter and post-Easter perceptions of Jesus.120 His pupil, Eugene Lemcio, has elaborated the point. The Synoptic Gospels particularly retain a clear sense of before and after Easter in the content of the Jesus tradition which they retell. The context of the retelling everywhere implies a post-Easter perspective. But only occasionally is this perspective evident in the content of the tradition as such. So, for example, the call for faith in or assumption of the story-teller's faith in Jesus is implicit in the context of the retelling, but is not interjected into the Jesus tradition itself.121 If this is indeed the case for the much retold and developed retelling
118. In his current research at Durham University on oral tradition and the Gospels, Terence Mournet notes that the same assumption of exclusively literary dependence between the different strands of the Synoptic tradition vitiates Farmer's Synoptic Problem attempt to overthrow the two-document hypothesis and Sanders' Tendencies critique of Bultmann and Dibelius. The same criticism could be levelled at the attempt by M. Goulder, Luke: A New Paradigm (2 vols; JSNTS 20; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1989) to dispense with Q (particularly ch. 2).
119. The most successful and influential was H. Conzelmann, Die Mitte der Zeit (Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 1953, 21957, 51964;ET The Theology of St. Luke (London: Faber and Faber, 1961).
120. C. F. D. Moule, The Intention of the Evangelists' (1959), The Phenomenon ofthe New Testament (London: SCM, 1967) 100-114.
121. E. E. Lemcio, The Past of Jesus in the Gospels (SNTSMS 68; Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1991); see particularly 8-18, 109-14.1 restate Lemcio's argument in my own terms. Cf. Schürmann cited above chapter 6 n. 108.
of the tradition (by the Synoptic authors), how much more can we infer it to have been true of the earlier retelling of the tradition on which Mark, Matthew and Luke were dependent.
Second, in his too little regarded Birth of the New Testament, Moule attempted to highlight the vitality of the form-history process in the life of the churches, and 'to place in their setting in life and thought the processes which led up to the writing of early Christian books'.122 Here again, however, his concern was primarily to explain the genesis of Christian literature, not the character and processes of oral tradition, though some of his observations are entirely relevant
Was this article helpful?