Matthew and Luke

For the sake of completeness we should remember that not only Mark and Q are sources for the Jesus tradition, but also Matthew and Luke.98 And not just for the fact that they provide proof of the two-source hypothesis and for the way they used Mark and Q," but also for the traditions which are peculiar to Matthew and Luke (usually designated 'M' and 'L').100 Since these latter attest tradition quite as substantial in quantity as Mark or Q themselves, the status of that material can hardly be ignored. We need only think of the Matthean and Lukan birth narratives (Matthew 1-2; Luke 1-2), of Matt. 10.5 and 23, or of the familiar Lukan parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son (Luke 10.30-37; 15.11-32) to realise how much is at stake here. The status of such singly attested traditions is a question we will have to take up at various points in what follows.101 For the present two points are worth making.

pothesis to a withering critique: 'sociologically, the hypothesis is theoretically vacuous' (9); 'it is not normally grounded in a careful investigation of the social realia of the period' (72); 'the texts ... do not evince itineracy until one has assumed itineracy' (69, 91-95); the Q people were probably 'village scribes involved in the administration of formerly autonomous village life', who alone would have the ability to write such a document (170-72); the metaphor and rhetoric of uprootedness has been mistaken (183-93).

97. Catchpole, Quest 188; Allison, Jesus Tradition 60-62.

98. As already noted, both Gospels are usually dated in the period 80-95; see, e.g., Schnelle, History 222, 243; Brown, Introduction 216-17, 273-74; W. D. Davies and D. C. Allison, Matthew (ICC, 3 vols.; Edinburgh: Clark, 1988, 1991, 1997) 1.127-38; J. A. Fitzmyer, Luke (AB 28A, two vols.; New York: Doubleday, 1981, 1985) 53-57. I shall, of course, look more closely later on at both the processes of tradition accumulation, organisation, and editing which lie behind these Gospels (vol. 2) and the Gospels in their own right (vol. 3).

99. See, e.g., G. N. Stanton, 'Matthew as a Creative Interpreter of the Sayings of Jesus' (1982), in P. Stuhlmacher, ed., The Gospel and the Gospels (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991) 257-72.

100. These are listed by Streeter, Four Gospels 198.

101. See further below, particularly ยงยง11.1 and 13.7.

One is that the Matthean and Lukan Sondergut (distinctive material) attests a much richer body of Jesus tradition than any single Synoptic Evangelist used or was able to use. That itself tells us something about the traditioning process: that not every church knew or thought it necessary to know all there was to know about Jesus; and that the Evangelists were probably at least in some measure selective in their use of Jesus tradition. Would that we knew how wide was the 'pool' of Jesus tradition and how widely known. But we don't. At least, however, we need to be conscious of the likely breadth and dispersal of the Jesus tradition and suspicious of the too simplistic rule of thumb that tradition only once attested is therefore necessarily of less value as a remembrance of Jesus.102

The other point is once again a plea to avoid thinking of the Matthean and Lukan Sondergut solely in literary terms, as though Matthew and Luke depended for their knowledge of Jesus tradition exclusively on written sources.103 Such a way of envisioning the traditioning process simply attests the failure of historical imagination to accept instruction from history. Scholars of the twenty-first century must take more seriously than their twentieth-century predecessors the fact that first-century Israel was an oral culture and the probability that the Jesus tradition was processed in oral form through the first two generations of Christians (and beyond), prior to, including Q, and alongside the written Gospels. The importance of this observation will become clearer in chapter 8.

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