Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Facebook Discussion of Zeba Crook's Parallel Gospels

There's been some lively to-and-fro on Facebook over the utility of Zeba Crook's Parallel Gospels. Readers may recall Zeba's SBL Response to Mark Goodacre's session critique back in Novemeber 2012. Now he calls attention to Mark's official RBL review which reiterates many of the same points. With Zeb's permission I place below their Facebook interactions (Stephen Carlson also stepped in).

By way of preface, I own both Throckmorton's Gospel Parallels (4th ed.) and Crook's Parallel Gospels. While I enjoy both, my readers won't be terribly surprised that Throckmorton remains my favorite tool. Especially for the elegant word alignment, though also for Mark's objections about giving Q undue tangibility. But on this latter point, see the below discussion and decide for yourself.

Mark's third criticism -- Crook's "clunky" word-for-word renditions, as opposed to user-friendly translations per our English-speaking bibles -- is actually the one that doesn't faze me. Maybe it's because I already have so many English-bibles that I appreciate the grunt work Zeba has done here, and seeing the nuts and bolts of the Greek. Zeba's rendition approach actually fits the utility of a gospel-parallel quite well.

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Zeba Crook [Status Update]: I need to get better reading critical reviews (I admit, they sting), but I am disappointed to see Mark Goodacre still talking about the challenges of coloring (e.g., there are three primary colors so a synopsis should have three columns). My seven year old would have no problem using more colors as needed. I feel the complaint is beneath you, Mark.
Mark Goodacre: Thanks, Zeb. Hadn't realized that it had been published, so thanks for drawing attention to it. On the colouring, why not explain how you, or your daughter, would do it with the extra Q column? I think I know how I would answer the query, but I'd be interested to hear your take. It's the kind of discussion that might be able to get to the heart of our basic disagreement about the inclusion of Q in a Gospel Synopsis, which would I think be useful.

Zeba: When I teach from the synopsis, I tell my students NOT to colour Q at all because I don't want to prejudge their discovery of how much Q makes sense. I also tell them they cannot color Thomas since Thomas wasn't translated by the same principles as the rest of the synopsis. And nothing ever agrees with John, so colouring isn't a problem there either. But if one were inclined to colour Q, one could do so colours for: triple agreements, Mt/Mk against Luke, Lk/Mk against Mt, Mt/Q against Lk, and Lk/Q against Mt, and I'm not sure that doing so wouldn't do as much damage as help to the Q hypothesis. I just don't think that the colour issue is as worthy as your other comments (to which I responded two two years ago).

Mark: Thanks, Zeb. But the cases of triple tradition with major agreements (so-called Mark-Q overlap) have four columns, so you need a scheme that has quadruple agreements, several types of triple, several doubles etc. I don't know how one does that with a three-colour mixed scheme. I think that sounds very difficult to conceptualize, but I'd be happy to see it if you think you can illustrate how it's done. If you are able to illustrate that it can be done as simply and straightforwardly as the more intuitive colouring scheme that one can produce on the basis of three synoptics, I will happily publicly retract my comments.

Zeba: Mark, I never said it was more intuitive. And obviously 3 is simpler than 4, 5, 6 or 7. But perhaps having students use only 3 colours inscribes in their imaginations a gross over-simplification what is obviously an extremely complex problem.

Mark: I'd settle for as intuitive or even almost as intuitive -- just show me how it works. But I'm a little surprised by the idea that working with the three primary colours would lead to "a gross over-simplification". That's like saying that insisting on three synoptic gospels is a gross over-simplification. My point is that if you have three synoptics (fact) and you have three primary colours (fact), then we can work with that fortuitous and intuitive outcome. Adding a fourth column to reflect one solution to the problem is the thing generating the problem here; it has nothing to do with the intrinsic complications of studying the synopsis.

Zeba: Adding the fourth column for Q does not reflect one solution, any more than adding Thomas and John reflects solutions to whether either or both of those were reliant on the Synoptics. There are features of this synopsis that might just as easily undermine the Q solution in some people's eyes (such as the number of times that Matt and Luke agree in placement of Q material).

Mark: Of course adding the fourth column for Q reflects one solution, Zeb. It reflects the Two-Source Theory, according to which Q is the source for Matthew's and Luke's double tradition, from which the wording in that Q column is derived. And there is, of course, a material difference between Q on the one hand and Thomas and John on the other. They are extant works with textual witnesses and citations in early Christian literature; they are not hypothetical texts reconstructed on the basis of a Synoptic comparison that works with a specific solution to the Synoptic Problem.

Zeba: Yes, there are differences, but one need not be solely fixated on that difference (which is emphasized in the synopsis, no less). The fact is, scholars disagree about the questions of reliance, and one would just as easily (and just as wrongly) claim that putting Thomas/John there prejudices those debates.

Mark: I suspect that you may just be being cute here, or facetious; I think you know full well that there is a world of difference between including a hypothetical text that is a result of studying the Synopsis and including extant texts that are not. But the inclusion of Thomas & John parallels do not prejudice debates about source-usage; they facilitate those debates -- they set out the evidence in a graphic way in order that we can have the discussion. The inclusion of Q, on the other hand, takes one particular conclusion about the Synopsis and then integrates it into the presentation of the Synopsis.

Zeba: I respectfully disagree, and I'm not being cute. I maintain that the inclusion of Q is to facilitate the discussion, and that opposition to Q is just as feasible as support for it when studied in the context of his synopsis.

Stephen C. Carlson: If one is to include hypothetical documents that could be a solution, why privilege Q? Why not include Ur-Markus too? Why not Deutero-Mark? Why not Pierson Parker's Koine Gospel common to Matthew and Mark but not Luke? Why not any of Bosmard's multiple sources? Why not Q1, Q2, and Q3? And whose Q to include? Harnack's? The IQP's Q with the baptism of Jesus in it? Including Q just begs too many questions and biases the answers. I think students ought to understand that the reality of Q is contingent in a way that all the other sources are not, and by including Q as if it is on par with Mark, Thomas, etc. muddles the lesson.

Zeba: Stephen, if readers of my synopsis come away with a sense that Q is anything but contingent, then they aren't reading my synopsis. I think the only way you and Mark could have been pleased on this issue is I had not mentioned Q anywhere in the book. And why not infinite other sources? Like it or not, and rightly or wrongly, Q is relevant to current gospel research in a way those other issues are not. It's that simple.

Stephen: The point is not that Q (or even our text of Mark) is contingent or hypothetical--they both are, of course--but that Q is contingent in a way that other sources are not. It is here that the reification of Q in the synopsis sends a mixed and muddled message.

Zeba: I wasn't comparing Q's contingency with Mark's. I was saying straight out that Q is contingent and that if the reader of my synopsis doesn't get that, he's an idiot. As I said, the only way I think you and Mark wouldn't charge this project with sending out a mixed message is if there was no mention of Q anywhere in the book. But Q is part of the scholarly debate. Full stop.

Stephen: Kloppenborg and other members of the Toronto school compare the Q's hypothetical nature with that Mark's text all the time. In fact, it's a favorite argument of his. Now, if you've disavowed this argument or comparison, please accept my apologies for presuming that you agree with it. I don't have any problem with mentioning Q in the introduction, where the student can be told that Q is contingent on a number of things without being shown that it is not in the synopsis.

Zeba: I agree that the comparison isn't wholly persuasive. But that's not the point: I didn't make any such comparison in what I said.

Mark: "I think the only way you [Stephen] and Mark could have been pleased on this issue is I had not mentioned Q anywhere in the book." -- I think that might be a bit unfair, Zeb, given that I have always attempted in my published work to engage critically with current Q scholarship, and to make sure that I have understood it and represented it fairly. My issue with the Q column is stated without prejudice to the arguments pro or con the existence of Q. It is a straightforward question, to repeat: do we wish to incorporate one of the solutions to the problem into the presentation of the data? Tuckett's JTS review, which I came across today, makes a similar point from the perspective of one who accepts the Q hypothesis.

Zeba: I'm sure I've told you this before, Mark, but what really bugs me about getting hammered for the absence of line-by-line parallelization (Tuckett makes the same complaint) is that line-by-line parallelization is how I originally had it and wanted it, but OUP balked at the expense, because it really stretches out of the pericopae and leaves lots of white space (a benefit as far as I was concerned, but a waste of paper as far as OUP was concerned). Grrrr.

Mark: Yes, you mentioned this at the SBL session, Zeb, and I'm afraid I couldn't help facetiously suggesting that OUP could have saved some extra space by eliminating the Q column!

Mark: But more seriously, this is why reviews are helpful. Works like yours, at their best, improve in the light of repeated editions and revisions. OUP will hopefully see that there is a consensus in the reviews about this key element. I have found the same thing even in the synopsis excerpts that I have created -- publishers often have no clue what I am trying to do and eliminate all the hard work I have done and scrunch the text together. But for me, one of the things that is so striking about Parallel Gospels is that you go to such pains to render every word the same way, and then don't cash in the advantage of having them in word-aligned parallel.

1 Comments:

Blogger Donald Smith said...

Can't put my finger on it, and don't have time to explain, but there's something stealthy about MG's critique of ZC's book. It's the kind of argumentation that smacks of a religious bias and "hair-spliting."
D.C. Smith

4/24/2014  

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