Below I will summarize or provide an abstract of just some of the papers from the conference, including of course my own paper and that of Barbara Aland, dealing with the text-critical perspective. This is as far as I have had time to summarize the many papers offered (fifteen).
Cilliers Breytenbach, ”Mark”
Breytenbach delivered a very broad overview of Marcan research under the headings ”Methodological issues;” ”Traditions in Mark's gospel;” ”On the text of Mark;” ”The date and origin of Mark's gospel”; ”Topics of Marcan research;” ”Resumé.” His handout included a long bibliography of post 2000 publications (Andreas Lindemann had reviewed earlier material in ThR), but the paper covered a broader range of material. Under the heading of my particular interest, ”On the text of Mark” he very briefly mentioned two or three works, Larry Hurtado's work on P45, James Voeltz' study of Marcan style in Codex Vaticanus. I pointed out that he could add James Kelhoffer's study, Miracle and Mission (not the full title) on the Longer ending of Mark published in the WUNT series. I think one should also add the Text und Textwert volumes, and the new tool from the INTF in Münster for examining Synoptic parallels (based on the work in connection with Text und Textwert) soon to be published in the ANTF series, which I think will be important on a broad level. Moreover, Stephen Carlson's recent exposures of archaic Mark and the Secret Gospel of Mark could be added to the list.
David Sim, ”Matthew and Mark: The Current State of Research”
In his stimulating paper, Sim mostly defended the minority view that Matthew was anti-pauline, especially Jesus' teaching on the Torah reflected opposition to Paul and his teaching, whereas Mark was positive to Paul. Sim argued that Matthew was written to replace Mark and to let it into oblivion, but it eventually survived due to its connection to the apostle Peter.
Barbara Aland, ”Textcritical Problems in Mark and Matthew. Recent Developments”
Barbara Aland's paper was the only one delivered in German. But since the full paper was distributed among the audience and she read it slowly, I think most of us could follow. Aland first reviewed the goals, possibilities and limits of textual criticism. She emphasized that we cannot like literary criticism go beyond the initial text, i.e., stages which are not possible to detect in the manuscript tradition. Moreover, she stressed the consistency of the text in the witnesses. They all witness to one single initial text (including aberrant witnesses representing the D-text). The transmission of the text is accurate in principe, but full of distinctive variants that nevertheless do no violence to the meaning of the text. Then she described the transmission in the earliest period and the larger tolerance in relation to textual variation, e.g., reflected in witnesses like P45. However, the textual variants originated from the scribes, who were not working on the text as redactors, interpreters or theologians, but as scribes taking pride in doing their job – copying their exemplar.
In the next section, Aland described the method of textual criticism, and stressed the need for refinement of method when it comes to the evaluation of the minuscules. This work is now of course being done at the INTF with the help of the Coherence Based Genealogical Method. In the Catholic Epistles, for example, the new results have revealed some nine witnesses bearing witness to as good a text as Codex Vaticanus. During the time for questions I asked Aland whether she saw any problem of circularity with the first stage of the CBGM method when local stemmata are worked out in individual places on the basis of external and internal criteria, in terms of a bias towards Vaticanus already from the outset, implying that the method, although useful for identifying witnesses with an akin text, is unuseful for an objective evaluation of the quality of the text. (Cf. Aland's formulation in the English summary, ”Thereby [by the CBGM] new manuscripts of the mass of the minuscules can be gained which are near to the initial text and are to be compared with the quality of 03 (B).” She replied that the large number of cases serve as a control on the method. I basically agree, and I see this initial stage as similar to the Westcott-Hort procedure in proving that the ”neutral” text reflected in Vaticanus and Sinaiticus was superior. However, I am still curious of how this first stage in the CBGM method works in practice. What is the explanation for the high degree of similarity between the printed text of ECM for which the new method has been applied and NA27? Perhaps I will have some answers in two weeks when I go to the conference in Münster.
In any case, in Aland's second major part she treated practical examples of textual problems in Matthew in relation to his source in Mark (presupposing Marcan priority). In this part she referred to the evidence provided in the Text und Textwert volumes (of which we got extracts) where available, i.e., in the Teststellen. I cannot go into all of her examples (and she did not have time to do it either), but the treatment did imply that the new results of the CBGM will be important in several difficult passages. For example in passages like Mt 14:30 and 15:4 we have no complete documentation, without which a decision is hardly possible at this point. It seemed to be particularly important in passages where B (03) now stands quite alone and where we are unaware of further minuscule witnesses. ”Ceterum censeo: Wir brauchen die Kenntnis von mehr ursprungsnahen Handschriften.” On the other hand, in a passage like Mt 13:35 where we now have full documentation (Teststelle 40), she thinks the bracket around KOSMOU should now be removed in light of the evidence.
Tommy Wasserman, ”Implications of Textual Criticism for Understanding the 'Original Text'”
My presentation went very well, from my perspective and judging from the response. I summarize it by citing my conclusion below:
”Any serious study of the Gospels has to begin with the manuscripts and take into account the factor of textual transmission. Recently, a number of scholars in the field of textual criticism have challenged every assurance of certainty in establishing an original text of the New Testament, by questioning the value of the extant textual evidence. The archetype of the textual tradition in their view is still at least 100 years removed from the authors, and during the earliest period there was such a great fluidity and freedom in handling the text that the extant manuscripts are unreliable for the purpose. On the other hand, the same scholars are in effect occupied with the reconstruction of a text beyond the hypothetical archetype of the tradition, not least by appealing to internal evidence such as what the original author would likely have written.
One of the basic assumptions of this minimalistic view is the notion that witnesses like P75 and Vaticanus, traditionally labeled Alexandrian, reflect an attempt to establish a controlled text at the end of the second century when the text had developed freely. I have attempted to show that the available material, including newly published papyri, show that the situation in the second century was not so chaotic. A significant majority of the earliest papyri witness to the Alexandrian text. If there was a major recension of the Gospel texts at the end of the second century, one would have expected clear evidence from the manuscripts themselves. I have pointed to several problems of using early patristic sources in isolation from the manuscripts, in order to draw firm conclusions about the state of the early text and its transmission.
As for a second-century recension, the candidates capable of such an undertaking are indeed hard to find, more so if the recension was based upon a collation of largely corrupted MSS. I think our best extant MSS reflect a concern for careful copying present in some circles from the earliest time, rather than the result of text-critical scholarship and ecclesiastical control. Nevertheless, they are not faultless in spite of their general superior quality, proven time and time again.
We shall not committ the mistake to think that the text chosen by the editors of our current standard editions is virtually certain at every point, and that we can ignore the foot of the page showing significant variants. In fact, the text-critical task will never be finished, but the rich and growing body of textual evidence, the tenacity of the textual tradition, and the refined methods of textual criticism may ensure us that the goal is in reach. The reconstruction of the original text remains an 'impossible possibility'."
Stanley Porter, ”Linguistics and Semantics in Mark and Matthew”
John Kloppenborg, ”The Hermeneutics of Violence in Mark and Matthew”
Lorenzo Scornaienchi, ”Polemics in Mark”
Eve-Marie Becker, ”Dating Mark and Matthew as Ancient Literature”
This was the last paper of the first day, and people were probably rather tired, but the paper was very good and stimulated perhaps the liveliest discussion of all. Becker discussed the methodology of dating ancient literature, and then went on with a comparative study of selected relevant texts in Mark and Matthew trying to find a post quem (she left the question of an ad quem due to time restraint) and a relative chronology between the two gospels. The specific texts were treated under different headings: ”Level of reference:” Mk 10:39-Matt 20:23 (referring to James' martyrdom?); Mk 12:9-Mt 21:41; Mk 13:”-Mt 24:2; Mk 13:14-23-Mt 24:15-28 and Mt 22:7 (absent from Mk); ”The narrator's perspective:” Mk 1:1-[Mt 1:1] – in brackets because it is only in Mk 1:1 that the narrator reveals his perspective as theologian (messenger of the gospel?); Mk 7:19c (in Mt not this interpretation); Mk 13:14-[Mt 24:15], Becker calls this a ”Leserappell. Does it go back to Mark or to his source?; Mk 9:1-Mt 16:28; Mk 13:30-Mt 24:34. Becker concluded that: (1) Matthew is later than Mark; (2) there is no evidence in the texts that Mk and Mt must be dated post 70 C.E. and definitely not to ”safely” date Mk before and Mt after 70. Most of the subsequent discussion revolved around Mt 12:9 and Matt 22:7 and that the latter is ex eventu, i.e., that it must have been written after the destruction of the temple. Becker, who shared Rengstorff's interpretation of the passage thought the passage had been overestimated for dating. Becker personally thinks that the two gospels should be dated post 70 C.E., but her point was that the textual evidence is inconclusive.
Linden Youngqvist, ”Locating Mark and Matthew”
This paper explored the relationship between the community that stands behind Mark and the community that stands behind Matthew by adding a third text, Q, into the discussion. Youngqvist's thesis is that Matthew had a special connection to Q, a distant one with Mark, and that, therefore, Matthew's and Q's community were genetically related. He compared Mark's, Q's and Matthew's portrayals of the Disciples, Jerusalem and the Law.
David E. Aune, ”Mark and Matthew: Genre and Structure”
Aune started by an overview of research on the issue of genre. He especially commended Adela Collin's, who was present at the conference, for her forty-three pages introductory section on genre of Mark in her Hermenia commentary.
In his paper, Aune challenged one of the presupposition of the academy, that the four gospels share the same genre, sometimes seen as a revolutionary genre, or as sharing generic profile with one or more ancient Jewish or Graeco-Roman genres. He also questioned the view that Mark must be based on a single model. First, however, he gave an overview of the development of genre criticism.
Form criticism, implicating that the gospels were unique and that the evangelists were not authors but editors, hampered the development of literary study of the gospels during the 20th century. However, genre criticism began to flourish in the 1970's, and began to affect biblical studies. Since then, genre criticism have developed from a focus on the descriptive task of classification to explaining the social-rhetorical function of genre. Modern genre theory in general is characterized by: (1) classification of groups of literary works which share content, function, formal features (example Hellholm's study of generic traits of apocalyptic works); (2) all human discourse is universally genre bound; (3) genres are structured categories with a hardcore of prototypical members (the categories are, however, not clearly defined); (4) genres are dynamic rather than static entities that can transform (through new texts) over time – genre is process and the categories are open; (5) the transformation of genre occurs in many ways. A new genre is a transformation of one or more previous ones (cf. Jenett's Palimpsest on transformation/imitation); (6) writing and speaking are socially determined models of communication that always occur in a community, a social context (the early Christian community used several models in their discource community). Each person in the discource community participate in literary socialization: (7) individual texts contain textual clues that signal to the reader how to interpret the text. [I missed the final eight point.]
In the second part, Aune proceeded to treat the function of genre in Mark and Matthew. It turned out, however, that he did not have more than some minutes left over for Matthew, so the focus was really on Mark. Unfortunately, I have not had time to edit my loose notes, but when it comes to genre, Aune stressed that Mark was not based on a single previous model (and there was no Ur-Mark). The evangelist included various material and transformed the sources he used by enlarging the scale. Mark is composed of various genres. It has a didactic function. There are several differences as compared to Graeco-Roman biography (here Aune referred to E. Boring), e.g., Jesus is depicted as divine. He will appear again in the end of history. He stills speaks to his community. The drama is episodic not anecdotal. Jesus had communicated God's message, not least through parables, calling for a decision. This level of communication is included in Mark. Aune adds that Graeco-Roman biography was written for the well-educated members of society, the higher strata of the population, whereas Mark was written at a much lower registry than most of the biographies. It reflects the opposition of early Christian's to the dominant social values. The ideological features must have appealed to a core of values for the discource community. On the other hand some features that Boring thought was absent from the gospel, Aune thinks are present, e.g. various acknowledgements, e.g., in genealogies (Matthew, Luke) and at the baptism. Aune ended up designating the genre of Mark as a ”parody” of Graeco-Roman biography. In the subsequent discussion, Adela Collins was not entirely happy about this designation. She rather sees Mark as a transformation of Graeco-Roman biography. She thought perhaps one could term it a ”mimicry” (a term used in colonial discource). Eva-Marie Becker referred to Umberto Eco's description of the tension between creation and repetition; In the connection of creating a new genre, there is always something familiar (continuity) and something new (discontinuity) in it. Becker wanted to see gospel as a development of biography to historiography. This, I believe, is Samuel Byrskog's position (cf. Story as History – History as Story).
There were a lot of other papers the second day, but right now it is after midnight so this will be enough. I will hopefully return with more material, perhaps some photos. I can just say that we had a wonderful festive dinner sponsored by the publisher Mohr-Siebeck, just outside of Århus where there was an old mill and a restaurant. Some of us had a guided tour at this mill, and we all thought it was a fantastic experience.
My thanks goes to Eve-Marie Becker and Anders Runesson for organizing this conference. I look forward to the second phase of the conference which will take place at McMaster University in Canada next year.
Tomorrow I head back to Sweden for the next conference, and after that to Münster. It turned out that Barbara Aland and John Kloppenborg were also attending all three conferences in a row.