Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Talbert on Genre of Luke-Acts

Architecture Analysis is a particular method ("a variety of the species style criticism within the genus literary criticism") which Talbert borrows from classics scholars (5) who use it to "detect the formal patterns, rhythms, architectonic designs, or architecture" (7) of writings such as the Iliad and the Aeneid. C. Whitman and others argue that the patterns of literature and visual art often mirror a common cultural zeitgeist. The resulting conclusion is that form cannot be divorced from content (6), with the caveat that design need not reflect concerns beyond artistic ones.

Talbert contrasts this approach with redaction criticism, which is concerned with tendencies only as they indicate theology. Also, whereas redaction criticism looks for places where the author opposes those he is addressing (and thus focuses on what is distincting in his writing), architecture analysis focuses on the continuity between an author's style and cultural ideas. Talbert calls architectual analysis, then, a corrective to the subjectivity of redaction criticism.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Does Matthew Introduce a Time After Jesus?

In Lukan studies, it's commonplace to refer to a shift that takes place somewhere amid the ending of Luke and the opening of Acts. Some argue with Conzelmann that a whole new age is beginning, whereas others argue that the age of Jesus (though now mediated by the Holy Spirit) remains the key point of departure for the early church. However we might interpret it, Luke nevertheless indicates to his readers in various ways that a shift is taking place.

I'm curious whether Matthew does the same thing. It's common, of course, to attempt to determine Matthew's ecclesiology for his own time, partly by his explicit statements and partly by teasing out implications of how he chose to tell his story. But does Matthew indicate how the transition took place between the time when Jesus taught his disciples in person and the time when he no longer did so?

It has been argued, of course, that Matthew's lack of an ascension account, coupled with Jesus' promise, "Behold, I am with you always," indicates that Matthew wishes to emphasize the continuity between the accounts described in the gospel and whatever took place in the church after that time. Yet Jesus also tells his disciples in Matthew that they will have authority to bind and loose matters for the church, so clearly something has changed. So my question is, does Matthew indicate this shift more or less explicitly through the rhetoric of his narrative? I plan to emphasize an audience oriented approach, with appropriate reference to other methods of criticism.

For my notes, I'll also consider passages that seem aimed directly at the reader, i.e., that jump from Jesus directly to the church member in Matthew's day. However, what I really would like to find are indications (other than just the great commission) of the transition that is implied at the end of the gospel.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Bovon's Review of 20th Century Lukan Studies

Note: After I'm done, I should reread Bovon's introduction, pp. 11–13.

Bovon starts with Conzelmann, whose Die Mitte Der Zeit emphasized Luke as a writer of salvation history, divided into three parts: the time of the prophets and OT up through John, the time of Jesus up through the ascension, and the time of the church, which will end at the Parousia. So while for Mark the coming of Jesus marked the beginning of the end of history, for Luke it was the middle of history (14). A number of scholars have challenged the three-fold division of salvation history, saying that the only break is between the old covenant and the new. The ascension Marks the shift to the leadership of the Spirit, but it's not a new age in salvation history (31).

Harbsmeier (1950) offered a characteristically Germans critique of Luke, saying that he set aside Paul's notion that the consumation of history is in Christ (thus salvation history and world history become the same thing) and replaced it with a salvation history that is parallel to, but separate from, world history (17).

Käsemann also saw Luke as falling short of Pauline theology, setting forth a theology of glory in which the resurrection is a corrective to the misunderstanding of the cross, and Jesus is the founder of a new religion (19f). Schütz (1969) disagreed with both these, saying that (quoting Bovon) "There is but one history, and it is God's mediated by humans," and that Jesus' resurrection is a "pursuance" of God's will (along with allowing the crucifixion) rather than a corrected mistake (29).

Kaestli (1969) challenged the idea that Luke invented salvation history, pointing out that Paul and Mark both had such an idea; he also said that Luke made up for his neglect of the cross as a pivotal event by establishing a view of (de-eschatologized) history in which humans respond to Word and Spirit with ethical behavior (25). Geiger (1973) sees the present historical age of the church as corresponding to "the days" in Luke, whereas "the day" in Luke refers specifically to the eschaton, an event outside of time (26). So the end times have not begun, but the current days are advancing toward the end times (28).

Cullmann (1965) insists that Luke's salvation history is not a betrayal of the kerygma. Rather (quoting Bovon), "The present, marked by the resurrection of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, is already the time of salvation which is not yet come to its fulfillment" (29). W. C. van Unnik (1960) emphasizes the kerygma in Acts functioning alongside Luke as two witnesses (30).

Some scholars question that Luke's project was driving by the need to explain the delay of the Parousia. Barrett (1961) says that Luke was opposing Gnosticism by emphasizing that Jesus' revelation took place in history and that Christians await a bodily resurrection (32). Braumann (1963) argues that the experience of persecution inspired Luke's project, as eschatology is pushed into the distant future and believers are urged to suffer as John the Baptist, Jesus, and the apostles did before them (32).

Monday, February 12, 2007

Conzelmann: different ages, different preachers

Conzelmann sees Lk 16:16 (unique to Luke) as the key passage representing Luke's view of John the Baptist. John belongs with the prophets as the greatest of them, but he is not a part of the time of Jesus, when the kingdom of God is proclaimed. John is no "forerunner" of Jesus, but only a part of the age of the prophets that point to him. Jesus is an eschatological figure, John is not (101). The main points of redaction that indicate this are (1) Luke's omission of "after me" from Mk 1:7, and (2) Luke's removal of John from the scene where Jesus is baptized. This puts an actual break between the two.

It should be noted that Mark doesn't have John the Baptist mention the Kingdom of God either (contrast Matthew, where John and Jesus say the exact same thing), which means that Luke could just be using his sources. Still, Lk 16:16 does appear to make a pretty clear claim, and these two points of redaction in chapter 3 appear to substantiate it. (A weakness of Conzelmann’s emphasis on 16:16 is that Luke doesn't draw any attention to it; it’s sort of thrown into the middle of a chapter on money, along with a teaching about divorce.)

Conzelmann claims that "John does not declare that judgement is near, but that the Messiah is near" (102) –– i.e., that the judgement at the Parousia remains far in the future. I'm not sure I buy that, since the axe is still at the root of the tree in John's proclamation.

So then, Jesus is the first to preach the Kingdom of God (114), but that kingdom will only actually come at the Parousia (107). In the meantime, we can see the kingdom (123) by looking at the life of Jesus, but it is not yet present.

The actual proclamation of the kingdom in Luke has a different purpose than it did in Mark. In both books, the arrival of the kingdom is an eschatological event. In Mark, the kingdom is proclaimed as arriving quickly, because Jesus actually inaugurates the end times; in Luke, the arrival of the kingdom is placed far in the future, so that the age of the church can be seen as sustainable indefinitely. Luke, then, places an emphasis not on the proximity of the kingdom but on its nature (104). Cf. Lk 21:9: "The end will not come immediately."

The main problem with this claim is Lk 17:21: "For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you." Conzelmann claims to explain how this fits with Luke's eschatology (120-125), but in fact he never really does. Instead he just says something like, "Yeah, it sounds like Luke is saying the kingdom is already present; but we know (from, e.g., 19:11) that the Kingdom is only in the future, so Luke isn't actually saying the kingdom is already present." In other words, the verse doesn't fit his theory, so he pretty much ignores it––while masking the fact that he's ignoring it by pretending to discuss it.

Conzelmann basically says (123) that 17:21 explains only the nature of the Kingdom, not its time. But if the arrival of the kingdom will mark the very end, in what sense could it possibly be "among us"? Won't it be externally obvious once it comes, thereby making Jesus' statement meaningless?

Conzelmann has an excellent summary on pages 131-132.

Conzelmann emphasizes (129) that Luke takes materials which were eschatological in Mark and fits them into future events from the perspective of the church; clearly this idea of the delayed Parousia is important in Lucan studies. But considering that we can see the effects of the delay even within Paul, I can't help thinking that it was not simply a linear development from Jesus, through Mark, and into Matthew and Luke. My contention would be that it's more likely that the churchs of, say, the early 60's tended to see the end as far in the future. Mark, as the siege on Jerusalem became common knowledge, told his story of Jesus with the inclusion of a lot of apocalyptic material because it seemed the end was coming. Perhaps Luke, somewhat embarrassed by attitudes such as Mark's that tried to rush the end, wrote his Luke-Acts in such a way that the Parousia was again far in the future. My point is that Luke may have reacted to Mark, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the development of Luke's position was linear.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

What Difference Does Unity of Luke and Acts Make?

Whether we view Luke and Acts as one document or two affects how we understand their genre.

So for example, Cadbury argues against the biography genre for Luke because that genre doesn't also fit acts: “That Luke’s gospel should not be counted a formal biography is further confirmed when one recalls that it is merely part of a longer work, and that its sequel, though full of biographical incident, is even less concerned with sketching the full career of its principal characters” (Cadbury 132).

On the other hand, Aune (77) argues for history as the genre of both Luke and Acts, because he concludes that Acts is history and that Luke must go with it: "Luke does not belong to a type of ancient biography for it belongs with Acts, and Acts cannot be forced into a biographical mold."

Transitions between related works function according to the audience's expectations. To use a popular example, Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings are two multi-part works (LOTR was three separately-published books before it was three movies) that make their transitions in different ways. LOTR has one clear story arc that spans the three books, and while Tolkien uses the different books to help structure the narrative, none of them works as a narrative of its own. In fact, when the first movie came out there was discussion about how some people were upset coming out of the movie because it wasn't a whole movie on its own. The first Star Wars (1977), on the other hand, clearly is a self-contained movie. If Lucas hadn't gone on to make the others, the only noticeable differences probably would have been the curious title "Episode IV" at the outset and Darth Vader flying away alone at the end. What's the difference? Well, I think that in LOTR we expect a tighter plot among the various volumes than we do in Star Wars. The former we expect to have been written all of a piece, whereas the latter we might expect the first movie to have come first, followed by the later movies that tried to fit with it as best they could.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Unity of Luke and Acts

Henry J. Cadbury is famous for introducing the hyphen in the designation "Luke-Acts." Suggesting it as analogous to Ezra-Nehemiah, he writes (The Making of Luke-Acts, 11):
Hyphenated compounds are not typographically beautiful or altogether congenial to the English language, but in order to emphasize the historic unity the two volumes addressed to Theophilus the expression "Luke-Acts" is perhaps justifiable.

His point here is that Luke and Acts "are not merely two independent writings from the same pen; they are a single continuous work" (8-9), although then Cadbury appears to backtrack with his very next sentence, making a more modest claim: "Acts is neither an appendix nor an afterthought. It is probably an integral part of the author's original plan and purpose." The "probably" here sounds a little odd, but I guess everything is tentative when you're dealing with texts like this.

The problem with Cadbury's thesis is that he doesn't make much of an argument at the outset for why they should go together so closely.

He begins simply enough, by noting that the common authorship of Luke and Acts is the least questioned problem of authorship in the NT, indicated by both their common addresses and their shared use of language throughout (8).

But then his evidence for reading the two volumes as a single work (9) is based on a couple of parallels that don't quite hold. He argues that the phrase ton proton logon in Acts 1:1 should be translated "in volume one"––a plausible enough claim if it fits the form of the two books––but the parallel he cites is Josephus's Against Apion, which explicitly notes at the end of its first book that it is out of space and will continue in a second volume. Parsons and Pervo (Rethinking, 62f) note that this stands in contrast to the ending of Luke, which hasnarrative intergrity and a sense of closure that leave the reader with no more uncertainty than the original ending of Mark.

Cadbury does claim that Josephus is only one example among others, but then what are the others? The only other ancient text he cites here is Philo's That Every Good Person Is Free, which refers to a former volume that argued "that every base person is a slave." Unfortunately, since that supposed former volume is lost, there is no way to compare it literarily with Luke and Acts.

What Cadbury has shown is that a resumptive preface at the start of the second part of a work was one of the "conventions of ancient writing" (9). But he has not shown that that means Luke and Acts are a single work rather than a shorter work and its sequel. Cadbury's conclusion on this matter is weak and (literally) presumptuous:
Occasionally, no doubt, independent works were addressed to the same patron and referred to one another in termss similar to the examples we have given, but without specific knowledge to that effect the presumption in such cases is that the two volumes are really a single work. The preface of Luke confirms rather than opposes this presumption.

So Cadbury admits that a preface such as Acts 1:1-2 could refer to a different work by the same author rather than a first volume of the same work, but he thinks we need to presume that the two volumes make a single work because of the parallel to Josephus. Unfortunately, however, we have seen that Josephus is quite explicit that another volume is coming, in contrast to Luke, so Cadbury's presumption doesn't really hold. (Cadbury addresses the topic of prefaces at length under literary formalia, 194ff; also see p. 344f)

Other scholars have gone looking for better parallels. Parsons and Pervo (63) note another such suggested parallel, in the transition between books 1 and 2 of Philo's Life of Moses. This one was suggested more recently by Charles Talbert, but Parsons and Pervo again show that it doesn't work, because Philo indicates explicitly at the end of the first volume that he will go on and continue his discussion.

Cadbury claims in a footnote that he has aruged how the preface to Luke "specifically contemplates Acts as well as the gospel" (9). He cites three works. The first two are from The Expositor, a journal that ran from 1875–1925. Cadbury's articles, which he doesn't name here, appeared in June, 1921 and December, 1922 of the biannual journal. (Neither BC nor BU has the journal, but I apparently can find the volume at Harvard's Widener Library, CP 44.35, 8th series.) The other source is pp. 491f of a book of essays called The Beginnings of Christianity volume 2, published in 1920 and edited by Frederick John Foakes-Jackson. (BC and BU don't have this one either. Harvard and PTS both list volume 1 in their catalogs, but neither lists volume 2, so I'm not sure where it would be available.)

Ward Gasque (A History of the Criticism of the Acts of the Apostles, 186f), however, discusses these articles. In the first Expositor article, titled "The Purpose Expressed in Luke's Preface," Cadbury translated he asphaleia as "the facts" rather than "the certainty", and he did not take katechethes as implying that Theophilus was a convert; consequently, he interpreted Luke's preface as presenting the facts as an apologetic to counter misinformation Theophilus may have received. In the second (1922) article, "The Knowledge Claimed in Luke's Preface," Cadbury argues that parekolouthekoti implies not research but experience, meaning that Luke had first-hand knowledge of the events he describes. The upshot of these two articles is that the preface to Luke anticipates Acts, in Paul's defense under trial and Luke's presence in the travel narrative.

A second rationale Cadbury offers for seeing Luke-Acts as a unity is the ready explanation for their separation. The first half looked so much like Mark and Matthew, he surmises, that the early church naturally grouped it with them, placing Acts instead alongside other writings (10). This is a true enough claim for what it is, but we should emphasize that it only removes an objection to the unity of Luke and Acts; it's doesn't offer any actual evidence that they were originally one piece. Incidentally, Parsons and Pervo (12) make the converse (inverse?) argument: because Luke and Acts are never found together within the manuscript tradition, we should suspect that they never had been. Unfortunately, as Joel Green points out in his review (CBQ 57, p. 412), no one knows how Luke's first readers encountered the gospel. I don't believe there's actually any evidence for either book before Luke shows up in a group of gospels.

Genre of Luke and Acts

Sorting through the question of the genre of Luke and Acts (or Luke-Acts), especially in light of Rethinking the Unity of Luke and Acts, by Mikeal Parsons and Richard Pervo.

If Luke intended the gospel of Luke to be a biography by genre, then why didn't he mentioned Jesus' name in the prologue (Luke 1:1-4)? After all, he was using Mark, which opens with mention of the "beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ," so he had the precedent of a narrative of the life of Jesus that started out with the name of his subject. That would suggest that his replacing of Jesus' name with a comment about composing a "narrative" concerning "the matters that have been fulfilled among us" (Luke 1:1) means that he's intentionally avoiding going for the biography genre.

Parsons and Pervo would counter (43) that it is the prologue of Acts that justifies classifying Luke as a biography. Acts opens with, "I composed the first book, Theophilus, concerning all the things which Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he instructed his chosen apostles by the Holy Spirit and then was taken up."

The word "began" often gets interpreted idiomatically, so that the phrase comes out something like, "…all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning…" (NRSV). Note that Joseph Fitzmeyer (AB commentary on Acts, 195), though he uses the same wording as the NRSV for his translation, notes also that it's meant to connect the story of Jesus with the story of the church, which I think my translation above (which follows the NIV, though I usually hate their translation) reflects.

All this to say, I'm not sure Acts is trying to identify Luke as a biography, so much as it's suggesting that the work of Jesus is accomplished throughout both Luke and Acts, and Luke simply contains the part until Jesus is taken up into heaven. This can easily be pushed too far, of course. After all, Luke does contain the full extent of the earthly life of Jesus, and little else. So the content of Luke looks an awful lot like a biography. However, if Luke was wishing to write some form of sacred history (I personally think he was following the LXX), it would stand to reason that he would put his break between the part of the story where Jesus was on earth and the part where he was in heaven.

Henry J. Cadbury, in discussion the proper name for what he would call "Luke-Acts," suggested that Ad Theophilum I and Ad Theophilum II might be suitable as parallels to the books of Samuel and Kings (The Making of Luke-Acts, 11). However, he rejects this idea in part because 1-4 Maccabees were not a single work but rather disparate works that were joined together. I would suggest that Luke may have been looking at 1-4 Kings in the LXX as a model of consecutive books dealing with related topics.

I'm also curious that the opening of Acts which describes "the first book" rather than "my first book. In English, we would say the only if we were talking about a series that was unified from the start. If we said "my," however, we would probably be suggesting that the other book stood on its own, and that this one was written later, in addition.

So ultimately, is Acts a "sequel" (Parsons and Pervo, 126) to Luke, or are they actually two parts of the same work? I'm leaning toward the sequel, but at the same time I think Luke would have considered the two books to be roughly the same genre.