I'm continuing my way through Mark Goodacre's The Case Against Q. In my latest reading, Goodacre is defending against detractors the view that the Gospel of Luke drew from the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Mark, as opposed to drawing from a Q source that the Gospel of Matthew also uses. In this post, I'll talk about how Goodacre responds to two arguments. I won't mention every single argument that Goodacre attempts to refute, nor will I mention every argument that Goodacre gives in response, but I will select the arguments that stood out to me.
1. One argument that defenders of the existence of Q
use against the notion that Luke drew from Matthew is that there is an
absence of Matthean-like phrases in the Gospel of Luke. Goodacre has a
variety of responses to this argument.
First, Goodacre says that
Luke may have a reason to strip the peculiarly Matthean content of the
stuff that he draws from Matthew. For example, Luke's Sermon on the
Plain has "Blessed are the poor" rather than Matthew's "Blessed are the
poor in spirit" because Luke likes to emphasize the poor. Moreover,
according to Goodacre, Luke says in the preface to his work that he
drew from a variety of sources, and so he may have sometimes preferred
other versions than what he found in Matthew, but that does not mean
that Luke was unaware of Matthew's Gospel or never used it.
Luke's Lord's Prayer, for example, is more succinct than the Lord's
Prayer in Matthew, but that could be because Luke was accustomed to the
shorter version and chose to use that, even though Luke was aware of
Matthew's version. Similarly, Catholics recite a particular version of
the Lord's Prayer in their services, even though they know about other
Second, Goodacre argues that there are cases in which Luke indeed does draw from Matthean phraseology.
For example, when discussing what John the Baptist was saying in
exhorting people, Luke's telling of the event resembles what is found in
Matthew more than what is found in Mark (Luke 3:16-17; Matthew 3:11-12;
Third, in response to the
argument that Luke often fails to use the order of events found in the
Gospel of Matthew and omits things from Matthew, which would be odd if
Luke were actually using Matthew's Gospel, Goodacre looks at how Luke is
using Mark. Luke shortens some things that he finds in Mark, or he
redistributes what he finds to other contexts. If Luke could do that
with Mark's Gospel, why couldn't Luke do so with the Gospel of Matthew?
2. I remember when I heard a New Testament professor present the
view that Luke used Matthew, and I wondered why Luke and Matthew would
have such different and contradictory infancy narratives, if such were
the case. Goodacre addresses that issue.
First of all, Goodacre
notes commonalities between the two infancy narratives: Jesus is born
of a virgin, Jesus is born in Bethlehem, etc. Matthew 1:21 is also
similar to Luke 1:31. In Matthew 1:21, Joseph is told, "She will give
birth to a son and you shall call him Jesus." In Luke 1:31, Mary is
told, "You will give birth to a son and you will call him Jesus." According
to Goodacre, the statement is more appropriate in Matthew's Gospel, for
even Luke acknowledges that the father (or both parents) named the
children (Luke 1:13, 59-66; 2:21). But Luke "has taken over a clause
that was more appropriate in its original context in Matthew" (page 57).
Goodacre argues that Luke may diverge from Matthew because he dislikes
elements of Matthew's story. Defenders of the idea that Luke did not
use Matthew have asked why, if Luke knew of Matthew's infancy story,
Luke did not mention the magi, when that would have coincided with
Luke's pro-Gentile message. Goodacre responds that Luke's Gospel is
often silent about Jesus' interaction with Gentiles, for Luke goes to
great lengths to "keep the Centurion out of Jesus' sight" (Matthew
8:5-13//Luke 7:1-11) (56). Goodacre also notes that Luke has a
negative view of magi in Acts 8:9-24 (the story of Simon Magus), and so
Luke's omission of the magi from his infancy narrative is not
Third, Goodacre speculates that Luke decided
to write an infancy story because he saw the one in Matthew and wanted
to improve upon it. And, in the eyes of many, he did, Goodacre notes,
for many churches use Luke's infancy story.
I think that
Goodacre's arguments are powerful, but I have three points to make.
First, in determining whether Luke used Matthew or Matthew and Luke both
used Q, I think it's important to look at the parallels and see where
Luke omits Mattheanisms, and to ask if Luke would have a reason to make
such an omission. When the omission would accord with Luke's
ideology, fine, but what if it does not in certain cases? Should we
assume that Luke simply had it in for Mattheanisms and wanted to omit
them in his own telling of events? Or does it make more sense to say
that Luke does not use those Mattheanisms because he was not using
Matthew, but rather the Q source?
Second, on a related
note, I can see why Luke would omit pieces of Matthew's infancy
narrative that contradict his own ideology. But why would Luke
totally disregard elements of Matthew's narrative that do not appear to
relate to his ideology, one way or the other? Why would Luke present
Joseph and Mary going from Nazareth to Bethlehem due to a census, when
he could have simply imitated Matthew by placing Joseph and Mary in
Bethlehem at the outset?
Third, how do we know that
Luke is using Matthew and not vice-versa? Luke coming after Matthew in
date may simply be assumed within New Testament scholarship. After all,
Luke's Gospel appears to be late because it admittedly draws on
different sources, plus Luke highlights that Christ is taking a long
time to return, indicating that much time has passed. But I still think
that Goodacre should interact with how we can tell that Luke is the one
using Matthew and not vice-versa. (Maybe he did address that point and
I've missed it, or I have not come to that part of the book yet.)
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