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Two Shipwrecked Gospels

Two Shipwrecked Gospels: The Logoi of Jesus and Papias’s Exposition of Logia about the Lord

Dennis R. MacDonald
  • Book Info
    Two Shipwrecked Gospels
    Book Description:

    With characteristic boldness and careful reassessment of the evidence, MacDonald offers an alternative reconstruction of Q and an alternative solution to the Synoptic Problem: the Q+/Papias Hypothesis. To do so, he reconstructs and interprets two lost books about Jesus: the earliest Gospel, which was used as a source by the authors of Mark, Matthew, and Luke; and the earliest commentary on the Gospels, by Papias of Hierapolis, who apparently knew Mark, Matthew, and the lost Gospel, which he considered to be an alternative Greek translation of a Semitic Matthew. MacDonald also explores how these two texts, well known into the fourth century, shipwrecked with the canonization of the New Testament and the embarrassment at outmoded eschatologies in both the lost Gospel and Papias's Exposition.

    eISBN: 978-1-58983-691-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  2. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  4. The Q+/Papias Hypothesis
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Part 1: Papias’s Exposition of Logia about the Lord

    • Introduction to Part 1: Salvaging a Textual Shipwreck
      (pp. 3-8)

      Early in the second century a bishop in Hierapolis, Phrygia, penned an extensive work about Jesus that he called Λογίων κυριακῶν ἐξήγησις. The word ἐξήγησις can mean either “narrative” or “interpretation,” as in the transliteration “exegesis.” The English word “exposition” allows for the same ambiguity as in Greek. Although λόγια often meant “oracles” and thus was used by some early Christians to refer to Jewish Scriptures, Papias used the term logia to refer to the contents of the Gospels as discrete anecdotes, or chreiai, of things that Jesus “said or did [λεχθέντα ἢ πραχθέντα]” (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 3.39.15). His book...

    • 1 Textual Reconstruction and Commentary
      (pp. 9-42)

      The arrangement of the fragments in book 1 requires special attention. Eusebius excerpted three passages from the beginning of the work, but apparently not in their original sequence. The first excerpt begins οὐκ ὀκνήσω δέ σοι καὶ ὅσα συγκατατάξαι (“But I will not hesitate to set in order also for you whatever…”; Expos. 1:5). The word δέ, “but,” requires at least one previous sentence, and the word σοί, “for you [singular],” implies that the author already had mentioned this individual by name, perhaps his patron.¹ Norelli takes καί with the following ὅσα and translates it “anche tutto ciò” (“also all...

    • 2 Papias’s Exposition and Luke-Acts
      (pp. 43-68)

      Even in antiquity readers recognized distinctive connections between Papias’s Exposition and Luke-Acts.¹ Both present Jesus forgiving a sinful woman (Expos. 2:1; Luke 7:36–50); both refer to the martyrdom of James, the brother of John (Expos. 2:3; Acts 12:1–2); both narrate the death of Judas not as a suicide, as in Matthew, but as divine punishment in his own field (Expos. 4:6; Acts 1:18–19); both mention Satan’s fall from heaven (Expos. 4:7; Luke 10:19); both name Barsabbas Justus (Expos. 5:1 and 2; Acts 1:23); and both refer to the daughters of Philip (Expos. 5:1 and 2; Acts 21:8–...

    • 3 Luke’s Knowledge of the Exposition and the Synoptic Problem
      (pp. 69-90)

      Because of its antiquity, Papias’s assessment of Mark and Matthew has exerted extraordinary influence on the history of Gospel interpretation.¹ Modern scholarship, however, has shown that he was misguided in nearly everything he said about these two books. For example, originally the Gospel of Mark probably was anonymous, and Peter’s dismal presentation in it suggests that the author, whoever she was, did not merely translate the disciple’s preaching. Many interpreters have read Papias in light of 1 Pet 5:13 to imply that Mark wrote from Rome, but the Evangelist’s extensive use of Aramaic, including Aramaic-Greek puns and significant names, requires...

  6. Part 2: The Logoi of Jesus

    • Introduction to Part 2: Salvaging Another Textual Shipwreck
      (pp. 93-94)

      Typically, reconstructions of Q involve the comparison of overlapping content in Matthew and Luke, the removal of potential Markan influence, and, when Matthew and Luke differ, the selection of wording and sequencing that displays less redactional manipulation. This procedure has yielded impressive results, but according to the Q+/Papias Hypothesis, this procedure is too simple. In the first place, Mark, too, seems to have known the lost source, and because Luke apparently knew Matthew, one might account for the overlapping content usually attributed to Q merely to Luke’s redaction of the Gospel. Although the Q+/PapH makes the recovery of Q more...

    • 4 Matthew’s Non-Markan Source (Q without Luke)
      (pp. 95-170)

      Matthew contains doublets apparently caused by his redaction of Mark and another text with similar content. With few exceptions, Matthew’s redactions of Mark appear in the same sequence, whereas the corresponding non-Markan doublets witness to a radically different arrangement. Although the Matthean Evangelist occasionally created doublets without the benefit of a source in addition to Mark (e.g., his duplication of the healing of Bartimaeus [Mark 10:46–52] in 9:27–30 and again in 20:29–34), the majority of the non-Markan doublets issue from a stratum of tradition not only more primitive than Mark but one that may well have served...

    • 5 The Logoi of Jesus (Q+) and Its Antetexts
      (pp. 171-504)

      According to the Q+/Papias Hypothesis, the author of Luke-Acts knew the Exposition of Logia about the Lord and thus would have known of the existence of one book about Jesus attributed to Mark and at least two to Matthew. Chapter 4 argued that Matthew redacted two sources: Mark and a lost Gospel, which one might call Matthew’s Q (MQ). I further argued that this lost book was a source also for Mark! This would explain why Matthew contains so many doublets and why the non-Markan doublets attest to an earlier stratum of textuality than Mark’s equivalent logia. To identify this...

    • 6 The Logoi of Jesus as Literature
      (pp. 505-520)

      Chapters 4 and 5 attempted to recover as much wreckage as possible from the lost Gospel and to reassemble the remains into a reasonable replica. It falls to this chapter to scrutinize the replica as a whole to see if it can float as a literary work. Although one might be tempted to regard it as a collection of Jesus’ sayings that have been arranged into speeches with a modest narrative veneer, it is better to view it as a rewriting of the book of Deuteronomy.

      The title evokes Deut 1:1: “These are the logoi that Moses spoke to all...

    • 7 The Logoi of Jesus as Papias’s Second “Translation” of Matthew
      (pp. 521-536)

      Here again is what Papias recorded from the elder John about the Gospels of Mark and Matthew: “Mark became Peter’s translator; whatever Peter recalled of what was said or done by the Lord, Mark wrote down accurately, though not in proper sequence. … Matthew, for his part, set in order the logia in the Hebrew language, but each translated them as he was able” (Expos. 1:3, 4). Part 1 of this book argued that a Semitic Gospel of Matthew never existed; the elder John, Papias, and presumably other early Christians hypothesized such a document in order to guarantee the correct...

    • 8 The Logoi of Jesus as a Source for the Gospel of Mark
      (pp. 537-542)

      Previous reconstructions of Q have significantly illumined the distinctive redactional transformations of it in the Gospels attributed to Matthew and Luke, but because proponents of 2DH eliminate Mark as a third witness to the lost Gospel, Q-Mark overlaps get relegated to the convenient category of shared traditions: they are generically similar but not genetically related. Although advocates of M2DH, like Fleddermann, hold that Mark, too, knew Q, to this date no one has published a major commentary on Mark that has taken seriously its redaction of the lost Gospel. The following table lists logia in the Logoi of Jesus with...

    • 9 The Logoi of Jesus as a Witness to the Historical Jesus
      (pp. 543-554)

      For at least two centuries, the quest for the historical Jesus has been a hot potato, and the potato has yet to lose its heat. I confess to being less sanguine than most Gospel scholars about recovering the life and teachings of Jesus. In large part my skepticism issues from the profound influence of Jewish Scriptures, especially Deuteronomy, on the Logoi of Jesus and Logoi’s pervasive influence on all three of the Synoptics. Despite claims about the historical worth of the Gospel of John, insofar as its author seems to have redacted at least two of the Synoptics (Mark and...

    • 10 Why the Logoi of Jesus and Papias’s Exposition Shipwrecked
      (pp. 555-560)

      If the Q+/Papias Hypothesis is reasonably correct, more early Christians knew the lost Gospel than scholars usually assume, most of whom limit the cognoscenti to Matthew and Luke. Occasionally interpreters propose knowledge of Q in the Epistle of James, which I consider likely, or in the Didache, which is perhaps less so.¹ Others have proposed knowledge of it in the Gospel of Thomas. Tantalizing parallels with the Apocalypse of John, in my view, suggest that its author knew Logoi, though one could attribute virtually all of the similarities to knowledge of Matthew instead.² My reading of Eusebius’s excerpts from Papias’s...

  7. Appendix 1: The Logoi of Jesus: Text and Translation
    (pp. 561-620)
  8. Appendix 2: Concordance to the Logoi of Jesus
    (pp. 621-654)
    Richard C. Miller
  9. Appendix 3: Overview of the Logoi of Jesus and the Synoptic Gospels
    (pp. 655-664)
  10. Appendix 4: Comparison of the Critical Edition of Q and the Logoi of Jesus
    (pp. 665-674)
  11. Appendix 5: Exposition of Logia about the Lord: Text and Translation
    (pp. 675-686)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 687-698)
  13. Index 1: Jewish Antetexts in the Logoi of Jesus
    (pp. 699-702)
  14. Index 2: Modern Authors
    (pp. 703-706)
  15. Index 3: Subjects
    (pp. 707-712)