I would be willing to bet that less ink has been spilled on the Gate of False Dreams in the Aeneid than has been spent on the first ten verses of the Gospel of Mark.
That this is true should be shocking. But it isn't, it's expected. It is, in general, considered warranted even.
I've been mulling over the different assumptions that guide inquiry the past week or so, particularly as relates to Brodie, MacDonald and "parallelomania". And I realized an assumption I have that is radically different from Biblical scholarship at large.
See, from the very conservative Raymond Brown to the very liberal Thomas Brodie or Earl Doherty, there is this general sense that the gospels represent the product of a complex literary process. Not everybody agrees on what that process is, or how it works, but almost everyone--at least implicitly--agrees that it exists, that it is there to be teased out.
Confession time: I don't think there was any complicated process at all. I certainly don't think the authors thought it out as thoroughly as the modern exegete does.
Many would agree with this statement in principle, but in practice they go right on digging. The unstated assumption of virtually every commentary in print is that the gospels are uniquely an utter embarrassment of riches for the exegete to plow.
I don't think they are. I don't even think there are any good reasons to suppose it to be true.
See, Mark reads almost like a stream of consciousness, joined by "and" a lot. Matthean symbolism has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Lukan symoblism is only slightly better, and sometimes even worse.
I am expected to believe that these are the literary geniuses whose work we need to harvest every nuance from? You'll forgive me if I reject the premise.
People are very good at finding patterns, at making connections, at seeing significance. We can come up with all kinds of models for how they wrote the gospels. And then find all sorts of evidence that that's what they did. This isn't actually evidence that it happened, only that we can find a consistent pattern. We can find a lot of consistent patterns. Often competing. That in itself should shake our confidence in the fruits of such inquiry. What of the alternative? That they didn't have ten scrolls open in front of them while they worked? That when they called earlier scripture to mind they were doing it from memory and off the cuff? That they wrote...I don't know, like real people, instead of modern constructs?