Ancient Rhetoric and the Synoptic Problem: Clarifying Markan Priority
Leuven: Peeters, 2013 pp. xxxviii + 396. Ä85
Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium, 252
Description: Only recently have studies of the synoptic problem begun to ground their assessments of literary dependence in ancient literary conventions. In an effort to appreciate more fully the evangelists' modus operandi, this study examines their appeal to Greco-Roman rhetoric, the "science of speaking well". Focusing on a rhetorical form called the chreia, the book examines rhetorical techniques and reasons for chreia adaptation, particularly reasons why authors changed this form, both in theory and in the practice of the Hellenistic authors Plutarch and Josephus. With these reasons in mind, the study assesses literary dependence among the synoic gospels, examining in detail a Triple Tradition and Double Tradition _chreia_. In the end, this work illustrates that hypotheses of Markan priority, like the Farrer Hypothesis and Two-Document Hypothesis, are more rhetorically plausible than hypotheses of Matthean priority. While Matthew and Luke's adaptations of Mark tend to reflect the rhetorical reasoning that we should expect, Mark's reasoning is often problematic, for Mark repeatedly works against the fundamental rhetorical principles of clarity and propriety.
Subjects: Bible, New Testament, Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, Literature, Methods, Literary Approaches, Rhetorical Criticism
Review by C. Clifton Black
Citation: C. Clifton Black, review of Alex Damm, Ancient Rhetoric and the Synoptic Problem: Clarifying Markan Priority, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2015).
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