Sunday, January 10, 2010

They threw away the mould

Mark Goodacre on NT Blog gives notice of the death of Michael Goulder, British New Testament scholar, at the age of 82.

In recent years I have paid more than a passing interest to the Synoptic Problem to which Michael Goulder contributed distinctively with his development of Austin Farrer's theory that Luke knew and used Matthew's Gospel, as well as Mark's Gospel. So considerable was this work that what is known as the Farrer Hypothesis is also known as the Farrer-Goulder Hypothesis.

But some years before this interest I had the privilege of sitting in a seminar at a British New Testament Conference at which Michael Goulder was present. I briefly met him and the memory remains strong of a very, very engaging man with a vivid, expressive turn of phrase - something represented in his writings. He is the best writer of biblical scholarship I have come across. A colourful character was Michael. In my personal experience of scholars he is sui generis, a hapax legomenon of characters. RIP.


Anonymous said...

In some idle post-Christmas moments, I've been shuffling the Synoptic deck recently and came across Goulder's views, via Mark Goodacre's page and some other links.
It was all so simple years ago, when I never thought about it and simply accepted the Two Gospel Hypothesis! But I've also read John Wenham's revival of the Augustinian thesis, 'Redating Matthew, Mark and Luke', and wonder if this has been given the attention it desrves. Wholly different paradigms in biblical studies can arise when we get rid of scholarly hypotheses like Q - or DtrH - or JEPD!
The sad thing about Goulder was that he participated in 'The Myth of God Incarnate' and from once being an Anglican priest, he became an atheist, as did others in that symposium.

Peter Carrell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Carrell said...

Wenham's thesis is also interesting. Personally I struggle with ideas that Mark was not the prior gospel to Matthew and Luke.

Yes, Goulder became an atheist. But there was a certain 'evangelical' enthusiasm for his ideas which never left his writings!

Anonymous said...

"Personally I struggle with ideas that Mark was not the prior gospel to Matthew and Luke."

Me too, but we need to remind ourselves that this is a literary hypothesis and has no basis in ancient tradition (Papias, Eusebius etc), which universally ascribes priority to Matthew. If we can rid our minds of that German Protestant prejudice against the claims of church tradition, we can rethink the question. This is what Richard Bauckham has been doing in parallel studies, first on Jude and James, and then more recently in 'Jesus and his Eyewitnesses', where he ascribes a lot more trustworthiness to Papias and a host of unnamed characters who have left their print in the gospel stories. The result is to radically shorten the time between the events and sayings and their writing down. So it's goodbye to Q and form criticism - and hello again to something much closer to what Papias and the Anti-Marcionite prolog claim happened.
The date of Luke is one of the crucial questions. As JAT Robinson cogently argued, nothing in the NT need postdate AD 70, while Acts itself ends c. AD 62. Although a conservative writer like Craig Blomberg (in his excellent introductory student book on the Gospels) places Luke in 70-80, there is really no reason why it isn't pre-62; which could put Mt and Mk in the 50s or earlier - in the first generation of the Church.