Who Quoted Whom?

Who Quoted Whom? February 3, 2015

In a post on the blog Right Reason, Glenn Peoples seeks to make the case that Paul quotes from the Gospel of Luke.

The reference is to the connection between 1 Timothy 5:17–18 and Luke 10:7.

If one were to make the case that the Pastoral Epistles were by Paul, despite the implausibility, then it could still be a case of Paul remembering a saying of Jesus and blurring it with what the Jewish Scriptures said. After all, Jesus was a Jewish teacher, and so it should not surprise us to find that much of what is attributed to him is not unique, but a way of understanding the Jewish Scriptures.

More likely scenarios, however, take seriously the evidence that (1) Paul did not write 1 Timothy, and (2) Luke is quite possibly the last of the Gospels to be written, perhaps later even than Papias.

But 1 Timothy could be later still.

And so which seems more likely to you? That the author of 1 Timothy was influenced by the Gospel of Luke? That the Gospel of Luke was influenced by 1 Timothy? Or that both reflect knowledge of oral tradition which attributed this saying to Jesus?

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  • Whoever wrote 1 Timothy may not have been even trying to cite both sayings as something from our Bible, but instead could have been appealing to a larger body of sacred Jewish writings. I think it’s probably worth considering that λέγει ἡ γραφή doesn’t always and necessarily mean, “That passage from a book that will be later canonized as the Christian set of Holy Scripture says…” Even if “the writing” came to mean “the Scripture”, do we know that every sacred “writing” cited was something we (or even they) would recognize as canonical? It seems as likely as not that there were some texts that have been lost but that were highly valued and quoted both by Jesus and by the author of 1 Timothy. Just a thought.

  • Jeff

    Maybe Paul was simply trying to give his friend Luke the first century equivalent of a retweet.

  • SocraticGadfly

    I think the Pastorals were written as late as 120.

  • Jonathan Bernier

    Considering that 1 Timothy refers to what follows as coming from a γραφή and that the only extant text in which those precise words are found is in Luke’s Gospel the principle of parsimony should lead us to think that Luke’s Gospel is being quoted. This isn’t about canon or anything of that sort; it’s about not unnecessarily multiplying entities. That it’s run together with another writing is unsurprising: we see much the same phenomenon occur with regard to prophetic references in the gospels, for instance. Whether 1 Timothy was written by Paul (and there is of course a respectable minority within the discipline who would argue that this is the case; cf. Luke Timothy Johnson) is another question altogether (although not necessarily unrelated: if Luke is clearly post-70 and if Paul died pre-70 then if 1 Timothy cites Luke it must have been written by someone other than Paul).

    • Is it unnecessarily multiplying entities when you already have independent grounds to think the entities exist? The existence of oral traditions behind the gospels isn’t an ad hoc hypothesis being manufactured for this case.

      • Jonathan Bernier

        The principle of not unnecessarily multiplying entities is about not unnecessarily multiplying entities in the particular discussion at hand; thus even if I have reason to think such entities exist if they are unnecessary to account for a matter then I can dispense with them. Whether oral tradition, Q, Special L, or even Matthew why suppose that a passage elsewhere found verbatim only in Luke and introduced as coming from a “writing” comes from a Lukan source rather than from Luke itself?

        • By that logic, I can posit a Lukan source and dispense with Luke on the grounds that it is unnecessary to account for the matter. Any time I arbitrarily choose one out of several hypotheses, the others are no longer necessary and may be dispensed with.

          • Jonathan Bernier

            I’m not sure that hypothesizing the use of an extant text is quite on par with hypothesizing the use of a non-extant and in fact hypothetical text. And given that lack of par my judgment on the matter is not arbitrary.

          • I’m not sure either. I suspect that the evidence is insufficient to eliminate either possibility, not to mention several others. In such cases I think it makes more sense to acknowledge that there is more than one possibility than it does to arbitrarily dispense with any of them.

          • Jonathan Bernier

            If the task is to eliminate possibilities than you’d have a point. But that’s not the task. The task is to figure out which of the available possibilities is most probable given the data. And one of the tests for that is parsimony. Given that by definition a Lukan source is derivative of Luke it is almost certainly less parsimonious.

          • I’m afraid you’ve got it backwards.. By definition, Luke is derived from Lukan sources. The source is not derivative of the product.

            I think you have a problem with probabilistic thinking as well. If you have three possibilities with probabilities of 33%, 33%, and 34%, you would be foolish to “dispense with” the first two simply because the third is more probable than eitherr.

            it is far from clear that parsimony equals probability.IMHO, the virtue of starting with the most parsimonious explanation is that it is the one that is most likely to yield a testable hypothesis. If you cannot confirm or reject the simple hypothesis, it is unlikely that a more complex one will be testable.

          • Jonathan Bernier

            Since we are talking about the nature of judgment we are in the realm of epistemology, and epistemology is about the process of knowledge. And our knowledge of Lukan sources is dependent entirely upon our knowledge of Luke itself. As for “dispensing with” things, please read the comment to which you responded: I am not dispensing with anything. I am merely asking which is more reasonable to affirm, given the data. I am seeking the best answer, not the only answer.

            So, can I rule out that 1 Timothy might be quoting a Lukan source? No. But consider the situation. Both the hypothesis that 1 Timothy quotes Luke and the hypothesis that 1 Timothy quotes a Lukan source suppose the existence of Luke (for the reason outlined above: we only hypothesize the existence of a Lukan source because of the existence of Luke). The idea that 1 Timothy quotes a Lukan source requires the additional hypothesis that there was extant at the time of its composition a Lukan source that contained 10:7. The path of least resistance should incline us to favour the idea that 1 Timothy quotes Luke.

            Unfortunately Glenn Peoples and his ilk is probably why
            people frequently doubt what seems the best answer to the problem: they turn it into an apologetic issue. It’s not. It’s a question of historiographical judgment, no more, no less. And when thought about in that regard it seems to me that it’s a pretty clear-cut situation. Between the two passages you have six words in a row that are verbatim identical to each other. That’s verbatim in every regard: same words, same voice, same case, same order, same everything. That’s actually a remarkable level of agreement; source critical
            theories have been built on less. One of these passages is introduced as a quotation from another body of writing. These passages are found in no other extant texts of the period in question. There is no compelling reason that the text explicitly introducing the passage as a quote cannot date to after the other text. Indeed, one of the reasons for dating 1 Timothy later is that it quotes Luke 10:7, and thus can reasonably be thought to post-date Luke. Peoples is probably right to think that 1 Timothy quotes Luke; whether it was Paul who writes 1 Timothy is an altogether separate issue, and he’s wrong to conflate them.

          • I did read the comment to which I responded, but I read it in the context of the entire exchange, which included your comment about “dispensing with” explanations that you deemed unnecessary, If you wish to withdraw or clarify that remark, I will be happy to reconsider your subsequent comments.

            It is true that we infer a Lukan source from the existence of the written gospel of Luke, however, we also infer the existence of an author from the written gospel, and from that we might infer the existence of the author’s parents. I guess I can concede that this makes them derivative in some epistemological sense, but I think that the connection to parsimony is far from clear. Moreover, the connection between parsimony and probability is also far from clear.

            Even if you could demonstrate a connection between epistemological derivativeness and probability, you would still have to demonstrate its statistical significance. For example, any probability calculation based on the explanatory scope of different explanations is likely to have a pretty wide margin of error given the sparseness of the data. If the effect of small increases or decreases in parsimony is significantly less than that margin of error, what is gained by factoring it in may still be trivial. In other words, even if positing Luke 10:7 as one of the sources for 1 Timothy 5:18 is the “path of least resistance” ceteris paribus, ceteris ain’t anywhere near paribus.

          • Jonathan,

            Suppose you were teaching a class and a student submitted an essay that was suspiciously similar to an essay submitted to you in a previous term. Hypothesis A is that the second student copied from the first and hypothesis B is that they both copied independently from a third source. How would you go about determining which hypothesis is more likely?

            I would submit that while A is somewhat more parsimonious than B, the effect of parsimony would be quickly overwhelmed by evidential factors. For example, if investigation established that the two students were friends, it would incline you far more to hypothesis A than mere parsimony ever could. By the same token, if no connection between the two students could be discerned, B would look better regardless of its slightly greater prodigality. If you were the only professor who taught the class or the only one who assigned that essay topic, A would be favored much more than if the course was offered every term by different professors who assigned similar topics. I suspect that there is probably a laundry list of evidential factors that would trivialize the influence of parsimony in the final assessment.

            I read a fair amount of history, but the only place I ever see Occam’s Razor invoked with any frequency is in New Testament studies. I suspect this is because the evidence is so sparse that there is little left to fall back on. Unfortunately, like many of the other criteria that New Testament scholars have developed, I just don’t think it can bear anywhere near the weight that they place on it.

          • Jonathan Bernier

            Your hypothetical description of investigating for
            plagiarism does not speak against but rather for my argument. My argument is that one should consult all relevant data and then from that data first consider possible hypotheses and then judge which hypothesis makes the best sense. All I am saying—and this really is all—is that parsimony is one (just one) of the means by which one makes that judgment. I am somewhat unclear as to why that is such a controversial proposition.

            I would suggest that other historical discipline do not
            invoke Ockham’s razor because they utilize it as a matter of course. For instance, what other historical discipline would refuse to acknowledge that
            when text A quite conceivably if not probably post-dates text B, and when the writer of text A could quite conceivably be familiar with text B, and when the
            writer states that she or he is about to quote something written, and then quotes something found verbatim and only in text B, would think it other than reasonable to affirm that text A is quoting text B? I would suggest that the razor is only invoked explicitly in our discipline because the discipline frequently works with an anti-razor that is foreign to other historical disciplines. So, yes, it is a sign of an epistemological struggle in NT
            studies, but the problem is not that we employ the razor too much but rather not enough. We have not become habituated, through graduate training and professional development, to utilize it as a matter of course.

          • I would say that “quite conceivably” is the language of conjecture and speculation rather than historiography.

            I would also say that parsimony does not equal probability. It is a useful guide to investigation, but a very thin reed upon which to base any conclusions.

            I would also say the fact that Luke is the only extant writing in which we find a rather mundane but pithy statement is precious little reason to affirm that it was the only writing that contained the statement.

            I would also say that the sparsity of evidence that anything other than Jewish sacred writings were quoted as scripture at the time might cause any historian in any historical discipline to hesitate in affirming that 1 Timothy is quoting Luke.

          • Jonathan Bernier

            If it is speculation that 1 Tim. 5:18 is quoting the one extant text that has verbatim the words in question then I would suggest that any other hypothesis would be beyond speculation. The reason is simple: our certainty regarding Luke’s existence is notably greater than our certainty regarding the existence of any other text that might conceivably be quoted. And that is really quite sufficient to think it a stronger hypothesis that Luke is being quoted.

            Please note that you make a demonstrable empirical error here. “Graphē” needn’t mean “writing.” It can mean simply “writing.” But regardless, I ask you: where is this hypothetical Jewish sacred writing that 1 Tim. 5:18 apparently cites? The phrase shows up in none that are extant. That means that we must hypothesize the existence of such a text. Such a text would contain these six words in equally the order, voice, case, etc. that we find in Luke 10:7. So interestingly enough Luke 10:7 becomes the most sterling confirmation of the existence of such a sacred writing, and this most strongly if one notes that early Christians could and did cite their own literature. And I wonder moreover, if it is so incredible that 1 Tim. would cite Luke because it is not a sacred text then would it not be equally incredible that 1 Tim. would cite a hypothetical Lukan source?

            Put otherwise, on the basis of 1 Tim. 5:18, if we didn’t have Luke, we’d have to invent a text that includes the words found in Luke 10:7. But we do have Luke. So why invent such a text?

          • “Graphē” needn’t mean “writing.” It can mean simply “writing.”

            Please clarify.

          • Jonathan Bernier

            I’m not sure what is unclear. Graphē, frequently translated as “scripture” in 1 Tim. 5:18 has the more basic meaning “writing.” In fact, I’m not sure that it takes on the special meaning “scripture” until after the latest point at which both 1 Tim. and Luke could have been written. Reading it as “scripture” might well be an anachronism.

          • Are you really not sure what is unclear? It’s this: Apparently you didn’t mean “Graphē” needn’t mean “writing.” It can mean simply “writing.” You meant “Graphē” needn’t mean “scripture.” It can mean simply “writing.”

            Not knowing Greek, all I can go by is the fact that every translation I have seen translates it as “scripture.” If I had to guess why this is so, I would guess it would be because the context indicates that the writing being cited is viewed as authoritative by the community for which the letter is being written, and that we have no evidence that any writings other than the Jewish scriptures were viewed or cited as being authoritative in this way.

            If the mainstream consensus has decent grounds for thinking it unlikely that Luke is being quoted (and I leave that for you to fight out with them), then I see nothing speculative about positing the existence of some other writing that contained the phrase. It is an obvious conclusion. However, when I see someone using phrases like “quite conceivably” in an argument, I naturally conclude that they probably don’t have much in the way of evidence on their side.

          • Jonathan Bernier

            My bad. Can only attribute what I wrote re: writing and writing to brain fart.
            As I recall both I.H. Marshall in the ICC and Luke Timothy Johnson in the Anchor Commentary agree that 1 Tim. 5:18 probably quotes Luke 10:7. That’s pretty mainstream. In fairness though it’s been some time since I consulted them on this matter and I’m going from memory, so I might be mistaken. At the very least I am quite certain that they do not rule out the possibility.

          • I usually infer what the mainstream consensus may be from the attacks of apologists.

          • Jonathan Bernier

            Cf. what I just posted above. My guess is that what Peoples is really on about is the authorship of 1 Timothy.

          • Which then feeds into both the dating and authorship of Luke and Acts.

          • Jonathan Bernier

            BTW, unless I utterly miss the mark, the primary concern that persons had with Glenn Peoples’s argument is not that 1 Tim. 5:18 quotes Luke 10:7 but rather that this demonstrates that Paul knew Luke. That follows if and only if 1 Tim. 5:18 quotes Luke 10:7 *and* Paul wrote 1 Tim. But those are actually separate issues. One can quite easily affirm that 1 Tim. 5:18 quotes Luke 10:7 without affirming that thus Paul knew Luke.

          • Jim

            Thanks for your insightful summary. If the writer of Timothy had used Luke as much as Luke used Mark, it would be a much different situation. The phrase in question might have even been something that was a common catch phrase, a sort of idiom in use by the small number of itinerant Christian speakers of the late 1st/early 2nd century. I guess we’ll never know.

            The proposal put forth by Peoples is reasonable for someone to explore and possibly expand on further if possible, but as a stand alone piece of information, it as you say, a small and singly occurring overlap of a mundane/pithy phrase (at least to me, but my expertise is not in history so I am not the right person to assess the significance of the overlap).

          • Jonathan Bernier

            There are two things that militate against the pithy phrase hypothesis. First, it is introduced as coming from a writing. That 1 Tim. 5:18 runs it together with a quote from Deuteronomy does not obviate this, as it is quite common for early Christian writers to put together quotes in such a fashion. Second, the level of verbatim agreement strikes me as a bit high for something circulating in a purely oral milieu. One would have to assume some sort of concerted effort to remember the phrase exactly as it is, and that itself suggests that it was more important to the writer(s) than simply a common idiom.

          • Jim

            As I mentioned in my comment to Vinny, I think that Peoples’ proposal re the overlap of the Luke/Tim verses (and also the possibility for early dating for the NT gospels) is a matter worth investigating/re-investigating.

            However in this case, the dating of these two documents seems particularly relevant to me since it is only one phrase. Especially as the line specifically relates to “paying the preacher” (and contrasts the approach in say the Didache, at least re itinerants). For example, the late Marcus Borg in his Chronological NT postulated that both 1 Timothy and canonical Luke were from around the turn of the 2nd century. In this later dating scenario (but still within an acceptable range among scholars), the idea of many writings being available to copy from, seems reasonable.

            Also a 2nd century Tim copying a late 1st/early 2nd century Luke would have different ramifications than a pre-65 CE Paul copying from a Pre-65 CE Luke that Peoples is proposing.

            As a lay reader I naturally tend to default to consensus but again, early dating proposals are worth researching as nothing is yet set in stone. Just my opinion (and heavy on the “opinion”) though.

          • It is not my expertise either and perhaps it would be possible to show that such a phrase is unlikely to have been preserved verbatim in oral tradition. On the other hand, it might have simply been a common aphorism like “God helps those who help themselves,” which many people today mistakenly think is found in the Bible. Stingy congregations are a problem for any preacher and I can easily see why an itinerant preacher would want to treat the phrase as having the authority of scripture.

          • Jim

            You make an important point regarding hypothesizing based on an extant text is different than hypothesizing on a hypothetical Q text (which we may never know if it existed). However I think that it may also be worth taking into consideration that the autographs of neither Luke-Acts nor the Pauline letters are available either.

            As has been well argued by some, it could be that our “canonical Luke” might be a 2nd century document. So is it possible that a 2nd century Luke is being compared with a second century Tim? I know from your past comments that you favor an early date for the gospels (which could then overlap with Paul’s lifetime), but isn’t it difficult to nail down the original dates for the gospels with near certainty (at least without the aid of a FCM 🙂 )?

          • Jonathan Bernier

            Ultimately dates only matter if it can be shown on independent grounds that Luke post-dates 1 Timothy. Indeed, absent such independent grounds the connexion between Luke 10:7 and 1 Tim 5:18 becomes grounds for thinking Luke prior to 1 Tim.

          • Jim

            Appreciate your point, and I was referring to “canonical” Luke. Luke’s dating seems to come up often, and re Luke-Acts, Tyson for example summarizes the potential of possibly more than one proto-Luke. Does anyone on this blog know if there is as wide of a range in the dating of the other three gospels as there is for Luke (~60 years)?

          • Jonathan Bernier

            I’ve never been impressed by arguments for “Proto-Luke(s).” Of course there was diversity in the textual tradition but all that says to me is what we already know: that “Luke” (or the name of any other ancient text) refers not to a fixed text but rather to a variable one. And I know of no empirical reason to think that there was such a thing as Luke without 10:7. As for dates of the gospels, it’s fair to say that the majority of scholars by far put Luke c. 80-90, with a few of us preferring either lower or higher dates. And again, I don’t think it really makes much difference here. After all, those who date Luke late will tend also to date 1 Timothy early. In fact, I’m not aware of any dating scheme that would place 1 Tim. before Luke.

    • Paul E.

      I hadn’t noticed this connection before, and one of the things that struck me was why the author of 1 Timothy referenced a writing rather than simply saying that Jesus said the saying. In 1 Cor. 7, e.g., Paul says something to the effect “I say to you – not I but the Lord…” etc. Paul doesn’t say “it is written” or whatever. Do you think the wording in 1 Timothy is evidence of a greater distance between it and the Jesus traditions than would be indicated by wording such as that in 1 Cor. 7?

      • Jonathan Bernier

        It’s not clear in 1 Cor. 7 how Paul came to know what the Lord had said on the matter at hand. It seems to me that Paul’s concern here is to distinguish between statements uttered on his own authority and that of Jesus’s. And since Paul is writing yet refers to what he is doing as “saying” I wouldn’t want to draw much out of 1 Cor. 7 regarding oral versus written media.

  • Gary

    “As far as I can tell, St Paul quoted from the written Gospel of Luke. And since St Paul died in AD 67 or thereabouts, the Gospel of Luke must be younger than that.

    St Paul, while he was writing his Epistles, appears to have known what was written in the Gospel of Luke.”

    It seems like the elephant in the room is the event in 70 AD. Paul quoting an obscure text seems to be unimportant, compared to him seeming to ignore a prediction by Jesus, in Luke, about the destruction of the temple. And of course, literalists would want, ever so much, to make the event a prediction by Jesus, not an after-the-fact prediction. So Luke had to be written after 70AD. If Luke’s text existed in Paul’s lifetime, or if the oral prediction by Jesus was known at the time of Paul, why didn’t Paul mention such an important prediction in his confirmed writings? Or am I missing something? Facts are facts. Hopeful beliefs are just that, hopeful beliefs.

  • Mike K.

    I skimmed the post, but one of the problems is that, unless I missed it, it overlooks what is by far the strongest argument that the developed ecclesiastical structure (bishops, presbyters, deacons, order of widows) presupposed in 1 Timothy to defend “the faith” in response to other opponents suggests a post-Pauline defensive strategy. Moreover, his case has to assume that Paul was released from his first Roman imprisonment and, granted that the ancients often dictated to scribes, Ehrman has some strong objections to the view that an amanuensis would so greatly shape the style and content when writing on behalf of another non-elite author. I also wonder if we can be so certain that 1 Timothy is quoting canonical Luke instead of a lost Christian source, even if the saying appears distinctive to Luke among the Gospels that are extant. He would have to engage the debate over how to establish an intertextual reference to a specific Gospel text in light of the proliferation of other oral or written Jesus traditions.

  • It’s hard for me to take Peoples seriously when he’s arguing for the “reliability” of the gospels. Really? It’s the dating that makes the gospels look unreliable?

    How about the conflicting stories? The verbatim copying between the synoptics with emendations? The opposing genealogies? And, perhaps most obviously to any skeptic, the details that make us smile at all ancient religious tales … the magic! The resurrections, the zombie apocalypse, the ascension into outer space, etc.

    It’s like saying that Plutarch’s dating doesn’t take away from the reliability of the Delphic oracle.

  • Andrew Dowling

    1 Timothy could be as last as the 130s, but that phrasing could easily come from the oral tradition as it does from Luke. One issue I have with some scholars is that they presume similarities in phrasing and vocabularly mean the writers must have had access to XYZ source. But this was a predominantly “oral” culture . .early Christians did not have Oprah-like book clubs to swap their favorite Epistles/Gospels.

  • Gary

    I have no axe to grind, and don’t desire to debate. Just a simple question.

    1 Tim 5 “18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his hire.”

    Scripture is singular. Does that imply that “muzzle the ox” and “laborer is worthy” comes from the same source? (God). “Laborer is worthy” from Jesus via Luke. “Muzzle the ox” from Deuteronomy via Paul (1 Cor 9:9).

    And 1 Cor 9:9 “For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.” Paul uses the Deuteronomy phrase, but doesn’t couple it with the “laborer” phrase.

    Considering the previous verse in 1 Tim 5 “17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of DOUBLE honor, especially those who labor in the word and in teaching.”

    1 Tim written well after both Paul in Corinthians, and the author of Luke, finished their texts, and provided a “double” whammy to help justify that he was Paul, quoting both Jesus and Paul. Double your pleasure, double your faux.

    • Gary

      An example of trying too hard to show you are not a fake.

    • The muzzle the ox saying isn’t via 1Cor 9.9. The verbs match in 1Tim and the LXX (φιμωσεις), but 1Cor paraphrases, or maybe even has a variant textual basis (κημωσεις).