Once Again, “Matthew And Midrash”: A Rejoinder To Robert H. Gundry -- By: Douglas Moo

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 26:1 (Mar 1983)
Article: Once Again, “Matthew And Midrash”: A Rejoinder To Robert H. Gundry
Author: Douglas Moo

Once Again, “Matthew And Midrash”: A Rejoinder To Robert H. Gundry

Douglas J. Moo

The “genuine dialogue” that Robert Gundry perceives to exist between him and me will, I hope, be maintained in this rejoinder. “Dialogue” implies a willingness to learn and a charitable attitude toward those with whom we may disagree. Surely these qualities should characterize any discussion held within the confines of a Christian academic theological society. To charity must, of course, be added a passion for the truth as the individual sees it. I sense that Gundry and I both share that as well. Who of us possesses the clearer vision must be left for others to decide. In this rejoinder I would like to expand on some of my arguments in light of Gundry’s criticisms. In doing so I will not always repeat the previous discussion. The reader is therefore encouraged to read the two foregoing papers carefully before this one. Since Gundry’s “Response” follows the order of arguments in my originial critique, I will use that same order to structure this rejoinder.

Gundry’s response to my criticisms of his source theory are instructive. Essentially, he replies, the commentary is to speak for itself. Markan priority is justified by the “adequacy and economy” with which it accounts for the data; the use by Matthew and Luke of an “expanded” Q can be assumed once Matthew’s creativity elsewhere is seen; Matthew used few other traditions because passages peculiar to his gospel exhibit a large number of Mattheanisms. Further, we are told that no one can accuse Gundry of “assuming” Markan priority because he started with the opposite assumption.

Now as much as it may be helpful to know something of Gundry’s thought processes, such information does not take us very far in assessing the logical validity of his case for this particular source reconstruction. The reader must look at what Gundry has written—and when he does, he will look in vain for an even-handed attempt to justify this source theory. In pericope after pericope Gundry explains Matthew’s text according to his changes of Mark and Q. Alternative explanations are rarely considered. We are left, then, with Gundry’s claim that this particular approach makes the most sense of the phenomena. But surely we are entitled to ask “Why?” What is it about this theory that makes it preferable to others? How can we know that this approach best explains the data if no others are mentioned? We seem to be left with Gundry’s word for it.

We touch here on one of the major distinctives—and drawbacks—of the commentary: the lack of interaction with other views. This kind of approach no doubt has its positive side: All of us grow weary of sifting through masses of bibliography, assorted views...

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