Sententiae Jesus : gnomic sayings in the tradition of Jesus
This dissertation coordinates two problems which have hitherto resisted adequate synthesis: the form-critical problem of describing proverbial-sounding Synoptic sayings and the tradition-historical problem of assessing the rhetorical habits of Jesus and his immediate successors in oral tradition. The approach taken here to linking these qualifies not only form-critical assumptions of continuity between written forms - in Kleinliteratur - and identifies oral Sitze im Leben of mnemotechnical scholasticism, but also of the recent emphases on radical discontinuity between oral and writing modes of tradition. The connection proposed here between re-description of so- called Wisdom-sayings and oral traditional aspects of the gospels is in the Hellen educational category of gnome. Defined, exemplified and prescribed in basic Graeco-Roman educational texts as well as in technical, philosophical manuals of Rhetoric and in a rich collection-literature, gnome is superbly attested as an exercise in primary education, in all kinds of public-speaking and in cross-cultural (including Jewish) tradition. Moreover, Hellenistic cultivation of gnome primarily as a speech-type, indeed as a conversational means of argumentation in any Sitz im Leben, and only secondarily though still extensively as a literary technique makes it a particularly pertinent term of comparison for New Testament criticism. Recognizing gnomic continuity between oral and written Synoptic tradition allows discussion of the authenticity not only of individual sayings (on criteria of dissimilarity), but also collectively of the gnomic manner (on criteria of oral-literate continuity and multiple attestation): quite apart from the (in)authenticity of each gnome, gnomic style is central to Jesus' self-expression and earliest tradition. In this sense gnomai are a particularly valuable data-set for reassessing the critically controverted relationship between Jesus' rhetoric and law: in Synoptic tradition gnome is exploited suggestively as a non-legal means of addressing conventionally legal topics.