And I must admit that I could not resist drawing attention to a nice modern day example of minor differences in two accounts of the same event. Regular readers will also know of my interest in the Talpiot tomb, and recently of the book, websites and forthcoming Discovery channel documentary on Talpiot Tomb B. It's in relation to that material that I found this enjoyable example of two differing accounts of the same event, and something that I may be tempted to use as an analogy in my teaching on the Synoptics.
|Charlesworth||Tabor and Jacobovici|
|I was moved when I looked through a camera on the end of a robotic arm into a pre-70 Jewish tomb. There in the darkness below my feet was an ancient tomb with bone boxes (ossuaries) clearly made before the massive revolt against Rome in 66 CE. As the camera turned, I saw a door that sealed the tomb in antiquity. Then the camera moved silently past ossuaries. A shout was heard by colleagues near me as an inscription came into view. Then, not much later the robotic arm moved again, being directed by a scientist. None of us could believe our eyes. We were all riveted to a drawing that ostensibly broke the second commandment. What was it? What was depicted? What did the early Jew intend to symbolize?||The following day we called in Professor James Charlesworth, an expert in Greek and early Christianity, who was in Jerusalem doing research on the Dead Sea Scrolls. After reinserting the robotic arm and swinging the camera once again over to the third niche, we showed him what we had discovered: first the inscription, then the image. He immediately and independently offered the same interpretation we had come to the day before. He excitedly sight-read the inscription. “The Divine Jehovah raises up from [the dead].” He also offered without hesitation the same interpretation of the fish. What we are looking at, he said, appears to be the earliest representation from Jesus’ followers of their faith in his resurrection of the dead. A quiet shudder went through the room as the implications of his conclusion sunk in.|
There are major points of contact between the two accounts, the camera, the robotic arm, "None of us could believe our eyes" and "What we are looking at", the tone. But there are also points of divergence. In the Charlesworth account, some readers might infer that he was present when everyone was seeing this for the first time, whereas it is clear in the Tabor and Jacobovici account that it was a day later. In the Charlesworth account, "a shout was heard" whereas in the Tabor and Jacobovici account there was "a quiet shudder".
Indeed, as in the Synoptic comparisons, or the Acts vs. Paul comparisons, there are elements in Charlesworth's acccount that appear earlier in the Tabor and Jacobovici account, which suggests, of course, that the Charlesworth account is somewhat compressed. In Tabor and Jacobovici, "A shout went up in the cramped corridor when we read the inscription" the day before, and similarly "As our camera passed along its façade, a shout went up . . ."
I hope readers will forgive me the indulgence of finding this analogy from our own time enjoyable and potentially useful. For what it's worth, the lack of verbatim agreement between the two accounts is a sure indicator of their literary independence from one another.