Steph Fisher wrote:
> I strongly recommend James Crossley's book. His argument demonstrates
> Matthew's redaction of Mark (not the other way around) but it also suggests an
> early date for Matthew as well - before the war. Mark is around 40.
Having now had a chance to study Crossley's book, I find some of his main
arguments regarding Mark's date to be extremely weak.
Firstly I note that he dismisses Brandon's nationalistic scenario of the
aftermath of the Jewish war (71CE) as "too speculative", claiming that many
other contexts are "just as plausible". (p.76,n.119) This is opinion, not
Secondly he puts great weight on the argument that Mark did not show signs
of Jewish legal debates, and so it is likely to have been written before
these debates were raised by Christians sometime after ca. 45 CE or
thereabouts. It's not clear why he doesn't consider Mk 7:1-23 as airing such
debates. But in a different phrasing of the argument he takes Mark's lack of
an equivalent to Mt 5:17-21 or Lk 16:16-17 ("general defences of the Torah")
to "suggest an early date" (p.159). Not so. Mark was writing for Gentiles,
and so he changed Jesus' saying about the longevity of the law into a saying
about the longevity of Jesus' words (c.f. Fleddermann). This is consistent
with his omission of the sayings behind Mt 7:6; 10:5b-6 and his
transformation of the saying behind 10:23 into the innocuous Mk 13:10.
Thirdly Crossley has a most peculiar interpretation of Mk 7:14-23. Mark
presents three consecutive passages relating to Jewish legal issues: 7:1-8,
9-13 and 14-23. Crossley insists on interpreting the last in the context of
the first, deducing that "he declared all foods clean" means "he declared
permitted foods clean" (denying the role of handwashing). But this
interpretation is ruled out by 7:18b: "Do you not see that whatever goes
into a man from outside cannot defile him...". The only logical deduction
from this is that all foods are clean, as stated explicitly by Mark in
7:19b. Crossley claims that if Mark wanted to reject the Jewish food laws
"he would have to be a lot more explicit than the editorial comment in 7:19"
(p.191). On the contrary, Mark was writing for Gentiles, and must have known
that 7:19b would have been taken at face value by his readers. He is here
expressing in different words what his hero Paul had written in Rom 14:14a,
thus establishing a clear ethical divide between Judaism and Christianity
which has lasted to this day.
Fourthly, a period of ten years between the crucifixion and the publication
of Mark's gospel is far too short to account for some features of the
gospel. For instance, Mark shows his embarrassment at the fact that Jesus'
prophecy of the coming of the kingdom had not been fulfilled (Mk 9:1) by
placing the saying just before the transfiguration (c.f. "And after six
days...") and so suggesting that this happening had somehow fulfilled the
prophecy. But in 40 CE "some standing here" would still have been alive, so
the prophecy would not have appeared unfulfilled at that time.
My conclusion is that Crossley has not succeeded in making a convincing case
for an early Mark. Mark was written ca. 70 CE.
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