In Response to: L M Barré
I think the crux of the present disagreement is that I do not believe in a
pre- or proto-Mark. I cannot fit my own observations, including observations
of evidence for interpolation, onto that two-stage model. I find that one
author has been in control of the Markan formation process from its
beginning to its end. There is thus no "redaction" in the usual sense of the
term. There is accretion, guided throughout by one controlling authorial
presence. These two models are different enough that, once the difference is
exposed, it seems there is little more to be said.
LMB: . But then we already agree that the empty tomb material belongs to
EBB: No we don't, and the difference is fundamental. The Empty Tomb story,
as I see it, is an appendage to the original (not proto-) Markan passion
narrative. A theological improvement out there in the world somewhere, of
which aMk has in due course taken account, and written into his story.
LMB: In other words, what is your pre-Markan PN?
EBB: Adela Yarbro Collins, Mark, p819. Except that I disagree with her in
seeing it as "pre-Markan." I find it to be early Markan. But on its extent,
with a few small shades of difference on details, we agree.
LMB: We should also agree that the first accusation about the rebuilding of
the temple in three days coincides with the Markan teaching about the
resurrection, with as you agree, is a Markan motif by assigning the end of
PN to 15:38.
EBB: There is nothing in 15:38 about the Resurrection. There is nothing in
the early layers of Mark (as defined by following out the interpolations)
about the Resurrection. This is the dangerous territory I mentioned earlier.
If we follow the interpolations where they lead, we find that a lot of later
Jesus theory turns out to be in the later layers of Mark, whereas the early
layers of Mark, including the original complete satisfactory self-standing
Markan narrative of Jesus, includes none of it. The early layers of Mark
imply a Christianity which is by and large consonant with other
non-Resurrection materials, both in and out of the canon (the Epistle of
James, the Two Ways, the Didache proper, the early hymn quoted by Paul -
with a characteristic Pauline half-line intrusion - in Philippians 2, to
mention only 1c writings). This is what I have called Alpha Christianity:
the beliefs, and also the liturgical practices, of the earliest known
All this takes place in a larger context of theological change. See my piece
Gospel Trajectories, in the journal I mentioned earlier.
(Whoops, that is not one of the free downloads. Go then to the Order page to
acquire the journal on an individual or library basis). These Trajectories
show a steady growth of certain ideas (eg, the divinization of Jesus), and a
steady withering of certain other ideas (eg, the role of John the Baptist in
Jesus' life), over the course of the Four Gospels, whose completion dates
put them in the order Mark > Matthew > Luke > John. This is the large view.
An upclose zoom view of the first stage in that larger evolution of doctrine
is available in Mark, once the accretional nature of Mark has been
recognized and its several stages have been identified.
LMB: It also seem to me you are drawing back from my form-critical arguments
toward the identification of PN as an Aristotelian tragedy.
EBB: Right. I draw back all the way. I find Aristotle only vaguely
applicable to Greek drama outside Sophocles (I like Aeschylus better), and
not at all applicable to the mind and formative disposition of Mark.
LWB: And is it insignificant that a Roman centurion should provide the
epiphany of what Jesus actually was?
EBB: Not at all. It is quite significant. But significant of what? I would
say, of [future] Roman acceptance of the claims of Jesus, however defined.
Nothing so pervades the later NT writings as the wish of the Christians to
be recognized as a licit religion under Roman law. Here in Mk 15:39 is that
wish, symbolically expressed.
LWB: And does not the story inspire pity and fear?
EBB: It might have, before Mark got his hands on it. What it inspires after
Mark (and the early theologians collectively) got through with it can be
appreciated by reading Joseph Kerman's chapter on Tristan, in his book Opera
as Drama. Warmly recommended. Kerman gets behind the comedy/tragedy impasse
which has hamstrung so much literary thought since the 04c.
I think I should now relinquish my half of this discussion to others who may
be interested in commenting, perhaps from a different point of view, on this
proposal. Thanks again to those who took the trouble to make the proposal
itself legible on my screen.
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst