On: Staff (Priority of Mark)
In Response To: Richard Richmond
Richard had lined up three passages as showing Markan priority. In part (and
in his order):
Mark 6:8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff;
no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9 but to wear sandals and not put
on two tunics.
Matthew Matt.10:10 no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor
a staff; for the laborer deserves his food.
Luke 9:3 And he said to them, "Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor
bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.
Focusing for the moment on the staff, we have Mk allowing one, and Mt/Lk
prohibiting it. As for "wear two tunics," I would assume that this refers to
"a second (spare) tunic." Mk, as I read it, allows traveling clothes
(sandals, staff, one tunic) but no spares (a second tunic, or food, or money
to buy those and other things), for the principle stated by Mt and (I should
think) implicit in the other two: that the travelers should earn their way
by their healing and preaching.
That seems realistic to me, and the Mt/Lk more strenuous prohibitions look
less realistic. So, if I know from other evidence that Mk was first in time,
I could write a good essay interpreting the changes, but I am less
comfortable assuming that in this detail we have evidence for Markan
priority. Who is to say if (1) an originally reasonable equipment standard
was later made less unreasonable for doctrinal or other reasons, or if (2)
an originally overstated ideal was later tempered by those with more
experience of the roads of Palestine?
Richard makes his point as follows: "If Mark did copy Luke he would have to
sandals and changed position on the taking of a staff (What was the point of
mentioning a staff if it need not be taken, note that all three mention the
staff. There is no other text that says the disciples carried a staff of any
Well, what was the point of mentioning *anything* not to be taken? I would
answer: To forbid it, and in the process to make or imply a point about the
self-sustaining nature of the early ministry. For my own part, I am
perfectly willing to imagine either of these writers adopting, on the staff
question, a view opposite to that of the other. There are other changes in
the list of what is permitted and not, and those also I can imagine. I have
no choice but to imagine them: there they are. What I can't see at this
moment is that there is a strong intrinsic probability that one version (eg,
yes staff) came before the other (eg, no staff).
Can anyone strengthen the directionality to be imputed to the staff
difference? Other than by the appeal suggested above, to a greater
probability of the realism > nonrealism scenario?
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
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