Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

1149Re: [Synoptic-L] the sources of Matt 4:1-11 according to Griesbachians

Expand Messages
  • Maluflen@aol.com
    Jun 11, 2008
      Bruce, you miss the point of my opening sentence. The background of my comment would be clear to regular readers of this list. I have been arguing for a long time (and of course everyone is free to counter-argue against this position, properly understood) that, in general, adherence to Markan priority is accepted by scholars (not on the basis of no evidence at all, but) on the basis of evidence derived from macro-considerations of Mark's Gospel with respect to the other Synoptics. Much of your post illustrates this point, rather than countering it. I have further argued that if Synoptic parallels were approached, pericope by pericope, with the methodological stipulation of no pre-assumed (or pre-argued) theory of Gospel relations, and with attention simply to arguments of priority or non-priority that emerge from evidence in the individually examined parallel pericopes, there would be no strong cumulative argument for Markan priority, and considerable argument against it, by the time this exercise was complete. You may disagree with this position, but please don't misunderstand it to imply a charge that Markan priorists hold their theory without evidence, and as a mere presupposition of further interpretive work, etc.

      I did not want to deal with your individual arguments, partly because most of them fall outside of the methodology I am advocating (they rove elsewhere and yonder for killer arguments in favor of Markan priority), but since your first argument (below) is at least related to material proximate to the temptation of Jesus parallels, I will deal with it briefly.

      In a nut shell, it is weak and unconvincing -- not as an overall argument based on trajectory (here it obviously has some appeal)-- but as a specific argument in favor of Mark's priority to Matthew in this part of his Gospel. The problem as I see it lies in the implied argumentum ex silentio in the way you formulate Mark's supposed low Christology: "indwelt by the Spirit only from his Baptism to his Crucifixion."  There is no way this is derived from the text of Mark except through an absolutely unacceptable implied argument from silence. We have no idea (from the text) what Mark thought of Jesus' conception and birth, because he tells us nothing about them. In Mark the Spirit comes upon Jesus at his baptism, in connection with (and preparation for) his mission (just as he does in Matt, who does have a conception by the spirit!). If I were compelled to guess what Mark's view was of the time prior to this incident in the life of Jesus, I would find it difficult to imagine that Mark thought of Jesus as exactly like every other human being that ever lived up until this time. Much more likely is that he knew and believed the stories of Jesus' conception by the spirit. He simply chose to begin his story with the baptism of Jesus. And, yes, there are numerous plausible reasons why he might have chosen this particular starting point.

      If there is any argument from Christological trajectory to be made from this part of the Gospel story, it arguably works in favor of Matthean priority. As Gerhardsson rightly notes, Jesus in Matt 4:1-11 is God's son in the sense that he is Israel, God's son. Mark does not go there (or at least, if he does, the equation of Jesus with Israel is so implicit in Mark as to be implausibly intended, and probably derived from remembering Matthew) and I would argue that Mark's account suggests a divine sonship that is more unique, mysterious, and elevated.

      Leonard Maluf
      Blessed John XXIII National Seminary
      Weston, MA



      Leonard: I know most of you think of Mark 1:12-13 as a source for Matt
      :1-11, which makes eminent sense if you assume Markan priority. I would
      ike you, if possible, to suspend that presupposition for a moment,
      Bruce: We have had this line before. But I venture to remark again: People
      o not always "assume" or have a "presupposition" about Markan priority.
      ome actually hold it as a conclusion from personally examined evidence. I
      xplicitly mentioned one part of my own evidence in my earlier note: the
      rajectory arguments. But perhaps I should yet again spell out what I mean
      y that phrase. Here goes.
      One of the Gospel Trajectories is the progressive divinization of Jesus in
      he Gospels:
      Mk: indwelt by the Spirit only from his Baptism to his Crucifixion,
      nclusive
      t: conceived by the Spirit
      k: ditto, and John the B also has a miraculous origin
      n: Jesus exists in Heaven prior to his human manifestation




      -----Original Message-----
      From: E Bruce Brooks <brooks@...>
      To: synoptic@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Wed, 11 Jun 2008 10:33 am
      Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] the sources of Matt 4:1-11 according to Griesbachians



      To: Synoptic
      c: GPG; WSW
      n Response To: Leonard
      n: Markan Priority
      rom: Bruce
      Leonard: I know most of you think of Mark 1:12-13 as a source for Matt
      :1-11, which makes eminent sense if you assume Markan priority. I would
      ike you, if possible, to suspend that presupposition for a moment,
      Bruce: We have had this line before. But I venture to remark again: People
      o not always "assume" or have a "presupposition" about Markan priority.
      ome actually hold it as a conclusion from personally examined evidence. I
      xplicitly mentioned one part of my own evidence in my earlier note: the
      rajectory arguments. But perhaps I should yet again spell out what I mean
      y that phrase. Here goes.
      One of the Gospel Trajectories is the progressive divinization of Jesus in
      he Gospels:
      Mk: indwelt by the Spirit only from his Baptism to his Crucifixion,
      nclusive
      t: conceived by the Spirit
      k: ditto, and John the B also has a miraculous origin
      n: Jesus exists in Heaven prior to his human manifestation
      These make a graded sequence; a progression. But in which direction does the
      rogression progress? To me it is very difficult to imagine the early church
      rogressively *limiting* the span of time in which Jesus can be said to
      ossess divine qualities. I think that the church (like every other sacred
      r secular movement, East or West, for which we have adequate documentation)
      s far more likely to have extended the time and aggrandized the powers. I
      ote the Gnostic developments as growths in just this direction, about 37
      egrees SSW of orthodox, but still a development whose direction is relevant
      o the present purpose. From this consideration, and not from any
      assumption," or for that matter as part of any Farmer-style evil
      onspiracy, I conclude that Mark is the earliest of the Gospels.
      That's one. Take now John the B:
      Mk: Jesus is baptized, and receives the Spirit
      t: John is reluctant to baptize his superior Jesus, but Jesus insists it is
      roper
      k: Does not even narrate the baptism as such (it is only mentioned after it
      s over)
      n: JB reports the descent of the spirit, but he never baptizes Jesus. John
      rom the moment he comes onstage continually and abjectly insists that not
      e, but Jesus, is the One people have been waiting for. Never for a moment
      oes John appear as anything other than Jesus's inferior.
      We seem to have here either a progressive diminution, or a progressive
      ugmentation, of the importance of the Baptism. But which? It may easily
      ave seemed to early Christians (and John B in Matthew says it explicitly)
      hat it was undignified and spiritually subordinating to have Jesus receive
      nything of spiritual consequence from anyone else, John perhaps especially
      ncluded. I find it very difficult to imagine the trend of early Christian
      hinking running the other way, namely, to make Jesus increasingly
      ubordinate to John, and indebted to him in any way for the initial gift of
      he Spirit from Heaven. Hence I conclude, not as an "assumption" but as a
      eading of the evidence, that the trajectory runs in the diminution
      irection, eg Mk > Mt > Lk > Jn.
      Then we have, dare I repeat for about the third time on this list, Mary. She
      s rejected by Jesus in Mk (along with her other sons, his brothers). She
      and not John B, so to speak) becomes the channel for God's begetting of
      esus in Mt (merely mentioned) and Lk (greatly and poetically elaborated).
      f course in John, Jesus pre-exists his human self, so there is once again
      o Conception narrative. Again, is it seriously to be imagined that the
      arly Church conceived an animus against Mary, and from an original position
      contemporary with Mt/Lk) which honored her, subsequently reduced her to a
      ejected mother (in Mk)? Not, I should have thought (and surely nobody who
      as ever listened to Rossini's Stabat Mater, whether the vocal version of
      he wind version whose revival was sponsored some years ago by Pope John
      aul II, is likely to disagree with me) in approximately a million years.
      he Marian cult is alive and well at the present time (and on the way to the
      resent time, it generated some of the loveliest flowers of mediaeval Latin
      hristian culture), so we know, with what I would call a reasonable degree
      f historical assurance, which end of the Mary trajectory is the nearer end.
      hen the hostile end, the end represented by Mk, can only be the further
      nd. Meaning: Mk is the earliest Gospel, with Mt (incipient) and Lk (fully
      lown) following afterward, in the increasing early adulation of Mary.
      There are other Trajectory arguments, but I hope to suggest by mentioning
      hese few that there may be more than a wishful, absentminded, capricious,
      r arbitrary reason for some students of the NT to consider Mark the
      arliest of the Gospels.
      Leonard: " . . . and acknowledge that Mark 1:12-13 works very well also as a
      ummary allusion to the Matthean text, presumed to be known to Mark's
      eaders."
      Bruce: Only if you presume, as Leonard explicitly does, that the fuller
      tory of the Temptations was already known to Mark's readers. But if it was,
      hat was the need for Mark to be written at all? To show off that he can
      rite a Gospel by leaving out everything that is widely popular with
      veryone? Somehow an inadequate motive. As an aide-mémoire? But it seems to
      e to contain too little detail, at too many points of vital doctrinal
      mportance, to have served that purpose. As a baptismal catechism? But it is
      bout forty minutes too long in performance for that function. As a
      ectionary? That has been suggested, but I am not greatly convinced by the
      ersion of that theory I have seen (Carrington), despite its seeming basis
      n the Vaticanus manuscript; Vaticanus, however good its text, is after all,
      n the scribal sense, only from the 4th century. And if one wants a
      ectionary version of some small segment of a Gospel, why not choose Matthew
      tself as a thing to condense from, rather than the Markan version of the
      ncidents they both recount, since the Markan version of specific scenes or
      necdotes is not infrequently longer than the Matthean one, and is often
      ull of talky and narratively superfluous bits of realistic detail, none of
      hich would seem to serve the purpose of a lectionary creator. And would any
      erious lectionary, in the days when Matthew was available as an alternate
      asis, and indeed (as Leonard's suggestion requires) an established and
      amiliar basis, leave out the Christmas story? What would the lectionary
      eader do at Christmas season? Hum along? Try as I will, I somehow just
      an't visualize it.
      All in all, I would need to see the theory of Mark the Summarizer worked out
      n more detail before considering it seriously. A small segment would do;
      ay Mark 1 or Mark 2. Here, whether with small portions or with large, is a
      ask that still seems to await its Michael Goulder.
      Leonard: "It goes without saying too that the story in Matt 4:1-11 does not
      equire Mark 1:12-13 as a source. The "Markan" elements in the Matthean
      ccount are integral to the Matthean story."
      Bruce: The Markan elements may be integral to the Matthean story, but that
      ay mean no more than that Matthew has integrated them successfully. It
      ouldn't take much doing; they are the scene to which Mt has added a good
      eal of Deuteronomic dialogue. They are pretty integral in Mark also; in
      act they are the whole deal in Mark. I don't see anything directional in
      hese two general statements taken together.
      But let's consider the case more closely. If Mark is epitomizing Matthew in
      he Temptation story (and I am willing to toss in Luke for good measure),
      here exactly does Mark get "and he was with the wild beasts?" That sentence
      as been ridiculed, including on this or a similar E-list, since there are
      pparently no really scary beasts in the Johannine wilderness. And given
      hat Mark's two prototypes both have Jesus gently "led by the Spirit . .
      nto the wilderness," what moves Mark get to substitute the more violent and
      uestion-raising statement, "The Spirit immediately drove him out into the
      ilderness?" And why does Mk omit the common Mt/Lk detail that Jesus
      fasted" (Mt) or "ate nothing in those days" (Lk), and that at the end of
      hose days, "he was hungry?" I get the sense that modern exegetes like to
      xegeticize on this hunger, having much to say about hunger of the spirit
      nd Goodness known what else, so if Mark is being crafted for the
      onvenience of exegetes, its omission of these details, so useful to hang a
      oral on, is surely somewhat puzzling.
      The common narrative ground of Mt/Lk, in a word, would have been a very
      lausible text for an epitomizing Mark to come up with, but the common
      arrative ground of Mt/Lk is precisely what Mark does not give us in this
      ection.
      And there are other little suggestive points of difference. I regret to say
      since it seems to me a rather clever observation) that I am apparently not
      he first to notice that the more Semitic form Satan for the name of Jesus's
      empter in Mark is given some of the time as "the devil" in Matthew and Luke
      enerally; it is exclusively "devil" in the Mt/Lk Temptation stories. If
      ark is epitomizing Mt/Lk, why does he not follow their agreed usage of
      devil?" Why does he Semiticize it as Satan? Do we have a Trajectory of
      ncreasing Semiticization? If so, its other evidences are not readily
      isible. On the contrary:
      The term "devil" is also used, though not of the Tempter in this scene, in
      ohn. I pointed out earlier that if we survey the whole NT literature, this
      ransition between the exclusive use of the Semitic "Satan" and the
      ubstitute or joint use of its Greek counterpart "devil" cuts across the
      auline literature, and in so doing, separates early and genuine epistles
      rom late and deutero ones. Thus "devil" NEVER occurs in the genuine
      aulines (just as it never occurs in Mk). It is found only in the spurious
      phesians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Hebrews. Paul himself, and this we know from
      is own testimony, was a student of Gamaliel at Jerusalem, and thus was
      horoughly versed in the learned Jewish tradition in its most authentic
      orm. This background Paul seems to reflect at many points of usage, "Satan"
      uite possibly being one of them. It is only in the post-Pauline writings of
      he Pauline school that the Greek term "devil" makes its appearance, along
      ith a few retained "Satan" uses which are largely explicable as due to a
      purious epistle using a genuine one as a model (eg, the spurious 2 Thess
      aving in mind the genuine 1 Thess).
      So neither on the micro level (words), the midi level (common phrases in
      t/Lk), nor the macro level (grand doctrinal trajectories), does Mark seem
      o stand forth as the lackey, the towel holder, of Mt and Lk. He seems in
      hese and other ways to make better sense as their somewhat rude and violent
      nd uncouth predecessor.
      Respectfully resuggested,
      Bruce
      E Bruce Brooks
      arring States Project
      niversity of Massachusetts at Amherst

      -----------------------------------
      Synoptic-L homepage: http://NTGateway.com/synoptic-lYahoo! Groups Links
      Individual Email | Traditional
      http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Show all 8 messages in this topic