1501Re: [Synoptic-L] On The Earliest Markan Narrative
- Jan 16, 2009Bruce,
This thought exercise has so far kept me from being persuaded by accretional/multiple edition reconstructions of Mark and other early Xn works: to accept the theory, we have to believe that every copy of every edition of Mark prior to the one we have was lost. That is a pretty phenomenal leap of faith, seems to me.
The variant endings of Mk (and the western text of Acts) argue strongly that multiple/multi-stage editions do in fact continue to exist, and that the textual data should guide us in our conclusions.
For what it's worth.
Rev. Chuck Jones
--- On Thu, 1/15/09, E Bruce Brooks <brooks@...> wrote:
From: E Bruce Brooks <brooks@...>
Subject: [Synoptic-L] On The Earliest Markan Narrative
To: "Crosstalk" <email@example.com>
Cc: "Adela Yarbro Collins" <adela.collins@...>, "GPG" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Synoptic" <email@example.com>, "GMark" <gmark@...>
Date: Thursday, January 15, 2009, 11:35 PM
Cc: GMark, GPG
In Response To: Several Personal Inquiries
On: The Earliest Markan Narrative
It may help if I answer at large, and thus for others who may be interested,
several questions which have arisen in response to my earlier invitation on
this list (and on GMark, to which this is being cross-posted; it is also
being cross-posted to Synoptic, where earlier versions of some of these
ideas were shared), to take part in an effort currently in progress to
reconstruct in detail the whole accretional structure of Mark.
1. It hurts to say so, but no, we can't realistically accommodate spectators
in the little NT working group. It is tempting to include them, and I
greatly appreciate their interest, but classroom experience teaches us that
silent auditors quickly inhibit the work of nonsilent participants. The
sense of being watched is unnerving, or something like that. Our working
group expects to be making small progress reports from time to time (on
Crosstalk and/or what seem to be other appropriate fora), and I hope this
will provide something in the way of spectator interest for those not
regularly involved. Responses to such reports as they are posted, to me or
to the list in question, will always be most welcome. Feedback is what we
are looking for, in order to draw on the widest possible range of expertise
and experience as we attempt to accomplish a task which is beyond the
ability of any one of those currently involved, myself very much included.
We look forward to feedback of that kind, and tender in advance our thanks
to those willing to provide it.
2. Requests to look at the working reconstruction of Mark Layer 1 are in a
slightly different category: a sort of middle zone between passive E-list
spectatorship and full seminar participation. Such a zone would consist of
interested individuals who have seen the current reconstruction, and are
willing to share their suggestions and criticisms with me, for possible
secondary sharing with the working group.
The only thing I want to emphasize beforehand is this: according to our best
philological judgement, Mark is indeed accretional, and as a stratified
text, whose successive strata were laid down at successively later times, it
does indeed witness to several stages in the evolution of what finally
crystallized as Christianity. Details are still under study, but that much
seems pretty certain. The early layers of this sequence turn out to be
doctrinally prior to the Christianity of Paul; that is, they do not include
the Resurrection Doctrine. And the earliest layer of all (as E P Sanders
long ago warned us to expect) shows Jesus not operating as a Christian of
any sort, Pauline or other, but wholly within the boundaries of Jewish
belief and expectation. Christianity itself came later, as Luke seems to
have been in some sense aware; see again Acts 11:26.
Specifically, as we see it, the earliest Jesus which can be philologically
recovered from Mark, itself the earliest of the consecutive witnesses to
Jesus, was Messianic rather than Apocalyptic. It shows Jesus as concerned
with exactly what Blind Bartimaeus at one and, and Pontius Pilate at the
other, SAID he was concerned with, namely, the return of God, and thus of
political sovereignty, to Israel.
How would one frame a narrative which, like the Passion Narrative recently
excavated by Adela Yarbro Collins (in her 2007 commentary, page 819), ends
with Jesus's death and seeming defeat? What would be the point of it? What
would be the *use* of it, for any still remaining followers of Jesus? Those
are the questions. I think they can be answered, and our little group is in
the process of answering them, as best it can with the time and talent
currently available to it. But the idea of Christianity without the
Resurrection, which so enraged Paul when he encountered it in Corinth, is no
less unwelcome to many people at the present time. We have no wish to upset
anyone, and we do not seek to overturn any convictions to the contrary. We
*do* invite comment by those who are prepared to see Christianity as
evolving, rather than as defined from the beginning, and who are prepared to
consider a proposal about what amounts to a pre-Christian Jesus. But we
don't want to lure anyone into exposure to a hypothesis which can only be
distressing to them.
On those terms, which are meant to avoid offense and minimize static, I will
be glad to share, with suitably interested parties, the URL at which the
current reconstruction of Mark Layer 1 may be found. Would such persons
contact me privately, or renew to me privately their earlier expression of
interest in that option?
Thanks to everyone for their patience with these qualifications, in an
inevitably delicate matter. I hope the qualifications may serve as an aid to
interest, while avoiding irritation to those whose interests lie in other
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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