4008RE: [GPG] RE: [Synoptic-L] Whoever is not with me is against me
- Feb 4, 2012Bruce: In both Mt and Lk, the gathers/scatters bit is appended directly to the respective Beelzebul Accusations, Mt 12:22-29 and Lk 11:14-22. It has no obvious organic connection with that storyDennis: The fact that this is a poor version of " Who is not for us is against us" should not blind us to the fact that Jesus and Mark for that matter regarded an exorcism as a battleground, with Beelzebul and his demons on one side and God, the angels and God's agent, the exorcist, on the other.Jesus is involved in a cosmic war which he hopes God will end by installing his kingdom. I am unable to go along with Ron's idea that a collection of aphorisms, similar presumably in essence to the socalled Gospel of Thomas can tell us anything other than that, like Thomas, oral sources got written down on more than one occasion, but like Thomas, the result is often not more than a ragbag with no major significance. Dennis Dennis Goffin
Date: Fri, 3 Feb 2012 16:36:46 -0500
Subject: [GPG] RE: [Synoptic-L] Whoever is not with me is against me
To: Synoptic / GPG
In Response To: Ron Price
On: Gathers/Scatters (Mt
Ron is convinced that his version of Q (that is, of material in Mt/Lk but
not in Mk) is earlier than all other sources, a claim which is also made by
proponents of other versions of Q. I find, on the contrary, that these Mt/Lk
passages, and their placement, and the surrounding material itself, are
pretty intelligible in terms of what else we know about Mt and Lk as authors
and as crafters of a Jesus image (by no means the same Jesus image; Mt liked
money and Lk extolled poverty, etc). I further find that they fit a model of
the Synoptic evidence in which Mark is earliest and Mt/Lk in their canonical
form are later, with John of course later still (my own refinement of that
position is that Luke was written in two stages, A and B, only the latter
being post-Matthean). The question here is whether we can tell whether one
of those models gives a better reading of the "gather/scatter" passage in
Mk/Lk. Ron has also cited, not a parallel, but a contrasting passage from Mk
(he who is not against us is with us," referring to the "strange exorcist"
Sorry for the length of this, but it seemed more intelligible to include
much of the previous exchange.
BRUCE (earlier, and concluding a sample demonstration): I suggest that
arguments from general features of form or style, in the absence of other
factors, are generally risky.
RON: I did include a second factor which has nothing to do with style.
BRUCE (now): That factor was, and I quote, " Also the exclusivity is what we
might expect from the early Jesus movement under James, the brother of
Jesus." I dealt with that separately; see below. I think the point must
stand, that tossing all the alleged sayings of Jesus into the same hat, and
from that hatful identifying the authentic Jesus sayings by their stylistic
features, as many (including the influential Bultmann) essentially do, is
worthless. Anybody can, and some contributors to Synoptic occasionally do,
slip into a "Biblical" or "gnomic" style for momentary effect. Anybody could
do it, later inventors as well as Jesus himself. Further, the thought that
Jesus was invariably a gnomic speaker in the first place, rather than a
consecutive preacher, is an assumption which is favorable to the Cynic (or
Nice) Jesus model which many would be glad to reach. But that assumption is
not itself grounded; it is merely built into the procedure. Methodologically
speaking, if we put Gnomic in, we are going to get Nice out. The result is
circular; that is, it is foreordained. I think the whole procedure is
- - - - - - -
BRUCE (earlier): There is no evidence that the early Jesus movement had
anything to do with James the Brother.
RON: Oh I think there is .....
BRUCE (now): By early, I mean before the Jerusalemization of the Jesus
movement, or significant parts of it.
- - - - - -
BRUCE (earlier): ..... That James later came aboard is undoubted, but nobody
has ever said how that happened .....
RON: ..... and the fact that the NT provides no clue as to the reason for
the apparently sudden conversion of so important a character as James the
brother of Jesus, should make the critical observer a tad suspicious. See
also Painter, "Just James", p.270ff..
BRUCE: I am more than a tad suspicious; I go the whole frog. See above.
Painter 270f is pushing Zadokite priests. He relates James the Brother to
Dead Sea materials which show an extreme food-purity pattern like that which
post-1c legends attribute to James the B. That helps to identify where James
the B was coming from; and so far so good. The question of whether this was
original Jesus doctrine remains to be settled. To put that question in
general terms, I ask which was earlier: laxity in food matters, or rigidity
in food matters (to the point of vegetarianism in some cases, avoiding blood
altogether)? For this we have an outside witness: Paul. According to him, he
secured an agreement from Jerusalem for his brand of Christianity, including
(he wants us to think) food taboos, and Peter when visiting in Antioch went
happily along with no-taboo commensality. Then came "some from James,"
taking a harder line on food taboos, and Peter, and even Barnabas, caved in
and abandoned the sharing of table with Gentile Christians. Then the lax
version, even at Jerusalem, came before the strict version. Peter, and
Jerusalem policy when he had an influence on it, was loose, while James, and
Jerusalem policy when he took it over, was strict.
What is going on? Frank Beare has an interesting suggestion in JBL v62
(1943) 295-306, "The Sequence of Events in Acts 9-15 and the Career of
Peter," at the very end, which is that the "James" who gave Paul the green
light in Jerusalem was the still living James Zebedee, whereas the James who
sent spies to Antioch was James the B. Then Paul visited Jerusalem when the
two Zebedees and Peter were still among those in charge, meaning before the
persecution at the end of Herod Agrippa I's reign, which killed one of the
Zebedees and drove Paul out of town (leaving the other Zebedee as the only
remaining member of the original troika still on the ground in Jerusalem).
This needs careful study of the dates, including Paul's elapsed time
figures, much (though I think, not quite all) of which Beare provides. But I
think he has it fundamentally right, and that he has cleared up one of the
stubbornest problems in Pauline chronology, and with it, the question of
when James the B came to prominence at Jerusalem. It was in the early 40's,
following the Agrippa purge. That is more than a decade after Jesus's death.
I think we might usefully define "early Christianity" as that phase of
Christian history coming before the leadership of James at Jerusalem.
- - - - - - -
BRUCE (earlier): Jesus ignored food purity rules, he ignored Sabbath rules.
He consorted with the unclean, with tax collectors and other people beyond
the Pharisaic pale.
RON: What I don't understand is why you take Mark's portrayal of Jesus in
these story incidents as historical, when Mark had a clear motive to broaden
the horizons of the Jesus movement.
BRUCE: It's not hard to understand, and of course I have said it before.
Briefly, I take seriously the developmental trajectories linking all the
Gospels in a single large sequence, in which Jesus is progressively
divinized, the family of Jesus (most conspicuously his mother) are
progressively respected, John the Baptist progressively fades from the scene
as the mentor of Jesus, and the Jerusalemization of Jesus's career proceeds
to absurd lengths. For a short version of that argument, see
and click on Gospel Trajectories, partway down. It will be noted that this
Methods page contains standard stuff, nothing idiosyncratic to myself;
nothing that Tischendorf would have been surprised at (in fact, Tischendorf
contributed one of its mainthreads).
The presumption, that is, the statistically and historically likely
conclusion, for any Gospel passage is that a passage in Mark is likely to be
earlier than its counterpart (or its replacement) in any other Gospel or
Gospels. As to James, who in Mark is included with Jesus's mother and his
other brothers in thinking Jesus crazy, this is one of the passages noted
already by Hawkins as likely to have been altered or ignored by the later
Gospels as unbecoming to the later image of Jesus. I think he has the right
of it. And I think the Pauline evidence above cited goes far to reinforce
his case. Not that it much needed reinforcing, but confirmation is always
RON: It is indisputable that the Jesus movement started inside Judaism and
ended outside Judaism. This trajectory must have left traces in the synoptic
BRUCE: It not only left traces, it is celebrated as history in Acts II (the
second version, which carries the story of Christianity to the point of
final separation from Judaism, and an exclusive concentration on the
Gentiles). It is interesting to see how the various Gospels handle the
Gentile mission. Luke B (not Luke A) invents a whole separate Mission of
Seventy to the Gentiles (symbolized by the Samaritans), but this is merely
to say that Luke A pretty much ignored it. As for Mark, it has been noticed
that a group of Mark incidents, including the Second Feeding, is something
of a constructed parallel to the group including the First Feeding, and I
find that this is a correct estimate. That is, the Second Feeding was added
at some point to the growing text of Mark. That the second Feeding was meant
(via the Seven Baskets symbolism; seven = seventy = everything) to refer to
the Gentiles is something that Mark himself pounds into the heads of the
disciples, meaning, dear reader, you and me. So here is a passage that was
(a) interpolated later, and (b) one whose meaning Mark himself insists on.
Then within the timespan subtended by the composition and recomposition of
Mark, the author of Mark came to accept the validity of the Gentile Mission.
That the early Jesus movement, including the time when Jesus was in charge
of it, focused on the Jews, including (see the address formula in the
Epistle of James) the diaspora Jews, seems to be a required conclusion. (The
Syrophoenician Woman story belongs to an earlier layer of Mark, and
represents the official ruling of that time: that Gentile converts are not
exactly to be forbidden, but as of that time, they are not the point of the
What we are seeing in these textual details, not only in Luke (who
constructs a whole separate structure for the Gentile Mission) but in Mark
(who layers a second series of stories onto an earlier series of stories in
order to symbolize the Gentile Mission), is that (1) the Mission to Jews
came first, and was for a time the whole content of Jesus movement
proselytizing, and that (2) the Mission to Gentiles came later. This is how
we can distinguish the directionality of these two events.
RON: And here in these Markan portrayals I see clear evidence of the first
synoptic writer pushing the Jesus movement along this trajectory.
BRUCE: I don't think Mark is pushing anything; I think he is keeping his
story up to date with what is going on in the Christian movement with which
he was in touch. He can create an answer, but I doubt his power to create
the question. Overall, I see the following stages in the propagation of
Christianity, with their reflection in Mk:
(1) Jews only; Mk's preaching stories generally (some of them in synagogues)
(2) Gentile converts inadvertently made, but not welcomed into the movement
(the Syrophoenician Woman: the Gerasene Demoniac, who wants to join, but is
told to missionarize in his own area, on his own).
(3) Preaching to Gentiles by others (eg, Paul, as Loisy thought) tolerated
as at least not hurtful to the main Jesus movement: the Other Exorcist
story, summarized in "he who is not against us is with us."
(4) The acknowledged and intentional Gentile mission: symbolized by the
Feeding of Four Thousand.
That is quite a lot of positions, some of them mutually contrary, for one
text to take. So we next ask: Is Mark simply a rubble heap of material of
various dates, thrown together promiscuously, or is Mark an accretional
text, in which the later positions are laid down on top of the earlier ones?
This is a question which philology can answer, and the answer is: The late
ones are laid down on top of, and sometimes interpolated within, the early
ones. Then Mark is a single, but accretional, text, and it covers a time
span at least up to and including the execution of Jacob Zebedee, in the
reign of Agrippa I. I think this is a useful result, not least in that it
gives a window on that moving object, the early evolution of the Jesus
movement as it expanded from a purely Jewish one to a wider
Gentile-inclusive one. (It was left for Acts II to record a still later
phase: the separation of the Gentile segment as the whole of the movement).
I find this both philologically and historically convincing. Then we had:
BRUCE (earlier; referring to the still Jewish-only phase of the movement as
reflected in Mark): The sense one gets from Mark is that Jesus was trying to
widen the horizon of the potentially saved (that is, within Judaism), not
RON: Having reconstructed the collection of early aphorisms behind the
synoptic gospels, it's clear to me that the Jesus movement initially thought
the potentially saved to be "few" (Mt 7:14 and Mt 22:14). Mark's Jesus did
indeed try to widen the horizon, but Mark was an evangelist not a historian,
and this widening was entirely Mark's doing.
BRUCE: Reconstructing a life of Jesus from a group of aphorisms, admittedly
selected simply because they qualify *as* aphorisms, strikes me as a
perilous procedure. And on a recurrent point: I don't think Mark was in a
position to create Christian history, or to insert a Gentile Mission into a
movement which did not already have a Gentile Mission. I think that he is
largely reportive. The way he phrases his report is likely to be his own
(except at point where someone has told him a Jesus story in their own
fashion), and the spin he gives events may well be his own also. I have no
doubt that he invented many details of the Crucifixion scene to give a
particular Scriptural flavor to the scene. But, to keep to that example, I
don't think he invented the Crucifixion.
- - - - - - -
BRUCE (earlier): I cannot imagine a sharper contrast with what the earliest
sources suggest about Jesus, .....
RON: First you need to correctly identify the earliest sources. Yes, Mark
was the first of the synoptic gospels, but behind all three was an earlier
source which can be reconstructed, given the right approach.
BRUCE: That is a statement of methodological faith. I have already stated my
doubts about the methodology. This is not to say that Matthew and Luke had
no sources, or even that Mark had no sources. It has been suggested, for
instance, that certain passages in Mk and Lk derive from the John the
Baptist movement, which we already knew from Mark continued to exist
alongside the early Christians. Boismard goes much further on this than had
earlier occurred to me, but having spent some time on the Mandaean
literature, I am prepared to go even further than Boismard. Does everyone
know that the Book of John is now being translated into English, and that a
specimen of the translation is available online? See
and click on the link at the end of the second paragraph. I agree with
Jorunn Buckley and several others, that the Mandaean origin myth (exodus
from Jerusalem) is probably rooted in fact; we are currently arguing about
the exact date (for a statement on that, click on the link at the end of the
*third* paragraph, above).
So there is a lot out there, and we need not fear to leave ourselves
comfortless if we abandon certain conjectural constructs. This is actually a
pretty good decade to be looking for Gospel sources.
- - - - - - -
BRUCE (earler): In both Mt and Lk, the gathers/scatters bit is appended
directly to the respective Beelzebul Accusations, Mt 12:22-29 and Lk
11:14-22. It has no obvious organic connection with that story; .....
RON (earlier): True.
BRUCE (earlier): ... it is a narrator's comment.
RON: Not really. Rather Matthew thought it a suitable place to park one of
the sayings attributed to Jesus, and Luke followed him in this.
------------and in parallel:---------------
BRUCE (earlier): There is a Markan parallel to the Beelzebul Accusation (Mk
3:22-27), but none to the gathers/scatters verse.
RON: Mark's version of said verse was parked elsewhere (Mk 9:40).
BRUCE: Mark's inclusive remark was replaced in Mt/Lk by an exclusive remark.
It is not simply a question of the same saying in all three. As to whether
Mt made the new narrow version and Luke copied it, or vice versa, I think I
have already given my support to Michael Goulder's take on this passage
More generally, I have trouble, for reasons repeatedly given above, with the
verb "parked." It implies a single assembly from a bag of mixed pieces. The
whole structure of the text tells me different. Mark is a very early
original consecutive narrative, ending where Adela Yarbro Collins says it
did, with later events registered by added material of more or less extent
(some of them coming in the sequence that Vincent Taylor says they did). As
Meyer realized, the Twelve material is exiguous in Mark, and constitutes a
layer (Meyer thought it a source, but this does not work; the source of the
Twelve layer in Mark is the Twelve event in the outside world). The
Resurrection material in Mark constitutes another layer, and includes some
of the material which Adela found nonoriginal in the Passion Narrative,
including the Empty Tomb sequence. And so on. I very much doubt that a text
assembled from a basketful of disconnected sayings would have the form of a
consecutive but repeatedly interpolated text.
Did not Charles Darwin say something of the sort, of the geologically
suggestive scenery of the lake country, shouting out its story of glacial
advance and retreat, while Darwin and his friends, on an early visit, saw
merely a lot of pretty scenery? I also like Charles Kingsley's remark about
Henry Gosse's attempt to argue that the earth had been created by God in six
days, as the Bible says, but already possessing, at the moment of its
creation, the signs of immemorial age. Kingsley's remark is methodologically
immortal, and I will end by quoting it from p99 of my 1937 edition of Edmund
Gosse's "Father and Son:"
"[I can not] give up the painful and slow conclusion of five and twenty
years' study of geology, and believe that God has written in the rocks an
enormous and superfluous lie."
E Bruce Brooks
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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