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4008RE: [GPG] RE: [Synoptic-L] Whoever is not with me is against me

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  • Dennis Goffin
    Feb 4, 2012
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      Bruce: 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

      Chorleywood UK

      To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com
      CC: gpg@yahoogroups.com
      From: brooks@...
      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

      From: Bruce

      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"

      (Mk 9:38).

      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

      narrow it.

      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

      (Paradigm 2/505f).

      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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