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Directionality of Mark

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic Cc: GPG; WSW In Response To: Ron Price On: Markan Priority [Directionality Arguments] From: Bruce RON [Describing what happens to Mark in Matthew
    Message 1 of 13 , Apr 9, 2008
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      To: Synoptic
      Cc: GPG; WSW
      In Response To: Ron Price
      On: Markan Priority [Directionality Arguments]
      From: Bruce

      RON [Describing what happens to Mark in Matthew and/or Luke]: Mark's style
      is improved. His bluntness is ameliorated. His major gaps are filled in.
      When we look at it the other way round, it is difficult to see what
      motivation Mark would have had to produce a shorter gospel story with much
      duplication and then severely trim the sayings of Jesus and not include any
      resurrection appearances. What a waste of effort!

      BRUCE: I agree that the evidence for Markan priority is strong, though it
      seems to me that these are not all equally strong arguments for it. I would
      like to venture to make an assessment, and then offer a further suggestion.

      Taking Ron's seven points by directional groups:

      [In Mt/Lk, seen as based on Mk]:

      1. Mark's Style is Improved. It does seem to be the case (people who know
      Greek continually tell me, so it must be true) that Mark's Greek is
      infelicitous compared to almost everything else in the NT. If we assume a
      trajectory of increasing contact with the Gentile world, then Mark is easier
      to interpret as early than late. But it is not really difficult to imagine a
      Phrygian speaker coming into the NT business late rather than early, and
      having trouble with his Greek. The question is whether anything else in Mark
      suggests such a situation, or its opposite. In other words, the decision in
      the end really rests on other data.

      2. Mark's Bluntness is Ameliorated. I think this refers to the krabbatos
      problem (Cheers for Bishop Spyridon), and perhaps to the Jesus Family
      problem. If so, it strikes me as a better point than the preceding. The
      Gospels in the order Mk > Mt > Lk [these two being relatively close
      together] > Jn do show continually increasing respect for Jesus's family,
      and involve them more in Jesus's career, not to mention (in the case of
      Brother Jacob) his posthumous movement. This is what I call a trajectory
      argument; it doesn't just put Mark earlier than, say, Matthew; it lines up
      all four Gospels in a convincing developmental series.

      An equally convincing series can be formed on the question of the degree of
      deification imputed to Jesus. The resulting order is the same.

      Ditto with how independent the role of John the B is allowed to be. By
      GJohn, he is virtually preaching nothing but Christ Crucified. The picture
      one gets from Mark, if read sensitively and in toto, is that Jesus at some
      point left the John movement and formed his own (some of this evidence
      survives, I would say by inertia, in Mt/Lk, but side by side with a more
      advanced position, that is, one in which a more subsidiary role is assigned
      to John B).

      And so on. Here, it seems to me, are the irreversibles. A given preacher
      might imaginably have use for a longer or shorter version of the same
      material (see next), or for merely personal or local reasons he might be
      more or less elegant in his Greek (see previous), but to my mind, it is
      really-oh, truly-oh, very hard to see anybody, at least in the 1c, trying to
      reverse the divinization process as it applies to Jesus.

      [So also Confucius's merely terrestrial but equally convincing
      aggrandization process, as I might mention for anybody who has read my book,
      The Original Analects. The aggrandization process is not only natural, it is
      virtually universal for the founders of movements, whether sacred or
      secular].

      3. Mark's Major Gaps are Filled In. People can and do argue forever over
      whether someone might have wanted to produce a more full or a more spare
      narrative. This indeterminacy is the analogue of what Griesbach himself
      pointed out about the ambiguity of the "lectio brevior" rule of thumb.
      Scribes abbreviate, but scribes also expand, both inadvertently and
      intentionally. Neither the longer nor the shorter of two parallel versions
      (of a phrase or of a parable) is a priori the earlier. One must look at the
      specifics of the respective passages. Here, as it seems to me, is the vice
      of making a decision based on what one can imagine the motives of a given
      Gospel to have been. Imagination is not the sharpest tool in the
      philological kit. We need all our powers of inscenation, but making up stuff
      about the writers of the text (not that we know, in most cases, who those
      writers even were) tends to produce soft hypotheses. Better ones, it seems
      to me, are available. I think we should stick to them.

      [And now seeing Mk as coming after Mt/Lk]:

      4. Shorter Gospel Story. See #3 above. Not unambiguously directional in my
      opinion. Once I know the answer, I can explain the difference as well as
      anyone else, but I don't feel comfortable DECIDING the directionality on
      that particular difference.

      5. With Much Duplication. In Mark? Apart from the possibly parallel series
      including the two Feeding Miracles? Where? I need some help seeing the point
      here.

      6. Severely Trim the Sayings of Jesus. This is really the same point as #3
      and 4. Some of Jesus's sayings (see any good book on the parables) are
      extremely troublesome to modern believers, and perhaps were also felt as
      difficult by early believers (some of the Gospels themselves acknowledge
      that difficulty, eg Jesus scolding Peter for not getting the point of
      something he has just said, Mk 8:31-33). Omitting half of what we think we
      have of Jesus's sayings would make a Jesus much easier to handle
      theologically and ethically. The question is, which half? See again #3 and
      4.

      7. No Resurrection Story. Tilt. Mark probably had one, but that original
      ending is lost. I know, people go to great lengths arguing that you can end
      a sentence in Greek with GAR. But not a narrative, and not the kind of
      narrative Mark is otherwise perpetrating, and not after Mark himself has
      signaled, in what we have left of his text, an intention to write a
      resurrection narrative. I think we have to reject this one.

      CONCLUSION

      I thus come out with the trajectory arguments (see the discussion at #2
      above) as the only really strong OVERALL arguments, at least of the ones on
      this list, for Markan priority. This is why I was enthusiastic about Peter
      Head's book of some years ago: I think that this is not only pay dirt, but
      firm dirt. I think that Synoptic theory can safely walk on it.

      AND

      So much for the large-scale character arguments. As I pointed out in my
      SBL/NE 2006 paper, there may also be some small-scale ones. Thus, to put it
      in general terms, if two texts A and B have a generally parallel passage,
      and both include the same segment, and that segment seems to be interpolated
      in A but is smooth in B, then it is highly probable that B is later than A,
      and that it has intentionally ameliorated the inconcinnity of A. The full
      sequence would be original A, interpolated A, and the B smoothed version of
      A. Or in algebraic
      terms:

      A > A' > B

      An inserted passage often interrupts the narrative at the point of insertion
      (so that the narrative flows more consecutively without the insertion), and
      sometimes makes a point of which the characters in the subsequent story
      remain oblivious, or to which they do not respond. The original interpolator
      may smooth these transitions, in which case the evidence for the
      interpolation more or less vanishes. This certainly happens in the NT texts;
      these people were not complete clunks, and their Greek seems to have been
      pretty good on average. If they exert themselves, they can cover their
      tracks pretty well. But where an interpolation is left raw and obvious, then
      something can be done by the modern researcher.

      IN SUM: It strikes me as extraordinarily unlikely that A, in copying B,
      would introduce such changes in the B original as to make A appear to
      contain an interpolated passage. An ingenious malefactor might try to
      counterfeit a genuine text, but not an interpolated text; doing so would not
      serve his purpose. No?

      If so, then here may be another case where the directionality, not between
      whole texts, but between certain constituents, can be established with
      operative certainty. And if those small places tend to show the SAME
      directionality, as between a given A and B, then they will eventually
      contribute to a reasonably confident inference about A and B as wholes. In
      my work at this micro level so far, I have found that all cases favor the
      inference that Mark is prior to both Mt and Lk.

      When the macro level and the micro level agree, and when there are no
      serious counterindications, then I for one feel comfortable drawing a
      conclusion, and going on from there.

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
      http://www.umass.edu/wsp
    • Ron Price
      ... Bruce, This explanation works for new material. But on the Griesbach Theory, most of Mark s material is a rehash of older material. Why bother changing the
      Message 2 of 13 , Apr 10, 2008
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        Bruce Brooks wrote:

        > ..... it is not really difficult to imagine a
        > Phrygian speaker coming into the NT business late rather than early, and
        > having trouble with his Greek.

        Bruce,

        This explanation works for new material. But on the Griesbach Theory, most
        of Mark's material is a rehash of older material. Why bother changing the
        Greek to make it less stylish?

        > 3. Mark's Major Gaps are Filled In. People can and do argue forever over
        > whether someone might have wanted to produce a more full or a more spare
        > narrative. This indeterminacy is the analogue of what Griesbach himself
        > pointed out about the ambiguity of the "lectio brevior" rule of thumb.
        > Scribes abbreviate, but scribes also expand, both inadvertently and
        > intentionally. Neither the longer nor the shorter of two parallel versions
        > (of a phrase or of a parable) is a priori the earlier.

        This is now generally accepted. But it hardly applies to Jesus' resurrection
        appearances, which have a trajectory of their own, from suggestive to
        outline to great detail.

        > One must look at the
        > specifics of the respective passages. Here, as it seems to me, is the vice
        > of making a decision based on what one can imagine the motives of a given
        > Gospel to have been.

        Motives provide vital clues when properly understood, as they do also in
        criminal cases. Of course we can't pinpoint the motive for every detail of
        every redaction, but if we can't pick up the broader motives it's time for
        us to give up NT criticism.

        > 5. With Much Duplication. In Mark? Apart from the possibly parallel series
        > including the two Feeding Miracles?

        These parallels, involving Mk 6:30-7:23 // Mk 8:1-8:21 and Mk 7:31-37 // Mk
        8:22-26, are quite extensive for a short gospel. The second passage in each
        pair is arguably a rehash of the first, and represents a 3.5% space
        overhead. Such duplication suggests that there was a shortage of suitable
        material for the number of pages (sic) which Mark had allocated. This is
        inconceivable if Mark had the whole of Matthew and Luke in front of him.

        > 7. No Resurrection Story. Tilt. Mark probably had one, but that original
        > ending is lost.

        You're supporting a dying cause. Nowadays most scholars recognize,
        correctly, that Mark intended to end at 16:8.

        > I know, people go to great lengths arguing that you can end
        > a sentence in Greek with GAR. But not a narrative,

        Now here you underestimate Mark's literary skills.

        > ..... and not after Mark himself has
        > signaled, in what we have left of his text, an intention to write a
        > resurrection narrative.

        Not so in the original text (minus the interpolations 14:28 and 16:7).

        > If they exert themselves, they [interpolators] can cover their
        > tracks pretty well.

        Do you have a case in mind? I don't see how you could detect the work of a
        very skilled interpolator, because presumably he would leave no trace of his
        work. So how do you know that they can cover their tracks?

        > IN SUM: It strikes me as extraordinarily unlikely that A, in copying B,
        > would introduce such changes in the B original as to make A appear to
        > contain an interpolated passage.

        Taken at face value this sentence makes no sense to me. I presume you must
        be referring to synoptic editors rather than copyist/interpolators, and that
        you are implying a distinction between deliberate interpolation (plausible)
        and original-work-which-looks-like-an-interpolation (implausible). So if a
        passage has the characteristics of an interpolation, then it is likely to be
        so, and it can therefore be used as a test for directionality. This seems
        reasonable. But finding clear examples among the synoptic editors may not be
        easy because all the synoptic writers were skilful authors.

        Ron Price

        Derbyshire, UK

        Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
      • E Bruce Brooks
        To: Synoptic Cc: GPG In Response To: Ron Price On: Directionality of Mark From: Bruce Ron has doubts about some elements in my note on strong and weak
        Message 3 of 13 , Apr 10, 2008
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          To: Synoptic
          Cc: GPG
          In Response To: Ron Price
          On: Directionality of Mark
          From: Bruce

          Ron has doubts about some elements in my note on strong and weak arguments
          for Markan Priority. I respond to them below. Markan Priority as a
          conclusion from the evidence *is not here at issue;* we agree on it. My
          interest is in identifying the best evidence for it - in trying to save
          Synoptic time by not getting bogged down in arguments which someone can
          counter by imagining a setting or a motive, and focusing instead on points
          which seem to be, at least for the general observer, genuinely directional.

          I have a more general suggestion too. In order not to bury it at the end of
          this small-detail discussion, which the wise will probably skip anyway, I
          will send it separately a little later on. It involves the question of
          pre-publication changes in a text *by its proprietors,* rather than
          post-publication changes by later copyists; that is, the possibility that
          the Gospels in particular underwent a process of growth and self-adaptation
          before multiple copies started to be made. I think that this model has firm
          precedents in ancient literature generally, and offers important new
          possibilities for the Synoptic perplexity. I am aware that many, apparently
          including Ron, have trouble with that concept, which is fine, but I am
          looking for a few who are willing to entertain that possibility. On this,
          more later. Meanwhile:

          RON [on the possibility that Mark's bad Greek might be due to local causes,
          eg a Phrygian speaker who is late in the Synoptic sequence, but simply
          doesn't do Greek very well]: This explanation works for new material. But on
          the Griesbach Theory, most of Mark's material is a rehash of older material.
          Why bother changing the
          Greek to make it less stylish?

          BRUCE: I was trying to show that the bad-Greek argument can be countered,
          and I was trying to show it by an example where the bad Greek is not the
          result of an intentional change, but simply the reflex of the writer's own
          naturally bad Greek. Bad Greek is a language, just as pidgin English is a
          language, and in my experience (which is direct), pidgin speakers are not
          deterred (or not completely deterred) from their way of speaking English by
          the presence of standard English speakers in the same conversation.

          I don't say this is likely. I wouldn't myself urge that possibility. I agree
          with Ron that Mark's Greek makes best sense as early in the Synoptic scheme
          of things, and that when all Mark had to do to write good Greek was just to
          copy his source, it is a little difficult to seem him as introducing it. I
          just don't want to get into an interminable argument with some Griesbachians
          who feel that their IDEA of that scheme of things is supported by a Phrygian
          Supposition. Or some functional equivalent.

          RON [I had opposed the argument that the fuller narrative has to be later]:
          This is now generally accepted. But it hardly applies to Jesus' resurrection
          appearances, which have a trajectory of their own, from suggestive to
          outline to great detail.

          BRUCE: I agree that trajectory arguments, and not fullness arguments, are
          the way to go. Another trajectory factor, to which I attach importance, is
          the move from Galilean appearances of Jesus (explicitly foretold in Mk) to
          Jerusalem appearances of Jesus (portrayed in Lk, which also has Jesus
          forbidding the disciples to return to Galilee). I think that these and like
          trajectory arguments are strong. But I *don't* think that they derive part
          of their strength from the fullness argument.

          In fact, the fullness argument is easily refuted, and here is how. Let's
          agree that Mt and Mk have SOME relation. But parallel incidents are
          sometimes fuller in Mt, sometimes in Mk. Then whichever hypothesis we adopt,
          we will have to allow that the later of the two SOMETIMES expands and
          SOMETIMES abridges. Then the fullness argument, the length argument, is
          worthless as an index of Synoptic relationships. If worthless, we should not
          build it into our better arguments, since it just makes the better arguments
          vulnerable all over again to the objections that quite validly attach to the
          fullness arguments.

          RON [on my comment that directionality decisions based on imagined motives
          of Evangelists are weak as a group]: Motives provide vital clues when
          properly understood, as they do also in criminal cases. Of course we can't
          pinpoint the motive for every detail of every redaction, but if we can't
          pick up the broader motives it's time for us to give up NT criticism.

          BRUCE: I suspect that we CAN pick them up, or enough of them to make
          plausible sense of Synoptic relationships otherwise established. But I think
          the record will show that not everyone construes those imputed motives the
          same way. I therefore suggest, not that motives are undiscussable, but that
          they are not in practice our strongest argument when reaching Synoptic
          conclusions ab initio. I don't think they are the place to start, and I find
          a lot of Synoptic discussions flawed in that they begin with author
          questions, and indeed with authorial motive questions, before assessing any
          other evidence. I don't think that anyone approaching the Synoptic Problem
          de novo is in possession of firm evidence about the identity of any of the
          Evangelists. The presently assigned authors were early assigned, but maybe
          not ORIGINALLY assigned. I think that any argument which is author-based is
          to that degree perilous. I think that ideally we want to reach conclusions
          about Synoptic order and relationships on other grounds, namely, on textual
          grounds.

          That is not to say that the intentionality of some specific change cannot be
          discussed. We don't have to speculate about the inside of some Synoptic
          author's head, we can inspect what that author has written. I earlier argued
          that the Nazareth episode occupies a different position in Mark and Luke,
          and proceeded to say why one might have changed the other's order. To
          recapitulate: the early position of Nazareth in Lk is in line with the whole
          thesis of Lk as we have it, namely, the rejection of Jesus by the Jews, that
          is, by his own people. Lk begins FROM THE FIRST to establish that theme (in
          Mk, if read as a chronological account, that rejection was gradual and
          progressive). So far, we have only established that Nazareth is in a good
          place in both Mk and Lk, relative to what the rest of those texts shows to
          be their larger life-of-Jesus agendas and conceptions. Is there further
          evidence that makes one or the other of them a RELOCATION, and not simply a
          difference? Yes, there is: Lk's Nazareth refers to miracles that Jesus had
          previously done in Capernaum, but in Lk's own narrative, as it now stands,
          Jesus HAS NOT YET GONE TO CAPERNAUM. At this point, Lk is not merely
          different from Mk, which we knew already, he is different FROM HIMSELF. Lk's
          Nazareth is thus problematic simply as it stands, and would be so if we had
          no Mk at all to compare it with. Then the Lukan Nazareth story is the one
          that has been inserted into its present position, and (as I would say) it
          must have originally occupied, in Lk, a position comparable to the one it
          still occupies in Mk, that is, *after* the Capernaum episode. The Lukan
          Nazareth story still bears traces of having originally occupied that
          position itself.

          I think this position is strong. Does it deal in authorial motives? Not
          really. It deals with what the Text at large is up to, to its manifest
          groundplan and design, its idea of Jesus and indeed of all Early Christian
          history. Why a human named Luke (whether or not possessing a medical degree)
          might have wanted to produce this design is not speculated on. Instead, the
          arrangement of the text is relied on. The arrangement of the text is a
          reasonably objective thing, whereas the inner life of "Luke" the supposed
          author is a closed book. I recommend the former kind of argument over the
          latter kind of argument as more effective, and thus less likely to end in
          the usual Synoptic deadlock.

          RON [to my query about doublets in Mk, and asking whether Ron had in mind
          the two Feeding miracles]: These parallels, involving Mk 6:30-7:23 // Mk
          8:1-8:21 and Mk 7:31-37 // Mk 8:22-26, are quite extensive for a short
          gospel. The second passage in each pair is arguably a rehash of the first,
          and represents a 3.5% space
          overhead. Such duplication suggests that there was a shortage of suitable
          material for the number of pages (sic) which Mark had allocated. This is
          inconceivable if Mark had the whole of Matthew and Luke in front of him.

          BRUCE: I am not comfortable with "space allocation" arguments. I do agree
          that the series is effectively a duplication. I note that the writer of Mark
          is at pains to POINT OUT that it is a duplication, and to give or suggest
          the mystic meaning of the two as taken together. I also note that the second
          of the feeding stories, as narrated rather than editorially commented on
          (with Jesus here called into service as the internal commentator), is
          totally unaware of the first.

          What Ron means by "inconceivable" isn't clear to me. I am content to have
          identified what he means by Markan doublets. Thus clarified, he was
          previously referring to one large Markan doublet. There are many more
          doublets than one in Matthew and in Luke. I continue to think that this
          phrase in his original statement is accordingly "not best evidence." Not (to
          repeat) that we don't come out the same way, vis-a-vis the Synoptic position
          of Mk, but there are better and worse ways of convincing others that our way
          is also the RIGHT way.

          RON [on my remark that the original ending of Mk is lost]: You're supporting
          a dying cause. Nowadays most scholars recognize, correctly, that Mark
          intended to end at 16:8.

          BRUCE: I don't mind company, but I am perfectly content to disagree with the
          majority of scholars when those scholars are going against the evidence of
          the text itself. Mk 14:28 and 16:7, the latter of which is aware of the
          former and refers to it, as though to remind the reader that all this is
          foreseen, clearly envision a resurrection appearance in Galilee. Mk as it
          stands does not include a resurrection appearance. Therefore, our Mark has
          been cut off before it reaches the end of the text; before the text gets to
          where the text itself says it was headed.

          I think it has to be realized, in assessing the cogency of "majority"
          opinions, that the Zeitgeist of our age, not only in the NT field but across
          the whole humanities spectrum, is strongly opposed to text arguments of the
          kind that Ron and I are here making. A reluctance to recognize
          interpolations and accretions, for one thing, has been steadily increasing
          since the middle of the previous century. The majority position of 1928 is
          not that of 2008. Are the 2008 people better? Or are they merely reflecting
          a general cultural tendency toward textual credulity which is equally seen
          in, say, Homeric studies? We don't know a priori, and can only try to see
          which position is better supported by the evidence.

          As those who are keeping up with SBL, including its plenary sessions, will
          not need to be told, the "critical-historical" approach as such is under
          explicit attack in the seminaries. That would affect me if I were involved
          in the world of the seminaries, but I'm not, and it doesn't. It terms of
          facing the difficulties in the texts, and reaching, at least in the easy
          cases, the most naturally indicated solution for them, I think the 1928
          people at least sometimes did it better. When on the evidence it seems to me
          that that happens, I feel myself free to agree with them.

          RON [on my thought that ending a narrative with GAR is improbable]: Now here
          you underestimate Mark's literary skills.

          BRUCE: I am frankly weary of arguments which go back and forth between
          Mark's ineptitude in Greek and his skill in Greek. And I think a lot of
          other people may be equally unimpressed. I think Mark was a little not at
          home in the Greek language, and that he was also not very concerned to make
          a highly artistic production, just to tell the story as he saw it, in the
          breathless way that we see he has adopted (with "straightway" all over the
          place). That is a consistent notion of Mark's capabilities and procedures. I
          like that notion better than Ron's, partly because it deals with these
          verbal characteristics of Mk on one consistent assumption, and not in what
          seems to me to be a sporadic and wavering one; in effect, an ad hoc one.

          RON [on my remark that Mark has "signaled his intention to write a
          resurrection narrative"]: Not so in the original text (minus the
          interpolations 14:28 and 16:7).

          BRUCE: Here, as I think, we are coming to the crux. Granted that these two
          passages are interpolations. (Though majority opinion at this time will
          certainly not grant this, as a scan of Mark commentaries in the past 15
          years will display; they no longer even take time to refute the once
          accepted view that these passages are interpolations; they just treat them
          as original). What then? Ron's assumption, as I gather, is that they are
          scribal corruptions, posterior to the "original manuscript" of which text
          critics sometimes incautiously speak.

          Well, let's consider it. It is always good at such points to consult a
          critical apparatus. What is the status of 14:28 in the manuscript witnesses?
          Absolutely all of them have this passage. Freer, to "after I am raised" adds
          EK NEKRWN "from the dead," a fussy though consistent explication. Family 13
          sticks in a KAI toward the beginning. That's it. That's absolutely the sum
          and total of manuscript variation in 14:28. There is no support here,
          repeat, no support here, for the idea of a post-authorial, that is, a
          scribal, interpolation. 16:7, same story. A few extra KAI here and there, an
          extra phrase in Family 1, but nothing whatever that would suggest that these
          passages were not in the archetype, meaning, in the manuscript as it was
          first given to the copyists. If not added *after* that stage, they may well
          have been added *before* it, that is, within the authorial (or
          proprietarial) process that finally led to our present canonical Mk.

          I admit that the implications of this are momentous. That does not make them
          less interesting. The chief implication is that Mk as originally laid out
          did not feature post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, but that this idea
          turns up relatively late in the period covered by the composition of Mk, and
          accordingly appears as a sort of afterthought in Mk. We know, Paul leaves us
          in no doubt, that for him appearances of Jesus were the source of validation
          for later Apostles, himself loudly included. But that's Paul. There were
          certainly varieties of early Christian opinion that held, quite against the
          burial and physical resurrection complex of ideas, that Jesus had been taken
          up to Heaven directly after his death, like Moses and Elijah before him
          (notice, while we are at it, that it is precisely Moses and Elijah who
          figure in a certain scene earlier in Mark, the obvious meaning of which the
          Markan "Jesus" is made to dispute with Peter afterward). Those ideas are a
          matter of record. To that record, I propose to add only this: that Mark or
          the Markan authorial syndicate, the Markan text formation process and its
          unknown roots in real life, at first held views close to those, and only
          later adopted, and made a little room in their text for, the idea that
          Jesus's power of convincement in later days came from his having literally
          risen from the dead: what others held to be the final validating miracle.

          RON [to my thought that interpolators are sometimes skillful]: Do you have a
          case in mind? I don't see how you could detect the work of a very skilled
          interpolator, because presumably he would leave no trace of his
          work. So how do you know that they can cover their tracks?

          BRUCE: From a wide experience of texts in various languages. But we can take
          it as a priori. We may perhaps agree that some interpolations stick out as
          obvious. But it is surely not theoretically excluded that the original
          interpolator might see that also (some of these guys were *almost* as smart
          as you and me), and pick up his pencil again and make a better job of it.
          But the bottom line is that I am content to start with the easy cases, the
          ones where the interpolator has NOT wholly adjusted the surrounding text,
          and we can more easily see him at work. I don't need superfluous
          difficulties, especially not when starting out. I am content to take the
          crumbs that fall from the less skilled interpolator's worktable.

          I had further suggested: "It strikes me as extraordinarily unlikely that A,
          in copying B, would introduce such changes in the B original as to make A
          appear to contain an interpolated passage."

          RON: Taken at face value this sentence makes no sense to me. I presume you
          must be referring to synoptic editors rather than copyist/interpolators, and
          that you are implying a distinction between deliberate interpolation
          (plausible) and original-work-which-looks-like-an-interpolation
          (implausible). So if a passage has the characteristics of an interpolation,
          then it is likely to be so, and it can therefore be used as a test for
          directionality. This seems reasonable. But finding clear examples among the
          synoptic editors may not be
          easy because all the synoptic writers were skilful authors.

          BRUCE: Let's leave it at that, except that I still dissent from the
          assumption that "all the Synoptic writers were skillful authors." I am not
          prepared to deduce anything from that assumption, and I therefore avoid
          making it in the first place. Luke, for one, is both a literarily motivated
          author (he has moved Nazareth to the beginning of Jesus's ministry for
          structurally intelligible, and structurally verifiable, reasons; he has in
          mind the whole panorama of Luke-Acts) and a clumsy one (he has carelessly
          left in that story the inconcinnity about the Capernaum miracles).

          Authors are sometimes skillful and sometimes (and when their attention is
          elsewhere, sometimes in the very same passage) clumsy. Later writers
          sometimes abridge, and sometimes expand, a Vorlage passage. Then authorial
          skill is no more a viable criterion than is passage length. They have no
          deductive force. Since they lack deductive force, I would prefer to omit
          them from any argument which is designed to be convincing to those not
          already convinced.

          More perhaps later.

          Bruce

          E Bruce Brooks
          Warring States Project
          University of Massachusetts at Amherst
          http://www.umass.edu/wsp
        • Ron Price
          ... Bruce, As we are mostly in agreement on the topic of this thread, I will just take up this one remark. If you are weary, I am surprised. I am surprised
          Message 4 of 13 , Apr 11, 2008
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            Bruce Brooks wrote:

            > ..... I am frankly weary of arguments which go back and forth between
            > Mark's ineptitude in Greek and his skill in Greek.

            Bruce,

            As we are mostly in agreement on the topic of this thread, I will just take
            up this one remark.

            If you are weary, I am surprised. I am surprised that you cannot
            distinguish, at least in theory if not in this particular case, that it is
            possible to write a book in which the grammar and sentence style are less
            than perfect, yet the overall presentation is a masterpiece. In Mark the
            development of the plot, the beautifully crafted characters, the subtle
            innuendos, and the precisely symmetrical structure, all add up in my mind to
            a literary masterpiece. Don't forget that for 20 years or so this book was
            treasured as the only written gospel, and that it was later considered
            suitable to form the basis of two further gospels, and the probable
            inspiration for yet another (i.e. John). So though he was not especially
            skilful from a grammatical point of view, his overall literary skill can
            hardly be questioned. To have written a book which inspired other books
            which together became the sole testimony to the life of the hero of a
            billion people or more is no mean feat in my estimation.

            Ron Price

            Derbyshire, UK

            Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
          • E Bruce Brooks
            To: Synoptic Cc: GPG In Response To: Ron Price On: Synoptic Fatigue From: Bruce I had confessed to weariness at the interminable discussions that result when
            Message 5 of 13 , Apr 11, 2008
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              To: Synoptic
              Cc: GPG
              In Response To: Ron Price
              On: Synoptic Fatigue
              From: Bruce

              I had confessed to weariness at the interminable discussions that result
              when certain of the weaker arguments for Markan Priority are adduced in
              mixed company. I think, and recommend, that these arguments should circulate
              only among the safely convinced, leaving other and stronger points to be
              urged upon prospective converts. Here is another argument that keeps coming
              up, and I can only think it would be better for Synoptic progress if it came
              up less frequently:

              RON: To have written a book which inspired other books which together became
              the sole testimony to the life of the hero of a billion people or more is no
              mean feat in my estimation.

              BRUCE: It seems to me just possible that the success of the movement in
              question owes more to the second-tier Synoptics, not to mention Paul and a
              bunch of other people, than it does to the Gospel of Mark. How far were
              Mt/Lk inspired by admiration for Mk, and how far, on the evidence of what
              they did to it, by a desire to replace it? What level of Markan popularity
              do the extant papyri attest? How far did the mediaeval Church rely on Mark
              to populate its lectionaries? How far did mediaeval faith rest on Gospel
              testimony at all? To come to modern times, is it Mark or something else that
              has been publicly called the most beautiful book ever written? And how many
              millions of dollars have been spent in the effort to shore up the Q
              barricade, whose ultimate effect is to cancel the theological implications
              of Mark as the first and thus the most authentic account of Jesus? If love
              of Mark is strongly in evidence at any point in the last 2000 years, I would
              need to have that point more precisely identified.

              In any case, retrospective arguments (including arguments from personal
              conviction or affection in the present tense) remain retrospective
              arguments. My sense of it is that these questions can only be decided, if
              they ever should be decided, on grounds nearer to the 1st century.

              Hopefully submitted,

              Bruce

              E Bruce Brooks
              Warring States Project
              University of Massachusetts at Amherst
            • Ron Price
              ... Bruce, I agree that Paul was one of the essential ingredients for success. But I suggest that Christianity as we know it might never have arisen if Mark
              Message 6 of 13 , Apr 12, 2008
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                Bruce Brooks wrote:

                > It seems to me just possible that the success of the movement in
                > question owes more to the second-tier Synoptics, not to mention Paul and a
                > bunch of other people, than it does to the Gospel of Mark.

                Bruce,

                I agree that Paul was one of the essential ingredients for success. But I
                suggest that Christianity as we know it might never have arisen if Mark had
                not thought of the idea of writing a "gospel" which combined the basic
                theological outlook of Paul with something he almost totally lacked, namely
                an interest in the life of Jesus.

                > How far were Mt/Lk inspired by admiration for Mk, and how far, on the
                > evidence of what they did to it, by a desire to replace it?

                It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

                > If love of Mark is strongly in evidence at any point in the last 2000
                > years, I would need to have that point more precisely identified.

                Mark's popularity lasted around a generation, from ca. 70 CE ('publication'
                of Mark) to ca. 105 CE ('publication' of the First Edition of John). Mark
                was the starting-point for the more developed gospels of Matthew and Luke.
                Mark was also the inspiration for John (see Schnelle for the heavy
                dependence of John on Mark). John the Evangelist seems to have been the last
                major Christian author to rate Mark's gospel material as more useful
                evangelically than either Matthew or Luke. A few years later John the
                Redactor succeeded in introducing ideas from Matthew into the Johannine
                gospel, and from about that time Matthew and John were established as the
                most popular gospels in the centuries that followed.

                Ron Price

                Derbyshire, UK

                Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
              • E Bruce Brooks
                To: Synoptic In Response To: Ron Price On: Directionality of Mark From: Bruce I had asked: BRUCE: How far were Mt/Lk inspired by admiration for Mk, and how
                Message 7 of 13 , Apr 12, 2008
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                  To: Synoptic
                  In Response To: Ron Price
                  On: Directionality of Mark
                  From: Bruce

                  I had asked:

                  BRUCE: How far were Mt/Lk inspired by admiration for Mk, and how far, on the
                  evidence of what they did to it, by a desire to replace it?

                  RON: It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

                  BRUCE: Rewriting a text, cleaning up its language, removing its most
                  offensive spots, and then padding it out with as much material again, is not
                  a form of flattery, it is a form of one-upmanship. The most that one can say
                  of Luke is that he respected Mark as something like a classic in the field,
                  and tended to treat it less cavalierly than he did old Matthew. As I think I
                  have remarked before, if Luke had really *admired* Mk, in the sense meant in
                  the present conversation, then his entire letter to Theophilus would have
                  read as follows:

                  "Esteemed Theophilus, I have just come across this really terrific account
                  of the life and sayings of Jesus. You gotta see it. I am enclosing my copy;
                  please be careful of the loose pages. Yours truly, Luke MD."

                  I had also asked:

                  BRUCE: If love of Mark is strongly in evidence at any point in the last 2000
                  years, I would need to have that point more precisely identified.

                  RON: Mark's popularity lasted around a generation, from ca. 70 CE
                  ('publication' of Mark) to ca. 105 CE ('publication' of the First Edition of
                  John). Mark was the starting-point for the more developed gospels of Matthew
                  and Luke. Mark was also the inspiration for John (see Schnelle for the heavy
                  dependence of John on Mark). John the Evangelist seems to have been the last
                  major Christian author to rate Mark's gospel material as more useful
                  evangelically than either Matthew or Luke. A few years later John the
                  Redactor succeeded in introducing ideas from Matthew into the Johannine
                  gospel, and from about that time Matthew and John were established as the
                  most popular gospels in the centuries that followed.

                  BRUCE: This at least gets rid of the modern faithful as witnesses to the
                  brilliance of Mark; we are thus down from 1 billion witnesses to 3, which is
                  surely progress. As for this particular scenario, none of the dates is firm
                  (we have at most termini post quem in Mt and Lk, and relative chronology
                  otherwise). All the rest is inference, and others, as Ron well knows, infer
                  differently. It was above noted that Mt, Lk, and to a degree Jn, all
                  regarded Mk as a somewhat classical source, of which they made more or less
                  respectful use in their own compositions. I think this relationship may be
                  itself an argument, of sorts, for Markan priority; nothing else gets even
                  *that* good treatment from any second Evangelist.

                  But notice the trajectory: Mt includes almost all of Mk, Lk nearer
                  two-thirds, and Jn only traces. In parallel, Mt keeps roughly to Mk's
                  historical schema, Lk departs from it noticeably, Jn overwrites it almost
                  completely (yielding, for starters, a ministry of four years rather than
                  one). We have a certain quantum of respect in all cases, but decreasing both
                  in its comprehensiveness (how much of Mk the later Evangelists cared to deal
                  with) and, in the retained material, in faithfulness to the detail and order
                  of that material. It is a diminuendo scenario. Ron himself notes, seemingly
                  in agreement with a previous remark of mine, that whatever Mk's popularity
                  may earlier have been, it was immediately occluded, so far as we can tell,
                  immediately after Jn, and this even in the exurbs of Alexandria, where by
                  some accounts John Mark took his newly written Gospel after Peter's death,
                  and which thus ought by rights to have been a hotbed of GMark enthusiasm, if
                  any such existed. I think there is no evidence that any such existed.

                  All this is an excursus from the idea that Mark as written is literarily
                  impressive. I still don't think that the case is made, either in the
                  gargoyles of Gothic cathedrals or in the sands of Egypt. And for that
                  reason, I still don't think this idea has a place among the front-line
                  artillery of the Markan Priority Persuasion.

                  ---------

                  So far has the discussion wandered from a point of essential agreement: the
                  chronological priority of Mk. Thank Goodness none of the Tertiarity people
                  are joining in; had they done so, the home team, thus divided, would surely
                  be facing ignominious rout.

                  I continue to recommend the best arguments, and I continue to feel that the
                  literary brilliance of Mark (alternating as required with the linguistic
                  ineptitude of Mark) is not exactly one of them.

                  So what?? I'll tell you so what. Mixing weak and strong arguments does not
                  make for a cumulatively strong argument. It makes for an argument of which
                  someone can say, "This argument all hangs together, and these weak links
                  won't support the rest of the structure, and so the whole thing collapses."

                  And then one is reduced to proving, retrospectively, that one's argument did
                  NOT after all hang together, so that the failure of one item does not
                  logically invalidate the other items. One strengthens one's case by showing
                  it to have been incoherent. Good luck on that one.

                  Bruce

                  E Bruce Brooks
                  Warring States Project
                  University of Massachusetts at Amherst
                • Ron Price
                  ... Bruce, Again I must conclude that there is no point in further continuing this discussion. Distorting the presentation of one s opponent is no way to make
                  Message 8 of 13 , Apr 13, 2008
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                    Bruce Brooks wrote:

                    > All this is an excursus from the idea that Mark as written is literarily
                    > impressive. I still don't think that the case is made, either in the
                    > gargoyles of Gothic cathedrals or in the sands of Egypt. And for that
                    > reason, I still don't think this idea has a place among the front-line
                    > artillery of the Markan Priority Persuasion.
                    > .....
                    > I continue to recommend the best arguments, and I continue to feel that the
                    > literary brilliance of Mark (alternating as required with the linguistic
                    > ineptitude of Mark) is not exactly one of them.

                    Bruce,

                    Again I must conclude that there is no point in further continuing this
                    discussion. Distorting the presentation of one's opponent is no way to make
                    a case. I never claimed that Mark's great high-level literary skill is an
                    argument for Markan priority, as such. It was rather a defence against your
                    outdated proposition that the ending to Mark's gospel has been lost.

                    > .....
                    > Mixing weak and strong arguments does not
                    > make for a cumulatively strong argument.

                    Indeed. And it does not further the case for Markan priority to suppose the
                    original end of Mark's gospel has been lost. For it implies that Mark was
                    originally as developed as the other gospels in regard to post-resurrection
                    appearances.

                    Ron Price

                    Derbyshire, UK

                    Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
                  • E Bruce Brooks
                    To: Synoptic Cc: GPG et al In Response To: Ron Price On: Directionality of Mark From: Bruce RON: . . .It was rather a defence against your outdated
                    Message 9 of 13 , Apr 13, 2008
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                      To: Synoptic
                      Cc: GPG et al
                      In Response To: Ron Price
                      On: Directionality of Mark
                      From: Bruce

                      RON: . . .It was rather a defence against your outdated proposition that
                      the ending to Mark's gospel has been lost.

                      BRUCE: Is "outdated" an argument? I freely concede that the approach I use
                      was more widely practiced, and that the kind of conclusions I reach by using
                      it were more widely accepted, in the year 1932 than at present. So either I
                      am outdated or the discipline at large is going through a bad period. My
                      suspicion, supported by signs of similar things happening in all the other
                      humanities disciplines, is the latter. Of course anybody in my position
                      would say the same, and saying it proves nothing. But neither does the
                      opposite. In the end, whatever we may mean by "the end," the soundness of an
                      argument, not its date, should determine.

                      RON: . . . it does not further the case for Markan priority to suppose the
                      original end of Mark's gospel has been lost. For it implies that Mark was
                      originally as developed as the other gospels in regard to post-resurrection
                      appearances.

                      BRUCE: I don't suppose that loss. I infer it. Partly from the evidence in
                      the text, and partly from the revealing efforts of later Evangelists and
                      subsequent creative copyists to supply what they felt to be a lack. But the
                      chief tilt here is in the words "original end." Those words assume that
                      every feature of the text of Mark was present in it from the beginning.

                      On evidence (some of it previously discussed on this list), I don't think
                      so.

                      I think - I conclude from examination - that Mark in its final form is the
                      end product of a growth process, taking place over a good number of years,
                      additions being made to it with the intention of keeping it up with
                      developments in early doctrine. The congregation leader continually updating
                      his sermon notes; whatever. The result is that Mark, the thing behind the
                      archetype, is a theological composite, containing both early and not so
                      early ideas about Jesus. Separating these strata of accretion allows one to
                      watch the growth of early doctrine, a perhaps interesting possibility. On
                      performing that separation, or anyway a certain amount of it, I find that
                      the layer of Mark that implies the Resurrection is indeed a very late layer.
                      Meaning, one may most plausibly infer, that the particular stream of
                      doctrine with which GMk was in contact as it grew, and which in its final
                      form it more or less reflects, did not at first hold, *but only later came
                      to adopt,* the Resurrection doctrine. On evidence implicit in the text of
                      our Mark, that group originally held a quite different doctrine, one in fact
                      which seems to have been widespread in early Christianity, and was
                      encountered and condemned by Paul in Corinth. Is the pre-Resurrection
                      doctrine a later divergence, a heresy in the usual sense? I think this is
                      the usual understanding of the Corinthian difference. My evidence (and some
                      of my evidence has been noticed in the literature before) suggests not. It
                      suggests that the Resurrection is a relatively late doctrine, which only
                      after much tension and vituperation (see again Paul in Corinthians) was
                      ousted in favor of the later idea.

                      The word "original" has a somewhat special meaning in situations of this
                      type. There are strata of relative earliness and lateness. We can call the
                      oldest stratum the "original," if we like. If we do, we need to contrast it
                      with the textually much more evolved final product, the Vorlage of the first
                      copyist. It is the latter, as I have come to see things, that contained the
                      implication of a post-Crucifixion appearance of Jesus.

                      Ron and I debated exactly this proposition about Mark two years ago, just
                      days (and in the last exchanges, hours) before my presentation at SBL/NE
                      2006. He seemingly wasn't convinced then, and I gather he continues to be
                      unconvinced now. Fair enough, and this would be a good place to cease
                      troubling the list with these irreconcilable propositions.

                      A PROPOSAL

                      But now I make, to the silent members of Synoptic, the suggestion I
                      mentioned a few days ago.

                      I am still in process of developing a theory of Mark, and indeed of the
                      other Gospels (Luke is also under study at thus moment), which admits the
                      possibility of growth in a text before it reaches the stage of the final
                      copy, the Vorlage, as it was first known to the copyists. I could use some
                      comment on the work so far done, from one or two knowledgeable people who
                      are at least provisionally prepared to accept the premises of the argument.

                      And what are those?

                      Any layer theory of any text relies for its cogency on how we propose to
                      separate the various stages of growth: the layers of the resulting text. My
                      present theory relies at many points on our being able to distinguish, for
                      example, an interpolation *in the absence of a second manuscript which lacks
                      the passage in question,* purely on the classical grounds that it disagrees
                      with its present context, and that the context becomes more concinnitous
                      when the passage in question is experimentally removed. To vary an example
                      of Bruce Metzger's: If we see that a line of print is duplicated one column
                      of our morning newspaper, it means an inadvertence in the composing room, an
                      event happening before the newspaper itself is multiplied. That error might
                      be the double insertion of a stick of type. When later copyists do this it
                      is a retrace error, dittography, as in Acts 19:34 in Vaticanus; its opposite
                      is haplography; on both, see Metzger/Ehrman 254f. We mentally correct such
                      errors forthwith, when we encounter them in contemporary experience. We do
                      not need a second printing of the paper, in which the error is corrected, to
                      draw our attention to the error. The first printing, the evidence of the
                      second line itself, the manifest *superfluity* of that second line, is all
                      we need to reach a philologically valid conclusion about how the text got to
                      be the way it is.

                      If the (conceivably) one or two people out of Synoptic's 183 members (the
                      total membership of 185 minus Ron and myself) who are prepared to admit the
                      validity of what I will call the Metzger procedure, the recognition of
                      interpolations solely from their character in the text before us, would get
                      in touch with me privately, I would be glad to share with them, for their
                      private comment and criticism, preliminary drafts of my 2006 and also my
                      2008 SBL/NE presentations on Mark, and perhaps later on, my parallel effort
                      with Luke. It would be understood that the drafts themselves would remain
                      private, as with any unpublished work, and that helpful criticisms would be
                      acknowledged in any eventual published form. Standard scholarly protocol.

                      Thanks to the one or two for considering this, and thanks to all for their
                      exemplary patience during the previous exchange.

                      Bruce

                      E Bruce Brooks
                      Warring States Project
                      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
                      http://www.umass.edu/wsp
                    • Maluflen@aol.com
                      Note that all of Ron s evidence for Mark s popularity below depends upon modern source theories for Gospel?writings (stated as though they were fact). Funny
                      Message 10 of 13 , Apr 13, 2008
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                        Note that all of Ron's "evidence" for Mark's popularity below depends upon modern source theories for Gospel?writings (stated as though they were fact). Funny that all other historical evidence points to (1) a stunning lack of interest in Mark in early Christianity, (2) rather definite, expressed?opinions that Matthew wrote first, and (3) a universal popularity of Matthew in the first Christian centuries, which, given?that Gospel's?extremely Jewish character, can only be accounted for by assuming a widespread belief that it was indeed the first Gospel written (and perhaps also that it had some genuine connection with one of the Twelve). It is historically?unimaginable that (Jewish-Christian!) advocates of Matthew could have pulled that off, with no trace of historical resistance from those in the know about Mark's venerable origin.?Also, I am not impressed with?the idea of Mark as a primary inspiration?for John, at least to the extent that that?hypothesis ignores (as it most often does) the enormous influence of Matthew on John as well. Scholars who hold Markan priority are?often all but blind to the latter (Matthew's influence on John, i.e.).?

                        By the way, there are quite reasonable arguments to counter every one of the arguments for Markan priority that Ron reiterated?recently. I hesitate to?give the responses here,?only because they have all been given many times in the past. My assumption is?that Ron simply never reads them, or he would spare himself the embarrassment of repeating arguments that have long since been?effectively refuted.?

                        Leonard Maluf
                        Blessed John XXIII National Seminary
                        Weston, MA


                        Mark's popularity lasted around a generation, from ca. 70 CE ('publication'
                        of Mark) to ca. 105 CE ('publication' of the First Edition of John). Mark
                        was the starting-point for the more developed gospels of Matthew and Luke.
                        Mark was also the inspiration for John (see Schnelle for the heavy
                        dependence of John on Mark). John the Evangelist seems to have been the last
                        major Christian author to rate Mark's gospel material as more useful
                        evangelically than either Matthew or Luke. A few years later John the
                        Redactor succeeded in introducing ideas from Matthew into the Johannine
                        gospel, and from about that time Matthew and John were established as the
                        most popular gospels in the centuries that followed.





                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Chuck Jones
                        Bruce and Ron, Mark is in fact a literary masterpiece. Its three act narrative structure, use of foreshadowing, and dramatic development of a single theme
                        Message 11 of 13 , Apr 14, 2008
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                          Bruce and Ron,

                          Mark is in fact a literary masterpiece. Its three act narrative structure, use of foreshadowing, and dramatic development of a single theme rank with the best of the dramatic literature in the Gk world. Mk's deficiencies in Gk grammar are oft-noted, but that is a separate issue from his abilities as a story teller.

                          Second, it's interesting to me that Mk 16:1-8 is the account of the resurrection that is most historically accurate, based on the historical reconstructions of modern Jesus scholars and, maybe more importantly, based on internal integrity within the document. Jesus had told the disciples he would appear to them in Galilee. In Mk, and only in Mk, there is no resurrection appearance in Jerusalem. Rather, the disciples are told to go to Galilee where Jesus will appear to them. The Jerusalem appearance traditions of Mt, Lk and Jn have all of the marking of pious legends and hagiography. And they actively conflict with Jesus' promise to appear in Galilee.

                          Rev. Chuck Jones
                          Atlanta, Georgia

                          Ron Price <ron.price@...> wrote:
                          Bruce Brooks wrote:

                          > All this is an excursus from the idea that Mark as written is literarily
                          > impressive. I still don't think that the case is made, either in the
                          > gargoyles of Gothic cathedrals or in the sands of Egypt. And for that
                          > reason, I still don't think this idea has a place among the front-line
                          > artillery of the Markan Priority Persuasion.
                          > .....
                          > I continue to recommend the best arguments, and I continue to feel that the
                          > literary brilliance of Mark (alternating as required with the linguistic
                          > ineptitude of Mark) is not exactly one of them.

                          Bruce,

                          Again I must conclude that there is no point in further continuing this
                          discussion. Distorting the presentation of one's opponent is no way to make
                          a case. I never claimed that Mark's great high-level literary skill is an
                          argument for Markan priority, as such. It was rather a defence against your
                          outdated proposition that the ending to Mark's gospel has been lost.

                          > .....
                          > Mixing weak and strong arguments does not
                          > make for a cumulatively strong argument.

                          Indeed. And it does not further the case for Markan priority to suppose the
                          original end of Mark's gospel has been lost. For it implies that Mark was
                          originally as developed as the other gospels in regard to post-resurrection
                          appearances.

                          Ron Price

                          Derbyshire, UK

                          Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm







                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • Ron Price
                          ... Leonard, With the advent of what appeared to be more complete gospels (Matthew and Luke) and a theologically much more developed gospel (John), it should
                          Message 12 of 13 , Apr 14, 2008
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                            Leonard Maluf wrote:

                            > ..... Funny that all other historical evidence points to (1) a stunning lack
                            > of interest in Mark in early Christianity,

                            Leonard,

                            With the advent of what appeared to be more complete gospels (Matthew and
                            Luke) and a theologically much more developed gospel (John), it should not
                            be surprising that ordinary folk were relatively unimpressed by Mark.

                            > (2) rather definite, expressed?opinions that Matthew wrote first,

                            According to R.E.Brown, the hypothesis of Matthean priority goes back to
                            Augustine in the 4th century. But in the absence of a standard tradition of
                            publishing books with author's name and date of publication, and without an
                            understanding of modern source-critical techniques, he would have had no
                            means of knowing who really wrote first.

                            > and (3) a universal popularity of
                            > Matthew in the first Christian centuries, which, given?that Gospel's?extremely
                            > Jewish character, can only be accounted for by assuming a widespread belief
                            > that it was indeed the first Gospel written

                            Matthew's popularity can be accounted for by its perceived completeness,
                            together with its relatively clear structure which would have been so useful
                            for teaching purposes.

                            > It is historically?unimaginable
                            > that (Jewish-Christian!) advocates of Matthew could have pulled that off, with
                            > no trace of historical resistance from those in the know about Mark's
                            > venerable origin.

                            Few early Christians were interested in the order of publication of the
                            gospels. By the 4th c., no living person would have been "in the know" that
                            Mark wrote first.

                            Ron Price

                            Derbyshire, UK

                            Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
                          • E Bruce Brooks
                            To: Synoptic Cc: GPG In Response To: Chuck Jones On: Mark From: Bruce *Everything* that one has read three or more times is a literary masterpiece, especially
                            Message 13 of 13 , Apr 14, 2008
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                              To: Synoptic
                              Cc: GPG
                              In Response To: Chuck Jones
                              On: Mark
                              From: Bruce

                              *Everything* that one has read three or more times is a literary
                              masterpiece, especially if it has a discoverable groundplan. I don't propose
                              to go further than that into what amounts to the literary equivalent of a
                              music appreciation argument. A point more accessible to philology is:

                              CHUCK: In Mk, and only in Mk, there is no resurrection appearance in
                              Jerusalem. Rather, the disciples are told to go to Galilee where Jesus will
                              appear to them. The Jerusalem appearance traditions of Mt, Lk and Jn have
                              all of the marking of pious legends and hagiography.

                              BRUCE: OK, but in my view it's more than just truth vs legend. Taking the
                              Gospels in their respective final states, which is how they are preserved in
                              the canon, we have (as I think I have mentioned before) a most suggestive
                              trajectory as respects location of Appearances of Jesus after his
                              cruxifixion:

                              Mark: Forecast in Galilee; not actually depicted. [The Gospel of Peter,
                              which is late but which in several points goes back to early tradition, does
                              depict that scene]

                              Matthew: Forecast in Galilee; actually first occurs near Jerusalem, though
                              the Galilee Appearance is duly narrated. Earlier curses the three Galilee
                              churches: Bethsaida, Chorazin, Capernaum.

                              Luke: Retains the Matthean curses against the Galilean churches. The
                              Galilean Appearance forecast is rewritten as a promise *made* in Galilee,
                              but no longer as *referring* to Galilee. Jesus appears in Jerusalem, and the
                              disciples are *ordered by Jesus* not to return to Galilee. In Luke's view,
                              the posthumous church was from the beginning located in Jerusalem.

                              This is what I call the Jerusalem trajectory, which progressively wipes out
                              the fact that the oldest Jesus groups were located where his preaching had
                              also been located, namely in Galilee (but gJn obscures even this, by giving
                              Jesus a longer preaching career, and including not one, but several, visits
                              to Jerusalem and preaching in Judea), and that his after-death appearance
                              was originally thought to be in Galilee. Both the center of the Jesus
                              movement in fact, AND the tradition of the early church as the later church
                              chose to remember it, came to be in Jerusalem. By the time of Paul in
                              Galatians (though, for those of you with no teenaged daughters, there are in
                              fact challenges to the integrity of Galatians; see for one the interesting
                              study J C O'Neill, The Recovery of Paul's Letter to the Galatians, SPCK
                              1972, and among the passages he challenges are precisely those which bear on
                              Paul's previous career), Jerusalem was IT.

                              The successive Gospels reflect this shift to Jerusalem, and a
                              correspondingly progressive obliteration of the Galilee tradition. This is
                              the sort of thing that is VERY unlikely to have happened in the opposite
                              direction. It suggests the Synoptic sequence of composition Mk > Mt > Lk >
                              Jn. As does every other well-grounded trajectory argument.

                              The trajectory argument does not speak to Synoptic interrelationships, just
                              to order of composition. But order of composition is a useful limiter on
                              interrelation theories.

                              PARAGRAPH 2

                              So far so good, and a considerable number may agree, but now we take, or let
                              me suggest that we take, a second look at Mark. *How well grounded* is the
                              Galilee Appearance in Mark?

                              Answer, not very well. The Appearance itself is never depicted, as I think
                              all will agree. How about the *predictions* of the appearance, which are all
                              that is left of that tradition in Mark? There are two of them, and only two.
                              The second, 16:7, refers back the the first, and so is not independent
                              evidence. The philological (they used to call this "higher criticism")
                              evidence is that both passages are interpolations. And why? Because they
                              make startling and encouraging statements, nothing else than a promise of
                              Life After Death, for Jesus and indeed for the movement comprising his
                              believers. But the making of these statements produces exactly no response
                              in those to whom they are ostensibly made; those persons continue in an
                              attitude of gloom and panic; their hearts are in no way lifted, nor are
                              their immediate concerns distracted. Look at this:

                              Mk 14:27. And Jesus said to them, You will all fall away, for it is written,
                              I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.

                              [Mk 14:28. But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee]

                              Mk 14:29. Peter said to him, Even though they all fall away, I will not.

                              Peter in 14:29 walks right past the assurance of 14:28, and responds
                              directly to 14:27. 14:28 might as well not be there, as far as this Peter is
                              concerned, and the indicated philological inference is that, when Mk 14 was
                              first written, 14:28 was indeed NOT there.

                              Of course, it could be some kind of fluke, or fancy rhetoric. Take now
                              16:7 -

                              Mk 16:6. And he said to them, Do not be amazed, you seek Jesus of Nazareth,
                              he is not here; see the place where they laid him.

                              [Mk 16:7. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you
                              to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you].

                              16:8. And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and
                              astonishment had come upon them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they
                              were afraid

                              Again the same pattern: the women ignore the Galilee assurance, and react
                              with astonishment to the astonishing fact of the Empty Tomb: Jesus is no
                              longer there.

                              So both these passages are exiguous in context. They *have no effect* on the
                              context; the people in the story in that point react as they might if these
                              things were not there. The inference is that both are interpolations, made
                              at the same time, and intentionally designed to reinforce each other. They
                              do indeed predict a Galilee appearance.

                              But the text of Mark, up to the time when these passages were inserted, DID
                              NOT make that prediction, or have that belief. What did it have instead?
                              Don't ask me; see for example Fitzmyer on the Philippians Hymn and related
                              materials, which testify to an early belief that Jesus was taken directly up
                              to Heaven (just like, ahem, Moses and Elijah in some traditions, and these
                              traditions are explicitly evoked elsewhere in Mk), and never saw the
                              corruption of death and burial as do other mortals.

                              We then have two stages in the growth of conceptions of Jesus. The first
                              stage is the one attested in Philippi and encountered by Paul in Corinth;
                              that is, a geographically widespread pre-Pauline tradition, which did not
                              base itself on the Resurrection Jesus (but rather on the Glorified Jesus in
                              Heaven). The second stage is the more familiar, because more Pauline,
                              Resurrection Jesus. It is in the second stage that we get arguments about
                              where the Appearances occurred, which is now a secondary issue. Dividing
                              Mark into two strata, one of which witnesses to the first stage, and the
                              other to the second, we then have a still strong but now more comprehensive
                              trajectory:

                              Mark A: No appearances, and indeed no Resurrection-centered Christianity
                              Mark B: Appearances predicted in Galilee, not shown.
                              Matthew: Hostility to Galilee; first appearance near Jerusalem; Galilee
                              appearance shown.
                              Luke: Same hostility to Galilee; all appearances near Jerusalem; Disciples
                              ordered to remain in Jerusalem; church history now begins immediately and
                              exclusively in Jerusalem, and the Pauline view of both theology and church
                              history is entirely in place.

                              Respectfully suggested,

                              Bruce

                              E Bruce Brooks
                              Warring States Project
                              University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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