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Re: [Synoptic-L] Directionality of Mark

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  • 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 .It was rather a defence against your outdated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 1 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 .It was rather a defence against your outdated proposition that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      BRUCE: Is "outdated" an argument?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      am outdated or the discipline at large is going through a bad period.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 2 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.





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      • 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 3 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 4 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 5 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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