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Re: [Synoptic-L] Date of Mark

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  • Ron Price
    After a cooling down period, having again referred to Crossley s book, and having now read a review by John Painter which homes in on the same fundamental flaw
    Message 1 of 3 , Jul 5, 2008
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      After a cooling down period, having again referred to Crossley's book, and
      having now read a review by John Painter which homes in on the same
      fundamental flaw as I did, and comes to a conclusion virtually the same as
      mine, it is time to try to put the record straight following the intemperate
      criticisms levelled at my assessment.

      I had written:

      >> 'Firstly I note that he dismisses Brandon's nationalistic scenario of
      >> the aftermath of the Jewish war (71CE) as "too speculative" , claiming that
      >> many other contexts are "just as plausible". (p.76,n.119) This is opinion,
      >> not rational argument.'

      James Crossley had replied:

      > This is really misleading ...

      Given what is stated in the footnote, my comment is apt. A cross-reference
      might have avoided the apparent absence of rational argument here.

      > Brandon's argument is too speculative because he provided a very, very
      > precise historical location for Mark's gospel which is impossible to prove
      > because there are so many other plausible alternative. That is not merely
      > opinion, that is an argument.

      It is true that Brandon's scenario cannot be proved, but very little in this
      field of study can be proved. We should be looking for the *most* plausible
      solution. Finding 'plausible' alternatives does not necessarily knock the
      Jewish war from its position of most likely candidate scenario.

      > Oh, and you keep telling me Mark was writing for gentiles and no doubt he was
      > but just gentiles? Not Jews too? For someone who loves rational argument and
      > not opinion there's a lot of opinion here because you haven't argued for this
      > heavy use of writing for gentiles.

      I can't write an essay to back up my every sentence. In any case, as
      Crossley agrees ("no doubt he was"), the objection seems pointless.

      > The 'most peculiar interpretation of Mk 7:14-23' is again rhetoric.

      It is not just rhetoric. Crossley's interpretation is most peculiar in the
      sense of different from the great majority. It is also most peculiar in the
      sense of "very strange" for the reason I gave, which I will enlarge upon
      below.

      > Others
      > take this view too so presumably we must talk of them having a 'most peculiar
      > interpretation' too, right?

      Yes. Crossley plus others with a similar view are still in a small minority
      and their interpretation can still be deemed strange.

      >> 'Crossley insists on interpreting the last in the context of the first,
      >> deducing that "he declared all foods clean" means "he declared permitted
      >> foods clean" (denying the role of handwashing) . But this interpretation
      >> is ruled out by 7:18b: "Do you not see that whatever goes into a man from
      >> outside cannot defile him...". The only logical deduction from this is that
      >> all foods are clean, as stated explicitly by Mark in 7:19b.

      > ..... not all the Syriac
      > tradition took it as the 'only logical deduction'.

      The fact that some fraction of the Syriac tradition did not see the logic
      here proves only that (a) they didn't understand it or (perhaps more likely)
      (b) they didn't agree with it and altered the text to try to bring it closer
      to their own opinion of what it should have been.

      > These are well known but presumably not worthy.

      Worthiness doesn't come into it.

      > Also, the transmission of impurity through not washing
      > hands goes from hands to food to eater (via a liquid), not to mention the
      > other issues surrounding meal time purity (immersion, washing utensils and
      > dining couches - cf. Mark 7.1-5).

      Here Crossley relies on his context argument. I don't buy it. The Corban
      episode in Mk 7:9-13 has nothing whatsoever to do with hand washing. Also
      there is a break at v.14 (KAI ..... PALIN .....). Therefore we should not
      necessarily expect the following episode (7:14-23) to have anything to do
      with it either. The three texts 1-8, 9-13 and 14-23 have in common that they
      all present Jesus' reaction to Jewish traditions or regulations, not that
      they all deal with hand washing.

      > So Mark 7.1-23 would work with the logic of
      > the transmission of impurity and only doesn't because, erm, Ron says so.
      > Others, incidentally, have also noted this kind of interpretation of the 'what
      > goes in.' sayings. Ron's 'only logical deduction' only works then if he
      > ignores Jewish evidence, Christian evidence, the logical deductions of others,
      > and indeed material collected in my chapter.

      O.K., so I need to spell out the logic.
      Firstly the relevant text is Mk 7:14-23 as argued above.
      This passage contrasts two categories, what goes into a person with what
      comes out of a person. Mark's Jesus asserts that what goes in (food) cannot
      defile a person, and that it is what comes out of a person's heart (evil
      thoughts etc.) which causes defilement. The list of the types of things
      leading to defilement includes moral failings but does not include
      contravening arbitrary rules. The stark contrast leaves no room for
      distinctions between pigs and sheep.

      > I wrote a section on Mark and Paul and gave
      > several alternatives so I won't bother repeating.

      I note Crossley's section on Mark and Paul. He tackles, among other
      arguments, the one which may be the most crucial, namely that Mark took over
      the title "Son of God" from Paul. He mentions that the title was accepted by
      Matthew, Luke and John. But these later gospel writers were influenced by
      Mark's gospel, so their use of it is hardly relevant. Crossley then goes on
      to say that the title could have originated from Jewish sources such as
      Psalm 2:7. So it could. But that is not the issue. The issue is the use of
      the title for Jesus with an explicit or implicit indication of uniqueness.
      We know for sure that Paul applied the title to Jesus as early as 1 Thess
      1:10 ("his [God's] Son"). Luke attributes this theology to Paul within days
      of his conversion (Acts 9:20), suggesting that this was Paul's special
      insight. This seems to be supported by the fact that in none of his extant
      letters does Paul refer to Jesus as "Son of man". Paul didn't want anyone to
      be confused as to Jesus' special relationship with God. Mark on the other
      hand was prepared to use both labels, which is consistent with the view that
      Mark was aiming in some sense to bridge the gap between the original
      disciples and the gospel of Paul.

      Crossley gives as an alternative the possibility "that Mark came first and
      indirectly influenced Paul" (p.53). Possible, but highly unlikely. The fact
      that Paul is known to have delved deeply into theology (Romans) and to have
      been reluctant to be dependent on others (e.g. Gal 2:6), makes it far more
      likely that Mark was dependent on Paul.

      One final point: Crossley states that a late Mark would have clarified the
      scenario in Mk 2:23-28 to show clearly that no work was involved when the
      ears of corn were plucked (p.182). There are two things wrong with this
      statement. Firstly is assumes that a late Mark would have had the same
      attitude to biblical law as Matthew and Luke. Secondly it admits to a degree
      of ambiguity in Mark's scenario, and on this basis we can't be sure that the
      passage was *not* challenging biblical law. This weakens his whole case
      because if this passage *did* imply a deliberate challenge to the law then
      according to his own criterion (if a gospel shows signs of these debates
      then it is reacting to them, p.159 ) the gospel may have to be dated later.

      Ron Price

      Derbyshire, UK

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