Re: [Synoptic-L] Date of Mark
- To: Synoptic
In Response To: Ron Price
On: Date of Mark
I had pointed to what I call the Jerusalem trajectory: Appearances of the
Risen Jesus first in Galilee (Mk), then in Galilee but preceded by some near
Jerusalem (Mt), then in Jerusalem only, with Jesus forbidding the disciples
to return to Galilee (Lk).
RON: As I see it, there is a fundamental problem here: the timing is all
wrong, notwithstanding your early dating of Mark. / For this progressive
denial is first detected in Matthew (written ca. 85 CE, and in any case
after 70 CE), when Jerusalem has been destroyed and can therefore no longer
have been the power centre of the Jesus movement.
BRUCE: It takes two to display "progressive." The progression, or the first
leg of it, is from Mk to Mt. For that comparison, see above. As for the date
of Matthew, suppose it to have been in the year 85. Would the text then be
likely to argue for appearances of Jesus in, say, Pella? Not in a million
years. Matthew, and all the rest of them, purport to give a picture of the
life of the actual Jesus. They do not intend (except Luke, and he gives a
separate volume to it) to give a portrait of contemporary Christianity. It
was remembered that Jesus had taught in Galilee, and died in Jerusalem.
Nobody really departs from that scenario. But everybody after Mark
progressively departs from the idea that Galilee was a significant place in
the first days after Jesus died. That is how the memory of later events (or,
in Luke's case, an active agenda emphasizing those later events) soaks
through a narrative still nominally based on early events.
This kind of contamination of received tradition with new tradition is
standard stuff, Geschichtegeschichtewise. Most natural thing in the world.
For instance, to take a perhaps less tense subject (less tense in the
Eastern Mediterranean, not necessarily less tense on its home ground): At
the Chinese end, we have lots of 04c descriptions of 07c-06c battles. But
the warriors in the 04c descriptions routinely execute maneuvers, or make
strategic calculations, that demonstrably belong to the warfare of the 04c
(the date of the writing) and are out of place for the 06c (the date of the
RON: There were no early Galilean centres of power.
BRUCE: Precisely. There were little four-or-five-man Galilee believer
communities (one or two households, sometimes no households, per hastily
visited Galilean or Decapolitan town), with no real central direction save
people like James of Alphaeus writing circular letters to some of them, to
provide a quasi-personal sort of guidance. That sort of thing can never
stand against a branch movement with offices in Jerusalem. It's like a
brokerage firm with offices in Scranton and in New York. The one in New York
is in touch with the flow of world finance; the one in Scranton is just a
computer hookup. No competition. But the power of being in a powerful place
does not preclude, it merely explains, why the less powerful places tend to
get lost, over time, as the movement itself grows. To anticipate Ron's next,
it doesn't mean that Scranton is a myth; it merely means that, over time and
at the first cutback, Scranton is a goner.
RON: They are a myth arising from the interpolation of Mk 14:28 and 16:7.
BRUCE: The whole thing is probably a myth, if you really want to get into
it. But there are early and late stages of myth. Not alone Mk, but also (as
I think I mentioned) the apocryphal Gospel of Peter, which, or something
like which, is echoed in the tacked-on 21st chapter of John), attests the
Galilee Appearances. WHY WOULD THEY DO THIS, if it was universally known
that Jesus had appeared only in Jerusalem? I can't find an answer to that.
But suppose we pose the question the other way: Why does Luke insist on only
Jerusalem appearances, if there were really no Jerusalem appearances? THAT I
can answer very easily. Thus: "Luke has denied the Galilee appearances
because they are a nuisance in his Galilee > Jerusalem > Rome master
scenario for Christian History. He does not want to take time out for a
Galilee > Jerusalem [ > Galilee again, and back for political reasons to
Jerusalem ] > Rome loop in his movie script. That kind of narrative loop is
exactly what the screenwriter will immediately take the scissors to.
Plus, if there was a Galilee church or several of them, as some of the early
evidence suggests, and if those churches later withered and died, as may
well have been the case, since they lacked urban cohesion, how glorious is
that going to look as part of the story? Answer: Not very. So why not
eliminate it altogether, rewrite the script to eliminate that whole episode,
and start the second volume off with Jerusalem? No reason in the world, and
that is what Luke did.
Now, if there are two possible directional options, A > B and B > A, and we
as later observers can't figure out a motive or other cause for A > B, but
the movement B > A makes all kinds of sense, then, by the Tischendorf Rule,
which is the underlying rule of all philological determinations of this
sort, B > A becomes our preferable solution.
Reaching this point by a much more compact argument, I had earlier said,
"Luke is in denial about Galilean Christianity."
RON: Luke probably realized that early Galilean Christianity was a myth, so
this is the more likely reason why he reduced the post-crucifixion role of
BRUCE: If his sources contained it, as it seems they did, how did he arrive
at the conclusion that it was a myth? How does ANYONE arrive at that
conclusion? I think it is the most natural inference from the most early
sources. Why should I cease to think so?
On another point, I had said: "As for Damascus rebellions against the Law,
pre-Saul, what is the
evidence for them? (Other than Ga 1:13-14)."
RON: I don't see the need for any other evidence. Paul had nothing to gain
by inventing a story that he had once persecuted 'the church of God'.
BRUCE: Exactly so. I take his early hostile stance (Ga 1:13) as an assured
fact, and so (I gather) does everyone else. But that is not responsive to
the question of why the Damascus Church before the Conversion of Saul should
have rejected the Jewish Law. Paul explains his opposition by referring, as
I read it, to his special zeal as a Pharisee (Ga 1:14). But that is rather
nondistinctive. What else have we?
It's my guess that "Ananias" is a Jewish, not a Greek, name. He seems to be
a leader in the Damascus church, or so I gather from his being capable of
administering baptism (if we accept the Acts story for a moment, at least in
that detail). If the chief figure in the Damascus group was a Jew, and if
Paul had gone to Damascus specifically to arrest Jews (he could hardly have
expected to drag Gentiles back to Jerusalem to be stoned, right?), then the
Damascus Church was a Diaspora Jewish church in character.
Jewish believers in Jesus are not likely to have renounced their Jewish
customs (including festivals, foods, household pieties, and the thousand
customs of living) merely because of that belief; they will have added it
on. Jesus did not preach a religion of shrimp cocktail. What DID he preach?
Here is where a little homework might come in handy, and this page is too
short for it. But one clue, especially for the belief system which Saul
later accepted, is what Paul himself emphasized. Did he emphasize shrimp
cocktail? No. Did he emphasize the salvific force of Jesus's Death, and with
it the special relation between God and Jesus? You betcha. Why did this
bother the Jerusalem Establishment Jews, of whom Saul for a while was the
strong right hand, the hand holding the knife? Because it was magic
(Rabbinical tradition, so Klausner tells me, regarded Jesus as a charlatan,
a sort of snake oil salesman misleading the people with his magic). And
because, since the magic claimed to come from God, it was also blasphemy.
Blasphemy, not shrimp cocktail, was a crime the establishment Jews of the
time regarded as deserving of peremptory death.
And how do I know this? Lumen naturalis, plus take a look at the Acts
account of Stephen's stoning by Jews, including Saul. What was it in
Stephen's harangue that brought on this drastic result? I can easily quote
it for you (more typing practice, in lieu of Pischna):
Ac 7:54 "Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground
their teeth against him.  But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into
Heaven and saw the Glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of
God;  And he said, Behold, I see the Heavens opened, and the Son of Man
standing at the right hand of God.  But they cried out with a loud voice
and stopped their ears and rushed together upon him. Then they cast himself
out of the city and stoned him . . .
They stoned him because he proclaimed the divinity of Jesus. I venture to
think that the crimes of the Damascus Disciples, the crimes for which Saul
traveled there to arrest them, and haul them back in chains to be stoned by
the Jerusalem Faithful, were of this nature and gravity. Not shrimp
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
- To: Synoptic
In Response To: Jeff Peterson
On: Paul and Jesus
JEFF: ) The Pauline testimonia to Jesus' ministry don't exhibit the degree
of verbal agreement with the Synoptic parallels that commends a literary
explanation of inter-Synoptic agreements.
BRUCE: I would agree that Paul's Epistle is not here being copied from
Mark's Gospel. We do not have a scriptorium situation. But I think it is
still open that Paul may be expressing in his own words tradition that
ultimately comes from Mark. Not that this is the only option, but neither
does it seem to be eliminated.
JEFF: Seems to me at least equally plausible to hold that Paul and Mark
both derived their knowledge of Jesus' teaching and activity from oral
tradition (as Luke's preface suggests was the norm in the first generation).
BRUCE: I think there are other factors which may help us here. First, it is
notable (and Koester duly noted it) that Paul accepts none of Jesus's
ethical principles; only his sayings on church order. That is, whatever he
knew of, he is apparently being selective with. Second, he himself says that
he has no interest in Jesus "after the flesh," which I take to mean, the
teachings and deeds of Jesus during his lifetime. Why not? I presume,
because others had superior access to those details. It is only in the
revelation department, the spiritual department, that he can hope to rank
even with the other Apostles; to compete with them on a level basis.
Third, take miracles. Mark tells of several miracles of Jesus, obviously
thinking that they will add to readers' impressment with Jesus, and their
acceptance of Jesus as bringing a message, along with healing power, from
God. The demand for a "sign" in Mark assumes that supernatural deeds are the
best proof of Jesus's qualification for what he was doing. All this is
consistent with itself, and with the extreme emphasis on miracles in the
Apostolic literature. Did Paul have any knowledge of Jesus's miracles? I
defy anyone to spend a week in Peter's company, as Paul tells us he had
done, without getting an earful of Jesus's miracles. Presumably in a
Galilean twang which, I have suggested, led a Jerusalem hearer like Mark to
get the name Gerasa wrong; he had misheard Peter's Gergesa (so Origen, I
believe correctly). Likely though it is that Paul was exposed in one way or
another to such stories, he rigorously excludes them from his Epistle
teaching. The only signs he invokes are his own miraculous performances:
healings, speaking in tongues, and other evidence of indwelling spirit.
Somebody else's spiritual feats or doings have no authenticating power, or
other interest, for Paul. The only miracle of Jesus that interests Paul is
the Resurrection, and this is really a miracle of God. The only part of
Jesus's life that Paul can use is Jesus's death. I think the filter here is
in Paul, and not in what was available to him.
(I have earlier said why I find "oral tradition" so vague as to be
analytically meaningless. The question is: Who said what to whom? I have
tried to keep to that more realistic standard in the above).
As for Mark, Peter used to come to his house, and he will have had more than
Paul's opportunity to acquaint himself with what Peter knew, or claimed to
know, as an eyewitness. This seems to me to be a good deal more direct than
the phrase "oral tradition" tends to suggest. And does not Mark himself
slyly claim to have been in at the beginning? Like every other Evangelist,
he seems to contrive to put himself into his own story, in his case as the
youth who fled naked at the Gethsemane Arrest scene. No one has ever
suggested a plausible alternative for this otherwise absurd detail
(including Mt and Lk, who omit it). Luke has his We section (in Acts), with
its implicit claim of accompaniment of Paul for many of his journeys. John,
as is well known, has his teasingly introduced Beloved Disciple figure, who
is validated in the superadded Jn 21 as the real source of that Gospel. It
then seems that staid Matthew is the exception. But is it really? Is our
version the original, or is the original better reflected in the Gospel of
the Ebionites (Epiphanius, Adv Haer 30/13:3), "And you, Matthew, sitting at
the tax office, I called and you followed me." Note the direct address. I
get the sense of Evangelists reaching for something better than indirect
tradition, whether oral or otherwise. Doesn't mean they are right, but I
think their implied opinion deserves to be considered as reflecting the
dynamic of the times.
Nearly every NT text seems to be concerned with authentication. In the case
of the spurious 2 Thess, also with disauthentication. (Compare Paul's own
bitter comments about the Pillars, the Super-Apostles).
E Bruce Brooks
University of Massachusetts at Amherst