Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: [Synoptic-L] Date of Mark

Expand Messages
  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic Cc: GPG In Response To: Ron Price On: Date of Mark From: Bruce I had pointed to what I call the Jerusalem trajectory: Appearances of the Risen
    Message 1 of 38 , Jul 8, 2008
      To: Synoptic
      Cc: GPG
      In Response To: Ron Price
      On: Date of Mark
      From: Bruce

      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. [56] 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; [56] And he said, Behold, I see the Heavens opened, and the Son of Man
      standing at the right hand of God. [57] 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
    • E Bruce Brooks
      To: Synoptic In Response To: Jeff Peterson On: Paul and Jesus From: Bruce JEFF: ) The Pauline testimonia to Jesus ministry don t exhibit the degree of verbal
      Message 38 of 38 , Aug 25, 2011
        To: Synoptic
        In Response To: Jeff Peterson
        On: Paul and Jesus
        From: Bruce

        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
      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.