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Re: [Synoptic-L] The Measure You Give (Mk 4:24-25)

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: GPG Cc: Synoptic In Response To: GPG Member On: Mk 4:24-25 From: Bruce I had earlier raised (on both lists) a question about the meaning and concinnity of
    Message 1 of 9 , Aug 28, 2008
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      To: GPG
      Cc: Synoptic
      In Response To: GPG Member
      On: Mk 4:24-25
      From: Bruce

      I had earlier raised (on both lists) a question about the meaning and
      concinnity of Mk 4:24-25 in their immediate parable context. A GPG member
      has responded thus:

      A: Assuming the bit about the lamp 4:21 is a later layer, the idea about
      hearing and listening carefully might be the older theme here. 4:22 and 4:23
      would then be in the older version as well. I would then guess that part of
      4:25 might have been original, so it might have read. "If anyone has ears to
      hear let him hear. Take heed what you hear, for whoever has, it will be
      given to him." This would similar to the Luke version and then I might
      speculate the "who has not, even what he has will be taken away" is Matthew's
      addition.

      B: This takes us into the question of the whole Sermon by the Sea, and of
      relative priority within that sequence. What is the substrate here, and what
      is the addendum? I here consider that larger question, in hope of
      enlightenment from the wise.

      THE MARKAN SERMON

      The bulk of the Sermon consists of Parables of the Kingdom. They, and
      particularly the Parable of the Seed (which neither Mt nor Lk could bear to
      include) are not readily interpretable save in terms of the Messianic
      Kingdom; the return of sovereignty to Israel. This Davidic Jesus is one of
      the several ideas of Jesus that are famously mixed together in Mark. It
      should be of interest to see if they are simply mixed together, as though
      gathered from diverse sources whose relative dates cannot be ascertained, or
      if they correspond to discernible strata within Mark, in which case relative
      ages *can* be assigned to them: the lower strata are the earlier material.

      I believe that the many Markan ideas of Jesus *can* be stratified, and I
      would go about it in this way. I return to A's comment in detail.

      A. Assuming the bit about the lamp 4:21 is a later layer, the idea about
      hearing and listening carefully might be the older theme here. 4:22 and 4:23
      would then be in the older version as well.

      B. But why should we assume it? I think the evidence runs the other way.
      Remember that any return of sovereignty to Israel would be subversive of
      Roman authority, and that the Romans were on guard against just such
      movements; remember to that Jesus was executed by the Romans precisely as a
      claimant to the Kingship of Israel. Then any preaching in support of such a
      return would have to be so some degree covert, though in the expectation
      that the Kingdom itself would presently be made manifest, would in fact
      occur in real time, with a Jewish King of Israel, and the Romans suddenly
      elsewhere.

      Obviously, Mk 4 is structured as a discourse of Jesus. Almost equally
      obviously, it is not a real transcript of a plausible sermon. Instead, it
      assembles various images of and comments about the Kingdom, in a
      pseudo-sermon construct (the several Sermons in Matthew are also of this
      assembled type, not to mention those in Luke). To me, at any rate, the
      question is, How much of the present Mk 4 can be read in terms of that
      particular Kingdom expectation? I would say, nearly all of it. I read as
      follows:

      MARK 4 EXPOUNDED

      4:1-2. Setting of Sermon.

      4:3-9. Parable of the Sower. [Not all preaching produces results, but the
      results it does produce will be very powerful in their time; an
      encouragement in spite of small recruitment to the movement. The huge yield
      of the few followers will more than make up for the seemingly many
      nonfollowers].

      [4:10-20. Intrusive re-interpretation in terms of Apostolic preaching].

      4:21-23. Parable of the Lamp. [Things are now secret, but the whole point of
      them is that they will later be revealed; see the Parable of the Sower]

      [4:24-25; the present passages; discussion deferred]

      4:26-29. Parable of the Seed. [The progress of the Way is hidden, but it is
      proceeding toward fulfilment, and its fruit will be revealed in good season;
      the underlying idea behind all these parables].

      4:30-32. Parable of the Mustard Seed. [Though small, the seed yields great
      fruit, and that result benefits all creatures].

      4:33-34. End of sermon.

      FINAL INTERPRETATION

      All this reads like encouragement to the members of a small movement which
      intends to produce a huge political result, and assures them that the result
      will in due time be realized; the series ends with an additional assurance
      that the Kingdom, when finally realized in the open, will be both great and
      benign. The expression is covert throughout ("Him who has ears" - those who
      understand what I am talking about - should attend and be encouraged to
      maintain their adherence to the movement). As is only prudent for a severely
      illegal movement.

      This is all so consecutive and consistent that I can only regard it as the
      base text. Into that base text has been inserted an Apostolic
      reinterpretation of the first Parable, in order to give it a sense
      meaningful in the later Church, when the plan to redeem Israel politically
      had been absolutely abandoned, and a new direction was being sought. My
      sense, then, is that the Lamp (4:21) and its interpretation (4:22-23) fit
      the old series perfectly, and for that reason, I am not prepared to assume
      that they are later material.

      A: I would then guess that part of 4:25 might have been original, so it
      might have read. "If anyone has ears to hear let him hear. Take heed what
      you hear, for whoever has, it will be given to him."

      B: Nothing in the Markan Sea Sermon, as above reviewed, offers any benefits
      to any believer. It looks to results in the common political sphere: a
      benefit in which all will share. But 4:25 on A's reading DOES look to an
      individual result; it asks what people will be getting out of their good
      conduct. The answer is that they will getting proportionately what they have
      put into the system. And what system? I would say, the moral retributive
      universe. Since this is more or less recognizable as (or as part of) the
      view of things on which the later Church settled, I think it can only be a
      later idea.

      A: This would similar to the Luke version and then I might speculate the
      "who has not, even what he has will be taken away" is Matthew's addition.

      B: Matthew's real addition in this section is his unique Parable of the
      Tares (Mt 13:24-30), which to my eye gives a new and Apostolically
      interpretable parable (the unbelievers among the believers) precisely to
      replace the Markan Parable of the Seed, which he cannot reconfigure and thus
      must replace. Luke silently omits it.Both Mt and Mk continue with the last
      in the series, the Parable of the Mustard Seed (relocated by Luke for
      reasons that presumably seemed good to him at the time, and that still seem
      intelligible to Fitzmyer).

      In short, I can only see Mk 4:24-25 as intrusions of the later give-and-get
      individual ethic, into an earlier layer where the point is instead a
      collectively achieved terrestrial result.

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • gentile_dave@emc.com
      A. Assuming the bit about the lamp 4:21 is a later layer, the idea about hearing and listening carefully might be the older theme here. 4:22 and 4:23 would
      Message 2 of 9 , Aug 29, 2008
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        A. Assuming the bit about the lamp 4:21 is a later layer, the idea
        about
        hearing and listening carefully might be the older theme here.
        4:22 and 4:23
        would then be in the older version as well.

        Bruce: But why should we assume it? I think the evidence runs
        the other way.



        ===========



        I assumed it there because I'm convinced that the lamp in Mark, combined
        with a couple other passages in Mark, are a reference to Zachariah
        4:1-14. The punch line of this is that Jesus is "Lord of the whole
        world", which I would argue is not likely to be an early theme, but
        rather a much later one. To me the evidence for the reference to Zach.
        is completely convincing. However, having attempted to present the
        evidence before, I've noted that others are not likewise convinced. I
        find this disagreement inexplicable, but I'll decline to explore it more
        at this time.



        Bruce: My
        sense, then, is that the Lamp (4:21) and its interpretation (4:22-23)
        fit
        the old series perfectly, and for that reason, I am not prepared to
        assume
        that they are later material.



        It connects to the rest of the material in that it deals with the theme
        of something hidden. But it does not seem to make any points about the
        coming Kingdom or needing to wait for it or continuing to follow
        teachings, so in that sense it does not connect. If the Lamp were a late
        addition it could have been added at this point in the text because of
        the rough surface level thematic agreement about something hidden.



        Omitting my assumption, the rest of my brief analysis would not follow
        of course.



        Dave Gentile







        Dave Gentile

        Sr. Systems Engineer/Statistician

        EMC Captiva

        EMC Corporation

        601 Oakmont Lane,

        Westmont, IL 60559

        P: 630-321-2985

        F: 630-654-1607

        E: Gentile_Dave@...





        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • E Bruce Brooks
        To: Synoptic Cc: GPG In Response To: Dave Gentile From: Bruce I had questioned Dave s assumption that Mk 4:21 (the Parable of the Lamp) is a later layer in Mk.
        Message 3 of 9 , Aug 29, 2008
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          To: Synoptic
          Cc: GPG
          In Response To: Dave Gentile
          From: Bruce

          I had questioned Dave's assumption that Mk 4:21 (the Parable of the Lamp) is
          a later layer in Mk.

          DAVE: I assumed it there because I'm convinced that the lamp in Mark,
          combined with a couple other passages in Mark, are a reference to Zachariah
          4:1-14. The punch line of this is that Jesus is "Lord of the whole world",
          which I would argue is not likely to be an early theme, but rather a much
          later one. To me the evidence for the reference to Zach. is completely
          convincing. However, having attempted to present the
          evidence before, I've noted that others are not likewise convinced. I find
          this disagreement inexplicable, but I'll decline to explore it more at this
          time.

          BRUCE: I would distinguish several ideas here: (a) OT references are likely
          to be late; (b) the theme Mk 4:21 is world dominion, which is specifically
          late; and (c) Mk 4:21 and others are a complex reference to Zc 43:1-14. They
          could be evaluated separately.

          At least as of this moment, I would think that: (a) Though it is very
          reasonable to expect that late layers of Mk will be designed on an OT model,
          while the early material is more naive, I am finding that it doesn't work
          out in practice. Chiefly by identifying interpolations (B inserted into A,
          meaning that A is earlier), I think it is possible to separate layers in Mk,
          and in so doing, I find that both early and late layers have OT resonances.
          With the Yarbro Collins Proto-Passion Narrative (she seems to rely on a
          somewhat similar OT criterion), I find again that it is not possible, even
          in that section, to construct a narratively plausible earliest layer which
          is wholly without OT dimensions. So my view, my conclusion from experience
          so far, is that the Markan narrative is likely to be OT-controlled at all
          layers, though not in all layers from exactly the same OT passages. If so,
          then point (a) doesn't help us either way, and at worst it doesn't refute
          Dave's suggestion. (Which if I recall was made on GPG a year ago).

          For (b), I think that the unaided words of Mk 4:21 are simply that the
          purpose of a lamp is to be seen, and (metaphorically) that the purpose of a
          revolution is to come into the open, albeit only at the opportune time. If
          we read 4:21 as assuring the hearers that all will eventually come to pass
          in real time, even if it is delayed for the time being (Gottes Zeit ist die
          allerbeste Zeit), I think we have gotten the message. I am reassured in this
          reading by noticing that the same theme runs through the other Parables in
          the Mk 4 Sermon (small things later growing into mighty ones). This does not
          preclude a decorative OT echo, it merely means that the echo is not crucial
          to decoding the basic meaning of the Mk text. Again, the Zc dimension is not
          necessarily refuted if we date Mk 4:21 early. I admit, however, that Dave's
          specific reading, which involves world domination (Zc 4:14, "the LORD of
          the whole earth"), would indeed get us into, not only the mission to the
          Syrian Gentiles, but into the pan-Mediterranean phase of the early Church.
          This does not conflict with the usual dating of Mk (way after Paul), though
          it does conflict with my reading of the earliest layer of Mk (which I think
          predates Paul). Here we have a conflict, without necessarily also having a
          basis for deciding which end of it is right. I thus turn to (c).

          Does (c) work? Tastes will differ, but to my eye, the idea of complex
          references (separate passages in one text together constituting an allusion
          to another text) is simply too complex. Each passage alone should carry its
          share of the text being echoed. Any hearer of Mk who was acquainted with the
          Septuagint would catch what I will call the direct echoes in any one
          passage, and be enriched thereby. But if the echoes have to be further
          assembled to permit the sense of any one constituent passage to be
          appreciated, I think they fail. In Dave's view as I understand it, the Mk
          4:21 passage contains the idea of world dominion only because of Zc 4:14
          (whose point of contact in Mk is the two criminals crucified with Jesus),
          whereas the Mk 4:21 part of the comparison is simply with the golden
          lampstand of Zc 4:2. Now, Zc itself interprets the meaning of the lampstand
          in terms of the seven lamps on top of it; that is, the lampstand as such
          does not carry the meaning of the larger prophecy of Zc. It is the seven
          times seven motif that carries it. Much the same could be said of the
          lampstand in Exodus.

          Do we have a decision basis here? Maybe. I note that the image in Zc (as in
          Ex) is not a lamp, but an assembly based on a lampstand. On my current
          theory, as far as it has gone, the lamp in Mk 4:21 ought to have a meaning
          compatible with a Messianic agenda, a literal restoring of sovereignty to
          Israel by the return of God to his now repentant people. Is there an OT
          resonance, based not on a lampstand but on a lamp, that might reinforce that
          sense? Maybe:

          Ex 27:20. "And you shall command the people of Israel that they bring to you
          pure beaten olive oil for the light, that a lamp may be set up to burn
          continually." The veil of the temple (prominent in the symbolism of the
          Markan Crucifixion narrative) is mentioned in the next verse.

          1Sa 3:3. "The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down
          within the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was." Again the inner
          sanctum of the Temple.

          2Sa 21:17. "Then David's men adjured him, You shall no more go out with us
          to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel." That is, its hope of a
          Davidic rule. The whole point of the Messiah concept in Jesus's time was the
          restoration of Davidic rule. The lamp in Mk 4:21 may without great strain be
          interpreted as the ongoing hope of that restoration, whether or not we have
          our finger in 2Sa as we read.

          2Sa 22:29. The whole passage is in effect a Psalm of David, albeit
          incorporated within 2Sa. Our particular passage reads "Yea, thou art my
          lamp, O LORD, and my God lightens my darkness." Identification of God with
          the lamp, cf 1Sa 3:3, above.

          And from the Book of Psalms, explicitly so called, we have

          Ps 119:105. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."
          Much like 2Sa 22:29. But further, the whole Psalm is a celebration of the
          Law as ordained by God, and as showing the way to God. If there were a
          Messianic movement around the year 30, and if it drew definition from the
          OT, what would that movement preach, as the way to regain God's favor and
          restore sovereignty to Israel? Obedience to the Law. Given that disobedience
          to the Law is the cause of Israel's present woes [Roman occupation], what is
          to be asked of the people of Israel before they can expect sovereignty to be
          returned to them? Repentance for their previous disobedience to the Law.
          What did John, and Jesus after him, preach? Precisely that. Mk 1:14-15, "Now
          after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of
          God [sic] and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at
          hand; repent [sic] and believe in the Gospel."

          Looks admirably close to me. I find that the lamp (not lampstand) of Mk 4:21
          works simply as a familiar object invoked as a primary image, but if audited
          in the context of a Messianic movement as above suggested, that image has
          available to it much reinforcement from Davidic and other Kingship contexts
          in the OT. The more you know of the Septuagint, as it seems to me, the more
          the Markan lamp will shine for you.

          Now to Dave's other point.

          I had said, "My sense, then, is that the Lamp (4:21) and its interpretation
          (4:22-23) fit the old series perfectly, and for that reason, I am not
          prepared to assume that they are later material.

          DAVE: It connects to the rest of the material in that it deals with the
          theme of something hidden. But it does not seem to make any points about the
          coming Kingdom or needing to wait for it or continuing to follow
          teachings, so in that sense it does not connect. If the Lamp were a late
          addition it could have been added at this point in the text because of the
          rough surface level thematic agreement about something hidden.

          BRUCE: The point it *says* it makes about the coming Kingdom is that the
          Kingdom will inevitably appear, just as it is in the nature of a light that
          it should shine. It is asking too much that the lamp symbol alone should
          carry all else that Jesus wants to say about the Kingdom. But to me, it
          already carries the essence of the whole Sermon. The eventual coming of the
          Kingdom, by inevitable natural processes (seeds germinating, and then
          finally appearing out of the soil), is the running theme of the rest of the
          Parables. It is central to the whole discourse.

          It almost follows that that theme would have made an attractive point of
          attachment for Mk 4:21 if Mk 4:21 were late, so that part of Dave's
          suggestion surely stands. The prior question is whether Mk 4:21 *is*
          thematically late. If it means world dominion, than as I read the layering
          in Mark, it *is* thematically late. If it means the presence of God in
          Israel's temple, and the hope of Davidic sovereignty under God, it is not.

          So there is our choice. I ask: Is there any reason, other than those adduced
          above, to think that the OT lamp imagery, taken together, is consistent with
          the Messianic lowest (and thus earliest) layer of the Markan narrative? We
          might think of this test: If that is so, then we might expect some focus on
          the Temple inner sanctum, and its veil (see the OT quotes above) in the
          later Markan narrative. And I think we do find such a focus. I would mention
          in particular the Cleansing of the Temple to make it a fit abode for God (Mk
          14), and the tearing of the veil at the end of the Crucifixion narrative (Mk
          15:38), as a sign of the failure of that hope. These are not trivial
          details, they are hinge points of the whole Mk 14-15 story. I agree with
          Yarbro Collins (as will appear) in seeing the latter as the final words of
          the primitive Passion narrative; she does not include the former within the
          boundaries she defines for that narrative.

          So I conclude that there IS reason to relate the design of Mark's narrative
          to the symbol of the Lamp, taken as 1Sa and Ps bid us take it. This at least
          permits the reading I suggest for Mk 4:21.

          Respectfully submitted,

          Bruce

          E Bruce Brooks
          Warring States Project
          University of Massachusetts at Amherst
        • gentile_dave@emc.com
          Bruce mentions other OT passages involving a lamp, and I would concede that an earlier version of Mark might have contained a lamp and might have referred to
          Message 4 of 9 , Aug 29, 2008
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            Bruce mentions other OT passages involving a lamp, and I would concede
            that an earlier version of Mark might have contained a lamp and might
            have referred to one or more of these, but I still contend in its
            current form it is a reference to Zach.

            Bruce: Does (c) work? Tastes will differ, but to my eye, the idea of
            complex
            references (separate passages in one text together constituting an
            allusion
            to another text) is simply too complex. Each passage alone should carry
            its
            share of the text being echoed.

            Dave: "should" might be taken to imply a value judgment. Unless this is
            a universal moral "Should", we need to ask "for what purpose?" Each
            passage should carry its own weight if we desire what? If we desire an
            unaided reader to catch our meaning with relative ease, then yes the
            passage would fail.

            If instead with this version of the document we intend a teaching aid,
            accompanied by oral commentary, then it does not fail. The oral
            commentary would make the point that "See this is references is obscure,
            so the disciples missed it, but once you read it in light of this OT
            passage, the intent is clear. Jesus is the Lord of the whole world based
            on his own words even though the disciples missed this!"

            In order to accomplish this, the reference must be something that would
            plausibly have been missed by the disciples. Surely it succeeds on this
            point. It would also have to be something that was clear once pointed
            out by oral commentary. Again, it succeeds.

            In Mark 4:21-23 the lamp is almost personified. Rather that being
            brought in, the Lamp "comes". Then in Mark 10:35-40 the sons of Zebedee
            ask about places at Jesus's right and left, but are informed that they
            are reserved for the ones anointed. In Mark 15:27 we then have the
            bandits placed "one on his right and one on his left".

            This combination of passages uniquely identifies Zach, it could be
            nothing else. The only alternative is that this apparent reference to
            Zach is coincidental. This alternative can be demonstrated to be quite
            improbable. The only way to salvage the coincidence argument would be to
            show that the intentional design argument was even more implausible. And
            while it might not be one's very first guess about how the author of
            this passage intended it to be used, the idea that it was a supposed to
            be a teaching aid, accompanied by oral commentary does not strike me as
            incredibly implausible.


            Dave Gentile
            Riverside, IL
          • E Bruce Brooks
            To: Synoptic Cc: GPG In Response To: Dave Gentile On: OT and the Design of Mark From: Bruce I am glad Dave has set up his own shop in the Roadside of Ideas; I
            Message 5 of 9 , Aug 29, 2008
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              To: Synoptic
              Cc: GPG
              In Response To: Dave Gentile
              On: OT and the Design of Mark
              From: Bruce

              I am glad Dave has set up his own shop in the Roadside of Ideas; I don't
              feel comfortable representing other people's theories to a shared audience.
              As to the specific Lamp question,

              DAVE: Bruce mentions other OT passages involving a lamp, and I would concede
              that an earlier version of Mark might have contained a lamp and might have
              referred to one or more of these, but I still contend in its
              current form it is a reference to Zach.

              BRUCE: A reference to or invocation of the Zc 4:2 "lampstand" would probably
              do best if it included the word "lampstand," whereas Mk 4:21 instead has
              "lamp." Does Dave assume that the original passage had "lampstand," and was
              overwritten later? If so, what was the motive of the overwriting? If not,
              what is the scenario?

              But my major hesitation here is with the phrase "it is a reference to Zc."
              In rhetorical terms, I don't think that there can realistically be a
              reference to the whole of Zc, any more than the many echoes of this or that
              Psalm in Mk together constitute an invocation of the whole repertoire of
              Psalms.

              Still, it is always possible that Dave is seeing something which, in my
              cruder way, I am missing. I can think of one way to explore the
              possibilities without adjudicating the present point to a finish.

              It is this. Dave, like some other investigators, is assuming early and late
              states of Mark. Me too. One obvious question to ask of any such theory (and
              I recall that Ron Price has already answered it for his view of Mk) is, What
              is the earliest state of Mark like? What does it consist of? What is its
              idea of Jesus?

              If Dave can conveniently give, or compactly characterize, his version too,
              his Oldest Mark, that might advance Synoptic discourse.

              Suggested herewith.

              Bruce

              E Bruce Brooks
              Warring States Project
              University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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