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Re: [Synoptic-L] Mk 16:7

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  • Chuck Jones
    Bruce wrote:   ... I think that the most reasonable inference, surprising as it may at first seem to those accustomed to the Pauline view, is that the Pauline
    Message 1 of 10 , Oct 14, 2008
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      Bruce wrote:
       
      ..."I think that the most reasonable inference, surprising as it may at first seem to those
      accustomed to the Pauline view, is that the Pauline view is a later growth in Christianity, and that the non-Resurrection belief is the earlier form."
      ___________________________
       
      Bruce,
       
      I'd like to make some side-bar observations on the above.  I think you're onto something important.  I would modify it a bit, making a distinction between belief in resurrection vs. belief in post-death appearances.
       
      I believe that reports of Jesus *appearing* to a few disciples after his death go all the way back; i.e., I believe that it is historical that some of the disciples had visions in which they saw Jesus after his death.  These appearances occured in Galilee at an undetermined time.
       
      I believe that for some within Xnty, "appeared" developed fairly quickly into "was exalted" (to god's right hand after his death), which morphed into "was raised" ("didn't stay dead"), and then full-blown resurrection ("conquered death and ushered in death-proof-ness for his followers").
       
      Only then, I think, came the legends of appearances at an empty tomb in Jerusalem on Sunday morning.  What began as "Jesus appeared" was now "the bodily resurrection of Christ on the third day."
       
      If something like this trajectory is historical, then Mk is closer to history than the other canonical gospels.  Even though he has an empty tomb and uses the word "raised," Mk does not have Jesus appear that morning.  Instead, the young man at the tomb sends word to the apostles to go to Galilee because "there you will see him" (i.e., he will appear).
       
      Mk 16:7 is in fact incompatible with the legends of Jerusalem appearances added by Mt, Lk and Jn, and these legends are mostly incompatible with each other, suggesting late, geographically dispersed development.
       
      Finally, I believe it is quite possible that Mk invented the scene at the empty tomb as a narrative device ("...some characters are composites and some scenes are fictionalized for dramatic affect...").
       
      Rev. Chuck Jones
      Atlanta, Georgia
       
       




      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • E Bruce Brooks
      To: Synoptic Cc: SJS, WSW; Bark Ehrman In Response To: Chuck Jones On: Theories of Jesus in the Early Church From: Bruce I had suggested, . . . I think that
      Message 2 of 10 , Oct 14, 2008
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        To: Synoptic
        Cc: SJS, WSW; Bark Ehrman
        In Response To: Chuck Jones
        On: Theories of Jesus in the Early Church
        From: Bruce

        I had suggested, ". . . I think that the most reasonable inference,
        surprising as it may at first seem to those
        accustomed to the Pauline view, is that the Pauline view is a later growth
        in Christianity, and that the non-Resurrection belief is the earlier form."

        CHUCK: I'd like to make some side-bar observations on the above. I think
        you're onto something important. I would modify it a bit, making a
        distinction between belief in resurrection vs. belief in post-death
        appearances.

        I believe that reports of Jesus *appearing* to a few disciples after his
        death go all the way back; i.e., I believe that it is historical that some
        of the disciples had visions in which they saw Jesus after his death. These
        appearances occured in Galilee at an undetermined time.

        BRUCE: All appearance stories known to me feature Peter as the leading
        figure in the Appearance scene, and yes, the ones that seem early, or to go
        back to early roots, are always in Galilee. The time, as far as I can see,
        is indeed undetermined, which I take to mean that these stories don't
        necessarily go "all the way back" in the sense that they occur within
        post-Crucifixion Christianity, and were not envisioned within the lifetime
        of the historical Jesus. (See further at end).

        CHUCK: I believe that for some within Xnty, "appeared" developed fairly
        quickly into "was exalted" (to god's right hand after his death), which
        morphed into "was raised" ("didn't stay dead"), and then full-blown
        resurrection ("conquered death and ushered in death-proof-ness for his
        followers").

        Only then, I think, came the legends of appearances at an empty tomb in
        Jerusalem on Sunday morning. What began as "Jesus appeared" was now "the
        bodily resurrection of Christ on the third day."

        BRUCE: That's a plausible possibility, and I have nothing to say against it.
        There may be variants which on our present knowledge are equally plausible.
        One way of assembling the possibilities, before deciding among them, it
        seems to me, is to study more closely the non-Resurrection traditions, which
        are admittedly both scrappy and controversial. But assuming the evidence can
        somehow be assembled, how great a variety of detail do those texts display?
        What features are always associated with others? I haven't carried this out
        to any great extent myself. Has anyone? If so, a reference would be
        appreciated.

        CHUCK: If something like this trajectory is historical, then Mk is closer to
        history than the other canonical gospels. Even though he has an empty tomb
        and uses the word "raised," Mk does not have Jesus appear that morning.
        Instead, the young man at the tomb sends word to the apostles to go to
        Galilee because "there you will see him" (i.e., he will appear).

        BRUCE: [We are here at the parting of the ways, New Testamentically
        speaking. Those who are prepared to see Christianity as evolving, with the
        final evolution product being the Christianity of recent times, will tend to
        agree that Mk is the first of the Gospels, and therefore most likely closer
        to history than the later ones. That view, for example, can accommodate the
        statement that Paul was a major shaper of the form that Christianity
        eventually took (I have heard this acknowledged, comfortably, from more than
        one pulpit). Those who prefer to see Christianity as always the same, from
        the time of Jesus until now, probably won't be prepared to take that option.
        The present discussion is for those who do take that option].

        CHUCK: Mk 16:7 is in fact incompatible with the legends of Jerusalem
        appearances added by Mt, Lk and Jn, and these legends are mostly
        incompatible with each other, suggesting late, geographically dispersed
        development.

        BRUCE: I would largely agree, though I think the time factor is the more
        important one, and that evolution of doctrine over time is the chief thing
        that this sequence of the Gospels (Mk > Mt > Lk > Jn) exhibits. But those
        are points of evidence, and we can let them float. What is important to me,
        because it is what we can see from the texts themselves and thus is
        philologically grounded, is the time sequence. The lines of development
        within the four are what I call Trajectories; I find them, as an argument
        about the large situation, and saving special cases to be dealt with
        specially, irrefutable.

        In addition to that area of present agreement, I think it is possible to
        detect the growth of the tradition, in at least one detail, and it shows
        that the different strata of Mk themselves are witnesses to both doctrinal
        and presentational evolution. I have mentioned it before, but briefly the
        argument for Mk 16:7 notes that it explicitly refers back to Mk 14:28, the
        Appearance Promise of Jesus. Now, it is conspicuous that both of these
        passages (as various commentators have pointed out, though they seem not to
        have drawn the indicated conclusion) are insecure in context. They are
        ignored by the persons in the respective passages. If these two verses are
        removed, the respective passages knit together and flow smoothly. The women
        in Mk 16 become more psychologically intelligible, and the way Peter in Mk
        14 ignores Jesus's assurance in 14:28 and responds instead to the challenge
        of 14:27 gets rationalized if 14:28 was in fact not present in the text when
        it was first written. Peter is a coherent and intelligible figure *in that
        shorter version of the passage."

        This is the classic way in which an interpolation manifests itself, in any
        text in any language, and we may conclude that these two verses were then
        added later to Mk 14-16. Why? Not to foretell the appearance of the Risen
        Jesus, since the story up to that point in Mk 16 (as Matthew for one has
        clearly seen, in improvising the indicated conclusion) does seem to be
        leading to it. Rather, in the fact of Jesus having *previously predicted*
        that appearance. This, like all the other predictions in Mark (the Denial of
        Peter is predicted in precisely the context around Mk 14:28), is meant to
        show, not what happened, and not even that it was somehow cosmically
        foreseen (as the OT echoes here and there in Mark are probably meant to
        suggest), but that Jesus himself was aware of it all in advance. This
        increases the stature of Jesus as a prophet. It also adds to the
        authenticity of the Appearance to Peter, which might otherwise be felt as an
        irrelevant addendum to previous tradition. It avoids the possible objection
        that Christianity, in the sense of the Risen Jesus, was an invention of
        Peter. I would interpret thus: a new element in Christianity which in fact
        may have gone back to a post-Crucifixion vision of Peter has here been more
        firmly incorporated in Christianity by being brought within the
        foreknowledge of Jesus.

        [The "possible objection" strikes me as a live possibility. Accepting the
        John version for the moment, can't you just see the neighbors, Peter's
        fellow converts, when Peter comes in excitedly, saying "I have seen Jesus,
        and he gave me a piece of fish," answering, "You're a piece of fish
        yourself, you nitwit. Jesus never led us to expect anything like that."
        Well, the Gospel of Mark, in 14:28 and 16:7, can be seen precisely as
        answering that objection]

        CHUCK: Finally, I believe it is quite possible that Mk invented the scene at
        the empty tomb as a narrative device ("...some characters are composites and
        some scenes are fictionalized for dramatic affect...").

        BRUCE: Again agreed. Another very dramatically effective Markan scene is the
        Denial of Peter; it was written by someone with a sharp pictorial sense, and
        if a modern movie director were handed Mark as a script, he would take one
        look at that scene and say, Fire the writers; I can shoot this right off the
        page.

        But notice what we have here, at least for those who have had a peek at my
        Critique notes on the AYC Passion Narrative (see at
        http://www.umass.edu/wsp/biblica/quest/index.html ). She and I, with support
        from the previous century, agree that the Denial of Peter is an element
        later added to a more primitive Passion Narrative. If so, it was probably
        added at the same time as the prediction of it in Mk 14:27, again to excuse
        the defection of Peter by making it foreknown and this inevitable, and if
        inevitable, then surely allowable. The prediction puts a better light on
        Peter's known flight from Jerusalem, and the story shows him as having the
        courage to go as far as he could in following Jesus after Jesus's arrest,
        thus mending his reputation insofar as it could be done without
        transgressing the prediction itself. We would then have these three layers
        (listed with the earliest on the bottom, like an archeological
        stratification:

        3. Prediction (Mk 14:28, interpolated in #2; also Mk 16:7) of Jesus's
        Appearance
        2. Prediction (Mk 14:27, 29-31) and dramatization of Peter's Denial
        1. Basic Passion Narrative, with no entombment story at all (Mk 15:38)

        This strikes me as textual evidence; indications *in the text* of how the
        text got to be the way it presently is. I feel that it gives a solid
        evidential reason for preferring one possible scenario for early
        Christianity over another.

        In that indicated textual evolution, I submit, we can see not only an
        increase in cinematographic skill, among the successive contributors to Mk
        (for all I care, they may have been the same person at different times), but
        also and more consequentially the growth of doctrine. The growth of doctrine
        lies in the fact that the Basic Passion Narrative made no mention of the
        later Appearance of the Risen Jesus. That was not part of Christianity as
        Mark was meant to convey the substance of Christianity. It was a detail that
        was added at a later stage in the formation of Mark as a text.

        Meaning that the opponents of Paul in Corinth and other places already knew
        this earliest form of Christian belief, and had not been affected by the
        later, Resurrection development. Paul on this account is not merely the
        missionary of Christianity to the heathen; he is the envoy of Later
        Christianity to enclaves still harboring Earlier Christianity. And a lively
        enough time he had of it.

        I don't think that exactly this has been suggested before, but I venture to
        suggest it. I think it may lead to a useful clarification of Paul. But then,
        anything we can clarify about the earliest Christianity is probably going to
        clarify Paul in turn. The present clarification, it seems to me, gives Paul
        a more specific role, in a situation slightly more complicated, than the
        average reader of Corinthians may be aware.

        Notice, in conclusion, that Paul is explicitly not concerned "to know Christ
        after the flesh," meaning that what Jesus did or did not do during his
        lifetime was irrelevant to (perhaps even inconsistent with) the content of
        his own belief. Paul's own belief was based exclusively on what happened
        after Jesus's death. On his own testimony, and the weight he attaches to the
        testimony of the many witnesses to Jesus's appearances (his list is longer
        than anything in the Gospels), the Appearances were everything to him. His
        own commission as an Apostle, after all, the Last and Littlest Apostle, was
        by the same channel: a direct manifestation of Jesus to him personally. It
        put him on a par with Peter, or what of Peter he cared to acknowledge.

        Always excepting Eusebius, the serious study of early heresy goes back to
        Bousset, and continues under Ehrman. I think Ehrman's basic point is well
        taken. Some heresies really were divergences from original doctrine. In this
        class I would put the Gnostic group, not that I dislike the Gnostics,
        necessarily, but that such ideas don't seem to turn up until late in the
        Gospel sequence. But other heresies, such as what I have called Ascension
        Christianity, seem to have antedated the eventually victorious Resurrection
        Christianity, and were victims of its success. The early views were squashed
        out by the later ones. (For Chinese-aware persons, there is a neat parallel
        in the way Analects 9:1 argues, on behalf of LI Confucianism but against the
        textual facts, that Confucius himself had never advocated the earlier RVN
        Confucianism; see my article in Van Norden (ed) Confucius and the Analects:
        New Essays, Oxford 2002). To borrow a title from Ehrman, they are among the
        Lost Christianities; Christianities That Might Have Been, and even that
        *were* for a while, in places as far flung as Corinth and Philippi, until
        overtaken by the somehow more persuasive Resurrection version, with no less
        than the indefatigable Paul to beat its drum.

        Bruce

        E Bruce Brooks
        Warring States Project
        University of Massachusetts at Amherst
      • Chuck Jones
        Bruce,   Excellent thoughts, well communicated.  I comment on one brief passage.   Bruce wrote:  ...the fact of Jesus having *previously predicted* that
        Message 3 of 10 , Oct 15, 2008
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          Bruce,
           
          Excellent thoughts, well communicated.  I comment on one brief passage.
           
          Bruce wrote:  "...the fact of Jesus having *previously predicted*
          that appearance...., like all the other predictions in Mark (the Denial of
          Peter is predicted in precisely the context around Mk 14:28), is meant to
          show, not what happened, and not even that it was somehow cosmically
          foreseen (as the OT echoes here and there in Mark are probably meant to
          suggest), but that Jesus himself was aware of it all in advance. This
          increases the stature of Jesus as a prophet. It also adds to the
          authenticity of the Appearance to Peter, which might otherwise be felt as an
          irrelevant addendum to previous tradition. It avoids the possible objection
          that Christianity, in the sense of the Risen Jesus, was an invention of
          Peter. I would interpret thus: a new element in Christianity which in fact
          may have gone back to a post-Crucifixion vision of Peter has here been more
          firmly incorporated in Christianity by being brought within the
          foreknowledge of Jesus."
           
          I agree with this analysis of the purpose of the prediction passages in Mk.
           
          I believe that Peter and others experienced unexpected visions of Jesus post-death.  I believe these experiences caused them to conclude Jesus was the Messiah after all.  They then went tanakh spelunking to authenticate the view.  And they also created scenes like the ones you describe because it would be pretty implausible for the Messiah to be surprised by his own (long-predicted) resurrection to glory!

          Rev. Chuck Jones
          Atlanta, Georgia




          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • E Bruce Brooks
          To: Synoptic Cc: GPG, WSW In Response To: Chuck Jones On: Peter and Resurrection Theory From: Bruce Chuck had begun, and I hope I may be forgiven for repeating
          Message 4 of 10 , Oct 15, 2008
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            To: Synoptic
            Cc: GPG, WSW
            In Response To: Chuck Jones
            On: Peter and Resurrection Theory
            From: Bruce

            Chuck had begun, and I hope I may be forgiven for repeating it to our other
            list:

            CHUCK: Excellent thoughts, well communicated. I comment on one brief
            passage.

            BRUCE: The passage in question was my suggestion that the Predictions of
            Jesus in Mk are meant to "increase his stature as a prophet," as well as to
            "add to the authenticity of the Appearance to Peter."

            And I concluded: ". . . I would interpret thus: a new element in
            Christianity which in fact may have gone back to a post-Crucifixion vision
            of Peter has here been more firmly incorporated in Christianity by being
            brought within the foreknowledge of Jesus."

            CHUCK: I agree with this analysis of the purpose of the prediction passages
            in Mk.

            I believe that Peter and others experienced unexpected visions of Jesus
            post-death. I believe these experiences caused them to conclude Jesus was
            the Messiah after all. They then went tanakh spelunking to authenticate the
            view. And they also created scenes like the ones you describe because it
            would be pretty implausible for the Messiah to be surprised by his own
            (long-predicted) resurrection to glory!

            BRUCE: This seems a convincing account of the scenario I have mentioned:
            prevention of embarrassment. And I think the is also a larger dimension.
            Those who know the Dzwo Jwan (a world-famous Chinese text, but perhaps not
            equally famous in all worlds) will see there the same mix of narratively
            fulfilled and prospectively unfulfilled predictions. The fulfilled ones are
            to establish the higher knowledge of the text, and lend weight to what turn
            out to be its unfilled ones (predictions about the future course of the
            Unification wars, then vigorously in progress). They validate it as a
            political oracle. So the first function of the Markan and other predictions
            may well be to incorporate post-Crucifixion experiences into the
            pre-Crucifixion narrative. But the second function is to validate Jesus
            himself as a predictor; in this case, a predictor of his own second coming.
            As many of the canonical texts show us, the continually retreating "horizon
            of fulfilment" of this prediction, which was the one they really cared
            about, greatly disheartened the early Christians. So the reinforcement of
            faith in Jesus as a predictor would have been a welcome second effect of
            these other narrative closures.

            The same problem of delayed vindication continually bedevils the Psalms, and
            it was evidently to the Psalms that the early Christians turned, among other
            places, for justification of the timetable they were actually experiencing.

            EXCURSUS ON PETER

            To me, the role of Peter before and after the Crucifixion is still one of
            the riddles of the record as we have it (including the Petrine apocrypha). I
            hope it will get a little clearer as the reconstruction of Markan
            stratigraphy proceeds. The problem at present seems to be that some layers
            of Mark are pro-Petrine, and others anti-Petrine. But next week is another
            week, and perhaps we shall see, in a little more detail than at right this
            minute.

            Bruce

            E Bruce Brooks
            Warring States Project
            University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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