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Re: [Synoptic-L] Sequencing Early Christologies

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic Cc: GPG, WSW In Response To: Karel On: The Twelve From: Bruce In responding to Jeffrey Gibson s inquiry (about how you distinguish interpolations
    Message 1 of 9 , Oct 25, 2008
      To: Synoptic
      Cc: GPG, WSW
      In Response To: Karel
      On: The Twelve
      From: Bruce

      In responding to Jeffrey Gibson's inquiry (about how you distinguish
      interpolations when the style is consistent, to which I earlier gave a
      different reply), Karel said in part:

      KAREL: I myself believe the introduction of "the twelve" into the text and
      with it the figure of Iscariot, "one of the twelve", is redactional.
      However, it remains difficult to prove.

      BRUCE: Maybe not so difficult to prove. Meyer proposed a "Twelve Source" for
      Mark. I cannot find that the Twelve passages together form any sort of
      coherent independent text. They consist of three longer passages and a few
      tipped-in phrases. I find instead a *Twelve Layer* in Mark.


      As those who can call the text up in memory will not need to be informed,
      gMk recounts individually the calling of exactly *five* disciples: Peter,
      Andrew, James and John the sons of Zebedee, and Levi. Every disciple who
      figures by name, anywhere else in that Gospel, utterly without exception
      (unless you count Judas, and I agree with Karel that Judas is better left
      out of the reckoning for now) is one of those Five. Here, I would suggest,
      is the early tradition of the disciple circle of Jesus. They accompany him.
      They or a subset of them are present at his healings. Rabbinic tradition
      also (as summarized by Klausner) also speaks of five disciples, not twelve.
      That seems to be a pretty stable situation. It has a few rough edges, but
      the general congruence of numbers is not unencouraging.


      In addition to this Five tradition, we have the snippets aforementioned,
      which are superfluous ("he called his disciples, with the Twelve" - exactly
      why are not the Twelve included in the Disciples?), plus three longer
      passages, where the Twelve are chosen, where they are sent out, and where
      they return. All this is phony on its face. The Twelve have no other
      preaching function (and no nonpreaching function) anywhere else in the
      Gospel, apart from these highly confined places, it is always and only Jesus
      who preaches. One can readily imagine that the Twelve are there to
      regularize the conduct of twelve who emerged as leading figures after
      Jesus's death, but their superfluity *during the story of his life* is


      That's in general. Is there anything more specific? Yes, the latter is an
      especially clear interpolation. Remember how the women in 16:8 behave as
      though the assurance in 16:7 had never been given? Remember how Peter in
      14:29 responds to 14:27, as though 14:28 with its identical reassurance were
      not there in between? I think the likely supposition in both cases is that
      those passages were NOT originally present, and that when they were added,
      they created the inconcinnities just mentioned. That is why 14:28 and 16:7
      are plausibly judged to be interpolations.

      OK. Now we turn to the Sending of the Twelve, and this is what we find:

      6:6b. And he went about among the villages teaching.

      6:7-13. Sending of the Twelve. "So they went out and preached that men
      should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many
      that were sick and healed them.

      6:14. King Herod heard of it; for Jesus's name had become known. Some said,
      John the Baptizer has been raised from the dead, that is why these powers
      are at work in him. . . ."

      Now, question on the weekly quiz: To which of these preachings is Herod
      responding? To the contiguous Twelve preaching? Not in a million years. It
      is to the noncontiguous Jesus preaching, as the text clearly states: "for
      Jesus' name had become known." He completely ignores the seemingly much more
      threatening whole army of preachers, out there exorcising demons over the
      countryside. As though they were not there. It is my conclusion that in fact
      they WERE NOT there when this passage was originally written. Mentally
      eliminate 6:7-13 and read from 6:6b straight on to 6:14, and you will see
      what I mean. The road has been fixed; there is no more bump of inconcinnity.

      That fact, that the text of Mk 6 reads more consecutively without the
      Sending of the Twelve passage, is independent of the fact that the Twelve
      are *substantively* anomalous in gMk generally. The two facts together
      support each other, and constitute a very strong case for judging the Twelve
      here to be an interpolation.

      How about the Calling of the Twelve? The case there is not quite as
      clearcut, but it is certainly possible. I will give the passage as it would
      be without the Calling present, and ask if anyone would really see a problem
      with the text that way:

      7:11. And whenever the unclean spirits beheld him, they fell down before him
      and cried out, You are the Son of God. Then he went home, and the crowd came
      together again, so that they could not even eat. And when his friends heard
      it, they went out to seize him, for they said, he is beside himself . . .

      See? Jesus attracts a crowd by his healing in one place, and goes home
      afterward, but the crowd assembles again and gives him no peace. His friends
      start to worry about him, his family come to plead with him, and you know
      the rest. It is completely consecutive.

      So the tiny "and the Twelve" phrases are mere flyspeck annoyances, and the
      two major Twelve passages are something that the consecutivity of the text
      would be much better off without. How much clearer a case do we need? I
      think that the secondarity of the Twelve mentions in Mark is very strongly
      evidenced, at all points.


      So much for the Twelve. I further agree with Karel that Judas is a later
      insertion within the Twelve; this one is a little more complicated to
      demonstrate, and I defer that demonstration for now. But the Twelve proper,
      technically speaking, is a pushover.


      What does this tell us about Mark? That it is a historical account of Jesus?
      That is certainly what it purports to be. But here as in the other places so
      far mentioned, we can see that it is also functioning as an authentication
      document. Practices mentioned in gMk are OK for the Markan community to
      follow. Leaders certified by mention in gMk are OK to accept as guides.
      Doctrines that gMk embraces, even if a little late in the day, are cleared
      for general belief. The theory of Jesus that gMk conveys, albeit that the
      gMk theory keeps mutating in line with rapidly evolving post-Crucifixion
      attempts to make sense of it all, are OK theories, each in its turn. If the
      community, having first been in the Glorification camp, shift instead (under
      what influences, we need not here inquire) to the Resurrection persuasion,
      gMk is right on the button and shifts with them. It both leads and follows
      the evolution of thinking in at least one segment of the early Christian


      Where that segment was located, I would be happy to know. Who exactly the
      author or series of authors was, ditto. What dates subtend the beginning and
      ending of this evidently protracted text formation process, ditto. But I can
      wait on those. Indeed, I have little choice, since I am not yet quite where
      I would like to be, before I take up the evidence in any new light which the
      stratification of the text - a new factor in NT calculations as far as I
      know - may throw on the aetiology of the text.

      Iscariot next time. Meanwhile, I am happy to support Karel's suggestion on
      intrusive nature of the Twelve, even if I have had to end by differing with
      him as to its supposed undemonstrability.


      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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