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Re: [Synoptic-L] Markan Triplet (3:10 etc)

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic Cc: GPG In Response To: Dennis Dean Carpenter On: Mk 14:28 From: Bruce Dennis, you are not engaging my point. Instead, you are explaining the
    Message 1 of 25 , Nov 13, 2008
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      To: Synoptic
      Cc: GPG
      In Response To: Dennis Dean Carpenter
      On: Mk 14:28
      From: Bruce

      Dennis, you are not engaging my point. Instead, you are explaining the
      passage by reference to a holistic interpretation.

      Which is fine with me. You have previously indicated that you are satisfied
      with your holistic view of Mark, and it's not my intention to disturb
      anyone's equanimity. Those who are satisfied with Mark are perfectly
      welcome, as far as I am concerned, to go on being satisfied with Mark. These
      little notes of mine meant only for those who think that Mark may contain
      difficulties of one sort or another which have not so far been
      satisfactorily resolved by previous scholarship. Others are warmly
      encouraged to ignore them.

      I reply below pro forma, in case any Markanly dissatisfied persons on the
      list may be interested.

      Bruce

      ---------------

      I will do the rest of this as a Q and A on my immediately previous diagram
      of Mk 14:28 in context.

      Q: Not necessarily interpolated, if one looks at the attitude of the author
      toward Peter. (8:32-33, 9:5, 10:28, 14:37, 14:66-72).

      A: The interpolation is signaled simply by the fact that Peter in 14:29 does
      not respond to 14:28 (the promise of Resurrection, which one would expect
      might engage his attention) but rather to 14:27. He ignores 14:28.

      As for the position of Peter in the text of Mark, it is sometimes very
      positive (as at 8:30, where Peter is the only one to recognize Jesus as the
      Messiah) and sometimes very negative (as at 8:33, where Jesus calls him
      "Satan"). Peter in Mark runs the gamut from +10 to -10. Can't the author of
      this text, assuming the text to be a unitary production and thus to *have* a
      single author, can't that author make up his mind whether Peter is a good
      guy or a bad guy?

      Nor is Peter the only hard case for Markan consistency. Take Herod. We hear
      in Mark fulminations against the Herodians, and warnings about "the leaven
      of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod," and what this means we don't
      know, but obviously it is bad. Herod killed John, and he has his agents
      watching Jesus; and the Pharisees are conspiring with the Herodians how to
      kill Jesus. So far, we have no trouble identifying the guys in the bad hats.
      But then in addition to all this, we have an extended narrative of John in
      prison, and Herod in that narrative is portrayed this way: "for Herod feared
      John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When
      he heard him, he was much perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly." (Mk
      6:20). Reminds me (doesn't it you?) of the appearances of Paul before
      various sympathetic governors, who as the story has it, would have released
      him, or been converted by him, save for the opposition of this or that
      discontented and hostile party.

      Anyway, here is Herod, the confused but willing listener to the Gospel. Does
      Mark know which side he is on, or does he not? Is he a blithering idiot, or
      is something else going on here? I have seen enough of the world not to rule
      out the Blithering Idiot option incontinently, but perhaps the other
      possibility deserves exploration first. I have been trying to conduct just
      that sort of exploration.

      Q: Then, we have the youth sitting at the tomb, having to remind the women
      to "tell the disciples, including Prock, he is going ahead of you to
      Galilee!"

      A: I don't know about "having to." The youth, appearing miraculously, and
      being supernaturally well informed about what Jesus has previously said (in
      14:28!) to his disciples, tells the women that Jesus has risen, and then he
      goes on to add that they should let the disciples and Peter know that Jesus
      will be waiting for them in Galilee. To this second bit of rather remarkably
      good news, they respond not with joy (unless you go with the Matthean
      rewrite, which I do not recommend, but with fear and awe, at the evidence
      and the confirming report that Jesus has risen from the dead, and is no
      longer in the realm of the dead. That is, they react to the youth's words
      *up to and including 16:6.* With the 16:7 Galilee detail, as has been
      repeatedly mentioned and endlessly hashed over, they do nothing. This may be
      their stupidity, though nothing in the previous narrative makes them
      anything other than solicitous and devoted, or it may be that the 16:7
      comment about Galilee was never made to them, in the narrative in which they
      originally figured.

      Suppose we elect to try out the latter option, just as a mental exercise.
      Then there immediately vanishes, dare I suggest, the old problem of the
      women's "disobedience." The women, on that assumption, are not disobedient.
      They react perfectly appropriately to the cosmic event which they have just
      come up against.

      Q: In the Gospel of Mark, the author's opinion of Peter is negative - he is
      portrayed among other things as rather stupid and forgetful. (I think that's
      the main reason he is nicknamed "Rock," as in "thick as a brick." Is
      14:27-29 within the scope of the author's portrayal of this "sidekick?" I
      believe it is.

      A: No. See next.

      Q: While it may be an interpolation, Peter's behavior, forgetting what was
      just said, is very much characteristic of Peter, . . .

      A: Unfortunately, not all the time (see above). The portrait of Peter in
      Mark is radically inconsistent. Where he is seen as stupid, we may be
      reminded of his other stupid moments. Where is is insightful, we may be
      reminded of his general leadership among the group. In general, I think it
      is methodologically unsound to use an inconsistent whole to justify the
      inconsistent details. As to this particular detail (to repeat once again),
      the problem with Peter and 14:28 is not that he misunderstands it, it is
      that he does not react to it at all. It is not a source of confusion to him,
      it simply doesn't exist for him.

      Q: . . . and pretty much the disciples as a group.

      A: We have now changed the subject, but I am willing to admit that the
      disciples as a group also have consistency problems.

      Q: Remember, after the first story of the feeding the multitudes, the
      author portrays them as having forgotten that the protagonist has already
      magically made the bread and fish multiply.

      A: That particular passage gets us into the famous "doublet" problem with
      the Two Feedings (not to mention the Two Spit Healings, and other seeming
      duplications that cluster in this part of the text. It would be a long
      digression to take up that problem now, and I ask leave to defer it to a
      separate message. Instead, let's return to Peter.

      Q: So why is it odd that Peter doesn't "get it?" He rarely does.

      A: The point of 14:28 is not that Peter does not understand about the
      Appearance in Galilee, but that he does not even hear the sentence in which
      that Appearance is announced. The narrative fails to connect with itself.
      This is what folks mean by the word "inconcinnity."

      When the striking 14:28 (which Peter does not misunderstand, but simply
      ignores) is removed, we have a perfectly coherent and consecutive narrative,
      in which Peter *does* respond to what Jesus says, and with a rather likeable
      indignation at the prediction of his later defection. That restored
      narrative goes like this:

      RESTORATION
      And Jesus said to them, You will all fall away, for it is written, I will
      strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered. Peter said to him,
      Even though they all fall away, I will not. And Jesus said to him, Truly, I
      say to you, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me
      three times. But he said vehemently, If I must die with you, I will not deny
      you. And they all said the same.

      Isn't that simple, dramatic, effective, and narratively consistent? Wouldn't
      it be nice if all the Markan story were this straightforward and coherent?

      Well, maybe it was, at one time, before some of these interruptions and
      insertions and geographically haywire meanderings were stuck into the text.

      It is that possibility that I am pursuing with this series of notes. For
      those who may be interested. To the others, my apology for the interruption,
      and my best wishes of the season.

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • Chuck Jones
      I m not sure how this fits in, but I would like to point out that the two miracles we are discussing are numbers 2 and 3 in a set of 4 miracles that Mark
      Message 2 of 25 , Nov 13, 2008
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        I'm not sure how this fits in, but I would like to point out that the two miracles we are discussing are numbers 2 and 3 in a set of 4 miracles that Mark has placed within a single day.
         
        In Mk, chs 4 and 5 create "A Day in the Life of Jesus," starting with an entire day of teaching.  Jesus wants to get away and rest, but is interrupted 4 times.  First, he stops a sea storm, second, he is confronted with a legion of demons, third a multi-decade chronic illness, and, fourth, death itself.
         
        This is a series of power encounters against the great fears and uncontrollables of the pre-modern world in which Jesus prevails in every case.  (The construct of a single day ends with the begining of ch. 6.  Jesus never did get to rest.)
         
        Rev. Chuck Jones
        Atlanta, Georgia

        --- On Wed, 11/12/08, Dennis Dean Carpenter <ddcanne@...> wrote:

        From: Dennis Dean Carpenter <ddcanne@...>
        Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] Markan Triplet (3:10 etc)
        To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com
        Date: Wednesday, November 12, 2008, 5:31 PM






        Bruce, I think we are not going anywhere with this. I was preparing a reply to your other post and saw the one that began, "In response to Jeffery Hodges, Dennis had said, in part..." You seemed to be trying to look at individual parts to determine some kind of early versus late construction of parts of Mark. In lieu of an autograph, I'd need more. I'm looking at the gospel as a whole, thematically. I'm looking to see if those pieces fit. They do. The onus on you is to show how they don't fit within the basic book, within the themes found in the book. To consider them as interpolations because they don't seem logical to you doesn't mean they are interpolated.

        Let's use this interpolation logic in the Markan story of the fig tree. He curses it, then he leaves to have a temple incident, then he comes back and it has withered. A logic of interpolation would have the temple incident as an interpolation. Of course, I don't know of anyone who believes that. We look at it symbolically.

        We have a ruler of a synagogue with a dying 12 year old daughter. On his way to heal her, he is touched by a woman with a 12 year discharge. She is healed. The daughter has died. Jesus touches her and she is now alive. He tells them to feed her. We have the number twelve, we have touching of the unclean, we have healing in both stories. More importantly, we have a synagogue ruler who wasn't concerned about ritual purity. We have a Jewish believer who is a "ruler." That is indeed not that common. Maybe this part was interpolated. How often are the priests and scholars dealt with favorably in Mark? No, it seems to me that this whole section, as a block, was an example of the enlightenment of the believers (Jairus and the woman).

        Actually, there is another way to present your case, if you look at the Greek in the block. There seems to be an important difference, though I'm just beginning my Greek "voyage."

        Dennis Dean Carpenter
        Dahlonega, Ga.



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


















        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Dennis Dean Carpenter
        Yeah, and in the section just before four, he can not even get a bite to eat. Interpolation or another one of those darned interruptions! Dennis Dean
        Message 3 of 25 , Nov 13, 2008
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          Yeah, and in the section just before four, he can not even get a bite to eat. Interpolation or another one of those darned interruptions!
          Dennis Dean Carpenter


          ----- Original Message -----
          From: Chuck Jones
          To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2008 2:37 PM
          Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] Markan Triplet (3:10 etc)


          I'm not sure how this fits in, but I would like to point out that the two miracles we are discussing are numbers 2 and 3 in a set of 4 miracles that Mark has placed within a single day.

          In Mk, chs 4 and 5 create "A Day in the Life of Jesus," starting with an entire day of teaching. Jesus wants to get away and rest, but is interrupted 4 times. First, he stops a sea storm, second, he is confronted with a legion of demons, third a multi-decade chronic illness, and, fourth, death itself.

          This is a series of power encounters against the great fears and uncontrollables of the pre-modern world in which Jesus prevails in every case. (The construct of a single day ends with the begining of ch. 6. Jesus never did get to rest.)

          Rev. Chuck Jones
          Atlanta, Georgia


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        • E Bruce Brooks
          To: Synoptic Cc: GPG; WSW Not Quite In Response To: Chuck Jones From: Bruce I am not going to interlineate this one (for which nevertheless thanks); I am going
          Message 4 of 25 , Nov 13, 2008
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            To: Synoptic
            Cc: GPG; WSW
            Not Quite In Response To: Chuck Jones
            From: Bruce

            I am not going to interlineate this one (for which nevertheless thanks); I
            am going to repeat it and then reflect on it. Here is what Chuck said:

            "I'm not sure how this fits in, but I would like to point out that the two
            miracles we are discussing are numbers 2 and 3 in a set of 4 miracles that
            Mark has placed within a single day. / In Mk, chs 4 and 5 create "A Day in
            the Life of Jesus," starting with an entire day of teaching. Jesus wants to
            get away and rest, but is interrupted 4 times. First, he stops a sea storm,
            second, he is confronted with a legion of demons, third a multi-decade
            chronic illness, and, fourth, death itself. / This is a series of power
            encounters against the great fears and uncontrollables of the pre-modern
            world in which Jesus prevails in every case. (The construct of a single day
            ends with the beginning of ch. 6. Jesus never did get to rest)."

            MEDITATION I

            There is a classical Chinese book called Jwangdz; fans of Thomas Merton and
            perhaps some others will have heard of it. It is very funny, very
            antigovernmental, very agreeable in parts to certain aspects of our modern
            sensibility. The prevailing view is that the lower-numbered chapters are
            earlier, and the higher-numbered ones later, maybe even Han Dynasty (the
            Empire; the postclassical period). So what parts of it do the Han literary
            folks like, and thus regard as unquestionably authentic? The lower-numbered
            chapters? Not in a million years. Rather: the higher-numbered chapters. The
            ones closest to them in time, and thus the ones closest to their own
            philosophical sensibilities. The ones that speak most directly to their
            concerns and condition.

            It is very natural, once you think of it. The most recent thing, the most
            evolved, is what most appeals to posterity, whether proximal or remote. I
            don't quite want to make it a rule, but it is at least a regularity, one
            that we should not be surprised to meet again.

            I seem to meet it again in Chuck's appreciation of the miracles in Mk 4-5,
            and his disinterest in the Sermon By The Sea parables. And why? My a priori
            suspicion (coming out of a good deal of watching texts and readers at work
            together, in different parts of the world) would be: Maybe because the
            miracles are later than the parables. That is Suspicion 1, not yet a proof,
            but perhaps actionable as a suspicion. Let us entertain it, and see what
            happens. We can always go back and push the UNDO button and return to the
            status quo ante, if we find it gets us nowhere.

            MEDITATION II

            Suspicion 2 is that in the Four Gospels taken together, we can see a process
            of progressive divinization of Jesus, through the miraculous birth of
            Matthew and Luke to the cosmic identity of John. There is thus a perfectly
            visible and verifiable tendency, over time, for the Jesus community to
            promote Jesus into the top position. Suspicion 2a is that this process may
            apply, not just *between* the Four Gospels, but *within* the Earliest
            Gospel, namely Mark. The accretional theory of Mark, on which I seem to have
            a copyright as well as sole possession, is also a theory that Mark, the
            text, was progressively upgraded so as to keep pace with developing ideas in
            the community to which that text was somehow responsive. (Just like
            Microsoft automatically upgraded my antivirus software last night, while I
            wasn't looking, to keep pace with the bad people who think up the viruses.
            Our modern version of Controversy Stories).

            I look at those miracles in Mk 4-5, and I see a conspicuous mixture. There
            are rather humble healings (with mutterings in Aramaic, and a personal
            touch, and advice to the parents to see that the patient gets something to
            eat). There are also grand exorcisms, where Jesus is not besought, but
            actually worshipped (Mk 5:6) by the sufferer, and where the possession is
            not by one demon, no, that would be piddling, but by Two Thousand Demons,
            who after a fully reported contest of wills are sent into an equal number of
            pigs, and are ironically drowned in the sea. Here Jesus is not picking the
            wax out of some hard of hearing person's ear, he is mastering supernatural
            beings with his own superior supernatural power. And that is not enough to
            wow the audience? Very good, we can improve on it. Over here is Jesus
            speaking words of rebuke, not to demons, but to Nature Itself, and Nature
            Itself meekly obeying, so that the dazzled disciples ask, What sort of a guy
            IS this, anyways?

            I trust that the steady ratcheting up of the power level will be obvious. If
            Jesus can command Nature, what is he doing in the same chapter bringing
            little girls out of comas, when a command to Nature will so much more
            dazzlingly make his point? Let him call down fire and rain, or if they are
            already there, let him bid them cease. Never mind this aches and pains
            stuff. Answer, he would NOT be doing so, any more than the Dean of the
            Medical School still takes Saturdays off from his job to prescribe aspirins
            for the neighborhood children. No, the human probability is that we are here
            confronted with several additive (but haphazardly placed) layers of
            successively more grandiose persona construction.

            MEDITATION III

            People seem not to get the hang of the idea of using textual signs of
            interpolation as a guide to layering in a text. 100 years ago, it would have
            been second nature for anyone humanistically educated, but apparently it is
            no longer 100 years ago. Tsk. Julius Wellhausen, thou shouldst be living at
            this hour. We therefore have no empirical, fine-grained evidence to support
            our previous suspicions, or at least no empirical, fine-grained evidence
            that is evident to all parties. There, as it might be, is the end of our
            imaginings.

            But wait: sooner or later it is going to occur to somebody with an hour and
            a half and a pencil on their hands (say, in the airport, in these ever more
            difficult days) to ask, What if we separate out on paper all the Really
            Cosmic Miracles, and on another sheet the Masterful Exorcisms, and on still
            another the Country Doc Healings? Would each of those three bodies of
            material, thus arbitrarily defined, have ANY OTHER DISTINCTIVE FEATURES? CAN
            THEY BE CODEFINED?

            They would. They can. But I am not saying how. Not until Monday the 24th, at
            7 AM in the Sheridan Conference Room. See you there, and bring your sheets
            of airport paper with you. AND your pencil.

            MEDITATION IV

            Meanwhile, as a final note of sympathy for the working man: If we take out
            the aggrandizing additions to these two chapters, does Jesus have a more
            nearly normal day? The very question assumes that Mark meant to represent it
            as a day, and I think this may be doubted. Look at the end of the Sermon By
            The Sea, 4:33 "With many such parables he spoke the Word to them, as they
            were able to hear it." I think this suggests that the foregoing parables are
            after all not a transcript of a single sermon, but a sample of Jesus's
            preaching, conveniently collected into one place. As though to say, "Here is
            the kind of thing Jesus used to say tpo the crowds when he was speaking to
            them." Mark likes to group things: teaching parables, conflict stories, and
            the like. It is this characteristic, I suspect, which gets people like
            Papias down on him for having no real time sequence, over much of his
            Gospel, just a sort of arrangement of material classified by type.
            Convenient, and usable, but without narrative force.

            Papias, as I understand from Eusebius, was one of history's all-time
            weirdos, but not even weirdos are wrong all the time. Some of them have a
            rather developed, even an acute, literary sense. Their hints are thus
            sometimes worth taking, just like everybody else's.

            Bruce

            E Bruce Brooks
            Warring States Project
            University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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