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Mark 13

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic Cc: GPG On: Mk 13 From: Bruce It puzzles me that people accept Mk 13 as an integral part of Mark, as readily as they seem to do. To me, it sticks
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 16, 2008
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      To: Synoptic
      Cc: GPG
      On: Mk 13
      From: Bruce

      It puzzles me that people accept Mk 13 as an integral part of Mark, as
      readily as they seem to do. To me, it sticks out in all directions as
      extraneous and intrusive. Here are some of the ways.

      1. It is very long. Most Jesus utterances in Mk are brief, even cryptic.
      This one is protracted; the speech of Jesus takes up the whole chapter.

      2. It is open. Other Jesus predictions in Mk are puzzling, to the disciples
      and to the reader. This one goes into great detail, albeit without complete
      certainty: ifs and maybes and hopefullys.

      3. The questioner is Andrew, who otherwise does not figure in Mk after his
      initial selection (save on this or that list). Of the original Five, whose
      calling is individually mentioned in Mk, Andrew and Levi play no subsequent
      role. Levi probably died early, perhaps one of the first victims of Paul's
      negative zeal; I suspect that it is Levi's replacement by Matthew that is
      garbled and adapted for Acts 1:25f. Then perhaps only Andrew was left alive,
      as of the date of Mk 13, who might be brought in for variety, consistent
      with current realism, by whoever wrote Mk 13.

      4. The event portrayed is a disaster so awful that even God has difficulty
      controlling it; he arranges for it to be shortened, or it would wipe out all
      of humanity, the just along with the unjust. This is in strong contrast with
      the Coming of the Kingdom implied in earlier chapters of Mark, which might
      well be greeted with consternation by the bad people, but as far as we are
      told, was to be sought and welcomed by the good people.

      5. In particular, the preparation of the good people for the Kingdom in the
      majority of Mark is precisely to be good; to repent, to be forgiven, and
      then to be good thereafter. The basis is moral, and the choice to be moral
      is that of the individual in question. Being good thereafter presumably
      involved constant readiness to be judged, but not physical preparation for
      calamity (keeping a boat on the roof and a sandwich in your pocket). The
      catastrophe envisioned in Mk 13 is so severe that even the goodest of
      pregnant women is liable to lose her unborn child, or her nurseling, in the
      midst of it, if those who send it (and it is not completely clear that God
      is fully in charge here) happen to pick the winter season to do it in. Going
      from the Galilee Teachings to this stuff is like stepping out of a Leonardo
      and into a Breughel. The aesthetic shock, never mind any theological
      inconcinnities, is very great.

      6. This is also the only place in Mk where the author addresses the reader,
      directly, as such, gives the reader a knowing dig in the ribs, and says in
      effect, Get it? (Mk 13:14, internal parenthesis). The thing to be gotten, as
      some of us persist in feeling, is the threatened Temple sacrilege of the
      year 40.

      ALSO

      That's plenty to convince some of us that this whole chapter is a later
      insertion, designed to alert the faithful of the Year 40 to the impending
      outrage on the Temple, which (it was then felt) would itself precipitate the
      End of the World as We Know It.

      But there is also a doctrinal point: the doctrine of the elect. This pops up
      as a matter of course and assurance at 13:20 ("for the sake of the elect,
      whom he chose"), 22 ("to mislead, if possible, the elect"), and 27 ("and
      gather his elect from the four winds"). That God has chosen in advance the
      people who will be saved is an idea hinted at almost nowhere else in Mk. The
      only thing I can find that is anywhere near it is the bit with James and
      John (10:40, "but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to
      grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared"). That is,
      deserving counts for nothing, and God's inscrutable choice counts for
      everything.

      The doctrine of the elect does not figure very much in such surveys of New
      Testament Thought as that of the famously boring Fred Grant (two casual
      mentions out of hundreds of pages). It is however developed slightly in
      Matthew, who besides copying the three Markan uses of the term (EKLEKTOS),
      adds 22:14 ("many are called, but few are chosen"). Some zealous scribe has
      duplicated this inappropriately at Mt 20:16, where it fools no one, but the
      22:14 thing seems genuinely there. Of those who come, in response to the
      invitation, are not all to be chosen? The people who excused themselves,
      yes, by all means, into the eternal fire with them. But those who came?? It
      is a second-order standard, and gMark in particular seems for much of its
      length to be content with a first-order standard. So also the Epistle of
      James, which (especially in the earlier of its two layers; the second is
      somewhat Mattheanized) impresses some of us as a very early teaching
      encyclical. Those who follow the Good Way will be saved; those who follow
      the Bad Way, not. There is no hint of a winnowing among those who follow the
      Good Way, a winnowing which damns some of them after all.

      I submit these two questions for consideration:

      1. Is not the concept of "the elect" indeed foreign to most of Mark, and
      does it indeed not mark Mk 13 (and the later of the two Place of Honor
      doublet passages, 10:35-45, in which also the doctrine of Vicarious
      Atonement rather clearly surfaces) qualify on this ground as theologically
      later than the majority of the text?

      2. Whatever the answer to the above, where is this idea coming from? There
      is a touch of it in Luke (18:7, "and will not God vindicate his elect?"). It
      is not very prominent in Paul (Rom 8:33, "Who shall bring any charge against
      God's elect?" Rom 11:7, "The elect [of Israel] obtained it, but the rest
      were hardened"). It is considerably commoner, and seems to have settled down
      to become a complimentary synonym for "the Christian community" in the
      post-Paulines, 1 and 2 Tim, Titus, 2 John. I don't think it will do to take
      it in this mild, Enochian sense in the earlier passages; note especially how
      Paul scripturally explains things in Rom 11;7, the hearts of the nonelect
      seem to have been intentionally hardened.

      By what agency?

      The commentators don't seem to see a problem here. Maybe there isn't one. If
      there is, I would be glad of a book recommendation, preferably an easy and
      not too expensive book, maybe even a JSTOR article, into which I could dip
      for the answers to such questions, one of these long winter evenings.

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • Ron Price
      ... Bruce, The concept of the elect came from Judaism. See e.g. Is 42:1; 65:9,22; and especially 45:4. It thus indicates an old theme, not a later insertion.
      Message 2 of 3 , Nov 17, 2008
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        Bruce Brooks wrote:

        > I submit these two questions for consideration:
        >
        > 1. Is not the concept of "the elect" indeed foreign to most of Mark, and
        > does it indeed not mark Mk 13 ..... qualify on this ground as theologically
        > later than the majority of the text?
        >
        > 2. Whatever the answer to the above, where is this idea coming from?

        Bruce,

        The concept of the "elect" came from Judaism. See e.g. Is 42:1; 65:9,22; and
        especially 45:4. It thus indicates an old theme, not a later insertion.

        Matthew, who showed no embarrassment in including contradictory views in his
        gospel, was quite happy to include the relevant logia saying (Mt 22:14).

        The more sensitive Mark rejected it as contradicting his gospel of salvation
        for "many". Yet he introduced the election concept in Mk 13 (vv. 20, 22, 27)
        with the subtle implication that the text refers not to Jews but to
        Christians as the 'new Israel'. Mark was supremely skilful at adapting
        traditional Jewish material for the new wine of Christianity.

        Ron Price

        Derbyshire, UK

        Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
      • Karel Hanhart
        ... From: E Bruce Brooks To: Synoptic Sent: Monday, November 17, 2008 6:33 AM Subject: [Synoptic-L] Mark 13 To: Synoptic Cc: GPG On: Mk 13 From: Bruce It
        Message 3 of 3 , Nov 19, 2008
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          ----- Original Message -----
          From: E Bruce Brooks
          To: Synoptic
          Sent: Monday, November 17, 2008 6:33 AM
          Subject: [Synoptic-L] Mark 13


          To: Synoptic
          Cc: GPG
          On: Mk 13
          From: Bruce

          It puzzles me that people accept Mk 13 as an integral part of Mark, as
          readily as they seem to do. To me, it sticks out in all directions as
          extraneous and intrusive. Here are some of the ways.

          Let me insert some of the solutions I found. As all other exegetes I am exploring the wintery lake on thin ice.

          1. It is very long. Most Jesus utterances in Mk are brief, even cryptic.
          This one is protracted; the speech of Jesus takes up the whole chapter.


          KH In Mark four 'speeches' are an constructural element. Van Iersel recognized two of them - chps 4 and 13 - others have recognized 10,32 - 42, Richardson ); I added 7,5 -23; hence structurally chps 4 - 7 - 10 - 13.


          2. It is open. Other Jesus predictions in Mk are puzzling, to the disciples
          and to the reader. This one goes into great detail, albeit without complete
          certainty: ifs and maybes and hopefullys.


          Mark struggles here in the wake of 70 while editing a pre-70 series of eschatological utterances


          3. The questioner is Andrew, who otherwise does not figure in Mk after his
          initial selection (save on this or that list). Of the original Five, whose
          calling is individually mentioned in Mk, Andrew and Levi play no subsequent
          role. Levi probably died early, perhaps one of the first victims of Paul's
          negative zeal; I suspect that it is Levi's replacement by Matthew that is
          garbled and adapted for Acts 1:25f. Then perhaps only Andrew was left alive,
          as of the date of Mk 13, who might be brought in for variety, consistent
          with current realism, by whoever wrote Mk 13.

          Andrew is the Greek named follower, next to the Hebrew named trio: ``Simon, Johanan and Jaakob. Together with the fuictitious Iscariot Mark altered the pre- 70 list of the historical "twelve". The number twelve of the apostles was not chosen by Jesus, but by the early christians right after the crucifixion. Mark wanted to break with the exclusively Judean tribal symbolism as the assembly of the people of God.

          These are some of my proposals,

          cordially,

          Karel Hanhart





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