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Re: [Synoptic-L] Dates in Mark (Karel II)

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic Cc: GPG In Response To: Karel Hanhart On: Early Mark From: Bruce [There are several points of interest in Karel s latest; for economy of
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 19, 2008
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      To: Synoptic
      Cc: GPG
      In Response To: Karel Hanhart
      On: Early Mark
      From: Bruce

      [There are several points of interest in Karel's latest; for economy of
      bandwidth, I here take up only one or two of them; others perhaps to follow.
      / Bruce]

      I had asked about details of what Karel in his book treats as a previous
      Mark, "radically revised" by someone about the year 72. I have in hand a
      response from "Karel II:"

      Karel II - I wish I were able to offer a neat document of pre-70 gospel by
      Mark or by someone else which he edited. Indeed an "off stage quantity." It
      is not my failing - all adherents to the conclusion that the present gospel
      shows sign of editing fail to com up with the pre-70 document. In fact that
      is. I think, what your are after in your project. In my book I did - with
      fear and trembling - list some items that I think belonged to pre-70 Mark.

      Bruce: In the Subject Index of your book, sv "Editions of Mark, pre-70 or
      Mark I," I find the following, at the head of a longer list of entries:

      [p88]. "However the turning of the tide in 66-70 resulted precisely in
      *Mark's radical reevaluation* of that "good news the Ecclesia preached.
      After 70 it decidedly became a *sorrowful gospel.* . . . The question of why
      the trauma of 70 had to happen motivated his second edition. The answer is
      to be found in Mark's well-known "must" (dei) sentences, one of which, 8:31,
      probably belonged, at least in part, to the pre-70 edition. It dealt with
      the *necessity* of Jesus voluntarily risking to suffer when "going up to
      Jerusalem" and with Peter's forceful attempt to stop him."

      EBB: I think this whole Son of Man body of material was a medium early
      attempt (not the earliest) to make sense of Jesus's death. If his death was
      cosmically required, then faith in the general proposition, or some version
      of it, is still possible; the shock of it is taken away, and can be replaced
      by faith in the Higher Powers that required it, and foresaw it, and
      predicted it. Something like the rising of the sun and moon.

      Paul never uses the Son of Man term (which seems indeed to be confined to
      the Gospel tradition in the narrow sense), and he is not concerned with
      necessity, but the Resurrection of Jesus is for him the whole content of
      Christianity, and for the Resurrection, a preceding death is clearly
      necessary, whether or not foretold from ancient scriptures. There is
      something very soothing about the idea of necessity, as respects awful
      things over which one has no species of control other than the conceptual.

      So far so good, but why would the destruction of the Temple, which played no
      particular role for the early Church, have required an agonizing
      reappraisal, by the Markan theorists, of previous theory about the death of
      Jesus? Thessalonians, written in 40, takes the view that the pending
      Profanation of Caligula serves the Jews just about right. Hostility between
      Temple Jewry and the Jesus movement reflected in Mark had been increasing in
      the generation since that time; so had the distancing of the one from the
      other. What was the big deal about Jerusalem for the Christians of 70? I
      don't yet see it. What I do see is the urgent need, in the year 30.5, to
      make some sense out of the unexpected death of Jesus. Here, it seems to me,
      is where the psychological and thus the theological push would most likely
      be felt.

      [still p88]: " . . . as Jesus taught it in two parallel sayings (2:21f). (a)
      One does not "sew a piece of unshrunk cloth on a (precious) old cloak." The
      precious cloak, refers, I believe, to the Torah. Its ancient commandments
      need to be applied to new contemporary situations . . . But interpreting the
      Law should be done with extreme care and in the spirit of the particular
      rule . . . No "repairs" by means of ill-suited patches!"

      EBB: I also find that the "new/old" contrasts here are early, in fact from
      the oldest layer, and thus not impossibly from the actual time of Jesus. But
      I would differ about the value to be placed on them. The second, I think, is
      the more revealing: new wine requires new wineskins; if you try to put new
      wine into old skins (the old understanding of the Torah), you will ruin the
      one and lose the other. I relate this remark to the impression of Jesus'
      first Capernaum audience, that they were hearing a new teaching, and not
      just the old Torah exposition all over again. Something intellectually fresh
      as well as medically exciting. It was, I think, Jesus' new idea of Moses
      that constituted his novelty at this level. Remember that he and his
      followers were condemned, by orthodox Temple Jews, for blaspheming not only
      against God, but against Moses. Two things about Jesus stand out as
      offensive to Rabbinic Judaism (as reported by Klausner): the claim of
      Resurrection, and the assault on Moses. I find that the assault on Moses
      (Jesus entirely rejected the Temple Piety half of the Decalogue, and he
      expanded the second half of it, which dealt with man's duty to man) was
      original, whereas the claim that he had risen bodily from the dead was made
      not by himself prospectively (that is a piece of ex post facto
      certification, a task to which the Gospel of Mark is very frequently
      turned), but rather by his early followers, at some point afterward.

      Jesus departed in many ways from the ways of his master John. The early
      Jesus movement eventually regressed at many points (as I earlier remarked)
      to the practices of the senior John movement, including regular fasts, set
      prayers, and baptism itself, which as gJn still remembers, was not done
      during the active career of Jesus, but was instituted (more exactly,
      reinstituted) by his followers later on.

      To me, the John aspect is one of the least studied of the key elements
      necessary to understanding the Jesus movement, in his lifetime and
      afterward. Can anyone refer to a helpful recent monographic study? I think I
      have the old ones.

      [100]. "I would qualify van Iersel's thesis at a major point. The
      Eucharistic words may well have been the key to Mark's *pre*-70 Passover
      Haggadah. Jesus' words over the bread and wine were already part of
      pre-Markan material. But the climactic open tomb story is hardly related to
      the Eucharistic words. . . ."

      On the latter point, agreed. But on the former, my own suspicions run in the
      other direction. I notice that the Words of Establishment of various early
      Church practices and set forms grow clearer with each successive Gospel. In
      Mark some of them are not present at all (baptism), others are only dimly
      glimpsed (the Lord's Prayer) or only in late layers (the Eucharist). It
      takes Luke before the modern liturgist can feel on really safe ground. I
      would further contribute the finding, for what it may prove to be worth
      philologically, that the whole content of the Passover narrative in Mk 14 is
      late within Mark.

      So also Yarbro Collins, and here is one of the points at which I seem to see
      her reconstruction providing an entry point for mine. She does not include
      the Last Supper segment in her "Pre-Markan Passion Narrative"
      reconstruction. Then according to her assumptions, the phenomenon of
      interpolation, though it is natural enough on the assumption that Mark is
      expanding a previous PPN, should not be found outside the boundaries of that
      segment. But it is, and (as I have not, I hope, failed to point out) this
      suggests that the area in which we encounter stratification in the text of
      Mark is NOT confined to the Passion segment, but equally over the whole
      Gospel. What this leads to, I should think rather obviously, is a modified
      hypothesis, according to which the previous text is not simply a Passion
      narrative, but a complete if spare Jesus narrative.

      At any rate, Yarbro Collins herself finds that the Words of Institution in
      Mk 14, though lying outside the boundaries which she herself has drawn for
      the Passion Narrative, are textually insecure in Mark. Her comment on
      14:22-25 is the following: "It does not follow smoothly upon either the
      story about the preparation for the meal (v12-16) or upon the narrative
      concerning the one who would hand Jesus over (v17-21) . . . these two units
      appear to be independent stories or units of tradition placed one after the
      other, rather than two parts of the same narrative describing the same

      The first of these observations is exactly how an experienced and sensitive
      reader becomes aware of the possible presence of a patch of inserted
      material: lack of connectivity, or inconsistency of focus, or disharmony of
      style, whatever. I second that observation. I think that we are in the
      presence of a later interpolation.

      From the second, I have to register a methodological dissent. It seems to me
      another example of the typical NT reflex on encountering discontinuous
      material: "Oh, it must be from an early source." This, let me add as
      politely as I can, is not how things are handled in any other reputable
      field of textual endeavor of which I have any experience. On the contrary,
      the standard presumption (and the one which I have been following) is that
      the interpolated material is later than the thing into which it is
      interpolated. The opposite presumption, which seems to be common if not
      indeed standard in NT, is that the intrusive matter is earlier than the base
      matter. The result, for a frequently interpolated text like Mark, is an
      absurdity: a text which at every significant point is earlier than itself. I
      see behind this nonstandard presumption a wish to preserve all the Bible as
      going back, by however devious a route, to the Age of Authenticity; the
      modern way (the post-textcritical way) of maintaining Scriptural inerrancy,
      and preserving the Saint Evangelists from the suspicions of having made any
      of it up. I think that the inerrancy presumption, and the methodologically
      questionable practices which can grow from it, should be given up within
      scholarly circles.

      Meanwhile, I leave all this "source" stuff to one side, methodologically,
      for those to play with who like to do so. My own presumption is what I take
      to be the otherwise universal one, according to which the Words of
      Institution would be late within Mark. Just as the fixing and formalizing
      and generalizing of liturgical tradition in general is a slow one within the
      period covered by the Gospels, and beyond.

      Let me pause here for the time being, and return to Karel's Subject Index
      another time.


      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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