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On The Earliest Markan Narrative

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Crosstalk Cc: GMark, GPG In Response To: Several Personal Inquiries On: The Earliest Markan Narrative From: Bruce It may help if I answer at large, and
    Message 1 of 15 , Jan 15, 2009
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      To: Crosstalk
      Cc: GMark, GPG
      In Response To: Several Personal Inquiries
      On: The Earliest Markan Narrative
      From: Bruce

      It may help if I answer at large, and thus for others who may be interested,
      several questions which have arisen in response to my earlier invitation on
      this list (and on GMark, to which this is being cross-posted; it is also
      being cross-posted to Synoptic, where earlier versions of some of these
      ideas were shared), to take part in an effort currently in progress to
      reconstruct in detail the whole accretional structure of Mark.

      1. It hurts to say so, but no, we can't realistically accommodate spectators
      in the little NT working group. It is tempting to include them, and I
      greatly appreciate their interest, but classroom experience teaches us that
      silent auditors quickly inhibit the work of nonsilent participants. The
      sense of being watched is unnerving, or something like that. Our working
      group expects to be making small progress reports from time to time (on
      Crosstalk and/or what seem to be other appropriate fora), and I hope this
      will provide something in the way of spectator interest for those not
      regularly involved. Responses to such reports as they are posted, to me or
      to the list in question, will always be most welcome. Feedback is what we
      are looking for, in order to draw on the widest possible range of expertise
      and experience as we attempt to accomplish a task which is beyond the
      ability of any one of those currently involved, myself very much included.
      We look forward to feedback of that kind, and tender in advance our thanks
      to those willing to provide it.

      2. Requests to look at the working reconstruction of Mark Layer 1 are in a
      slightly different category: a sort of middle zone between passive E-list
      spectatorship and full seminar participation. Such a zone would consist of
      interested individuals who have seen the current reconstruction, and are
      willing to share their suggestions and criticisms with me, for possible
      secondary sharing with the working group.

      The only thing I want to emphasize beforehand is this: according to our best
      philological judgement, Mark is indeed accretional, and as a stratified
      text, whose successive strata were laid down at successively later times, it
      does indeed witness to several stages in the evolution of what finally
      crystallized as Christianity. Details are still under study, but that much
      seems pretty certain. The early layers of this sequence turn out to be
      doctrinally prior to the Christianity of Paul; that is, they do not include
      the Resurrection Doctrine. And the earliest layer of all (as E P Sanders
      long ago warned us to expect) shows Jesus not operating as a Christian of
      any sort, Pauline or other, but wholly within the boundaries of Jewish
      belief and expectation. Christianity itself came later, as Luke seems to
      have been in some sense aware; see again Acts 11:26.

      Specifically, as we see it, the earliest Jesus which can be philologically
      recovered from Mark, itself the earliest of the consecutive witnesses to
      Jesus, was Messianic rather than Apocalyptic. It shows Jesus as concerned
      with exactly what Blind Bartimaeus at one and, and Pontius Pilate at the
      other, SAID he was concerned with, namely, the return of God, and thus of
      political sovereignty, to Israel.

      How would one frame a narrative which, like the Passion Narrative recently
      excavated by Adela Yarbro Collins (in her 2007 commentary, page 819), ends
      with Jesus's death and seeming defeat? What would be the point of it? What
      would be the *use* of it, for any still remaining followers of Jesus? Those
      are the questions. I think they can be answered, and our little group is in
      the process of answering them, as best it can with the time and talent
      currently available to it. But the idea of Christianity without the
      Resurrection, which so enraged Paul when he encountered it in Corinth, is no
      less unwelcome to many people at the present time. We have no wish to upset
      anyone, and we do not seek to overturn any convictions to the contrary. We
      *do* invite comment by those who are prepared to see Christianity as
      evolving, rather than as defined from the beginning, and who are prepared to
      consider a proposal about what amounts to a pre-Christian Jesus. But we
      don't want to lure anyone into exposure to a hypothesis which can only be
      distressing to them.

      On those terms, which are meant to avoid offense and minimize static, I will
      be glad to share, with suitably interested parties, the URL at which the
      current reconstruction of Mark Layer 1 may be found. Would such persons
      contact me privately, or renew to me privately their earlier expression of
      interest in that option?

      Thanks to everyone for their patience with these qualifications, in an
      inevitably delicate matter. I hope the qualifications may serve as an aid to
      interest, while avoiding irritation to those whose interests lie in other
      directions.

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • Jeff Peterson
      Bruce, I hope you ll pardon me for jumping in medias res, but can you specify briefly the philological criteria that justify dispensing with the resurrection
      Message 2 of 15 , Jan 15, 2009
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        Bruce,

        I hope you'll pardon me for jumping in medias res, but can you specify
        briefly the philological criteria that justify dispensing with the
        resurrection as a secondary accretion in Mark?

        On the face of things, it would seem to me in narrative terms that the
        titulus of the work, promising the reader "the origins of the gospel
        of Jesus Christ" (1:1) and the early evocation of the binding of Isaac
        in the voice from heaven at the baptism ("my beloved Son," 1:11) are
        fulfilled precisely in the declaration, "He is risen" in 16:6; and the
        PARRHSIA(i) of 8:32 marks this motif as the disclosure of the "secret
        of the kingdom of God" intimated in Jesus' ministry (4:11�12). I'd be
        interested to know just what you see in the text that closes off this
        line of interpretation.

        All the best,

        Jeff Peterson
        Austin Graduate School of Theology
        Austin, TX


        On Jan 15, 2009, at 10:35 PM, E Bruce Brooks wrote:

        > To: Crosstalk
        > Cc: GMark, GPG
        > In Response To: Several Personal Inquiries
        > On: The Earliest Markan Narrative
        > From: Bruce
        >
        > It may help if I answer at large, and thus for others who may be
        > interested,
        > several questions which have arisen in response to my earlier
        > invitation on
        > this list (and on GMark, to which this is being cross-posted; it is
        > also
        > being cross-posted to Synoptic, where earlier versions of some of
        > these
        > ideas were shared), to take part in an effort currently in progress to
        > reconstruct in detail the whole accretional structure of Mark.
        >
        > 1. It hurts to say so, but no, we can't realistically accommodate
        > spectators
        > in the little NT working group. It is tempting to include them, and I
        > greatly appreciate their interest, but classroom experience teaches
        > us that
        > silent auditors quickly inhibit the work of nonsilent participants.
        > The
        > sense of being watched is unnerving, or something like that. Our
        > working
        > group expects to be making small progress reports from time to time
        > (on
        > Crosstalk and/or what seem to be other appropriate fora), and I hope
        > this
        > will provide something in the way of spectator interest for those not
        > regularly involved. Responses to such reports as they are posted, to
        > me or
        > to the list in question, will always be most welcome. Feedback is
        > what we
        > are looking for, in order to draw on the widest possible range of
        > expertise
        > and experience as we attempt to accomplish a task which is beyond the
        > ability of any one of those currently involved, myself very much
        > included.
        > We look forward to feedback of that kind, and tender in advance our
        > thanks
        > to those willing to provide it.
        >
        > 2. Requests to look at the working reconstruction of Mark Layer 1
        > are in a
        > slightly different category: a sort of middle zone between passive E-
        > list
        > spectatorship and full seminar participation. Such a zone would
        > consist of
        > interested individuals who have seen the current reconstruction, and
        > are
        > willing to share their suggestions and criticisms with me, for
        > possible
        > secondary sharing with the working group.
        >
        > The only thing I want to emphasize beforehand is this: according to
        > our best
        > philological judgement, Mark is indeed accretional, and as a
        > stratified
        > text, whose successive strata were laid down at successively later
        > times, it
        > does indeed witness to several stages in the evolution of what finally
        > crystallized as Christianity. Details are still under study, but
        > that much
        > seems pretty certain. The early layers of this sequence turn out to be
        > doctrinally prior to the Christianity of Paul; that is, they do not
        > include
        > the Resurrection Doctrine. And the earliest layer of all (as E P
        > Sanders
        > long ago warned us to expect) shows Jesus not operating as a
        > Christian of
        > any sort, Pauline or other, but wholly within the boundaries of Jewish
        > belief and expectation. Christianity itself came later, as Luke
        > seems to
        > have been in some sense aware; see again Acts 11:26.
        >
        > Specifically, as we see it, the earliest Jesus which can be
        > philologically
        > recovered from Mark, itself the earliest of the consecutive
        > witnesses to
        > Jesus, was Messianic rather than Apocalyptic. It shows Jesus as
        > concerned
        > with exactly what Blind Bartimaeus at one and, and Pontius Pilate at
        > the
        > other, SAID he was concerned with, namely, the return of God, and
        > thus of
        > political sovereignty, to Israel.
        >
        > How would one frame a narrative which, like the Passion Narrative
        > recently
        > excavated by Adela Yarbro Collins (in her 2007 commentary, page
        > 819), ends
        > with Jesus's death and seeming defeat? What would be the point of
        > it? What
        > would be the *use* of it, for any still remaining followers of
        > Jesus? Those
        > are the questions. I think they can be answered, and our little
        > group is in
        > the process of answering them, as best it can with the time and talent
        > currently available to it. But the idea of Christianity without the
        > Resurrection, which so enraged Paul when he encountered it in
        > Corinth, is no
        > less unwelcome to many people at the present time. We have no wish
        > to upset
        > anyone, and we do not seek to overturn any convictions to the
        > contrary. We
        > *do* invite comment by those who are prepared to see Christianity as
        > evolving, rather than as defined from the beginning, and who are
        > prepared to
        > consider a proposal about what amounts to a pre-Christian Jesus. But
        > we
        > don't want to lure anyone into exposure to a hypothesis which can
        > only be
        > distressing to them.
        >
        > On those terms, which are meant to avoid offense and minimize
        > static, I will
        > be glad to share, with suitably interested parties, the URL at which
        > the
        > current reconstruction of Mark Layer 1 may be found. Would such
        > persons
        > contact me privately, or renew to me privately their earlier
        > expression of
        > interest in that option?
        >
        > Thanks to everyone for their patience with these qualifications, in an
        > inevitably delicate matter. I hope the qualifications may serve as
        > an aid to
        > interest, while avoiding irritation to those whose interests lie in
        > other
        > directions.
        >
        > Bruce
        >
        > E Bruce Brooks
        > Warring States Project
        > University of Massachusetts at Amherst
        >
        >
        >



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Chuck Jones
        Bruce,   This thought exercise has so far kept me from being persuaded by accretional/multiple edition reconstructions of Mark and other early Xn works:  to
        Message 3 of 15 , Jan 16, 2009
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          Bruce,
           
          This thought exercise has so far kept me from being persuaded by accretional/multiple edition reconstructions of Mark and other early Xn works:  to accept the theory, we have to believe that every copy of every edition of Mark prior to the one we have was lost.  That is a pretty phenomenal leap of faith, seems to me.
           
          The variant endings of Mk (and the western text of Acts) argue strongly that multiple/multi-stage editions do in fact continue to exist, and that the textual data should guide us in our  conclusions.
           
          For what it's worth.
           
          Rev. Chuck Jones
          Atlanta, Georgia

          --- On Thu, 1/15/09, E Bruce Brooks <brooks@...> wrote:

          From: E Bruce Brooks <brooks@...>
          Subject: [Synoptic-L] On The Earliest Markan Narrative
          To: "Crosstalk" <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
          Cc: "Adela Yarbro Collins" <adela.collins@...>, "GPG" <gpg@yahoogroups.com>, "Synoptic" <synoptic@yahoogroups.com>, "GMark" <gmark@...>
          Date: Thursday, January 15, 2009, 11:35 PM






          To: Crosstalk
          Cc: GMark, GPG
          In Response To: Several Personal Inquiries
          On: The Earliest Markan Narrative
          From: Bruce

          It may help if I answer at large, and thus for others who may be interested,
          several questions which have arisen in response to my earlier invitation on
          this list (and on GMark, to which this is being cross-posted; it is also
          being cross-posted to Synoptic, where earlier versions of some of these
          ideas were shared), to take part in an effort currently in progress to
          reconstruct in detail the whole accretional structure of Mark.

          1. It hurts to say so, but no, we can't realistically accommodate spectators
          in the little NT working group. It is tempting to include them, and I
          greatly appreciate their interest, but classroom experience teaches us that
          silent auditors quickly inhibit the work of nonsilent participants. The
          sense of being watched is unnerving, or something like that. Our working
          group expects to be making small progress reports from time to time (on
          Crosstalk and/or what seem to be other appropriate fora), and I hope this
          will provide something in the way of spectator interest for those not
          regularly involved. Responses to such reports as they are posted, to me or
          to the list in question, will always be most welcome. Feedback is what we
          are looking for, in order to draw on the widest possible range of expertise
          and experience as we attempt to accomplish a task which is beyond the
          ability of any one of those currently involved, myself very much included.
          We look forward to feedback of that kind, and tender in advance our thanks
          to those willing to provide it.

          2. Requests to look at the working reconstruction of Mark Layer 1 are in a
          slightly different category: a sort of middle zone between passive E-list
          spectatorship and full seminar participation. Such a zone would consist of
          interested individuals who have seen the current reconstruction, and are
          willing to share their suggestions and criticisms with me, for possible
          secondary sharing with the working group.

          The only thing I want to emphasize beforehand is this: according to our best
          philological judgement, Mark is indeed accretional, and as a stratified
          text, whose successive strata were laid down at successively later times, it
          does indeed witness to several stages in the evolution of what finally
          crystallized as Christianity. Details are still under study, but that much
          seems pretty certain. The early layers of this sequence turn out to be
          doctrinally prior to the Christianity of Paul; that is, they do not include
          the Resurrection Doctrine. And the earliest layer of all (as E P Sanders
          long ago warned us to expect) shows Jesus not operating as a Christian of
          any sort, Pauline or other, but wholly within the boundaries of Jewish
          belief and expectation. Christianity itself came later, as Luke seems to
          have been in some sense aware; see again Acts 11:26.

          Specifically, as we see it, the earliest Jesus which can be philologically
          recovered from Mark, itself the earliest of the consecutive witnesses to
          Jesus, was Messianic rather than Apocalyptic. It shows Jesus as concerned
          with exactly what Blind Bartimaeus at one and, and Pontius Pilate at the
          other, SAID he was concerned with, namely, the return of God, and thus of
          political sovereignty, to Israel.

          How would one frame a narrative which, like the Passion Narrative recently
          excavated by Adela Yarbro Collins (in her 2007 commentary, page 819), ends
          with Jesus's death and seeming defeat? What would be the point of it? What
          would be the *use* of it, for any still remaining followers of Jesus? Those
          are the questions. I think they can be answered, and our little group is in
          the process of answering them, as best it can with the time and talent
          currently available to it. But the idea of Christianity without the
          Resurrection, which so enraged Paul when he encountered it in Corinth, is no
          less unwelcome to many people at the present time. We have no wish to upset
          anyone, and we do not seek to overturn any convictions to the contrary. We
          *do* invite comment by those who are prepared to see Christianity as
          evolving, rather than as defined from the beginning, and who are prepared to
          consider a proposal about what amounts to a pre-Christian Jesus. But we
          don't want to lure anyone into exposure to a hypothesis which can only be
          distressing to them.

          On those terms, which are meant to avoid offense and minimize static, I will
          be glad to share, with suitably interested parties, the URL at which the
          current reconstruction of Mark Layer 1 may be found. Would such persons
          contact me privately, or renew to me privately their earlier expression of
          interest in that option?

          Thanks to everyone for their patience with these qualifications, in an
          inevitably delicate matter. I hope the qualifications may serve as an aid to
          interest, while avoiding irritation to those whose interests lie in other
          directions.

          Bruce

          E Bruce Brooks
          Warring States Project
          University of Massachusetts at Amherst


















          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • E Bruce Brooks
          To: Synoptic In Response To: Chuck Jones On: The Earliest Markan Narrative From: Bruce CHUCK: This thought exercise has so far kept me from being persuaded by
          Message 4 of 15 , Jan 16, 2009
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            To: Synoptic
            In Response To: Chuck Jones
            On: The Earliest Markan Narrative
            From: Bruce

            CHUCK: This thought exercise has so far kept me from being persuaded by accretional/multiple edition reconstructions of Mark and other early Xn works: to accept the theory, we have to believe that every copy of every edition of Mark prior to the one we have was lost. That is a pretty phenomenal leap of faith, seems to me.

            BRUCE: You are still working with the idea that all variations in texts have their origin in scribal corruption. I don't think so. A text may grow under its author's hand, before being given to copyists and starting the process of scribal corruption or variation.

            What textual criticism accomplishes, by comparison of manuscript variants, at most the restoration of the archetype, the copy from which the other copies are descended. Equating this with "the author's original manuscript" (as is often done) is already questionable; it is merely the oldest recoverable version. Lachmann modestly supposed that comparison of manuscripts available in his day would give the text of the Bible as it was known in the 4th century. Papyrus and manuscript discoveries since his time have pushed this down to maybe the 2nd century in some portions. This is still a long way from the author's holograph.

            And the author's holograph may itself be the result of a process predating the copyist phase. Consider the Carmina of Horace. We know that he wrote some of them early (eg, the Cleopatra Ode), and that he himself regarded his work as a poet over when he collected them together in three Books; his final piece in Book Three is the "exegi [sic] monumentum aere perennius," which is an estimate of his own poetic stature: not exactly modest, if you will, but as the centuries have shown, not inaccurate either. These indeed Horace published, and then he stopped. He quit poetry altogether. Ten years later, at the express wish of Augustus, Horace returned to poetry (much of it in praise of Augustus's not very distinguished kinsmen), and hence we have Book 4. Some of them, the ones not in praise of Augustus's not very distinguished kinsmen, are very good indeed. The later Horace had not lost the skill of the early Horace; quite the contrary. What the manuscript tradition would then show, if it showed all, is some copies containing only Books 1-3 and others also including Book 4.

            But Book 3 itself represents a long accumulation of material, from Horace's earliest ventures with Greek meters to much more mature work. As published, they are arranged according to a variety of plans (the systematic arrangement of meters in Book 1 is conspicuous). They are not simply in diary order. Their order of composition, insofar as it can now be recovered, has to be dug out by hints in the arrangement, and hints in the material itself. We cannot resort, for that sequence, to manuscript variants; there are none. And in principle there can be none; Books 1-3 (like Book 1 of the Satires) represent Horace's own decision about when to package his production up to that time for public release.

            What I propose for Mark is something very similar to what Horace did, up to and including exegi monumentum. Bark wrote his brief Gospel, adequate to the needs of the time, within the limits of his ability to address them. Time passed and new ideas emerged; these Mark incorporated into the previous text. Thus was the text itself kept up to date. One day, for example, Mark may have finished his children's sermon, and said to himself, Hey, that went pretty well, the kids were really receptive, not like some of their contentious and hairsplitting elders; maybe I should save that one. And he takes the manuscript out of the office desk drawer and puts a new paragraph in the margin, a paragraph more or less about children. So time passed. Only when Mark (and/or his successors in whatever little church he was in charge of) finished their work, or when that church itself somehow passed out of existence and the closed proprietorship of the church reference text ended, did the text become public, enter the domain where manuscripts are copied.

            Take another known case: Vergil's Aeneid. He worked at it for years, continually extending it, reading parts of it to friends at parties, but not formally publishing any of it. On the contrary, he had decided, and left word in his will, that if he died before completing it, it should be destroyed. This the ever alert Augustus overruled, being aware of the value to a regime of poetic PR. Somebody else was deputed to finish the thing, and only then was it published. The manuscript tradition of the Aeneid begins at that point. Not earlier, after one or more of Vergil's own literary afternoons.

            I think this sort of thing, of which further examples ancient and modern could easily be given, will establish the reality of a process text, one which takes some time to get into its final shape, and which leaves no "publication traces" of itself prior to that final shape. Its early history is visible only in the clues within the text itself, marks such as discoverable interpolations which show where, say, the "children" paragraph was inserted into previous text that one afternoon by an enthusiastic Mark.

            On this view, for which I repeat there is ample precedent, no "leap" of any sort is required. Only a recollection of cases already familiar to us, from the literary history of one age or another.

            CHUCK: The variant endings of Mk (and the western text of Acts) argue strongly that multiple/multi-stage editions do in fact continue to exist, and that the textual data should guide us in our conclusions.

            BRUCE: The variant endings of Mk begin with the ending of Mt. They show unrest on the part of later readers about the precipitate way that extant Mk actually ends. They do not count as variant texts of Mk in the sense here being considered. As for Acts in Bezae, it looks to me like a case of a "reopened" text, where a later writer takes it on himself to rework a text that the tradition otherwise agrees to regard as closed. The additions of Bezae have a theological import; they cast Acts in a different doctrinal light; they are not in the usual sense a scribal variant of the other texts of Acts. They are a creative effort of reworking. There are many examples of this "reopening" process in early Chinese texts (some of which are ballooned to many times their original size); perhaps not so many in the Mediterranean region. The extension of gJn by the addition of its chapter 21 might count as an example. Perhaps learned members of the list can supply still others.

            Bruce

            E Bruce Brooks
            Warring States Project
            University of Massachusetts at Amherst


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Chuck Jones
            Bruce wrote:  [M]ark wrote his brief Gospel, adequate to the needs of the time, within the limits of his ability to address them. Time passed and new ideas
            Message 5 of 15 , Jan 16, 2009
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              Bruce wrote:  "[M]ark wrote his brief Gospel, adequate to the needs of the time, within the limits of his ability to address them. Time passed and new ideas emerged; these Mark incorporated into the previous text. Thus was the text itself kept up to date. One day, for example, Mark may have finished his children's sermon, and said to himself, Hey, that went pretty well, the kids were really receptive, not like some of their contentious and hairsplitting elders; maybe I should save that one. And he takes the manuscript out of the office desk drawer and puts a new paragraph in the margin, a paragraph more or less about children. So time passed. Only when Mark (and/or his successors in whatever little church he was in charge of) finished their work, or when that church itself somehow passed out of existence and the closed proprietorship of the church reference text ended, did the text become public, enter the domain where manuscripts are copied."

              Chuck replies:  The reconstruction of events you propose below solves the problem of why there would be no copies of early stages of Mk.  It sounds as if we must abandon the idea that Mk was written for evangelistic, pedagogical or apologetic reasons.  Instead it was a private project for Mk's personal edification.
               
              Rev. Chuck Jones
              Atlanta, Georgia




              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • E Bruce Brooks
              To: Synoptic Cc: GPG In Response To: Chuck Jones On: Mark From: Bruce CHUCK: The reconstruction of events you propose below solves the problem of why there
              Message 6 of 15 , Jan 16, 2009
              • 0 Attachment
                To: Synoptic
                Cc: GPG
                In Response To: Chuck Jones
                On: Mark
                From: Bruce

                CHUCK: The reconstruction of events you propose below solves the problem of why there would be no copies of early stages of Mk. It sounds as if we must abandon the idea that Mk was written for evangelistic, pedagogical or apologetic reasons. Instead it was a private project for Mk's personal edification.

                BRUCE: Not at all. There is considerable leeway between a Mark that was immediately published for the entire Mediterranean world (a position some have advocated) and a Mark that was composed for its author's merely "personal edification." The question of who Mk was written for, like all other questions about Mark, is probably best answered by looking at the text. Those who wish to look at the text and report their results to this list will find me among their most eager readers.

                Meanwhile, from my own examination, I would suggest that Mk is characteristically adversative. It is written in part to record something, to be sure, but that something is often urged against something else. It is written to instruct (or anyhow one sees how it might have been used that way), or to remind, but at many points also to disabuse. The oldest layer, as I believe I am in the process of recovering it, is a record of a failed Messianic attempt, but it is also a consolation about the failure, and at the same time a warning that similar attempts should not be made in future; this might have been a reproof to the more militant among Jesus's first followers. If this or anything close to it is true, then Mk was written from the beginning with the idea of influencing others. To do this, Mk would somehow have had to make contact with those others. How could this have happened? One way might be for them to buy a copy from their local bookseller. I have said why I do not think this is likely (it is part of some Roman theories of Mark, and though the Roman idea has its evidences and its attractions, it seems to me to pull against the combined weight of other probabilities). Another way might be it to be sent around to groups of them in turn, but in form it is not an encyclical letter, like the Epistle of James; it is in form an apologia narrative. Another way might be for them, or significant numbers of them, to hear it read to them, which raises the alternate possibility of a congregational letter. Would it have been worthwhile for the leader of a ten-member cellgroup of early Christians to have gone to this much trouble? Maybe. I have gone to almost equal trouble for the young daughter of a fellow student: one person only, and she a minor. But it is perhaps easier to imagine Mark's congregation as somewhat larger, and also as representative of early Jesus followers in general. Hence my image of a house church authority document.

                TWELVE

                Another hint about audience might be in the space which Mk gives to the concept of The Twelve. This is demonstrably a late stratum in the text. But unlike some other late elements in Mark, which receive further development in later texts, The Twelve are almost lost to history. Acts assigns them no function at all. For that matter, apart from naming them and sending them out on a test mission, neither does Mk. No later text has any clear idea of the names. The magic number twelve is filled up in some cases by the names of the Four Evangelists, or by including both Peter and Cephas, and so on. Presumably there was some sort of group in early times that had recognizable authority as transmitters of the message of Jesus, and presumably Mark is there to authenticate and certify that group, and to establish its legitimacy. But since they were entirely lost to later knowledge, the odds are that, if they were not a Galilean phenomenon (and this continues to have its attractions), they were a very early southern Syria phenomenon, this being the other place to which the earliest Christianity seems to have spread in quantity.

                We have now, perhaps, somewhat limited the probable size, and probable location, of the community for whose edification and reproof the text of Mark was gradually written.

                READINGS

                I don't want to get into one of Michael Goulder's lectionary theories. I think they are a weak feature of his otherwise very convincing work. I can't see Philip Carrington's theory either, though it is admittedly supported by marks in Vaticanus. About Ron Price's version of a theory of modular composition, I have earlier indicated my doubts. But that doesn't mean that there is nothing to be learned in this direction.

                Among the things one notes in Mark is the frequent occurrence of story units of about 10 lines. That would make a mini-sermon of perhaps a couple of minutes. The mini-sermons which are assembled in Mk 4 are all about of this length and type. At the other end of the scale, we are finding that the longest consecutive episodes in Mk are among those most likely to be very late in the text, and thus not necessarily indicative of its earliest uses. In some not too rigid way, I thus suspect that Mk was shared with its constituency by being regularly read to them, and I don't care at this moment to spell out the word "regularly."

                ORAL

                There are what look to me like traces of oral delivery in Mk. It frequently explains terms or situations in an afterthought parenthesis, which is something I also do when lecturing, though never when writing. It uses vivid language and constant connectives, which perhaps make best sense in an oral delivery context. Its breathlessness would play well on stage, perhaps less so under the study lamp. Mk also exaggerates, as one might in a speech, but not in a document meant to be gone over by lawyers for the opposition. Does this mean that Mk is a transcript of an address, or of a series of mini-addresses? No, the structure of the text does not seem to suggest this. But the text does seem to have been in some other way shaped by, or at least to be reminiscent of, oral delivery of a not too long-winded type.

                Why not long-winded? I ask in return, Does anyone find the exhortations of Peter or Stephen, in Acts, to be convincing as real time speeches? I don't. Luke (if he it is) seems to be working with a distinctly leisurely idea of now much continuous discourse an audience will readily put up with. And that the length of Christian sermons, or maybe I should say addresses to the assembled faithful, steadily increased in time over the years seems to be suggested by the text record, though I will be glad of a comment by someone who knows that record better than I do. But for Mark's prime period, which I take to be the Thirties, protracted addresses seem out of place. The synagogue tradition, which probably served as a precedent, included a none too lengthy reading from the Scriptures, did it not? Mark as I see it would have taken its place in that routine very easily. The New Isaiah.

                WRITTEN

                So much, at least on this occasion, for the early Mark. As for the later Mark, which as already noted has passages not so thoroughly characterized as oral-influenced, including longer ones, those passages contain their own hints, and they lie in a different direction from those in the early layers. I think that 13:14, the Markan dig in the ribs, with its explicit reference to "readers," can only imply a text that circulated in writing beyond its home base. How? In how many copies? And how did both Matthew and Luke come to know of it, and also to respect it as the authoritative precedent for their own work? Answers to these questions need to wait in part for answers to the locale of Matthew and Luke, for which various opinions exist. But I have seen Antioch suggested at one time or another for all three, and though this is probably going to need some modification, I think it may be a useful starting point.

                So far for today. The end suggestion is that Mark began as a homiletic apologia, around the year 31, with continuous adjustments and enrichments over the next decade, and also came to exist as a circulating document precisely in the year 40, with some unmistakable predictions after the event being added in the next few years. Whether the leader of the Markan church recalled earlier copies for revision (as I have recalled all copies of the Mark reconstruction circulated to interested persons at SBL 2008), I do not know, and am not in a position to suggest. I leave it as a loose end.

                Bruce

                E Bruce Brooks
                Warring States Project
                University of Massachusetts at Amherst

                PS: On Antioch, I find that Joel Marcus (v1 p36) finds the Syrian hypothesis for Mark the most persuasive of those he considers. He also seems to agree with me about Mark's controversialist nature. To quote him (p37):

                "Mark, too, begins with a feeling of partisanship, a concern to get a hearing, a desire to expose lies and to draw attention to "facts." And just as we would never understand Orwell's fable Animal Farm without some comprehension of early Soviet history, so we will never understand Mark if we do not try to enter imaginatively into his first-century world."

                Amen, brother.


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              • Dennis Dean Carpenter
                So far for today. The end suggestion is that Mark began as a homiletic apologia, around the year 31, with continuous adjustments and enrichments over the next
                Message 7 of 15 , Jan 17, 2009
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                  "So far for today. The end suggestion is that Mark began as a homiletic apologia, around the year 31, with continuous adjustments and enrichments over the next decade, and also came to exist as a circulating document precisely in the year 40, with some unmistakable predictions after the event being added in the next few years."

                  Ted Weeden Sr. has proposed twenty-four parallels between the portrayal of Jesus of Ananias, found in Josephus' War of the Jews, as well as common symmetry in the order of the motifs. This wouls suggest that portions of the Passion story were influenced by Josephus, placing a date of closer to 80 for this tale.

                  If one goes to the prophecy in chapter 13, it tells the story Josephus did about the demolishion of the temple, the destruction in Jerusalem and the diaspora that happened during and as the Romans were returning from the first Roman Jewish war.

                  As a whole, the book seems very well structured in a chiastic fashion. Within the chiastic structure of the whole, one finds smaller (chiastic) units. The book as a whole also seems to be a long parable about how, though the messiah was rejected and Israel destroyed because of it, "God is salvation" and will return.

                  When I enter into the first century world of Mark, I wander into a shell shocked city, possibly Caesara Philippi, after the Romans have practiced a scorched earth policy on Palestine and diapsoran populations on the "way" back. When I enter the world of Mark, free from the name "Mark" and the second, third century traditions associated, I see diasporan Jews cying "Why?" I see the Gospel of Mark as an attempt to understand this. I have no compelling reason to view any of this, other than a few locations and a few names (Pilate, Herod, etc.) as historical.

                  Dennis Dean Carpenter
                  Dahlonega, Ga.











                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • E Bruce Brooks
                  To: Synoptic In Response To: Dennis Dean Carpenter On: Earliest Markan Narrative From: Bruce DENNIS: Ted Weeden Sr. has proposed twenty-four parallels between
                  Message 8 of 15 , Jan 17, 2009
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                    To: Synoptic
                    In Response To: Dennis Dean Carpenter
                    On: Earliest Markan Narrative
                    From: Bruce

                    DENNIS: Ted Weeden Sr. has proposed twenty-four parallels between the
                    portrayal of Jesus of Ananias, found in Josephus' War of the Jews, as well
                    as common symmetry in the order of the motifs. This would suggest that
                    portions of the Passion story were influenced by Josephus, placing a date of
                    closer to 80 for this tale.

                    BRUCE: That has its attractions, but what does it do to Synoptic Gospel
                    chronology in general? For one thing, it seems to put the Gospels about
                    where the very late dating of Acts would accommodate them, which is fine if
                    you accept that argument. But all NT datings interdepend. Aren't there
                    problems elsewhere?

                    DENNIS: As a whole, the book seems very well structured in a chiastic
                    fashion. Within the chiastic structure of the whole, one finds smaller
                    (chiastic) units.

                    BRUCE: Chiasms are extremely easy to discover in almost any text, including
                    the Carmina of Horace, both with and without Book 4. Some of them are
                    probably artifacts of analysis rather than effects of composition. Some of
                    the genuinely authorial ones, in turn, are probably just the author having
                    fun with his own material (I know the feeling myself). What would escape
                    that solipsistic level, and be perceptible in performance?

                    I have to doubt that a chiastic design would have been apparent or cogent
                    for a hearer or reader unless the performance or the silent reading
                    comprised the whole text. So of any proposed chiastic text, we may ask the
                    question, Is continuous performance in fact practical? Final Mark, where the
                    ABA form is not so apparent (it is rather ABA Coda) takes about an hour to
                    perform, and that is not necessarily a practical matter, though it has been
                    done. First Mark (as I have suggested it) is about half that, and thus
                    enters the realm where integral performance is routinely thinkable. How is
                    that realm defined? Much musical and literary evidence (including the
                    genuine folk material collected by Parry) goes to show that 20 minutes or a
                    little more is about the comfort limit for an audience attending to a
                    consecutive performance. Somewhere in there, the performer and the audience
                    both tend to need a break before resuming. In that sense, it would seem that
                    the proposed First Mark is a much more functionally chiastic text than Final
                    Mark.

                    DENNIS: The book as a whole also seems to be a long parable about how,
                    though the messiah was rejected and Israel destroyed because of it, "God is
                    salvation" and will return.

                    BRUCE: "Though" is exactly it. The implied Resurrection ending of Final Mark
                    does bring the previous Rejection of Israel plot to a much more satisfying
                    conclusion. I have previously suggested that this was one reason for its
                    addition, not only to the text but to the theological evolution which, as it
                    seems to me, the text mirrors.

                    DENNIS: When I enter into the first century world of Mark, I wander into a
                    shell shocked city, possibly Caesara Philippi, after the Romans have
                    practiced a scorched earth policy on Palestine and diapsoran populations on
                    the "way" back. When I enter the world of Mark, free from the name "Mark"
                    and the second, third century traditions associated, I see diasporan Jews
                    crying "Why?" I see the Gospel of Mark as an attempt to understand this. I
                    have no compelling reason to view any of this, other than a few locations
                    and a few names (Pilate, Herod, etc.) as historical.

                    BRUCE: I think a more mixed view is a better description of the whole. As
                    von Soden long ago pointed out, large tracts of Mark are extremely sunny.
                    They have Jesus preaching openly to large and enthusiastic crowds, Jesus
                    healing many, Jesus commanding the forces of nature, everything going well.
                    Nowhere in this material does Jesus curse his disciples, or intentionally
                    hide his message from his hearers. Then, as von Soden also pointed out, you
                    also have the other and gloomier part, the secretive Jesus, the abusive
                    Jesus, the impatient Jesus. The problem of Mark, as von Soden thus expressed
                    it, is to explain what these two types of material are doing in there
                    together. The tension demands some sort of resolution in the reader's or
                    hearer's mind. Wrede made a good beginning. More recently, I have suggested
                    how I see this demand being met, in each successive layer, and most
                    successfully (as above noted) in Layer 3 and subsequent.

                    That Mark (or as I would put it, Mark Layer 1) exists to answer the question
                    Why, is very much my sense also. But the question Why surely relates to the
                    arrest and execution of Jesus, to which the book devotes so much detail and
                    with which (in its original form) it climactically ends, and not to
                    devastation in the countryside, which to my eye at least, except for the
                    atypical predictions of Mk 13, the book does not depict at all.

                    Bruce

                    E Bruce Brooks
                    Warring States Project
                    University of Massachusetts at Amherst
                  • Tony Buglass
                    Dennis: This wouls suggest that portions of the Passion story were influenced by Josephus, placing a date of closer to 80 for this tale. Alternatively, it
                    Message 9 of 15 , Jan 17, 2009
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                      Dennis: "This wouls suggest that portions of the Passion story were influenced by Josephus, placing a date of closer to 80 for this tale. "

                      Alternatively, it might suggest that Josephus is dependent on Mark. Or that both are dependent upon another prototype. Surely any such hypothesis has to be finessed in the light of other evidence.

                      Cheers,
                      Rev Tony Buglass
                      Superintendent Minister
                      Upper Calder Methodist Circuit.



                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • E Bruce Brooks
                      To: Tony Buglass On: Church Supervision From: Bruce Excellent point about Josephus. But what I really wanted to ask about was not the message so much as this
                      Message 10 of 15 , Jan 17, 2009
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                        To: Tony Buglass
                        On: Church Supervision
                        From: Bruce

                        Excellent point about Josephus. But what I really wanted to ask about was
                        not the message so much as this part of the signature block:

                        Superintendent Minister
                        Upper Calder Methodist Circuit.

                        What does that involve, and how often? My grandfather was, well, not quite a
                        circuit rider, but a minister in the Methodism of a hundred years ago, but I
                        would rather have contemporary data. What, in 2009, are the duties of a
                        Superintendent Minister, and how do they interact with those of the Resident
                        Ministers, if any?

                        Pardon my administrative ignorance, but it strikes me as relevant to a note
                        I was considering posting on the situation in the 1c.

                        Bruce

                        E Bruce Brooks
                        Warring States Project
                        University of Massachusetts at Amherst
                      • Tony Buglass
                        Hi, Bruce British Methodism is organised differently from US Methodism. Our churches are organised into Circuits, which are in turn organised into Districts,
                        Message 11 of 15 , Jan 17, 2009
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                          Hi, Bruce

                          British Methodism is organised differently from US Methodism. Our churches are organised into Circuits, which are in turn organised into Districts, which in turn report to Conference (which meets annually). Each Circuit is run by the team of ministers and local preachers; the team is led by the Superintendent minister, who is also in pastoral charge of some of the churches (unlike our District Chairs, who are usually not in pastoral charge). This Circuit is relatively small (10 churches, 2 ministers, and about a dozen local preachers), occupying a valley running up into the Pennines from Halfax, West Yorkshire. We are currently considering joining up a few small circuits to form a larger one of some 30 churches. I am in pastoral charge of 5 churches, and in addition have a handful of District responsibilities and a chaplaincy to the local squadron of the Air Training Corps (think of a cross between Scouts and Royal Air Force). My responsibilities in the churches are the same as any minister: preaching, teaching, pastoral oversight, management, etc. In addition, as superintendent, I oversee the work at circuit level: I chair the Circuit Meeting, Local Preachers Meeting, and some of the Circuit Teams; I am also legally the Chair of the Managing Trustees of every church in the circuit, including those looked after by my colleague.

                          That's the structure. Personally (to link it to biblical studies and stuff) I see it as a close parallel to the episcopal structure behind 1 Tim.3 - the superintendent is the episkopos over the team of presbyteroi and laos. I prefer that as a model of episcopacy to the post-Constantinian diocesan model, or the UM model, which makes the bishop a much more distant figure. Or so it appears to me!

                          Hope that helps,
                          Cheers,
                          Rev Tony Buglass
                          Superintendent Minister
                          Upper Calder Methodist Circuit

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                        • Dennis Dean Carpenter
                          Bruce stated: I think a more mixed view is a better description of the whole. As von Soden long ago pointed out, large tracts of Mark are extremely sunny.
                          Message 12 of 15 , Jan 17, 2009
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                            Bruce stated: "I think a more mixed view is a better description of the whole. As
                            von Soden long ago pointed out, large tracts of Mark are extremely sunny.
                            They have Jesus preaching openly to large and enthusiastic crowds, Jesus
                            healing many, Jesus commanding the forces of nature, everything going well.
                            Nowhere in this material does Jesus curse his disciples, or intentionally
                            hide his message from his hearers. Then, as von Soden also pointed out, you
                            also have the other and gloomier part, the secretive Jesus, the abusive
                            Jesus, the impatient Jesus. The problem of Mark, as von Soden thus expressed
                            it, is to explain what these two types of material are doing in there
                            together. The tension demands some sort of resolution in the reader's or
                            hearer's mind. Wrede made a good beginning. More recently, I have suggested
                            how I see this demand being met, in each successive layer, and most
                            successfully (as above noted) in Layer 3 and subsequent."

                            Dennis replies: That is an interesting way to look at it. Wouldn't another way of stating that be, "Why would a human being have different emotions at different times?" Whether 'tis the author of Mark or the character of Jesus, I find not "problem of Mark" that requires an interpolation explanation, especially if the hero of the story is caught between (supernatural) destiny and fate. Looking for a perfectly consistent Jesus within the gospels is one of the major flaws I have seen in modern scholarship that I have read. Humans aren't consistent in their emotions and neither are characters, even heroes of stories nor their authors.

                            Anyway, it sounds like a faxcinating way to look at that gospel. Can't wait to read the findings.

                            Dennis Dean Carpenter
                            Dahlonega, Ga.

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                          • E Bruce Brooks
                            Tony, Thanks much; that does help. But let me see if I am reading you right. You have Supervisory responsibilities for all 10 churches in your circuit. You
                            Message 13 of 15 , Jan 17, 2009
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                              Tony,

                              Thanks much; that does help. But let me see if I am reading you right. You
                              have Supervisory responsibilities for all 10 churches in your circuit. You
                              also have Pastoral responsibilities for 5 of the churches. So all the
                              regular preaching in those 5 churches is done by you. Do I correctly infer
                              that in the other 5 churches, there are "local ministers" who do some of the
                              preaching, but that you occasionally preach there also? And do you exert any
                              supervision over the preaching that the local ministers do?

                              Sorry to be slow, but the information is appreciated.

                              Bruce

                              E Bruce Brooks
                              Warring States Project
                              University of Massachusetts at Amherst
                            • Tony Buglass
                              I don t have to preach in all 5 churches every week - that would get a bit silly! We have local preachers - lay preachers - who take services. They are very
                              Message 14 of 15 , Jan 17, 2009
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                                I don't have to preach in all 5 churches every week - that would get a bit silly! We have local preachers - lay preachers - who take services. They are very important members of the circuit team, we couldn't function without them. They are trained and accredited by the church, and answerable to the circuit through the Local Preachers' Meeting. As superintendent, I organise the preaching rota for all the churches on a quarterly plan - churches and preachers give me their requests and availability for the period in question, and I put them together. I don't tell the preachers what to preach, they are free to select their own subject, follow the lectionary or not.

                                Hope that helps,
                                Cheers,
                                Rev Tony Buglass
                                Superintendent Minister
                                Upper Calder Methodist Circuit

                                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              • Dennis Dean Carpenter
                                To say that Josephus was dependent on Mark would require some explanation. Josephus writes at length about the religious sects of Palestine. Unless one wants
                                Message 15 of 15 , Jan 18, 2009
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                                  To say that Josephus was dependent on Mark would require some explanation. Josephus writes at length about the religious sects of Palestine. Unless one wants to speculate that the Essenes were the prototypical Christianity, we find nothing but a highly, if not completely, interpolated statement about a Jesus and a mention of the brother of Jesus. That's it.

                                  But, you are correct about another prototype for Josephus. Jesus son of Ananias probably had roots, according to Ted Weeden Sr, in Jeremiah, which was a huge influence on Josephus. (He considered himself a "modern day Jeremiah," it seems. The evidence is found in Wars of the Jews and in Life.) One also finds a deep connection between the gospeleers and Jeremiah. (Mark's inspiration for the narrative of the cleansing of the temple came from Jeremiah, for instance.)

                                  Dennis Dean Carpenter
                                  Dahlonega, Ga.

                                  ----- Original Message -----
                                  From: Tony Buglass
                                  To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com
                                  Sent: Saturday, January 17, 2009 10:30 AM
                                  Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] On The Earliest Markan Narrative


                                  Dennis: "This wouls suggest that portions of the Passion story were influenced by Josephus, placing a date of closer to 80 for this tale. "

                                  Alternatively, it might suggest that Josephus is dependent on Mark. Or that both are dependent upon another prototype. Surely any such hypothesis has to be finessed in the light of other evidence.

                                  Cheers,
                                  Rev Tony Buglass
                                  Superintendent Minister
                                  Upper Calder Methodist Circuit.

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





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