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Re: [XTalk] Re: [Synoptic-L] On The Earliest Markan Narrative

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Crosstalk Cc: Other Previously Addressed Venues In Response To: Jeff Peterson On: The Earliest Markan Narrative From: Bruce JEFF: Bruce, I hope you ll
    Message 1 of 14 , Jan 15, 2009
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      To: Crosstalk
      Cc: Other Previously Addressed Venues
      In Response To: Jeff Peterson
      On: The Earliest Markan Narrative
      From: Bruce

      JEFF: 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?

      BRUCE: I already did it briefly, but I know it is counterintuitive for many, and I don't mind doing it again. First, though, an objection: I don't "dispense" with anything whatever. I am not out to identify, *and then exclude,* spuria in the text. I am out to see how the text came into being, and as part of that task, to identify any different strata it may contain. All the strata, the early and the late, are evidence for history. The task of history is simply to assign each part of the evidence to its correct place on the timeline, and thus to its correct place in the course of the development. From the evidence, as thus arranged, we can hope to read such history as the text may be witness to.

      JEFF: 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.

      BRUCE: Nothing closes it off. That interpretation works fine. It very well summarizes the passages it is based on. But to my eye, it is based on passages culled from several different layers of the text. The composite sense of any such combination will normally tend to be the sense of their most recent members. The final point reached by the developmental sequence, accordingly, is the one which will tend to emerge from any inclusive reading of the final product.

      But we can also read that final product analytically. Here is where the "philological evidence" comes in. How would one read the text analytically?

      There are a score of ways one might begin, but try this one. There are a lot of names for Jesus in Mark. Among them are Son of David, Son of God, Son of Man. Are these just synonyms, or have they different associations in the text? We won't know until we check them out. If we begin by grouping passages with those terms, we get roughly the following:

      SON OF DAVID

      The Son of David passages are concerned with Jesus's qualification to be himself the restorer of the Davidic Kingdom in Israel. He himself deals with an objection to his qualifications in 12:35f. Later tradition, not satisfied with this rather forced argument, actually provided Jesus with standard Davidic credentials: lineal descent and a birth in David's city Bethlehem. Blind Bartimaeus, not waiting for later tradition, acclaims Jesus as Son of David in 10:47. The crowd, shortly thereafter, is a little more careful with their terms, and merely cries "Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed be the Kingdom of our father David that is coming!" Jesus himself, in a carefully prearranged way, enters Jerusalem in a manner intended to evoke prophetic precedent. All this looks to the restoration of sovereignty in Israel, not to the death of Jesus. The return of God to Israel is very openly announced as the theme of the work, with the Malachi/Isaiah quote which heads it, in Mk 1:2-3. So far the beginning. Is there a middle? Yes, in the declaration of Peter at 8:29, "You are the Christ." To a Jew of the time, and Peter was himself presumably a Jew of the time, the meaning of that term could only have been a national saviour. This declaration occurs at the halfway point of the Gospel. So this group it items not only runs from first to last (I suggested earlier how the initially disappointing last line might be read), it is signaled by the writer of the text itself as his structural intent. We have then:

      Beginning: Mk 1:2-3 (God)
      Middle: Mk 8:29 (Peter)
      End: Mk 15:38 (Rending of the Veil = God again)

      All this David stuff is utterly beside the point of later Jesus theory. It is literally an embarrassment in the text. And by what is sometimes called the Criterion of Embarrassment, it is unlikely to have been devised and inserted by the later Church, whose beliefs were of a different sort. The only plausible option left is that these passages are remnants of early belief, or perhaps even of historical memory.

      What is interesting is that (1) if we assemble all the explicitly Davidic passages, and add to them the passages which are *not doctrinally in conflict with them,* we get what amounts to a consecutive narrative, running from the Isaiah epigraph through John the Baptist to the final moment of the Crucifixion; and (2) no passage of this Davidic narrative shows signs of being interpolated into anything else. It all looks, philologically speaking, like narrative bedrock.

      SON OF GOD

      I will now be briefer. Like the Davidic set, the Son of God set has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Jesus is so labeled, or so addressed, in the opening statement 1:1 (though I would rather say "beginning," as a reciter might do, not "origin") and in the Voice from Heaven at Jesus's Baptism (though with some others, including Rikk Watts in Beale/Carson 2007 p122f, I see the allusion in Mk 1:11 as to Psa 2:7, not to Isaac). It has an even more dramatic middle in the Transfiguration of 9:1f (God again). And it has a verbally explicit ending in the Roman soldier's exclamation, "Truly, this man was a Son of God." The early and the heavenly powers, and the powers beneath the earth, join in saying so. Here then is a groundplan for a Gospel of Jesus as the Son of God, overlaid on the already literarily complete groundplan for the Gospel of Jesus as the Son of David.

      Philologically, (1) the passages which can unambiguously be associated with the Son of God group, including as a first approximation all the exorcisms (the Davidic Jesus confined himself to healings), DO NOT form a consecutive narrative by themselves; they rely on the substrate Davidic Messiah narrative to constitute a complete story. And, (2) these passages are at some points interpolated into the Davidic narrative. By the standard presumption obtaining in all fields where texts are examined in this way, the Son of God layer as a whole is thus to be construed as later than the Son of David layer. In theological terms, (3) it represents a divinization of Jesus, a development which is easily seen between the successive Gospels (Mk > Mt > Lk > Jn). The big news here is that this same divinization development can also be seen *within Mark.*

      SON OF MAN

      More or less ditto the above. These are associated with predictions of Jesus's coming death. There are beginning, middle, and end:

      Beginning: Temptations to Desist (Mk 1:12-13)
      Middle: Three Predictions of Death (8:31, 9:31, 10:32)
      End: Three Temptations to Avoid (Mk 14:34-41)

      Matthew, enchanted with this design but seeing how it could be improved still more, brought Satan onstage in his equivalent of Mk 1:12-13, and thus made this incident a triple one also. Envious Luke, eager to improve on Matthew whether the result was actually better or not, arranged the Matthean temptations in what for him was a more climactic order.

      There is also a magnificent coda in this layer, going beyond anything preceding it. The theme of the Son of Man layer is Jesus's sacrificial death, with its promise of salvation for those who believe in Jesus. The coda, Mk 15:40-16:8, goes beyond his Crucifixion to portray, or sufficiently to suggest, his Resurrection. This is the only fully optimistic ending in any layer so far. No wonder it quickly eclipsed in popularity the first two attempts to make historical and operative sense of Jesus.

      Philologically, (1) The Son of Man passages, and those that can plausibly be associated with them in theme, do not make a complete narrative, and rely on the previously existing (now already composite) substrate for their narrative continuity. (2) There is also interpolation evidence that the Son of Man layer is secondary to the underlying previous substrate narrative. (3) To the divinization of Jesus in Layer 2, there is here added the further theological complication of the salvific meaning of Jesus's death. This gives rise to several famous controversies among the faithful, such as, Is one saved by works (as in Judaism and in Layers 1 and 2) or by faith in the salvific death of Jesus (as increasingly in Layer 3)? Luther (with Paul) answered, Sola Fide, by faith alone. The Epistle of James, which has no use for the Resurrection (earning Luther's contempt in the process), ridicules this notion. Paul in turn . . . but everyone will recognize this controversy. I only wish to point out that the controversy could only have arisen between a previously works-based belief (as with John the Baptist, and indeed with the early Jesus as described in Mk 1:14-15) and a new faith-based belief. Both these incompatible beliefs are attested within Mark. The faith-based option is found within Mark at such places as the unbelief of the epileptic boy's father in 9:22-23, the promise to those who left everything "for my sake and the Gospel" (Mk 10:29), the curse on those who cause "one of these little ones who believe in me to sin" (Mk 9:42), and the promise of eternal damnation for those who do not believe in Jesus's post-Crucifixion presence, in Mk 3:28-30.

      Mark is here not a whit less angry at the opposition than Paul at his most vituperative. At bottom, I suggest, it is the same argument. In both Mark and Paul, we have at this point made the transition from the religion of Jesus (what Jesus himself believed, which concerned God) to the religion about Jesus, in which (not to borrow a phrase from the books of Larry Hurtado and others) Jesus himself comes more and more to occupy the God spot in the believer's scheme of things.

      ENVOI

      Mark is a simple text, if we take its most vehemently argued highlights and construe the rest in their light. It is a complicated text if we notice its internal differences and indeed contradictions. But it becomes simple again once we recognize that the differences themselves make a pattern, and that we have before us in Mark, not a single-theory interpretation of Jesus, but a whole succession of such theories, the latest of which have the merit of being recognizable in the orthodoxy of the present time, which is always reassuring, and the earliest of which have the merit of reflecting the point from which that orthodoxy began to grow, which is of curious interest to at least a few, and the rest of which have the charm of being transitional from the one to the other: of showing theological history in the very process of happening.

      (Sorry for the length of this, but it seems that the previous notes, also long in their way, didn't quite work, and this one may perhaps more exactly meet the questions of at least one interested party).

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Maluflen@aol.com
      Remnants of early belief... Yes, early belief as found pervasively in the Gospel of Matthew, for instance. This paragraph,?like so many written by Markan
      Message 2 of 14 , Jan 18, 2009
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        "Remnants of early belief..." Yes, early belief as found pervasively in the Gospel of Matthew, for instance. This paragraph,?like so many written by Markan priorists, fits?delightfully well with the hypothesis of Matthean priority, and indeed argues in its direction. The beginning of Mark is, among other things, an attempt to remove the now irrelevant insistence found in Matt 1-2 on Jesus as "Son of David."

        Leonard Maluf
        Blessed John XXIII National Seminary
        Weston, MA

        BRUCE wrote:


        All this David stuff is utterly beside the point of later Jesus theory. It is
        literally an embarrassment in the text. And by what is sometimes called the
        Criterion of Embarrassment, it is unlikely to have been devised and inserted by
        the later Church, whose beliefs were of a different sort. The only plausible
        option left is that these passages are remnants of early belief, or perhaps even
        of historical memory.




        -----Original Message-----
        From: E Bruce Brooks <brooks@...>
        To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com; Synoptic@yahoogroups.com
        Cc: Adela Yarbro Collins <adela.collins@...>; GPG <gpg@yahoogroups.com>; GMark <gmark@...>
        Sent: Fri, 16 Jan 2009 1:49 am
        Subject: Re: [XTalk] Re: [Synoptic-L] On The Earliest Markan Narrative



        To: Crosstalk
        Cc: Other Previously Addressed Venues
        In Response To: Jeff Peterson
        On: The Earliest Markan Narrative
        From: Bruce

        JEFF: 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?

        BRUCE: I already did it briefly, but I know it is counterintuitive for many, and
        I don't mind doing it again. First, though, an objection: I don't "dispense"
        with anything whatever. I am not out to identify, *and then exclude,* spuria in
        the text. I am out to see how the text came into being, and as part of that
        task, to identify any different strata it may contain. All the strata, the early
        and the late, are evidence for history. The task of history is simply to assign
        each part of the evidence to its correct place on the timeline, and thus to its
        correct place in the course of the development. From the evidence, as thus
        arranged, we can hope to read such history as the text may be witness to.

        JEFF: 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.

        BRUCE: Nothing closes it off. That interpretation works fine. It very well
        summarizes the passages it is based on. But to my eye, it is based on passages
        culled from several different layers of the text. The composite sense of any
        such combination will normally tend to be the sense of their most recent
        members. The final point reached by the developmental sequence, accordingly, is
        the one which
        will tend to emerge from any inclusive reading of the final
        product.

        But we can also read that final product analytically. Here is where the
        "philological evidence" comes in. How would one read the text analytically?

        There are a score of ways one might begin, but try this one. There are a lot of
        names for Jesus in Mark. Among them are Son of David, Son of God, Son of Man.
        Are these just synonyms, or have they different associations in the text? We
        won't know until we check them out. If we begin by grouping passages with those
        terms, we get roughly the following:

        SON OF DAVID

        The Son of David passages are concerned with Jesus's qualification to be himself
        the restorer of the Davidic Kingdom in Israel. He himself deals with an
        objection to his qualifications in 12:35f. Later tradition, not satisfied with
        this rather forced argument, actually provided Jesus with standard Davidic
        credentials: lineal descent and a birth in David's city Bethlehem. Blind
        Bartimaeus, not waiting for later tradition, acclaims Jesus as Son of David in
        10:47. The crowd, shortly thereafter, is a little more careful with their terms,
        and merely cries "Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed be
        the Kingdom of our father David that is coming!" Jesus himself, in a carefully
        prearranged way, enters Jerusalem in a manner intended to evoke prophetic
        precedent. All this looks to the restoration of sovereignty in Israel, not to
        the death of Jesus. The return of God to Israel is very openly announced as the
        theme of the work, with the Malachi/Isaiah quote which heads it, in Mk 1:2-3. So
        far the beginning. Is there a middle? Yes, in the declaration of Peter at 8:29,
        "You are the Christ." To a Jew of the time, and Peter was himself presumably a
        Jew of the time, the meaning of that term could only have been a national
        saviour. This declaration occurs at the halfway point of the Gospel. So this
        group it items not only runs from first to last (I suggested earlier how the
        initially disappointing last line migh
        t be read), it is signaled by the writer
        of the text itself as his structural intent. We have then:

        Beginning: Mk 1:2-3 (God)
        Middle: Mk 8:29 (Peter)
        End: Mk 15:38 (Rending of the Veil = God again)

        All this David stuff is utterly beside the point of later Jesus theory. It is
        literally an embarrassment in the text. And by what is sometimes called the
        Criterion of Embarrassment, it is unlikely to have been devised and inserted by
        the later Church, whose beliefs were of a different sort. The only plausible
        option left is that these passages are remnants of early belief, or perhaps even
        of historical memory.

        What is interesting is that (1) if we assemble all the explicitly Davidic
        passages, and add to them the passages which are *not doctrinally in conflict
        with them,* we get what amounts to a consecutive narrative, running from the
        Isaiah epigraph through John the Baptist to the final moment of the Crucifixion;
        and (2) no passage of this Davidic narrative shows signs of being interpolated
        into anything else. It all looks, philologically speaking, like narrative
        bedrock.

        SON OF GOD

        I will now be briefer. Like the Davidic set, the Son of God set has a beginning,
        a middle, and an end. Jesus is so labeled, or so addressed, in the opening
        statement 1:1 (though I would rather say "beginning," as a reciter might do, not
        "origin") and in the Voice from Heaven at Jesus's Baptism (though with some
        others, including Rikk Watts in Beale/Carson 2007 p122f, I see the allusion in
        Mk 1:11 as to Psa 2:7, not to Isaac). It has an even more dramatic middle in the
        Transfiguration of 9:1f (God again). And it has a verbally explicit ending in
        the Roman soldier's exclamation, "Truly, this man was a Son of God." The early
        and the heavenly powers, and the powers beneath the earth, join in saying so.
        Here then is a groundplan for a Gospel of Jesus as the Son of God, overlaid on
        the already literarily complete groundplan for the Gospel of Jesus as the Son of
        David.

        Philologically, (1) the passages which can unamb
        iguously be associated with the
        Son of God group, including as a first approximation all the exorcisms (the
        Davidic Jesus confined himself to healings), DO NOT form a consecutive narrative
        by themselves; they rely on the substrate Davidic Messiah narrative to
        constitute a complete story. And, (2) these passages are at some points
        interpolated into the Davidic narrative. By the standard presumption obtaining
        in all fields where texts are examined in this way, the Son of God layer as a
        whole is thus to be construed as later than the Son of David layer. In
        theological terms, (3) it represents a divinization of Jesus, a development
        which is easily seen between the successive Gospels (Mk > Mt > Lk > Jn). The big
        news here is that this same divinization development can also be seen *within
        Mark.*

        SON OF MAN

        More or less ditto the above. These are associated with predictions of Jesus's
        coming death. There are beginning, middle, and end:

        Beginning: Temptations to Desist (Mk 1:12-13)
        Middle: Three Predictions of Death (8:31, 9:31, 10:32)
        End: Three Temptations to Avoid (Mk 14:34-41)

        Matthew, enchanted with this design but seeing how it could be improved still
        more, brought Satan onstage in his equivalent of Mk 1:12-13, and thus made this
        incident a triple one also. Envious Luke, eager to improve on Matthew whether
        the result was actually better or not, arranged the Matthean temptations in what
        for him was a more climactic order.

        There is also a magnificent coda in this layer, going beyond anything preceding
        it. The theme of the Son of Man layer is Jesus's sacrificial death, with its
        promise of salvation for those who believe in Jesus. The coda, Mk 15:40-16:8,
        goes beyond his Crucifixion to portray, or sufficiently to suggest, his
        Resurrection. This is the only fully optimistic ending in any layer so far. No
        wonder it quickly eclipsed in popularity the first two attempts to make
        historical and operative sense of Jesus.

        Philologically, (1) The Son of Man passages, and those that can plausibly b
        e
        associated with them in theme, do not make a complete narrative, and rely on the
        previously existing (now already composite) substrate for their narrative
        continuity. (2) There is also interpolation evidence that the Son of Man layer
        is secondary to the underlying previous substrate narrative. (3) To the
        divinization of Jesus in Layer 2, there is here added the further theological
        complication of the salvific meaning of Jesus's death. This gives rise to
        several famous controversies among the faithful, such as, Is one saved by works
        (as in Judaism and in Layers 1 and 2) or by faith in the salvific death of Jesus
        (as increasingly in Layer 3)? Luther (with Paul) answered, Sola Fide, by faith
        alone. The Epistle of James, which has no use for the Resurrection (earning
        Luther's contempt in the process), ridicules this notion. Paul in turn . . . but
        everyone will recognize this controversy. I only wish to point out that the
        controversy could only have arisen between a previously works-based belief (as
        with John the Baptist, and indeed with the early Jesus as described in Mk
        1:14-15) and a new faith-based belief. Both these incompatible beliefs are
        attested within Mark. The faith-based option is found within Mark at such places
        as the unbelief of the epileptic boy's father in 9:22-23, the promise to those
        who left everything "for my sake and the Gospel" (Mk 10:29), the curse on those
        who cause "one of these little ones who believe in me to sin" (Mk 9:42), and the
        promise of eternal damnation for those who do not believe in Jesus's
        post-Crucifixion presence, in Mk 3:28-30.

        Mark is here not a whit less angry at the opposition than Paul at his most
        vituperative. At bottom, I suggest, it is the same argument. In both Mark and
        Paul, we have at this point made the transition from the religion of Jesus (what
        Jesus himself believed, which concerned God) to the religion about Jesus, in
        which (not to borrow a phrase from the books of Larry Hurtado and others) Jesus
        himself comes more and more to occu
        py the God spot in the believer's scheme of
        things.

        ENVOI

        Mark is a simple text, if we take its most vehemently argued highlights and
        construe the rest in their light. It is a complicated text if we notice its
        internal differences and indeed contradictions. But it becomes simple again once
        we recognize that the differences themselves make a pattern, and that we have
        before us in Mark, not a single-theory interpretation of Jesus, but a whole
        succession of such theories, the latest of which have the merit of being
        recognizable in the orthodoxy of the present time, which is always reassuring,
        and the earliest of which have the merit of reflecting the point from which that
        orthodoxy began to grow, which is of curious interest to at least a few, and the
        rest of which have the charm of being transitional from the one to the other: of
        showing theological history in the very process of happening.

        (Sorry for the length of this, but it seems that the previous notes, also long
        in their way, didn't quite work, and this one may perhaps more exactly meet the
        questions of at least one interested party).

        Bruce

        E Bruce Brooks
        Warring States Project
        University of Massachusetts at Amherst


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


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

        Synoptic-L homepage: http://NTGateway.com/synoptic-lYahoo! Groups Links






        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • E Bruce Brooks
        To: Synoptic Cc: GPG In Response To: Leonard On: Markan Priority From: Bruce I had made a suggestion about the covert preparations in Jerusalem, the staged
        Message 3 of 14 , Jan 18, 2009
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          To: Synoptic
          Cc: GPG
          In Response To: Leonard
          On: Markan Priority
          From: Bruce

          I had made a suggestion about the covert preparations in Jerusalem, the
          staged Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, and the argument, in Jerusalem, over
          whether Jesus was in fact Davidically qualified to be what he was otherwise
          allowing the crowds to proclaim him as being, namely the political Messiah.
          I had in fact said of them and of many passages of like tendency in Mark,

          BRUCE: . . . All this David stuff is utterly beside the point of later Jesus
          theory. It is literally an embarrassment in the text. And by what is
          sometimes called the Criterion of Embarrassment, it is unlikely to have been
          devised and inserted by the later Church, whose beliefs were of a different
          sort. The only plausible option left is that these passages are remnants of
          early belief, or perhaps even of historical memory.

          LEONARD: "Remnants of early belief..." Yes, early belief as found
          pervasively in the Gospel of Matthew, for instance. This paragraph, like so
          many written by Markan priorists, fits delightfully well with the hypothesis
          of Matthean priority, and indeed argues in its direction. The beginning of
          Mark is, among other things, an attempt to remove the now irrelevant
          insistence found in Matt 1-2 on Jesus as "Son of David."

          BRUCE: The later and present Church, including George Frederic Handel, has
          definitely gotten very comfortable with Davidic imagery. It has done so in
          part by grasping the nettle: by actually developing the David theme (whence
          the Bethlehem birth, whence the Davidic or in Luke's case Davidic-plus
          genealogies, in the later treatments) and making Davidic imagery its own.
          And why did they do this? To reinstate the dangerous option of a political
          move against Rome? I have to doubt it. No movement was ever as chastened by
          the power of Rome as the entire mass of NT canonical documents, including
          those about Paul, reveal Early Christianity to have been.

          I would rather say that, following an initial period of opposition to
          certain elements in Judaism, an opposition which had done them little good
          in real life, the Jesus movement moved to an appropriation of Judaism's
          credentials with God. It applied the Promise to Abraham to itself, and
          insisted on regarding itself as the New Israel. If you can't renovate the
          whole system (which was the first plan), then form a smaller body of those
          who do subscribe to the new and redefined covenant, and regard them as the
          conceptual center. Tactically, that move was extremely clever. Occupy the
          center, and hereticize the opposition. Read your newspaper.

          This position is fully developed in envious Luke. It is reached already at a
          point late within the period, c30-45, reflected by Mark. One of its clearest
          witnesses is the Parable of the Wicked Tenants, which is both stylistically
          late and typologically isolated in Mark (there will be, first in Matthew and
          shortly afterward in the work of envious Luke, many more examples of the
          story parable). Between the first Markan hint and the wide screen Lukan
          panorama, the New Israel position is already much advanced in middling
          Matthew. Unlike Mark, Matthew tells the story of a movement which, so to
          speak, has not only taken possession of prophecy, comprising Judaism's
          previous contracts with higher powers, but has also taken over the Jewish
          legal system whole. In some sense. It's very adventurous conceptually, and
          it's fun to watch it in detail. I don't find it convincing as a first step
          in the evolution of early Christian thinking. I find it very convincing as a
          second step.

          To this sense of the early renunciatory Church moving to incorporate
          mainline Judaism, and to support that move by blunting or redirecting more
          oppositional details in Mark, many passages bear witness, some more clearly
          than others. Here at random are some ways that Matthew takes the
          insurrectionist or antinomian edge off of some of Mark's descriptions, and
          expands them (albeit not always concinnitously) in a different and
          ultimately more productive direction:

          Mk 11:2. . . . you will find a colt on which no one has ever sat; untie it
          and bring it . . .
          Mt 21:2 . . . you find an ass tied, and a colt with her; untie them and
          bring them to me. . . . [4] This took place to fulfil what was spoken by the
          prophet, saying "Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your King is coming to
          you, humble, and mounted on an ass and on a colt, the foal of an ass."

          Thus did pedantic Matthew correct the event depicted in Mark so as to
          conform it more closely with words of Scripture, and then display the
          scripture itself directly. Mark's audience, still largely
          synagogue-nurtured, will have caught the Scripture echo without any help
          from Mark's narrative voice. Matthew, operating with an increasingly Gentile
          audience, cannot safely make that assumption. And he doesn't. But in the
          process of putting the background music into the text proper, so to speak,
          Matthew also reifies a hitherto harmless bit of Hebrew verbal parallelism
          into two actual animals, on which no man has ever simultaneously sat without
          making a spectacle of himself. A spectacle of the wrong kind. Of the two
          versions, Mt and Mk, which is more likely to be reportorial? That question
          doesn't come up for Matthew, who is viewing the whole scene through a
          symbolic telescope. I think it should come up for Matthew's readers.

          Mk 11:9. And those who went before and those who followed cried out,
          Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! [10] Blessed is
          the kingdom of our father David that is coming!
          Mt 21:9. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted,
          Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the
          Lord!

          Mark's crowd rather carefully makes David the father of all Israel, thus
          blunting the literal lineage issue. If all of them are in some heritage
          sense "sons of David," then surely so is Jesus, as much as he needs to be
          for practical purposes. It is left, in Mark, for impetuous Blind Bartimaeus
          to directly call Jesus a "son of David." In Matthew, prepared as he is with
          literal birth records from antiquity, that risky acclamation can be, and is,
          safely transferred to the entire public, with no worry about reader
          resistance. This is one tiny way in which the Davidic motif is first
          solidified and then thoroughly incorporated into the Matthean narrative. The
          pedigree matter becomes in Matthew one more point not to confuse the reader
          with. It thus gets solved higher up.

          Of course Matthew preserves the separate Son of David debate, as part of his
          commitment to leaving no Markan stone unturned. See further below. The
          result of both preserving and operating on Mark is a pervasive symbolic
          unity and tone in Matthew, but also a point-to-point inconsistency in
          Matthew. There was nothing to be done about this; it was the price of
          Matthew's incorporation strategy. Only so could he absorb the previous
          function of Mark as the operative authority document for one branch of the
          early Jesus movement.

          Here is a Matthean amelioration:

          Mk 11:11. . . and went into the Temple, and when he had looked around at
          everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
          Mt 21:12. [has Jesus drive out the moneychangers immediately on his
          arrival].

          Mark's Jesus takes time to get the lay of the land, before attempting his
          purification stratagem. This sense of surveying the field of future battle
          is one of the passages in Mark which most clearly suggests, not a triumphal
          vindication of Scripture, a story in effect told by the prophets, but a very
          personal effort, in real time, to do something about the corruption in the
          Temple, on which building the hope of a literal return of God naturally
          focused. That prior-survey detail is wholly eliminated in Matthew, thus
          shortening the event sequence to one emblematic event after another. Matthew
          further packs that emblematic sequence with Scripture passages not present
          in Mark. This one resumes Jesus's whole previous career as a healer in
          miniature:

          Mt 14: And the blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed
          them. [15] But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful
          things that he did, and the children crying out in the Temple, Hosanna to
          the Son of David, they were indignant [16] and they said to him, Do you hear
          what these are saying? And Jesus said to them, Yes, and have you never read,
          "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings / Thou has brought perfect praise?"

          Give Matthew half a column inch, and he brings in an extra cute animal and a
          lot of children, thus greatly diluting the violence of Jesus "overturning
          the tables of the money-changers," and letting the children be his prophets
          and interpreters. Good move, PR-wise. Read your newspaper.

          As for the Son of David controversy itself, Matthew was stuck with it, but
          he does something to make it a little less severe, in part by deflecting the
          issue with the Pharisees into another one. Mark had had Jesus bring the
          David Credential matter up himself, by quoting a scribal opinion and then
          arguing with it. Mt [22:41f] gathers the Pharisees together in real time,
          and has them give that answer. Having dealt with that issue, Jesus then
          proceeds to temper the Markan sense of opposition to the more pettifogging
          clauses of Pharisaic ordinances by saying,

          Mt 23:2. "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, [3] so practice
          and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do . . . "

          No more antinomialism, at least not in the harsh and ultimately fatal form
          Mark gives it to us. All the law is now good (and not an iota of it will
          pass away, as Matthew elsewhere has Jesus tell us), and at least for the
          moment (Matthew is great as long as one does not collate his utterances), it
          is not the law, but the contrast between the law and the Pharisees' own
          reprehensible conduct, that is to be condemned.

          Such are the ways in which Matthew, having swallowed Mark whole, proceeds to
          smooth its violent edges and footnote its allusions and dim its oppositions
          and cute up its otherwise rough moments by bringing on a flock of children;
          in these and other little ways nudging the Markan narrative, which was
          something of a given for him, into more amiable directions.

          In Mark, the move on Jerusalem by Jesus and his band has the look of an
          undercover Special Forces raid, something which an early counterpart of
          Origen's mother might well have forbidden her hotheaded young son to rush
          out and join. In Matthew, the scene more nearly approaches a Sunday
          afternoon children's picnic, in sunny weather. Not completely, to be sure,
          complete consistency was not available to Matthew, but the nudges in the
          text are consistently in that direction.

          And so on.

          Such is my answer, or a sample of it, but I acknowledge the force of the
          question. So thoroughly do I acknowledge it that last month I sent in a
          paper proposal on the question of Davidic thematic developments in the later
          Gospels to SBL 2009. We shall see.

          Bruce

          E Bruce Brooks
          Warring States Project
          University of Massachusetts at Amherst
        • Dennis Dean Carpenter
          To: Bruce Regarding: David and embarrassment BRUCE: . . . All this David stuff is utterly beside the point of later Jesus theory. It is literally an
          Message 4 of 14 , Jan 19, 2009
          • 0 Attachment
            To: Bruce
            Regarding: David and embarrassment

            BRUCE: . . . All this David stuff is utterly beside the point of later Jesus
            theory. It is literally an embarrassment in the text. And by what is
            sometimes called the Criterion of Embarrassment, it is unlikely to have been
            devised and inserted by the later Church, whose beliefs were of a different
            sort. The only plausible option left is that these passages are remnants of
            early belief, or perhaps even of historical memory.


            My response: This imight be true of some of the Christian sects, but one does find the genealogy of Jesus important in Eusebius, as he quotes Africanus about the discrpancies in the two. There was also the testimony of the Ebionites as to the earthly parents of Jesus. One also finds that in the middle of the second century, Justin uses prooftexts from "David." In the Dialogue with Trypho, he states, without embarrassment in chapter forty-three, ""As, then, circumcision began with Abraham, and the Sabbath and sacrifices and offerings and feasts with Moses, and it has been proved they were enjoined on account of the hardness of your people's heart, so it was necessary, in accordance with the Father's will, that they should have an end in Him who was born of a virgin, of the family of Abraham and tribe of Judah, and of David; in Christ the Son of God, who was proclaimed as about to come to all the world, to be the everlasting law and the everlasting covenant, even as the forementioned prophecies show. " When are you proposing that the "embarrassment" began? I'm not certain the celestial Christ was popularlized before the second century and possibly before Marcion, certainly not before John. Even in the Paulines, though they can be used to support the notion of Jesus coming "in the form of flesh," they also point, without embarrassment to Jesus as "descended from David according to the flesh" and "born of a woman." (One finds a similar dichotomy, or so it seems to me, in 1 Clement.)

            I guess I am wondering what you mean when you say, "later Church."

            Dennis Dean Carpenter
            Dahlonega, Ga.






            ----- Original Message -----
            From: E Bruce Brooks
            To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com
            Cc: GPG
            Sent: Monday, January 19, 2009 2:08 AM
            Subject: Re: [XTalk] Re: [Synoptic-L] On The Earliest Markan Narrative


            To: Synoptic
            Cc: GPG
            In Response To: Leonard
            On: Markan Priority
            From: Bruce

            I had made a suggestion about the covert preparations in Jerusalem, the
            staged Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, and the argument, in Jerusalem, over
            whether Jesus was in fact Davidically qualified to be what he was otherwise
            allowing the crowds to proclaim him as being, namely the political Messiah.
            I had in fact said of them and of many passages of like tendency in Mark,

            BRUCE: . . . All this David stuff is utterly beside the point of later Jesus
            theory. It is literally an embarrassment in the text. And by what is
            sometimes called the Criterion of Embarrassment, it is unlikely to have been
            devised and inserted by the later Church, whose beliefs were of a different
            sort. The only plausible option left is that these passages are remnants of
            early belief, or perhaps even of historical memory.

            LEONARD: "Remnants of early belief..." Yes, early belief as found
            pervasively in the Gospel of Matthew, for instance. This paragraph, like so
            many written by Markan priorists, fits delightfully well with the hypothesis
            of Matthean priority, and indeed argues in its direction. The beginning of
            Mark is, among other things, an attempt to remove the now irrelevant
            insistence found in Matt 1-2 on Jesus as "Son of David."

            BRUCE: The later and present Church, including George Frederic Handel, has
            definitely gotten very comfortable with Davidic imagery. It has done so in
            part by grasping the nettle: by actually developing the David theme (whence
            the Bethlehem birth, whence the Davidic or in Luke's case Davidic-plus
            genealogies, in the later treatments) and making Davidic imagery its own.
            And why did they do this? To reinstate the dangerous option of a political
            move against Rome? I have to doubt it. No movement was ever as chastened by
            the power of Rome as the entire mass of NT canonical documents, including
            those about Paul, reveal Early Christianity to have been.

            I would rather say that, following an initial period of opposition to
            certain elements in Judaism, an opposition which had done them little good
            in real life, the Jesus movement moved to an appropriation of Judaism's
            credentials with God. It applied the Promise to Abraham to itself, and
            insisted on regarding itself as the New Israel. If you can't renovate the
            whole system (which was the first plan), then form a smaller body of those
            who do subscribe to the new and redefined covenant, and regard them as the
            conceptual center. Tactically, that move was extremely clever. Occupy the
            center, and hereticize the opposition. Read your newspaper.

            This position is fully developed in envious Luke. It is reached already at a
            point late within the period, c30-45, reflected by Mark. One of its clearest
            witnesses is the Parable of the Wicked Tenants, which is both stylistically
            late and typologically isolated in Mark (there will be, first in Matthew and
            shortly afterward in the work of envious Luke, many more examples of the
            story parable). Between the first Markan hint and the wide screen Lukan
            panorama, the New Israel position is already much advanced in middling
            Matthew. Unlike Mark, Matthew tells the story of a movement which, so to
            speak, has not only taken possession of prophecy, comprising Judaism's
            previous contracts with higher powers, but has also taken over the Jewish
            legal system whole. In some sense. It's very adventurous conceptually, and
            it's fun to watch it in detail. I don't find it convincing as a first step
            in the evolution of early Christian thinking. I find it very convincing as a
            second step.

            To this sense of the early renunciatory Church moving to incorporate
            mainline Judaism, and to support that move by blunting or redirecting more
            oppositional details in Mark, many passages bear witness, some more clearly
            than others. Here at random are some ways that Matthew takes the
            insurrectionist or antinomian edge off of some of Mark's descriptions, and
            expands them (albeit not always concinnitously) in a different and
            ultimately more productive direction:

            Mk 11:2. . . . you will find a colt on which no one has ever sat; untie it
            and bring it . . .
            Mt 21:2 . . . you find an ass tied, and a colt with her; untie them and
            bring them to me. . . . [4] This took place to fulfil what was spoken by the
            prophet, saying "Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your King is coming to
            you, humble, and mounted on an ass and on a colt, the foal of an ass."

            Thus did pedantic Matthew correct the event depicted in Mark so as to
            conform it more closely with words of Scripture, and then display the
            scripture itself directly. Mark's audience, still largely
            synagogue-nurtured, will have caught the Scripture echo without any help
            from Mark's narrative voice. Matthew, operating with an increasingly Gentile
            audience, cannot safely make that assumption. And he doesn't. But in the
            process of putting the background music into the text proper, so to speak,
            Matthew also reifies a hitherto harmless bit of Hebrew verbal parallelism
            into two actual animals, on which no man has ever simultaneously sat without
            making a spectacle of himself. A spectacle of the wrong kind. Of the two
            versions, Mt and Mk, which is more likely to be reportorial? That question
            doesn't come up for Matthew, who is viewing the whole scene through a
            symbolic telescope. I think it should come up for Matthew's readers.

            Mk 11:9. And those who went before and those who followed cried out,
            Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! [10] Blessed is
            the kingdom of our father David that is coming!
            Mt 21:9. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted,
            Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the
            Lord!

            Mark's crowd rather carefully makes David the father of all Israel, thus
            blunting the literal lineage issue. If all of them are in some heritage
            sense "sons of David," then surely so is Jesus, as much as he needs to be
            for practical purposes. It is left, in Mark, for impetuous Blind Bartimaeus
            to directly call Jesus a "son of David." In Matthew, prepared as he is with
            literal birth records from antiquity, that risky acclamation can be, and is,
            safely transferred to the entire public, with no worry about reader
            resistance. This is one tiny way in which the Davidic motif is first
            solidified and then thoroughly incorporated into the Matthean narrative. The
            pedigree matter becomes in Matthew one more point not to confuse the reader
            with. It thus gets solved higher up.

            Of course Matthew preserves the separate Son of David debate, as part of his
            commitment to leaving no Markan stone unturned. See further below. The
            result of both preserving and operating on Mark is a pervasive symbolic
            unity and tone in Matthew, but also a point-to-point inconsistency in
            Matthew. There was nothing to be done about this; it was the price of
            Matthew's incorporation strategy. Only so could he absorb the previous
            function of Mark as the operative authority document for one branch of the
            early Jesus movement.

            Here is a Matthean amelioration:

            Mk 11:11. . . and went into the Temple, and when he had looked around at
            everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
            Mt 21:12. [has Jesus drive out the moneychangers immediately on his
            arrival].

            Mark's Jesus takes time to get the lay of the land, before attempting his
            purification stratagem. This sense of surveying the field of future battle
            is one of the passages in Mark which most clearly suggests, not a triumphal
            vindication of Scripture, a story in effect told by the prophets, but a very
            personal effort, in real time, to do something about the corruption in the
            Temple, on which building the hope of a literal return of God naturally
            focused. That prior-survey detail is wholly eliminated in Matthew, thus
            shortening the event sequence to one emblematic event after another. Matthew
            further packs that emblematic sequence with Scripture passages not present
            in Mark. This one resumes Jesus's whole previous career as a healer in
            miniature:

            Mt 14: And the blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed
            them. [15] But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful
            things that he did, and the children crying out in the Temple, Hosanna to
            the Son of David, they were indignant [16] and they said to him, Do you hear
            what these are saying? And Jesus said to them, Yes, and have you never read,
            "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings / Thou has brought perfect praise?"

            Give Matthew half a column inch, and he brings in an extra cute animal and a
            lot of children, thus greatly diluting the violence of Jesus "overturning
            the tables of the money-changers," and letting the children be his prophets
            and interpreters. Good move, PR-wise. Read your newspaper.

            As for the Son of David controversy itself, Matthew was stuck with it, but
            he does something to make it a little less severe, in part by deflecting the
            issue with the Pharisees into another one. Mark had had Jesus bring the
            David Credential matter up himself, by quoting a scribal opinion and then
            arguing with it. Mt [22:41f] gathers the Pharisees together in real time,
            and has them give that answer. Having dealt with that issue, Jesus then
            proceeds to temper the Markan sense of opposition to the more pettifogging
            clauses of Pharisaic ordinances by saying,

            Mt 23:2. "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, [3] so practice
            and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do . . . "

            No more antinomialism, at least not in the harsh and ultimately fatal form
            Mark gives it to us. All the law is now good (and not an iota of it will
            pass away, as Matthew elsewhere has Jesus tell us), and at least for the
            moment (Matthew is great as long as one does not collate his utterances), it
            is not the law, but the contrast between the law and the Pharisees' own
            reprehensible conduct, that is to be condemned.

            Such are the ways in which Matthew, having swallowed Mark whole, proceeds to
            smooth its violent edges and footnote its allusions and dim its oppositions
            and cute up its otherwise rough moments by bringing on a flock of children;
            in these and other little ways nudging the Markan narrative, which was
            something of a given for him, into more amiable directions.

            In Mark, the move on Jerusalem by Jesus and his band has the look of an
            undercover Special Forces raid, something which an early counterpart of
            Origen's mother might well have forbidden her hotheaded young son to rush
            out and join. In Matthew, the scene more nearly approaches a Sunday
            afternoon children's picnic, in sunny weather. Not completely, to be sure,
            complete consistency was not available to Matthew, but the nudges in the
            text are consistently in that direction.

            And so on.

            Such is my answer, or a sample of it, but I acknowledge the force of the
            question. So thoroughly do I acknowledge it that last month I sent in a
            paper proposal on the question of Davidic thematic developments in the later
            Gospels to SBL 2009. We shall see.

            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 Cc: GPG In Response To: Dennis Dean Carpenter On: David Stuff From: Bruce Dennis, The phrase ( All this David stuff ) which you are picking out of
            Message 5 of 14 , Jan 19, 2009
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              To: Synoptic
              Cc: GPG
              In Response To: Dennis Dean Carpenter
              On: David Stuff
              From: Bruce

              Dennis,

              The phrase ("All this David stuff") which you are picking out of my previous
              note is ambiguous, I confess, but I thought the note itself was plain. Here,
              for better or worse, and in more detail, is how I have come to see the
              situation.

              1. With Reimarus and a few people since, I can only read parts of Mark as
              telling us that Jesus - the historical Jesus, the actual guy - had come to
              see himself as the Davidic Messiah in the strict political sense which would
              at that time have been given the word "Messiah" by contemporary Jews,
              namely, one who would bring back God to Israel, in the process restoring
              political sovereignty to Israel, with himself as its representative. It was
              for this rulership pretension, once it had erupted in action terms in the
              Temple precincts, that he was arrested and executed by the Romans.

              [This story, the failed political Messiah attempt, was all that was told by
              the first layer of Mark. For at least a period of time, the first layer of
              Mark was the whole extent of Mark. That Davidic Messiah story is in fact the
              base narrative of Mark, the thing into which all later elements of the text
              were inserted, over the period between 30 and circa 45].

              Jesus himself was not a literal descendant of David, so his claim to occupy
              the Kingship role was weak. We see him in Mk 12:35-37 that literal descent
              is not necessary, and quoting David himself to that effect.

              It is this historical Jesus that is an embarrassment to all Jesus's later
              followers. Who instead transform him retrospectively into, not a national,
              but a personal Saviour, and rigorously abstain from anything remotely
              resembling disloyalty or sedition.

              2. Separately, as the early followers of Jesus moved to appropriate the
              Judaic heritage (rather than be forced out of the Scriptural tradition by
              the opposition which Jesus's Mosaic reforms had precipitated), they embraced
              the idea that Jesus was in fact a lineal descendant of David, and was born
              in David's city Bethlehem. This took some doing, including the construction
              of sometimes tenuous genealogies and a birth story that gets Mary into
              Bethlehem just in time to give birth there, but these necessary extensions
              to the Jesus tradition were in fact made, and it was the job of Matthew in
              particular to take the first step in making them (greatly trumped by Luke,
              but it is easy to do better something that the other guy thought of first).
              This identifies Jesus firmly with the David tradition in Israel, but (here
              is the crux) no longer in the political sense, but in the sense which still
              obtains in modern use of the term Messiah. Christians soon came to regard
              the entire body of Jewish scripture as their own possession, and to read it
              as prefiguring Jesus in his role as personal Messiah, as is still done at
              present. The tendency is already conspicuous in Mark, and is further
              developed in Matthew (there is a nice example in my recent reply to
              Leonard). In this sense, the figure of David becomes a certification focus
              for Jesus followers, and a symbol and prefigurement of the reign of Jesus, a
              reign "not of this earth." It is no longer an embarrassment, it has been
              transformed into a symbolic asset.

              As long as you buy the genealogical tradition of the middle Gospels, and a
              few more things.

              3. In sum, It seems to me that the early followers of Jesus (meaning, from
              the year 30 to about 80, two generations) masterfully reversed the negative
              elements in the public image of them, thus:

              a. Their leader was executed. Yes, but he rose again, and so is more than
              alive.
              b. Their leader was not really a David descendant. Yes he was; here are the
              documents.
              c. They are schismatics within Judaism. No, only they truly understand
              Moses.
              d. Ditto. No, the Jewish scriptures exist only to foretell in detail the
              life of Jesus.

              The Past is Prologue.

              In such ways, the original negative image was converted to a positive one,
              and the Davidic Messiah embarrassment was forgotten, or textually buried, or
              sufficiently reinterpreted as a genuinely Davidic Jesus, who was the Messiah
              in more than a merely local-politics sense.

              Does this make sense? I wasn't intending to refer to Eusebius.

              Bruce

              E Bruce Brooks
              Warring States Project
              University of Massachusetts at Amherst
            • Dennis Dean Carpenter
              I understand what you are saying now. Dennis Dean Carpenter Dahlonega, Ga [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              Message 6 of 14 , Jan 19, 2009
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                I understand what you are saying now.

                Dennis Dean Carpenter
                Dahlonega, Ga




                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • E Bruce Brooks
                Dennis, Thanks for your patience; sorry to be so incomprehensible. Best wishes, Bruce
                Message 7 of 14 , Jan 19, 2009
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                  Dennis,

                  Thanks for your patience; sorry to be so incomprehensible.

                  Best wishes,

                  Bruce
                • Maluflen@aol.com
                  Bruce: Jesus himself was not a literal descendant of David, so his claim to occupy the Kingship role was weak. We see him in Mk 12:35-37 that literal descent
                  Message 8 of 14 , Jan 20, 2009
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                    Bruce:
                    Jesus himself was not a literal descendant of David,
                    so his claim to occupy the Kingship role was weak.
                    We see him in Mk 12:35-37 that literal descent is not necessary,
                    and quoting David himself to that effect.

                    Leonard:
                    Implied here is a sloppy, and I don’t believe very commonly
                    accepted interpretation of this Markan text, which need not at
                    all be dealing with the issue of literal descent (or not)
                    from David, and whose main point is certainly not that, in Mark
                    or in any of the Synoptic parallels.



                    Bruce:
                    It is this historical Jesus that is an embarrassment to all Jesus's
                    later followers. Who instead transform him retrospectively into,
                    not a national, but a personal Saviour, and rigorously abstain from
                    anything remotely resembling disloyalty or sedition.



                    Leonard:
                    This broad-brush statement may have some legitimate application,
                    but it does not apply at all to Matthew. Within the Synoptics
                    framework (and I am thinking especially here of Matthew and Luke)
                    the movement in thinking, with respect to Jesus as king, is not
                    from a national to a personal saviour, but rather from a national
                    to a universal kingship. When God makes Jesus Lord and Christ in
                    Luke’s Act’s, he who in Matthew was born “King of the Jews”
                    becomes, by this move, “Lord of all.”

                    Bruce:

                    Separately, as the early followers of Jesus moved to appropriate
                    the Judaic heritage (rather than be forced out of the Scriptural
                    tradition by the opposition which Jesus's Mosaic reforms had
                    p
                    recipitated), they embraced the idea that Jesus was in fact a
                    lineal descendant of David, and was born in David's city Bethlehem.
                    … This identifies Jesus firmly with the David tradition in Israel,
                    but (here is the crux) no longer in the political sense, but in
                    the sense which still obtains in modern use of the term Messiah.
                    Christians soon came to regard the entire body of Jewish scripture
                    as their own possession, and to read it as prefiguring Jesus in his
                    role as personal Messiah, as is still done at present … In this
                    sense, the figure of David becomes a certification focus for Jesus
                    followers, and a symbol and prefigurement of the reign of Jesus,
                    a reign "not of this earth." It is no longer an embarrassment, it
                    has been transformed into a symbolic asset.



                    Leonard:
                    Again, you are reading Matthew (if at all) through a Lukan and
                    Johannine perspective. In Matthew Jesus is said to be born in
                    Bethlehem as the fulfillment of a prophecy of a ruler who will
                    “shepherd my people Israel” – not the Church, not individuals,
                    not in a heavenly realm, etc. This is why in the Matthean story,
                    Herod sees Jesus as a serious (political) threat.
                    One must wait several centuries till the church sits Herod down
                    and gives him a lesson -- derived from the perspective of Luke
                    and especially John: 

                    Hostis Herodes impie,
                    Christum venire quid times?
                    Non eripit mortalia
                    Qui regna dat caelestia..



                    Of course the last lines here are also derived from Matt (25)!


                    Leonard
                    Maluf
                    Blessed John XXIII National Seminary
                    Weston, MA










                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • E Bruce Brooks
                    To: Synoptic Cc: GPG In Response To: Leonard Maluf On: David s Son From: Bruce I had suggested that the Davidic Messiah tradition which forms the base
                    Message 9 of 14 , Jan 20, 2009
                    • 0 Attachment
                      To: Synoptic
                      Cc: GPG
                      In Response To: Leonard Maluf
                      On: David's Son
                      From: Bruce

                      I had suggested that the Davidic Messiah tradition which forms the base narrative in Mark was an embarrassment to the later followers of the Jesus tradition. I may add that it was also something of an embarrassment to Jesus, in his day, since the Messiah, as Jewish tradition uniformly held, and as God's promise to David indeed specified, would be a descendant of David. I had read Mk 12:35f as showing Jesus dealing with that issue, and quoting the David the Psalmist to prove that the Davidic Messiah is not David's son.

                      LEONARD: Implied here is a sloppy, and I don’t believe very commonly accepted interpretation of this Markan text, . . .

                      BRUCE: Not at all. Straightforward sense of the words. There is of course a hermeneutic amelioration of this rather embarrassing saying. To ameliorate such sayings is what hermeneutics is there for. Nevertheless, and notwithstanding, it is notable how many commentators show the strain of coming to terms with the form and/or the meaning of this passage. Thus Branscomb (1937), "This is a strange and difficult passage;" Nineham (1963, quoting Manson), "a polemical passage which has been much discussed without any very satisfactory conclusion being reached;" Hooker (1991) "Totally unexpected . . . raises obvious questions for the modern reader;" Evans (2001) "somewhat anomalous in the dominical tradition;" France (2002) "Remarkably enigmatic." Remarkably enigmatic? Still? After sixty-odd years? Then there must really be a problem here. I suggest that the problem is the difficulty of making this saying say anything other than what it says on its face, and the parallel difficulty of accepting what it says on its face.

                      LEONARD: . . .which need not at all be dealing with the issue of literal descent (or not) from David, and whose main point is certainly not that, in Mark or in any of the Synoptic parallels.

                      BRUCE: The usual exegetical solution is that Jesus is enlarging David's conception of the Messiah. That is the line already taken in the second-tier Gospels (Mt/Lk). But it is difficult to get that out of the original Markan statement. Boring 2006 gives an extended account of the difficulty of changing concepts from that of the national Messiah to something else, eg "Was not the Messiah supposed to be the mighty Son of David who would establish the justice of God that triumphs over Roman power? How can Jesus be the fulfiller of these hopes if the Davidic image remains unfulfilled?" Thus does Boring imagine people at the time asking. I think he is right on the money. I also think he has it right when he describes the search, in the minds of people at the time, for another way of construing Jesus than in the way that Jesus, in Mk 12:35f, seems to construe himself.

                      I had earlier said, along these same lines: "It is this historical Jesus that is an embarrassment to all Jesus's later followers. Who instead transform him retrospectively into, not a national, but a personal Saviour, and rigorously abstain from anything remotely resembling disloyalty or sedition."

                      LEONARD: This broad-brush statement may have some legitimate application, . . .

                      BRUCE: Thank you. I privately regard it as the best one-sentence history of Christianity ever written.

                      LEONARD: . . . but it does not apply at all to Matthew. Within the Synoptics framework (and I am thinking especially here of Matthew and Luke) the movement in thinking, with respect to Jesus as king, is not from a national to a personal saviour, but rather from a national to a universal kingship.

                      BRUCE: Let the details go; the Synoptic movement, the Gospel trajectory, is indeed precisely from a NATIONAL to some other kind of kingship. My point precisely. The movement in the Synoptics is from NATIONAL to something else, or several other somethings else. The death of Jesus ended the hopes of his movement to restore literal political sovereignty to Israel. From that moment on, they sought either to disuse, or to redefine, the term "Messiah."

                      LEONARD: When God makes Jesus Lord and Christ in Luke’s Acts, he who in Matthew was born “King of the Jews” becomes, by this move, “Lord of all.”

                      BRUCE: Again, exactly so. This is precisely my position. Matthew and Luke work toward a transcendent Jesus, not a political, or indeed (and this climaxes in John) a historical Jesus at all.

                      I had also said, "as the early followers of Jesus moved to appropriate the Judaic heritage (rather than be forced out of the Scriptural tradition by the opposition which Jesus's Mosaic reforms had
                      precipitated), they embraced the idea that Jesus was in fact a lineal descendant of David, and was born in David's city Bethlehem. … This identifies Jesus firmly with the David tradition in Israel, but (here is the crux) no longer in the political sense, but in the sense which still obtains in modern use of the term Messiah. . . ."

                      LEONARD: Again, you are reading Matthew (if at all) through a Lukan and Johannine perspective. In Matthew Jesus is said to be born in Bethlehem as the fulfillment of a prophecy of a ruler who will “shepherd my people Israel” – not the Church, not individuals, not in a heavenly realm, etc. This is why in the Matthean story, Herod sees Jesus as a serious (political) threat.

                      BRUCE: And in the Markan story, or its oldest archaeological layer, Herod also sees Jesus as a serious (political) threat; Mk 6:14 "King Herod heard of it [Jesus's preaching around the countryside], for Jesus's name had become known." In Matthew, that Markan theme persists. Matthew respected Mark as the authority text, and though he was concerned to improve it, he also incorporated it. Hence we get these Davidic Messiah themes alongside more obviously transcendent Messianic ideas. Matthew is a mixed text, and must be read patiently, respecting all elements of the mixture (his successors, Luke and then John, get the new message with increasing clarity, and with increasingly less textual interference from inherited material). Mark is an overlaid text, and must be read diligently, with spade and toothbrush in hand, carefully separating out the various successive layers of theology which, in Mark as it stands, lie there like so many pancakes, one on top of the other.

                      LEONARD: One must wait several centuries till the church sits Herod down and gives him a lesson -- derived from the perspective of Luke and especially John: "Hostis Herodes impie,
                      Christum venire quid times? Non eripit mortalia / Qui regna dat caelestia."

                      BRUCE: This 5th century eloquence, in which Jesus has risen so high that even Herod need fear no longer for his puny earthly realm, is already prefigured in the seraphic parts of Mt/Lk. For that matter, the benignity of Herod toward the people he had arrested and killed is already shown in the latest Markan material, by which I mean to include the Death of John the Baptist. Where we read,

                      "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).

                      Here we already have Herod so attenuated as to be indistinguishable from Felix, as Luke draws him: willing to hear Paul (or John), and compelled only by circumstances beyond their control to keep them in custody, or behead them.

                      Not, dare I suggest, very plausible historically. But it does fit the policy I mentioned above (in the Once-Sentence History): the Christians were assiduous, Paul as much as any, not to give the hint of a shadow of a suspicion of resistance to any secular authority, whether in the family, on the street, in the praetorium, or in Rome.

                      LEONARD: Of course the last lines here are also derived from Matt (25)!

                      BRUCE: Just so, Leonard, just so. That is the trajectory. And it has already reached a certain recognizable level in Matthew.

                      E Bruce Brooks
                      Warring States Project
                      University of Massachusetts at Amherst


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Maluflen@aol.com
                      Bruce: And in the Markan story, or its oldest archaeological layer, Herod also sees Jesus as a serious (political) threat; Mk 6:14 King Herod heard of
                      Message 10 of 14 , Jan 21, 2009
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                        Bruce:
                        And in the Markan story, or its oldest archaeological layer, Herod also sees
                        Jesus as a serious (political) threat; Mk 6:14 "King Herod heard
                        of it[Jesus's preaching around the countryside], for Jesus's name had
                        become known." In Matthew, that Markan theme persists. Matthew respected
                        Mark as the authority text, and though he was concerned to improve it,
                        he also incorporated it.



                        Leonard:
                        In Matt 2, Matthew is not “incorporating” Markan text; he is gratuitously
                        constructing text heavy with a perspective that is fundamental for
                        his Gospel, and thus of extreme importance both to him and to his audience.
                        The perspective in question is that the rubrics King/Shepherd/Ruler of
                        Israel express the theological essence of Jesus’ earthly mission. Moreover,
                        Mark 6:14 is referring to a different Herod, who was not in fact a king.
                        It is likely in compensation for his omission of the Herod-the-King story
                        known from Matt 2 that Mark gives Herod Antipas the title of “king” here,
                        just as Mark (alone) has the “Herodians” conspiring with the Pharisees
                        in 3:6 to put Jesus to death. It is likewise Mark’s omission of Matt 2
                        that has necessitated Mark’s (unique) reference to Nazareth as Jesus’
                        place of origin in 1:9. The argumentative essence of Matt 2
                        (cf. Stendahl’s Quis et unde?) is thus scattered through the opening
                        chapters of Mark, who chooses to begin with the Baptism of Jesus a
                        Gospel which will end with his death-p
                        lus-hint-of-resurrection, in line
                        with good Pauline sacramental paraenesis (cf. Rom 6:3-4), for his
                        Roman audience.



                        Bruce:
                        Hence we get these Davidic Messiah themes alongside more obviously
                        transcendent Messianic ideas. Matthew is a mixed text, and must be
                        read patiently, respecting all elements of the mixture (his successors,
                        Luke and then John, get the new message with increasing clarity, and
                        with increasingly less textual interference from inherited material).



                        Leonard:
                        It is truly (and literally) preposterous to try to make the case
                        that Jesus as Messianic ruler of Israel in the Gospel of Matthew
                        is a left-over perspective from the earliest layer of Mark. The opposite
                        is clearly the case. Matthew is making his own, very deliberate case for
                        Jesus as acting Messiah of Israel during his ministry. Mark’s text,
                        written for Gentiles who are much more impressed with the idea that
                        Jesus is “Son of God,” (cf. 1:1, in some manuscripts, but in any case 1:11)
                        retains some traces of Matthew’s project. If Matthew is also concerned
                        to stress that Jesus is a certain kind of Jewish Messiah, as opposed to other
                        available conceptions – a kind that was also predicted in prophecy
                        (cf. Matt 12:15-20; 21:4-5) — this is because he, and he alone of the
                        Evangelists, thinks very realistically about Jesus as earthly ruler of Israel.

                        Although it is true that Jesus’ human genealogy becomes less and
                        less relevant for Christian Gospel audiences as time=2
                        0progresses,
                        one should not dismiss too cavalierly the genealogy of Jesus as
                        given by Matthew. It would have been nice for the first-century
                        author of Hebrews, and his argument that Jesus is High Priest,
                        if Jesus could have been artificially endowed with genealogical
                        descent from Levi (Aaron). Nevertheless, it was PRODHLON to this
                        author that Jesus was in fact descended from Judah (7:14). Either
                        this was known to be in fact the case (already Rom 1:3; and later,
                        2 Tim 2:8), historically, or an already authoritative New Testament
                        Genesis (BIBLOS GENESEWS) said so on its very first page, in a way
                        that could not be missed (PRODHLON).



                        Leonard Maluf
                        Blessed John XXIII National Seminary
                        Weston, MA

                         

                         



                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • E Bruce Brooks
                        To: Synoptic Cc: GPG In Response To: Leonard On: Earliest Matthean Narrative From: Bruce LEONARD: In Matt 2, Matthew is not “incorporating” Markan text; he
                        Message 11 of 14 , Jan 21, 2009
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                          To: Synoptic
                          Cc: GPG
                          In Response To: Leonard
                          On: Earliest Matthean Narrative
                          From: Bruce

                          LEONARD: In Matt 2, Matthew is not “incorporating” Markan text; he is gratuitously
                          constructing text heavy with a perspective that is fundamental for his Gospel, and thus of extreme importance both to him and to his audience.

                          BRUCE: All that could be true without changing the implication of the evidence, both macro and micro, that Matthew comes after Mark, and that the differences between Matthew and Mark are most readily understood as adjustments of Matthew to Mark (when they share common text) or as places where Matthew moves on beyond Mark into new areas (such as the Virgin Birth, where Matthew has no precedent in Mark). Repeated question: If we have two videotapes, one showing Jesus entering Jerusalem riding on ONE animal, and the other showing Jesus entering Jerusalem riding on TWO animals, which tape is likely to be the original version? If we have one transcript reporting the exorcism of ONE demoniac, and another transcript of even date reporting the simultaneous exorcism of TWO demoniacs? which transcript is likely to be the original version? And comparing the answers to these two questions, can we say anything useful about the authorial proclivities of Matthew?

                          LEONARD: The perspective in question is that the rubrics King/Shepherd/Ruler of Israel express the theological essence of Jesus’ earthly mission.

                          BRUCE: Sure. That is very true of Matthew. To put it in a way that takes in the larger context, Matthew is pushing a spiritualized version of that portion of Mark which seems to record a strictly earthly mission: namely, to restore political sovereignty to Israel. Are there evidences elsewhere in Matthew that Matthew likes to spiritualize material that appears in more quotidian form elsewhere? Yes, many. For instance: Of two blessings, one on the poor and the other on the "poor in spirit," which is likely to be the original? Of two blessings, one on the hungry and the other on "those who hunger after righteousness," which is likely to be the original? I think so too. Then the Matthean tendency to spiritualize things which occur in more mundane form elsewhere in the Synoptic literature is established. It seems we have detected another authority proclivity in Matthew. Wow! Wow! Who knows how far we might get with the question of Synoptic relations, if we kept on in this way for, oh, twenty or thirty minutes? I ask you.

                          LEONARD: Moreover, Mark 6:14 is referring to a different Herod, who was not in fact a king.
                          It is likely in compensation for his omission of the Herod-the-King story known from Matt 2 that Mark gives Herod Antipas the title of “king” here, just as Mark (alone) has the “Herodians” conspiring with the Pharisees in 3:6 to put Jesus to death.

                          BRUCE: Mark's mistakes of fact, whether of royal terminology or of priestly tenure or of geographical propinquity, don't mean that Mark is not the earliest of the four Gospels; they merely mean that he is careless. Again a directionality question: Of two parallel texts, one of which gets a fact wrong and the other of which gets it right, which is the earlier? Answer: In all normal human probability, the one that got it wrong. And why? Because it is reasonable to suppose that some later and learned author has in a spirit of good fellowship corrected the error of a beloved earlier colleague, but it is not so reasonable to suppose that a later copyist, with the right fact by definition sitting there in front of him, has introduced an error into his accurate original. Mark's errors (I do not here include the weird travel and crowd complications, some of which are due to incompatibility between earlier layers and later textual layers in Mark) convict him of carelessness. But at the same time, they also tend to attest him as being the first in the field.

                          LEONARD: It is likewise Mark’s omission of Matt 2 that has necessitated Mark’s (unique) reference to Nazareth as Jesus’ place of origin in 1:9.

                          BRUCE: Unique? Unique? Let's take a look at the file.

                          Mk 1:9 "In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee."
                          Mk 1:24 "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?"
                          Mk 10:47 "He heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth"
                          Mk 16:6 "You seek Jesus of Nazareth"

                          We have here (1) the Markan narrator, (2) a blind beggar, (3) a demon, and (4) someone who looks and talks an awful lot like an angel, all without exception agreeing to associate Jesus with Nazareth. Nobody in Mark, whether in earlier or later layers of that text - nobody at all - ever associates Jesus with Bethlehem. In fact, nobody in Mark ever so much as mentions Bethlehem.

                          Now we take Matthew:

                          Mt 2:23 [Joseph] "went and dwelt in Nazareth"
                          Mt 2:23 [prophecy]: "He shall be called a Nazarene"
                          Mt 21:11 [crowds]: "The prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee"
                          Mt 26:71 "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth"

                          The latter two are much the same as everything in Mark: Jesus is generally associated with Nazareth. Now ask the question the other way round. How about people in Nazareth, who think that Jesus is associated with them?

                          Mk 6:1-4 || Mt 13:53-57. These passages more or less identically describe Jesus's visit to "his own country" [narrator] where the inhabitants were familiar with his father and his family, and where his sisters were still living; in commenting on their lack of belief in him, Jesus remarks (in both texts) that "a prophet is not without honor except in his own country." So now we have the witness of Jesus, that Nazareth is indeed "his own country," the place he grew up, the place he was from, the place with which everyone else identified him.

                          In these two Gospels, it is only in the miraculous story of Mt 2, where Jesus is identified to Eastern Kings by one set of miracles, and where Joseph is warned what to do next by a second set of miracles, does Bethlehem at all come into the picture, solely to assert Joseph's descent from David (see previous note for the David Trajectory). The story then goes to considerable lengths, again with supernatural guidance, to locate Joseph in Nazareth. The two Gospels roughly agree, over their whole course, except where the Matthean story is guided not by its narrator but by outside supernatural intervention. I join others in thinking that the secondary part of these two parallel accounts is the supernatural intervention elements in one of them.

                          But suppose we waive that. Take a larger question which includes it: the Mt 1-2 material itself. If Mark had come to his Gospel task with a copy of Matthew in front of him, would he have omitted these episodes, durably attractive as they have proven to be? Let's at once admit that this is at least a possibility. Mark (so the theory goes) is out to write a shortened version of Matthew, and anyway, everybody already knows the Miraculous Birth sequence, so no harm in omitting it. OK, let's adopt that view of the matter. So far so good.

                          What is hard to explain on these assumptions, however, is why Mark should introduce material, wholly without warrant in his source, which is actually hostile to Jesus's mother (and brothers), and indeed shows him as rejecting them, his natural family. We have here no mandate of concision, no Reader's Digest guidelines to conform to. We have here the opposite, a space-taking addition, which not only departs from Mark's Matthean Vorlage, but does so in ways drastically opposed to the whole spirit of that Vorlage.

                          Warum?

                          Bruce

                          E Bruce Brooks
                          Warring States Project
                          University of Massachusetts at Amherst

                          [As for Stendhal: Sorry, but no. Neither the 5th century (last message) nor the 19th [this one] has any cogency for me. If the world had to wait hundreds of years for poets, or thousands of years for novelists, to solve their problems for them, then the problems themselves must be unreal in the extreme, and not after all worth bothering with].


                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • Maluflen@aol.com
                          BRUCE: All that could be true without changing the implication of the evidence, both macro and micro, that Matthew comes after Mark, and that the differences
                          Message 12 of 14 , Jan 21, 2009
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                            BRUCE: All that could be true without changing the implication of the evidence,
                            both macro and micro, that Matthew comes after Mark, and that the differences
                            between Matthew and Mark are most readily understood as adjustments of Matthew
                            to Mark (when they share common text) or as places where Matthew moves on
                            beyond Mark into new areas (such as the Virgin Birth, where Matthew has
                            no precedent in Mark). Repeated question: If we have two videotapes, one
                            showing Jesus entering Jerusalem riding on ONE animal, and the other showing
                            Jesus entering Jerusalem riding on TWO animals, which tape is likely to be
                            the original version? If we have one transcript reporting the exorcism of
                            ONE demoniac, and another transcript of even date reporting the simultaneous
                            exorcism of TWO demoniacs? which transcript is likely to be the original version?

                            LEONARD:
                            Your rhetorical question regarding videotapes indeed speaks for itself
                            (thus, the rhetorical question is justified), but it disproves your
                            larger point, I am afraid. Of course the videotape of Jesus entering
                            Jerusalem on ONE animal is a secondary, visual improvement over Matthew’s
                            awkward scene, pedantically understood. And the idea that two as opposed
                            to one demoniac need be the later version of a demoniac healing narrative reflects
                            a naïve Western, rational prejudice, that quantitative considerations trump
                            any others. The evidence of secondary editing in Mk 5:1-20 with respect to
                            the Matthean parallel(8:28-34) is so overwhelmingly obvious that its d
                            enial
                            defies rational response.



                            BRUCE: Sure. That is very true of Matthew. To put it in a way that takes
                            in the larger context, Matthew is pushing a spiritualized version of that
                            portion of Mark which seems to record a strictly earthly mission: namely,
                            to restore political sovereignty to Israel. Are there evidences elsewhere
                            in Matthew that Matthew likes to spiritualize material that appears in more
                            quotidian form elsewhere?



                            LEONARD:
                            Your introduction of the notion of “spiritualization” here is obfuscating.
                            The real issue is whether Jesus’ role as shepherd, ruler, king of Israel,
                            which is real, pervasive and fundamental in Matthew, retains any realistic
                            vitality where it is reflected secondarily in Mark. Answer: not really;
                            Jesus is presented in Mark as “Son of God in power,” anticipating
                            his resurrection status, among people whose Israelite
                            identity is not usually alluded to or stressed by Mark, leaving open
                            easy application of Jesus’ mighty deeds to the members of his mostly
                            Gentile, non-elite audience. Those whose authority in Israel Jesus
                            replaces or threatens have simply become the well-known bad guys
                            in the Jesus drama in Mark. “The scribes” for instance; nowhere
                            in Mark do you find an expression where the author shows clear
                            understanding of the social role of the scribe in Israel, such as
                            Matt 2:4: “the scribes of the people.”



                            BRUCE:
                            Mark's mistakes of fact, whether of royal terminology or=2
                            0of priestly
                            tenure or of geographical propinquity, don't mean that Mark is not the
                            earliest of the four Gospels; they merely mean that he is careless.
                            Again a directionality question: Of two parallel texts, one of which
                            gets a fact wrong and the other of which gets it right, which is the
                            earlier? Answer: In all normal human probability, the one that got it
                            wrong. And why? Because it is reasonable to suppose that some later
                            and learned author has in a spirit of good fellowship corrected the
                            error of a beloved earlier colleague, but it is not so reasonable to
                            suppose that a later copyist, with the right fact by definition sitting
                            there in front of him, has introduced an error into his accurate original.

                            LEONARD:
                            Actually, that is exactly what Mark has patently done on the theory of
                            Markan priority. 1 Sam 20:2,7 etc. refer explicitly to Abimelech the priest,
                            which Mark carelessly renders Abiathar. By your logic, the later text here
                            should have been 1 Sam 20:2 whose author, in the spirit of good fellowship,
                            of course, was kind enough to correct the mistake in Mark! On my
                            hypothesis, the “right fact” was not sitting there in front of Mark,
                            because Matthew’s text doesn’t mention Abimelech. Mark was going by
                            memory, and simply got it wrong.


                            I had written: It is likewise Mark’s omission of Matt 2 that has
                            necessitated Mark’s(unique) reference to Nazareth as Jesus’ place of origin in 1:9.

                            BRUCE: Unique? Unique? L
                            et's take a look at the file.

                            LEONARD:
                            No, you missed my meaning here. I meant that Mark’s reference to Jesus’
                            Nazareth origin is unique at this point in the triple tradition. Thus,
                            my point stands, for your continued edification.




                            Leonard  Maluf
                            Blessed John XXIII National Seminary
                            Weston, MA



                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • E Bruce Brooks
                            To: Synoptic Cc: GPG In Response To: Leonard On: The Earliest Markan Narrative From: Bruce LEONARD: Of course the videotape of Jesus entering Jerusalem on ONE
                            Message 13 of 14 , Jan 21, 2009
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                              To: Synoptic
                              Cc: GPG
                              In Response To: Leonard
                              On: The Earliest Markan Narrative
                              From: Bruce

                              LEONARD: Of course the videotape of Jesus entering Jerusalem on ONE animal
                              is a secondary, visual improvement over Matthew’s awkward scene,
                              pedantically understood.

                              BRUCE: Not "of course" for me. Why is it out of the question to think that a
                              naturalistic early story (one still credible as an event, whether or not it
                              was actually historical) has been transformed by slavish verbal adherence to
                              the controlling OT text into one which is physically impossible, and can
                              only be construed symbolically?

                              Has anybody present ever tried to ride two animals simultaneously? In
                              midstream or otherwise? If so, what was the result? We need some empirical
                              input here.

                              THE QUANTITATIVE ISSUE AS A CULTURAL ISSUE

                              LEONARD: And the idea that two as opposed to one demoniac need be the later
                              version of a demoniac healing narrative reflects a naïve Western, rational
                              prejudice, that quantitative considerations trump any others.

                              BRUCE: Not naïve, not specifically Western neither. Observe: We have two
                              ancient Christian documents, Mk and Mt, both from the first Christian
                              century. In one of them there is one demoniac, in the other there are two
                              demoniacs. All other details which are parallel at all in the demoniac
                              story, closely agree. The two versions are then clearly related. No matter
                              which way the directionality between them may run, SOME effect must have
                              been intended by the second one, that was not achieved by the first one,
                              otherwise it would presumably have been incorporated intact (and that intact
                              incorporation was a real and viable option is shown by many exact parallels
                              in Mt/Mk). The only real difference in what is left of the story is the
                              quantitative difference. Then the quantitative change, whether from two to
                              one or from one to two, had value for a 1st century Christian audience. QED.

                              So much for quantitative considerations in the Ancient Near East. Now try
                              the Ancient Far East. The protégés of Confucius who figure in the early
                              layers of the most authoritative source for Confucius, namely the early
                              Analects (05c), number about two dozen, some of them not very impressive
                              (Confucius impatiently hits one of them on the shin with a stick). The names
                              on a family tradition list from the 04th century number about 68, and
                              include some probably genuine but completely unknown ones. For merely
                              symbolic reasons, this number was increased to 70 (or 72, amusingly, we have
                              exactly the same 70/72 problem with Confucius as Luke does with his second
                              band of Apostles) in expansions of this list known from the early Empire.
                              And even this not being enough (Confucius by Empire times had become an icon
                              of the whole culture), it was further claimed that these 70 (or 72)
                              disciples were only the cream, the esoteric core, of a larger number of
                              3,000 disciples. Again the fascination with numbers per se, and again the
                              sense that bigger numbers convey more grandeur than small ones. QE2D.

                              So not only are numbers demonstrably important to all ancient traditions
                              known to me, and thus evidently also to the audiences for the stories told
                              in those cultures, but the general tendency is for the numbers to grow over
                              time, as part of the general aggrandizing process. The presumption, then, if
                              there should be any general presumption at all, is that of two stories with
                              numbers, the story with the bigger numbers is the later story. Because it
                              represents the tradition in a more aggrandized state.

                              Recommended reading at this point: Dr Seuss: And To Think That I Saw It On
                              Mulberry Street.

                              SECONDARITY

                              LEONARD: The evidence of secondary editing in Mk 5:1-20 with respect to the
                              Matthean parallel(8:28-34) is so overwhelmingly obvious that its denial
                              defies rational response.

                              BRUCE: I deny it, and I herewith request a rational response. I appreciate,
                              or anyway I am familiar with, the disinclination of the learned to stoop so
                              low as to instruct the ignorant, but I would like to ask for an exception in
                              this case. Not just for my benefit, but also for that of any persons in the
                              crowd who may be less ready than myself to confess their ignorance in
                              public. On their behalf and on my own, I thus venture to inquire: What is
                              obviously secondary about Mk 5:1-20?

                              Of course, one should try to reduce one's ignorance by one's own efforts,
                              before troubling the counsels of the wise. And this now I proceed to do. I
                              proceed by searching out printed books.

                              Now, there are not that many Markan Posteriorist commentaries in print, but
                              for a sample of this approach, I turn to C S Mann (1986), not yet superseded
                              in Anchor until Joel Marcus's v2 comes out in a month or so. Does Mann say
                              that Mk 5:1-20 is secondary to its Matthean counterpart? Well, yes and no,
                              but not exactly. He says, and I quote, "In Matthew and Luke we have accounts
                              which are terse, designed for easy memorization, whereas in Mark we have a
                              narrative in which the evangelist has access to a far livelier and more
                              dramatic narrative - in fact, so dramatic that he finds it imperative to
                              insert v8 to relieve the confusion of detail. We can find some indications
                              of the way in which the story developed from Matthew's version, where we
                              have two men who are demon-possessed, in contrast with the one man of Mark
                              and Luke. All of this seems to suggest to the present commentator that Mark
                              had two versions of the story which Matthew had originally possessed, and
                              telescoped into one. Mark used a combination of the terse and condensed
                              Matthean account, together with his own "reminiscence source," and produced
                              the present narrative."

                              That is an overall statement, and it doesn't really say that Mark is
                              posterior to Matthew. It says, or it can be construed as saying, that Mark
                              made use of two prior sources, whereas Matthew made use of only one. Mann
                              does not bother to indicate where, in the Markan conflate version, he things
                              the traces of Markan conflation may be. He does not refer to any detail in
                              the Markan or indeed the Matthean text, save v8. So now everything, except
                              general statements and unproved assertions, is hanging on v8.

                              OK. Always willing to learn, if necessarily at a slow pace, I turn to v8 in
                              Mk:

                              "For he had said to him, Come out of him, you unclean spirit."

                              Big anticlimax, no? This line is a typical Markan aside, designed to provide
                              a detail in the story which was narratively necessary, but which the
                              narrator had forgotten to mention at the proper place. It is typical Mark,
                              and it is also quintessential oral style (I blush to say that I do it myself
                              when lecturing). This kind of thing does not result from copying a
                              consecutive written version of a story, it results from following an actual
                              teller's rendition of the story, including its catch-up parentheses. This
                              alone permits the thought that Mark here is not necessarily following an
                              earlier written version; he may be simply telling the story. In support of
                              this "parenthesis" interpretation, I note that Mann himself renders v8 this
                              way:

                              [8] (For Jesus was already saying to him, Unclean spirit, come out of this
                              man).

                              That is, for Mann also the line is a parenthesis. Mt does not preserve the
                              parenthesis. He does not preserve the line. In fact, he lacks any detail in
                              which the demoniac either speaks or is spoken to. In Mt, the only voice from
                              the demoniac direction is from the possessing demons, who are plural in Mt
                              (one demon each for two demoniacs, or so the story at that point invites us
                              to infer), and who are also plural in Mk (a self-described Legion of demons
                              ["for we are many"] inhabiting one man).

                              A FUNCTIONAL ARGUMENT

                              As for v8 having been added, as Mann claims, to "relieve the confusion of
                              detail," I don't see it. I think it leaves the details, whether confused or
                              not (I would call them exuberant, but not narratively confused, in fact they
                              are narratively consecutive), right where the surrounding narrative leaves
                              them. So the functionalist explanation of Mk 5:8 does not function for me.

                              Meaning, that Mann gives me no satisfaction about the nature of Mk 5:8.
                              Which is the only detail to which he refers at all.

                              NARRATIVE COHERENCE

                              Anyway, we have in both cases more than one demon: seemingly two in Mt, and
                              in Mk a very large number [the demons' own census report is: "many"]. Good.
                              Now we can take up the question implicitly raised in the preceding
                              paragraph: With which of these situations is the following story, which is
                              closely parallel in Mt and Mk, more consistent? In both, the whole herd of
                              demon-transferred swine rushes into the sea and is drowned. Mk specifies
                              that there were two thousand of them, another of his slightly late
                              informational parentheses, but even in Mt, there were "a herd of many swine"
                              and "the whole herd" rushed into the sea. This detail, in effect common to
                              both, would seem, on the face of it, to be more consistent with a story in
                              which a large number of demons were involved, than with a story featuring
                              only two demons. So by the Swine Test, it seems that the Markan story,
                              fantastic as it is, at least makes sense with itself. It does not, as so far
                              demonstrated (and Mann does not really attempt to demonstrate it), look like
                              an ineffective combination of two contrasting prior texts. Whereas the
                              Matthean story is, how to put it, numerically inconcinnitous. Two pigs would
                              have sufficed Matthew nicely. One demon per man, and one pig per demon. The
                              shift from the minimum requisite two pigs to "many" pigs in Mt seems to be
                              symbolically unmotivated. In Mk, it is narratively consistent, "many" demons
                              going into "many" pigs. No sign here of inconsistency introduced by
                              conflating two prior accounts, whether or not one of the accounts was
                              equivalent to our Matthew.

                              One way to read this situation is that Mt has doubled the demoniacs, for the
                              same reason that explains his doublings in other Markan stories, and indeed
                              his frequent and notorious doubling of some Markan stories themselves,
                              whence (in the minds of some) Q. In the process of doubling the Markan
                              demoniacs, Matthew has implied a total of two possessing demons, but has
                              unthinkingly retained the many pigs from Mark, the pigs which are almost
                              necessary to the Markan story, but are narrative overkill in Matthew. Is
                              there a more convincing way to read this difference? None has so far
                              occurred to me. I see Matthew as abridging a Markan story, increasing its
                              effectiveness (as he imagines) by doubling its protagonist, and
                              inconsistently retaining from the Markan story the detail of the "many"
                              swine.

                              SOURCES

                              Another thing Mann does not do is this: He does not seem to develop his
                              theory of a prior Swine Source, the second source other than Mt from which
                              he envisions Mk as working. That, I think, sufficiently identifies the Swine
                              Source suggestion as gratuitous. The positing of an outside source, which
                              has reality only for a paragraph or two of the commentary and then is
                              jettisoned by the commentator, is one of the oldest tricks in the
                              hermeneutical bag. A magic formula which one recites in order to get out of
                              a difficulty, and then passes on. I find it irresponsible.

                              So what would a responsible version of that suggestion look like? For one
                              thing, it would make some attempt to say what else in this supposed source,
                              if anything, was also used by Mark. If only this one detail in Mark relies
                              on this source, then the Swine Source in fact contains only one Swine Story.
                              It gets to look like a mere ad hoc demon ex machina. I think it carries no
                              conviction, philological or otherwise.

                              CONCLUSION

                              So, all in all, I don't get any convincement out of Mann, and at this point
                              I run out of library resources which might provide the light for which I
                              asked above. Other light respectfully requested.

                              Bruce

                              E Bruce Brooks
                              Warring States Project
                              University of Massachusetts at Amherst
                            • Maluflen@aol.com
                              BRUCE: So, all in all, I don t get any convincement out of Mann, and at this point I run out of library resources which might provide the light for which I
                              Message 14 of 14 , Jan 22, 2009
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                                BRUCE:

                                So, all in all, I don't get any convincement out of Mann, and at this point

                                I run out of library resources which might provide the light for which I

                                asked above. Other light respectfully requested.

                                 

                                LEONARD:

                                My sincere apologies, but I really don’t have time either to spell all this out now, or to commit myself to responding to your response to my spelling it all out. In short, I simply don’t have an indefinite amount of time at my disposal. I have written extensively on Mark 5 (I think) on this list in the past, and certainly have done so in three independent, monograph-size papers of my own (none of them yet entirely readied for publication).

                                 

                                Of course the issue with this particular set of Synoptic parallels involves primarily Luke’s work with the text of Matthew, on the Two-Gospel Hypothesis. Mark follows, more or less, the significantly expanded version of the story as told in Luke, who has split up the two demoniacs of Matt 8 into two separate stories of one demoniac each, the first of which is found in Luke’s chapter 4 (this is why there is no parallel to this story of a demoniac in the Capernaum synagogue in Matthew, even though it exists in Mark; the story originated with Luke; and by the way, if two demoniacs are necessarily better than one demoniac, why, pray tell, are two demoniac STORIES not better than one demoniac story for Matthew, on the hypothesis of Markan priority?).

                                 

                                I do believe that Mark=E
                                2s version of the Gadarene demoniac is secondary even to Luke’s, but that is obviously a closer call. It does, however, seem extraordinarily clear to me that the Lk-Mk version of the story is secondary to the Matthean, by any recognized standards of historical/literary judgment. It is fine to describe Matthew’s story, on principle, as a drastically reduced version of the Markan account, but look for a moment at what is omitted by Matthew on this hypothesis. Do you really think that if you compared these two texts on their own merits, and independently of any overall Synoptic theory, you would make Mark’s the earlier version? I can’t quite fathom such an outcome; though, as I said, I don’t have the time now to walk you through the absurdity of such a conclusion. Ask me about it again some time in May. I readily admit that other parallels in the triple and even double tradition are far more difficult to call. But even at the risk of repeating past FBI follies, I would have to describe this particular set of parallels as a slam-dunk in terms of Matthean priority.

                                 

                                By the way, I don’t read, or particularly like what I have read of Mann either. I hope tomorrow to at least take the time to read carefully through your summary of Mann’s argument. But the fact that he wouldn’t convince you doesn’t surprise.


                                Leonard Maluf
                                Blessed John XXIII National Seminary
                                Weston, MA



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