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

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  • 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 1 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 2 of 14 , Jan 19, 2009
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        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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 of 14 , Jan 20, 2009
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                  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 8 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 9 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 10 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 11 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 12 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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