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

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    Dennis, Thanks for your patience; sorry to be so incomprehensible. Best wishes, Bruce
    Message 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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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