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

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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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