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Re: [Synoptic-L] Interpolated and Future Passages in Mk [M3]

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  • Dennis Goffin
    Bruce, Bravo ! I congratulate you on a tour de force which I think is absolutely brilliant and seems to me totally justified in its conclusions. Dennis ...
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 2, 2009
      Bravo ! I congratulate you on a "tour de force" which I think is absolutely brilliant and seems to me totally justified in its conclusions.
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: E Bruce Brooks
      To: GPG
      Cc: Synoptic
      Sent: Monday, February 02, 2009 9:09 AM
      Subject: [Synoptic-L] Interpolated and Future Passages in Mk [M3]

      To: GPG
      Cc: Synoptic
      On: Interpolated and Future Passages in Mk [M3]
      From: Bruce

      I had earlier collected 10 probably interpolated passages in Mk [M1], and
      separately collected 22 apparently future statements in Mk [M2]. I had
      refrained in the latter case from drawing inferences about the narrative
      originality of the passages, being content to gather them, but also noticing
      in a preliminary way some features of difference from the rest of Mk, which
      might be thought to suggest lateness within Mk. The most striking of these,
      perhaps, were the three major Twelve passages (as conflicting with what is
      otherwise a Five Chief Disciple narrative) and a few of the Gentile Mission
      passages. There were also a significant number (6 out of 22, or 27%) of
      Future passages which were narrative appendages to the previous text, by
      virtue of a shift in the dramatis personae at that point.


      It will not do, however, to start thinking at this point. It is too soon.
      Thinking is better done after the evidence has been collected and compared.
      To think before that point is simply to spin the gears. Accordingly, I here
      undertake instead to compare the two previously identified bodies of
      evidence, the 10 probably Interpolations and the 22 tentative Futures, to
      see how far the sets overlap. That is a question which may be asked directly
      of the data, without doing any thinking at all.

      One point of difference must first be resolved. In the Interpolation set,
      only the Sending of the Twelve was identified as interpolated (because
      interruptive), but in the Future set, all three major Twelve passages were
      included, precisely because they have in common the Twelve motif. For
      cross-comparison, it well be better to treat these passages the same way in
      both lists. I suggest that if one Twelve passage is clearly interpolated, it
      is highly likely (even if the structural signs in the other two are
      inconclusive) that all three are interpolated. I thus amend the
      Interpolation list to include the Calling (3:13-19b) and the Return (6:30)
      of the Twelve. This gives is 12, not 10, passages in the presumptive
      Interpolations list.

      To compare the two lists, it will be simplest to simply line them up
      together. This is clumsy in E-mail, but here it is anyway. The
      Interpolations are in the first column, and the Futures in the second; the
      content of the passage is in the third:

      1:23-28 --------- (The Capernaum Demoniac)
      2:5b-10 --------- (The Capernaum Paralytic)
      --------- 2:18-20 (Johannine fasting)
      3:13-19b 3:13-19b (Calling of the Twelve)
      3:22-30 3:22-30 (Sin against the Holy Spirit)
      4:10-20 4:10-20 (Persecutions)*
      --------- 5:1-21 (Gerasene Demoniac; Pigs)
      5:24-34. ------- (The Woman With an Issue)
      6:7-13 6:7-13 (Sending of the Twelve)
      6:30 6:30 (Return of the Twelve)
      ------- 7:14-16 (Cleanness of Foods)*
      ------- 7:17-23 (Cleanness of Foods)*
      ------- 7:24-31 (Syrophoenician Woman)
      ------- 8:1-9 (Feeding of 4,000)
      ------- 8:14-21 (Symbolism of Preceding)*
      ------- 9:14-29 (Disciple exorcism failure)
      9:38-41 9:38-41 (Rival Exorcist)
      ------- 10:28-30 (Future Persecutions)*
      ------- 10:35-45 (Martyrdom of Zebedees)
      ------- 11:20-25 (Prayer with Faith)
      ------- 13:3-37 (Apocalypse; False Christs)*
      14:3-9 14:3-9 (Bethany: World Mission)
      ------- 14:18-21 (Prediction: Death of Judas)
      14:28 14:28 (Prediction: Galilee Appearance)
      16:7 16:7 (Prediction: Galilee Appearance)


      Of the 12 Interpolation passages, 9 also occur in the list of 22 Future


      Of course not all 22 Futures can be found among the 12 Interpolations; there
      is not room. We begin the interpretation by asking instead: what would be a
      *neutral* amount of overlap between the two? I recognize about 150 narrative
      segments in Mk (counting insertions within segments as separately
      denumerable entities). Suppose we had a brick in the patio marked off into
      150 squares, of which 12 squares at one end (constituting 8% of the entire
      area) were somehow specially labeled. Suppose further that a summer shower
      lets fall 22 raindrops on that brick. We would expect that if the raindrops
      were random (that is, without statistical significance), 8% of the total
      rainfall would be within our marked area. That works out to (0.08)(22) =
      1.76, or let's say, 2 raindrops. We have instead 9 raindrops. Exactly what
      the probability of such a result would be, under a random assumption, I will
      let Dave G tell us at his leisure (I could compute it also, but he will be
      faster; I hope that no issues will arise from the fact that this is a
      frequentist rather than a Bayesian approach to the question). But it is very
      unlikely. Then the rational conclusion is that what those in the trade call
      the null hypothesis - the hypothesis of no relation between the two - is
      operationally refuted. We must conclude that there is a significant
      correlation between Interpolatedness and Futureness.


      That's an interesting result. The temptation with an interesting result is
      to make it still more interesting by adjusting the data. What if the three
      Interpolations that did not coincide with Future Statements were after all
      Future? This tendency should be resisted, and calmness of mind (see Mencius
      2A2) should be our watchword. But there is no harm in asking, with due
      calmness of mind, whether on reflection in the light of the above result, we
      can see anything new in the previous data.

      1. I think there may be a case for the Woman With an Issue as being future.
      That piece is notable in that it is not a standard healing by Jesus. For one
      thing, it contains a long medical history, complete with hospital bills. I
      can't at the moment do much with that, save to note that it serve to
      document the reality of the complaint, and its resistance to standard
      medical methods, and so makes Jesus, not merely a skilled medical
      practitioner, but a *more than* medical practitioner. It heightens his
      power. The story itself notes that Jesus felt power going out of him when
      the Woman touched him. But also, this is the only healing which Jesus does
      not actually perform; it happens without his knowledge and through the
      Woman's initiative. Jesus does not touch her; he does not even know of her;
      she cures herself by her faith, and by that faith she directly accesses the
      power that Jesus also possesses, though without his direct intermediation. I
      consider thus: stories of Jesus healing a blind man by touch (with or
      without spit) are inspiring to later listeners, but no good therapeutically;
      Jesus is dead, and we cannot flock to him to be healed. What we can do is
      have faith, and then something miraculous can occur. This in effect is what
      the clearly Future passage 11:20-24 tells us. Then 5:24-34 might also have
      been construed as Future, leading to one more instance common to both lists.

      2. 2:5b-10 was the second of our Interpolations (so recognized by Crum and
      others). Is it also Future? Not explicitly, but we note that is the only
      place in Mk where Jesus claims, not just the power to heal or exorcise, but
      to forgive sins. In the Johannine model, repentance could secure
      forgiveness, presumably from God. Now we hear that Jesus also forgives sins.
      It seems to me an unavoidable conclusion that we are here in a period when
      Jesus has come to replace God in the scheme of salvation, and the passage is
      thus not only interpolated, but at least somewhat late. Which is
      interesting, but it is still not the same thing as Future, and we may leave
      the adjusted score at 10 out of 12 Interpolations being also Future


      Starting from the other end, is there on further reflection any sign that
      some of the Future statements were also Interpolated? I already (in [M2])
      noticed in passing several places where the Future statement was also an
      aside, or another interruption in audience continuity; these passages have
      often come in for ridicule precisely for their use of conveniently portable
      crowds and other inconcinnities. It would not be unreasonable to credit
      these inconcinnities, though falling short of true interruption (the strong
      criterion earlier used), as evidence for interpolation. Going no further
      than this, and I don't presently intend to, we would have 16 of 22 Future
      statements (73%) as being also plausible as Interpolations.


      The indicated situation, on present evidence, seems to me to be this:

      (1). Mark consists of two elements, a narrative of Jesus and a collection of
      emblematic advices for his later movement. They might easily have been two
      aspects of an original and integral story.

      (2). But it turns out on inspection of particular passages that the latter
      element is at least in large part, and perhaps in toto, a later addition to
      the former element.

      (3). The first state of Mark was then a narrative of Jesus, period. To that
      state were later added, whether at one time or many we do not presently
      know, other material more directly relevant to the theoretical and practical
      needs of the post-Crucifixion believer community, or at least that part of
      it subtended by Mark.


      We may take this just a step further, and then I have done for now. Paul
      indicates unambiguously that he has no interest in the narrative of Jesus
      during his lifetime ("Christ after the flesh"), but he does quote "words of
      the Lord" when they bear on later church organization or personal conduct.
      That is, the Historical Jesus he regards as an irrelevance; he wants the
      Revealed Jesus as a guide to the present, and he is prepared to accept the
      advices of what turns out to be the later material in Mk as part of that
      Revealed Jesus.

      That is, to put it simply, Paul rejects the narrative Mark 1 but credits, as
      having authority relevant to him, the advisory Mark 2.

      And there I stop for now. Having joined up with Paul is perhaps a good
      enough place to do it. Paul is a problem for Mark, and vice versa, and I
      think that the above may offer grounds, not for resolving the difference,
      but for better understanding its nature, and for placing it properly in

      The time involved seems to be the span 30-c45, when at least for the moment
      the shaping power in the early movement passed from the evangelists (Mk) and
      circular letter writers (proto-James) to the high-powered Later Apostles,
      with their insistently fractious ways and their forced final break between
      Christianity and its Jewish roots.


      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst

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