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The Delay of the End

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic In Response to: John Poirier On: The Delay of the End From: Bruce JOHN: There s a big difference between 1 Thess 4:17 and Mark 9:1, in that the
    Message 1 of 1 , May 29, 2009
      To: Synoptic
      In Response to: John Poirier
      On: The Delay of the End
      From: Bruce

      JOHN: There's a big difference between 1 Thess 4:17 and Mark 9:1, in that
      the former addresses the problem of interpreting the promise of a "soon"
      return, while the latter addresses the problem of a deadline in stone.

      BRUCE: On this account, which I need not argue or even paraphrase for
      present purposes, both are addressing the problem of a delayed End Event.
      That the specifics of formulation vary is not surprising, one text coming
      from within the direct Jesus tradition, probably not far north of Galilee,
      and the other from an indirect tradition in Greece. One describes how both
      living and dead will be raised at the Last Day, the other implicitly assures
      its hearers that the death of some does not mean the failure of the Last Day
      promise. Both assurances look to the arrival of the Last Day within the
      lifetimes of some present. I would call this a Second Level modification of
      the original Imminent Last Day message of John, and presumably of Jesus also
      in his early preaching - and perhaps, with modifications, all the way to the
      end.

      A Third Level modification (leaving out a certain number of nuances and
      variants) would be what I recall as the E R Dodd solution, which emerges in
      the 1c also, and which spiritualizes the whole idea.

      Needless to say, no new idea in this area necessarily eliminates any of the
      previous ideas from the slate of live theories. If we could make a house by
      house survey around the year 40, from Alexandria to Edessa to Rome, I
      suspect we would find all these and a dozen others actively in being.

      As to the late layers of Mark and the early evidences for Paul, I think
      those are right who see overlap, some of it hostile and some of it mutually
      functional. I do not hold with those who simply call Mark a Pauline Gospel;
      there are too many divergences, and the overlap is too clearly confined to
      the late and not the early layers of Mark. But the overlap when it comes,
      both hostile and functional, seems to me to be very adequately explained as
      a synchronicity. On Paul's side, the limits for date are fairly well
      understood, and I see nothing on the Markan side that suggests a drastically
      different absolute date.

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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