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Sanders 3 (Mk 1:33 par]

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic On: Sanders 3 [Mk 1:33 par] From: Bruce As earlier noted, if there is a definitive response to the Sanders list in the literature since
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 16, 2005
    • 0 Attachment
      To: Synoptic
      On: Sanders 3 [Mk 1:33 par]
      From: Bruce

      As earlier noted, if there is a definitive response to the Sanders list in
      the literature since Bellinzoni, I will be very grateful to be informed of
      it. I can use the time for other things.

      Pending such advice, the third Sanders item is:

      3. Mk 1:33, cf Mt and Lk. The verse is missing in Matthew and Luke, and was
      added by a redactor to Mark. J Weiss, Evangelium, 148. Vincent Taylor states
      that the verse is in Mark's style, and so must have been known to Matthew
      and Luke. He does not explain why they agree together in omitting it; The
      Gospel according to St Mark, 181.

      The verse in question is:

      Mk 1:32-34. [32] That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were
      sick or possessed with demons. [33] And the whole city was gathered together
      about the door. [34] And he healed many who were sick with various diseases,
      and cast out many demons, and he would not permit the demons to speak,
      because they knew him.

      Mt 8:16. That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with
      demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were

      Lk 4:40. Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick
      with various diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on every
      one of them and healed them. [41] And demons also came out of many, crying,
      "You are the Son of God!" But he rebuked them, and would not allow them to
      speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.

      There is more going on here than just the lack of a Mk 1:33 correspondence
      in the other two Synoptics, but let us concentrate on that. I would say that
      it belongs to the class of narrative exaggerations which are recurrent in
      Mk, particularly as describing the press of the throng of Jesus's hearers,
      or patients. The "all" in Mk 1:32 already invites qualification in the mind
      of a realistically inclined reader, and that the whole "city" (or even
      village) were gathered about the door [1:33] looks like an overstatement
      too. An overstatement such even a child might question. We may be reminded
      of "so that they could not even eat" (Mk 3:20, which also has no parallel in
      Mt or Lk, though the following passage, Mk 3:22f, does have parallels (at Mt
      12:24 and Lk 11:15).

      That all this breathless exaggeration is very typical of Mark (as Taylor
      seems to be saying), with his perennial and wearisome euthus and his
      generally headlong narrative style, seems to me obvious. That Matthew and
      Luke were striving for a more measured pace and a more plausible account of
      things seems also, on consideration of the whole of those texts, to be a
      well grounded inference. If one is going to read one Gospel outdoors, the
      choice would surely be Mark, but for a cathedral environment, equally surely
      Matthew). Then we may without strain on any other inference about AMt and
      ALk which general reading inspires us to draw, assume that here too, the
      overstressed Mk 1:33 is simply omitted in the interest of dignity and
      credibility. There are miracles to be narrated, and whose account of a
      miracle are you more likely to believe? That of a wild-eyed and disheveled,
      excitable person, whose words tumble over each other, or of a calm
      three-piece suiter with measured diction? Different rhetoricians might well
      choose differently. My suggestion is that AMt and ALk both chose to go with
      the latter mode of presentation, and accordingly might well have opted, in
      their (here) quite different ways, to avoid arousing reader incredulity on
      minor matters. That is, the scenario of Mt/Lk omission violates no
      observable general tendencies in those texts.

      There is at the same time a point on which both Matthew and Luke are
      stronger, not milder, than the Markan narrative. Mark has only some being
      cured; both Matthew and Luke insist that it is "all." It has been often
      noted, by observers from Hawkins on down, that when Jesus's limitations are
      attested in Mark, Matthew and/or Luke often have a less limited version.
      Here is one instance. I think we are entitled to ask, not in light of any
      prior assumptions about Gospel priority but simply as the most likely
      scenario for beliefs about Jesus over time: Is it more likely that the
      powers of Jesus will be diminished within his tradition over time, or
      amplified? I think it overwhelmingly likely that the latter option, what I
      call the aggrandization scenario, is the true one. Then Mk with his
      portrayal of Jesus's limited success in healing on this occasion, is
      evolutionarily earlier than the uniformly successful picture given us, at
      the same place, by Mt and Lk. The evidence would then suggest Mk > Mt, Lk.

      Weiss (not seen) evidently thinks that Mk originally lacked 1:33, and that
      this reduced version was behind the agreement of Mt/Lk not to include it.
      This seems to be a version of the Ur-Markus theory, or one of its variants,
      according to which the Mk seen by Mt/Lk contained only, and exactly, what
      their version of it contains. This at one stroke (if one can get in that
      stroke) eliminates the present case, and all other cases of apparent
      omission. That theory still requires a plausible scenario for the later
      addition of these unique details into Mark. I do not find that there is a
      plausible scenario for that later addition in the case of Mk 1:33. But if
      there is, then it seems likely that the other cases where Mk oversteps
      conventional narrative credibility will also be due to this same impetus.
      That implies not a spot addition, but a more comprehensive revision. And why
      do we imagine that this revision was undertaken? To exaggerate a narrative
      that was perfectly satisfactory and consecutive as it stood? I don't think
      that there is a parallel for this kind of change in any of the thousands of
      scribal alterations to scripture in the "public" phase of the textual
      tradition, whereas there is abundant material to show that aggrandization of
      the power and dignity of Jesus was a common motive among the later copyists.
      With that precedent, we may I believe plausibly refer the Mt/Lk variants in
      this case (the greater power of healing) to an aggrandizing process, here
      applied to a prior narrative which is represented by Mk. The implied
      directionality is then Mk > Mt, Lk.

      Commentators on "agreement in omitting [Mk 1:33]:"

      Swete (1898): nothing.
      Rawlinson (1925): nothing
      Grant (IB, 1951): notes the difference between "some" and the "all" of the
      parables; denies that there is an issue of limitation of Jesus's power (but
      contrast Mk 6:5). Nothing on the parallel lack of 1:33.
      Mann (1986; a Griesbach partisan): nothing.
      Perkins (NIB, 1995): nothing.
      Witherington (2001): nothing.
      France (2002): notes the implausibility; nothing on the parallels.

      Not a bumper crop (though I would like to acknowledge the thoroughness of
      Grant). I stopped checking at this point. Be it noted in passing that any
      difficulties with the "redactional" theory of Weiss (the later addition of
      1:33 to Mark) also apply to the "conflational" theory of Mark held by some
      modern persons. Why would these things, not previous in Mark (or in the
      sources conflated by Mark) be added? I can't answer that, to my own

      As far as the above investigation has been able to go, then, I conclude
      that, far from being an argument against Markan Priority, this passage,
      taken as a whole, appears to provide quite credible evidence in its favor,
      and to be at minimum consistent with that conclusion if reached on other

      So suggested.


      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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