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Evolution in Christianity 2

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  • brooks@asianlan.umass.edu
    To: GPG Cc: Other On: Evolution in Christianity 2 From: Bruce [It is conspicuous in gMk that the seeming teaching material is largely organized in several
    Message 1 of 6 , Jan 22, 2010
      To: GPG
      Cc: Other
      On: Evolution in Christianity 2
      From: Bruce

      [It is conspicuous in gMk that the seeming teaching material is
      largely organized in several series. My previous note brought up the
      sequence of such material in Mk 2. The present one seems to bring up
      the one in Mk 4]

      EVOLUTION 2

      Probably Craig Evans is everyone's ideal writer; he seems to turn them
      out (to borrow a phrase from Maugham) like a cigarette-machine making
      cigarettes. How good could such stuff be? The disappointing answer -
      disappointing to us slower writers, who had hoped to make up what we
      lost on the swings (volume) by our roundabouts (quality) - is that
      sometimes it is pretty good. His Noncanonical Writings and New
      Testament Interpretation (Hendrickson 1992) is a very concise and
      helpful overview of textual materials that few of us lesser beings
      have time to master, concluding with some examples of how this
      material can be used in the interpretation of specific NT passages.
      Something like a primer, and many would be the better for going
      through the primer. I fully intend to take it up one day.

      Pending which, I have peeked at the back, at Appendix Four, where is
      given a list (augmented from that of McArthur and Johnston) of "Jesus'
      Parables and the Parables of the Rabbis.' The augmented list contains
      32 items, each of them with a seeming parallel in one or more of the
      Synoptics. Interest naturally attaches to the distribution of those 32
      appearances, and it is as follows:

      Mark (Mt/Lk parallels): 3
      Mt (Lk parallels): 9
      Mt alone: 8
      Lk alone: 12

      The first thing we may notice about this distribution is that close
      parallels to Rabbinic teaching in supposed Jesus teaching is very
      heavily concentrated in Mt and/or Lk. Only 3 of 32 feature also in Mk
      (and those 3 have Mt/Lk parallels). Given previous results, including
      the one about Stoic influence on early Christian thought in the area
      of Pauline contact, we might be inclined to say that expansion of
      early Christian thought also proceeded in a Jewish direction (as well
      as a Gentile direction). Certainly it makes sense of at least part of
      the evidence to think of Matthew as a re-Judaizing version of early
      Christianity. The conflict between the two developments is probably
      the one which is emblematized in Acts, in the conflict between
      Jerusalem Christianity (with Jacob, the
      brother of Jesus, as its leading figure) and Gentile Christianity,
      represented by Paul.

      I suggest this as a useful and probably correct (if undoubtedly
      simplified) picture.

      MARK 4

      As a pendant to that major result, it seems to me that interest also
      attaches to exactly where in the earliest record (Mk) occur seeming
      parallels with Rabbinic teaching style or content. The answer is:

      Mk 4:3-8 (The Sower)
      Mk 4:30-32 (The Mustard Seed)
      Mk 12:1-11 (The Wicked Tenants)

      These are different in character; the first two (from the Mk 4
      sequence) are advice to members of the movement, basically in the
      nature of encouragement in modest and therefore discouraging
      circumstances, while the third (from the anti-Pharasaical series in Mk
      12) is from a controversialist Jerusalem preaching series.

      All of them, for what it may be worth, are agriculturally based,
      though the first two are from the experience of the farmer, whereas
      the last is an outside account of an absentee landlord. How close the
      Rabbinic versions are to the Markan preachings I cannot say, since
      Evans gives only references (respectively m 'Abot 5:15, "The Four
      Types of Students," b Ta'an 4a "The Seed Under Hard Ground," and Sipre
      Deut #312 ap Deut 32:9, "The Unworthy Tenants"). But only the last of
      the three titles or epitomes suggests that the content is notably close.

      JESUS RELATIONS

      The Mk 4 sequence includes Mk 4:26-29 (The Seed Growing Secretly),
      which is so little adaptable to later Christian exegetic purposes that
      both Mt and Lk refuse to include it. Their refusal, as I see it,
      testifies to the obsolescence of certain early teachings in the light
      of later movement conditions, and marks this parable (a mere
      comparison) as early. The Parable of the Sower is also marked as early
      by the fact that it is followed, in Mk, by a long explanation by Jesus
      himself, supposedly given to the disciples privately, but egregiously
      interrupting the narrative sequence of Mk 4 (such as that is). Then
      the Sower too was regarded, already within the composition period of
      gMk, as opaque and requiring reinterpretation to make it fit for later
      use. It did not require the genius of the giants of our subject,
      Rawlinson and Wellhausen, to detect this sign that the explanation is
      late, and the parable itself by implication relatively early, but I
      welcome their company.

      Then the core of the Mk 4 sequence may indeed represent Jesus
      teaching, or at least the nearest approach to it that gMk seems to
      give us, by the testimony of its own later layers.

      What does this prove about Jesus teaching? The Rabbinic parallels are
      here not specially close (to judge from Evans' titles; better
      information always welcome), and the best that I for one can say at
      this point is that Jesus was probably familiar with the general style
      of Rabbinic exposition. This could almost have been proposed as
      axiomatic, but if so, here would be confirmation of the axiom. That
      Jesus was influenced by famous Galilean rabbis like Shammai is make
      likely by the severity of what seems to be his (and for that matter,
      John's) teaching on divorce, which seems to follow what tradition says
      was Shammai's line on this issue.

      This would be my second and last suggestion from superficial perusal
      of this material.

      Together, the two conclusions might be thought to add up to the
      following picture:

      1. Jesus and his brothers agreed that greater strictness was the key
      to better success of Israel in regaining the favor, and military
      support, of God.

      2. Jesus took a radical position, in which the Mosaic Law was itself
      regarded as full of later accretions, and he set out to teach a
      simplified Decalogue, in which (by all early evidence) the
      commandments for Temple piety were eliminated, leaving the ethical
      basics.

      3. By contrast, and it seems to have meant a split in the family,
      recorded by Mark but too much for Mt/Lk, who eliminate it from their
      enhanced accounts, the brothers were more conventional; for them,
      strictness meant closer adherence to Temple piety (Brother Jacob is
      portrayed, how accurately I cannot guarantee, as wearing out his knees
      by praying in the Temple "for the people,", by dressing as a priest,
      and by being more assiduous in prayer piety - not in any works among
      the people themselves, which was rather Jesus's special approach -
      than the priests.

      4. Consistent with this, in a broad and prephilological sort of way,
      is the unconcern of the Markan Jesus for food piety, contrasted with
      the high concern of the Lukan Jacob for food and other traditional
      forms of outward piety.

      Something like that. Comments always welcome,

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • Ron Price
      ... Bruce, Genius does not guarantee infallibility, especially in biblical studies, where most commentators in the past have been to some extent constrained by
      Message 2 of 6 , Jan 23, 2010
        Bruce Brooks wrote:

        > ..... The Parable of the Sower is also marked as early
        > by the fact that it is followed, in Mk, by a long explanation by Jesus
        > himself, supposedly given to the disciples privately, but egregiously
        > interrupting the narrative sequence of Mk 4 (such as that is). Then
        > the Sower too was regarded, already within the composition period of
        > gMk, as opaque and requiring reinterpretation to make it fit for later
        > use. It did not require the genius of the giants of our subject,
        > Rawlinson and Wellhausen, to detect this sign that the explanation is
        > late, and the parable itself by implication relatively early, but I
        > welcome their company.

        Bruce,

        Genius does not guarantee infallibility, especially in biblical studies,
        where most commentators in the past have been to some extent constrained by
        the narrow outlook of their contemporaries. In general, the further back one
        goes in the history of biblical interpretation, the greater the constraints
        that will be found.

        On the one hand, Mark's narrative sequence is no more fluent than his
        handling of the Greek language.

        On the other hand I think you have underestimated the versatility of Mark as
        an author. He was quite capable of creating a parable and its explanation
        with the dual purpose of illustrating the spread of the "gospel" (which goes
        back to Paul, not to Jesus) and having another dig at the original
        disciples. For the latter, c.f. 3:31-35, 8:33. 14:30 etc..

        Ron Price

        Derbyshire, UK

        Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
      • brooks@asianlan.umass.edu
        To: Synoptic Cc: GPG, WSW In Response To: Ron Price On: Mk 4:10-20 (in: Evolution in Christianity 2) From: Bruce I had been pleased to accept the verdict of
        Message 3 of 6 , Jan 23, 2010
          To: Synoptic
          Cc: GPG, WSW
          In Response To: Ron Price
          On: Mk 4:10-20 (in: Evolution in Christianity 2)
          From: Bruce

          I had been pleased to accept the verdict of Rawlinson and Wellhausen,
          to mention no other giants among the scholarship of a century ago,
          that this passage is a later addition to the Parable of the Sower (Mk
          4:1-9), which it explains. Ron, casting doubt on the value of early
          scholarship in general, offered to defend the originality of the
          passage. Thus:

          RON: On the one hand, Mark's narrative sequence is no more fluent than his
          handling of the Greek language.

          BRUCE: Maybe a little worse. Let us see what would be involved if we
          take Mk 4:11f as narratively consequent with the Parable proper. (1)
          Jesus delivers the parable from an offshore boat. The colloquy with
          the disciples necessarily takes place on land, and there is no boat-to
          land transition. (2) The colloquy is necessarily private, for reasons
          including the fact that it includes an egregious insult to the crowd,
          but there is no narrative transition from the crowd scene, whether
          imagined as taking place on land or on water, to the private scene.
          (3) Following this intimate scene with the disciples, the narrative
          continues with the Parables of the Seed Growing Secretly and the
          Mustard Seed, each linked to the preceding parable by "and he said."
          Then comes a manifest passage of narrative conclusion, 4:33 "With many
          such parables he spoke the Word to them, as they were able to hear it,
          [34] He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his
          own disciples he explained everything." Here, after 4:34, if anywhere,
          was the tag on which to hang a private session with the disciples,
          "explaining everything." But no, the session, though (if one like)
          countenanced by 4:34, takes place instead interuptively after 4:9.
          Finally, (5) there is no provision for getting Jesus out of his
          on-land private explication or help session and back into the boat,
          where he resumes his preaching (and the crowd, all ignorant of how -
          as he has just said to the disciples - he despises their capacity of
          understanding, resumes its welll-behaved listening.

          I think it is far more likely that a later writer (by which I mean to
          include the possibility of the same writer at a later date) has taken
          his cue from 4:34 but inserted his explanation at the point of danger
          for him, namely directly after the Parable of the Sower (4:9). Both
          actions make sense for a later explainer (or explainer-away). But the
          two together strike me as nonsense for a single writer, however
          halting his Greek.

          RON: On the other hand I think you have underestimated the versatility
          of Mark as
          an author. He was quite capable of creating a parable and its explanation
          with the dual purpose of illustrating the spread of the "gospel" (which goes
          back to Paul, not to Jesus) and having another dig at the original
          disciples.

          BRUCE: Now we get the opposite tack: Mark was a clumsy writer. But
          also he was a brilliant and versatile writer. This looks to me like a
          smorgasbord of convenience. I think a scenario of one writer should
          make up its mind about what kind of writer it is envisioning. There
          are people in Sinology who maintain that the Han Feidz, a long series
          of tough Legalist writings, which takes a bewilderingly different
          series of positions vis-a-vis such view as those of the rival
          statecraft Dauists, was written by one man, with no doctrinal
          predispositions whatever, but concerned only to demonstrate the
          versatility of his writing skill. I have never met a convincing case
          of an author who behaved that way, unless you count some Six Dynaties
          poets for whom the whole game was the successful imitation of the
          styles of different earlier poets (one thinks of poor Scaliger,
          hoodwinked by a colleague who showed him some Old Latin verses which
          the colleague had himself composed). Stylistic virtuosity as a merit
          in itself comes at a certain point in an evolving literary tradition.
          I don't think Han Fei was in such a tradition, nor can I easily so
          situate the author or authors of gMk.

          As for "goes back to Paul," how so? I should think there is evidence
          throughout the text, including what for me are its earliest layers,
          that Jesus was concerned for the spread of the Word. Which term in
          gMk, by the way, has an interesting distribution within gMk, and does
          not necessarily mean the Resurrection Doctrine.

          RON [illustrating "digs at the disciples"]: on For the latter, c.f.
          3:31-35, 8:33. 14:30 etc..

          BRUCE: In the first place, I don't see 4:10f as a dig at the
          disciples. I see it as a dig at the crowd, plus a concern to impart an
          esoteric meaning to a parable whose exoteric meaning (crowd meaning)
          had become unacceptable, or at minimum exegetically unfruitful, to the
          later Markan community. There are many such touches in Mk, where the
          post-Crucifixion practices of the group, such as baptism and fasting,
          are taken up for explanation. Neither of these was practiced in the
          Jesus movement in the lifetime of its founder, but both grew up later.
          The still early community had to somehow regularize these contrasts,
          and they did so by putting legitimating passages into their authority
          text, namely gMk.

          So how about Ron's examples of digs at disciples?

          3:31f is Jesus's rejection of his blood kin in favor of his real
          family, "whoever does the will of God," presumably including the
          disciples. This is pro-disciple and anti-family. Strike one.

          8:33 is Jesus's rebuke of Peter for Peter's protest against the
          doctrine of Jesus's necessary death, which is introduced at this point
          in gMk. That is not a dig at anybody, and certainly not at any group,
          it is a rejection of Peter's solicitude for Jesus. The issue is
          whether Jesus must die to achieve his purpose on earth. We have here
          an adjustment of previous doctrine, which was that Jesus would survive
          his own attempt to purify Israel and secure the return of God to his
          now repentant nation. Strike two.

          14:30 "Verily, I say unto you, this very night, before the cock crows
          twice, you will deny me thrice." Again, not disciples collectively
          (for which Ron has missed the better example in 8:21, but it's not my
          job to hold up his end of the conversation too), but just Peter, and
          not so much a rebuke as a prediction. Peter here is portrayed, not as
          misunderstanding Jesus, but as cowardly in the crisis that was
          presently to present itself to Jesus. What is the point of Jesus's
          predictions of this sort? Largely, it is to legitimate, or to take
          credit for foreknowledge of, specific circumstances in the actual
          history of the Jesus group. Peter's cowardice at the Crucifixion
          (capitalized on by the coy author of gJn, by the way, as a vindication
          of another disciple at Peter's expense) was nothing to his credit in
          the eyes of the later movement, but if Jesus himself had predicted it,
          then it acquired the aura of a foreknown and thus predetermined event,
          and the courage of Peter before the event at least put him in the best
          light possible, vis-a-vis later community members who might be
          disposed to snicker at, or even to challenge, Peter's leadership. The
          purpose of this piece, then, is not a "dig" at the disciples, or even
          at Peter, but a charter of forgiveness for Peter as a later leader.
          Strike three.

          I have above parenthetically noted a Ball One on this count, but I
          think that on balance, the position strikes out. The description does
          not well characterize the passages cited in its support.

          Still, waiving that, what about 8:21 and company (for there are
          others)? The claim that Jesus's disciples did not understand him was
          necessary to the later movement's claim that Jesus's message was not
          what he had said it was at the time (and which many will still have
          remembered), but rather something else. The something else was the
          Resurrection Doctrine, at the first appearance of which in the text of
          gMk (as we have just seen) stout Peter so greatly rebelled. That
          doctrine does indeed appear, in the larger narrative of gMk, as though
          it were a second thought of Jesus. (We may here usefully remember that
          this fault, for fault it was, is cured in gJn, where Jesus from the
          first preaches, incredibly as it may seem, the Doctrine of the
          Resurrection). But what was his first thought? Meaning, what did his
          original actual historical followers think he was going to do? Luke
          gives the answer as clearly as may be, in thus describing the puzzled
          disillusionment of one follower, on the road away from Jerusalem after
          the event: "We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel" (Lk
          24:21). Exactly.

          Everything about the Resurrection doctrine, as it appears in the
          earliest textual witness to the movement, namely gMk, implies that it
          was an afterthought of the early community, a rationalization, if you
          will, and not a preachment of Jesus.

          Background Issue: As witnesses to earlier instalments of this
          conversation, going back some years, will know, Ron holds to a view of
          Mk in which a very few interpolations are acknowledged (the pair I
          remember are the linked two: 14:28 and 16:7), but others must be
          disallowed if his scenario for the text is to stand. We have of course
          had very much this conversation before, and I have to say again, with
          all respect for Ron's labors and the ingenuity of elements of his
          construction, that for the reader with philological instincts, the
          traits that identify Mk 14:28 and 16:7 as interpolations speak just as
          loudly for other passages in Mk; the same conditions apply, and the
          same conclusion is indicated.

          So it looks from here.

          RESEARCH POSSIBILITIES

          If so, then what would be a productive next step? I think one tempting
          avenue of thought is to ask: What in the Parable of the Sower needed
          to be reinterpreted to suit later community needs and/or perceptions?
          Most of us, and especially most of us in our impressionistic early
          teens, will have thought that the secret explanation was very much
          what we had thought the parable meant without it, so why all this
          labor (and this arranging of meetings in and out of boats, with all
          the attending hazards of falling in, etc) to make that point? The
          answer can only be that the original meaning of the parable, as
          probably still remembered by people from the crowd who were still
          present in the later movement, was something else: it did not speak of
          the vicissitudes of the later converts to the movement, but of
          something different.

          What? That, from where I sit, is the relevant question. I am not about
          to scour the twenty commentaries to see if anyone has had a suggestion
          (the patched-up and jury-rigged setup from which I am writing this
          note will shut down on me in a couple more minutes), but perhaps
          someone in the present tense has a suggestion. One place to look for
          inspiration is the following parable, the untouchable parable of the
          Seed Growing Secretly, which has defied orthodox interpretation from
          the beginning of time until now. Perhaps, like its mates in the
          original Markan series of parables, it was not addressed to the later
          community, but to the community of Jesus's lifetime, the small band
          who, as Luke's character puts it, were setting out "to redeem Israel."

          All suggestions welcome.

          Bruce

          E Bruce Brooks
          Warring States Project
          University of Massachusetts at Amherst
        • Ron Price
          ... Bruce, The transition is indicated by When Jesus was alone with the twelve ... (Mk 4:10a, REB). ... They get back into a boat in 4:35-36. ... You have
          Message 4 of 6 , Jan 24, 2010
            Bruce Brooks wrote:

            > ..... Let us see what would be involved if we
            > take Mk 4:11f as narratively consequent with the Parable proper. (1)
            > Jesus delivers the parable from an offshore boat. The colloquy with
            > the disciples necessarily takes place on land, and there is no boat-to
            > land transition. (2) The colloquy is necessarily private, for reasons
            > including the fact that it includes an egregious insult to the crowd,
            > but there is no narrative transition from the crowd scene, whether
            > imagined as taking place on land or on water, to the private scene.

            Bruce,

            The transition is indicated by "When Jesus was alone with the twelve ..."
            (Mk 4:10a, REB).

            > Finally, (5) there is no provision for getting Jesus out of his
            > on-land private explication or help session and back into the boat,
            > where he resumes his preaching (and the crowd, all ignorant of how -
            > as he has just said to the disciples - he despises their capacity of
            > understanding, resumes its welll-behaved listening.

            They get back into a boat in 4:35-36.


            > ..... Now we get the opposite tack: Mark was a clumsy writer. But
            > also he was a brilliant and versatile writer.

            You have added the word "brilliant" here. Mark's versatility exceeded his
            fluency. It's all about ideas versus presentation. Surely you have come
            across people who have original ideas but cannot present them fluently?

            > As for "goes back to Paul," how so? I should think there is evidence
            > throughout the text, including what for me are its earliest layers,
            > that Jesus was concerned for the spread of the Word. Which term in
            > gMk, by the way, has an interesting distribution within gMk, and does
            > not necessarily mean the Resurrection Doctrine.

            You appear to be admitting that Mark's presentation of Jesus added the
            Resurrection Doctrine. I would go further. To me, 8:29 indicates that Peter
            (and therefore presumably Jesus also) got no further in Christology than
            seeing Jesus as the "Messiah". It was Paul who first referred to the
            Christian mission as the "gospel", with its connotation of Son of God,
            Saviour etc.. Jesus' mission was based on the proclamation that the kingdom
            of God was imminent.

            > ... In the first place, I don't see 4:10f as a dig at the
            > disciples.

            The dig is in 4:13. The disciples had failed to understand Jesus.

            > So how about Ron's examples of digs at disciples?
            >
            > 3:31f is Jesus's rejection of his blood kin in favor of his real
            > family, "whoever does the will of God," presumably including the
            > disciples. This is pro-disciple and anti-family. Strike one.

            You've missed the subtlety of Mark's treatment of the disciples. The
            'Christologically-defective' Peter is openly denigrated in several places in
            Mark. But the even more despised leading disciple, James the brother of
            Jesus, is simply air-brushed out of the Markan history as if he were some
            out-of-favour Soviet leader. 3:31-35 is an insult to James because James was
            part of Jesus' family.

            > 8:33 is Jesus's rebuke of Peter for Peter's protest against the
            > doctrine of Jesus's necessary death, which is introduced at this point
            > in gMk. That is not a dig at anybody ...

            You would be right if it were a historical record, but it is not.

            > 14:30 "Verily, I say unto you, this very night, before the cock crows
            > twice, you will deny me thrice." .....
            > and the courage of Peter before the event .....

            Where's the courage? I don't see it.

            > ..... The claim that Jesus's disciples did not understand him was
            > necessary to the later movement's claim that Jesus's message was not
            > what he had said it was at the time (and which many will still have
            > remembered), but rather something else. The something else was the
            > Resurrection Doctrine .....

            If the original disciples had accepted the new (Pauline) message when it
            came on the scene, Mark could easily have adapted his narrative to avoid the
            insult.

            > Everything about the Resurrection doctrine, as it appears in the
            > earliest textual witness to the movement, namely gMk, implies that it
            > was an afterthought of the early community, a rationalization, if you
            > will, and not a preachment of Jesus.

            Surely you should also include the predictions of suffering, and the
            rejection by the Jewish leaders, for these also appear in e.g. 8:31.

            > ..... for the reader with philological instincts, the
            > traits that identify Mk 14:28 and 16:7 as interpolations speak just as
            > loudly for other passages in Mk; the same conditions apply, and the
            > same conclusion is indicated.

            Philology is not an exact science. So it has to be balanced against other
            considerations, such as the aims and the capabilities of the author, and the
            inherent structure of the document.

            > ..... the original meaning of the parable, as
            > probably still remembered by people from the crowd who were still
            > present in the later movement, was something else: it did not speak of
            > the vicissitudes of the later converts to the movement, but of
            > something different.

            Mark's 70 CE Roman audience was far separated in time and place from anyone
            who might have heard Jesus speak. In any case, the parable of the sower
            should no more be attributed to Jesus than the obviously late parable of the
            vineyard with its allegory of Jesus' rejection.

            The teaching of the historical Jesus has been transmitted to us not in
            lengthy parables but in aphorisms, and even these have survived not via oral
            tradition but by being written down by a group which included eyewitnesses,
            namely the Jesus movement in Jerusalem.

            Ron Price

            Derbyshire, UK

            Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
          • brooks@asianlan.umass.edu
            To: Synoptic Cc: GPG, WSW In Response To: Ron Price On: Mk 4:10f From: Bruce I had said that the session with the disciples, where Jesus explains the meaning
            Message 5 of 6 , Jan 24, 2010
              To: Synoptic
              Cc: GPG, WSW
              In Response To: Ron Price
              On: Mk 4:10f
              From: Bruce

              I had said that the session with the disciples, where Jesus explains
              the meaning of the previous parable, is narratively interruptive and
              thus open for interpretation as an interpolation.

              RON: The transition is indicated by "When Jesus was alone with the twelve ..."
              (Mk 4:10a, REB).

              BRUCE: That would be sufficient if the explanation (4:10f) were the
              end of the series. But it isn't. The explanation is followed at 4:26
              by the next parable in the series, and the next after that, and
              finally a series closer, at 4:33f. Given the series opener in 4:1, we
              are presumably to imagine all the parables as being delivered from the
              boat, that is, in the same setting as was defined for us in 4:1-2. For
              Ron's theory of original composition to work, we would thus need a
              more specific transition to a non-boat locale than 4:10 presently
              gives us. As for getting back into the boat after this private
              explanatory interlude. . .

              RON: They get back into a boat in 4:35-36.

              BRUCE: Yeah, but unfortunately, this comes after the series closer in
              4:33 ("With many such parables he spoke the Word to them . . ."). It
              begins a new series, the Stilling the Waves incident. It reads:

              4:35 "On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, Let us go
              across to the other side." [36] "And leaving the crowd, they took him
              with them, just as he was, in the boat."

              If this were the transition Ron's reading is looking for, the private
              colloquy would then follow directly. But it doesn't, it has already
              appeared. 4:35-36 will thus not do service as a transition to 4:10f
              "And when he was alone . . ."

              I'm sorry, but it just won't work. There is no such thing in
              literature as a retrospective transition, least of all with the
              supposed transition actually transits to something else aotogether: a
              thrilling storm scene which allows no time, and has no narrative logic
              to justify, a quiet expository scene.

              [I add that the REB, quoted by Ron at the beginning of this note,
              seems to smooth over the many, and usefully indicative, roughnesses in
              the narrative of Mk. I think that this is dangerous for the critical
              reader. RSV has, for 4:10, "And when he was alone, those who were
              about him with the Twelve asked him concerning the parables."That
              seems to me to fit the Greek much more closely, and to present much
              more clearly the problems in the text, the places where, so to speak,
              the new paint has dried on top of the old paint. On this showing, I
              can't in conscience recommend REB to the critical reader.]

              Ron likes to say, this year as in years gone by, that I am missing the
              subtleties of Mark. I am entirely satisfied if I can grasp the
              obviosities of Mark. I repeat my earlier suggestion that the above
              failure of narrative concinnity at Mk 4:10 is one of the obviosities.
              And that it has obvious implications for the way the text of Mark grew
              into the form that we see before us.

              Bruce

              E Bruce Brooks
              Warring States Project
              University of Massachusetts at Amherst
            • brooks@asianlan.umass.edu
              To: Synoptic Cc: GPG, WSW Again On: Mk 4:10f PS From: Bruce I had recently argued that Mk 4:10-25 are an interpolation, essentially because they are a
              Message 6 of 6 , Jan 26, 2010
                To: Synoptic
                Cc: GPG, WSW
                Again On: Mk 4:10f PS
                From: Bruce

                I had recently argued that Mk 4:10-25 are an interpolation,
                essentially because they are a narrative interruption in the preaching
                sequence 4:1-34. Of course the worst crux in this area is 4:11-12, by
                far the most terrible statement in the entire NT. It comes to this:
                Jesus's preaching is intentionally obscure (in riddles, Hb meshalim),
                lest the people he is preaching to understand his message and be
                forgiven, and thus be saved. That is, everyone in the audience except
                the disciples (and them only by the narrowest of margins and narrative
                interventions) is damned to hell forever.

                This has caused some little consternation among the exegetes.
                Archibald M Hunter, Interpretating the Parables (Westminster 1960)
                devotes a whole Appendix to it. He lists in ascending order of
                personal approval three solutions previously offered:

                (1) C H Dodd takes the saying "as a later church construction, not a
                saying of Jesus." He notes words reminiscent of Paul, and "thinks the
                saying reflects the doctrine of the early Church, that the Jews were
                providentially blind to the significance of Christ's coming. In other
                words, this explanation of the purpose of the parables is an answer to
                a question which arose after Jesus's death and the failure of his
                followers to convert the Jewish people." Hunter comments, "A simple
                solution but a drastic one."

                (2) T W Manson thinks that v12 "conceals a mistranslation from the
                Araramaic," partly because Mk 4:12 quotes not the Hebrew, or the LXX,
                but the [Aramaic] Targum: Aramaic de can mean "that" (Gk hina, as in
                our text) but "can also mean "who." This makes the sentence
                descriptive, not intentional. Jesus does not intend that the crowd
                shall fail to understand, but simply describes the condition of "those
                outside." Hunter comments,
                This view seems to us more satisfactory than Dodd's." I respond: It is
                not. It leaves the idea of the parable teaching, which it is evidently
                the purpose of the passage to comment on, uncommented on. The reading
                is palliative rather than successful.

                (3) Jeremias accepts Manson's Targum point, but does not believe that
                the saying originally referred to teaching by parables. He translates:
                "To you God has given the secret of the Kingdom of God, but to those
                who are outside everything is obscure, in order that they (as it is
                written) 'may see and yet not see, may hear and yet not understand,
                unless they turn and God will forgive them." Jeremias notes that
                "various features show v11 to be an insertion into an older context.
                Since this is so, we must, when interpreting, ignore its present
                context," also "The saying is early, Palestinian, and probably
                authentic, since it agrees with the Targum and contains several
                Aramaisms. Hunter continues: "The Aramaic dilema underlying mepote
                ('lest') here means 'unless,' as the rabbinical exegesis of the
                passage proves. Mark, misled by the catchword parabole, inserted the
                saying into his parable chapter, but originally it did not refer to
                the parables, as it affords no criterion for their interpretation."
                And Hunter concludes, "This seems to us the best solution."

                I disagree. Mark probably knew enough Aramaic to display what modern
                scholars detect as Aramaisms, but for that reason, is unlikely to have
                misinterpreted an Aramaic original. The passage means what it has
                always seemed to mean. Jeremias' acknowledgement of the secondarity of
                Mk 4:10f, with which (as will have been seen) I strongly agree,
                supports Dodd's point, that we likely have here a saying arising in
                the post-Crucifixion community, and not a saying of Jesus. His
                interpretation of the hostility of 4:12 to the audience makes sense of
                they were symbolically regarded as typifying Jews in general, rather
                than those eager to hear his own message.

                The Markan community, as of the composition and insertion of this
                passage, had written off the Galilee followers en bloc, an attitude
                which is carried a step further in the Second Tier Gospels, both of
                which curse the key Galilean centers, Capernaum, Bethsaida, Chorazin.
                The other effect of the intrusive explanation of the Sower parable is
                to transfer it from the time of Jesus to the time of the later
                community, and to make it portray the vicissitudes of later attempts
                to convert the populace.

                IMPLICATION

                The corollary, if one works this conclusion back along the veins and
                tendons of one's theory of Markan formation, is that the Markan
                community could not have been located in Galilee. I happen to regret
                this implication, since I always liked the idea of a Galilee locale,
                but evidently it will not work. Like so much other early lit,
                including the Didache, we are probably going to have to accept a
                Syrian locale.

                The church dynamic that this Syrian text then reflects, as of the
                intrusion of Mk 4:10f, is the one in which Jerusalem has become the
                dominant center of what I may call Palestinian Christianity, and the
                conservative (and nationalistic) Jewish communities of Syria are
                beginning to rid themselves of the Galilean embarrassment.
                Retrospectively, and by manupilating of previous authority text, as
                seems to be the standard way with these things in much of antiquity.
                Chinese antiquity included (see The Original Analects, Appendix 3, for
                the question of Confucius's House).

                I am not by and large a fan of C H Dodd, but still, sometimes the
                simple solution, "drastic" or no (drasticity is a matter of the eye
                and Sitz im Leben of the beholder), is the best.

                Respectfully postscripted,

                Bruce

                E Bruce Brooks
                Warring States Project
                University of Massachusetts at Amherst

                Louis Martyn (whose marginalia to Hunter I happen to be watching out
                of a corner of my eye), a propos Jeremias' comment "various features
                show v11f to be an insertion into an older context," has added, and in
                red yet, "not if one BEGINS with Mark!!"

                Not so. It turns out that there are Marks and Marks, and by the
                standard rules of evidence, v11f are indeed an insertion into "an
                older context [within Mark]."

                The first question to ask of any text one wishes to use in historical
                research is, Do we have here one text or more than one? The answer for
                this prerequisite query for Mark is, More than one. That gained, we
                can begin to look productively at otherwise tough conundrums like Mk
                4:10f. To everything there is a season, and the fun of autumnal
                interpretation can only come after an energetic spring of philological
                toil.
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