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Re: [Synoptic-L] Evolution in Christianity 2

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  • 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 1 of 6 , Jan 23, 2010
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      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 2 of 6 , Jan 24, 2010
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        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 3 of 6 , Jan 24, 2010
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          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 4 of 6 , Jan 26, 2010
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            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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