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Re: [Synoptic-L] Evolution in Christianity 2

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  • 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 1 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.


      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

      > 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 2 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.


        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 3 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.


          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,


          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
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