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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 4:10f From: Bruce I had said that the session with the disciples, where Jesus explains the meaning
    Message 1 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 2 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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