Re: [Synoptic-L] Re: [GPG] Early Beliefs
- To: GPG
In Response To: Dennis Goffin
DENNIS: Why on earth, Bruce, should we prefer Mark to Josephus when it
comes to a matter of history / By all means prefer Mark to Matthew,
Luke or John, but Mark is silent on many things that happened in
Palestine under the Romans, simply because he thought that to speak of
them was dangerous.
BRUCE: The truth of this statement will depend on where we date Mark,
won't it. Answer deferred until agreement on that point is reached.
DENNIS: That is why,for example, he tries to hide the fact that one of
the disciples,Simon, was a Zealot. Without Josephus, we would have
virtually no information on the period and we certainly wouldn't get
it from Mark.
BRUCE: Well, to each his metier. Without Mark and with Josephus (minus
pious interpolations), we would know nothing of Jesus. Literally
As for the mysterious Twelve, that would need a separate treatise.
Meanwhile, it is interesting that Luke's list gives much more
countenance to the idea of a desperado gang than does Mark's. Luke
also quotes a dispirited Jesus partisan, glumly going home after the
death of Jesus, and saying, We had thought he was the one to redeem
Israel. That is, Luke reads Mark much the way Reimarus read Mark and
Luke together. I think that both Luke and Reimarus were right. The
final Jesus move was a sort of commando raid, meant to purify the
Temple (of its moneychangers, etc; Jesus was big on commercial
morality, see the earlier note on Fraud) and so make it a fit place
for God to return to.
This was not a rebellion (as some have been pleased to imagine) to
overthrow Rome. It was a spot operation, designed to get God to come
in, and let him finish the job. As we know, all witnesses being
unanimous on this point, it failed, and Jesus was executed by the
Romans (as is logical only on the previous reading of Mark; why the
Romans should pay several soldiers overtime to execute some harmless
itinerant Cynic preacher, as some have held, passes my understanding).
Hence the dispiritude of the sojourner reported (or imagined; same
difference) by Luke.
It is worth noting, in the sense that Luke's sense of it may be worth
something, that Luke does not show the sojourner as holding a
Resurrection belief (and thus exulting that now the Scriptures had
been fulfilled, and the Way to Salvation was open, etc etc), but as
disappointed in a particular small-forces variant on the Messiah
theme. That hope had failed, or so says Luke, and there was no second
hope to fall back on.
Did Jesus actually preach this Messiah operation? It seems so. Go back
to Mark 4 and read it, but without the Apostolic intrusion after the
first parable. Read it as though it were meant to be understood as it
stands, and not as the Markan interpolator forced it to be
reinterpreted, and then ask, What was it trying, albeit covertly, to
convey? Then check out the countersigns, the safe houses in Jerusalem
(safe until betrayed by an insider), the secret arrangements for the
beast of burden for the symbolic Entry, the whole bit. And see if you
don't think that Mark, who is undoubtedly being discreet, agrees
tacitly with what Luke more openly if also more briefly lets us see.
If we think of Mark as reporting in a veiled way, and Luke as
portraying in a more explicit way, the same Messianic attempted
Jerusalem exploit, I think we will find a certain amount of agreement.
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst