Re DEVELOPMENT IN MARK & THE TORN VEIL
- I quote below relevant extracts from an article by A Y Collins taken from the Internet. This only seems to muddy the waters.
P s. Apologies for the variation in typeface.
The most dramatic change Mark made with regard to his source was to add the saying of the
centurion to the climactic rending of the veil. In the source Jesus is vindicated by the mysterious
theophany expressed in the account of the rending of the veil of the temple. The splitting of the veil also
suggests the ascent of Jesus to heaven and the access to God that the death of Jesus makes possible. In its
new context as part of Mark as a whole, the rending of the veil creates a contrast with the splitting of the
heavens at the baptism of Jesus. At the baptism God is present and reveals Godself in speech. At the cross,
however, God is absent and does not speak. The tearing of the veil is thus an ironic theophany. The death of
Jesus on the cross is accompanied by a real but ambiguous and mysterious theophany, which suggests that
the will of God is fulfilled in the apparently shameful death of Jesus on the cross............................................
Helmut Koester is certainly right that whatever was written down by early
Christians "was still part of the realm of oral communication in preaching, instruction,
and common celebration." When such writings were read aloud they became, in a sense,
"oral literature." The social setting of the earliest passion narrative may have been
cultic. I am now inclined to conclude, however, that it was written primarily as a basis for
preaching and teaching. If its purpose was to persuade, to make the case that Jesus was
the Messiah in spite of his crucifixion, it was probably addressed to outsiders and
wavering insiders. Settings of proclamation and instruction would fit this purpose well.
The authors of the canonical Gospels continued this literary activity in adapting
the traditional passion narrative to their own multiple and various rhetorical purposes.
Mark adapted and expanded the earliest written account in writing his Gospel.
----- Original Message -----
From: E Bruce Brooks
Sent: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 7:18 AM
Subject: [GPG] Re: [Synoptic-L] Early Beliefs (Messiah)
In Response To: Dennis Goffin
On: Development in Mark
DENNIS: You state . . . "the text of Mark ..... portrays a
developmental Yeshua". We need however to differentiate between
development undergone by Yeshua and development undergone by the text
of GMark as view succeeded view. The latter does not necessarily imply
the former and I would probably dispute that it did.
BRUCE: Indeed, though I suspect that in the end the two are largely
compatible, the developmental Yeshu being more clearly seen in the
original text of Mark, though sufficiently visible still (hence the
commentarial neglect of Mark, and the commentarial anguish arising
when Mark is not neglected) in the final Mark.
To follow out the distinction Dennis wants: The story as Mark tells it
shows a developmental Yeshua. The layers of the text of Mark show the
development of doctrine within that part of the early Jesus movement
subtended by that text. The two are indeed different. But the later
text layers in Mark were overlaid on the early text layers in Mark,
and more or less of necessity tended to follow - to augment and not
wholly to obscure - the Yeshua story told by the earliest Mark.
Though material is moved around in the imitators of Mark, and though
John recasts the Yeshua story de novo, the basic "order" of events in
Mark is preserved in all. Nor could it be greatly otherwise; a Yeshua
story that began with the Crucifixion and ran to the seaside at
Capernaum would be an absurdity, and manifestly so.
One thing that is conspicuously changed in the later attempts to get
Yeshua down on paper is the consistency of doctrine, which (given its
complex origins) is spotty and thus unsatisfactory in Mark. Here
again, John is most radical. Look, for example, at the Baptism
Trajectory: the decreasing prominence given to Yeshua's baptism in the
successive Gospels Mark > Matthew > Luke > John. Right?
As to the development of Yeshua in Mark, even the familiar canonical
Mark of our own day, as it stands without any reconstructive
interference, consider the following:
In Mark, the message taught by Yeshua is phrased in a way that makes
it indistinguishable from that just attributed to John the B: a gospel
of repentance and forgiveness (Mk 1:14-15). Those words, and that
implication, are avoided in the later Gospels.
In Mark, at 3:2of, 3:31f, a break occurs between Yeshua and his
previous supporters; his friends think him crazy, and he refuses any
longer to acknowledge his mother and his brothers. It implies a change
of previous doctrine and/or plan. That passage is famously omitted by
the later Gospels.
In Mark, the phrase Son of Man is on the whole not used by Jesus of
himself save in the last half of the text (beginning at 8:31). This
distribution is blurred in the subsequent Gospels, and is completely
effaced in John, the last of the Gospels.
There is more, but that should suffice for a test run.
Now we might return to the enigmatic words of the dimwit Papias. He
complained of the taxis "order" of Mark, though he did defend Mark as
at least not wrong, albeit incomplete and, apparently, deficient in
"taxis." The simplest meaning of taxis is probably the one usually
attributed to it in Luke's prologue: the historical sequence.
The naive reader, taking Papias in this way, is liable to be baffled.
Mark tells a perfectly intelligible historical story of Yeshua. What
is the problem?
It has been variously urged, and I think correctly urged, that what
Papias has in mind as a better treatment of Yeshua is the Gospel of
John; we notice his ties to the Johannine community. Well, John is by
a mile the least developmental of the Gospels. Not only does the story
not imply a developmental Yeshua, it has Yeshua from the very outset
preach a nondevelopmental idea of himself. The naive reader is likely
to find John's interminable and identical reiterations boring. That is
my own reaction. But for someone like Papias, who is determined to
hear (and preach) nothing but a single approved view of Yeshua and his
significance, John is likely to be the only good Gospel. One still
hears today the phrase "John got it right." From a certain
perspective, he did. And Papias, I submit, saw things from that
But from that perspective, the trouble with taxis in Mark is precisely
*that he has it;* that he shows the late idea of Yeshua emerging
gradually from the early idea of Yeshua.
The difference between the thoroughly accreted Mark (our canonical
Mark) and the original core narrative of Mark, as best I can presently
reconstruct it (proceeding on lines quite parallel to those employed
by Adela Yarbro Collins to the Markan Passion Narrative, but applied
consistently to the whole text of Mark), is that the core narrative of
Mark follows the early idea of Yeshua through to a narratively
consistent conclusion, without interference from the later overlays
whose purpose is to change the theological (and, incidentally, the
biographical) Tendenz of Mark into something else: something
presumably more acceptable to the community whose views the later Mark
either reflects or creates.
That Markan patchwork, though evidently successful to a degree (or
Mark would have perished early, and we would not now be discussing
it), does not wholly conceal its own inconsistencies, or leave wholly
unasked the various questions which are likely to arise on a
consecutive reading. This, quite thinkably, was one motive for the
later recasting and indeed replacement of Mark in the esteem of
several of the later Jesus communities - quite different communities,
as the sometimes contrary social affinities of Matthew and Luke
attest, but at some level agreed on the wish for something more
consistently reverential, and more doctrinally sound, than Mark had
over the years proved to be.
[E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst]
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]