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Re: [Synoptic-L] Mark's ending

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic In Response To: Tony Buglass On: Date of Mark From: Bruce Tony suggests, following Joachim Jeremias, that the theology of Mk may be from the end
    Message 1 of 9 , Oct 3, 2005
      To: Synoptic
      In Response To: Tony Buglass
      On: Date of Mark
      From: Bruce

      Tony suggests, following Joachim Jeremias, that the theology of Mk may be
      from "the end of the 40s or even earlier." I am much inclined to agree (55
      was merely a terminus ante quem). The barrier to doing so is Mk 13, which is
      hard to get rid of as a reference to the events of 70. I think Kloppenborg's
      additional argument (latest JBL; let me know if you find a refutation) makes
      this inescapable. I thus don't think that Jeremias's Caligula scenario for
      this passage, which I earlier found attractive also, will now work.
      (Refutations of Kloppenborg welcome; I still like the Caligula
      interpretation myself).

      Pending such refutation, this means that the idea can only be saved by
      distancing Mk from Mk 13. That was precisely the opinion of several of the
      earlier commentators. Rawlinson, for example, after long reflection,
      acknowledged that the chapter had to be regarded as composite. Branscomb
      said of the whole, "Isolated from its setting, it makes complete sense -
      better sense, in fact, that in its present position." Grant (following
      Taylor and others) attempted to separate the Jewish Apocalypse source
      document ("not necessarily to be attributed to Jesus") from material more
      directly relevant to the Jesus tradition, and later concludes "This
      apocalyptic warning was later incorporated by Mark in his gospel. . ." To
      avoid begging the question, we might depersonalize that, as "This
      apocalyptic warning was later incorporated in GMk."

      Against Mk 31 are the slenderness of its attachment to the main narrative,
      the consecutiveness of that narrative without it (in the sense that neither
      the end of Mk 12 nor the end of Mk 13 provides a narrative transition to Mk
      14:1), the fact of its length, far beyond any other presumptive speech unit
      in GMk, its close relation to Jewish apocalyptic literature, and its
      intended, if cryptic, contemporary reference ("let the reader understand").
      This is not Jesus talking to his disciples in the past, it is AMk talking to
      his audience in the present day. Compare the ostensible Jesus remark to his
      disciples, "I say it to you, and I say it to all." This is without precedent
      in the rest of Mk. The text at all levels, the editorial voice and the
      purported Jesus voice, is here directly addressing the people of a later age
      than that of Jesus. The whole stance seems to me presentist rather than, as
      in the rest of Mk, conventionally retrospective.

      Bruce
    • Ron Price
      ... Bruce, In the NT I ve identified 16 foreign interpolations which have virtually no textual support (half of them in John s gospel). By foreign I mean
      Message 2 of 9 , Oct 4, 2005
        Bruce Brooks wrote:

        > .......the idea can only be saved by
        > distancing Mk from Mk 13. That was precisely the opinion of several of the
        > earlier commentators. Rawlinson, for example, after long reflection,
        > acknowledged that the chapter had to be regarded as composite.

        Bruce,

        In the NT I've identified 16 foreign interpolations which have virtually no
        textual support (half of them in John's gospel). By 'foreign' I mean penned
        by someone other than the author and who had a different viewpoint.

        Every one of these is a literary unity apart from the stitching visible in a
        couple of cases. Thus in my experience NT interpolations are not composite.

        > ..... Grant (following
        > Taylor and others) attempted to separate the Jewish Apocalypse source
        > document ("not necessarily to be attributed to Jesus") from material more
        > directly relevant to the Jesus tradition, and later concludes "This
        > apocalyptic warning was later incorporated by Mark in his gospel. . ." To
        > avoid begging the question, we might depersonalize that, as "This
        > apocalyptic warning was later incorporated in GMk."

        So what? This apocalyptic material was not the whole of Mk 13. It consisted
        of verses 7-8, 14-20 and 24-27. Moreover such scholars never regarded these
        verses as having been interpolated. They saw them as sources which AMk had
        utilized. In other words their evidence weighs against your case, not for
        it.

        > Against Mk 31 are the slenderness of its attachment to the main narrative,
        > the consecutiveness of that narrative without it (in the sense that neither
        > the end of Mk 12 nor the end of Mk 13 provides a narrative transition to Mk
        > 14:1),

        So you admit that removing ch.13 doesn't improve the transition.

        > ..... the fact of its length, far beyond any other presumptive speech unit
        > in GMk,

        But it includes characteristic terms such as "gospel", "fig tree", and a
        reference to cock crowing.

        > its close relation to Jewish apocalyptic literature,

        Not surprising for a document with a Jewish background produced in the
        aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple.

        > and its
        > intended, if cryptic, contemporary reference ("let the reader understand").
        > This is not Jesus talking to his disciples in the past, it is AMk talking to
        > his audience in the present day.

        Indeed it is. So ch.13 can't be an interpolation, at least not a 'foreign'
        interpolation as defined above.

        > Compare the ostensible Jesus remark to his
        > disciples, "I say it to you, and I say it to all." This is without precedent
        > in the rest of Mk.

        Hardly. It's not at all dissimilar to the saying(s): "He who / If any man /
        has ears to hear, let him hear" in Mk 4:9,23.

        > The text at all levels, the editorial voice and the
        > purported Jesus voice, is here directly addressing the people of a later age
        > than that of Jesus. The whole stance seems to me presentist rather than, as
        > in the rest of Mk, conventionally retrospective.

        Not so. Apart from the Mk 4 references above, there is, e.g. 2:22 where AMk
        presents the old wineskin of Judaism as being incapable of holding the new
        wine of Christianity - quite inconceivable as a statement of the historical
        Jesus.

        Ron Price

        Derbyshire, UK

        Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
      • E Bruce Brooks
        To: Synoptic In Response To: Ron Price On: Mk 13 From: Bruce This corner of the discussion does not look like it is going to emerge in an agreement among the
        Message 3 of 9 , Oct 4, 2005
          To: Synoptic
          In Response To: Ron Price
          On: Mk 13
          From: Bruce

          This corner of the discussion does not look like it is going to emerge in an
          agreement among the principals, but it may be useful to clarify alternatives
          for those listening in, not least myself.

          RON: In the NT I've identified 16 foreign interpolations which have
          virtually no textual support (half of them in John's gospel). By 'foreign' I
          mean penned by someone other than the author and who had a different
          viewpoint. / Every one of these is a literary unity apart from the stitching
          visible in a couple of cases. Thus in my experience NT interpolations are
          not composite.

          BRUCE: I would feel that most "interpolations" in the Gospels, the Pericope
          Adulterae always excepted, are actually text growth under the original
          auspices, not additions from outside that process (which is what I take Ron
          to mean by "foreign"). That they are not on the whole composite, but
          seemingly through-composed, I would entirely agree.(By the way, Ron, if you
          would care to share your current list either on or off-list, I would be most
          interested to see it). It then follows that Mk 13 (as a proposed
          interpolation) is exceptional. I think it IS exceptional, and that its tone
          and character are exceptional too.

          RON: This apocalyptic material was not the whole of Mk 13. It consisted of
          verses 7-8, 14-20 and 24-27. Moreover such scholars never regarded these
          verses as having been interpolated. They saw them as sources which AMk had
          utilized. In other words their evidence weighs against your case, not for
          it.

          BRUCE: As for my "case," I am content for the moment to make it on the
          evidence, rather than dip into the library, or Neirynck, for a history of Mk
          13 criticism. The division of Mk 13 into two strands has been variously
          attempted, with results which seem to diverge around a pretty well agreed
          core. I rather like Taylor's (in an appendix to his commentary), since he
          seems to find a difference of Semitic character between the strands he
          separates. He himself is somewhat disconcerted to find that his proposed
          original stratum is less Petrine than the other. I don't have a Petrine
          scenario, and am prepared to look with equanimity on the idea of a Jesuine
          adaptation of some current bit of Jewish Apocalyptic literature, the result
          being cemented into TMK (the text of Mk as of that moment, not yet our GMk)
          for a particular reason.

          RON: So you admit that removing ch.13 doesn't improve the transition.

          BRUCE: I am not sure that "admitting" is the right verb, since opposing
          counsel at the Synoptic Bar had not demanded it. I had noticed it
          voluntarily. There is no transition between Mk 12 and Mk 14, either with or
          without Mk 13 in place. It just jumps to the next thing. Mk is written in
          blocks, and anything stuck in between two blocks will give that result. Only
          an interpolation into a flow, such as 14:28 and 16:7, will (in the less
          skillful cases) interrupt that flow sufficiently to provide evidence of its
          extraneousness. I would call these latter two passages classic cases of
          interpolation, in that the interpolator has made all the mistakes possible
          in adding them. Thus they are easy to find. More skillful interpolations,
          with literary smoothing at one or both ends, or those placed between blocks
          of prior narrative, are going to be harder to find, and harder to argue. But
          we can't expect interpolators to be always unskillful. My Sinological
          colleagues and I are engaged at this moment (and I admit that I am stealing
          this moment from them, for a topic way beyond the Gobi, which is
          reprehensible on my part) in tweezing out the additions of known author B
          from the original writings of known author A in a gigantic text, the
          earliest comprehensive Chinese history. As far as we have gone (and assuming
          our identifications so far to be correct), B is not always equally careful.
          He will interpolate a line, or a paragraph, or add a whole chapter. Those,
          except the last, can usually be detected in the hoped-for classic way. But B
          will also rewrite, or partially rewrite, the historian's evaluation at the
          end of an A chapter, and that is harder to detect, other than thematically.
          So it goes. It just happens, a matter of my ill luck, that authors A and B
          were both highly trained elite readers and writers, skilled in text assembly
          and conflation, working within the Palace precincts of the Emperor's
          establishment; the best there was. Author B in particular is venerated to
          this moment as a master of Chinese literary style. He knows his business,
          and sometimes his addenda are quite adroit. It raises the bar quite a bit.
          But such things do happen.

          Whoever added John 21 to the previous TJN also did his work well, not
          interrupting a flow,but instead fixing on a clear break (in fact, the end of
          the previous text) for his location. He not only imitated, he improved on,
          the ending of Jn 20. He left a very satisfying construct indeed. I would
          consider that the interpolation is still manifest, but not with the classic
          evidences, and thus doubtless not convincing even to the philologically
          attuned. How many NT-engaged people at this moment really dispense with Jn
          21, in teaching or preaching John? I would guess, very few. And the
          adroitness of the join probably helps produce that wide acceptance.

          RON [in response to the unusual length of Mk 13]: But it includes
          characteristic terms such as "gospel", "fig tree", and a reference to cock
          crowing.

          BRUCE: Sure. Those are among the reasons why I wouldn't call it "foreign."
          It is Jewish Apocalyptic boilerplate, but customized for the position into
          which it was meant to be inserted. The interpolator knew the rest of Mk very
          well. He may well have written part of it, and was here concerned to update
          it. Not to sabotage it.

          RON [on the Jewish Apocalyptic motif]: Not surprising for a document with a
          Jewish background produced in the aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem
          and its temple.

          BRUCE: I agree entirely. I think it is very expectable under the most
          readily imaginable circumstances. But this is only to say that the
          interpolation was responsive to the times in which it was crafted and
          inserted. I should suppose that the same was true of every interpolation, in
          any text. Interpolations are not idle, they are done for reasons, and the
          reasons are always contemporary, and the materials used tend to be in part
          contemporary also.

          RON [to the idea that MK 13 is not Jesus talking, but AMk addressing his
          readers in the present day]: Indeed it is. So ch.13 can't be an
          interpolation, at least not a 'foreign'
          interpolation as defined above.

          BRUCE: I have already agreed that it is not foreign. I see it as an integral
          interpolation, and as part of a larger process by which the proprietors of a
          closely held text updated that text to be responsive to current needs. One
          thing that is salient about Mk 13 is that it steps out of the usual Markan
          pattern of narrating events in the past, and openly addresses the present.
          To the extent that this is different from the texture of the rest of the
          book, it helps to mark it as atypical, and thus as possibly extraneous. An
          add-on. It's well done, but in this feature it displays a failure to sustain
          the previous rhetorical position of the text. That is part of its intensity,
          but it is also one of the traits by which its special textual character can
          be recognized.

          RON [on the thought that "I say it to you and I say it to all" in Mk 13 is
          different in kind from Jesus's remarks elsewhere]: Hardly. It's not at all
          dissimilar to the saying(s): "He who / If any man / has ears to hear, let
          him hear" in Mk 4:9,23.

          BRUCE: "He who has ears to hear, let him hear" can be plausibly taken as
          addressed to the crowd within the story. It is congruent with the thought,
          which is the burden of more than one parable in GMk, that the Word will be
          offered to many, but not accepted by all. Only those able to comprehend it
          will accept it. We modern readers may well decide to take it as addressed to
          us (and we may make a similar decision with respect to nearly every other
          speech in GMk), but this is not rhetorically necessary in the original, or
          explicitly warranted by the original. I think that the Mk 13 case is
          different in kind, since there are no hearers narratively present in Mk 13
          who might constitute the balance of Jesus's "all" here, and so the "all"
          *must* in Mk 13 be construed as "everybody." It is this narratively
          unexcused "everybody" that, to my eye at least, is the point of difference.
          The point of manifest presentism, the thing that cannot be rhetorically
          accounted for within the narrative. And I would thus put it with the
          narrator's aside "Let the reader understand" elsewhere in Mk 13. But the
          latter passage, in a pinch, ought by itself to adequately attest the
          presentism of Mk 13.

          RON [on the claimed "presentist" stance of Mk 31 in contrast to the rest of
          GMk]: Not so. Apart from the Mk 4 references above, there is, e.g. 2:22
          where AMk presents the old wineskin of Judaism as being incapable of holding
          the new wine of Christianity - quite inconceivable as a statement of the
          historical Jesus.

          BRUCE: My sense of it is roughly the same as in the previous point, but
          perhaps with a difference. In Mk 2:22, the new doctrine is being seen as new
          *to the other people within that story.* It is, so to speak, historically
          new. The crowds several times refer to Jesus's preaching as "a new
          teaching," not as the standard textbook admirably expounded. The question at
          2:22 is how compatible this teaching is with the standard textbook. This (as
          it seems to me) is a point on which our extant GMk is not wholly at one with
          itself. In the Greatest Commandment question, entire compatibility with
          previous tradition is asserted. In the many "conflict stories," the
          conclusion is different. Mk 2:22 would seem to go with the "clean break"
          strand in the text, rather than with the "no difference" strand. My personal
          guess is that these groups or stories represent different strata in the
          text, all of them being earlier than anything we have been recently
          concerned with.

          I wouldn't go so far as to say that 2:22 is historically inconceivable, but
          I do suspect (as of this moment) that it represents a later stage in the
          evolution of the idea of Jesus than some of the rest of its neighbors. It is
          somewhat getting ahead of things to say so here, but my private guess is
          that Strauss and Schweitzer were pretty near right, and that the Gospels,
          even Mk, don't take us very close to the historical Jesus. They represent,
          and especially Mk represents, an onion-like process of adding layers of
          interpretation on top of any remembered Jesus words or events. They are, and
          Mk especially is, an anthology of early theology. It is only by asking: What
          is all this theology operating with? that we can hope (in my completely
          uncertified opinion) to get a clue as to what actually went on, in the
          Galilee and Jerusalem of times long gone.

          This is a complicated way of saying that I agree in a way with Ron about Mk
          2:22, but feel that this doesn't necessarily support his side of our current
          disagreement about Mk 13. I will end on that note, and with a word of thanks
          to Ron for his carefully put points. It is a pleasure to have an opportunity
          to engage a text as a text, with someone who has considered that text
          carefully. In my case, a guilty pleasure, but I still want to express my
          appreciation to Ron, Leonard, and a few others in recent weeks for the
          opportunity to incur that guilt.

          Back now to work at my proper desk, in the hope of assuaging a little of the
          guilt. (Our international conference on the other matter I mentioned
          convenes in just 48 hours and 6 minutes, and but for this conversation I
          would be somewhat further along with my contribution to it).

          Bruce

          E Bruce Brooks
          Warring States Project
          University of Massachusetts at Amherst
        • E Bruce Brooks
          To: Synoptic In Response To: Dave Gentile On: Mark s Ending From: Bruce Dave has raised some interesting points. I diverge somewhat in how I see the logic of
          Message 4 of 9 , Oct 4, 2005
            To: Synoptic
            In Response To: Dave Gentile
            On: Mark's Ending
            From: Bruce

            Dave has raised some interesting points. I diverge somewhat in how I see the
            logic of the question, and it may be helpful to offer that view as part of
            the conversation.

            DAVE: I don't think that the current ending of Mark is original, but it may
            not be that Mark originally ended at 16:8 either.

            BRUCE: By "current ending" I take it Dave means Mk 16:9f, which is omitted
            or italicized in most recently critical editions. Let's start by agreeing
            that Mk 16:9f is not part of the discussion.

            DAVE: An earlier version of Mark may have contained an ending which is now
            totally lost. For some theological reason, it was removed very early, and
            then much later the current ending was added.

            BRUCE: That is, there was originally something in the place now occupied by
            Mk 16:9f, and that this was removed. The current MK 16:9f (if I understand
            Dave rightly) would be a later suppletion, posterior to the time Mk was (I
            conclude on other evidence) seen by Mt and Lk. I go back to this in a
            moment. First, the remainder of Dave's position:

            DAVE: But just because we don't believe Mark's current ending is original,
            does not mean we must automatically conclude that it originally ended with
            the empty tomb. The only argument I can see that one might make in the way
            of evidence for such a lost ending is that the later authors certainly
            seemed to agree that a key narrative event was missing.

            BRUCE: I think, and have previously urged, that the later attempts to supply
            an ending for Mk (the traditional Mk 16:9f, the Freer Ending) are excellent
            evidence for a sense that Mk ought not to end so up in the air as it does;
            the sense among people not that far removed from the Gospel formative period
            that Mk 16:8 is a funny way to end a Gospel.

            Accepting that early agreement as a welcome support for some modern
            impressions, including my own, we next need to ask: Assuming the original
            end of Mk, the thing originally in the place now occupied by Mk 16:9f, was
            intentionally and not accidentally removed from an earlier state of Mk, is
            16:8 a credible artifact of that process? I would think that it is
            excessively abrupt, and that an intentional deletion would have left a more
            complete sentence.

            If so, then the possibility of accidental damage re-emerges. This is where I
            think the scenario which I earlier proposed makes sense. If the damage was
            accidental, why was not the missing material at once supplied? My suggestion
            was: because Mk, at the point it came to be used by Mt and/or Lk,, was no
            longer part of a live tradition, but instead a relic of a formerly live
            tradition. Neither the [most recent] author of the book, nor the community
            whose beliefs the book either reflected or inculcated, was available to
            provide the missing information. The physical GMk was all there was. My
            suggestion for filling out that scenario (there may well be other
            possibilities) was that Mk was the Gospel of an early Galilean Christian
            group, perhaps suppleted with Mk 13 as late as 71 by someone anxious to
            update the work's prophetic power, but that what was left of the group and
            of the text-proprietor set within that group was eliminated by the
            repressions in conjunction with the years 70-73. Pella. What might credibly
            have been imagined to have survived that disaster would be just a slightly
            damaged text of GMk, with its ending torn off by circumstance (rather than
            theological odium), and supplied as an unprovenanced object to the later
            Synoptists, its original community being no longer able to be queried about
            what might have lain beyond Mk 16:8, or about any other matter.

            If intentional, why was not the nature of the intention known to the
            Synoptists operating only a few years later? If accidental, well, that seems
            to me to offer possibilities if we are thinking of the years of the early
            70's.

            Just a suggestion. But it does seem to me to meet what I take to be the
            data, the situational givens, in the problem.

            On the other hand, if it can be shown that Mk 13 can after all be entirely
            construed as responsive to the Caligula situation, rather than to the Titus
            situation, then even Mk 13 can be old within Mk, and there is no necessity
            to posit an addition much later, in the 70's. Then all the more, GMk might
            be an old, and uncontexted, object as of the Synoptic composition fervor
            following the events of 70-73.

            Myself, I like it better, and would be glad to see a strong Caligula
            argument for Mk 13. To that end: Would someone care to summarize and refute
            Kloppenborg's latest argument (his chief contribution is the Evocatio Deorum
            motif)? Or for that matter, to summarize and support Hendrika Roskam's? (see
            JBL v124 #3, 553f). I agree with the JBL reviewer that she has the better of
            it as against Incigneri's Roman scenario for Mk, but I also agree that her
            position needs a little more work.

            Bruce

            E Bruce Brooks
            Warring States Project
            University of Massachusetts at Amherst




            BRUCE:
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