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Re: [Synoptic-L] Mark's ending

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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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