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Re: [Synoptic-L] Salt in Mark

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  • Bob Schacht
    ... This is an interesting thread on saltiness , raising some issues that I hadn t thought of before. To take the discussion in a different direction, the
    Message 1 of 6 , Feb 8, 2006
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      At 07:47 PM 2/8/2006, Tim Lewis wrote:
      >In regards to Dave's salt suggestion I forget to mention that losing
      >saltiness would be more applicable as a reference to Pharisees if it could
      >be shown that Pharisees were not good examples of a united group or an
      >effective group (if as it appears to me that "having salt" amongst
      >believers meant a lack of animosity). . .

      This is an interesting thread on "saltiness", raising some issues that I
      hadn't thought of before.

      To take the discussion in a different direction, the thing about salt
      losing its saltiness is clearly about purity vs. corruption, or so it seems
      to me. Its not only that salt is acceptable in food for God at the altar,
      and that yeast corrupts, so that it is unleavened bread that is offered. It
      also raises other purity issues, that some Jews were known to have concerns
      about.

      The first thing that brings to my mind, in the context of these verses, is
      acculturation: Jews who acculturate to the Hellenistic/Roman world become
      "corrupt" and lose their Jewish "saltiness." Jews who became too Hellenized
      were no longer "Jews" in any meaningful sense.

      Weren't the Essenes also concerned with Purity issues?

      Anyway, I suggest this avenue for consideration, and will be interested to
      hear what others think about this.

      Bob



      Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
      University of Hawaii
      Honolulu, HI

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Gentile, David
      Thanks for the feedback. I m going to sign up for the X-talk list, since that seems to be the direction this is going. But I did want to add one more thing
      Message 2 of 6 , Feb 9, 2006
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        Thanks for the feedback. I'm going to sign up for the X-talk list, since
        that seems to be the direction this is going.



        But I did want to add one more thing along this chain of thought. Salt
        does seem to be "what makes one acceptable to God" and also seems to be
        "living at peace with one another" which involves *forgiving* each
        other. I'd note here that Matthew 5 goes into a large section of
        forgiving others shortly after the salt sayings. Can we then say that
        forgiving each other is what makes one acceptable to God?



        Mark might also be argued to be saying that forgiving others is what
        makes one acceptable to God here.



        Mark 11:22-25 (NIV) "Have faith in God," Jesus answered. "I tell you the
        truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the
        sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says
        will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you
        ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be
        yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone,
        forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."



        If you pull out the text of Matthew from Mark it says



        Mark 11:22-25 (NIV) "Have faith in God," Jesus answered. And when you
        stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that
        your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."



        In Mark the Pharisees then question the authority of Jesus. And if the
        setting had not changed here, I think we would assume the Pharisees are
        questioning Jesus' teachings on forgiveness.



        Could "Forgiveness for forgiveness" be the message of Mark before
        Matthian influence?



        Dave Gentile

        Riverside, IL

        ________________________________

        From: Tim Lewis [mailto:tim_lewis@...]
        Sent: Wednesday, February 08, 2006 11:48 PM
        To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com; Gentile, David
        Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] Salt in Mark



        In regards to Dave's salt suggestion I forget to mention that losing
        saltiness would be more applicable as a reference to Pharisees if it
        could be shown that Pharisees were not good examples of a united group
        or an effective group (if as it appears to me that "having salt" amongst
        believers meant a lack of animosity).



        For example if the Pharisees were known more for debating about the
        intricacies of the law (what constituted anger, adultery, grounds for
        divorcing a woman, oath-making, retaliation and determining enemies who
        were exempted from receiving love) then this is exactly what we find in
        Mt 5, immediately after the salt saying and Jesus' comment that he is
        not opposed to the law as such but that he requires BASILEIA entrants to
        have a greater righteousness than that of the Scribes and Pharisees. If
        then squabbling over definitions constituted the group, they could
        easily be thought to have lost their saltiness. If they also were known
        more for what they did NOT do, then their ineffectiveness could be
        called a loss of saltiness.



        Indeed the next episode following the salt saying in Mk has Jesus
        questioned by Pharisees interested in testing him on the divorce issue!
        Coincidence?

        Tim Lewis.



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Daniel Grolin
        Dear Bob, I was wondering how you would square this view with Marcus Borg s reading that the Jesus tradition placed Jesus against the Pharisaic emphasis on
        Message 3 of 6 , Feb 9, 2006
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          Dear Bob,

          I was wondering how you would square this view with
          Marcus Borg's reading that the Jesus tradition placed
          Jesus against the Pharisaic emphasis on purity? (I
          know that this is not strictly speaking a synoptic
          issue, but I have been wondering how Mark interprets
          the saying. Matthew appears to make it an issue of
          virtue, but that is his m.o..)

          Regards,

          Daniel

          --- Bob Schacht <r_schacht@...> wrote:

          > At 07:47 PM 2/8/2006, Tim Lewis wrote:
          > >In regards to Dave's salt suggestion I forget to
          > mention that losing
          > >saltiness would be more applicable as a reference
          > to Pharisees if it could
          > >be shown that Pharisees were not good examples of a
          > united group or an
          > >effective group (if as it appears to me that
          > "having salt" amongst
          > >believers meant a lack of animosity). . .
          >
          > This is an interesting thread on "saltiness",
          > raising some issues that I
          > hadn't thought of before.
          >
          > To take the discussion in a different direction, the
          > thing about salt
          > losing its saltiness is clearly about purity vs.
          > corruption, or so it seems
          > to me. Its not only that salt is acceptable in food
          > for God at the altar,
          > and that yeast corrupts, so that it is unleavened
          > bread that is offered. It
          > also raises other purity issues, that some Jews were
          > known to have concerns
          > about.
          >
          > The first thing that brings to my mind, in the
          > context of these verses, is
          > acculturation: Jews who acculturate to the
          > Hellenistic/Roman world become
          > "corrupt" and lose their Jewish "saltiness." Jews
          > who became too Hellenized
          > were no longer "Jews" in any meaningful sense.
          >
          > Weren't the Essenes also concerned with Purity
          > issues?
          >
          > Anyway, I suggest this avenue for consideration, and
          > will be interested to
          > hear what others think about this.
          >
          > Bob
          >
          >
          >
          > Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
          > University of Hawaii
          > Honolulu, HI
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been
          > removed]
          >
          >




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        • Tim Lewis
          So far we have several related ideas concerning possible early meanings and applications for the not losing your saltiness/have salt saying. 1) Dave asked
          Message 4 of 6 , Feb 9, 2006
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            So far we have several related ideas concerning possible early meanings and applications for the not "losing your saltiness/have salt" saying.

            1) Dave asked whether it was contrasted with "yeast" of the Pharisees and whether the Pharisees were in mind as those who had lost saltiness,
            2) I agreed that Paul's church advice in Rom 12 seemed to fit as a warning NOT to be like those outside who conform to "this age" thereby endangering favour with God,
            3) I then suggested it meant maintaining unity by a lack of internal animosity or quibbling,
            4) Bob suggested that it could be being corrupted by outside acculturation (to Hellenistic/Roman world),
            5) Dave suggested based on Mk 11:22-25 forgiving others made one acceptable to God which might be what the Pharisees did not like about Jesus.

            Possessing saltiness would seem to imply "having something good to offer" so the warning is against losing your value (as a group). If there is nothing special about your group, you've lost saltiness, you've been compromised. But what was that speciality exactly...no internal quibbling? forgiveness? resistance to Hellenistic culture? Perhaps the saying could already be applied all round generally? I wonder who has done research on its application?
            Tim Lewis
            ----- Original Message -----
            From: Gentile, David
            To: Tim Lewis ; Synoptic@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Friday, February 10, 2006 2:59 AM
            Subject: RE: [Synoptic-L] Salt in Mark


            Thanks for the feedback. I'm going to sign up for the X-talk list, since
            that seems to be the direction this is going.



            But I did want to add one more thing along this chain of thought. Salt
            does seem to be "what makes one acceptable to God" and also seems to be
            "living at peace with one another" which involves *forgiving* each
            other. I'd note here that Matthew 5 goes into a large section of
            forgiving others shortly after the salt sayings. Can we then say that
            forgiving each other is what makes one acceptable to God?



            Mark might also be argued to be saying that forgiving others is what
            makes one acceptable to God here.



            Mark 11:22-25 (NIV) "Have faith in God," Jesus answered. "I tell you the
            truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the
            sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says
            will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you
            ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be
            yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone,
            forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."



            If you pull out the text of Matthew from Mark it says



            Mark 11:22-25 (NIV) "Have faith in God," Jesus answered. And when you
            stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that
            your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."



            In Mark the Pharisees then question the authority of Jesus. And if the
            setting had not changed here, I think we would assume the Pharisees are
            questioning Jesus' teachings on forgiveness.



            Could "Forgiveness for forgiveness" be the message of Mark before
            Matthian influence?



            Dave Gentile

            Riverside, IL

            ________________________________

            From: Tim Lewis [mailto:tim_lewis@...]
            Sent: Wednesday, February 08, 2006 11:48 PM
            To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com; Gentile, David
            Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] Salt in Mark



            In regards to Dave's salt suggestion I forget to mention that losing
            saltiness would be more applicable as a reference to Pharisees if it
            could be shown that Pharisees were not good examples of a united group
            or an effective group (if as it appears to me that "having salt" amongst
            believers meant a lack of animosity).



            For example if the Pharisees were known more for debating about the
            intricacies of the law (what constituted anger, adultery, grounds for
            divorcing a woman, oath-making, retaliation and determining enemies who
            were exempted from receiving love) then this is exactly what we find in
            Mt 5, immediately after the salt saying and Jesus' comment that he is
            not opposed to the law as such but that he requires BASILEIA entrants to
            have a greater righteousness than that of the Scribes and Pharisees. If
            then squabbling over definitions constituted the group, they could
            easily be thought to have lost their saltiness. If they also were known
            more for what they did NOT do, then their ineffectiveness could be
            called a loss of saltiness.



            Indeed the next episode following the salt saying in Mk has Jesus
            questioned by Pharisees interested in testing him on the divorce issue!
            Coincidence?

            Tim Lewis.



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



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