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RE: [Synoptic-L] The temple incident of Mk 11:15-17

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic In Response To: Ron Price On: Mk 11:15-17 From: Bruce I share Ron s previous feeling about this piece. It is too embarrassing, and more precisely,
    Message 1 of 9 , Jan 24, 2012
      To: Synoptic
      In Response To: Ron Price
      On: Mk 11:15-17
      From: Bruce

      I share Ron's previous feeling about this piece. It is too embarrassing, and
      more precisely, it is too Davidic in tendency, to have been a pious later
      invention.

      RON: The messianic enthusiasm of Jesus and his followers (especially in a
      Jerusalem crowded with festival visitors) was probably enough to get Jesus
      arrested.

      BRUCE: Except that, according to Mark, whose evidence we are here following,
      it didn't. There was this additional provocation. And even that he got away
      with; the Temple authorities had to find someone to rat him out, before they
      could send a mob to arrest him. Does anyone doubt the story of the betrayal?
      I didn't think so. The next question is, Why was Jesus so hard to find?

      RON: Problems with the story include: (1) at festivals, money changers were
      essential to the sacrificial cult

      BRUCE: Way I heard it, they were essential to the Temple tax. But what
      counts is not our opinion, but that of Mark's principals. What did Jesus say
      about this situation?

      RON: (2) the references to Gentiles in synoptic aphorisms Mk 10:42; Mt 5:47;
      6:7; 6:32; 10:5 indicate that the historical Jesus was not overly concerned
      with "all the nations" (v.17)

      BRUCE: Not concerned at all. True, a later layer of Mark does symbolically
      include the Gentiles, but that's a later layer. A later layer cannot
      eliminate the evidence of an earlier layer. Late testimony cannot stand
      before earlier testimony. The historical Jesus's lack of concern with
      Gentiles is consistent with his lack of concern for the profits of the
      Temple vendors, if you come right down to it.

      Whose side was Jesus exactly on? That is a question that might be worth
      asking. For hints, I would still be inclined to turn to Mark, though going
      light on the interpolated passages, and sticking with the firmly situated
      ones.

      RON: (3) Mark had a clear incentive to compose such a story because he *was*
      concerned for a gospel to Gentiles, and because the control of the temple
      was in the hands of a priestly group and thus the temple incident provided
      his passion story with a plausible excuse to involve the Jewish leaders
      (v.18) in the arrest and trial of Jesus.

      BRUCE: Arrest, not trial, especially if we take note of Adela Yarbro
      Collins' reconstruction. And how concerned was Mark for the Gentiles? I have
      mentioned some later additions to his Gospel. I think that will cover it.
      Mark was a later convert to a lot of things, up to and including Paul's
      Atonement doctrine (at Mk 10:45 and 14:24, but not elsewhere). But that is
      merely to say that the Markan Gospel is a sort of stratificational cross
      section of the progress of church doctrine over the course of its writing
      life, which I calculate to be about 15 years. Mark, who was little more than
      a kid when Jesus came along, essentially grew up along with early
      Christianity (most likely, its Jerusalem version). And his book, almost a
      diary, shows it. It is an invaluable historical pageant, but not a safe
      historical snapshot.

      Back to the main point, just how would Mark's "clear incentive" (in favor of
      the Gentiles) lead him to invent the Money Changers story? How do we get
      from the one place to the other?

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • Ronald Price
      BRUCE: [the temple incident] is too embarrassing ..... RON: Like the baptism of Jesus by John, this incident (whether fact or fiction) was not too embarrassing
      Message 2 of 9 , Jan 24, 2012
        BRUCE: [the temple incident] is too embarrassing .....

        RON: Like the baptism of Jesus by John, this incident (whether fact or
        fiction) was not too embarrassing for Mark or he would not have included it
        in his gospel without any sign of embarrassment.

        - - - - - - - - - -

        BRUCE: ..... the Temple authorities had to find someone to rat him out,
        before they could send a mob to arrest him. Does anyone doubt the story of
        the betrayal?
        I didn't think so.

        RON: You are wrong. For instance, Hyam Maccoby and Aaron Saari doubted it,
        and so do I. The story of the betrayal is part of Mark's fictional
        anti-Jewish polemic.

        - - - - - - - - - -

        BRUCE: ..... just how would Mark's "clear incentive" (in favor of
        the Gentiles) lead him to invent the Money Changers story? How do we get
        from the one place to the other?

        RON: Mark's primary aim was to further the gospel to the Gentiles. Jews were
        especially despised after the fall of Jerusalem and the public parading of
        the temple treasures. Therefore Mark wanted the ruling authorities in the
        empire to make a clear distinction between Jews and Christians. What better
        way to do this in his new gospel than to paint the 'Jews' as enemies of
        Jesus? Just one minor problem: Jesus had been a loyal Jew. Consequently the
        enterprise required an elaborate plot. Mark would prepare for the passion
        story by composing an incident in which Jesus antagonizes the temple
        authorities. This would lead to his arrest, then trial and condemnation by
        chief priests. So the priests (Jews!) can be blamed for his death.

        - - - - - - - - - -

        Ron Price,

        Derbyshire, UK

        http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/syno_home.html





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      • E Bruce Brooks
        To: Synoptic Disputing Points With: Ron At: Mk 11:15-17 and related From: Bruce THE JUDAS BETRAYAL BRUCE: ..... the Temple authorities had to find someone to
        Message 3 of 9 , Jan 24, 2012
          To: Synoptic
          Disputing Points With: Ron
          At: Mk 11:15-17 and related
          From: Bruce

          THE JUDAS BETRAYAL

          BRUCE: ..... the Temple authorities had to find someone to rat [Jesus] out,
          before they could send a mob to arrest him. Does anyone doubt the story of
          the betrayal? . . . I didn't think so.

          RON: You are wrong. For instance, Hyam Maccoby and Aaron Saari doubted it,
          and so do I. The story of the betrayal is part of Mark's fictional
          anti-Jewish polemic.

          BRUCE: Well, that would still seem to add up to an overwhelming majority
          against the idea that Judas was wholly an invention of Mark, but my civics
          teacher warned me that the majority are always wrong, so let's consider it.
          I would propose to undertake the consideration by asking these questions:
          (1) Does the detail of Judas really play into a supposed Anti-Jewish agenda
          of Mark, and (2) is there any outside evidence for its reality, as against
          its invention by Mark? I would think, No and Yes, respectively.

          Judas. I can see Mark inventing a Jewish arrest of Jesus, as a way of
          incriminating the Jews and exonerating the Romans in the death of Jesus. So
          the Gethsemane arrest scene, minus Judas (Mark doesn't need to tell us how
          the mob found Jesus), would fit the supposed Mark agenda. It makes Jesus
          look innocent, and it makes the Jews look hostile. But what about the Judas
          detail? Does it speak ill for the Temple Jews? I would think it rather puts
          Jesus in a very bad light. Here is a guy who Jesus chose to be his apostle,
          and sent out and welcomed back in that role, but also WHO WAS GOING TO
          BETRAY HIM, but Jesus at that time had not the slightest clue about it. It
          is only moments before the betrayal that Jesus begins to sense something
          wrong. How prescient is Jesus anyway? Does his late prediction of betrayal
          really redeem his earlier ignorance of that same betrayal? Not to my eye. If
          I were Mark, and some scriptwriter in the Anti-Jewish section came to me
          with a proposal to invent a disciple betrayal, I would say, It adds drama
          but it also casts Jesus in a very bad light, as not only passive, but
          stupid. , I think you guys need to get back to the drawing board with this.

          Reality. If Judas were simply Mark's invention, we would expect him to be
          confined to Mark, or at most to those unimaginative imitators, the later
          Gospel writers, who were (let's generously assume) slavishly indebted to
          Mark and never used their own minds, or accessed other information sources.
          OK, I am willing to think that of Matthew, Luke, and John, who progressively
          strengthen the awfulness of the betrayal story, and think up new and
          gruesome ways for Judas to die. But as an independent test of that
          hypothesis, does Judas exist outside the Mark-defined Gospel tradition, or
          is he more widely recognized? Answer: He is more widely recognized. Among
          the Apostolic writings, we find Judas tending to figure in the Harrowing of
          Hell narratives, as the only (or one of two or three) unredeemable souls
          left in Hell forever, after everyone else is freed. That's one strike
          against the Mark invention theory, and the strike consists in the fact that
          everyone out there in noncanonical waters, who takes any stand at all,
          agrees with Mark. Closer in to the Orthdoxy wharf, we have Paul, and does
          Paul refer, a propos Eucharist, to the "night on which Jesus was arrested?
          No, he refers, and I quote, to the "night on which he was betrayed." Sic.

          Third. To return to the first point, and reconsider the assumption there
          made, I don't find that the later Gospelers were in fact utterly confined to
          Mark. Luke, for example, feels perfectly free to drop the passages in which
          Mark flirts with the Atonement doctrine (a tenet which Luke obviously would
          not accept), he leaves out some Mark stories, including Jesus preaching
          segments (which one might think obsequious piety would compel him to
          retain), and he heavily rewrites others. If Mark were merely inventing, and
          if Luke, who was working not as a tourist but from within Christian
          tradition, and so may have had his own impressions of Christian tradition,
          had construed something in Mark as a mere invention, it was in principle
          open to him (and in his own practice, evidently available to him) to leave
          that unsound detail out, while keeping other things in. This is not how he
          treats the Judas betrayal. That he not only keeps it, but literarily
          elaborates it, would seem to be evidence for something more than a passive
          or perfunctory or sullen acceptance.

          All together, the tests that we can practicably apply to the Judas betrayal
          seem to suggest that it rested on ground outside Mark, and thus was not
          merely a Markan figment.

          -----------------------

          THE MONEY CHANGERS

          BRUCE (before): ..... just how would Mark's "clear incentive" (in favor of
          the Gentiles) lead him to invent the Money Changers story? How do we get
          from the one place to the other?

          RON: Mark's primary aim was to further the gospel to the Gentiles.

          BRUCE: I don't know about primary. How much of Mark can fairly be assigned,
          on its own showing, to this purpose? I have noted that there are passages
          that have the Gentiles in mind, but I have also noted that they tend to be
          interpolations. (The same is true of Luke, by the way). I think we need to
          judge between stuff and other stuff in these texts. It is not all equally up
          for grabs by the modern investigator.

          RON: . . . Jews were especially despised after the fall of Jerusalem and the
          public parading of the temple treasures.

          BRUCE: By whom more than before? The parading was in Rome. The loss of the
          Temple vessels would have been disabling for the Temple proprietors, back in
          Jerusalem, and of course it made a drastic change in the place of sacrifice
          in Jewish religious life generally (it reduced it to zero). But "despised?"

          RON: . . . Therefore Mark wanted the ruling authorities in the empire to
          make a clear distinction between Jews and Christians.

          BRUCE: Yes and no. All the NT texts go to extreme lengths, including
          narrative distortions (in case the other side, the Roman side, was
          listening, and for those writing in Greek, that was surely a consideration)
          to show that Romans always judged the Christians to be without fault,
          whether theological (that they left to the Jews to arbitrate) or civil (the
          key issue). No "despising of Jews" is logically involved, nor is it
          narratively linked in any NT text that I can think of offhand. As for
          distinction, is not the opposite the case? Rather, one desideratum for any
          early Christian author was to secure for Christians a protected status as
          Jews under Roman rule. Making a distinction between Jews and Christians
          would have entailed serious legal disabilities, no?

          The wish of Christians to appear harmless to Romans is conspicuously
          manifest as late as Acts (post-70). The freeing of Pilate from guilt for
          Jesus' death (presumed by Christians to be an injustice) is something that
          is continually developed in later texts, up to the point of giving Pilate
          saintly status within Christianity. The reciprocal of that development is to
          dump the guilt for the whole proceeding increasingly on the Jews, a ready
          target because (as Mark makes endlessly plain) they had long been hostile to
          Jesus, and were already involved in the Jerusalem arrest and execution. That
          does not mean that the Jews in real life had had no complicity in Jesus's
          arrest and death; it merely means that such real life beginning as that
          motif had, was subject to further hostile elaboration in successive Gospels
          (and for that matter, in later layers of Mark himself). If we trace this
          stream of anti-Temple propaganda back to its source, do we get nothing at
          all, or do we get a more modest historical fact? I think we get the latter.
          Note, in any case, that the Temple Establishment are not equivalent to
          "Jews." The latter term is far wider. Jesus, at most points in Mark
          including his preaching in the Temple vicinity, seems to have been on terms
          of acceptance and even enthusiasm with the Jewish populace at large. Or if
          not, Mark is surely behaving very irrationally in his supposed attempt to
          show the opposite.

          RON: What better way to do this in his new gospel than to paint the 'Jews'
          as enemies of Jesus? Just one minor problem: Jesus had been a loyal Jew.

          BRUCE: I can only call this another illusion. Mark makes it plain that
          Jesus, both ritually and politically, was a divergent Jew and also a
          politically dangerous Jew, since his teaching threatened the Quisling
          Jerusalem establishment Jews with loss of their safe and profitable status
          quo, the status in which they had the most interest. To what was Jesus (in
          Mark) loyal? To Moses? He disputes divorce law with Moses. To John the B?
          His own preaching takes a different tack, including the abandonment of
          baptism as a ritual. To the Pharisee elaborations of the Mosaic Law? A dozen
          or so confrontations in Mark say the opposite. I don't find a footing
          anywhere in Mark for the "loyal Jew" position. (Matthew offers some crumbs
          in this direction, but we are not now discussing Matthew). Jesus, on Mark's
          showing, was dedicated to a certain version of the Davidic vision for
          Israel. Both his enemies and his enthusiastic hearers characterize him as
          new, startling, and either convincing or upsetting, depending on previous
          condition of servitude. I sense a salient rather than a conventional
          persona. The opposite of blah.

          RON: Consequently the enterprise required an elaborate plot. Mark would
          prepare for the passion story by composing an incident in which Jesus
          antagonizes the temple authorities. This would lead to his arrest, then
          trial and condemnation by chief priests. So the priests (Jews!) can be
          blamed for his death.

          BRUCE: Again, I think the guys in the PR division, the Markan Lie Staff,
          need to rethink this. If Jesus (as would be nice, if true) was in fact
          innocent of political intentions, a kindly rural preacher of Qwisdom, and if
          the whole arrest and execution story in Mark is one vast bad rap, invented
          in its entirety by Mark, it would seem that Mark's best strategy for that
          invention was to portray a Jesus innocent of Messianic pretensions (he does
          the opposite) and one whose own civil behavior is exemplary (instead, he
          shows Jesus upsetting things in the Temple precincts). Try as I can (and I
          have repeatedly revisited these parts of Mark), there does not seem to be a
          case of mistaken identity here, no bad rap, no slanderous defamation of a
          loyal Roman subject and conventionally pious Jew. Mark says otherwise. Mark
          is at pains to tell a story which does not make sense as merely an attempt
          to blame Jews for Jesus's death. On the contrary, he gives ample reasons,
          from the beginning of his story to the end, and not only in the final
          chapters, why both Romans and Jews would have wanted to put Jesus to death.
          Over the whole of his text, Mark provides a consistent and coherent scenario
          for why Jesus died. (James Hardy Ropes and I think that this was the
          original reason for Mark's writing a Gospel at all).

          In short, I cannot but think that this whole series of assumptions is weak
          at the joints, and questionable at the nodes, and needs general rethinking.

          Respectfully suggested.

          Bruce

          E Bruce Brooks
          University of Massachusetts at Amherst
        • Ronald Price
          BRUCE: ..... does Judas exist outside the Mark-defined Gospel tradition, or is he more widely recognized? Answer: He is more widely recognized. RON: Our only
          Message 4 of 9 , Jan 25, 2012
            BRUCE: ..... does Judas exist outside the Mark-defined Gospel tradition, or
            is he more widely recognized? Answer: He is more widely recognized.

            RON: Our only independent source for the story of the betrayal of Jesus is
            Mark's gospel. The fact that millions since have believed it should make no
            difference whatsoever to the critical historian. For from the late 1st
            century to modern times, all have been dependent directly or indirectly on
            the testimony of Mark.

            BRUCE: ..... does Paul refer, a propos Eucharist, to the "night on which
            Jesus was arrested? No, he refers, and I quote, to the "night on which he
            was betrayed." Sic.

            RON: Paul did not use the word "betray". He wrote in Greek, and the word he
            used was PARADIDWMI. This word does not necessarily imply betrayal. For
            instance, it was used in Mk 1:14 to refer to the "arrest" (RSV) of John the
            Baptist. Therefore 1 Cor 11:23 cannot be used to prove that Paul knew the
            story of the betrayal of Jesus.

            Unfortunately many translators of this verse have also been influenced by
            the Markan story of the betrayal. Commendable exceptions are NEB and REB
            which read: "... on the night of his arrest ...".

            Ron Price,

            Derbyshire, UK

            http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm



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          • E Bruce Brooks
            To: Synoptic In Response To: Ron On: Betrayal From: Bruce The question was whether anyone outside the Markan Text Tradition speaks of Judas as betraying Jesus.
            Message 5 of 9 , Jan 25, 2012
              To: Synoptic
              In Response To: Ron
              On: Betrayal
              From: Bruce

              The question was whether anyone outside the Markan Text Tradition speaks of
              Judas as betraying Jesus. I had cited Paul.

              RON: Paul did not use the word "betray". He wrote in Greek, and the word he
              used was PARADIDWMI. This word does not necessarily imply betrayal. For
              instance, it was used in Mk 1:14 to refer to the "arrest" (RSV) of John the
              Baptist. Therefore 1 Cor 11:23 cannot be used to prove that Paul knew the
              story of the betrayal of Jesus.

              BRUCE: Strong 3860. The word basically means "hand on" (in the sense of
              transmit; saepe, eg 1Cor 11:2, Rom 6:17, Ac 6:14 of Mosaic tradition) or
              "hand over" (deliver to the authorities; also saepe, eg Mk 27:2, of the
              Sanhedrin to Pilate). If the latter sense occurs not from one legal entity
              to another, but from a presumably closely knit group, eg a family, to an
              official and hostile group, like the Roman or Jewish authorities, then the
              sense of "betrayal" appears, and in the NT, such handovers are typically
              taken as a violation of expectation, not routine procedure but breaking of
              trust. So the various Apocalyptic predictions, that family members will
              denounce each other to the forces of law, which repeatedly use this same
              word. The same word is used in Mk, repeatedly, of the specific betrayal of
              Judas. I would think that the nuance of "betrayal" is fully available for
              this word, both in Judas contexts and otherwise, and that Paul, in using
              Mark's word, is also, on mere lexical grounds, liable to be interpreted in
              the sense which Mark gives it.

              JUDAS

              Ron's citation of people who besides himself believe in the unhistoricity of
              Judas left me puzzled, since I had never heard of them, so I went to look
              them up. Hyam Maccoby was an interesting case. He agrees with me at many
              points as to what actually happened in Jerusalem, so I don't want to say
              anything really bad about him. But his primary agenda, as with many other
              generous-minded Jews of recent centuries, is to deal with anti-Semitism (so
              also Shelby Spong, whom Ron might have added to his list). Maccoby's plan is
              to show that Christian hatred for Jews is really a Pauline invention, a
              false Christianity that has obscured the real (and benevolent) Christianity,
              which for Maccoby is the Sermon on the Mount. That is, Christian hatred of
              Jews is a sort of Christian aberration, the following of a wrong path, and
              can be eliminated by going back and taking the right path; they can stay
              Christians, but they will no longer feel any historical need to hate Jews.
              One major problem with this tactic is Judas, around whom, and in whose name,
              so much of the hatred seems to cluster, in both ancient and modern times.
              If, then, Judas can also be shown to be a figment, a historical mistake,
              then the road to Jewish/Christian amity is made that much smoother. So, I
              imagine, goes the thinking.

              The cause is doubtless noble; if in addition, the hatred of Christians for
              other Christians (and here again Paul seems to figure prominently, not to
              mention his successors the deuteroPauline writers) could be somehow dealt
              with, and made to evaporate, the world (both past and present) would
              presumably be a nicer place. I am all for niceness, and recommend it for the
              future. But I think the attempt to impose niceness on the past is
              unsuccessful.

              In the end, Maccoby's recommendations are based on the Nice Jesus, the
              Matthean Sermon Jesus, like those of so many at the present time. But as to
              the Judas part of the past, he is rewriting it to suit his wish for the
              present, and I can't in good conscience assent to it.

              Such wishes, and such means of turning history to support them, are standard
              issue with traditions and their opponents. The classical Chinese did exactly
              the same thing, inventing false ancient documents to show that the ancients
              denounced oppression and favored democratic consensus, insisted on due
              process and reduced mutilating punishments, making the law itself less
              oppressive; a blessing and not a curse, as one of them put it. Their picture
              of antiquity, and their implicit recommendation for the rulers of their own
              time, deserves all sympathy, but those working on the actual history of
              early law - and they are herewith invited to attend my presentation at AOS
              this coming March - will do better not to credit these documents as
              reflecting actual history. To portray hatred as some sort of limited heresy,
              a departure from the otherwise universal experience and practice of
              humankind, does not do full justice to humankind.

              I think Maccoby's politics have at this point colored his otherwise
              suggestive reading of the documents, and recommend that he not be followed
              in this detail. Some of his other suggestions seem better grounded; I
              recommend they be carefully weighed, and in these matters, I now consider
              myself Maccoby's disciple.

              Bruce

              E Bruce Brooks
              University of Massachusetts at Amherst
            • Ken Olson
              BRUCE: The same word is used in Mk, repeatedly, of the specific betrayal of Judas. I would think that the nuance of betrayal is fully available for this
              Message 6 of 9 , Jan 25, 2012
                BRUCE: >>The same word is used in Mk, repeatedly, of the specific betrayal of

                Judas. I would think that the nuance of "betrayal" is fully available for

                this word, both in Judas contexts and otherwise, and that Paul, in using

                Mark's word, is also, on mere lexical grounds, liable to be interpreted in

                the sense which Mark gives it.<<
                I should think we might give first consideration to the sense in which Paul himself uses the word when writing of Jesus being "given up", e.g. Romans 8:32: "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all" (cf. Rom. 4.25, Gal. 2.20).

                Best,
                Ken
                Ken OlsonPhD CandidateReligion
                Duke University




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              • Jgibson
                ... Let me get this straight: You use Strongs (which is NOT, despite what it labels itself to be, a Lexicon, but a notation of what the KJV translators
                Message 7 of 9 , Jan 25, 2012
                  On 1/25/2012 11:36 AM, E Bruce Brooks wrote:
                  >
                  > BRUCE: Strong 3860. The word basically means "hand on" (in the sense of
                  > transmit; saepe, eg 1Cor 11:2, Rom 6:17, Ac 6:14 of Mosaic tradition) or
                  > "hand over" (deliver to the authorities; also saepe, eg Mk 27:2, of the
                  > Sanhedrin to Pilate).

                  Let me get this straight: You use Strongs (which is NOT, despite what
                  it labels itself to be, a Lexicon, but a notation of what the KJV
                  translators thought was the best English equivalent for a Greek word in
                  a particular passage) as your guide to the "basic sense" (good god!)
                  and the semantic range of Greek words ion first century writings????

                  Jeffrey

                  --
                  ---
                  Jeffrey B. Gibson D.Phil. Oxon.
                  1500 W. Pratt Blvd
                  Chicago, Il.
                  jgibson000@...
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