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

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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 1 of 9 , Jan 24, 2012
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      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 2 of 9 , Jan 25, 2012
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        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 3 of 9 , Jan 25, 2012
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          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 4 of 9 , Jan 25, 2012
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            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 5 of 9 , Jan 25, 2012
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              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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