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Re: [Synoptic-L] Interpolations in Mark

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic [Repeating Message sent to Ron only] In Response To: Ron Price On: Interpolations in Mark From: Bruce RON: For example, when I presented evidence
    Message 1 of 6 , Apr 17, 2006
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      To: Synoptic [Repeating Message sent to Ron only]
      In Response To: Ron Price
      On: Interpolations in Mark
      From: Bruce

      RON: For example, when I presented evidence against your claim to have found
      discontinuities in the text, you simply ignored it.

      BRUCE: Sorry, I thought I had answered all points so far. The only place in
      the previous exchange which might fit this description, as far as I can see
      on looking back, is the following:

      ME [Quoted by Ron]: 14:20, can only have been the identification of the
      betrayer.

      RON [Previous]: Again, no. It merely says that the betrayer is one of those
      partaking in the meal. The betrayer is not thereby identified. Check any
      decent commentary if you doubt me.

      BRUCE [Present tense]: I think there is more to it than this. 14:18 does
      what Ron describes; it identifies the betrayer as one of those partaking at
      the meal. 14:20 goes on, it seems to me, to specifically single out the one
      "dipping bread in the same dish with me" (RSV). The earliest commentaries on
      this passage, as I take it, are the other Gospel versions, which leave no
      doubt that Jesus was identified specifically at this point (see again the
      GJn version). This should be sufficient, it seems to me, to provoke a
      considerable reaction in the others partaking at the meal, but there is no
      sign of this in Mark. This is the sort of thing I mean by part of the text
      not responding to what immediately precedes; it is one of the things I mean
      by narrative discontinuity. And in testimony to the possibility that
      contemporaries may also have found this feature unsatisfactory, I seem to
      recall quoting how the other Gospels handle this intrusion of the "betrayal"
      scene into the "Last Supper" scene. GLk handles it by reversing sections, so
      that the Judas part comes last, thus providing an exit for Judas; GJn, by
      not bundling the Judas part into the same pericope as the Last Supper part.
      Those other versions seem to work better as narration. I suggest that this
      is one of the reasons for their diverging from what seems to have been the
      Markan prototype. As it stands, the Markan version needs a little more work.

      RON: Again, in spite of my indication (referring to Mark's habit of
      interleaving stories) that your claimed interpolations could be simply
      examples of a somewhat unpolished style of writing, you misunderstood my
      position by supposing that I would explain the supposed discontinuities by a
      mixing of source materials.

      BRUCE: So it looked to me. If not, what was the point of mentioning
      "interleaving stories?" In any case, abandoning this apparently
      ill-considered application of the Principle of Charity, I now gather that
      you deny discontinuities altogether. Is this so?

      RON: Assessing the continuity of a text suspected of interpolations "solely
      from the way the text behaves" sounds good. But without a yardstick by which
      to measure the author's actual degree of consistency, the assessment is
      doomed to failure. Behind Mark's somewhat crude text are subtleties which
      require the application of all available tools if we are to fully understand
      this pioneering masterpiece.

      BRUCE: Again the Principle of Charity (make the text work if at all
      possible). The trouble is that with sufficient rhetorical skill (and that
      skill has been polished, in Western Civilization, for thousands of years
      now), anything can be made out to be consistent with anything else. As our
      brethren the Philosophers say of their cognate skill, "philosophy is the art
      of giving the same name to different things." The skill, as skill, is
      admirable, but I am not sure it fully acknowledges the specificities of any
      given text. I think it is more appropriate to apply the usual yardstick, by
      which I mean normal standards of inconcinnity. Examples of inconcinnity
      would include mention in passing of persons not previously identified (as in
      Mk 14:1 if it is supposed that this was once the beginning of GMk), failure
      of a consequent text to acknowledge or respond to the antecedent text (as in
      several places previously cited), and so on. By those tests, many have found
      GMk to be problematic in terms of continuity or consistency (notice again
      the many omissions, that is, projected later insertions, that some consensus
      of scholars find in the supposed core Crucifixion narrative, Mk 14-16, as
      previously cited). On the merits as I see them, I am inclined to agree.
      Where, for example, is Levi in Mk 3:13-19? Or in the whole of GMt?

      Just for present reference, and to repeat the request above, and to save me
      time in trying things one at a time, could Ron say if any passage in GMk
      strikes him as not part of the original authorial fabric of GMk?

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • Ron Price
      ... Bruce, My RSV has one , not the one here. I think it no more identifies the traitor than 14:18. ... Maybe so, but we re looking at Mark, who finds hints
      Message 2 of 6 , Apr 17, 2006
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        Bruce Brooks wrote:

        > I think there is more to it than this. 14:18 does
        > what Ron describes; it identifies the betrayer as one of those partaking at
        > the meal. 14:20 goes on, it seems to me, to specifically single out the one
        > "dipping bread in the same dish with me" (RSV).

        Bruce,

        My RSV has "one", not "the one" here. I think it no more identifies the
        traitor than 14:18.

        > The earliest commentaries on
        > this passage, as I take it, are the other Gospel versions, which leave no
        > doubt that Jesus was identified specifically at this point

        Maybe so, but we're looking at Mark, who finds hints and building up
        dramatic tension much more satisfying than spelling things out.

        > I now gather that you deny discontinuities altogether. Is this so?

        No. I just don't grant them as readily as you appear to do.

        > Just for present reference, and to repeat the request above, and to save me
        > time in trying things one at a time, could Ron say if any passage in GMk
        > strikes him as not part of the original authorial fabric of GMk?

        I am fairly confident that Mk 14:28; 14:61b-64 and 16:7 were not in the
        original text of the gospel, and that there are no other early
        interpolations of a significant size. This conclusion is based on Redaction
        Criticism, and a careful analysis of the structure of the text together with
        some mathematical tools which I have developed.

        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: Interpolations in Mark From: Bruce RON: I am fairly confident that Mk 14:28; 14:61b-64 and 16:7 were not in the
        Message 3 of 6 , Apr 17, 2006
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          To: Synoptic
          In Response To: Ron Price
          On: Interpolations in Mark
          From: Bruce

          RON: I am fairly confident that Mk 14:28; 14:61b-64 and 16:7 were not in the
          original text of the gospel, and that there are no other early
          interpolations of a significant size. This conclusion is based on Redaction
          Criticism, and a careful analysis of the structure of the text . . .

          BRUCE: I am leery of making any item in the toolkit into a discipline of its
          own, with proponents and capital letters and all the rest of it. Remembering
          to be aware of the text from the author's point of view is useful. Beyond
          that, I see trouble. Same with all the other "-geschichte." They too readily
          hypostatize.

          Anyway, thanks to Ron for his response, and now we have some material to
          work on. We also have some agreement. I have earlier expressed my own
          adherence to the position that 14:28 and 16:7 are interpolations, and in
          present methodological context it may be relevant to say why.

          First, they produce an inconsecutive context. Peter in 14:29 responds, not
          to anything Jesus says in 14:28, but rather to the prediction of denial in
          14:27. He talks past 14:28 as though it were not there, and I conclude that
          it may not have been there when 14:26 and 14:28 were written. I believe that
          those passages originally stood adjacent to each other. It is the simplest
          proposal that will account for what we see.

          Second, there is the linked passage 16:7, linked because of its overt
          reference to 14:28. Here again we have the same pattern: interruption of
          continuity. It is often said that the women in 16:8 are disobeying the young
          man in white, but given the vocabulary there and in 16:6, it is at least as
          possible that they are reacting with fear in 16:8 to the shocking discovery
          they make in 16:6. The action of 16:8 is then sufficiently motivated by
          16:6, and 16:7 (in the middle) is not so much disobeyed as disregarded. The
          women behave as though 16:7 (with its encouraging news) were not there. Same
          situation.

          Third, the link between the two surely reinforces the fact that each can be
          seen as interruptive. They are severally insecure in context, and jointly
          suspicious as a single phenomenon. The linkage confirms and supports the
          previous diagnosis.

          Fourth, the linkage is stronger yet in that these are the only passages in
          Mark that look to an Appearance of Jesus after his Resurrection. Without
          those passages, that doctrine would not exist, at least as far as Mark is
          concerned. So we seem to be in the realm of doctrinal motivation, and motive
          is always a welcome part of the picture.

          Fifth, it is easy to imagine the specific motive. The whole of the
          surrounding context is basically the Empty Tomb story, and the point of the
          Empty Tomb story was to demonstrate the Resurrection. But as we know from
          Matthew, and in fact from Rabbinical tradition, it was widely claimed by the
          enemies of the Church that Jesus had not risen at all; his disciples had
          merely stolen the body to make it look as though he had risen. All you have
          is a corpse. But in fact there were eyewitnesses to Jesus living and moving,
          like a man of flesh and not a specter, well, that would strengthen the case
          for the claimed Resurrection. I feel it is highly likely that these two
          passages were inserted into Mark to make just that counterclaim. They are
          one side of a contemporary argument, the other side of which is available to
          us in early Jewish tradition, and also visible in the report of Matthew.

          So we have local incongruity to draw our attention, and to confirm that
          impression of trouble, we have the fact that the passages in question can be
          removed from Mark, not only without damage to the remaining text, but with
          positive benefit to its continuity and coherence. We have the two passages
          linked together, by mutual reference and than again by common theme, and we
          have a plausible motive for that theme being inserted into the doctrinal
          repository which (at this point in its existence) is how Mark is functioning
          in its own human context: the voice of right thinking for a particular part
          of the world.

          I don't think it gets much better than this. Anyway, I am glad to find that
          my methods of detection lead in some cases to results which coincide with
          Ron's. I think they strengthen one's faith in those methods.

          RON: . . . together with some mathematical tools which I have developed.

          BRUCE: Fine, if they lead you in the right direction. I find the old tools
          still very useful, and capable of doing a lot of the necessary work. I have
          a few analytical algorithms of my own, as far as that goes. But as I once
          told a lecture audience in Leiden (home of Joseph Scaliger; a special moment
          for me), in the end, the results of any such analysis are going to be
          submitted to the literary judgement of the human audience, and they are
          going to have to be expressed in terms of humanly perceptible features in
          the texts. But if those features are present as confirmation, then whatever
          shortcuts we may devise for own convenience, the features can themselves
          also be used as the discovery tool.

          I have not yet found a mathematical algorithm that gives 100% accurate
          results (just as even the good chess machines can be beaten by a really good
          human). The output, as it seems to me, must always meet the text of literary
          convincement. And in at least some cases, the literary confirmation may
          itself provide an adequate entry point.

          That's where I'm at; working at what look like the adequate entry points.

          Of course, once we identify an Appearances layer in Mark (as I believe I
          have done in the short argument above), the question arises, How secure in
          Mark is the Resurrection layer? That it is insecure, at least in the minds
          of some previous investigators, is already implicit in Grant's summary of Mk
          14-16, which I referred to earlier. But those who would like to have the
          point expounded in real time, however hurriedly, may like to drop in at the
          SBL (New England) meeting this Friday. My panel opens at 1 PM sharp, in
          Sherrill Hall Room 1D, at the Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge
          Massachusetts. Abstracts and other information available via the SBL web
          site,

          http://www.sbl-site.org/Congresses/Congresses_RegionalMeetings_NewEngland.aspx.

          Bruce

          E Bruce Brooks
          Warring States Project
          University of Massachusetts at Amherst
        • E Bruce Brooks
          To: Synoptic In Further Response To: Ron On: Interpolations in Mark From: Bruce Ron has several times stated that in his view, Mk 14:28 and 16:7 are
          Message 4 of 6 , Jul 22 7:27 AM
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            To: Synoptic
            In Further Response To: Ron
            On: Interpolations in Mark
            From: Bruce

            Ron has several times stated that in his view, Mk 14:28 and 16:7 are
            interpolations in Mark. I have several times registered my agreement with
            him. The difference between us is that he stops there (I gather that only
            these candidate interpolations fit with his theory of modular composition
            units for Mark). I find that the same evidence is present elsewhere in Mark,
            and draw the same conclusion in those places also. Theory or no theory,
            evidence is still evidence.

            What is convincing about the position that Mk 16:7 is an interpolation?
            Perhaps the easiest point to see is that the people in 16:8 (the women) look
            right past the encouraging note in 16:7, and react instead to the terrifying
            spectacle in 16:6. That is, they behave as though 16:7 were simply not
            there. The inference is that, when 16:6 and 8 were written, 16:7 was in fact
            NOT YET there. That is, it was inserted later.

            What is convincing about the position that Mk 14:28 is an interpolation?
            Perhaps the easiest point to see is that Peter in 14:29, among the
            disciples, looks right past the encouraging note in 14:28 and reacts instead
            to the prediction of flight in 14:27 - and responds with an affirmation of
            loyalty. That is, he is behaving as though 14:28 was simply not there. The
            inference is that, when 14:27, 29 were written, 14:27 was in fact NOT YET
            there. That is, it was inserted later.

            Now comes the fork in the road. We can put Mark back on the shelf, and go to
            sleep (always a temptation, at the hot time of the year), or we can turn a
            few more pages. If perchance the latter . . .

            What is convincing about the position that Mk 6:7-13 (the sending of the
            Twelve) is an interpolation? Perhaps the easiest point to see is that Herod
            in 6:14 looks about his realm, and sees, not gangs and squads of agitators
            going up and down the land, sowing sedition and disturbing the people, but
            Jesus only, as was described in 6:6b, "And he [Jesus] went about among the
            villages teaching." That is, Herod is behaving as though the sending of the
            Twelve in 6:7-13 was simply not there. The inference is that, when 6:6 and
            14 were written, 6:7-13 was in fact NOT YET there. That is, it was inserted
            later.

            I trust the method of recognition will be both familiar and obvious. We now
            have three interpolations, in return for the slightest effort with the text
            of Mark.

            The import of the third one, though, is tremendous. It means that the tale
            of the Twelve is not integral to Mark, but was added later. And if the
            Sending of the Twelve was added later, so must have been the closely
            associated Calling of the Twelve, and the Return of the Twelve, neither of
            which makes sense without the Sending passage. Eduard Meyer long ago
            (Urgeschicthe des Christentums 1/264-299, no less; this as in 1921) noticed
            that the Twelve passages were exiguous in Mark, and proposed a Twelve Source
            upon which Mark drew in including that material. But multiple sources worked
            together in a single composition do not leave signs like those we see with
            the Twelve. No, the Twelve material is later, not earlier, than the rest of
            the Markan narrative up to that point. On that point, Meyer needs to be
            corrected. Having corrected him, we move on.

            At some point, the idea of a special group called the Twelve had become
            common Christian parlance. Paul in 1 Cor (mid Fifties) speaks as though it
            were familiar knowledge. What our Mark investigation tells us was that there
            was a time, during the formation process of Mark, when this institution of
            the Twelve had not yet been created, AND THAT THE EARLIER PARTS OF MARK WERE
            WRITTEN, AS A CONTINUOUS NARRATIVE, BEFORE THAT INSTITUTION EXISTED. The
            interpolated Twelve passages were a way of updating Mark's story to take
            account of this important, and authoritative, new development.

            That is mere arithmetic. We now have three results, namely:

            (1) The institution of the Twelve had a definite beginning.
            (2) That beginning was before Paul in 1 Cor, but after its appearance in
            Mark.
            (3) Then the earlier part of Mark, the part into which the Twelve material
            was inserted, is before that appearance, and, a fortiori, before Paul's
            mention of it.

            Then Early Mark > Twelve > 1 Cor, and the earliest NT text is no longer 1
            Thess, or any other Pauline document, it is Mark. It follows that we have to
            stop misreading Mk 13:14 as a prediction of Titus (70); it is instead (as
            attention to the OT reference will show) a prediction of Caligula (40).

            Or as I have said on another occasion, desecration does not equal
            destruction.

            Isn't this fun? By solving the easy little puzzles of the Markan text, we
            are recovering whole gobs of lost early church history. I can't help
            wondering, what would happen if we continued to look at Mark for further
            signs like the above?

            But as I earlier mentioned, it's hot. So here an end.

            Bruce

            E Bruce Brooks
            Warring States Project
            University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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