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The Lips of Jesus

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic On: The Lips of Jesus From: Bruce Interest in sayings that might be attributed to Jesus (as distinct from those invented by the later Jesus
    Message 1 of 6 , Jun 30, 2012
      To: Synoptic
      On: The Lips of Jesus
      From: Bruce

      Interest in sayings that might be attributed to Jesus (as distinct from
      those invented by the later Jesus Movement) runs high at the present moment.
      Massaux's study of Matthew shows that the popularity, nay, the dominance, of
      the Matthean Sermon on the Mount goes back to the 2nd century. So we have
      here a great deal of consistency. It may nevertheless be of some interest to
      review the structural history of Jesus sayings within the Gospel tradition.
      I take as established the general sequence Mk > Mt > Lk (referring to final
      states, and not precluding growth phenomena in any of these texts).

      MARK

      Mark displays Jesus's teachings largely in terms of the opposition they
      provoked among the Jewish Establishment, usually represented by Pharisees.
      That is, Mark (in the first instance) is there to explain Jesus's death, not
      to expound Jesus's teachings as such. There are five places in Mark where we
      do seem to get direct teaching:

      1. The Capernaum Synagogue Preaching. We are told that it was received with
      amazement by those present; frustratingly, we are not given the contents.

      2. The Kingdom Parables, Mk 4. One of them has been rather violently
      reinterpreted within the Markan formation process.

      3. The Instruction to the Disciples, Mk 6.

      4. The Salt Sequence, Mk 9.

      5. The Apocalypse Teachings, Mk 13

      Interestingly, of the latter four, only the Kingdom Parables are original;
      everything else is part of a later layer, and as noted, the Kingdom Parables
      themselves were subject to a revisionist reading that effectively
      neutralizes them as valid teaching. That is, within the period of formation
      of that text, the wish for direct Jesus teaching on various matters of
      ongoing concern (Heaven and Hell, the Last Days) is already visible in the
      nature of some of the added material.

      LUKE A

      Luke retains the Markan four discourses, of course with his modifications,
      and includes a sort of open-ended forum in his Travel Narrative, where many
      things are discussed. More to the present point, he also adds an brief
      initial Sermon on the Plain, expounding a weird inversion theology (also
      illustrated in several later Lukan parables, and thus not a fluke). This new
      Sermon ends with Lk 6:49 (the conclusion of the Parable of the House), and
      is followed by this transitional verse: "After he had ended all his sayings
      in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum . . ."

      MATTHEW

      Matthew, as has long been clear, organized his whole Gospel before setting
      pen to papyrus. In particular, he planned to organize his story around Five
      Discourses of Jesus. These turn out to be exactly the Markan Five, as
      supplemented (in the Sermon on the Plain) by Luke. To make them, Mark
      gathered other material to fill out the Markan prototype, and he transformed
      the Lukan Sermon in the direction of expanding its Beatitudes (with a little
      help from the Psalms) and extending its legal provisions (with his
      prohibition of even prior states of sin), all the while adapting it to a
      less unaffluent audience than that of Luke. Just as Luke's characteristic
      interest in the poor suffuses his invented Sermon, so do Matthew's equally
      characteristic focus on law (see the extensions, and the rehabilitation of
      "every jot and title" of the Mosaic Code as the Pharisees had expended it)
      and on the church as such (see the concordance sv ekklesia).

      Very suggestively, Matthew explicitly links his improved Sermon with the
      missing Markan Sermon at Capernaum by repeating its frustrating last line
      (Mt 7:28 . . . the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught
      them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes); cf Mk 1:22, "and
      they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had
      authority, and not as the scribes." This line is not included by Luke in his
      Sermon on the Plain, but is paralleled in situ at Lk 4:32. Thus does the
      Capernaum Preaching Gap finally get filled.

      Matthew also picks up Luke's transition device ("when Jesus had finished all
      these sayings") and extends it, as Luke had not, to the other Four
      Discourses, where it serves as a formal transition marker, defining the end
      of each and the resumption of the narrative proper. Few things more clearly
      show Matthew's having made, and they filled in, a groundplan for his Gospel.
      He does not proceed by putting his nose to Mk 1:1 and going on from there,
      verse by verse. He designs, and executes, with a large brush on a large
      canvas.

      LUKE B

      I mention this stage just to get it in the picture; there are also Matthean
      passages later borrowed into Luke's Gospel, and for these (though there is
      some extraneous stuff in there; for parts of it see above) one may turn to
      the perennially agreeable treatise of Michael Goulder.

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

      IMPLICATIONS

      First, it seems that the interest in ipsissima verba of Jesus is something
      that grew, not something that was there from the beginning. Jesus himself
      preached God, not himself, and his first hearers tended to glorify God, not
      divinize Jesus, as a result of hearing him or witnessing his healings. We
      may also note that the huge Apostolic literature almost never uses the words
      of Jesus in its preaching, nor for that matter does it cite the miracles of
      Jesus. The Apostles, on the whole, validate themselves by the miracles they
      themselves pass (Paul is seen doing this already in Acts II, written in the
      mid 80's).

      Second, on this model, which I think is supported by the Synoptic Gospels in
      their entirety, there is no reason to seek in Matthew, or to infer from
      Matthew, anything resembling a prior source text of Jesus sayings. All the
      Jesus sayings in Matthew are either developed from Mark and/or Luke, or are
      invented by Matthew in a form consistent with Matthew's known predilections
      as to doctrine and (especially) church order. If we had only Matthew, and
      not also Papias' quoted comment about Matthew, I suspect that the idea of
      such a source would never have arisen.

      Third, and more generally, the organic development of what may be called
      Jesus Sayings Literature will be clear, and it is then also clear that
      Matthew holds a late place in that development, and that no special
      presumption of authenticity (that is, of original Jesusness) should attach
      to sayings unique to Matthew, and that for sayings not unique to Matthew,
      Mark (and sometimes Luke) most probably represent something closer to their
      original form.

      Matthew has brilliantly succeeded in his attempted adaptation and expansion
      of earlier Jesus tradition into a compact form (most especially the Sermon
      on the Mount, where his originality has wider scope), and in thus
      structuring and transforming earlier tradition into something more palatable
      to the Christian communities of his day - and, as it seems, also of our day.
      This literary success may be fully acknowledged, without the acknowledged
      literary success bringing with it a presumption of historical priority.

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • Ronald Price
      ... Bruce, You seem to forget that Jesus was a Jew, and therefore the most Jewish of the canonical gospels might well have preserved some genuine sayings of
      Message 2 of 6 , Jun 30, 2012
        Bruce Brooks wrote:

        > ..... All the Jesus sayings in Matthew are either developed from Mark and/or
        > Luke, or are invented by Matthew in a form consistent with Matthew's known
        > predilections as to doctrine and (especially) church order.

        Bruce,

        You seem to forget that Jesus was a Jew, and therefore the most Jewish of
        the canonical gospels might well have preserved some genuine sayings of
        Jesus and/or parts of genuine sayings of Jesus which the other gospel
        writers considered too Jewish for an increasingly Gentile movement, e.g. Mt
        6:7; 7:6; 10:5b-6; 10:23b.

        Ron Price,

        Derbyshire, UK

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



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • E Bruce Brooks
        To: Synoptic In Response To: Ron On: Matthean Priority From: Bruce I had said, and I may as well quote: All the Jesus sayings in Matthew are either developed
        Message 3 of 6 , Jun 30, 2012
          To: Synoptic
          In Response To: Ron
          On: Matthean Priority
          From: Bruce

          I had said, and I may as well quote: "All the Jesus sayings in Matthew are
          either developed from Mark and/or Luke, or are invented by Matthew in a form
          consistent with Matthew's known predilections as to doctrine and
          (especially) church order."

          RON: You seem to forget that Jesus was a Jew, and therefore the most Jewish
          of the canonical gospels might well have preserved some genuine sayings of
          Jesus and/or parts of genuine sayings of Jesus which the other gospel
          writers considered too Jewish for an increasingly Gentile movement, e.g. Mt
          6:7; 7:6; 10:5b-6; 10:23b.

          BRUCE: Jesus was a Jew, no doubt about it, but his position within Judaism
          was rather special. He was not a rigid Pharisee, but rather took the view of
          the Minor Prophets, that the ceremonial requirements of the Law were
          unimportant, and that the whole heart of the Law was its ethical
          requirements. It is this stance (as Mark shows us in endless detail) that
          earned him the mortal opposition of the Pharisees (for which read, the
          Jewish Establishment). In his own time , Jesus held to the same minimalist
          Moses tradition as did several other early documents (eg, Didache). For
          Jesus's own recital of the Law as he recognized it, see yet again Mk 10:19.
          It is precisely the omitted parts, most obviously the Sabbath rule, that
          Jesus is elsewhere shown in Mk as consistently ignoring, and indeed
          intentionally violating.

          This is what we get from our earliest witness to Jesus and his Jewishness,
          and I propose to take it seriously.

          From this Jesus (or Minor Prophet reformist) position, there were two
          possible lines of development. One was back into full Torah observance, for
          those Jewish converts to Jesus's scheme of salvation who nevertheless felt
          uncomfortable abandoning so much that had familiar value for them. The other
          was forward into full Torah rejection. We know, again from early and
          seemingly good testimony, that Paul held the latter view: he not only went
          further than Jesus, he went all the way into denial, asserting that the Law
          does not save; rather, it kills. Paul's opponent at Antioch, the spying
          James (the Lord's Brother), obviously felt that the whole list of Jewish
          laws and indeed customs (eg circumcision) still obtained within the Jesus
          movement: you had to be Jew, and a fully compliant Jew at that, to be saved.


          At this point we may usefully remember that Mark records the lack of
          understanding or approval of Jesus's program by his mother and - get this
          part - his brothers).

          So from Jesus's Minor Prophet Minimal Mosaic position, we have two known
          divergences: back toward full Torah and forward to no Torah at all.

          Where does Matthew place himself on this map?

          Most assuredly on the full Torah end. He makes explicit that no detail of
          the Law will be changed; that all remain fully in force. He makes explicit
          that though the Pharisees have personal shortcomings, some of them grave,
          they deserve respect as the custodians of Mosaic tradition, and he makes
          clear that the Pharisaic minutiae are fully valid and obligatory, as well as
          the ethical proscriptions (these you ought to have done, *without neglecting
          the other*). Matthew goes beyond the prohibition against murder to a
          prohibition against anger, extending the law to actions, or rather to
          emotional dispositions, that might lead to violations of the law. If the
          Pharisees were legalistic, Matthew might be said to be hyperlegalistic.

          So I would not call Matthew "the most Jewish of the Gospels," since the word
          Jewish has so many forms and applications. I would call it, more precisely,
          "the most conservatively Jewish of the Gospels." And I would notice that
          this is at odds with the Jesus position as we know it from earlier evidence.
          Matthew represents a Jewish traditionalist reaction to the reformist Jewish
          Jesus.

          As to specifics:

          RON: . . . which the other gospel writers considered too Jewish for an
          increasingly Gentile movement, e.g. Mt 6:7; 7:6; 10:5b-6; 10:23b.

          BRUCE: Let's see.

          Mt 6:7 "And in praying do not heap up empty phrases like the Gentiles do,
          for they think that they will be heard for their many words." The use of
          Gentiles as negative models occurs elsewhere in Matthew; it need signify
          nothing but Matthew's conservative and narrowly ethnic Jewish stance.
          Compare Mt 5:47, 6:32, 10:5, 20:19, 20:25, and perhaps especially the
          excommunication formula in Mt 18:7, which combines tax collectors as objects
          of automatic contempt. The idea of a Gentile mission did indeed come slowly
          to the post-Jesus Jesus movement (first we had the Feeding of the Five
          Thousand, with its Twelve = Israel symbolism, and only later the Feeding of
          the Four Thousand, with its Seven = all nations symbolism). But as for tax
          collectors, Jesus is known to have consorted with them, to the great
          disapproval of the Markan Pharisees, and much more drastic, to have chosen
          one for his inner circle of Five. So Matthew is here far to the right of the
          Historical Jesus. He is not closer to the Historical Jesus.

          Mt 7:6. "Do not give gods what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before
          swine, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you." We are here
          back in the part of the SM that is expanded from Luke's SP, but this line,
          exceptionally, is not in Luke; it comes between Lk 6:37-42 (the speck in the
          eye) and a Lukan passage borrowed from elsewhere (Lk 11:9f, Ask and it shall
          be given). It is not clear that Gentiles are meant in Mt 7:6, but it is not
          unlikely either, and if so, see previous comment.

          Mt 10:5b-6. "Go nowhere among the Gentiles." Already noted above, and
          commented on above.

          Mt 10:23b. "You will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before
          the Son of Man comes." Of the same type, and indeed another part of the same
          speech, as the preceding. Commented on above.

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

          I think what this comes to is that Matthew occupies a position, vis-a-vis
          traditional Judaism, indistinguishable from that of James the Brother of
          Jesus. I note again that this position is HIGHLY distinguishable from that
          of Jesus the Brother of James, as Mark takes some time to point out. (Mark
          the Jerusalem native, if that was he, undoubtedly knew James the Brother at
          first hand, and Mark's testimony, quite apart from his chronologically
          earlier position, thus deserves to be given weight). To put Matthew in place
          of Mark as the authoritative picture of Jesus is simply to invert history.
          Matthew is authoritative, all right, Matthew is the Gospel of Church
          Authority, beloved of bishops from that time until the present, but in the
          sense of historical methodology, the evidence of Matthew is a distant second
          best to that of Mark.

          So what in the end do we have here? I suggest that we have here a Jesus
          Christianity being opposed at some key points by a James Christianity. To
          put it simply, Matthew takes the James side. This is full of historical
          interest, but I do not think it can fairly be said that Matthew's
          reactionary-Jewish picture of Jesus deserves to take the place of the Markan
          picture, as a historical reality. It is instead, from all the evidence, a
          late and culturally reactionary construct. Was it not this kind of embedding
          Jesus in Judaism, including Matthew's incessant habit of making all actions
          or words of Jesus fulfillments of the Jewish Scriptures, which alarmed
          Marcion, and led him to prefer, and to recommend, the less reactionary Luke?

          (Which he then cleaned up still further, to get all the Jewish bits out of
          it. Or so Tertullian and I are inclined to see it. This was hopeless at the
          time - Matthew, by the early 2c, was already in solid with the heavy church
          administrators, and nobody else counted - but I find it historically and
          humanly intelligible).

          Anyway, looking back on the statement of mine with which this note began, I
          do not, as of the end of the note, see reasons to abandon it. I think it
          describes the actual Matthean agenda pretty well.

          Bruce

          E Bruce Brooks
          Warring States Project
          University of Massachusetts at Amherst
        • Ronald Price
          ... Bruce, You are right to look first at Mark s gospel. But Mark was an evangelist with an agenda, not a historian. Ron Price, Derbyshire, UK
          Message 4 of 6 , Jun 30, 2012
            Bruce Brooks wrote:

            > ....... Mark shows us ....... Jesus is elsewhere shown in Mk as ....... This
            > is what we get from our earliest witness to Jesus and his Jewishness .......
            > we may usefully remember that Mark records ....... the Markan picture, as a
            > historical reality .......

            Bruce,

            You are right to look first at Mark's gospel.

            But Mark was an evangelist with an agenda, not a historian.

            Ron Price,

            Derbyshire, UK

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



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • E Bruce Brooks
            To: Synoptic In Response To: Ron On: Mark and Stuff From: Bruce [I was just going to file an amendment to my previous Ron note, and here is Ron himself. I will
            Message 5 of 6 , Jun 30, 2012
              To: Synoptic
              In Response To: Ron
              On: Mark and Stuff
              From: Bruce

              [I was just going to file an amendment to my previous Ron note, and here is
              Ron himself. I will take up his latest comment first, and then add my
              correction].

              I had suggested that Mark is historically closest to Jesus, and thus
              deserves to be accepted as our best evidence for Jesus. (As basic historical
              methodology would in any case have intimated).

              RON: You are right to look first at Mark's gospel. But Mark was an
              evangelist with an agenda, not a historian.

              BRUCE: Words like "evangelist" and "historian" are the kind of terms we
              might apply to an imagined author after examining a text; they are not
              things we know apart from our knowledge of the text. And whatever term or
              terms we apply, and whatever agenda we detect, the earlier bird still
              deserves credit as more likely catching the worm.

              GENRE

              That said, what, if any, term fits Mark and (separately) Matthew? In my
              view, neither the term "evangelist" nor the term "historian" has much going
              for it with Mark. I have cited Mk 7:3-4 as a sign that Mark was used outside
              its original audience area, as it were in a missionary application, but the
              clumsiness of that sole device only shows how ill-adapted Mark was as for
              use as a preaching text. Nor is there any sign in the Apostolic literature
              (including Acts) that the Apostles actually preached the kind of thing that
              Mark and Matthew contain. So I think the term "evangelist" in its usual
              acceptation must be discarded. We do not see Mark doing what the writer of a
              preaching text would presumably be doing.

              Mark and Matthew both contain consecutive accounts of Jesus, but with
              certain differences. Mark, especially if we take the earliest Mark, is not
              concerned to record Jesus's teachings (which would presumably be important
              to anyone recognizable as a "historian"), but rather to record the conflicts
              into which Jesus's ideas brought him. That is, his first account is an
              explanation, a record of events designed to help us understand something,
              namely Jesus's death (and failure to fulfill his Messianic agenda). In 2006,
              at SBL/NE, I characterized Mark as an apologia, and I still think this fits
              the text's original interests and tendencies better than any alternatives I
              have heard.

              Mark then grew into a repository of advice for the later churches. Again,
              the point was not to make converts, but to guide and console converts once
              made, who were having troubles getting along without Jesus, wondering when
              the promised End would come, finding themselves baffled by internal tensions
              and disagreements, unsure about the efficacy of prayer, and so on. For all
              this, in layer after layer of new material, Mark supplied guidance. His text
              seems eventually to have become the ranking authority text for the early
              Christians, or at least those within a particular geographic area
              (Palestine/Syria suggests itself): the thing to consult for clarification
              when something new or troubling came up. The Apostles, who visited around,
              surely had something of that function too. Mark, it seems to me, was
              something like the textual equivalent of that peripatetic authority.

              Then time passes (we can perhaps avoid arguing exactly how much), and Mark's
              advice seems no longer complete or applicable, or even always correct. The
              major Apostles die (Paul in c60, Peter in c64), cutting off the other kind
              of consultable authority for how the Christian experience should be
              experienced. This generated a wide feeling that something new was needed,
              and lo! within a few years of each other, both Luke and Matthew (and for
              present purposes, it matters not in which sequence) turn up with candidate
              replacements for the old but worn authority text of Mark. They incorporate
              Mark more or less whole, as a replacement of an established text would more
              or less have to do, but with many subtle changes and omissions and
              inflections, and they add new material obviously designed to please, or
              reassure, or sometimes to rebuke, the Christians of their time. Luke in
              particular (in its present form) announces itself is setting out to put to
              rest all the competition, and give the real facts: the real basis for
              Christian belief and practice.

              They do so in different ways, as I earlier mentioned and need not here
              repeat. But their evident common intent was to do what they saw Mark as
              doing, only better. What Mark (having partly outgrown its original role as
              an apologia) had become was not a preaching tract nor yet a history in the
              usual sense (though it was structured as a consecutive account), but
              instead what I have above called it: an authority text, a definitive
              reference, where the leaders and the nonleaders of local Christian groups
              could go to have their perplexities addressed and their issues taken up.

              Of the two, Luke with his conspicuous initial synchronism (Lk 3:1f) makes
              the most historian-like gestures. He certainly wants to be taken as giving
              the true facts, and that is close to a historical intention. But the
              believer-community context in which he launches his work makes the term
              "historian," as far as I can see, still not quite adequate. We normally
              think of historians as dealing with the past, but Luke (and Matthew) are
              concerned also with the imminent future. The ongoing past, if you like. So
              no, I don't think the word bios takes us to the end of the matter.

              Matthew deserves the label "historian" still less than Luke, who does make
              noises in that direction. Matthew trashes what little sequence Mark had, and
              instead scoops things together in different clusters to make the Five
              Discourses of which his master plan chiefly consists. Another of his
              conspicuous formal characteristics is his obsession with OT fulfillment.
              That is, he is concerned to map Jesus on the OT, the OT considered no longer
              as a history of Israel, but as a body of predictions only now coming to
              fruition. M Goulder has used the term Type in the title of his first book
              (Type and History in Acts), and something like a typological approach seems
              to characterize Matthew's take on Jesus. Nor does Luke, in Acts, hesitate
              to portray both Peter and Paul as preaching Jesus simply as the final
              fulfillment of Scripture. This device, this analytical stance, is one more
              proper to a religious than to a secular context. So the term "historian"
              fails, in my view, for both Matthew and Luke (who certainly have closely
              analogous intentions), partly because it tends to invoke a secular view and
              motivation.

              At the end of the day, I think that any attempt to contrast Matthew and Mark
              in terms of their motivation as writers fails. Mark began as one thing, and
              gradually evolved into something rather different. But in all probability,
              it was to replace Mark as such, and not to embark on a different kind of
              enterprise, that Matthew took up his pen.

              All that is too much to append a textual note to, and I will instead do the
              textual note separately.

              Bruce

              E Bruce Brooks
              Warring States Project
              University of Massachusetts at Amherst
            • E Bruce Brooks
              To: Synoptic On: Certain Passages in Matthew From: Bruce Ron had cited certain passages in Matthew as presumptively early material. I had argued that they
              Message 6 of 6 , Jun 30, 2012
                To: Synoptic
                On: Certain Passages in Matthew
                From: Bruce

                Ron had cited certain passages in Matthew as presumptively early material. I
                had argued that they instead reflect Matthew's own reactionary sort of
                Judaism, and thus cannot be attributed to an earlier time than Matthew's
                own. I discussed all these passages as though they were uniquely Matthean,
                but this was not quite correct. I here repeat the list, but not the error.
                The result is the same, but there may be some profit in reaching it more
                accurately.

                Mt 6:7 "And in praying do not heap up empty phrases like the Gentiles do,
                for they think that they will be heard for their many words." Unique to Mt,
                and my previous comment will stand.

                I had also cited "Mt 5:47, 6:32, 10:5, 20:19, 20:25, and perhaps especially
                the excommunication formula in Mt 18:7, which combines tax collectors as
                objects of automatic contempt." These need separate notice:

                Mt 5:47. The Lukan parallel to Mt's "tax collectors" and separately
                "Gentiles" has "sinners" in both cases. The meaning is roughly the same.
                Which passage is the source of the other we need not here debate. The
                passage is not uniquely Matthean, but it is found only in the Second Tier
                Gospels, and so has no Markan credentials as an early saying. My previous
                comment will more or less stand.

                Mt 6:32. Mt Gentiles ~ Lk 12:30 "nations of the world." Same meaning, same
                comment.

                Mt 10:5. Go nowhere among the Gentiles, etc. This IS uniquely Matthean, and
                goes far to show where this particular line is coming from. previous comment
                stands.

                Mt 20:19. "will deliver him to the Gentiles." From Mk 10:33 (so also Lk
                18:32) but in this case historically accurate: it means the Romans rather
                than the Jews. It does not show disapproval of Gentiles as such.

                Mt 20:25. "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them." From
                Mk 10:42 (cf Lk 22:25). An early (if probably imagined) saying, but a
                factual reference to the non-Jewish world (and the pomp of its rulers), not
                a disapproval of Gentiles as such.

                Returning now to Ron's list, we had:

                Mt 7:6. "Do not give gods what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before
                swine, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you." Uniquely
                Matthean. Not unambiguously anti-Gentile, but if so, it speaks to Matthew's
                attitude, and not to Jesus's.

                Mt 10:5b-6. "Go nowhere among the Gentiles." Uniquely Matthean, and showing
                Matthew's hostility to the Gentiles.

                Mt 10:23b. "You will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before
                the Son of Man comes." Uniquely Matthean; see above comment.

                In sum, Matthew, when on his own and not beholden to previous text, does two
                things vis-a-vis Gentiles. (1) He shows contempt for them. (2) He portrays
                Jesus as excluding them from his mission.

                --------THE GENTILE MISSION IN MARK-----------

                As I remarked, the contempt in Matthew for "tax collectors and sinners" does
                not apply to the earliest Mark, whose Jesus conspicuously goes among unclean
                persons, and chooses a tax collector as one of his inner circle. But these
                are unclean Jews. What about Gentiles?

                I wish life were simpler, but the fact seems to be that the idea of
                accepting Gentile converts, let alone mounting a mission to the Gentiles,
                seems to have grown gradually in the early Jesus movement. By its nature,
                the Davidic Messiah plan of the Historical Jesus envisioned only Jewish
                converts, since only they could possibly affect the reconciliation of Israel
                with its angry God. Gentiles were theologically irrelevant. By stages, they
                came to be accepted, and finally, sought. Those stages can be seen in Mark
                as follows.

                1. [Gentiles are irrelevant]. The Israel only nature of the first program is
                shown symbolically by the Choosing of Twelve, and also by the Feeding of
                Five Thousand, with their symbolically suggestive Twelve Baskets of
                Leftovers. The tribes of Israel are being sought, and they will be
                nourished.

                2. Gentile converts are irrelevant, but accepted. This is the symbolic
                meaning of the Syrophoenician Woman episode. She is entitled to benefit at
                least from the leftovers of the movement proper, symbolized by the healings
                of Jesus.

                3. A Gentile mission is not undertaken, but when undertaken by another, it
                is pronounced to be harmless. This (as Loisy was perhaps the first to see)
                is the only possible meaning of the Strange Exorcist passage, which refers
                to Paul's early preaching, and characterizes it as at least not harmful to
                the cause.

                4. A Gentile mission is accepted in parallel with the older Israel mission.
                The Feeding of the Four Thousand with its significant Seven Baskets of
                Leftovers. Lest anyone miss the fact that the symbolism of the Baskets is
                the one that counts, Mark is right there to dig his elbow into their ribs,
                and properly focus their attention. It has been widely noticed that this
                Feeding is a parallel to the other, and for those who still missed it, Mark
                has concluded his second sequence, as he did his first, with a distinctive
                Spit Healing.

                5. The Gentile Mission is a necessary precondition of the End Days (Mk
                13:10, But first the Gospel must be preached to all nations). This
                astonishing statement is the end of the sequence.

                -------THE PHILOLOGICAL POSITION OF MARK---------

                If Mark were written all at one time, we would conclude that he was
                inventing things, or putting together previously existing things, with no
                awareness of their deep incompatibility. He would be a world-class nitwit,
                and so indeed he is viewed in some circles. But if the implications of the
                various interpolations in Mark be sound, then there is a more rational
                alternative. It is this: Mark is a growth text, and in its successive
                additions it mirrors the growth of the Christianity of which the text and
                its author were directly aware. What it shows us in this case is the
                gradual, but eventually complete, acceptance of the Gentile mission as an
                integral part of the Christian enterprise.

                What do the signs of interpolation, the philological evidence, tell us? In
                the case of Mk 13:10, by good fortune, they tell us a lot. 13:10 is
                obviously incongruous and thus inserted into its immediate context, and that
                context in turn is an expansion of the original Markan Apocalypse. For
                details, see Vincent Taylor (at the back of the book; this is not something
                one puts where the Sunday School classes will see it). Those stacked layers
                can with due care be coordinated with other interpolations in Mark, and a
                reasonably firm stratigraphy of the whole can eventually be built up. The
                final picture is that Mk 13:10 is one of the latest passages in the whole
                Gospel. As the above list of probable chronological stages had suggested.
                The typology and the philological nature of the text coincide.

                JESUS AND THE GENTILES

                Now, at last, to the basic question: Did Jesus himself have contempt for
                Gentiles, and was Matthew correctly reporting Jesus in showing him in this
                light? My answer would be, guardedly, Yes and No. Jesus was concerned solely
                for Jews; he operated (though in a distinctive Minor Prophet way) wholly
                within Judaism, and his idea of himself was as the agent for bringing Israel
                back to God, and (in the military sense of Maccabees) vice versa. In that
                self-concept he died. But his vision of how Israel was to reconcile itself
                to God, which was nothing more than the recommendations of the Minor
                Prophets before him, he in effect transcended Judaism by removing its
                cultural specifics (the Sabbath, the Temple cult) from its canon of right
                and wrong, leaving only the interpersonal or ethical Second Table of the
                Decalogue as binding on Jews. What he did not realize (as far as we have
                warrant for supposing), but what the later movement came to realize, with
                the undoubted help of Gentile pressure from without, was that in so doing he
                had universalized Judaism. It was this nascently universal Judaism which,
                after many troubles, finally emerged as a new religion.

                The interesting thing about Mark is that he was there for that development,
                and his text, layer by layer, records it. In this sense, Mark can function
                for us as a history of Christianity, even if it was neither begun nor ended
                with that conscious intention.

                END

                So in a way Matthew is correct, that Jesus intended a Jews-only program,
                though the sayings he attributes to Jesus go far beyond what, on other
                evidence, we are justified in attributing to the actual Jesus. They express
                Matthew's repugnance toward the weakening of the Mosaic Law, which is what
                let the Gentile in, in the first place. Matthew resents the presence of the
                Gentiles, and their lax notion of proper behavior, within the movement. As I
                had earlier noted, this is exactly the public stance of the Historical
                James, Matthew's contemporary and perhaps also his colleague in Jerusalem.

                Respectfully suggested,

                Bruce

                E Bruce Brooks
                Warring States Project
                University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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