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RE: [Synoptic-L] Mk 8:11-12

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic In Response To: Jeffrey Gibson On: Mk 8:11-12 From: Bruce First, let me be plain: I think Goguel is wrong. I think the passage in question is
    Message 1 of 14 , Sep 8, 2012
      To: Synoptic
      In Response To: Jeffrey Gibson
      On: Mk 8:11-12
      From: Bruce

      First, let me be plain: I think Goguel is wrong. I think the passage in
      question is late, not early, and that its understanding will best proceed
      from that probability.

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

      Jeffrey calls attention to his 1990 JSNT article, as a solution to the
      problem of Mk 8:11f. The problem of Mk 8:11, as I see it, is that it refuses
      a sign, not only to the Pharisees who ask one, but to the entire generation.
      This seems to contradict the fact that in Mark, including the passage
      immediately preceding, Jesus is continually doing things that would seem to
      count as signs of his Divine power or approval, from healings to mass
      feedings to walkings on water. His refusal in this case seems to contradict
      his own practice, and in the case of the ban on the entire generation, to
      exceed what is required. Therefore it attracts attention.

      Jeffrey, as I understand it, distinguishes between two senses of "sign," and
      on that basis finds consistency in Mark, and intelligibility in this one
      passage. For reasons previously stated, I think that the goal of finding
      consistency in Mark is illusory in the first place, but there is always room
      for another view.

      The specific word "sign" occurs in Mk in just three passages: (1) this one,
      (2) the Mk 13 apocalypse, where the disciples ask what will be the sign of
      the end, and Jesus answers, warning them at the same time that imposters
      will also produce "signs and wonders" (13:22), and (3) the spurious ending,
      which we need not further consider. It is interesting that both (1) and (2)
      are "verily" passages, where Jesus seems to be giving extra assurance that
      what he says is true. It is also interesting that the denial of a sign to
      "this generation" in 8:11f directly contradicts Jesus' assurance in 13:30
      that "this generation will not pass away" before these things, doubtless
      including the signs that precede them, will occur (cf 9:1). The sign asked
      by the Pharisees is specifically a "sign from Heaven," but so, one would
      think, are the signs described in Mk 13 as preceding the end. If not from
      Heaven, whence?

      Jeffrey argues (p43-45), with more use of Luke than I should have thought
      advisable, since Luke may have his own idea of heavenly validation, that a
      special sense attaches to "sign from heaven," namely "most likely a
      phenomenon which embodied Salvation." I am not convinced that the Septuagint
      examples prove this, or that the context of 8:11 suggests it. It seems to me
      that all signs in Mk, whether or not called that, are events beyond the
      ordinary, which prove that Jesus is speaking and acting with authority that
      is more than human. The Healing of the Paralytic, cited by Jeffrey and
      certainly relevant, is a passage which is more easily understood once it is
      realized that the "forgiveness of sins" bit is interpolated into the rest,
      an original story of healing. In any case, it is the healing, not the
      forgiveness of sins whether or not interpolated, which provokes the
      amazement of the crowd. They glorify God (who they seem to assume is the
      source of this remarkable occurrence), and say, We never saw anything like
      this. A deed of power that carries convincement.

      Another relevant passage, since it brings together the several elements
      already mentioned (including Jesus' impatience with this generation), is the
      disciples' failure to heal the epileptic boy. It is typical of Mark that
      Jesus only works wonders (the nature miracles, I think, alone excepted) in a
      climate of belief that he can in fact do so; his failure at Nazareth is the
      converse that demonstrates the rule, as Mark carefully explains (surely we
      have here Mark's understanding of the miracle process). With the epileptic,
      it is the father who insists that he believes (as the condition for the cure
      of his son), and then says, rather remarkably, "Help thou mine unbelief."
      Jesus proceeds to heal the boy. With what power? The story actually tells us
      this, since the interns, the disciples, ask why they could not do so, and
      Jesus says that this was a particularly tough demon, which could not be
      expelled by anything save prayer. Prayer is Jesus's way of establishing
      contact with God, and again, as with the paralytic, we have the God
      connection made explicit, this time by Jesus and not by the crowd.

      As for the anger against the sinful and adulterous generation (9:19), how is
      that to be explained? I ask because I do not know, save for the sense (the
      opposite of Goguel's sense) that it arises long after Jesus' death, in a
      context of lessening communal belief. The third case of this motif in Mark
      is 8:38 (Whoever is ashamed of Jesus in this adulterous and sinful
      generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of in time to come). What links
      the three seems to be lack of faith, whether of the Pharisees, the father of
      the epileptic (who does his best, however), and the indeterminate faithless,
      who have abandoned Jesus, in 8:38. It is the 8:38 case that perhaps most
      strongly suggests a time well removed from the time of Jesus, when some had
      fallen away, or succumbed to persecution. Mk 13 can also be read that way,
      since its whole reason for being is disciple uncertainty about the date of
      this much expected event. This gives, I like to think, the beginning of an
      explanation, but to my mind it still leaves Mk 8:11f somewhat eccentric, a
      little off the lines which Mark otherwise seems to follow. It is that
      eccentricity which puzzles me, and which I don't find that Jeffrey's
      explanation quite resolves.

      The Pharisees are of course not merely an unbelieving, but a hostile,
      public. The other miracle or sign or remarkable action demanded of Jesus by
      such a public and not supplied by him, if I remember correctly, is the
      demand of the hostile crowd that Jesus come down from the cross. That would
      indeed be a supernatural feat. Jesus does not perform the feat, and it may
      be relevant that not long afterward, Jesus laments that God has forsaken
      him. The language in which Mark reports this is Psalmic, and he surely
      intends a second message by phrasing it that way, but the event itself seems
      to be consistent. Signs of power require not only the belief, as it were
      the psychological cooperation of the beholders, but also the granting of
      power by God. In the Crucifixion scene, both seem to be lacking.

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

      Jeffrey comes out with "triumphalism" as the key to what Jesus will not do,
      and will refuse to do when asked (p55). The final paragraph (p56) reads:

      "It would seem, then, that the reason the Marcan Jesus refuses to produce a
      'sign' when the Pharisees demand one of him is not because he is, according
      to Mark, opposed to the enterprise of producing 'signs.' Rather, given
      Mark's assumptions concerning the type of 'sign' demanded in this instance
      and what this 'sign' would activate once manifested, it is because in
      producing such a 'sign' Jesus would involve himself in the sort of
      triumphalistic, imperious activities that throughout Mark's Gospel he
      condemns and sets himself against."

      That explanation reaches outside Mark for a definition of Mark's term. I
      have already suggested why I think the distinction is too fine-drawn.

      As for Jesus' dislike of triumphalism, what of his stilling of the storm,
      which prompts the disciples (4:41) to ask what manner of man he may be? What
      of his prediction of himself in Mk 13:26, coming on the clouds with much
      power and splendor, to send out messengers to gather the elect from the four
      corners of the earth? Or if this be thought a slip of the Markan pen, what
      of Jesus' response to the High Priest, "I am, and you will see the Son of
      Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of Heaven
      (14:62)."

      If this be modesty, scoop me a double helping of it. And I will be ready
      when the call comes, however suddenly; I have my list of the Elect all
      prepared. No scurrying around at the last moment.

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • Jgibson
      ... You have misrepresented (or misunderstood) what I deemed triumphalism . Jeffrey -- ___ Jeffrey B. Gibson D.Phil. (Oxon.) 1500 W. Pratt Blvd. Chicago, Il
      Message 2 of 14 , Sep 8, 2012
        On 9/8/2012 8:48 PM, E Bruce Brooks wrote:
        > As for Jesus' dislike of triumphalism, what of his stilling of the storm,
        > which prompts the disciples (4:41) to ask what manner of man he may be? What
        > of his prediction of himself in Mk 13:26, coming on the clouds with much
        > power and splendor, to send out messengers to gather the elect from the four
        > corners of the earth? Or if this be thought a slip of the Markan pen, what
        > of Jesus' response to the High Priest, "I am, and you will see the Son of
        > Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of Heaven
        > (14:62)."
        >
        > If this be modesty, scoop me a double helping of it. And I will be ready
        > when the call comes, however suddenly; I have my list of the Elect all
        > prepared. No scurrying around at the last moment.

        You have misrepresented (or misunderstood) what I deemed "triumphalism".

        Jeffrey

        --
        ___

        Jeffrey B. Gibson D.Phil. (Oxon.)
        1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
        Chicago, Il 606s6
        jgibson000@...
      • E Bruce Brooks
        To: Synoptic In Response To: Jack Kilmon On: Jesus and the Law From: Bruce Jack: Jesus reduced version of the Decalogue and his remarks on the Sabbath could
        Message 3 of 14 , Sep 8, 2012
          To: Synoptic
          In Response To: Jack Kilmon
          On: Jesus and the Law
          From: Bruce

          Jack: Jesus' reduced version of the Decalogue and his remarks on the Sabbath
          could also be that he was not a Mosaic Jew but instead an Enochian Jew, a
          subset of late second temple Judaism not frequently discussed.

          Bruce: Enochian gives a name to it; the Minor Prophets give abundant
          precedent for it; I am not claiming that Jesus thought it up all by himself.
          I merely point to the abundant and consistent evidence in Mark that this was
          his position. On the other hand, Jesus in Mark does treat Moses with
          respect, citing him against certain Pharisaic practices and on other
          occasions. I would thus be inclined to call him not so much an Enochian as a
          Reformed Mosaian.

          Jack: This could be why he refers to himself as the Bar Nasha 30 times and
          never as the Messiah.

          Bruce: For anyone to have called himself the Messiah in Roman Palestine
          would have been equivalent to suicide. Mark shows Jesus consistently
          avoiding large towns (where the Roman power would have been strongest), and
          when addressing large crowds, as speaking in guarded and metaphorical terms
          about his view of the Kingdom and the process by which it would be realized
          (Mk 4). There is thus little need to explain Jesus' nonuse of the term
          Messiah. It makes all the sense in the world - the Roman world. On the other
          hand, Mark clearly shows Jesus planning, and executing, a triumphalist and
          Davidic entry into Jerusalem, the city where, if anywhere, the promise of
          God to David would be kept, and being hailed by the crowds in specifically
          Davidic terms. All this needs to be set over against Jesus's own caution
          about announcing his program where the Romans could take action against him.
          (In Jerusalem, as Mark makes clear, he was to some extent protected by the
          crowds, and vanished to an undisclosed location as soon as the crowds
          themselves went home. It was the ratting out of that undisclosed location
          that got him arrested, one night in the absence of the crowds).

          As for Son of Man, not 30 times in Mark; I make it 12. No fair bringing in
          the Second Generation Gospels, that way lies philological confusion, as many
          have demonstrated.

          "Son of Man" is a symbolic, indeed a Danielic, way of saying "Messiah." The
          Romans would have had no clue to the symbolism, but Jesus's intended
          audiences will not have mistaken it. Very efficient. The more one knows
          about underground movements in our time (the followers of Lenin before the
          Revolution, the French Resistance before Liberation), the more transparent
          and familiar all this coding and safe-housing will seem. The situation of
          the Palestinian Jews is perhaps not readily imagined from the safety of a
          suburban armchair in an untroubled country.

          Jack: It could also be why his family thought him one brick short of a load.

          Bruce: Anyone taking Messianic risks under Roman rule has to be out of his
          mind, in any reasonable practical sense. If I were of Jesus' family, I would
          be no less concerned than they seem to have been, for the likely
          consequences of his program, a concern which, as events proved, was all too
          justified. (As Mark with remarkable candor - a candor simply too much for
          the Second Generation Gospels, who eliminate that passage - tells us).

          Jack: The reason brother Ya'qub shows up out of the blue could have been to
          "rehabilitate" him posthumously as the Mosaic Messiah.

          Bruce: Out of the blue is right; neither Luke nor anyone else knows when he
          decided that the Jesus Thing was after all a good deal, and came aboard. How
          far aboard? What was Yaqub's idea of Jesus? Paul is witness that he was much
          more conservative, ritually, than the Jesus Twelve, and when Yaqub took over
          at Jerusalem (as he seems to have done not long after the Jerusalem
          Conference attended by Paul), the Jerusalem Christian leadership took a
          sudden hard line against
          food laxity, completely reversing previous policy. Then we can at least say
          that he was a ritual conservative, and that in the food area he definitely
          reversed the clear practice of Jesus. On the other hand, Yaqub does seem to
          have preached the Resurrection; Paul speaks of him as a fellow Apostle, and
          as one who had had his own personal vision of the Risen Jesus. This was
          probably the condition for membership in the leading circles, and, well, who
          was Yaqub not to comply? The Jesus thing, beyond all expectation, had proved
          to be a flourishing business (with branches in Alexandria, Antioch, Ephesus,
          Corinth, Rome, you name it). The movement had firmly disavowed its former
          Messianic ambition, and was now securely Otherworldly in orientation; there
          was nothing any more to be feared from Rome. As between an automatically
          honored place in that movement, and taking up the family carpentry
          concession in Nazareth, which offered Yaqub more scope?

          I ask you.

          Bruce

          E Bruce Brooks
          Warring States Project
          University of Massachusetts at Amherst

          Mark is a tough read. The Markan Jesus is a tough guy; willing and able to
          beat up on the Temple money changers; his followers in Gethsemane (at night,
          even!) seem to have been armed. It is obvious enough that a need was felt to
          revise and indeed expurgate Mark, and to replace the robust Markan Jesus as
          far as possible with the Mt/Lk Nice Jesus. This was done, not once but
          twice, by writers of the second generation, and done so well that the Nice
          Jesus has by now almost entirely occluded the other one. That Other Jesus,
          however, peeps rather awkwardly through this or that passage in Mark, and at
          points probably too familiar to be expunged altogether, is also dimly
          visible in the counterpart passages in Matthew and Luke.

          Jack: Will the real Yeshua please stand up?

          Bruce: Discovering Jesus is not so difficult. As Ranke says, we must take
          the immediate evidence and not the secondary histories. This means
          jettisoning Matthew and Luke, and attending to Mark.

          Few there be who are willing to take that step, but that's other people's
          problem. I merely point out that, on any rational understanding of
          historical method, Mark is the way to go.
        • E Bruce Brooks
          To: Synoptic In Response To: Jeffrey Gibson On: Triumphalism From: Bruce Of my earlier notes on why I found Jeffrey s explanation of MK 8:11f unconvincing, he
          Message 4 of 14 , Sep 8, 2012
            To: Synoptic
            In Response To: Jeffrey Gibson
            On: Triumphalism
            From: Bruce

            Of my earlier notes on why I found Jeffrey's explanation of MK 8:11f
            unconvincing, he has replied:

            Jeffrey: You have misrepresented (or misunderstood) what I deemed
            "triumphalism".

            Bruce. Mustn't have that. Let's see. I look for that word, and here it is:

            p55 "Mark has Jesus refuse this demand for a sign because for Jesus to do
            otherwise would be nothing less than to advocate, initiate, and engage in
            triumphalism - a type of activity that, according to Mark, was forbidden to
            Jesus if he wished to remain faithful to the exigencies of his divine
            commission."

            n80 continues: "This is especially clear in Mk 8:27-9:1 . . . but it is a
            theme which permeates Mark's Gospel."

            Mk 8:27-9:1 contains three distinct segments.

            In the first *8:27-30), Jesus asks his disciples who people think he is, and
            accepts Peter's definition of him as the Messiah. I think there is little
            philological doubt that this is part of the earliest layer of Mark (see my
            note to Jack Kilmon; too much in Mark survives to testify to a Messianic
            self-concept, for it to be all some sort of slip of the pen).

            In the second (8:31-34), Jesus announces that he must die and be raised
            after three days, and Peter protests. Well he might, since this idea
            drastically contradicts the previous one. This is the Suffering Servant
            concept of Jesus, an interpretation of his death that can only have arisen
            after his death. That it is late in Mark is shown not only by its
            incompatibility with the preceding, and not only by Peter's violent
            rejection of it (the same Peter who was comfortable with the Messianic
            Jesus, only moments before), but by the fact that when all these Passion
            Predictions are collated and compared, one of them turns out to be clearly
            interpolated, and if one, then all. Peter's reaction is then emblematic of
            the fact that the original disciples did not accept the Resurrection theory,
            and had to be energetically convinced of it. Certain the huge Apostolic
            literature, down to and including the Clementine Recognitions and Homilies,
            shows this same Peter preaching endlessly, chapter after chapter and volume
            after volume, without ever mentioning the Resurrection. There was then a
            type of Christianity which was not based on the Resurrection, and this huge
            literature is witness to it. So are early passages in Mark, like the openly
            Messianic Mk 8:27-30.

            In the third (8:34-9:1), Jesus sets bearing a personal cross as the
            condition of discipleship. This means accepting suffering and persecution
            and death without recanting, without denying Jesus. This would seem to
            reflect a situation still later in the life of the posthumous Jesus
            community, when it was in fact subjected to persecutions of this extreme
            sort. Theologically, it is compatible with the preceding Resurrection piece,
            and makes a logical development from it, given worsening external
            conditions.

            So far the passage supposed to exemplify Jesus's rejection of triumphalism.
            The word does not occur, and this reader is at a loss as to how it should be
            applied. What Jesus accepts in the second passage is his fate to be
            crucified, along with his insistence that he will also be resurrected. In
            the Gethsemane scene, he is tempted to avoid that fate, but accepts God's
            seeming wish that he undergo it. The two might be related; they both at any
            rate imply acceptance of the Crucifixion.

            I leave it to Jeffrey to fill in the dots if he cares to. But if these
            passages are what he has in mind, I still have the impression that they
            relate only tenuously to the Refusal to the Pharisees, with which we began.
            And I would deny that they show Mark at his most consistent. Given the late
            nature of the Resurrection material, I would think they rather show Mark at
            his most faithful as a chronicler of evolving ideas of Jesus in his
            posthumous movement. It is in this fidelity to a changing reality and a
            changing theological response to it, and not in the details of his picture,
            which being accretional is also of necessity internally contradictive, that
            the consistency of Mark resides.

            So it looks from here.

            As to what other material in Mk the puzzling 8:11f most closely relates,
            that question seems still open.

            Bruce

            E Bruce Brooks
            Warring States Project
            University of Massachusetts at Amherst
          • Dennis Goffin
            I cannot quote chapter and verse at the moment, but it is clear to me that the attitude to Sabbath observance in Galilee was a lot less punctilious than among
            Message 5 of 14 , Sep 9, 2012
              I cannot quote chapter and verse at the moment, but it is clear to me that the attitude to Sabbath observance in Galilee was a lot less punctilious than among the Pharisees who were strongest in Jerusalem. Jesus' attitude is consistently to emphasise the spirit of an action over the empty observance and that is true of the Sabbth as well. To define Jesus as having a definite overall attitude towards the Decalogue from the haphazard quotation of various commandments, or, in the case of defrauding, their expansion as is found elsewhere in the Jwish writings, is in my view a step too far, insuffiently warranted by the available evidence.
              Dennis















              To: Synoptic

              In Response To: Dennis Goffin

              From: Bruce



              I had remarked in passing that Jesus accepted only part of the Decalogue. Or

              as Dennis quotes me,



              Bruce: Jesus taught a reduced version of the Decalogue,



              Dennis: I contest this. The above statement depends on the argument from

              silence in my opinion.



              Bruce: Not quite ex silentio. The positive part of Jesus' preaching about

              the Law seems to be contained in Mk 10:19, addressed to the rich young man,

              and I quote, "You know the commandments: Do not kill, Do not commit

              adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor

              your father and mother."



              That makes six, of which one, Do not defraud, is not in the Decalogue as

              usually cited; it is an innovation of Jesus (albeit one with a scriptural

              precedent). Both Mt and Lk omit the extra "fraud" commandment, presumably as

              a pedantic correction. Mt adds "Love your neighbor as yourself," which comes

              from a different part of Mark, and represents a summary, not a commandment.

              Given the temptation to complete the whole list of Ten, it is noteworthy

              that neither Mt nor Lk do any such thing. They correct Jesus in one detail,

              and Mt adds a summary from elsewhere, but they do not fill in what is

              conventionally called the First Table of the Decalogue: the commandments

              dealing with worship and the sanctity of the Sabbath. The Decalogue as far

              as Jesus acknowledges it concerns man's duty to man, not man's duty to God.



              So far the argument from absence, supplemented by two arguments of failure

              to correct the absence, in writers who have otherwise shown themselves, in

              this passage, quite willing to amend Jesus. By my count, that makes two

              arguments.



              The third argument is positive. Did Jesus simply forget to mention Sabbath

              piety, or did he in fact no preach its observance. On this I should think

              the Markan evidence is overwhelming: there are frequent stories of Jesus and

              his disciples healing, or exorcising, or traveling, or eating, on the

              Sabbath, and in each case Jesus defends these actions as overridden, not by

              a higher God piety, but by a higher human need.



              Evidence that Jesus preached observance of the commandment to observe the

              Sabbath seems monumentally lacking. Am I missing something?



              Bruce



              E Bruce Brooks

              Warring States Project

              University of Massachusetts at Amherst


















              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Chuck Jones
              Bruce, In Mark, Jesus motive for healing is compassion.  The reason there was a feeding of the 5,000 is that [a]s [Jesus] went ashore, he saw a great crowd;
              Message 6 of 14 , Sep 10, 2012
                Bruce,

                In Mark, Jesus' motive for healing is compassion.  The reason there was a feeding of the 5,000 is that "[a]s [Jesus] went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things."  He usually tells the healed not to tell anyone about what happened.  All of this is consistent with Jesus refusing to produce a sign, seems to me.

                Chuck 

                Rev. Chuck Jones
                Atlanta, Georgia


                ________________________________
                From: E Bruce Brooks <brooks@...>
                To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Saturday, September 8, 2012 9:48 PM
                Subject: RE: [Synoptic-L] Mk 8:11-12


                 
                To: Synoptic
                In Response To: Jeffrey Gibson
                On: Mk 8:11-12
                From: Bruce

                First, let me be plain: I think Goguel is wrong. I think the passage in
                question is late, not early, and that its understanding will best proceed
                from that probability.

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

                Jeffrey calls attention to his 1990 JSNT article, as a solution to the
                problem of Mk 8:11f. The problem of Mk 8:11, as I see it, is that it refuses
                a sign, not only to the Pharisees who ask one, but to the entire generation.
                This seems to contradict the fact that in Mark, including the passage
                immediately preceding, Jesus is continually doing things that would seem to
                count as signs of his Divine power or approval, from healings to mass
                feedings to walkings on water. His refusal in this case seems to contradict
                his own practice, and in the case of the ban on the entire generation, to
                exceed what is required. Therefore it attracts attention.

                Jeffrey, as I understand it, distinguishes between two senses of "sign," and
                on that basis finds consistency in Mark, and intelligibility in this one
                passage. For reasons previously stated, I think that the goal of finding
                consistency in Mark is illusory in the first place, but there is always room
                for another view.

                The specific word "sign" occurs in Mk in just three passages: (1) this one,
                (2) the Mk 13 apocalypse, where the disciples ask what will be the sign of
                the end, and Jesus answers, warning them at the same time that imposters
                will also produce "signs and wonders" (13:22), and (3) the spurious ending,
                which we need not further consider. It is interesting that both (1) and (2)
                are "verily" passages, where Jesus seems to be giving extra assurance that
                what he says is true. It is also interesting that the denial of a sign to
                "this generation" in 8:11f directly contradicts Jesus' assurance in 13:30
                that "this generation will not pass away" before these things, doubtless
                including the signs that precede them, will occur (cf 9:1). The sign asked
                by the Pharisees is specifically a "sign from Heaven," but so, one would
                think, are the signs described in Mk 13 as preceding the end. If not from
                Heaven, whence?

                Jeffrey argues (p43-45), with more use of Luke than I should have thought
                advisable, since Luke may have his own idea of heavenly validation, that a
                special sense attaches to "sign from heaven," namely "most likely a
                phenomenon which embodied Salvation." I am not convinced that the Septuagint
                examples prove this, or that the context of 8:11 suggests it. It seems to me
                that all signs in Mk, whether or not called that, are events beyond the
                ordinary, which prove that Jesus is speaking and acting with authority that
                is more than human. The Healing of the Paralytic, cited by Jeffrey and
                certainly relevant, is a passage which is more easily understood once it is
                realized that the "forgiveness of sins" bit is interpolated into the rest,
                an original story of healing. In any case, it is the healing, not the
                forgiveness of sins whether or not interpolated, which provokes the
                amazement of the crowd. They glorify God (who they seem to assume is the
                source of this remarkable occurrence), and say, We never saw anything like
                this. A deed of power that carries convincement.

                Another relevant passage, since it brings together the several elements
                already mentioned (including Jesus' impatience with this generation), is the
                disciples' failure to heal the epileptic boy. It is typical of Mark that
                Jesus only works wonders (the nature miracles, I think, alone excepted) in a
                climate of belief that he can in fact do so; his failure at Nazareth is the
                converse that demonstrates the rule, as Mark carefully explains (surely we
                have here Mark's understanding of the miracle process). With the epileptic,
                it is the father who insists that he believes (as the condition for the cure
                of his son), and then says, rather remarkably, "Help thou mine unbelief."
                Jesus proceeds to heal the boy. With what power? The story actually tells us
                this, since the interns, the disciples, ask why they could not do so, and
                Jesus says that this was a particularly tough demon, which could not be
                expelled by anything save prayer. Prayer is Jesus's way of establishing
                contact with God, and again, as with the paralytic, we have the God
                connection made explicit, this time by Jesus and not by the crowd.

                As for the anger against the sinful and adulterous generation (9:19), how is
                that to be explained? I ask because I do not know, save for the sense (the
                opposite of Goguel's sense) that it arises long after Jesus' death, in a
                context of lessening communal belief. The third case of this motif in Mark
                is 8:38 (Whoever is ashamed of Jesus in this adulterous and sinful
                generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of in time to come). What links
                the three seems to be lack of faith, whether of the Pharisees, the father of
                the epileptic (who does his best, however), and the indeterminate faithless,
                who have abandoned Jesus, in 8:38. It is the 8:38 case that perhaps most
                strongly suggests a time well removed from the time of Jesus, when some had
                fallen away, or succumbed to persecution. Mk 13 can also be read that way,
                since its whole reason for being is disciple uncertainty about the date of
                this much expected event. This gives, I like to think, the beginning of an
                explanation, but to my mind it still leaves Mk 8:11f somewhat eccentric, a
                little off the lines which Mark otherwise seems to follow. It is that
                eccentricity which puzzles me, and which I don't find that Jeffrey's
                explanation quite resolves.

                The Pharisees are of course not merely an unbelieving, but a hostile,
                public. The other miracle or sign or remarkable action demanded of Jesus by
                such a public and not supplied by him, if I remember correctly, is the
                demand of the hostile crowd that Jesus come down from the cross. That would
                indeed be a supernatural feat. Jesus does not perform the feat, and it may
                be relevant that not long afterward, Jesus laments that God has forsaken
                him. The language in which Mark reports this is Psalmic, and he surely
                intends a second message by phrasing it that way, but the event itself seems
                to be consistent. Signs of power require not only the belief, as it were
                the psychological cooperation of the beholders, but also the granting of
                power by God. In the Crucifixion scene, both seem to be lacking.

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

                Jeffrey comes out with "triumphalism" as the key to what Jesus will not do,
                and will refuse to do when asked (p55). The final paragraph (p56) reads:

                "It would seem, then, that the reason the Marcan Jesus refuses to produce a
                'sign' when the Pharisees demand one of him is not because he is, according
                to Mark, opposed to the enterprise of producing 'signs.' Rather, given
                Mark's assumptions concerning the type of 'sign' demanded in this instance
                and what this 'sign' would activate once manifested, it is because in
                producing such a 'sign' Jesus would involve himself in the sort of
                triumphalistic, imperious activities that throughout Mark's Gospel he
                condemns and sets himself against."

                That explanation reaches outside Mark for a definition of Mark's term. I
                have already suggested why I think the distinction is too fine-drawn.

                As for Jesus' dislike of triumphalism, what of his stilling of the storm,
                which prompts the disciples (4:41) to ask what manner of man he may be? What
                of his prediction of himself in Mk 13:26, coming on the clouds with much
                power and splendor, to send out messengers to gather the elect from the four
                corners of the earth? Or if this be thought a slip of the Markan pen, what
                of Jesus' response to the High Priest, "I am, and you will see the Son of
                Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of Heaven
                (14:62)."

                If this be modesty, scoop me a double helping of it. And I will be ready
                when the call comes, however suddenly; I have my list of the Elect all
                prepared. No scurrying around at the last moment.

                Bruce

                E Bruce Brooks
                Warring States Project
                University of Massachusetts at Amherst





                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Greg Crawford
                The language of “sign”, σημεῖον, is interesting in Mark’s Gospel and might be more at home in John’s Gospel. If John is correct in associating
                Message 7 of 14 , Sep 10, 2012
                  The language of “sign”, σημεῖον, is interesting in Mark’s Gospel and might be more at home in John’s Gospel. If John is correct in associating this narrative with the story of Moses and the manna from heaven in the wilderness, the Pharisees’ request for a sign might simply be a request that the sign of the feeding continue day after day, as it did in Moses’ case. First century Jewish peasants may have had as much interest in daily food handouts as did starving people in the desert. If the traditional narrative could not be fully accommodated to Mark’s themes, it may stand out for that reason.



                  Greg Crawford



                  From: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Synoptic@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Chuck Jones
                  Sent: Monday, 10 September 2012 10:42 PM
                  To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] Mk 8:11-12





                  Bruce,

                  In Mark, Jesus' motive for healing is compassion. The reason there was a feeding of the 5,000 is that "[a]s [Jesus] went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things." He usually tells the healed not to tell anyone about what happened. All of this is consistent with Jesus refusing to produce a sign, seems to me.

                  Chuck

                  Rev. Chuck Jones
                  Atlanta, Georgia

                  ________________________________
                  From: E Bruce Brooks <brooks@... <mailto:brooks%40asianlan.umass.edu> >
                  To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com <mailto:Synoptic%40yahoogroups.com>
                  Sent: Saturday, September 8, 2012 9:48 PM
                  Subject: RE: [Synoptic-L] Mk 8:11-12



                  To: Synoptic
                  In Response To: Jeffrey Gibson
                  On: Mk 8:11-12
                  From: Bruce

                  First, let me be plain: I think Goguel is wrong. I think the passage in
                  question is late, not early, and that its understanding will best proceed
                  from that probability.

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

                  Jeffrey calls attention to his 1990 JSNT article, as a solution to the
                  problem of Mk 8:11f. The problem of Mk 8:11, as I see it, is that it refuses
                  a sign, not only to the Pharisees who ask one, but to the entire generation.
                  This seems to contradict the fact that in Mark, including the passage
                  immediately preceding, Jesus is continually doing things that would seem to
                  count as signs of his Divine power or approval, from healings to mass
                  feedings to walkings on water. His refusal in this case seems to contradict
                  his own practice, and in the case of the ban on the entire generation, to
                  exceed what is required. Therefore it attracts attention.

                  Jeffrey, as I understand it, distinguishes between two senses of "sign," and
                  on that basis finds consistency in Mark, and intelligibility in this one
                  passage. For reasons previously stated, I think that the goal of finding
                  consistency in Mark is illusory in the first place, but there is always room
                  for another view.

                  The specific word "sign" occurs in Mk in just three passages: (1) this one,
                  (2) the Mk 13 apocalypse, where the disciples ask what will be the sign of
                  the end, and Jesus answers, warning them at the same time that imposters
                  will also produce "signs and wonders" (13:22), and (3) the spurious ending,
                  which we need not further consider. It is interesting that both (1) and (2)
                  are "verily" passages, where Jesus seems to be giving extra assurance that
                  what he says is true. It is also interesting that the denial of a sign to
                  "this generation" in 8:11f directly contradicts Jesus' assurance in 13:30
                  that "this generation will not pass away" before these things, doubtless
                  including the signs that precede them, will occur (cf 9:1). The sign asked
                  by the Pharisees is specifically a "sign from Heaven," but so, one would
                  think, are the signs described in Mk 13 as preceding the end. If not from
                  Heaven, whence?

                  Jeffrey argues (p43-45), with more use of Luke than I should have thought
                  advisable, since Luke may have his own idea of heavenly validation, that a
                  special sense attaches to "sign from heaven," namely "most likely a
                  phenomenon which embodied Salvation." I am not convinced that the Septuagint
                  examples prove this, or that the context of 8:11 suggests it. It seems to me
                  that all signs in Mk, whether or not called that, are events beyond the
                  ordinary, which prove that Jesus is speaking and acting with authority that
                  is more than human. The Healing of the Paralytic, cited by Jeffrey and
                  certainly relevant, is a passage which is more easily understood once it is
                  realized that the "forgiveness of sins" bit is interpolated into the rest,
                  an original story of healing. In any case, it is the healing, not the
                  forgiveness of sins whether or not interpolated, which provokes the
                  amazement of the crowd. They glorify God (who they seem to assume is the
                  source of this remarkable occurrence), and say, We never saw anything like
                  this. A deed of power that carries convincement.

                  Another relevant passage, since it brings together the several elements
                  already mentioned (including Jesus' impatience with this generation), is the
                  disciples' failure to heal the epileptic boy. It is typical of Mark that
                  Jesus only works wonders (the nature miracles, I think, alone excepted) in a
                  climate of belief that he can in fact do so; his failure at Nazareth is the
                  converse that demonstrates the rule, as Mark carefully explains (surely we
                  have here Mark's understanding of the miracle process). With the epileptic,
                  it is the father who insists that he believes (as the condition for the cure
                  of his son), and then says, rather remarkably, "Help thou mine unbelief."
                  Jesus proceeds to heal the boy. With what power? The story actually tells us
                  this, since the interns, the disciples, ask why they could not do so, and
                  Jesus says that this was a particularly tough demon, which could not be
                  expelled by anything save prayer. Prayer is Jesus's way of establishing
                  contact with God, and again, as with the paralytic, we have the God
                  connection made explicit, this time by Jesus and not by the crowd.

                  As for the anger against the sinful and adulterous generation (9:19), how is
                  that to be explained? I ask because I do not know, save for the sense (the
                  opposite of Goguel's sense) that it arises long after Jesus' death, in a
                  context of lessening communal belief. The third case of this motif in Mark
                  is 8:38 (Whoever is ashamed of Jesus in this adulterous and sinful
                  generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of in time to come). What links
                  the three seems to be lack of faith, whether of the Pharisees, the father of
                  the epileptic (who does his best, however), and the indeterminate faithless,
                  who have abandoned Jesus, in 8:38. It is the 8:38 case that perhaps most
                  strongly suggests a time well removed from the time of Jesus, when some had
                  fallen away, or succumbed to persecution. Mk 13 can also be read that way,
                  since its whole reason for being is disciple uncertainty about the date of
                  this much expected event. This gives, I like to think, the beginning of an
                  explanation, but to my mind it still leaves Mk 8:11f somewhat eccentric, a
                  little off the lines which Mark otherwise seems to follow. It is that
                  eccentricity which puzzles me, and which I don't find that Jeffrey's
                  explanation quite resolves.

                  The Pharisees are of course not merely an unbelieving, but a hostile,
                  public. The other miracle or sign or remarkable action demanded of Jesus by
                  such a public and not supplied by him, if I remember correctly, is the
                  demand of the hostile crowd that Jesus come down from the cross. That would
                  indeed be a supernatural feat. Jesus does not perform the feat, and it may
                  be relevant that not long afterward, Jesus laments that God has forsaken
                  him. The language in which Mark reports this is Psalmic, and he surely
                  intends a second message by phrasing it that way, but the event itself seems
                  to be consistent. Signs of power require not only the belief, as it were
                  the psychological cooperation of the beholders, but also the granting of
                  power by God. In the Crucifixion scene, both seem to be lacking.

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

                  Jeffrey comes out with "triumphalism" as the key to what Jesus will not do,
                  and will refuse to do when asked (p55). The final paragraph (p56) reads:

                  "It would seem, then, that the reason the Marcan Jesus refuses to produce a
                  'sign' when the Pharisees demand one of him is not because he is, according
                  to Mark, opposed to the enterprise of producing 'signs.' Rather, given
                  Mark's assumptions concerning the type of 'sign' demanded in this instance
                  and what this 'sign' would activate once manifested, it is because in
                  producing such a 'sign' Jesus would involve himself in the sort of
                  triumphalistic, imperious activities that throughout Mark's Gospel he
                  condemns and sets himself against."

                  That explanation reaches outside Mark for a definition of Mark's term. I
                  have already suggested why I think the distinction is too fine-drawn.

                  As for Jesus' dislike of triumphalism, what of his stilling of the storm,
                  which prompts the disciples (4:41) to ask what manner of man he may be? What
                  of his prediction of himself in Mk 13:26, coming on the clouds with much
                  power and splendor, to send out messengers to gather the elect from the four
                  corners of the earth? Or if this be thought a slip of the Markan pen, what
                  of Jesus' response to the High Priest, "I am, and you will see the Son of
                  Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of Heaven
                  (14:62)."

                  If this be modesty, scoop me a double helping of it. And I will be ready
                  when the call comes, however suddenly; I have my list of the Elect all
                  prepared. No scurrying around at the last moment.

                  Bruce

                  E Bruce Brooks
                  Warring States Project
                  University of Massachusetts at Amherst

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





                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Jgibson
                  ... If this is the case, and I an extremely doubtful that it is, why would Jesus refuse the request? And how would such a request be something that probes
                  Message 8 of 14 , Sep 10, 2012
                    On 9/10/2012 9:01 AM, Greg Crawford wrote:
                    > The language of “sign”, σημεῖον, is interesting in Mark’s Gospel and might be more at home in John’s Gospel. If John is correct in associating this narrative with the story of Moses and the manna from heaven in the wilderness, the Pharisees’ request for a sign might simply be a request that the sign of the feeding continue day after day, as it did in Moses’ case. First century Jewish peasants may have had as much interest in daily food handouts as did starving people in the desert. If the traditional narrative could not be fully accommodated to Mark’s themes, it may stand out for that reason.

                    If this is the case, and I an extremely doubtful that it is, why
                    would Jesus refuse the request? And how would such a request be
                    something that probes and examines Jesus' faithfulness as Mark says it
                    does? Why would Jesus label the request as something that exhibits the
                    faithlessness of the wilderness generation faithlessness, since a
                    request to keep on giving manna is the exact opposite of the grumbling
                    against manna that the wilderness generation engaged in?

                    Leaving aside the fact that the language of "sign" in Mark is not the
                    same as it is in John, I don't think you've thought your claim through.



                    Jeffrey


                    --
                    ___

                    Jeffrey B. Gibson D.Phil. (Oxon.)
                    1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
                    Chicago, Il 606s6
                    jgibson000@...
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