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

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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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