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Mk 14:61b-64

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic In Distant Response To: Ron Price On: Interpolations in Mark From: Bruce In the course of a previous and now distant discussion, I had asked
    Message 1 of 4 , May 3, 2006
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      To: Synoptic
      In Distant Response To: Ron Price
      On: Interpolations in Mark
      From: Bruce

      In the course of a previous and now distant discussion, I had asked whether
      Ron recognized any interpolations in Mark. He answered: " I am fairly
      confident that Mk 14:28; 14:61b-64 and 16:7 were not in the original text of
      the gospel, and that there are no other early interpolations of a
      significant size."

      I responded that I agreed that 14:28 and 16:7 met the traditional tests of
      interpolation, and added that they were self-related, and that together they
      constituted the only references in gMk to appearances of Jesus to his
      disciples after his rising on the third day. I left 14:61b-64 without
      comment, and return to it here.

      That passage, or its 14:61b-62 portion, have attracted doubt over the years.
      It has been thought that this, and indeed the whole Sanhedrin proceeding,
      cannot represent "an authentic record of a trial" (Grant). It is noted that
      no witnesses were present who might have transmitted an account of the
      proceedings to a Synoptist or his informant, so that the proceeding can only
      be imaginary. There are those (and I am on the whole receptive to their
      position) who deny that any trial before any Sanhedrin took place at all.
      But none of this properly bears on whether 14:61b-64 are themselves
      interpolated in a previously existing context.

      My hesitation on that point is partly due to the sense that excising this
      passage leaves the trial without a verdict: it proceeds from interrogation
      and silence (14:61a) to beatings and abuse (14:65). The beatings as
      described take it for granted that Jesus is a false prophet, yet as of
      14:61a that has not been established.

      It is perhaps a complication that Taylor takes 14:61b-62 as the
      interpolation, finding that "61b (from PALIN onwards) and 62 are a
      subsequent Christian insertion, and 63 is the real sequel to 61a." This at
      least leaves the verdict section (63) in the narrative, and gives a more
      consecutive (if still admittedly imaginary) narrative. Taylor is concerned
      to make the claim about rebuilding the temple the cause of the High Priest's
      condemnation. With 61b-62 present, the cause is instead Jesus's claim that
      he will return at a future date to judge the world, which I suppose would
      have been taken by orthodox Jewish opinion at the time to have been the role
      reserved for God, hence the verdict of blasphemy. For my money, granting
      that all this is imaginary on Mark's part, the narrative is more consecutive
      with 61b-62 present than without it; so also with the variant proposal of an
      interpolated 61b-64. That is, to my eye, the narrative, such as it is,
      becomes more problematic, not less, when the passage in question is removed.

      This seems to me to be the reverse of the standard interpolation situation.

      What would be the argument on the other side?

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • Ron Price
      ... Bruce, As Nineham remarks ( Saint Mark , pp. 404-405), the public self-revelation in 14:62 runs counter to the fundamental plan of the gospel, and may not
      Message 2 of 4 , May 4, 2006
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        Bruce Brooks wrote:

        > .....For my money, granting
        > that all this is imaginary on Mark's part, the narrative is more consecutive
        > with 61b-62 present than without it; so also with the variant proposal of an
        > interpolated 61b-64. .......
        > What would be the argument on the other side?

        Bruce,

        As Nineham remarks ("Saint Mark", pp. 404-405), the public self-revelation
        in 14:62 runs counter to the fundamental plan of the gospel, and may not
        have been part of the original.

        As I see it, Mark wanted to emphasize the contrast between Peter's
        Christologically deficient profession (8:29), and the (Gentile) centurion's
        insight (15:39). 14:62 detracts from this contrast.

        Hooker points out ("The Gospel According to St Mark", pp. 360-361) that the
        unequivocal "I am" is surprising in view of the secrecy about Jesus'
        identity up to this point. I would add that it also looks out of place in
        view of the more cautious "You have said so" in a similar situation in 15:2.
        Why would the author make his hero more cautious as the accusations reach
        their climax?

        The contemptuous "Prophesy!" in 14:65 alludes to the false accusation
        regarding the prophecy in 14:58, and the allusion is more obvious without
        the intervention of the astounding proclamation in 14:62 and the subsequent
        accusation of blasphemy. Surely most readers would miss the allusion after
        this.

        The verdict of blasphemy in the extant text is a red herring. The Roman
        authorities would not have been concerned about it, and why would the Jewish
        authorities focus on a charge which they knew the Romans would ignore? The
        inscription "The King of the Jews" (14:26) makes it clear that Jesus was
        crucified for claiming to be (and/or being acclaimed as) Messiah-King, and
        thus a threat (potential or otherwise) to the peace in Jerusalem.

        The text reads smoothly when 61b-64 is removed:
        "But he was silent and made no answer. And some began to spit on him ..."

        Ron Price

        Derbyshire, UK

        Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
      • E Bruce Brooks
        To: Synoptic In Response To: Ron Price On: Mk 14:61b-64 From: Bruce Thanks to Ron for his clarification. Undoubtedly the passage has its strangenesses, and the
        Message 3 of 4 , May 4, 2006
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          To: Synoptic
          In Response To: Ron Price
          On: Mk 14:61b-64
          From: Bruce

          Thanks to Ron for his clarification. Undoubtedly the passage has its
          strangenesses, and the proposal may work. To me there are still loose edges.
          I mention a couple below, by way of inviting wider opinion one way or
          another, or some third way.

          RON: As Nineham remarks ("Saint Mark", pp. 404-405), the public
          self-revelation in 14:62 runs counter to the fundamental plan of the gospel,
          and may not have been part of the original.

          BRUCE: Neither here nor in 15:2 does Jesus make any original claims. In
          both, he assents to a characterization of his interrogator. In 14:61b-64,
          the silence in the face of conflicting accusations precedes, rather than
          follows, the acceptance of the interrogator's statement, but otherwise, the
          two packages are the same. Would Nineham, or one agreeing with him as to
          14:61b-64, not be obliged to cancel 15:2 also, leaving in both cases a
          silence in the face of conflicting accusations? Nineham notes the difficulty
          (p415), but does not here propose an interpolation; obviously, if he should,
          he would be committed to removing 15:26 also, which picks up the "King of
          the Jews" theme which seems to appear in 15:2. Nineham explains how the King
          of the Jews might be the way that the Messiah label of 14:61b-64 was
          translated for Pilate. But this is to abandon the idea of an interpolation
          in 14:61b-64, is it not? I get the impression that the self-revelation
          passages either belong in the narrative at these points, or should all be
          removed, as not really compatible with Nineham's characterization of the
          whole Gospel.

          How does Hooker handle 15:2? Again, acceptingly, and to my eye, in a way
          that somewhat reinstates 14:61b-64. She notes that Pilate behaves "as though
          Jesus had already been condemned, and the session before Pilate was merely a
          ratification: "Certainly the effect of [Mark's] narrative is to suggest that
          the sentence was pronounced by the Sanhedrin, in 14:64, and that Pilate was
          simply the instrument through whom they were able to carry it out" (366).
          This surely leaves 14:64 in place, as part of the basis on which the Pilate
          session makes whatever sense it makes. Taking 14:64 out would thus undermine
          15:2. This may be why Taylor restricted his interpolation suggestion as he
          did.

          RON: As I see it, Mark wanted to emphasize the contrast between Peter's
          Christologically deficient profession (8:29), and the (Gentile) centurion's
          insight (15:39). 14:62 detracts from this contrast.

          BRUCE: Mk 8:29 seems to me a long way back, but there is no doubt, at least
          not to me, that Peter earlier on made an affirmation of Jesus as the Christ,
          again, not denied by Jesus. It is one of hot-headed Peter's (not my
          characterization; see the Gospel of Mary] good moments. That he gets it a
          little bit wrong, or shrinks from the entailed suffering, doesn't to me
          cancel it out. If one wants to be picky, one could also say that the Roman
          soldier's comment is Christologically deficient, but I give it full rank as
          a significant element in Mark's design (I make it the last words of the core
          Mark, and thus highly prominent by position). But I think its purpose is not
          to put Peter in the shade, back in 8:29, but rather, to attest Jesus.

          As to all this witnessing at the end (that of Jesus being passive, as indeed
          it is also in 8:29), the real difference is not that it occurs (it has been
          spotted here and there throughout), but that, as Hooker says, "it is no
          longer necessary to conceal the truth about Jesus" (367). The Roman
          soldier's remark does not seem to have been private, and Pilate's too was in
          open court. The Gospel could thus be said to end, accepting for the moment
          Nineham's and Hooker's idea of it, by the previously secret truth about
          Jesus being at last openly revealed. On this view, the Crucifixion and its
          attendant wonders (the veil of the Temple) are its announcement.

          Doesn't this need a little further work?

          RON: Hooker points out ("The Gospel According to St Mark", pp. 360-361) that
          the unequivocal "I am" is surprising in view of the secrecy about Jesus'
          identity up to this point. I would add that it also looks out of place in
          view of the more cautious "You have said so" in a similar situation in 15:2.
          Why would the author make his hero more cautious as the accusations reach
          their climax?

          BRUCE: See above. It seems to me that Hooker weighs in on both sides of the
          question.

          RON: The contemptuous "Prophesy!" in 14:65 alludes to the false accusation
          regarding the prophecy in 14:58, and the allusion is more obvious without
          the intervention of the astounding proclamation in 14:62 and the subsequent
          accusation of blasphemy. Surely most readers would miss the allusion after
          this.

          BRUCE: I don't think they would miss the connection, at least I recall not
          doing so at a young age, but it is true enough that removing 14:62 does link
          the accusation and the demand more closely. Be it remembered that some would
          remove only 14:62, not the larger passage, and this argument supports that
          opinion.

          As I noted earlier, the Synoptic history of this Temple Destruction theme is
          interesting. I won't go into it here either, but note merely that from being
          explicitly a false accusation in the earlier Gospels, it becomes a true
          accusation in the latest ones, and Jesus is even shown making it. Surely
          this shifts the ground of the story that the Synoptists are giving us. First
          a false accusation (Jesus never really said it), then a true one (he really
          did say it, and it was true). The latter version is more convincing: it is
          easier to teach a Sunday School class on the basis that Jesus's symbolic
          prediction was true (it has become part of dogma, as we know) than
          otherwise. The larger problem of which this is perhaps a part is that the
          later Evangelists continually supply realism or concinnity where Mark lacks
          it; it is this pattern which perhaps gave rise to the view of Mark as a
          careless condensation of Matthew and Luke. I don't think that this theory
          holds up under examination, but here are some of the objective facts which
          that theory addresses.

          RON: The verdict of blasphemy in the extant text is a red herring. The Roman
          authorities would not have been concerned about it, and why would the Jewish
          authorities focus on a charge which they knew the Romans would ignore? The
          inscription "The King of the Jews" (14:26) makes it clear that Jesus was
          crucified for claiming to be (and/or being acclaimed as) Messiah-King, and
          thus a threat (potential or otherwise) to the peace in Jerusalem.

          BRUCE: The whole legal procedure in Mark, Jewish or Roman, has been
          pronounced dubious, and I have nothing to offer in its defense. But Mark has
          to have some view of it, and it seems to me that he sees it this way: (1)
          Jesus claimed to be a Messiah, in some sense or other; this is the content
          of Peter's recognition; (2) this alarmed Herod, and it potentially alarmed
          the Romans and all their collaborators, who interpreted Messianic movements
          as dangerous popular unrest (Mk 6:14f), aimed as they were at restoring
          Jewish sovereignty; Mark spells out the case of Barabbas for us, lest we
          miss this point; (3) the Romans were therefore ready to execute Messianic
          leaders as such, but the motive of the Jewish council will not have been
          simply to act as Rome's eyes and ears in the civic sense; they need a cause
          of estrangement of their own, and (4) blasphemy would suffice to antagonize
          them. On something like this ground, it seems to me that we can at least see
          what Mark was up to in putting together his story as he did, whatever the
          facts of the time may have been. If so, then the admission of Messiah claim
          might not have seemed to Mark sufficient, and we therefore have the claim of
          Coming Again in Judgement, at the Right Hand of Power, etc, in 14:64. Here,
          for a change, is a claim that Jesus actually made, as he did not (at any
          rate, not in Mark as we have it) make the claim about the Temple. As Mark
          tells it, it is the Sanhedrin which condemned Jesus, but (as John explains)
          they not having power to carry out that sentence, asked to have it confirmed
          by Pilate, who did so. Taking out any step in this procedure weakens the
          Markan logic, or so it seems on present reading. (5) The "King of the Jews"
          accusation was the "Messiah" accusation, translated into terms intelligible
          to Pilate.

          RON: The text reads smoothly when 61b-64 is removed: "But he was silent and
          made no answer. And some began to spit on him ..."

          BRUCE: I have said why I think that taking out this passage may rather
          complicate than simplify the narrative thread as Mark perhaps planned it.
          This particular juncture has the High Priest's men abuse Jesus merely on the
          strength of accusations, rather than of a verdict accepting the accusations.
          I find that not altogether convincing (why should they strike him if nothing
          has been officially found against him?), though it is certainly possible,
          and extralegal beatings would reinforce the wrongful nature of the
          Sanhedrin, which I agree it is one of Mark's purposes to emphasize. One
          passage that could be adduced in defense of the text as Ron reconstructs it
          is John 18:22f -- "When he had said this [appealing to witnesses to what he
          had openly taught; no Messianic or other secret here], one of the officers
          standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, Is that how you answer the
          High Priest? Jesus answered him, "If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness to
          the wrong, but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?"

          In other words, John has Jesus ask just the question I asked above. How did
          that question arise in the first place? It is perhaps conceivable that in
          the text of Mark that lay before John, the striking followed directly on the
          accusation, without the verdict intervening, and that John found just the
          difficulty in that sequence that I have admitted feeling. And that he
          expressed it in his admittedly very much recast narrative. I can't construct
          a text history of Mark as a physical object that makes room for this
          possibility, but maybe somebody else can. Assuming that it would help the
          present argument to do so.

          I guess my final question is: assuming that the passage in question is
          indeed not original, who put it in? I think I have been able to supply a
          theological motive for adding 14:28 and 16:7 to Mark, a motive that would
          apply to the proprietors of the Mark text, and to give evidence for the
          reality of that motive in early Christianity. Motive and opportunity. I
          don't as readily see a motive for the addition of 14:61b-64, with or without
          the seemingly related passages in Mk 15, and so I can't in this case readily
          visualize the act of interpolation.

          Anybody else have an opinion?

          Bruce

          E Bruce Brooks
          Warring States Project
          University of Massachusetts at Amherst
        • E Bruce Brooks
          To: Synoptic In Response To: Off-List Inquiry On: Mk 14:61b-64 From: Bruce I had suggested, as a counter to my own preferred view of the matter, that in the
          Message 4 of 4 , May 4, 2006
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            To: Synoptic
            In Response To: Off-List Inquiry
            On: Mk 14:61b-64
            From: Bruce

            I had suggested, as a counter to my own preferred view of the matter, that
            in the beating of Jesus before the Sanhedrin, John 18:21-23 might be
            explaining or rationalizing an anomaly that would arise if, as has been
            suggested, the blasphemy and sentencing passages Mk 14:61b-64 were not
            originally present in Mark, and thus that John's version of Mark might have
            lacked that passage, giving rise to the sequence Mk 14:61a directly followed
            by Mk 14:65 (beating not motivated or explained by prior conviction),
            creating a problem which we might perhaps see as solved in John (who
            supplies a different situation, and gives a motive for a single blow by one
            man).

            Preserving anonymity but responding to a suggestion:

            Q: Just a thought here. If John is not dependent on Mark, and if John
            preserves part of the more original reading there (prior to Mark and John),
            and adds to it as you have suggested, then Mk 14:61b-64 could be seen as an
            addition, but an addition made by the original author of Mark to his source
            material.

            A: My own impression is that the "order of events test" shows that John,
            insofar as it deals with events, is in the Markan tradition, so I am not
            inclined to grant the first "if." John strikes me as divergent, if not
            heretical, but still derivative. All four Gospels, as it seems to me, at
            least in their original form, followed the same sequence of major events,
            and the most efficient explanation of that commonality is that the later
            three got that sequence, such as it was, from Mark.

            The sequence of events in Mark is nothing to brag about, as is well known,
            and the later Evangelists may be excused for trying to improve on it, but
            excusable or no, I think that is what we see them doing.

            As I see the Synoptic picture, and of course there are other ways of seeing
            it, a source prior to Mark and John would be above all a source prior to
            Mark, and a source containing details of Jesus's appearance before the
            Sanhedrin would in addition be a *non-Sayings Source* prior to Mark. I
            noticed, in the previous thread, that some scholars assume a primitive
            Passion narrative behind Mark, and the suggestion to which I am here
            responding would seem to be along those lines. I am not convinced, but some
            substantial people have been, so suppose for a moment that this were the
            case. Suppose further that Mark is inaccurately reporting that source, and
            that John, coming later but still having that same source at his disposal
            (Heaven knows how, but we are agreeing to suppose it), is more accurately
            reporting that source. We would need to explain how the source in question
            survived over a good many years without being known to the intervening
            Evangelists, and also why Mark diverged from it in the way he did, but
            suppose those queries too can be met.

            Granting all this, then the situation we would have prior to Mark, at least
            in the majority opinion, is a Sayings Source over here, rigorously excluding
            all narrative, and a Passion Source over there, consisting of nothing but
            narrative. In other words, we would have the ingredients of a Gospel, all
            laid out like eggs for a cake, ready for someone to come along and see the
            possibility, but neither of the sources themselves realizing that
            possibility, and neither of them exerting the slightest influence on the
            general public, pending the arrival of one or more Synoptists to light the
            oven and bake the cake. I continue to have trouble with this picture. I
            think the phrase is deus ex machina, but one way or another, it looks like a
            construct designed to give the situation we see, but without a strong logic
            of its own.

            A WAY OF CONTRASTING ALTERNATIVES

            But that's just me. Is there a more objective way of deciding the matter? To
            put it in different terms, but terms still relevant to the question at hand:
            Can we decide whether Mark is a late and clumsily conflative document, or an
            early and inexpert document? I think so, and here is how I would proceed.

            Mark, as I see it, and I seem to have ample support from many close students
            of Mark over the past century, is a riot of different Christologies. Let's
            accept that for the moment. The question then is: How did it get that way?
            We don't need to posit only one process or pressure bearing upon Mark, but
            the majority options in my opinion are: (a) Mark copied indiscriminately and
            none too smoothly from a Christologically diverse set of pre-existing texts,
            none of them then attested or now extant; or (b) Mark itself took shape over
            a period of time, and was continually adjusted by its proprietors to include
            or at least acknowledge the Christology of the moment, beginning with some
            distinctly pre-Pauline views of the question, but ending with some details
            which in the opinion of many are not only Pauline, but *distinctively*
            Pauline (eg, as has often been pointed out, the Atonement Christology which
            is suddenly implicit in Mk 10:45, "ransom for many;" see also Mt 20:28 (||),
            1 Titus 2:6, and Revelation 5:9, and nowhere else in NT).

            So how can we distinguish between these possibilities? I would say: By
            noting the literary structure of Mark. If Mark is a continuous narrative,
            consequential but with a Christologically confused content, then option (a)
            looks good. If, on the other hand, it shows signs of interpolation, and if
            the interpolated material tends to correlate with Christological
            differences, then option (b) recommends itself. This, I suggest, puts the
            question in a form where it can be answered not by the exercise of
            imagination but by inspection of the text of Mark. I proceed to inspect the
            text of Mark.

            Or rather, to cite my previous inspection. I have earlier mentioned
            interpolation scars that tend to isolate certain passages in Mark, and
            pointed out that the intrusive material thus identified has a distinctive
            Christological character (the Appearances Doctrine; the Resurrection
            Doctrine, and as to the noninevitability of the Resurrection Doctrine,
            earlier discussed, may I here point out that Paul in 1 Cor 15:12f lambastes
            those who do not believe in the Resurrection Doctrine, this apparently
            proving, whether or not one agrees with Fitzmyer about Philippians 2, that
            there were Christians in early times who did not in fact accept the
            Resurrection Doctrine). That is, by removing one or another layers of text
            in Mark (layers defined by their interpolated quality, or their
            precariousness in context, and not by their content), one at the same time
            (a) increases the narrative concinnity of Mark, and (b) reduces the
            Christological confusion in Mark. That (b) is a result independent of and
            simultaneous with (a) seems to me to be a strong argument in favor of the
            validity of (a).

            Not everything that is weird in Mark needs to be amenable to this sort of
            solution, but where this solution does exist, I submit that it is
            philologically convincing: repair of the text along philologically suggested
            lines also reduces problems in the text which are of a purely substantive
            sort.

            That is how I would propose to judge between the alternatives above
            contrasted, and that is where I come out by applying the test in question.

            So, then: If the diversity in Mark is partly due to its having adjusted
            itself over time to different Christological conceptions, say from the years
            just after the Crucifixion to some time not long after the death of Paul,
            then the diversity in question is later than, not earlier than, the
            beginning layer, the textual core, of Mark; and Mark (or its first state) is
            the oldest document in the situation; it did not form itself late, and from
            a smorgasbord of previous and Christologically divergent, but yet
            unassembled, Gospel ingredients.

            I thus think that Lachmann was ultimately right on the main point, and that
            one of the big facts about the Synoptic situation, indeed, the Gospel
            situation, is that when the other Gospels report Markan events, they (or
            their first textual states) report them in Markan order, but when they
            include other events, they disagree among themselves as to the nature and
            sequence of those events. I would not call Mark the "middle term" in the
            situation (to me, that suggests a transitional state between A and B), but
            rather the common root of the situation, the point from which the later
            Gospels diverge.

            I think that the way Mark is implicitly viewed by the later Evangelists is
            in keeping with this suggestion. I would sum up their attitude this way:
            Mark is the oldest document of its type, and thus intrinsically deserving of
            respect, and as to its framework and not a little of its exact wording, in
            fact it gets respect. But Mark is also a very exasperating document, one
            which one's fingers itch to correct and improve and touch up and supplement,
            combing its hair and straightening its tie and chiding its solecisms and
            brushing the crumbs off its sweater, and in general making it more fit (as
            they would have seen it) for decent company. As for the attitude of one late
            Evangelist to the improvements in Mark made by *another* late Evangelist,
            well, it would not be printable if transcribed, and so I leave it off the
            page. But the contempt of Luke for his predecessors (to take only that
            example) is to me manifest in the Lukan Preamble, not to mention in every
            line that follows.

            *This,* he might have muttered blackly to himself as he dipped his pen in
            oak gall and acid, is how you do a *Gospel.*

            Respectfully reiterated,

            Bruce

            E Bruce Brooks
            Warring States Project
            University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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