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Re: [Synoptic-L] Mk 14:61b-64

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  • 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 1 of 4 , May 4 2:19 AM
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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 2 of 4 , May 4 4:50 AM
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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 3 of 4 , May 4 9:39 PM
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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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