RE: [Synoptic-L] A case for pMark
- To: Synoptic
In Response To: Ron
I have not inspected the specifics of the Barré proposal. Taking instead the
line of development implied by the Yarbro Collins "Pre-Markan Passion
Narrative," and regarding our present Mark as the other end of that
particular line, and recalling that my own reconstruction of an accretional
Mark is in that category (it dovetails with hers, while providing other
accretional stages), I here respond to Ron's objections as directed at all
reconstructions of that type.
RON: This hypothetical underlying narrative seems to me to lack credibility
because there is no patristic mention of such a document,
BRUCE: If there was an original form of Mark (not a source, but the earliest
connected Markan Gospel), then whatever its extent, it has been submerged in
the later versions, and not preserved as a text in its own right. That the
Patres (of whom I take it that Clement of Rome, end of 1c, is the earliest)
had not seen it is thus not surprising. Not even Mark's congregation in
Alexandria would have seen it. It's like the first version of Tchaikovsky's
Piano Concerto; it has vanished under the revisions. It is not there any
more. The adult wholly replaces the previous child in the physical scheme of
RON: it has no distinguishable literary style (as you appear to have
BRUCE: One would have to inspect a specific reconstruction to make any firm
statements. But I doubt if there is anything decisive in this category.
Thus, if Mark himself oversaw the expansion of the Gospel that now goes
under his name, then (a) there is no surprise if he retained something of
his own style in his later additions. Even if (b) we are dealing with, say,
successive heads of some Palestinian cell group of Jesus followers, each of
whom supervised one set of additions and expansions to the house version of
the Jesus story, there is nothing to be wondered at if they maintained at
least the more obvious features of a style which had already become second
nature to both readers and hearers in that church. It would have been
somewhat nonfunctional to have done otherwise. (Some of the known
deuteroPauline stuff is also, from one viewpoint or another, convincingly
Pauline - Ephesians has been called the most perfect of all the Pauline
texts). (c) Actually, Adela Yarbro Collins asked me just that question,
about six years ago, in a regional SBL meeting a year after my outline
presentation of an accretional Mark. The answer at that time was that, in
fact, some of the often cited features of Markan style (the most often
mentioned of which is the perpetual EUQUS) either vanish, or recede to more
normal NT frequency of use, in what I have identified as the latest layers.
Might the style of a writer shed some of its youthful vehemence and
breathlessness as that writer grows older? So it has often been thought,
though again there is no basis for a firm expectation either way. What all
this comes to is that we could account for an accretional text whose style
stays relatively constant over the 15 years of the process, and we could
with equal comfort account for an accretional text whose style seems to
remain very constant over the same period. There is thus no criterion either
RON: and (I suspect) no clear Sitz im Leben.
BRUCE: It would depend on specifics, and none seem to be before us. It seems
to me that the Gospel of Mark as we have it has a very clear Sitz im Leben.
It was compiled by somebody in Jerusalem, who knew Peter and the other
leading Jesus followers, but was not altogether clear about the geography of
Galilee, and who got some of his material from first or close second-hand
observation (he had friends at the Crucifixion, whom he names, and he and
his mother may conceivably have witnessed the Baptism, or anyway heard John
preach). As for why this Gospel was written, it seems to have been written
to answer the urgent question, arising about 72 hours after the Crucifixion:
Why did Jesus die? What does his death mean for the movement? For me
The idea that it took 40 years, or almost two human generations, before that
question arose among the Jesus followers, strikes me as the least plausible
notion that ever came down the pike. Texts are written for reasons, and
crises of faith or followership are surely among the stronger imaginable
reasons. Mark, even in its final form, looks to me like something with that
purpose. That the answer to the question to which it first addressed itself
evolved over the next 15 years is nothing very wonderful (and there is
outside evidence for it, both textual and anecdotal). The interest of an
accretional Earliest Gospel, if it can be identified, would thus be extreme,
since it might register the several stages of evolving Jesus theory during
the lifetimes of the first followers. This would be a new chapter in the
long but seemingly indeterminate history of Gospel Study.
Given the possible benefit, it seems to me that efforts to recover a text
formation process behind the text of Mark might well be encouraged. Not that
all the ones so far work out very convincingly. There is always a danger of
trying to extend a valid insight, like that of von Soden or Wendling or
Taylor, too far too fast. But what is posterity for, if not to gently
correct errors and rescue wayward developments from perhaps productive
initial insights, and turn them back in a better direction?
Hint from experience, for any who may be inclined to take it up: the life
and especially the theological metamorphoses of Paul may be one of our best
hints as to the nature of changing theological ideas among the earliest
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
- To: Synoptic
In Response To: L M Barré
LMB: I have to say that I think you err not to conclude that we have in
euthus and marker of the Markan redaction.
EBB: Euthus is characteristic of Mark, but whether of redaction (editing of
prior material) or composition (authorial material) I think we cannot say.
There is also the question, not separately examined, of whether euthus is
equally typical of the later material in Mark. The answer according to my
own investigation is: not as much so. But there are also themes and modes in
what I take to be original mark where euthus (immediacy in narrative) would
not apply in any case, and if late Mark is turning to those questions (eg,
how soon will the Second Coming be), then the style change is simply an
artifact of the topic change. The continuing authorship or proprietorship of
the single author (call him Mark or whatever) is not precluded.
LMB: . So also is the much repeated "amazement" motif, which I take as
another indicator of Markan redaction.
EBB: Again, I sort of agree, and have used that test myself, following Dwyer
1996 (though I think it is possible to refine his data set). But again,
there are types of material in Mark that do not invite that motif. It would
take more precision to make "amazement" an indicator of Markan vs
LMB: but also with typical repetition (another Markan stylistic marker), the
thrice predicted passion, death and resurrection.
EBB: I agree with Yarbro Collins that the triplets (and I would add,
including the Passion Predictions) are late in Mark. I would not call them
non-Markan, but they are a device of style which occurred to the late Mark,
and were not present in the relatively straightforward early Mark.
LMB: Let me here add that I think that the ending of Mark is indeed lost and
that the current ending in 16:8 is not deliberate. The reason why it is
noted that the women said nothing, is to prepare for the Great Astonishment,
that Jesus was alive. This would be all the more shocking because they were
unaware of the empty tomb "information" due to the women's silence.
EBB: I agree that 16:8 was not meant to be the end of Mark, and that our
text is artificially abbreviated. Matthew's supplied ending owes details to
other texts, and does not come from his seeing a more complete version of
Mark (there was none in his time), but is a good normal guess at what the
ending might have contained, at least on the circumstantial level.
LMB: In the logic of the story of Mark's redaction, the predicted appearance
in Galilee is not particularly freighted. Where else would they go but home?
Where more appropriate for Jesus to meet up with them?
EBB: I think weight must be given to the pair of interpolations I mentioned
earlier: 14:28 and 16:7. These predict that the disciples will see Jesus in
Galilee. What if the story had continued without those predictions?
Evidently in the way that the insertions predict: they would see Jesus in
Galilee. What then do the predictions add? Simply this: Jesus's
foreknowledge of that event. Without that element, Jesus's appearance would
have been a surprise, not only to the disciples, but to Jesus himself. The
prediction puts him back in control, has him fully anticipating, and thus
fully accepting, the end of his life and its sequel.
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst