A case for pMark
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BRUCE: Not exactly. The larger sequence of items seems to be:
6:6b. Jesus goes about the country preaching
6:7-13 Jesus sends the Twelve to go about the country preaching
6:14-16. Herod thinks that Jesus is John redivivus
6:17-29. Explanation of Herod's previous murder of John
6:30. Return of the Twelve
Herod at 6:14 looks past the Twelve, tramping all over his country, and
Reacts only to the preaching of Jesus. That is, he ignores the Sending of
The Twelve. This is exactly what happens in the most obvious and most widely
Acknowledged of all Markan interpolations: 14:28 and 16:7 (someone in the
Following passage responds to something of the previous passage, entirely
Ignoring the thing in the middle). Then the chief lesson to be drawn from
This material is that the Sending of the Twelve is an interpolation. Since
The Twelve contradict the idea of Five Disciples (the ones which are called
Individually in Mark; see my SBL presentation of some years back), those two
Accounts of the selection of an inner circle cannot both be true. Of them,
The seeming interpolation is highly likely to be a later improvement in the
Well, I think I have argued quite specifically that 6:30 follows 6:7-13
across all the material related to Herod and John. The interlocking is
detailed and specific.
No, euthus is not unique to Mark, and I mentioned that it is not. But it
is relatively extremely excessive: Matt: 5; Luke: 1; John; 3; Mark: 42!
I have to say that I think you err not to conclude that we have in euthus
and marker of the Markan redaction.
16 As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew,
the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea ; for they were fishermen.
17 And Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers
of men." 18 *Immediately* *they left their nets and followed Him. 19 Going
on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother,
who were also in the boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately* *He called
them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired
servants, and went away to follow Him. 21 They went into Capernaum ; and
immediately* *on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach.
22 They were amazed* *at His teaching ; for He was teaching them as one
having authority, and not as the scribes. *
As for the assigning of the call of the Twelve verses the call of the Five,
with the latter, euthus is used no less than three time in 6 verses. So
also is the much repeated "amazement" motif, which I take as another
indicator of Markan redaction. As for Levi's call, it does not use the
adverb, but certainly describes Levi as immediately following Jesus:
Levi (Matthew) Called
14 As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax
booth, and He said to him, "Follow Me!" And he got up and followed Him.
So I suppose we are just differing on the Herodian-Baptizer material in
chapter 6. In sum, my arguments are the integration of v 30 with 6-13 and
the presence of the excessive use of the adverb euthus within my suspected
EBB: The dissonance is exactly the problem. The ideal situation with an
Interpolation is that when it is removed, the rest of the text closes up
Seamlessly, like a healed wound. This does not obtain in all cases, since
There may have been smoothing at the edges by the interpolator. But the case
Is stronger if that feature is present. It is not present in this case.
LMB: How not? My understanding accomplishes exactly what you have described.
EBB: The John story, if present, helps to make the sequence smoother. If
Absent, it reveals a lack of finish. If we take the John piece as original
(albeit stylistically aberrant, given its outside origin), then our account
Gives a smoother text. This is an advantage.
As I see it, the smoothness is restored by eliminating all the material
between vv 14-29. So we are both arguing to the same end but by different
EBB: Mk 13 is perhaps somewhat longer, not to mention the Empty Tomb sequel.
But an interpolation can be any length. The point here, I think, is that the
Reader dissonance arises from taking the John piece out, not from putting it
In. See above.
Yes, I understand but again disagree which position here better restores a
Yes, Mark 13 may be as lengthy or more and perhaps also the burial and
empty tomb episodes combined. But as you note, the length of the insertion
is not of fundamental importance here.
EBB: Euripides does not always follow what Aristotle thinks is a perfect
Tragedy (I seem to recall that Aristotle had Sophocles chiefly in mind). But
The idea that Mark has Aristotle in mind surely requires prior
Demonstration. Some have thought he had Homer in mind. The unspoken
Assumption is that Mark regarded Jesus' death as a tragedy. I don't think
The text itself bears this out. Mark has contrived to make the seeming
Defeat of Jesus' death into a triumph. The question is: exactly what kind of
Triumph? This question may not lead to an Aristotelian answer, but I
Recommend it none the less on that account.
Find the Poetics here if you wish to consult it:
I posted this previously, but here are my form-critical arguments toward
PN's genre as an Aristotelian tragedy:
An Aristotelian tragic hero must have four characteristics:
- Nobleness (of a noble birth) or wisdom (by virtue of birth).
- *Hamartia* (translated as tragic flaw, somewhat related to hubris, but
denoting excess in behavior or mistakes).
- A reversal of fortune (*peripetia*) brought about because of the hero's
- The discovery or recognition that the reversal was brought about by the
hero's own actions (*anagnorisis*).
Note also that Aristotle's tragic hero was developed in the history of the
genre. Here is a list of certain refinements and additions to Aristotle's
original definition of the tragic hero:
Other common traits as developed in later tragedies:
Hero must suffer more than he deserves.
Hero must be doomed from the start, but bear no responsibility for
possessing his flaw.
Hero must be noble in nature, but imperfect so that the audience can see
themselves in him.
Hero must have discovered his fate by his own actions, not by things
happening to him.
Hero must see and understand his doom, as well as the fact that his fate
was discovered by his own actions.
Hero's story should arouse fear and empathy.
Hero must be physically or spiritually wounded by his experiences, often
resulting in his death.
Ideally, the hero should be a king or leader of men, so that his people
experience his fall with him.
The hero must be intelligent so he may learn from his mistakes.
From this perspective, it is all the more convincing that the author of PN
is conveying a Roman, Gentile perspective as opposed to the Jewish
apocalyptic thought as he presents tragically betraying Jesus. It is hardly
surprising that a Roman perspective would see this Jewish belief as bogus,
just as many today find a Fundamentalist view of the reality of the Second
Coming to be quite debunked.
According to PN, Jesus experienced both *peripetia *and *anagnorisis *and
from the perspective of PN, his* hamartia* or grandiose claim was that he
thought he was a fictional, mythological figure, the apocalyptic Son of Man
of Daniel 7:13-14.
It is, I think, agreed on all sides that Psa 22 is all over the Crucifixion
Account, and is meant to be heard in the background (movie music; what my
Cinema friends call nondiegetic) as an aid to understanding the foreground
Narrative. Accepting that, what does Psa tell us, not about Jesus, but about
Mark's interpretation of Jesus' life and death?
I I regard that "supernatural" fulfillment of Psalm 22 to be Markan
additions, as I do the darkness at the sixth hour and the renting of the
veil. However, I regard that prayer Jesus quoted as an authentic saying of
Jesus. With due caution, I find that it satisfies certain traditional
authentic saying criteria such as dissimilarity, embarrassment, orality,
and diction (lamah sabachthani is good Aramaic). However, eloi does not
back-translate into Hebrew or Aramaic. The vowel of the first syllable
should be a-class, not i-class as the Greek has it. In fact, that this word
should be seized upon and mocked shows that there is something wrong with
it, or so I interpret. Nor is this an overly subtle interpretation
according to Aristotle, who discusses the proper use of diction down to the
proper use of vowels.
What I think is going on is this: Jesus tried to pronounce 'elohi (which by
the way is not a quotation of the Hebrew, which has 'eli. Hence Matthew
corrects to the Psalm). But due to a lack of breath, he could not pronounce
the he and so only managed a "soft breathing, eloi. In Greek, this comes
down to a lack of a rough breathing mark over the omega. Such detail very
much speaks to the subtle Aristotelian detail supplied by PN. It is most
pathetic that Jesus did not have the breath to properly address his god.
Would he regard his mistake as blasphemy. I am not sure. That he realized
his mistake is by his despairing retreat to his vernacular Aramaic. What is
more, his final loud cry is not some objective description of just what
happened. In the subtle artfulness of the narrative, Jesus "received" an
answer to his prayer which was, "Because you are not the Messiah." Hence a
loud cry of stemming from this anagnorisis. He finally had to face, as the
good tragic hero that he was, a painful and most absurd anagnorisis that
the unthinkable was true, that he was wrong; that John was wrong; but as
certain as his most imminent death itself. In this way, PN portrays Jesus
as a most pathetic tragic hero. He was not the Messiah, and his Jewish
messianism was equally bogus. But he was truly a Roman "divine man."
This portrayal of Jesus in PN stands in the sharpest opposition to what the
Markan redaction teaches, not only with the addition of the burial and
empty tomb episodes, but also with typical repetition (another Markan
stylistic marker), the thrice predicted passion, death and resurrection.
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
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? My suspicion is that
Matthew more or less summarizes what was portrayed in narrative form:
saw him, they worshiped him,
What was said I strongly suspect was that they were greatly astonished, but
of course, according to Mark's man at the tomb. He they would have just
believed what Jesus had claimed, they would not be astonished, even though
his claim, was most astonishing!
All in all, my main point s that PN and pMark have a radically
non-Christian, non-Messianic assessment of Jesus. To a very great contrast,
Mark is all about a Christian understanding of who and what Jesus was, a
view that is older than Paul as is evident from the pre-Pauline hymn in
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- 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