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Re: [Synoptic-L] Cutting off the High Priest's Slave's Ear

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  • Stephen Carlson
    ... For me, the question of historicity is jumping the gun. Whether or not it happened, Mark s thought the account meant something to the immediate audience of
    Message 1 of 16 , Sep 23, 2013
      On Mon, Sep 23, 2013 at 12:48 PM, Ronald Price <ron-price@...> wrote:

      I wonder whether much of this discussion of the high priest's slave and his ear is missing the point, for the incident is unlikely to be historical.

       
      For me, the question of historicity is jumping the gun. Whether or not it happened, Mark's thought the account meant something to the immediate audience of the gospel. I want to know what that something is. For example, then Mark introduces the high priest's servant with the (definite) article, what would that have meant? When he narrates the mutilation of the ear, is that detail a big deal at the time or a minor bit of narrative color?
       
      Stephen
      --
      Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
      Post-Doctoral Fellow, Theology, Uppsala
    • E Bruce Brooks
      To: Synoptic On: Cut Off Ear From: Bruce Given the Markan narrative, Luke as usual corrects tiny inconcinnities. Readers of Mark might well ask, Hey. where is
      Message 2 of 16 , Sep 23, 2013

        To: Synoptic

        On: Cut Off Ear

        From: Bruce

         

        Given the Markan narrative, Luke as usual corrects tiny inconcinnities. Readers of Mark might well ask, Hey. where is this sword coming from all of a sudden? Luke answers that question, or rather prevents it from being asked, by inserting something further up in the story (Lk 22:35-38), when he has Jesus order his disciples (sic, this also deals with Mark’s ambiguous “one of those who stood by”) to sell their mantle and buy a sword. It turns out that there are two swords in the party, so that the instruction is actually superfluous, but anyway, we now know where the swords came from.

         

        This solves the question of how that sword came to be, and it also prevents puzzlement about whether it was some onlooker or one of the disciple group who entered the fray.

         

        Of course, narrative patches can do only so much. Luke leaves behind questions like, Why start swordfighting, if Jesus will immediately rebuke it, and order it to stop, and (nice Beloved Physician touch here) heal the damaged ear?

         

        In the end the episode remains puzzling. I should suspect that this is because it was not a mere piece of narrative in the first place, but at least in part a historically given datum: Jesus was arrested, but not after a scuffle, from which all those with Jesus managed to escape. Mark, who, as some of us including Loisy think, was on the scene when it happened, is probably doing what he can with it, but compared to free imagination, actual memories are somewhat resistant material.

         

        Bruce

         

        E Bruce Brooks

        Warring States Project

        University of Massachusetts at Amherst

         

         

      • Ronald Price
        ... Stephen, I ve already stated what I think Mark meant by the story. I suppose I could have added that his original audience probably accepted Mark s
        Message 3 of 16 , Sep 23, 2013
          Re: [Synoptic-L] Cutting off the High Priest's Slave's Ear Stephen Carlson wrote:

          For me, the question of historicity is jumping the gun. Whether or not it happened, Mark's thought the account meant something to the immediate audience of the gospel. I want to know what that something is. For example, then Mark introduces the high priest's servant with the (definite) article, what would that have meant? When he narrates the mutilation of the ear, is that detail a big deal at the time or a minor bit of narrative color?

          Stephen,

          I've already stated what I think Mark meant by the story. I suppose I could have added that his original audience probably accepted Mark's argument that Jesus was not a bandit/zealot.

          But the original audience of the gospel would have been mostly uneducated Christians who surely would not have cared two hoots about how many servants the high priest had, and even less about whether the mutilation would debar the servant from further priestly duties. Mark himself may not have known (or cared about) the answers to these questions.

          Thus I side firmly with the 'minor bit of narrative color' interpretation of TON DOULON and AFEILEN AUTOU TO WTARION.

          Ron Price,

          Derbyshire, UK

          http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
        • Ken Olson
          Stephen, I m not sure we can assume the reference was ever meaningful to anyone other than the author of Mark. I think he might be narrating the fulfillment of
          Message 4 of 16 , Sep 23, 2013
            Stephen,

            I'm not sure we can assume the reference was ever meaningful to anyone other than the author of Mark. I think he might be narrating the fulfillment of Zechariah 13.7 and possibly using that as jumping off point to bring in other OT texts (Zech. 11.17? Amos 3.12? Others?) through word associations that we can't entirely follow. Or at least I haven't been able to. 

            Best,

            Ken

            Ken Olson
            PhD Candidate, New Testament
            Duke University


            To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com
            From: stemmatic@...
            Date: Mon, 23 Sep 2013 14:14:37 +0200
            Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] Cutting off the High Priest's Slave's Ear

             

            On Mon, Sep 23, 2013 at 12:48 PM, Ronald Price <ron-price@...> wrote:
            I wonder whether much of this discussion of the high priest's slave and his ear is missing the point, for the incident is unlikely to be historical.
             
            For me, the question of historicity is jumping the gun. Whether or not it happened, Mark's thought the account meant something to the immediate audience of the gospel. I want to know what that something is. For example, then Mark introduces the high priest's servant with the (definite) article, what would that have meant? When he narrates the mutilation of the ear, is that detail a big deal at the time or a minor bit of narrative color?
             
            Stephen
            --
            Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
            Post-Doctoral Fellow, Theology, Uppsala

          • Stephen Carlson
            ... It s not important to me whether anyone actually understood Mark, but the article generally means that the reference is expected to be somehow meaningful
            Message 5 of 16 , Sep 23, 2013
              On Mon, Sep 23, 2013 at 6:17 PM, Ken Olson <kenolson101@...> wrote:
              I'm not sure we can assume the reference was ever meaningful to anyone other than the author of Mark. I think he might be narrating the fulfillment of Zechariah 13.7 and possibly using that as jumping off point to bring in other OT texts (Zech. 11.17? Amos 3.12? Others?) through word associations that we can't entirely follow. Or at least I haven't been able to. 

              It's not important to me whether anyone actually understood Mark, but the article generally means that the reference is expected to be somehow meaningful to his audience, as he conceives of them. To hold otherwise is to assert that he was incompetent in conveying what he wanted to convey. That is certainly a real possibility, but as three other writers also use the article to refer to this person, I don't think it can be chalked to an idiosyncrasy on Mark's part.

              Stephen
              --
              Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
              Post-Doctoral Fellow, Theology, Uppsala
            • David Mealand
              A while back David Hindley made several shrewd points including ... The criterion of embarrassment might suggest that the disciples of Jesus had at some point
              Message 6 of 16 , Sep 23, 2013
                A while back David Hindley made several shrewd points including
                this one:

                -----
                The criterion of embarrassment might suggest that the disciples of
                Jesus had at some point actually severed a man's ear during an
                altercation involving swords, then what do we make of Jesus and his
                disciples? Etc. Unfortunately, that problem may even be harder to
                deal with than the former ones.
                -----

                I agree that it is well worth asking what Mark thought the consequences
                were for the casualty, but it might also be worth not letting go of the
                fact that he narrates something with such inconvenient implications.
                I don't think I have read anything on this which offers a satisfactory
                resolution of the problem.

                David M.


                ---------
                David Mealand, University of Edinburgh


                --
                The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
                Scotland, with registration number SC005336.
              • Greg Crawford
                Perhaps the meaning of the event is much closer to the surface. It would seem a recurrent theme along the road to Jerusalem was that the disciples could not
                Message 7 of 16 , Sep 23, 2013

                  Perhaps the meaning of the event is much closer to the surface. It would seem a recurrent theme along the road to Jerusalem was that the disciples could not come to terms with the fact that Jesus was not a military messiah. After all, what messiah had not been a military leader until Jesus? If Jesus is travelling to Jerusalem for a showdown, the disciples would naturally think in military terms. Surely the power of the one who exercised a ministry in Galilee would enable them to overcome any kind of military deployment.

                  As for the failure to identify Peter as the culprit, I would not be grateful in his shoes if anyone did that before I had died.

                  Greg

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