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Levi

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  • E. Bruce Brooks
    Topic: Levi (was: The Twelve) From: Bruce In Response To: Philip Lewis Nobody seems to have picked up Philip s suggestion, but I found it fascinating. It was:
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 30, 1998
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      Topic: Levi (was: The Twelve)
      From: Bruce
      In Response To: Philip Lewis

      Nobody seems to have picked up Philip's suggestion, but I found it
      fascinating. It was:

      PHILIP (on my remark that an unnamed Four are better integrated into GMk
      than the seemingly exiguous Twelve): Allow me to point out that in GMark -
      and subsequently in GMatt and GLk - "the robust four" are mentioned as such
      only in the Call of the Four,
      Mk.1.16-20 and in Mk.13.3 where Peter, James, John and Andrew are named as
      the recipients of the apocalyptic discourse.

      BRUCE: Even here I don't find them mentioned "as such," that is, as a named
      group of Four. The callings in Mk 1:16-20 simply summon, in sequence what
      happens to add up to four individuals. The text does not indicate, other
      than by ceasing to summon others at this point, that they might constitute
      a closed group. In Mk 13:3 the four collectively ask Jesus about the world
      or end of world to come. That is an implicit, not named, group of Four, but
      it goes far to validate the implicit four of 1:16f as a narratively
      consequential Four.

      As to whether the Four are an extraneous concept imposed on the narrative,
      I take the mentions of individuals or subgroups from that set as evidence
      to the contrary. Peter, James, and John (omitting Andrew) in the Jairus
      healing, 5:37, the transfiguration, 9:2, and the Gethsemane vigil, 14:33.
      James and John asking a favor in 10:35. Peter alone, passim. That's what I
      meant by "narratively integrated." With the exception of Judas (elsewhere
      discussed), none of the new names on the list of Twelve counts for anything
      elsewhere in GMk. Of course, even the set of sayings involving the Four is
      subject to objection as part of an imposed layer. I wouldn't be averse to
      that suspicion; on the contrary, I would be interested in investigating it.
      Part of what follows is a beginning in that direction.

      PHILIP: One notes that in the Call of the Four, the call is to an
      eschatologically framed mission, punctuated in my analysis of the thematic
      structure of GMark by the first Son of man saying in the Gospel, "the Son
      of man has authority on earth to forgive sins," Mk.3.10.

      BRUCE: Mk 1:17 "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." If by
      eschatological you mean apostolic, I agree. If so, then this group is open
      to the same objection that applies to the Twelve: it looks ahead to a
      preaching mission that is not attested in, or at least in my terms not
      narratively integrated into, GMk. That could get interesting.

      PHILIP: And is it not strange that Levi is not named in the list of the
      Twelve, though he has been so designated in the Call at Mk.2.14?

      BRUCE: Ah, yes indeed. Levi's call at Mk 2:14 uses the same "follow me"
      phrase as the earlier four, though it does not go on to add "and I will
      make you an ingatherer of men." I don't see that he is designated as
      anything in that passage, but the parallel to the earlier four calls is, to
      me (and I might add, to the commentators), unmistakable. If we are keeping
      score, as readers of GMk, we will certainly say, OK, now we have five.

      Then comes the Calling of the Twelve, Mk 3:14f. This list does not include
      Levi, though it does include a Matthew (this name is substituted for Levi
      in the GMt parallel to Mk 2:14) and it does include a "son of Alphaeus,"
      whose given name unfortunately happens to be James. To which if any of
      these does the Levi of Mk 2:14 correspond? Famous conundrum.

      One answer, which is that of the Bezae, Koridethian [Tiflis], fam 13, and
      other MSS, as well as Tatian and other early church writers, is to
      substitute "James" for "Levi" in Mk 2:14. It would be so lovely if this
      were correct. Against it is precisely its convenience, the likelihood of
      harmonizing improvements in the later MSS, and the parallel Lk 5:27, which
      has Levi. It is probable that Lk 5:27 is later than, and thus preserves and
      attests, Mk, and why? Because in the following Mk 2:15 "and it came to
      pass, that he was sitting at meat in his house," the most natural implied
      antecedent of "his" is "Jesus." But did Jesus have a house? It nowhere else
      says so. It would be less baffling narratively if the house were that of
      Levi, since the point of that story is Jesus eating with publicans and
      sinners. What nicer if Levi invited Jesus to dinner in Levi's house? This
      is exactly what Lk 5:29 makes clear has happened. But this too is a
      harmonizing improvement (Jesus in Mk 2:14 is clearly summoning a disciple,
      not soliciting an invitation), and presumably obscures something which the
      inconsecutive Mk leaves exposed to other analysis. However, for present
      purposes, it does attest the presence of "Levi" in Lk's Markan source.
      Notice that GLk and CBezae are alike harmonizing a problematic Markan
      original, but unfortunately in individually unconvincing and mutually
      incompatible ways.

      The Matthean revision Levi > Matthew seems also a harmonization, rather
      than a plausible scribal correction. Rejected for the same reasons.

      That the same person had the names James and Levi is not supported by Mk
      (cf Mk 3:16 for the case of Peter). Rejected as ultimately a harmonizing
      hypothesis.

      So, at least for the present contributor, none of the harmonizations of Mk
      2:14 (Levi) with Mk 3:14f (Calling of the Twelve) work. Then,
      provisionally, the two cannot be harmonized, and are mutually antithetical
      in the text. Maybe we should leave Mk 2:14 alone for a moment and turn to
      3:14f. We there find lots more incongruities. Not only does 3:24f contain
      several names never elsewhere heard of in GMk, but of the analogous lists,
      exactly one each in the 4 Gospels, no two are identical. It seems fair, at
      least provisionally, to ascribe the incongruity between Mk 2:14 and 3:14 to
      problems with 3:14.

      Having gotten that far, how integral is Mk 2:14 iself in the Markan text?
      Exactly zero. Levi never recurs in the story; he is introduced only to
      vanish. He is introduced in a way (call to discipleship) that creates
      narrative inconsequentialities with the following dinner scene (acceptance
      of hospitality), and he never appears later in the text, alone or in
      combination with other named followers. For that matter, no *single*
      disciple except Peter (and, if you like, Judas) appears by themselves in Mk
      at any point after their first introduction. So, as Philip asks, what are
      we to make of this?

      Passing Judas for the moment, my personal impression of GMk as so far
      considered is: (1) the Twelve in 3:14f are a red herring; an introduction
      at odds with other Markan material which there is reason to believe may
      have been earlier, (2) the Four in Mk must, as Philip reminds us, probably
      be taken instead as the Five, with Levi only a little less recurrent than
      Andrew in latter incidents involving named disciples. (3) That amounts to
      saying that the Five are not well developed in the text as we have it,
      which is to say that the text as we have it is not a fully finished
      literary narrative. I don't love that implication, but I can live with it
      if I have to, and it looks as if I am going to have to.

      ADDENDUM. Any consideration of Fives and Twelves in GMk sooner or later
      comes to the details of the two Feeding Miracles. These are the more
      mysterious because of the treatment they receive in the Jesuine explication
      of Mk 8:18f. Which deals not with the implied supernatural power which they
      attest (or so I feel, with absolutely every commentator I have so far
      consulted on the other side), but with the numerical details they contain.
      The Five may be alluded to in the Five Loaves of the 5000 miracle. Or
      rather the Mk 6:35f miracle. Not to go through an inductive process this
      late in the message, my scenario is the following:

      (1) At one time, only Mk 6:35f was present in the text. It did not specify
      the size of the crowd. It fed the crowd (symbolic meaning: supplied its
      religious lack and need) with five loaves (symbolizing the Five Apostles)
      and producing a superabundance (the Twelve Baskets, symbolizing an entire
      Israel).

      (2) Later on, the Mk 8:1f parallel story was added, perhaps as part of a
      series of doublets and tropes on earlier material, perhaps not, I am not
      looking at that much material at this moment. Its intent was to convert the
      given and unalterable symbolism of Mk 6:35f so as to produce not Five but
      Twelve [loaves =] Apostles. This it did by having seven loaves in the added
      miracle. Then the author was confronted by the question of how many baskets
      to have at the end. Given that, a two-miracle total of 12 + x is
      constrained. The total of 19 baskets for two miracles seems to me a
      symbolically void number, hence the intentional symbol must be the 7
      baskets. 7 is a pretty good symbolic number; 19 is the unavoidable
      consequence of having opted for it.

      There is a way this symbolic suggestion can be tested. There was no
      narrative need to mention the size of the crowd, and the 6:35f miracle did
      not, I think, originally do so. That figure is given in the afterthought
      passage 6:44 (it is, with more narrative cogency, transferred to the head
      of the story in the Lk parallel; another case of Lk improving on the
      literary finish of Mk). It is, presumably by symmetry, a final statement
      also in Mk 8:9 (no Lk parallel; cf Great Omission thread). But these
      numbers too are focused on by Jesus in Mk 8:18f. They must, singly or
      together, have had some meaning that a reader of that layer of the text
      could realistically be imagined as detecting (once attention was drawn to
      it).

      What, then, could have been the import of 5,000 + 4,000 = 9,000? It is
      allowable that 5,000 did not stand in the first miracle in its original
      form, and that both are supplied in the later text layer containing the
      second miracle. There would then be no constraint from the first miracle;
      the second author can freely supply both details. Why would he have chosen
      just these ones?

      Here, as a reminder, is the inventory of details:

      5 loaves / 5 thousand people / 12 baskets left over
      7 loaves / 4 thousand people / 7 baskets left over

      Any suggestions (or, as usual, refutations) will be appreciated.

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks / University of Massachusetts
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