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8602Re: [XTalk] Dating of GMark

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  • Brian Trafford
    Dec 3, 2001
      First of all, thank you to those that have commented on the tomb of
      Simon and ALexander in Jerusalem. I would agree that it is not
      possible to say with any certainty that these are the same men
      mentioned in Mark, but at the same time, given that Simon is
      obviously a Jewish name, while Alexander (and Rufus) are clearly
      Roman names, we need not assume that it was excessively common for a
      Jewish father to name his sons accordingly. On this basis the weight
      of the evidence increases on the side of claiming the two sources
      speak of the same individuals, but the evidence is in no way
      conclusive.

      Now, about Michael's comments:

      --- In crosstalk2@y..., "Michael A. Turton" <turton@e...> wrote:

      > There are at least three plausible conclusions about these
      characters:
      {Snip}

      Actually, there are virtually unlimited possibilities as to what
      happened, and how these names came to appear in Mark's Gospel. But
      as with all hypothesis, we tend to favour the simplest explanations,
      unless the evidence tells us that this solution cannot be correct.
      In this specific instance, accepting that Alexander and Rufus were
      minor, but known characters in Mark's community strikes me as both
      plausible, and simple. No elaborate and increasingly complex
      theories need be advanced. On this basis, historicity is preferred to
      non-historicity.

      To use a mundane example, if we find a document with a few names
      mentioned on it, we can always theorize ad infinitum as to whether or
      not these people are real, or if they are using their real names, but
      in the absense of actual evidence against their reality, the only
      reason to reject this possibility is the need to be sceptical. This
      is not good reasoning in my view.

      Later I wrote:
      > > And this is a red herring. Concerning the question being
      discussed, it makes no difference if John is true or not. At most you
      are trying

      Michael replied:
      > The question being discussed is whether Simon of Cyrene is a
      > historical character! If he is a historical character and Mark is
      > properly using him, why isn't he in John? You bet this basic
      > contradiction is relevant to the discussion at hand.

      Michael, your straight black and white question is not warranted
      here. We do not know why John excluded Simon from his Gospel. Again
      we can speculate, but we cannot, and should not, treat this argument
      from John's silence as necessarily being a contradiction. Many, like
      Raymond Brown, have speculated that it did not fit in with John's
      theology to have someone else carry Jesus' cross, so he omitted this
      detail. Given that Simon has no significance or role in any other NT
      books, this is not a glaring omission on his part.

      Remember that my arguments have never questioned the fact that the
      evangelists, including Mark, had theological reasons for writing what
      they did, and including the details they chose. The question here is
      simply one of simplicity, probability and plausiblity. At the end of
      the day, the most plausible, probable, and simplest explanation for
      the inclusion of Simon and (especially his sons) in Mark's Gospel is
      that Mark and his readers knew these people personally.

      > Which account is the correct account, and how can you choose
      between them?

      Evaluating the evidence and using criteria is what historical inquiry
      is all about. Using the criteria you have listed in your replies
      would leave us knowing nothing about virtually anything in history.
      This may be your preferred method, but it is hardly good historical
      inquiry. After all, one can always be sceptical about anything. The
      trick is to come up with a good hypothesis that accounts for the data
      that we do happen to have.

      Brian Trafford
      Calgary, AB, Canada
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