8626Re: [XTalk] Dating of GMark
- Dec 3, 2001Hello Ted
Thank you for the response.
--- In crosstalk2@y..., "Ted Weeden" <weedent@e...> wrote:
> If the prophecies originated with Jesus, and those prophecies by
the time of writing of Mark, as you propose, had not been fulfilled,
does that not still subject Jesus "to the charge of false prophecy."
Yes it does, and this is exactly my point. As Grant and others
argue, the most plausible explanaition for why Mark and the
evangelists would carefully preserve embarrassing details of what
Jesus said and did is because they were too deeply ingrained in the
Christian memory for them to remove them. On this basis, the sayings
go back to Jesus himself, and the usefulness of using the Olivet
Discourse to date the Synoptics disappears.
> I have difficulty seeing how Jesus is any less subject "to the
charge of false prophecy" if the prophecies originated with him than
he is if the prophecies have been falsely ascribed to him.
Jesus would remain subject to a charge of giving false prophecies in
both scenarios. Under the theory of those that say Mark invented
this prophecy, he is needlessly ascribing an embarrassing non-
fulfilled prophecy to the man he considers to be the Messiah. That
is highly unlikely, and the simpler and more plausible explanaition
is that Jesus did offer these sayings himself, and the community
already knew about them.
> With regard to whether Jesus would have uttered
> such prophecies to begin with, I, with many other Jesus scholars,
> do not think that the historical Jesus was an apocalyptist and,
> therefore, I do not consider the apocalyptic sayings attributed to
> him to be authentic..
This is fine Ted, but the Synoptics clearly portray Jesus as an
apocalytist. Your reasoning here is merely circular. You say Jesus
was not an apocalyptist, so the sayings that make him an apocalyptist
are not historical.
> Much pure invention is put into the Gospels and attributed to
> Jesus. Most Jesus scholars today recognize that a number of the
> sayings attributed to Jesus are "pure invention" of his followers
> post facto.
Most scholars have believed a great many things that are simply false
Ted. Therefore such an appeal to authority and concensus is not a
legitimate argument. We should evaluate each saying in its context,
and make determinations one by one. As you know, I can point to many
scholars that agree with me, so this kind of argument will get us no
> of such pure invention, to name some among many of them in the
> Gospels, in my view, are the discourse of Jesus in John 13-16 and
> the prayer in John 17.
Well, one can hardly use supposed invention in John to justify belief
in invention in Mark on totally different sayings. I could just as
easily say that George Washington never said or did "X" because he
never cut down a cherry tree. I'm sure you can see the fallacy in
> My response:
> Mark is not the first early Christian given to hyperbole. Mark and
> other Christians at the time the Roman-Jewish War must have felt
> like their whole world was either at war or threatened with war
> (see below on my location of the Markan community). Likewise with
> respect to the evangelization of the world, I consider this again
> to be Markan hyperbole.
But your conclusion here is merely question begging. The Christians
could very well have felt like this at ANY time, so trying to say
that the Jewish War HAD to be the image in the mind of Mark and the
other evangelists is quite poor argumentation. You can argue that
the apocalyptic visions found in Peter's statements in Acts are pure
invention as well, but this is simply more speculation. As Wallace
pointed out, if Peter and other disciples were apocalyptists from the
beginning of their ministry (a posibility we cannot dismiss,
especially given Paul's own apocalyptic tendencies, and we have no
evidence of conflict on this point in the early Church), then we
cannot use your argument in order to ascribe a late date to Mark or
any of the other Synoptics.
> > c) In verse 14 we are told of the `abomination that causes
> > desolation' standing where it does not belong"... but I think it
> > is far more likely
> > that he is referring specifically to the apocalyptic language
> > found in Daniel 9:27. Whether this reference originates with
> > Jesus, or with Mark, one can hardly use it as a means to date
> > Mark to a post 70 time frame.
> My response:
> Are you familiar with Joel Marcus' article, "The Jewish War and the
> *Sitz im Leben* of Mark" (_JBL_, 1992: 441-462) and his
> interpretation of 13:14 and its historical allusion to the
> occupation of the Temple by Eleazer and other Zealots during the
> winter 67-68 CE, and also the links between Josephus' account of
> the time and Mark 13? I think that Marcus' scenario fits well
> with the struggle that the Markan community is facing as a result
> of the Roman-Jewish War, and I recommend it to you for your
I am unfamiliar with this work. At the same time, I would not mind
if you would actually address my own argument. Mark uses Hebrew
Scripture more than once in his Gospel. This is a fact. We know for
a fact that the saying "son of man" is found in Daniel, and may well
have inspired Mark (and/or Jesus' own) use of the term. More
importantly, the saying "abomination that causes desolation" is found
in the apocalyptic writings of Daniel 9:27. It is very reasonable to
assume that Mark is quoting from this specific source, just as he
quotes from Psalm 22 in Jesus' death cry for example. I am puzzled
as to why you dismiss such a possibility so readily.
> As Mahlon Smith has suggested in a post-response to your argument
> for a Roman provenance for the Gospel, I find little convincing
> support for Mark being written at Rome (see below on Peter as
> source for Mark), and have argued instead for the Markan community
> being located in the village area of Caesarea Philippi (see my
> Xtalk essay of 2/29/00 in the XTalk archives, "Guidelines for
> Locating the Markan Community,"
This is interesting Ted, but as you will see from my own post, I do
not depend on Mark being written in Rome to advance my argument.
Peter may or may not have stood behind the Gospel, for example, but I
do not accept the persecution of Christians by Nero as a *necessary*
causal factor in Mark's Gospel, and *that* was my reason for bringing
in this argument (largely based on Griffith-Jones). Quite frankly,
location of writing can, at best, have only a peripheral impact on
any debate on dates of the gospels in any case.
> Caesarea Philippi had a significant observant Jewish ghetto, which
> could have been the source of some of the tension between the Markan
> Christians and the Jewish ghetto.It also helps account in part for
> the anti-Judean position, as well as anti-Temple position, which
> Mark takes.
Since I do not accept that Mark is anti-Judean (or at least anti-
Semitic, assuming you mean the same thing by this), then I do not see
the relevance of this argument at all. Further, it is your
speculations that are serving as the very evidence for your
arguments, and this is not sound historical research.
> I also would argue that the Jerusalem church fled to Caesarea
Philippi as the Roman assault on Jerusalem appeared imminent. The
admonition to flee to the mountains in Mk. 13: 14, in my opinion is a
historical allusion to these Judean Christians who fled to the
And I would argue that it is more plausible that Mark is alluding to
Isaiah 17:13 or Zachariah 14:5 where we have similar images of
disaster and fleeing to the mountains. Remember, with apocalyptic
literature we need not look for literalism to find the meaning behind
the text. More often than not, the author wants to draw the readers
attention to other, earlier, well known and respected visions that
are similar in nature. If these are found in Hebrew Scripture (as is
the case with Isaiah and Zachariah), then its appeal to the author
and reader alike is greatly enhanced.
> My response:
> Given Mark's vendetta against Peter and the Twelve, as I have
> articulated in my _Mark-Traditions in Conflict_, I find it
> inconceivable that Peter is a source for Mark. Unless Peter is in
> to assassination of his own character, I do not see how it is
> possible that Peter could be the source of the negative profile
> Mark gives him, a profile that Matthew and Luke try
> assiduously to correct..
Since I again reject the very premise of your argument (that Mark had
a vendetta going against Peter and the Twelve), then your argument
carries no real weight here. Quite simply, it is not uncommon for a
person to say that they were foolish in the past, but now have "seen
the light" literally or figuratively. Paul did this himself in his
own letters (1 Cor. 15:9 among others)! Your reasoning here is
especially weak. I see this as a side issue to that of dating GMark,
however, so if you wish to argue this point, I would be happy to do
so in a new thread.
> > 4) Simon, Father of Alexander and Rufus
> I am agreement with Mahlon's position that, while one cannot prove
or disprove the historicity of the Simon of Cyrene, Alexander and
Rufus (Mk. 15:21), I think they may well be literary inventions of
Mark, much the same as Judas (as I have argued in several essays on
XTalk and still plan one to answer critiques of my position) and
Barabbas and others likely were.
And this is the final example of a question begging argument. I do
not see that Judas was an invention, nor, even if he was, would I see
this as having any bearing on this point. The Twelve clearly *were*
legendary, and the arguments that they were not historical can be
made on that basis. NOTHING in the Simon traditions, nor those of
his sons in particular, bear any such legendary elements. As I
explained to Michael previously, to see these as pure invention is
being unnecessarily sceptical, and requires the construction of much
more complex theories to explain their presense. The simple fact of
the matter is that there is no theological motive for Mark to include
this man, and John appears to eliminate references to him because of
the embarrassment it causes. Quite frankly, when I encounter this
kind of scepticism, I am left to wonder what would satisfy the
sceptic. After all, if it embarrassing, the sceptic will argue that
it is probably an invention (see your argument on the Olivet
Discourse), and if it is not embarrassing, it serves a theological
motive, and, again, it is not historical.
Out of curiousity, what is the criteria you use to decide that
anything in the Gospels is probably historical? Or do you simply
rule all of it to be an invention?
> By the way in a study of the frequency or lack of frequency of
names in the time of Jesus, Margaret Williams, in her
essay, "Palestinian Jewish Personal Names in Acts," in _The Book of
Acts in Its Palestinian Setting_, finds that "Simon" is "[a]
perennial favourite with Jews, especially those in Greek-speaking
areas...and the commonest male name by far in 1st-century
Yes, I am aware of this, and the name Simon is, in fact, very common
in the NT as well. I have never disputed this point.
> And she notes with respect to "Alexander " (ALEZANDROS), a
> Greek name (contra your statement that it is a Roman name in your
> 12/3 post),
You are correct. My apoligies. Alexander is, indeed Greek, and as
you note, Rufus is Roman. You help to make my actual point below
> that it was not a name commonly used "among 1st-century Jews despite
> its earlier popularity there in aristocratic circles. Most of the
> (1st-century) individuals of the name mentioned by Josephus belong
> to the royal family and all but one of those occuring on the
> Jerusalem ossuaries came from the Diaspora" [She cites Avigad and
> Sukenik ("Jewish Tomb") at this point]. She goes on to say: "In
> the Diaspora, its [the name "Alexander " ] fortunes were mixed.
> Egypt and Cyrene there is only a scattering of cases and in Greece
> and Asia Minor not many at any time" (96f.). Josephus mentions
> four men with the name "Rufus," none of them Jews:, namely, a Roman
> calvary commander, a consul, an Egyptian who is a soldier in the
> Roman army, and the Roman procurator of Judea
> (12-15 CE).
Agreed, and this, in my view, strengthens the argument for the
historicity of the names Alexander and Rufus found in Mark. In the
ossuary we have a known "Alexander, son of Simon" dating from the 1st
Century, and *if* such a name was not common, then it is more
probable that the tomb is that of the man mentioned in Mark. As
Mahlon argues, it is the rarity of the name Pantera that leads him to
believe it is likely to be the same person referred to in the anti-
Christian propaganda. On this basis, the rarity of the name
Alexander, son of Simon in Jewish ciricles would make it more
probable that the man in the tomb and the one in the Gospel are the
> I may have missed it, but what is the date given for the ossuary?
I am assuming first century CE, given your position.
Just an FYI, but I did not raise this argument originally, Richard
and Bob did, but given your arguments, and Mahlon's, I would say that
we can be more confident that Mark is talking about the man buried in
the tomb outside Jerusalem. Even your belief that Mark was written
near Jerusalem would strengthen this argument. Personally I am
agnostic as to where Mark wrote his Gospel, but I accept that his
audience certainly included non-Jews.
> Thank you for stimulating our thinking with your essay.
You're welcome Ted. And thank you for your response.
Calgary, AB, Canada
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