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8626Re: [XTalk] Dating of GMark

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  • Brian Trafford
    Dec 3, 2001
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      Hello 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
      where.

      Classic examples
      > 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
      such reasoning.

      > 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
      > consideration.

      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.

      {Snip}
      > 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
      mountainous region

      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
      Palestine."

      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
      however...

      > 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
      same person.

      > 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.

      Be well,

      Brian Trafford
      Calgary, AB, Canada
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