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8641Re: [XTalk] Dating of GMark

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  • bjtraff
    Dec 5, 2001
      I am going to have to do a fair bit of snipping in order to keep this
      post to a manageable size. I hope that it will remain comprehensible.

      --- In crosstalk2@y..., "Ted Weeden" <weedent@e...> wrote:

      > Â…When I consider Mark 13, particularly 13:5-27, with respect to
      > the criterion of multiple attestation, virtually nothing in that
      complex of
      > sayings is multiply attested as originating with Jesus. The
      > interdependence of the Synoptics, however you resolve the Synoptic
      > rules out multiple attestation existing among the Synoptics.
      > There is no other independent source, that I am aware of, outside
      > the Synoptics that attibutes any of the sayings of 13:5-27 directly
      > to Jesus. The discourse of 13:5-27 fails the test for
      > authenticity according to the criterion of multiple attestation.

      I would agree that multiple attestation does not apply when
      considering the Olivet Discourse only appears in the Synoptics.
      (Small aside but I reject any definition of "Q" that includes
      material found in Mark. I know this is a separate issue, and do not
      wish to side track the discussion further, but wanted to clarify my
      position, given your later qualification of your own statement to

      > With respect to the criterion of discontinuity, that criterion
      > argues that authenticity is evident if a saying is neither coherent
      > with Judaism and Jewish perspective at the time nor coherent with
      > the particular theological/christological interests of early
      > Christian communities.

      I do not think that this particular criteria is useful in determining
      the authenticity of *any* of the sayings or acts of Jesus. I do not
      think we can divine the theological motivations of the early
      Christian community with sufficient certainty to make this a useful
      tool. More often than not, the conclusions drawn from this criteria
      simply beg the question, and betrays the prejudices of the exegete
      more than casting significant light on what Jesus may or may not have

      > Mk 13:5-27 fails this test for authenticity because it is clear
      > that the early church had an apocalyptic agenda (you acknowledge
      > that the Synoptic writers and Paul were apocalypticists) and thus
      > its apocalyptic perspective coheres with the kerygmatic perspective
      > of early Christians.

      What I will say here is that the argument for dating GMark does not
      depend on absolute authenticity of the Olivet Discourse per se, so
      much as that it reflects Jesus' own thoughts. In other words, if he
      were to read it himself, would he have rejected it? Given the clear
      apocalyptic message of the early church (as found in Paul's writings,
      as well as those of the Gospels, Jude, the Petrine letters, and the
      Apocalypse/Revelation), I think we presume too much if we try to use
      the apocalyptic quality of the discourse to date the Synoptics late.
      Certainly Paul would not have had a problem with the Olivet
      Discourse, and he was writing in the 50's and early 60's. Based on
      the probability that Paul's apocalyptic views do not stir any
      controversy with James, Peter and the rest of the disciples, there is
      no reason to suppose that Mark's recording of the prophecies in the
      50's or early 60's would have been all that surprising.

      Now, the reason I think that these beliefs dated back to Jesus
      himself is due first to the fact that the earliest known sources from
      Christians do have this view. Given that no explicit link can be
      made between Mark and Paul, for example, we can say with considerable
      confidence that the early church was apocalyptic, and since there was
      no apparent opposition to this world view within the church, we can
      assume that the view originated not with Jesus' followers, but with
      Jesus himself.

      Secondly, I think that the apocalyptic Jesus is very likely because
      the known later writings of the Church continued to use apocalyptic
      literature, like Paul's letters and the Synoptics as authoritative.
      The only reason for them to accept that such sources were
      authoritative, even as they were clearly embarrassing to the Church
      tells us the traditions were very old, and widely accepted. The fact
      that later Gospels, like Luke and Matthew did not remove the
      apocalyptic sayings attests further to probable authenticity. For
      example, if Matthew and Luke were writing in the 80's or even later,
      then their reasons for including seemingly failed prophecies like the
      Olivet Discourse becomes even more problematic. Given that both
      Matthew and Luke had no problem removing other Marcan material they
      found embarrassing tells us that they easily could and would have
      done this.

      I wrote:
      > > 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.
      > My response:
      > You acknowledge that the Synoptic writers are apocalypticists. An
      > apocalypticist never allows himself to be embarrassed by his
      > prophecy for he constructs his prophecy such that he predicts
      > history from the point of view of someone in the past by putting
      > his prophecies on the lips of some revered figure or visionary (the
      > author of Revelation is an exception to this practice).

      First, it is a curious argument to say that a group *always* does a
      thing, even as one acknowledges that one clear member of that group
      did *not* do that thing.

      Second, if Mark is drawing on known earlier apocalyptic sources (like
      Daniel for example), then it becomes highly problematic to use those
      sayings that depend on this source in order to date the text. Mark
      uses Daniel, but he could have done so literally any time after
      Daniel was written (2nd Century BCE). To make the events of 66-70CE
      the most probable specifics behind the Olivet Discourse simply begs
      the question. Paul was already predicting final disaster in the 50's
      if not earlier. Why could Mark not also be doing such a thing? For
      that matter, why couldn't Jesus himself? As you agree that Mark is
      probably drawing on Christian sources even earlier than himself, then
      I do not see why we should not say simply that they did come from

      > ...And it is only the immediate future from his own historic point
      > of reference that the apocalypticist is concerned about. For he
      > is trying to speak only to the existential conditions and raise the
      > hopes of his contemporaries and not some future generation who may
      > subsequently be embarrassed because the vague future of the
      > apocalypticist never materialized.

      My apologies for snipping so much Ted, and I do get your point. My
      question, given the fact that we know apocalyptical material was
      circulating in this period, not only from Paul (and presumably
      Peter), but also from the Qumran community, and all of these sources
      were speaking in the 50's or even earlier, why reject the idea that
      Mark and/or Jesus was speaking in a similar vein and at a similar
      period of time? Jesus would have found an audience for apocalyptic
      sayings in the 30s'. Paul certainly did in the 40's and 50's. So
      did Peter. Surely Mark would have found a ready audience for his
      message, even if he wrote in the 50's, long before the Temple
      actually was destroyed.

      > Thus no charge really can be made against Jesus for false prophecy,
      > whom I view as the mouthpiece for Mark's apocalyptic predictions.
      > All the events that the Markan Jesus predicts up to 13:24 are
      > events that many scholars have recognized as having parallels with
      > the history of the time from Jesus to 70 CE. Many commentaries
      > cite such parallels.

      Yes, I am aware of this fact. At the same time, there is no reason
      to think that the prophecies *must* be connected to the destruction
      of Jerusalem and the Temple. The sayings are simply too vague to
      argue with certainty. For evidence of this, we need only examine how
      differently you view the internal evidence, vs. how Grant or Griffith-
      Jones interpret the same passages. In other cases, like the
      encirclement of Jerusalem, one need look no further than Jeremiah and
      Isaiah (see for example Jer. 52:12-14). In fact many of the images
      found in Mark 13 can be traced back to past prophecies from Hebrew
      Scriptures, including especially descriptions of the destruction of

      > Finally with respect to the criterion of coherence, the apocalyptic
      > orientation in 13:5-27, in particular, does not cohere with Jesus'
      > orientation in sayings which are judged tobe authentic to Jesus. I
      > think, particularly of the parables. I just do not find any
      > apocalyptic thread running through the parables.

      This is circular reasoning. One cannot declare all apocalyptic
      saying as non-authentic, then use this as justification for the
      belief that Jesus was not an apocalyptic prophet. The fact is that
      the early Christianity was heavily apocalyptic, and we have no reason
      to reject that this belief came from its founder, namely, Jesus

      > My reference to the Johannine inventions of the Jesus discourse and
      > prayer was cited as an example of the fact that pure inventions
      > have been "put in" to the Gospels, John being a gospel. I could
      > have cited Synoptic examples of pure Christian invention that are
      > not authentic to Jesus, such as the allegorical interpretation of
      > the Parable of the Sower.

      The question of whether or not Jesus said exactly word for word any
      specific saying is far less interesting than whether or not it
      represented his overall world view and theology. Once again,
      focussing on the narrow question of when Mark could have come to
      attribute sayings to Jesus, like the Olivet Discourse and other
      apocalyptic sayings, there is no reason to reject an early over a
      later date. As I argued previously, the only question is whether or
      not Jesus would have been comfortable with the specific saying. And
      in the question of dating Mark, specifically, even if Mark invented
      the saying completely out of whole cloth (something I find to be
      extremely unlikely), it lines up with theology already being spread
      in the 40's and 50's, and therefore could easily be dated to this

      What becomes more difficult to understand is why authors writing long
      after the immediate crisis had passed, and the end of the world had
      not been realized, would have included such sayings in their works.
      I will get into that question in greater depth when we move on to a
      discussion of the later Synotics. Very briefly, I would argue that
      these works were either from a similarly early date (early 60's for
      example), or that the tradition was so old and so well known, that
      they could not be excluded from Matthew and Luke.

      > Are you suggesting that the Petrine statements in Acts are
      > authentic to the historical Peter and not inventions of Luke?

      No, I am not saying this at all. What I am saying is that the
      writings of the early Church most probably reflected the beliefs of
      the members of that Church, and especially of its leadership. Thus,
      Luke may or may not be inventing speeches (and I happen to think in
      many cases he was doing exactly that), but those speeches reflect the
      thoughts, beliefs and theology of the men speaking them. On that
      basis, finding apocalyptic statements in a Gospel dating to the 50's
      is hardly surprising. Mark may well have been that Gospel.

      > Now I am not sure of the point you are making. Maybe I have missed
      > something or misunderstood you. It was my impression that you are
      > ascribing to the historical Jesus *all* of the Jesus-discourse in
      > Mk. 13.

      I believe that Mark 13 closely parallels Jesus' own thoughts. More
      importantly, given the fact that the early Church (c. 40's and 50's)
      was apocalyptic, then we need not date Mark late because it contains
      these apocalyptic writings. Finally, ascribing them to the
      destruction of Jerusalem in 70CE is not certain, given the vagueness
      of the sayings. We could just as easily see Jesus and/or Mark taking
      them from Hebrew Scriptures, and their own beliefs as to the
      approaching end of the world.

      > On the otherhand, as I have stated, I would ascribe Mk. 13 to Mark,
      > with him drawing upon Christian material and adding his own
      > redactional touches. But here you indicate that the "Son of the
      > Human" saying from Daniel "may well have inspired Mark to use the
      > term. It appears to me here that you think it is possible that
      > Mark borrrowed from Daniel, and thus the saying of Mk. 13:26 could
      > possibly be attributed to Mark.

      Whether we ascribe the final sayings to Mark or Jesus, there is no
      question that they could have been penned early. The debate over the
      autheticity of the sayings themselves then becomes a side issue. But
      the reason I accept that they belong to Jesus' own belief system is
      that the early documents from Christianity reflect this world view
      themselves, and it is very reasonable to ascribe this early and wide
      spread belief amongst Christians to the idea that they came from the
      founder of their movement. (Yes I am aware of the argument that Q
      contains no apocalyptic views, but I take a very dim view of most Q
      scholarship, especially what has been produced more recently. My
      opinions on this question closely follow those of Donald Akenson as
      found in _Saint Saul: Skeleton Key to the Historical Jesus_,
      especially his appendix outlining his objections to what he called
      the "Q Industry".)

      > It strikes me that the provenance of a writing may have a good deal
      > to do with the dating of the writing, if the events occuring in
      > that location cohere with internal clues in the Gospel. It is my
      > own methodological presupposition that an early Christian author
      > writes out of the necessity to address certain existential
      > exigencies which confront him or his community.

      I certainly do not reject the idea that the evangelists were writing
      to communities, and that they were keeping the needs of that
      community in mind when authoring their works. What I reject is that
      we can have much confidence (a) in where the Gospel was specifically
      authored (see how many different locations are proposed for Mark
      alone as proof), and (b) from this dubious conclusion as to place of
      writing to extrapolate a probable date. From my original post you
      will note that I was arguing against Griffith-Jones' use of Rome as
      the probable location of Mark's Gospel, and especially the specific
      incidence of Nero's persecutions of 65-66CE. I found his
      argumentation to be excessively speculative, and going beyond the
      available evidence. Quite simply, I find all such arguments to date
      to be excessively speculative, and therefore unreliable in giving us
      a firm dating for the Gospels. Even today we have no more of a
      consensus as to where Mark was written, and if anything, as your
      posts, as well as Steven's and Mahlon's shows, we appear to be
      growing further away from such a consensus on this question, not
      closer to one.

      > I think it is safe to say that how and what he writes is
      > colored by his attempt to address that which confronts him or his
      > commmunity.

      I agree. Where I differ is in the level of confidence we can have as
      to which specific community, and which specific events the
      evangelists were writing to. I am far more sceptical of our ability
      to determine such things with any kind of certainty or confidence.

      > Thus, it is that in the coloration of the narrative lie the
      > internal textual clues as to the author's provenance and the
      > plausible dating for the document. For example, when Luke
      > intentionally revises Mk. 13:14, updating its historical allusion
      > to conform more closely to actual history, to read in his
      > Gospel: "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you
      > know that its desolation has come near" (21:20), that is a pretty
      > clear clue that Luke writes at the earliest around 70 CE.

      For myself, I would argue that Luke is drawing even more strongly
      from Hebrew Scripture, and especially accounts of the Assyrian and
      Babylonian attacks on Jerusalem, than he is on specific historical
      events. Again, the evangelists are simply too vague to be confident
      as to what they are addressing in these verses. This is why I
      directed your attention to similar verses found in Isaiah and

      > I think Mark also offers such internal clues as to his location.
      > Those clues serve as some of the evidence for my locating Mark's
      > community in the village region of Caesarea Philippi.

      And Mahlon uses those clues to point to Judaea, while Steven and
      Robin-Griffith Jones use them to point to Rome.

      I wrote:
      > > 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.

      Your replied:
      > Have you read my argument in _Mark-Traditions in Conflict_ (20-
      > 51)? If you have, I would like to know why you reject it, and if
      > you have not, I would like to know why you reject the argument out
      > of hand without having engaged it and the evidence I have
      > marshalled to support it.

      I will read these posts, but they have no bearing on the question of
      dating GMark for the reasons I have already given.

      {Snip arguments on Simon and Alexander}
      I then wrote:
      > > Agreed, and this, in my view, strengthens the argument for the
      > > historicity of the names Alexander and Rufus found in Mark.

      You replied:
      > I think that is information that does tend to strengthen your

      Thanks again for your reply Ted, and for your time and thoughts.

      Be well,

      Brian Trafford
      Calgary, AB, Canada
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