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Evidence of Paul in Mark (was: "Authentic Sayings vs. Fictive Creations")

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  • Ron Price
    ... A lot depends on our expectations. Finding Paul in Mark is a bit like finding Mark in John. There are plenty of clues, but we have to look for them. There
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 21, 2002
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      Ed Tyler wrote:

      >Mark's gospel, however, is not very amenable to Paul's theology, which
      >stresses salvation through faith and grace. The teachings you find in Jesus'
      >mouth in Mark demand a particular code of conduct and many of them are
      >situation-specific to the occupation of the Jewish homeland by the Romans.
      >It would be difficult to explain why an author writing for the Christian
      >community in Rome would have Jesus talking about the corruption of the Temple
      >authorities or taxation issues applicable to Jewish peasants.

      A lot depends on our expectations. Finding Paul in Mark is a bit like
      finding Mark in John. There are plenty of clues, but we have to look for
      them. There are no long quotations such as occur in the synoptics making
      inter-synoptic dependence so obvious.
      A special problem in demonstrating Paul in Mark is that Paul's
      influence was so widespread that much of Paul's contribution is often
      not recognized as such, but taken as an already established part of the
      pre-Pauline Jesus movement.
      Additionally we should realize that Mark's presentation of the gospel
      as the message about Jesus was set mainly in Galilee and Judea, so his
      stories had to fit plausibly into that background. When he writes about
      the Temple authorities or taxation issues, the effect is always to
      distance the reader from Judaism and to snuggle up to the authorities in
      Rome. The critical reader is left in no doubt that Mark intended this
      effect, which was highly appropriate for a gospel written in Rome not
      long after the defeat of the rebellious Jews, the destruction of
      Jerusalem, and the parading through Rome of the spoils of war as
      depicted on the Arch of Titus.

      To back up my previous claim that the author of Mark's gospel had
      probably been a companion of Paul (Phm 24), here is some of the evidence
      for Paul's views appearing in Mark's gospel.

      (1) The earliest attestation of the word "gospel" used in reference to
      Jesus is found in Paul's letters (1 Thess 3:2 etc., c.f. Mk 1:1). Also
      the phrase "gospel of God" (Rom 1:1 etc.) is used in Mark (1:14).
      (2) The earliest testimony to Jesus as God's Son is by Paul (1 Thess
      1:10, c.f. Mk 1:1; 15:39 etc.).
      (3) Faith was central to Paul's theology (Gal 2:16 etc., etc.). Mark
      used the word "believe" (PISTEUW) ten times. Note especially "believe
      the gospel" (Mk 1:15), which comes at a key point at the end of the
      gospel's introductory section.
      (4) Paul saw loving one's neighbour as fulfilling of the law (Gal 5:14;
      Rom 13:8). Mark created a scenario in which a scribe accepts the supreme
      importance of loving his neighbour and goes on to represent this as
      worth "much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices" (Mk
      12:28-34). This is as far as Mark could go without using words which
      would have been completely anachronistic in the context. But it strongly
      hints at Paul's idea that the law had been superseded by love.
      (5) Most of the essentials of Paul's superficially authentic-looking
      story of a 'last supper' (1 Cor 11:23-26) are reproduced (Mk 14:22-25)
      in the Markan passion account .
      (6) Paul's "Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor 15:3) is presented by Mark
      as "to give his life as a ransom for many (Mk 10:45).
      (7) According to Paul, Jesus "was buried [and] was raised on the third
      day" (1 Cor 15:4). Mark presents a story which was intended to provide
      subtle evidence for that (Mk 15:40-16:8), but which is nowadays
      generally regarded by critics as highly suspect. Mark tried to back up
      the story by presenting Jesus as prophesying his own death and
      resurrection (Mk 8:31; 9:31; 10:33-34), but the historicity of these
      predictions is now confidently rejected by most critical scholars.
      (8) Paul commended a submissive attitude to the Roman authorities (Rom
      13:1-7). By the context of the saying "Render to Caesar..." (Mk
      12:13-17), Mark clearly indicated that his readers were to adopt the
      same attitude.
      (9) A different type of evidence for Paul's influence on Mark can be
      found in the latter's negative attitude towards James, Peter and the
      original disciples generally. Paul and Mark are both critical of Peter.
      But both are *highly* critical of James the brother of Jesus (who is
      almost written out of Jesus' ministry in Mark - evidence that Mark's
      presentation of James is fundamentally flawed would need yet another
      (10) Finally, once we recognize 1 Cor 14:33b-36 as an interpolation by a
      male chauvinist, it becomes clear that Paul had a relatively enlightened
      attitude towards women, counting many of them as his fellow workers, and
      setting out their equality as Christians with men (Gal 3:28). Mark had a
      similar attitude, giving women pride of place in the story of the empty
      tomb. This was in sharp contrast to the masculine dominance in the HJ's
      ministry (selecting 12 male disciples?!).

      Ron Price

      Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK

      e-mail: ron.price@...

      Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
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