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The Markan Sanhedrin's view of Israel in exile

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  • Jeffrey B. Gibson
    With apologies for cross posting -- but I d really like to engage as many minds as possible as quickly as possible on the question below. Recent writers on the
    Message 1 of 8 , Oct 7, 2003
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      With apologies for cross posting -- but I'd really like to engage as
      many minds as possible as quickly as possible on the question below.


      Recent writers on the Gospel of Mark (not to mention certain ones on the
      HJ) have been arguing that Mark presents Jesus' preaching and ministry
      as grounded in the fundamental assumption that Israel is in exile.
      Assuming for arguments sake (and FWIW, I think it is a good assumption
      given the new exodus themes presented in the prologue of GMark) that
      this is the case, should/can we also assume that those whom Mark
      portrays as Jesus' opponents, especially those who for him make up the
      Sanhedrin, **share** this view?

      What would be evidence in Mark that they did? Would the "fact" that "all
      of Jerusalem" goes out to hear John, who certainly seems to be
      announcing and portraying the "end of exile", be such evidence? Would
      the "fact" that members of the Sanhedrin take an interest in Jesus after
      takes up John's mantle and announces in a message whose language and
      imagery echo and are probably drawn from Second Isaiah? Anything else?

      Is there any reason to think that the Markan enemies of Jesus -- who
      hold a Psalms of Solomon Son of David Christology (cf. Mk 12:35-37) and
      are therefore in anticipation of the purgation of Israel from foreign
      domination and the exile like oppression that this signifies -- do not
      hold this view?

      Thanks in advance for any thoughts on this.

      Yours,

      Jeffrey
      --

      Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)

      1500 W. Pratt Blvd. #1
      Chicago, IL 60626

      jgibson000@...
    • Crispin Fletcher-Louis
      Geoffrey, Forgive me if I ve missed something, or if I m missing the main point of ... How do we know that the Markan enemies of Jesus hold a Son of David
      Message 2 of 8 , Oct 7, 2003
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        Geoffrey,
        Forgive me if I've missed something, or if I'm missing the main point of
        your posting, but I'm bothered by the last paragraph:

        > Is there any reason to think that the Markan enemies of Jesus -- who
        > hold a Psalms of Solomon Son of David Christology (cf. Mk 12:35-37) and
        > are therefore in anticipation of the purgation of Israel from foreign
        > domination and the exile like oppression that this signifies -- do not
        > hold this view?


        How do we know that the Markan enemies of Jesus hold a Son of David
        Christology, let alone one as specific the one in Pss Sol? The Psalms of
        Solomon, of course, do not cite Psalm 110 (as does Jesus in Mark 12:35-37)
        and it is significant that they do not. They complain (esp. Opening lines of
        Psalm 17) of the Hasmonean combination of priesthood and kingship and that
        is precisely what Psalm 110 celebrates (see esp. v. 4). Could you clarify
        what you are thinking here.

        Thanks

        Crispin Fletcher-louis

        Department of Theology
        University of Nottingham
        Nottingham
        UK
      • Jeffrey B. Gibson
        ... Is this not clear in the Markan Jesus statement that the scribes (which I take to be a cipher here for the Sanhedrin) say the Messiah is hUIOS DAUID? ...
        Message 3 of 8 , Oct 7, 2003
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          Crispin Fletcher-Louis wrote:

          > Geoffrey,
          > Forgive me if I've missed something, or if I'm missing the main point
          > of
          > your posting, but I'm bothered by the last paragraph:
          >
          > > Is there any reason to think that the Markan enemies of Jesus -- who
          >
          > > hold a Psalms of Solomon Son of David Christology (cf. Mk 12:35-37)
          > and
          > > are therefore in anticipation of the purgation of Israel from
          > foreign
          > > domination and the exile like oppression that this signifies -- do
          > not
          > > hold this view?
          >
          >
          > How do we know that the Markan enemies of Jesus hold a Son of David
          > Christology,

          Is this not clear in the Markan Jesus' statement that the scribes
          (which I take to be a cipher here for the Sanhedrin) say the Messiah is
          hUIOS DAUID?

          > let alone one as specific the one in Pss Sol? The Psalms of
          > Solomon, of course, do not cite Psalm 110 (as does Jesus in Mark
          > 12:35-37)
          > and it is significant that they do not. They complain (esp. Opening
          > lines of
          > Psalm 17) of the Hasmonean combination of priesthood and kingship and
          > that
          > is precisely what Psalm 110 celebrates (see esp. v. 4). Could you
          > clarify
          > what you are thinking here.

          Well, now you've lost **me**. The Markan Jesus cites Ps 110 to
          criticize the Scribes idea that the Messiah can or should be viewed as
          son of David.

          In any case, doesn't Pss of Sol 17 stand as the basis of what Son of
          David (especially when used as a synonym for Messiah) meant in Mark's
          time?

          Yours,

          Jeffrey
          --

          Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)

          1500 W. Pratt Blvd. #1
          Chicago, IL 60626

          jgibson000@...



          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Crispin Fletcher-Louis
          OK, I take the point about the scribes in Mark 12:35 - but I think calling them Jesus enemies at this point is a little strong. Jesus is contrasting his
          Message 4 of 8 , Oct 7, 2003
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            OK, I take the point about the scribes in Mark 12:35 - but I think calling
            them Jesus' enemies at this point is a little strong. Jesus is contrasting
            his Christology with that of some leading interpreters of scripture of his
            day. In the immediately preceding episode Jesus commends one of the scribes
            as being 'not far from the kingdom of God'. It's never occurred to me before
            that scribes could be readily taken as a cipher for the Sanhedrin. Would the
            Sanhedrin agree with what the scribe of Mark 12:32-34 says?

            The Psalms of Solomon is odd. It is virtually the only text from the period
            that looks forward to a royal messiah and a royal messiah alone (without the
            prominent role of a (high) priest). And it's situation is highly contextual
            - the collapse of the Hasmonean state and the crisis of Pompey's Roman
            settlement in Palestine. It is peculiarly down on the priesthood and I'm
            sceptical of any claim that it is representative of a widespread royal
            messianism at the time of Jesus.

            Psalm 110 is the only biblical text to speak of a royal, military, messiah
            as one who is also a priest. It is also just about the only messianic text
            that Jesus cites directly (he does so twice in Mark and the other
            synoptics). The king is ALWAYS subordinate to the priesthood (Psalms of
            Solomon 17-18 is perhaps the ONLY exception to this rule) in contemporary
            Jewish thought. Since David was not a priest, Jesus' point is surely that
            the "Lord" of whom David speaks is his superior (not his son, of purely
            royal blood), because he is also a priest.

            Sorry if this is a digression from your original posting - perhaps it bears
            on your original line of inquiry in some way.

            Crispin.





            On 7/10/03 9:36 pm, "Jeffrey B. Gibson" <jgibson000@...> wrote:

            >
            >
            > Crispin Fletcher-Louis wrote:
            >
            >> Geoffrey,
            >> Forgive me if I've missed something, or if I'm missing the main point
            >> of
            >> your posting, but I'm bothered by the last paragraph:
            >>
            >>> Is there any reason to think that the Markan enemies of Jesus -- who
            >>
            >>> hold a Psalms of Solomon Son of David Christology (cf. Mk 12:35-37)
            >> and
            >>> are therefore in anticipation of the purgation of Israel from
            >> foreign
            >>> domination and the exile like oppression that this signifies -- do
            >> not
            >>> hold this view?
            >>
            >>
            >> How do we know that the Markan enemies of Jesus hold a Son of David
            >> Christology,
            >
            > Is this not clear in the Markan Jesus' statement that the scribes
            > (which I take to be a cipher here for the Sanhedrin) say the Messiah is
            > hUIOS DAUID?
            >
            >> let alone one as specific the one in Pss Sol? The Psalms of
            >> Solomon, of course, do not cite Psalm 110 (as does Jesus in Mark
            >> 12:35-37)
            >> and it is significant that they do not. They complain (esp. Opening
            >> lines of
            >> Psalm 17) of the Hasmonean combination of priesthood and kingship and
            >> that
            >> is precisely what Psalm 110 celebrates (see esp. v. 4). Could you
            >> clarify
            >> what you are thinking here.
            >
            > Well, now you've lost **me**. The Markan Jesus cites Ps 110 to
            > criticize the Scribes idea that the Messiah can or should be viewed as
            > son of David.
            >
            > In any case, doesn't Pss of Sol 17 stand as the basis of what Son of
            > David (especially when used as a synonym for Messiah) meant in Mark's
            > time?
            >
            > Yours,
            >
            > Jeffrey
            > --
            >
            > Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)
            >
            > 1500 W. Pratt Blvd. #1
            > Chicago, IL 60626
            >
            > jgibson000@...
            >
            >
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
            >
            >
            > The XTalk Home Page is http://ntgateway.com/xtalk/
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          • Bob Schacht
            ... Jeffrey, You write as if the Sanhedrin was a known fact of Mark s time. Is this so certain? I seem to remember some previous debate on XTalk about the
            Message 5 of 8 , Oct 7, 2003
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              At 02:47 PM 10/7/2003 -0500, Jeffrey B. Gibson wrote:
              >With apologies for cross posting -- but I'd really like to engage as
              >many minds as possible as quickly as possible on the question below.
              >
              >
              >Recent writers on the Gospel of Mark (not to mention certain ones on the
              >HJ) have been arguing that Mark presents Jesus' preaching and ministry
              >as grounded in the fundamental assumption that Israel is in exile.
              >Assuming for arguments sake (and FWIW, I think it is a good assumption
              >given the new exodus themes presented in the prologue of GMark) that
              >this is the case, should/can we also assume that those whom Mark
              >portrays as Jesus' opponents, especially those who for him make up the
              >Sanhedrin, **share** this view?...

              Jeffrey,
              You write as if the Sanhedrin was a known fact of Mark's time. Is this so
              certain? I seem to remember some previous debate on XTalk about the
              historicity of the Sanhedrin, for example, with respect to the "trial" of
              Jesus. There is a good chance that for most of the gospel writers, the
              Sanhedrin with which they were familiar in the late First Century was being
              anachronistically extrapolated back half a century into a period for which
              the Sanhedrin, as an institution, was still in its formative stages. Of
              course, as the earliest of the Gospels, by most accounts, Mark would have
              been closer to the institution of the Sanhedrin as it existed in the
              lifetime of Jesus, but still not the same. In Jesus' day, "scribes" may
              indeed have been a more accurate term than "Sanhedrin," but in Mark's day,
              does it really make more sense to think in terms of the Sanhedrin?

              Of course, Mark may have written ambiguously, referring to both the early
              historical proto-Sanhedrin at the same time that he was addressing (in
              other passages?) the Sanhedrin as it existed in his own day, without
              differentiating between them. Yet obviously, the Sanhedrin of Jesus' day
              would not have been much concerned with the Israel in Exile theme.
              Consequently, in this context, Mk 12:35-37 is rather confusing. These
              verses, as many others, are doing double duty, both as a quasi-historical
              account taking place in the 30s, and as Markan interpretation in the light
              of the issues of his day.

              I'm getting rather confused here, but my point is this: Your opening salvo
              on this subject seems to write about the Sanhedrin as if it were some fixed
              and known quantity that did not change significantly from the time of Jesus
              to the time when Mark was writing his gospel. What I am encouraging you to
              do is to think about how the two may have evolved over that span of time,
              and furthermore how the class of "Scribes" had themselves evolved, and what
              relationship the scribes had with the Sanhedrin, in both generations.

              Bob Schacht
              Northern Arizona University

              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Jeffrey B. Gibson
              ... Note please that I am NOT dealing with historical questions. I m dealing with what Mark presents in his story of Jesus. And in his story, scribes (along
              Message 6 of 8 , Oct 7, 2003
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                Bob Schacht wrote:

                > I'm getting rather confused here, but my point is this: Your opening
                > salvo
                > on this subject seems to write about the Sanhedrin as if it were some
                > fixed
                > and known quantity that did not change significantly from the time of
                > Jesus
                > to the time when Mark was writing his gospel. What I am encouraging
                > you to
                > do is to think about how the two may have evolved over that span of
                > time,
                > and furthermore how the class of "Scribes" had themselves evolved, and
                > what
                > relationship the scribes had with the Sanhedrin, in both generations.
                >

                Note please that I am NOT dealing with historical questions. I'm dealing
                with what Mark presents in his story of Jesus. And in his story, scribes
                (along with elders and chief priests) are constituent members of a
                judicial body that he presents as condemning Jesus and that he calls
                (accurately or not) the Sanhedrin.

                Does this help?

                In any event, it's obvious that for Mark (whatever the historical
                reality may have been) John believes that Israel is in exile. It's
                obvious too that for Mark, Jesus believes that Israel is in exile. The
                question I'm asking is whether or not **Mark** presents those he
                presents as members of the (imagined?) body that he calls the Sanhedrin
                as sharing this view.

                Yours,

                Jeffrey.



                >
                > Bob Schacht
                > Northern Arizona University
                >
                > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                >
                >
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                --

                Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)

                1500 W. Pratt Blvd. #1
                Chicago, IL 60626

                jgibson000@...



                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Geoff Hudson
                ... From: Bob Schacht [mailto:bobschacht@infomagic.net] Sent: 07 October 2003 22:56 To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com Subject: Re: [XTalk] The Markan Sanhedrin s
                Message 7 of 8 , Oct 9, 2003
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                  -----Original Message-----
                  From: Bob Schacht [mailto:bobschacht@...]
                  Sent: 07 October 2003 22:56
                  To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: Re: [XTalk] The Markan Sanhedrin's view of Israel in exile

                  Bob wrote:
                  Of course, Mark may have written ambiguously, referring to both the early
                  historical proto-Sanhedrin at the same time that he was addressing (in
                  other passages?) the Sanhedrin as it existed in his own day, without
                  differentiating between them. Yet obviously, the Sanhedrin of Jesus' day
                  would not have been much concerned with the Israel in Exile theme.
                  Consequently, in this context, Mk 12:35-37 is rather confusing. These
                  verses, as many others, are doing double duty, both as a quasi-historical
                  account taking place in the 30s, and as Markan interpretation in the light
                  of the issues of his day.
                  ******

                  Bob,

                  Would you amplify what you mean by the double duty of Mk.12:35-37? I am
                  particularly interested in the possible interpretations of verse 37.

                  Geoff
                • Bob Schacht
                  ... Geoff, First of all, my comment requires the assumption that Mark is actually writing about an historical incident-- which is by no means certain. In fact,
                  Message 8 of 8 , Oct 11, 2003
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                    At 01:10 PM 10/9/2003 +0100, you wrote:

                    >-----Original Message-----
                    >From: Bob Schacht [mailto:bobschacht@...]
                    >Sent: 07 October 2003 22:56
                    >To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
                    >Subject: Re: [XTalk] The Markan Sanhedrin's view of Israel in exile
                    >
                    >Bob wrote:
                    >Of course, Mark may have written ambiguously, referring to both the early
                    >historical proto-Sanhedrin at the same time that he was addressing (in
                    >other passages?) the Sanhedrin as it existed in his own day, without
                    >differentiating between them. Yet obviously, the Sanhedrin of Jesus' day
                    >would not have been much concerned with the Israel in Exile theme.
                    >Consequently, in this context, Mk 12:35-37 is rather confusing. These
                    >verses, as many others, are doing double duty, both as a quasi-historical
                    >account taking place in the 30s, and as Markan interpretation in the light
                    >of the issues of his day.
                    >******
                    >
                    >Bob,
                    >
                    >Would you amplify what you mean by the double duty of Mk.12:35-37? I am
                    >particularly interested in the possible interpretations of verse 37.
                    >
                    >Geoff

                    Geoff,
                    First of all, my comment requires the assumption that Mark is actually
                    writing about an historical incident-- which is by no means certain. In
                    fact, the Jesus Seminar rates the saying as Black (not historical.) The
                    text contains a reference to Psalm 110, vs. 1 (NRS):

                    1 The LORD says to my lord, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies
                    your footstool."

                    Mark 12 (NRS):
                    35 While Jesus was teaching in the temple, he said, "How can the scribes
                    say that the Messiah is the son of David?
                    36 David himself, by the Holy Spirit, declared, 'The Lord said to my
                    Lord, "Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet." '
                    37 David himself calls him Lord; so how can he be his son?" And the large
                    crowd was listening to him with delight.

                    The first possible ambiguity comes in vs. 35: was it the scribes of Jesus'
                    day who were making the claim about the Messiah, the scribes of Mark's day,
                    or both? Or was it Mark putting words in the mouth of the scribes without
                    regard for anything they had actually said?

                    Vs. 36 contains the quote from Psalm 110:1
                    Vs. 37, which you ask about, refers only secondarily to something allegedly
                    said by the scribes, referring to Vs. 35, and seems to hold no new
                    information about the scribes, so I wonder why you want to focus on it.

                    Vs. 35 is interesting because in a way it is an unsurprising claim that
                    might be made by any Jew of the First Century, whether a contemporary of
                    Jesus, or a contemporary of Mark. But it might contain a hidden argument
                    against Jesus as Messiah, the missing part of the argument being that Jesus
                    was not the son of David. Indeed, historically, one might envision a
                    progression something like the following:
                    (a) The disciples put forward the claim that Jesus is the Messiah.
                    (b) The scribes counter that whereas the Tanakh proclaim that the Messiah
                    will be the son of David, Jesus was not. In fact, if you want to stretch
                    things here, some of them may have thrown in the added calumny that Jesus
                    was a Mamzer.
                    (c) Mark counters the scribes by reporting, modifying, or making up this
                    pericope about Jesus that is intended to deflate the importance of the
                    lineage of the Messiah. Note that if correct, this would then mean that
                    Mark was indulging in psuedo-history at this point.
                    (d) Matthew and Luke each use a different tactic, reconstructing a Davidic
                    geneology of Jesus (accurately or not).

                    There is an added element here that builds on the confusing opening clause
                    of Psalm 110, which leaves unexplained who the two Lords in question were.
                    Since the psalm's author is presented as David (see superscription to the
                    psalm), "my Lord" would then seem to be David's Lord, but the psalm seems
                    to describe the messiah. If so, the conundrum as described by Mark in his
                    words attributed to Jesus leads to contradictions. But this opens more
                    possible ambiguities: were the authorship of Psalm 100 and the association
                    of the person described in the Psalm as the messiah known to be positions
                    held by the scribes of Jesus' day, by the scribes of Mark's day, or both?
                    Or neither?

                    What any of this might have to say regarding "Israel in exile" (Jeffrey's
                    original question), I have no clue.

                    Does this answer your question?
                    Bob Schacht, Ph.D.
                    Northern Arizona University


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