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Re: [XTalk] The Markan Sanhedrin's view of Israel in exile

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  • 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 1 of 8 , Oct 7, 2003
      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]
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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 2 of 8 , Oct 7, 2003
        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 3 of 8 , Oct 7, 2003
          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 4 of 8 , Oct 9, 2003
            -----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 5 of 8 , Oct 11, 2003
              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


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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