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Re: [XTalk] Gospel of Mary Magdalene -- > Peter vs. Mary

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  • vincentsapone
    Hi Robert. Thank you for your response. I think I have a much clearer understanding of your position now. It may not be so far removed from my own, after all.
    Message 1 of 37 , Nov 30, 2003
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      Hi Robert. Thank you for your response. I think I have a much clearer
      understanding of your position now. It may not be so far removed from
      my own, after all.

      Robert wrote: """I am certainly ready to affirm that the textual
      evidence as you quote it seems to support your position that Jesus
      called an all-male Twelve, I do not feel that it proves definitively
      that there was not a major redaction of the text at a later point."""

      Vincent: I agree that it does not definitively prove there was not a
      major redaction of the text at a later point. I was throwing out the
      idea that a male-dominated leadership system may have been
      implemented by Jesus himself. No I am highly skeptical of that.

      Robert: """"Granted, we are still at the relative beginnings of our
      study into Mary Magdalene and other female followers, but I believe
      enough has been done to make a good case for a far greater influence
      on the part of women in the inner circles of the early movement than
      the emergent Catholic Church was willing to countenance."""""""

      Vincent: I think that may very well be true. Upon further reflection,
      I think the male-dominate slant of the early texts simply reflects
      the culture of the time. Women certainly served a very important role
      in the early church.

      Robert: "The fact that women figure so highly in all the resurrection
      accounts"

      Vincent: I concur. This looks like a very positive portrayal. In The
      Gospel of Mark, as noted the women "fail" to do what the (angelic)
      young man commanded them to do but the text also portrays them as
      succeeding where the apostles failed. "[T]he women have already
      proved themselves more faithful than the [male Twelve] disciples by
      remaining by Jesus in his crucifixion, burial, and death."

      Robert: """that Mary Magdalene herself is so large in the GJohn
      version,"""

      This alone might not tell us much about the early Jesus movement--
      especially since John was probably writing 50-80 years after Jesus'
      death. It is very possible for one apostle or disciple to be popular
      in one community but not others. But the fact that Mary is mentioned
      by Mark, Matt, Luke and John is more convincing to me. Matthew must
      be seen as dependent on Mk for his traditions but Luke seems to
      preserve an independent one in chapter 8 (Mary was healed of 7
      demons).

      This threefold attestation would seem to secure the importance of
      Mary Magdalene in the second half of the first century to me. One
      datum goes even further. Luke 8:2 "Mary (called Magdalene) from whom
      seven demons had come out; ".

      Did Jesus heal Mary?

      Multiple attestation is very shaky here since the long ending of Mark
      is an obvious later addition to the Gospel. Yet this longer ending
      does date to the second century. Tatian's Diatessaron seems to
      include the long ending which would also make it possible that
      Justin, his mentor, knew it as well. Irenaues also shows knowledge of
      this ending (Adv. Haer. 3.10.5). But there is no way to know how
      early this tradition dates too or where it stems from. So multiple
      attestation is not very convincing here IMO.

      As Meier noted (Marginal v.II p. 658), "in the words of Fitzmeyer,
      the words "out of whom seven demons had come" sounds like a
      stereotyped, inherited phrase." At the very least, the phrase seems
      to suppose a fuller narrative to which it only alludes. But two other
      considerations are left.

      One is an argument from coherence. Mary apparently suffered from a
      very severe case of possession given that Luke uses the
      number "seven" in reference to the demons. Being freed from such a
      disorder may explain while she followed Jesus all the way until his
      death and even after. This argument is not very probative to me,
      however!

      The best argument for authenticity would have to be embarrassment.
      Mary Magdalene is presented as a chief witness to the empty tomb in
      the canonicals. She is even the benefactor of a resurrection
      experience from Jesus in Matt and GJohn. As Meier wrote (ibid), "It
      seems unlikely that the early Christian tradition would have gone out
      of its way to cast doubt on the reliability of such a pivotal figure
      by recasting casting her--for no apparent reason--as a former
      demoniac. What purpose would have been served by such an invention?
      The vulnerability of a female witness who was a former demoniac was
      not lost on male critics of the Gospels, from Celsus in the 2d
      century to Ernest Renan in the 19th."

      This is convincing to me. That Jesus was an exorcist I would call a
      fact of his ministry and there is simply isn't a valid reason I am
      aware of for the invention of this detail. When all things are
      considered (coherence from a larger picture) it seems more reasonable
      than not that Jesus actually exorcised Mary.

      So we know that Mary was a follower of Jesus, she was healed by him
      and she was pretty popular--at the least--in the second half of the
      first century.

      Robert """"" that Paul seems to affirm the concept of female equality
      and even leadership in his communities (cf. Galatians), would seem,
      among others, to point to the acceptance of women in
      early leadership roles."""""

      Vincent: In addition to there is neither male nor female Paul also
      said their is neither slave nor free. I find it interesting that
      three works (Eph, Col and Tit) not normally attributed to Paul all
      have commands subjecting slaves to their masters and a later non-
      Pauline work (1 Tim has Paul restricting women from
      leadership//authority roles). I wonder if Paul would have agreed with
      these later statements to slaves? If so how would that impact this
      interpretation of the equality passage in Galatians?

      This reminds me of Crossan's discussion in the beginning of the Birth
      of Christianity on how Paul applied these three distinctions
      inconsistently (BOC, pp. XXIV-XXV) and that they could "apply to
      ritual present or heavenly future but not to contemporary society or
      social reality."

      Exactly what Paul meant is open for discussion and scholars may
      disagree on it but Paul's comments are consistent with an "acceptance
      of woman in early leadership roles." I do not dispute that.

      To add to these references I would cite Luke 8:3. I would be
      interested in seeing a discussion of this verse where the women are
      said to be helping to support them [Jesus and Apostles] out of their
      own means." I think woman clearly were important in the early
      movement.

      Also we can cite Romans 16 which portrays women working for the Lord
      in a very positive manner (Mary, Phoebe, et al).

      Robert: """On the other hand, the pastoral letters, which most date
      to the second century, show a far different picture: there is now an
      order of widows, complete with regulations regarding who may enter,
      under what circumstances, and what they are to be doing; bishops,
      elders, and deacons are pretty much always male (there are
      some female deaconesses, but their role appears to be limited
      here)."""

      Vincent: I would agree with the Pastorals being 2d century but early
      (first third of the 2d century) and 1 Timothy may have been written
      as early as ca 95 C.E. Would such a dating have any impact on your
      outlook?

      I am not certain how the requirements for widows in 1 Tim shows a
      redaction of Christian experience towards the suppression of women's
      authority but I do see some comments in there that would certainly
      support you: For example, 2:11-5 is full of them: "A woman should
      learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to
      teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam
      was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was
      the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be
      saved through childbearing--if they continue in faith, love and
      holiness with propriety. "

      In 1 Corinthians Paul does tell state that woman should remain silent
      in church (1:14:35) but we know that this was not an absolute mandate
      given that a few chapters before women are allowed to prophecy
      (presumably) in church (1 Cor 11:15). I can see Paul writing the
      things he did in 1 Cor but 1 Tim appears to take things to an
      entirely different level.

      Robert: "If one moves more toward the latter half of the second
      century and into the third, we have early evidence of cloisters nuns--
      even before St. Antony went to the desert!!!"

      Vincent: Can you point me to some texts so I can research this
      further?

      Robert: """"Still more: it has been abundantly pointed out that the
      gnostic and other so-called apocryphal Christian documents show a
      much different picture concerning women in the early movement.
      Granted, these stand rejected by the official Church, and this
      rejection cannot be overlooked lightly; however, along with other
      scholars I believe that it would not be responsible to gloss over the
      rival picture we find in some of those documents. After all, we know
      that there was a great political competition for which among the many
      factions of Christianity would finally predominate, both in Rome and
      in the Hellenistic East. That Orthodoxy and Catholicism prevailed
      means, for one thing, that they got to define recent history!""""

      Vincent: I might disagree on how much value most of these texts have
      for discussing Christian origins but a good historian will be
      dedicated to detail and testing various reconstructions so I would
      certainly not discourage combing and recombing the evidence for such
      clues.

      Robert """"But let us say, for the sake of argument, that you are
      correct: that Jesus himself set out the precedent of calling an all-
      male Twelve. What, in the final analysis, does this prove? One might,
      for example, suggest that in the social and religious context of
      first century Jewish Palestine, Jesus might have felt constrained to
      do just as you suggest--but this would not necessarily mean that
      he wished to exclude female leadership altogether. Or, if, as many
      have suggested, each of the disciples was to stand symbolically for
      one of the ancient twelve Hebrew tribes and that a male
      representative would have been considered most appropriate, could it
      not be suggested that this particular role was a limited one, and
      that, again, it said little or nothing about the overall role of
      women as leaders in the larger movement?""""

      Vincent: Yes, I have to agree. I think Jesus did call an all-male
      Twelve but there are too many unknowns and uncertainties about them
      to use this to infer a male-domninate authority implemented by Jesus.
      That Jesus called an all male Twelve may show little more than he was
      a Jew living in the first third of the first century. Jesus was
      subjected to the same historical constraints as as any other teacher
      of the time.

      Either Jesus didn't designate Twelve specific people as his specific
      authority figures or this idea simply fell apart//was greatly
      expanded shortly after his death. Neither Jesus' brother James nor
      Paul were members of the Twelve yet they shared authority//Leadership
      roles in the early church. The calling of the Twelve can be said not
      to restrict women from leadership roles anymore than it could be said
      to restrict Paul or James from them.

      Robert: " . . . we have the complete erasure of women in any
      leadership position, replaced with the increasingly aggressive
      assertion that women were spiritually dangerous and needed to be
      reined in. Indeed, many scholars see the references within First
      Corinthians on this subject to be second-century redactions
      reflecting just this position."""

      Vincent: I have to concede that this turn around which you speak of
      is a big swing away from Jesus' outlook which appears to have been
      pretty "radical" in regards to having women followers. As Meier
      concluded, "The sight of a group of woman--apparently, at least in
      some cases, without benefits of husbands accompanying them--traveling
      around the Galilean countryside with an unmarried male who exorcised,
      healed, and taught them as he taught his male disciples could not
      help but raise pious eyebrows and provoke impious comments. As it
      was, Jesus was stigmatized by his critics as a bon vivant, a glutton
      and drunkard, a friend of toll collectors and sinners (Matt 11:19
      par.), a demoniac or mad man (Mark 3:20-30 parr,; John 8:48). A
      traveling entourage of husbandless female supporters, some of whom
      were former demoniacs who were now giving Jesus money or food, would
      only have heightened the suspicion and scandal Jesus already faced in
      a traditional peasant society. Yet, scandal or no scandal, Jesus
      allowed them to follow and serve him [and he considered them
      disciples]." (ibid p. 80)

      Thanks again for the response!


      Vincent Sapone
    • Karel Hanhart
      ... From: Mike Grondin To: Sent: Sunday, December 14, 2003 5:48 AM Subject: Re: [XTalk] Gospel of Mary
      Message 37 of 37 , Dec 18, 2003
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        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Mike Grondin" <mwgrondin@...>
        To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Sunday, December 14, 2003 5:48 AM
        Subject: Re: [XTalk] Gospel of Mary Magdalene -- > Peter vs. Mary


        > --- Karel Hanhart wrote:
        > > [Mark] wrote for first century Jews ...
        >
        > Then why was it necessary to explain to the reader that:
        >
        > "The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully
        > wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; and
        > when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they
        > cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have
        > received in order to observe ..." (Mk7:3-4)
        >
        > Since Steve alludes to such passages as this in his assertion that
        > GMk was written for Gentiles, the ball seems to be in your court
        > to explain the presence of such passages, rather than merely
        > contradicting Steve's position without explanation. Should one
        > assume that your position is that canonical GMk was redacted or
        > edited for Gentiles? If so, do you have any guess as to when this
        > happened, or how extensive a revision it might have been?
        >
        > Mike Grondin
        > Mt. Clemens, MI
        >
        > Dear Mike,

        You are right, of course. The ball is in my court with a brief comment like
        that. The question of the addressees of Mark's Gospel is shrouded in mist
        and our knowledge of such introductory questions is therefore limited. My
        comment was based on the fact that Mark never cites non-Jewish authors but
        frequently refers to Tenach. His subject matter is a first century Jewish
        Passover story with rather complicated midrashim. Evidently, Gentile
        readers were included in the community for which Mark wrote, traditionally
        Rome. And Mark added his comment for that reason.
        Since it has been recognized that canonical Mark was the result of redaction
        and since in his epilogue he refers to LXX Isa 22,16, I take it that the
        redaction took place after the destruction of the temple. The number of
        Gentiles joining the
        ecclesia apparently warranted this explanatory note, because the Gospel was
        read out loud in the worship service.

        These remarks are admittedly too brief. But the type of scholarly exchange
        through doesn't permit lengthy argumentation.

        cordially,

        Karel


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