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[XTalk] Re: Mark 12:17 Pay Caesar...

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  • Jan Sammer
    ... Of course, but GMark is obviously trying to sway opinions in high places. After about 62 A.D., and perhaps even a year or two earlier, the opinions of the
    Message 1 of 16 , Aug 31, 1999
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      > Jan Sammer wrote:
      >
      > > point I tried to make earlier was that after 64 A.D. and the outbreak of
      > > officially backed persecution of Christians, such currying of favor with
      > > Roman authorities would have been rather pointless.
      >
      > Why not? Christians were still around and the Romans were still in
      > control.

      Of course, but GMark is obviously trying to sway opinions in high places.
      After about 62 A.D., and perhaps even a year or two earlier, the opinions of
      the Roman authorities were made up. The kind of Christian writing you get
      after the persecutions start is the book of Revelations, with its thinly
      veiled exhortations to an all-out war against Rome.

      > >After 70 A.D. all the
      > > malice shown in the synoptics, and particularly GMatt., towards the
      "chief
      > > priests and the elders" would have been pointless as well.
      >
      > The same GMatt. clearly describes Pharisees turning into rabbis which
      > started to happen around 80-90 (Mt23:2-3,6-7). "the chief priests and
      > **the elders** (and teachers of the law)" likely represents Jewish
      > leaders and religious elite generally:
      > Mk8:31 "He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many
      > things and be rejected by the **elders**, chief priests and teachers of
      > the law, ..."
      > Please note that the elders and teachers of the law were still kicking
      > around after 70.

      What's important is that the chief priests were no longer around and it is
      they who are the major target of the synoptic writers' wrath. There surely
      were elders and teachers of the law in the 60's A.D., as well as in the 30's
      A.D.
      >
      > > Depicting Jesus
      > > and his family as loyal subjects of Rome
      >
      > Jesus and family were subject to Herod Antipas, not the Romans.

      I had in mind the census, which was a Roman affair and the poll-tax
      question, where a Roman coin, depicing Caesar plays a role. Of course in
      Jesus' days Palestine was not yet a Roman province, though Herod was nothing
      but a client king. The point is that Mark is catering to Roman
      sensibilities.
      >
      > > would have served its purpose at a
      > > time when Roman official attitudes had not yet become so openly
      > > antagonistic to the new faith, i.e., prior to about 62 A.D.
      >
      > The persecution in 62 CE was local (Rome only), short-lived and not
      > against the Christians because of their faith, but because Nero used
      > them as scapegoats. Even Tacitus, who certainly was anti-Christian,
      > acknowledged that fact. That was not the start of a generalized and long
      > lasting Roman official attitudes against Christians. Tacitus also
      > related that during the awfull killings of Christians, the Gentile
      > Romans showed compassion for them:
      > Tacitus Annals, lib. XV, written about 110C.E. "Hence, even for
      > criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a
      > feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public
      > good, but to glut one man's cruelty [Nero's one], that they [Christians
      > of Rome] were being destroyed"
      >
      For the persecution to take place at all the authorities had to be able to
      tell Christians apart from Jews, and Christianity had to be punishable by
      death. That means Christianity had already by that time been declared an
      illicit religion. The degree of compassion the Roman populace felt towards
      them is really besides the point.

      > Let me suggest the likely inspiration of Mark 12:17:
      > Ro13:6-7a "This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's
      > servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you
      > owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; ..."

      It is similar in spirit, though to say that it served as an inspiration is
      going beyond the evidence.

      > Respect of the authorities is also obvious in 1Peter (according to my
      > view, written in Asia Minor around 75-80):
      > 1Pet2:13-14a "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority
      > instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or
      > to governors, ..."
      > and in "Titus", which according to most critical scholars, was written
      > well into the 2nd century:
      > Titus3:1a "Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities,
      > ..."
      These are prescriptions for survival in a hostile environment. Markan
      assurances of loyalty and willingness to pay tax are only a small part of
      his overall argument. His overall effort is to persuade the Roman
      authorities that the followers of Jesus are the true Israel. This is the
      main point of Paul's endeavors as well. That effort becomes pointless after
      Christianity is outlawed, and it is outlawed prior to 64 A.D. The later
      apologists attack and ridicule paganism, but they no longer try to pass
      themselves off as Jews.

      Jan Sammer
      Interpres
      Prague-Czech Republic
      sammer@...
      www.interpres.cz
    • Ron Price
      Jan, I agree with Bernard that any persecution ca. 70 CE would have been spasmodic. Bear in mind that even the Jews did not make a firm distinction between
      Message 2 of 16 , Sep 1, 1999
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        Jan,
        I agree with Bernard that any persecution ca. 70 CE would have been
        spasmodic.
        Bear in mind that even the Jews did not make a firm distinction
        between themselves and the Christians until the Council of Jamnia, ca.
        90 CE, when the Christians were expelled from the synagogues.
        I don't know where you get the idea that Mark was trying to sway
        opinions in high places. I could have believed it of Luke (Luke 1:3).
        In _The Fall of Jerusalem and the Christian Church_, Brandon paints a
        graphic picture of the Roman authorities parading triumphantly through
        the streets of Rome with the spoils of the Jerusalem temple following
        the destruction of Jerusalem in 70CE. This is depicted on the Arch of
        Titus in Rome. Doubtless many Roman citizens would have seen this
        parade, and been influenced by the mocking of the Jewish rebels.
        Furthermore it is arguably a small step from refusing to pay taxes, to
        outright rebellion.
        Bearing in mind that (in my opinion at least) Mark was probably
        written in Rome at just about this time, it is entirely logical that in
        order to find favour with ordinary Roman citizens, the author would have
        wanted to dissociate Christianity from such rebelliousness, and for that
        matter from the Jews, for how many citizens would distinguish between
        peacable Jews and rebellious Jews?

        Ron Price

        ron.price@...

        Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK
      • Jeffrey B. Gibson
        Ron Price wrote: [snip] ... I would question the hidden assumption here -- that Mark wrote his Gospel for, and intended it to be read by, the Roman public. Do
        Message 3 of 16 , Sep 1, 1999
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          Ron Price wrote:

          [snip]

            Bearing in mind that (in my opinion at least) Mark was probably
          written in Rome at just about this time, it is entirely logical that in
          order to find favour with ordinary Roman citizens, the author would have
          wanted to dissociate Christianity from such rebelliousness, and for that
          matter from the Jews, for how many citizens would distinguish between
          peacable Jews and rebellious Jews?
           
          I would question the hidden assumption here -- that Mark wrote his Gospel for, and intended it to be read by, the Roman public. Do we have any indication -- even assuming that his Gospel has a Roman provenance -- that he wrote what he wrote for non christians?

          I think far more plausible, especially in the light of Chp. 13, that Mark (like the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews) is writing strictly to a Jesus movement audience sometime before the end of the war in order to stave them off from joining with the Jewish/Zealot nationalistic cause which, given (a) the defeat of Cestius Gallus after he approached and began to make the  first full scale Roman assault against the Temple and (b) what appeared to be a divinely engineered halt to Vespasian's assault on the Temple (the death of Nero and the subsequent year of the three emperors), seemed actually, as the Zealots were proclaiming, to have God on its side.

          This, rather than some highly speculative ideas about mounting a campaign to take over the temple and win Roman hearts to help in this endeavour, or an apologia to Rome helping to distinguish Christians from rebellious Jews (ala Josephus vis a vis loyal from fanatical Jews) seems to me to be a much more plausible Sitz im Leben for the Gospel.

          Yours,

          Jeffrey
          --
          Jeffrey B. Gibson
          7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
          Chicago, Illinois 60626
          e-mail jgibson000@...
           

        • Bernard Muller
          ... There is simply no evidence for that. And Jeffrey, in his excellent post on that matter, addressed this as it deserved. I ll leave it to that. The kind of
          Message 4 of 16 , Sep 1, 1999
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            Jan Sammer wrote:
            >
            > > Jan Sammer wrote:
            > >
            > > > point I tried to make earlier was that after 64 A.D. and the outbreak of
            > > > officially backed persecution of Christians, such currying of favor with
            > > > Roman authorities would have been rather pointless.
            > >
            > > Why not? Christians were still around and the Romans were still in
            > > control.
            >
            > Of course, but GMark is obviously trying to sway opinions in high places.
            > After about 62 A.D., and perhaps even a year or two earlier, the opinions of
            > the Roman authorities were made up.

            There is simply no evidence for that. And Jeffrey, in his excellent post
            on that matter, addressed this as it deserved. I'll leave it to that.

            The kind of Christian writing you get
            > after the persecutions start is the book of Revelations, with its thinly
            > veiled exhortations to an all-out war against Rome.

            "thinly veiled exhortations to an all-out war against Rome."
            Where did you get that from? It looks you are running on very thin air
            here.
            The book of Revelations was not the only Christian book written after
            62. These books (gospels, epistles) were either totally unconcerned
            about relationship between Christians and authorities, or advised
            obedience. Revelation is the only book which is anti-Roman. It is the
            exception and not the rule.
            Revelation has a long history,
            see http://www.concentric.net/~Mullerb/danrv.shtml for more info,
            but let's say here that the Christianized version appeared around 95
            (almost every scholars agree on this date, me too), at a time when
            emperor Domitian was getting paranoiac in his last years (93-96) and
            wanted to be recognized as a God. Most historians think that the
            persecution then was not aimed at Christians per say, but also Jews, or
            anyone else who would not accept Domitian as "my Lord and my God". So
            Domitian's persecution certainly cannot be considered as a proof of a
            long lasting official Roman policy against Christians (which started in
            62!)

            >
            > > >After 70 A.D. all the
            > > > malice shown in the synoptics, and particularly GMatt., towards the
            > "chief
            > > > priests and the elders" would have been pointless as well.
            > >
            > > The same GMatt. clearly describes Pharisees turning into rabbis which
            > > started to happen around 80-90 (Mt23:2-3,6-7). "the chief priests and
            > > **the elders** (and teachers of the law)" likely represents Jewish
            > > leaders and religious elite generally:
            > > Mk8:31 "He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many
            > > things and be rejected by the **elders**, chief priests and teachers of
            > > the law, ..."
            > > Please note that the elders and teachers of the law were still kicking
            > > around after 70.
            >
            > What's important is that the chief priests were no longer around and it is
            > they who are the major target of the synoptic writers' wrath.

            So what's your point?
            For Matthew, the major target are Pharisees turning into rabbis.
            For Mark, the major enemies are teachers of the law.
            Are you trying to say that the synoptic gospels (or only GMark) had to
            be written when the chief priests were still around?

            > The point is that Mark is catering to Roman
            > sensibilities.

            Mark is catering to a few Christians which may have thought about not
            paying taxes (just like Paul did earlier in Romans) and therefore get
            the whole Christian community into trouble. Please note that this
            thought can be entertained by anyone, anytime, and of any religious
            belief (or none). Yes, it is perfectly natural, isn't it?


            >
            > > Respect of the authorities is also obvious in 1Peter (according to my
            > > view, written in Asia Minor around 75-80):
            > > 1Pet2:13-14a "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority
            > > instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or
            > > to governors, ..."
            > > and in "Titus", which according to most critical scholars, was written
            > > well into the 2nd century:
            > > Titus3:1a "Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities,
            > > ..."

            > These are prescriptions for survival in a hostile environment.

            If it is the case, we would have a lot more prescriptions like that, and
            they would be a lot more vivid. And these prescriptions are no different
            of what Paul wrote in Romans, before 62.

            Bernard
            http://www.concentric.net/~Mullerb/
          • Bernard Muller
            ... Jeffrey, your historical knowledge could use some upgrading. This Cestius Gallus came into Jerusalem in 66CE, before Vespasian came into play, well before
            Message 5 of 16 , Sep 1, 1999
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              Jeffrey B. Gibson wrote:

              >
              > I think far more plausible, especially in the light of Chp. 13, that Mark
              > (like the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews) is writing strictly to a Jesus
              > movement audience sometime before the end of the war in order to stave them
              > off from joining with the Jewish/Zealot nationalistic cause which, given (a)
              > the defeat of Cestius Gallus after he approached and began to make the first
              > full scale Roman assault against the Temple and (b) what appeared to be a
              > divinely engineered halt to Vespasian's assault on the Temple (the death of
              > Nero and the subsequent year of the three emperors), seemed actually, as the
              > Zealots were proclaiming, to have God on its side.

              Jeffrey, your historical knowledge could use some upgrading. This
              Cestius Gallus came into Jerusalem in 66CE, before Vespasian came into
              play, well before the death of Nero (68) and well before the year of the
              3 emperors (69). Refer to Josephus' Wars, book II, from Chapter XVIII.

              Bernard
              http://www.concentric.net/~Mullerb/
            • Jeffrey B. Gibson
              ... Hmmmm. What I was trying to indicate above (indeed, what I thought I had indicated) was (a) that during the course of the war, from it s outbreak at the
              Message 6 of 16 , Sep 1, 1999
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                Bernard Muller wrote:
                Jeffrey B. Gibson wrote:
                >
                > I think far more plausible, especially in the light of Chp. 13, that Mark
                > (like the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews) is writing strictly to a Jesus
                > movement audience sometime before the end of the war in order to stave them
                > off from joining with the Jewish/Zealot nationalistic cause which, given (a)
                > the defeat of Cestius Gallus after he approached and began to make the  first
                > full scale Roman assault against the Temple and (b) what appeared to be a
                > divinely engineered halt to Vespasian's assault on the Temple (the death of
                > Nero and the subsequent year of the three emperors), seemed actually, as the
                > Zealots were proclaiming, to have God on its side.

                Jeffrey, your historical knowledge could use some upgrading. This
                Cestius Gallus came into Jerusalem in 66CE, before Vespasian came into
                play, well before the death of Nero (68) and well before the year of the
                3 emperors (69). Refer to Josephus' Wars, book II, from Chapter XVIII.

                Hmmmm. What I was trying to indicate above (indeed, what I thought I had indicated) was (a) that during the course of the war, from it's outbreak at the cessation of the temple sacrifice to the emperor and the massacre of the Roman contingent which had been in the Fortress Antonia to the burning of the Temple under Titus, there had been two separate non-prosecuted onsets by Roman forces against the Temple mount (the first by Cestius Gallus, in 66 shortly after the outbreak of the rebellion which ended with him turning tail and being routed, and the second under Vespasian, some years later, which he forestalled because of his having to turn his attention to the civil turmoil that erupted in Rome at the death of Nero) and (b) that both of these forestalled onsets were viewed by the supporters of the nationalistic cause as being engineered by God and proof that he would not let his Temple be violated.

                Looking over what I wrote, I fail to see that I did not make a temporal distinction between these two forestalled campaigns and/or that I indicated, as you seem to have read me,  that the one under Cestius Gallus took place during same period as the one under Vespasian.

                So my historical knowledge is just fine, thank you. Perhaps what needs upgrading is the prescription for your glasses :)!

                Yours,

                Jeffrey
                --
                Jeffrey B. Gibson
                7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
                Chicago, Illinois 60626
                e-mail jgibson000@...
                 

              • Bernard Muller
                ... I have to agree I was a bit too quick. But your post was rather confusing. Anyway I am glad you are edging towards GMark being written in 70CE. You are at
                Message 7 of 16 , Sep 1, 1999
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                  Jeffrey B. Gibson wrote:

                  > Hmmmm. What I was trying to indicate above (indeed, what I thought I had indicated)
                  > was (a) that during the course of the war, from it's outbreak at the cessation of
                  > the temple sacrifice to the emperor and the massacre of the Roman contingent which
                  > had been in the Fortress Antonia to the burning of the Temple under Titus, there had
                  > been two separate non-prosecuted onsets by Roman forces against the Temple mount
                  > (the first by Cestius Gallus, in 66 shortly after the outbreak of the rebellion
                  > which ended with him turning tail and being routed, and the second under Vespasian,
                  > some years later, which he forestalled because of his having to turn his attention
                  > to the civil turmoil that erupted in Rome at the death of Nero) and (b) that both of
                  > these forestalled onsets were viewed by the supporters of the nationalistic cause as
                  > being engineered by God and proof that he would not let his Temple be violated.

                  I have to agree I was a bit too quick. But your post was rather
                  confusing. Anyway I am glad you are edging towards GMark being written
                  in 70CE. You are at least at 69 now, going on 70.

                  Bernard
                  http://www.concentric.net/~Mullerb/
                • Jan Sammer
                  ... One issue that needs to be faced is the fact that the Jesus movement seemed not to have missed the absence of narrative writings of the gospel type for the
                  Message 8 of 16 , Sep 2, 1999
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                    Jeffrey :

                    >I would question the hidden assumption here -- that Mark wrote his
                    >Gospel for, and intended it to be read by, the Roman public. Do we have
                    >any indication -- even assuming that his Gospel has a Roman provenance --
                    >that he wrote what he wrote for non christians?

                    One issue that needs to be faced is the fact that the Jesus movement seemed
                    not to have missed the absence of narrative writings of the gospel type for
                    the first thirty years or so of the movement's existence. It is reasonable
                    to assume that the gospels were produced in response to a need. Now members
                    of the Jesus movement had no need to hear Markan diatribes against the
                    Temple authorities, proofs that Jesus' words and actions were consistent
                    with him being the Messiah of Israel, or exonerations of Pilate. The attempt
                    to clear the Roman governor of responsibility for Jesus' crucifixion is
                    indicative of an attempt to make Jesus acceptable in Roman eyes. From a
                    purely Jewish/Christian perspective being executed by a man such as Pilate
                    would be no cause for shame.

                    >I think far more plausible, especially in the light of Chp. 13, that Mark
                    (like
                    >the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews) is writing strictly to a Jesus
                    >movement audience sometime before the end of the war in order to stave
                    >them off from joining with the Jewish/Zealot nationalistic cause which,
                    >given (a) the defeat of Cestius Gallus after he approached and began to
                    >make the first full scale Roman assault against the Temple and (b) what
                    >appeared to be a divinely engineered halt to Vespasian's assault on the
                    >Temple (the death of Nero and the subsequent year of the three emperors),
                    >seemed actually, as the Zealots were proclaiming, to have God on its side.

                    The references in Chapter 13 to being arrested and taken to court may well
                    refer to Paul's experiences, the purpose being to show that Jesus foresaw
                    what his disciples, and particularly the disciple currently under arrest in
                    Rome, would have to suffer for his sake.

                    >This, rather than some highly speculative ideas about mounting a campaign
                    >to take over the temple and win Roman hearts to help in this endeavour, or
                    >an apologia to Rome helping to distinguish Christians from rebellious Jews
                    >(ala Josephus vis a vis loyal from fanatical Jews) seems to me to be a much
                    >more plausible Sitz im Leben for the Gospel.

                    Here I would only object to your "highly speculative" terminology. Paul
                    declares in no uncertain terms that his converts are the true Israel. The
                    gospel writers portray the Messiah of Israel as having been killed as a
                    result of a Temple conspiracy. Does it not follow that the true Israel has
                    the right to run the Temple and displace the direct descendants of the
                    Messiah's enemies? Would this not help explain Matthew 27:25 where the
                    "Temple party" haranguing Pilate accepts responsibility for Jesus' death on
                    behalf of its children--i.e., the generation that ran the Temple ca. 60
                    A.D.? After all, the purpose of accusing someone of a crime is usually to
                    make sure they get the punishment they deserve. And the accusation is
                    usually made to someone with the power to take the appropriate action.

                    Regards,

                    Jan Sammer
                    Interpres
                    Prague-Czech Republic
                    sammer@...
                    www.interpres.cz
                  • Jan Sammer
                    ... You mean thin ice? I don t think so. Chapter 18 contains direct exhortations to attack Babylon the Great and describes the city in flames. ... I didn t say
                    Message 9 of 16 , Sep 2, 1999
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                      > Jan Sammer wrote:
                      >
                      > >The kind of Christian writing you get
                      > > after the persecutions start is the book of Revelations, with its thinly
                      > > veiled exhortations to an all-out war against Rome.
                      >
                      Bernard Muller:

                      > "thinly veiled exhortations to an all-out war against Rome."
                      > Where did you get that from? It looks you are running on very thin air
                      > here.

                      You mean thin ice? I don't think so. Chapter 18 contains direct exhortations
                      to attack Babylon the Great and describes the city in flames.

                      > The book of Revelations was not the only Christian book written after
                      > 62. These books (gospels, epistles) were either totally unconcerned
                      > about relationship between Christians and authorities, or advised
                      > obedience. Revelation is the only book which is anti-Roman. It is the
                      > exception and not the rule.

                      I didn't say it was the rule. And we obviously have very divergent views on
                      the chronology of the NT writings.

                      > Revelation has a long history,
                      > see http://www.concentric.net/~Mullerb/danrv.shtml for more info,

                      I have read your views of Revelation a while back and I find little to agree
                      with.

                      > but let's say here that the Christianized version appeared around 95
                      > (almost every scholars agree on this date, me too), at a time when
                      > emperor Domitian was getting paranoiac in his last years (93-96) and
                      > wanted to be recognized as a God. Most historians think that the
                      > persecution then was not aimed at Christians per say, but also Jews, or
                      > anyone else who would not accept Domitian as "my Lord and my God". So
                      > Domitian's persecution certainly cannot be considered as a proof of a
                      > long lasting official Roman policy against Christians (which started in
                      > 62!)

                      My preferred date for Revelation is 62 A.D. The reasons are too complex to
                      go into here and may be viewed as off-topic by the powers that be. OK, so
                      it's not the majority view.

                      > > > >After 70 A.D. all the
                      > > > > malice shown in the synoptics, and particularly GMatt., towards the
                      > > "chief
                      > > > > priests and the elders" would have been pointless as well.
                      > > >
                      > > > The same GMatt. clearly describes Pharisees turning into rabbis which
                      > > > started to happen around 80-90 (Mt23:2-3,6-7). "the chief priests and
                      > > > **the elders** (and teachers of the law)" likely represents Jewish
                      > > > leaders and religious elite generally:
                      > > > Mk8:31 "He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer
                      many
                      > > > things and be rejected by the **elders**, chief priests and teachers
                      of
                      > > > the law, ..."
                      > > > Please note that the elders and teachers of the law were still kicking
                      > > > around after 70.
                      > >
                      > > What's important is that the chief priests were no longer around and it
                      is
                      > > they who are the major target of the synoptic writers' wrath.
                      >
                      > So what's your point?

                      My point is that the gospel writers are pointing an accusing finger at
                      somebody who according to your dating is no longer around at the time of
                      writing.

                      > For Matthew, the major target are Pharisees turning into rabbis.
                      > For Mark, the major enemies are teachers of the law.

                      In Mk 14:10 it's the chief priests who pay Judas to hand over Jesus to them.
                      Those who order Jesus' arrest are "the chief priests, the teachers of the
                      law and the elders" (14:44). The enemies are the chief priests and their
                      supporters.

                      > Are you trying to say that the synoptic gospels (or only GMark) had to
                      > be written when the chief priests were still around?

                      Precisely. Their guilt is meant to disqualify them from their posts. That
                      only makes sense if they're still in their posts at the time of writing.

                      > > The point is that Mark is catering to Roman
                      > > sensibilities.
                      >
                      > Mark is catering to a few Christians which may have thought about not
                      > paying taxes (just like Paul did earlier in Romans) and therefore get
                      > the whole Christian community into trouble. Please note that this
                      > thought can be entertained by anyone, anytime, and of any religious
                      > belief (or none). Yes, it is perfectly natural, isn't it?

                      It's even occurred to me, but I'd rather not have to wear striped pyjamas
                      all day. Seriously, I meant much more than taxpaying in referring to Mark's
                      catering to Roman sensibilities. E.g., making Pilate into a model Skeptic
                      prince corresponding point by point to the clement ruler of Seneca's De
                      Clementia.

                      Jan Sammer
                      Interpres
                      Prague-Czech Republic
                      sammer@...
                      www.interpres.cz
                    • Ron Price
                      Jeffrey, Your article on _The Tradition of Jesus Tax Question Temptation_ available on http://www.ameritech.net/users/jgibson000/Taxtest.htm gives an
                      Message 10 of 16 , Sep 5, 1999
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                        Jeffrey,
                        Your article on _The Tradition of Jesus' Tax Question Temptation_
                        available on
                        http://www.ameritech.net/users/jgibson000/Taxtest.htm
                        gives an excellent account of why a pious Jew would not support giving
                        taxes to Caesar, and I agree that in its original setting, the saying
                        would have been interpreted by pious Jews as a refusal.
                        I think that the subtlety of
                        the saying reveals Jesus' ingenuity. The saying was a rallying-cry to
                        his supporters, yet on the surface it contained nothing tangible to
                        which the authorities could object.
                        You rightly point out that Mark uses PEIRAZW in a similar sense
                        elsewhere. But Mark's fondness for PEIRAZW suggests to me that Mark
                        himself was the pioneer of its use in connection with Jesus.
                        On the issue of **Mark's** understanding, I think Mark understood it
                        as a refusal to pay taxes but deliberately presented it as an
                        acceptance. "Who's head is this, and whose title?" is a Markan addition
                        to the tradition, and hints at acceptance. This is consistent with
                        several other indications of pro_Roman and pro-Gentile attitudes in his
                        gospel.

                        Ron Price

                        ron.price@...

                        Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK
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