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Josephus, Mark, John and Textual Evolution

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  • Theodore Weeden
    ... your thesis and Weeden s is that both assume a relatively simple linear relationship between written sources. I m not so sure, and I appeal to what I
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 2, 2005
      Bob Schacht wrote on February 2, 2005 in response to Richard Fellows:

      > I'd like to take a slightly different tack. One possible problem with both
      your thesis and Weeden's is that both assume a relatively simple linear
      relationship between written sources. I'm not so sure, and I appeal to what
      I suppose to be Mark Goodacre's suggestion about the interactivity of text
      and oral culture-- to which I would like to add possible text evolution
      prior to our earliest known documents. Let me try to illustrate this with a
      "just so story", admitting in advance all the weaknesses of this approach.<

      > Suppose that the author of GJohn has, as Ted has suggested, access to some
      form of Mark (oral or written), and that he also has access to the texts of
      Josephus that Ted cites. He knows, or thinks he knows something of the
      external dialogues of the crucifixion from Mark, and he knows directly or
      indirectly that there were also dialogues inside the palace (I am using
      this term imprecisely) to which he doesn't have direct access. Suppose
      also for some reason he concludes that the dialogues inside the palace were
      of critical importance, for one reason or another. What to do? Resorting to
      outright invention would probably not be convincing enough to anyone who
      knew what went on in the palace in a general way. But he has Josephus'
      account of Jesus-B (Ananias). Reasoning by analogy, he thinks that if
      that's the kind of dialogue that went on in the case of Jesus-B, then maybe
      the inside dialogue in the case of Jesus A was similar. In other words, he
      uses the pattern from Josephus as a template. He notes, as Ted has, the
      interesting parallels of detail, and these convince him that other facets
      of their treatment were also parallel. So he weaves the stories together.
      In other words, we don't really have to choose between A and B; It may be
      that they are woven together.<

      > In a sense, this is not all that different in methodology with what
      Crossan does in his reconstruction of Jesus. Crossan proceeds by asking,
      what normally happened? He gathers data from various sources, many having
      no direct relationship to Jesus of Nazareth at all. Then, having created a
      normative pattern, he jumps to the conclusion that things "must have"
      happened the same way with Jesus. In some ways, I see fair similarities
      between what the author of GJohn does in his Passion narrative, and what
      Crossan does.<

      Bob, you have raised a very important issue with respect to intertextuality
      and the evolutionary generation of texts. I think your criticism of my
      being too linear in my accounting for the intertextual relationship between
      Mark and Josephus and John and Josephus is a point well taken. But I would
      like to advance the discussion linearity here, particularly, with respect to
      an intertextual connectedness, between Mark's story of Jesus and Josephus'
      story of Jesus son of Ananias, an intertextual connectedness which has a
      dimension of linearity and which, to my knowledge, no one has explored. The
      dimension of linearity which I have in mind suggests, in my judgment, how
      the story of Jesus son of Ananias originated and the ideational pattern that
      the creators of the story adopted to tell the story, and ideational pattern
      Mark recognized and adopted for his own Mimesis of the Jesus-Ananias story
      for his creation of Jesus' Jewish and Roman trials. To do so, I am
      reproducing an edited and very lengthy section of my manuscript, "Two
      Jesuses: Provocative Parallels, Imaginative Imitation," which I presented at
      the 2003 fall meeting of the Jesus Seminar (see _Westar Institute: Fall 2003
      Seminar Papers_, 1-122). And for purposes following my argument developed
      there with text in hand, I am also reproducing once again the English
      translation of the story of Jesus-Ananias as I presented it in my post to
      Karel Hanhart ("Josephus' Jesus-Ananias & Mark's Jesus,' February 1, 2005).
      I need to note also that I refer to Jesus-Ananias, on occasion, as Jesus of
      Jerusalem. Here now follows the text of the story of Jesus son of Ananias
      (translation by Robert Funk).

      "§300 Four years before the war, when the city was at peace and enjoying
      prosperity, someone named Jesus son of Ananias, an illiterate peasant, came
      to the feast at which it is customary for everyone to erect a temporary
      shelter to God [the Feast of Booths], and suddenly began to cry out in the
      Temple: "A voice from the east, §301 a voice from the west, a voice from
      the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the Temple, a voice against
      the grooms and the brides, a voice against all the people." Day and night,
      through all the narrow streets of the city, he went about shouting this
      refrain. §302 Some of the elders became so enraged over the oracle
      forecasting doom that they arrested the fellow and assaulted him with blows.
      But he, without a word in his own defense or under his breath for those
      striking him, just kept crying out as he had done previously.

      §303 Thereupon, the leaders of the Sanhedrin, convinced that he was under
      the control of some supernatural power, as was the case, brought him before
      the Roman governor. §304 Although flayed to the bone with scourages, he
      did not plead for mercy nor did he shed any tears, rather, varying his voice
      in the most lamenting tone, he cried out with each lash, "Woe to Jerusalem!"
      §305 When Albinus began interrogating him --- Albinus, you will recall,
      was governor --- about who he was, and where he was from, and why he
      kept crying out, he did not reply at all to these questions, nor did he
      stop repeating his dirge over the city. He kept this up until Albinus
      declared him a maniac and released him.

      §306 And up until the time the war began, he never approached any of the
      citizens nor was he observed speaking to any of them, but day after day, as
      though it were a prayer he had carefully composed, he evoked his lament,
      'Woe to Jerusalem!' §307 He neither cursed those who beat him every day,
      nor did he bless those who offered him food. To everyone he gave the same
      reply --- the melancholy omen in his lamentation. §308 His cries were
      most vociferous during the feast days. So he continued wailing for seven
      years and five months until he saw his prediction fulfilled in the siege of
      the city. Then he found peace. You see, as he was making his rounds and
      shouting in a piercing voice from the wall [of the city], §309 "Woe
      again to the city, and to the people and to the Temple," to which he added a
      final word, "and woe to me too," a stone hurled by a catapult struck and
      killed him instantly. And so, with those ominous predictions still on his
      lips, he died."

      Let me state at the outset that I do not think Josephus created this story.
      Rather, it was created as an oral story after the fall of Jerusalem to
      show, via Deuteronomistic hermeneutics, that once more the people of God and
      the cult had ignored the warnings of God and paid dearly for it. Here now
      is the section of my manuscript in which I treat an important intertextual
      relationship between the story of Jesus of Jerusalem and the story of Jesus
      of Nazareth.

      I. Genre as a Key to Intertextuality

      One could . . . argue . that what I perceive as intertextual connectedness
      [between the story of Jesus of Jerusalem and the Markan story of Jesus of
      Nazareth] is nothing more than the appearance of intertextuality which
      naturally obtains between two stories in which the conventional and routine
      judicial and penal processes are depicted. . . . But an objection to such
      an explanation being fully satisfactory in the end, from my perspective, is
      that some of the parallels I have identified are not of a general or routine
      character typical of what one would normally expect in narratives dealing
      with various steps in the trial and penal processes. These particular
      parallels are case specific to the particular stories about the two Jesuses.

      Thus, to be precise and, thereby, articulate the objection I have in mind, I
      submit that the fact that (1) the "Jesus" defendant in both Jesus stories
      are on "trial" for their pronouncements or action against the Temple and/or
      the Temple establishment, (2) the "Jesus" defendant in both stories
      intentionally keeps his silence when confronted with the charges levied
      against him, (3) both Jesuses, outside of any judicial or penal process,
      incorporate passages from Jeremiah in their proclamations against the Temple
      (Jesus-Ananias) or Temple cult (Markan Jesus), (4) both Jesuses in the end,
      and quite apart from any conventional judicial or penal process, die with a
      loud cry of personal woe, and (5) both Jesuses, quite apart from any
      conventional judicial or penal process, are vindicated finally against their
      adversaries by a "catastrophic" event (Jesus-Ananias= siege of Jerusalem;
      Markan Jesus= God's rending of the Temple veil), indicates to me that there
      are parallels existing between the stories that cannot be simply explained
      as characteristic of narratives that typically depict routine actions of
      conventional judicial and penal processes.

      Second, note that of the five elements of the story of Jesus-Ananias that I
      have cited as case specific, and not just of a general nature related to the
      routine judicial and penal processes, three of the elements occur outside of
      the venue of routine judicial and penal proceedings. The story of
      Jesus-Ananias contains these particular elements that have nothing to do
      with the narration of what occurs in routine legal proceedings. They are
      elements that transcend the genre, if I may put it that way, of trial
      accounts, and they are elements that are integral to the telling of the
      larger story of which the genre of trial accounts is a part. They are
      elements that participate in and help to empower the modus operandi of the
      larger genre which is inclusive of the entire story and with which the trial
      genre participates in and contributes to the rhetorical empowerment of that
      larger genre. To put my point another way, there is more to the story of
      Jesus son of Ananias than his Jewish and Roman trials, just as there is more
      to the Markan passion narrative than the Jewish and Roman trials of Jesus.
      The trial genre in the midst of the story of Jesus-Ananias and in the midst
      of the Markan passion narrative is a genre which is a component of and helps
      drive and give definition to the larger genre by which both stories
      themselves are shaped and emplotted.

      Thus, some scholars can explain the parallels between the two stories at the
      level of trial genre as what one would expect in narratives of routine
      judicial and penal processes, what has not considered, in my judgment, with
      respect to evidence of the possibility of intertextuality existing between
      the story of Jesus-Ananias and Mark's story of Jesus of Nazareth, is whether
      there is evidence of possible parallelism between the stories which suggests
      intertextuality at the level of the literary gestalt of both the
      Jesus-Ananias story and the Markan story of Jesus.

      The parallelism I have in mind goes beyond the parallelism that exists
      between individual components of a text or story or their collectivity. It
      is the parallelism of the literary gestalt of the text or story, namely, its
      genre in which all the components, individually and collectively participate
      and empower the modus operandi of that genre. The parallelism I am speaking
      of is the possible parallelism existing between the story of the passion and
      death of the prophet Jesus of Jerusalem and the story of the passion and
      death of the prophet Jesus of Nazareth. To my knowledge, no one has
      explored the issue of parallelism between the text of the story of Ananias'
      son, as Josephus represents it, and the text of the Markan passion narrative
      at the level of the gestalt genre reflected in both narratives. As I have
      explored this level of inquiry, I have found not only striking parallelism
      between the genres but significant support for my thesis that Mark was
      dependent upon the story of Jesus-Ananias for the crafting of his passion
      narrative. It is to this parallelism and the evidence it supports for my
      thesis that I now turn.

      II. Genre and the Intertextuality of the Passion Narratives of the Two

      A. The Genre of the Story of Jesus Son of Ananias

      In exploring for evidence of intertextuality existing between the
      Jesus-Ananias story and the Markan passion narrative at the level of
      possible parallelism between the "gestalt" genres of two stories, I begin
      with the work of George Nickelsburg on the genre of the Markan passion
      narrative. Following the lead of Lothar Ruppert who argued that running
      throughout the Markan passion narrative is the thematic thread of "the
      suffering righteous one," Nickelsburg in his article, "The Genre and
      Function of the Markan Passion Narrative," (_HTR_, 73:153-184), develops the
      thesis that the Markan passion narrative is modeled after the genre of the
      vindication of the persecuted righteous or innocent person. It is, as
      Nickelsburg points out (154, 156.158f.), a genre with roots in stories of
      Joseph (Gen. 37ff), Daniel (Dan. 3; 6), Esther, Susanna, the story of
      Ahikar, and the Wisdom of Solomon (2 -5), as well as II Maccabees 7 and III
      Maccabees. Nickelsburg identifies some twenty-one formal components that
      characterize and collectively give definition to the genre. Not every story
      exhibiting the genre, according to Nickelsburg, contains all twenty-one
      formal components, although there are certain components, such as the
      component Vindication, which must be present for a story to be considered
      representative of the genre. Nickelsburg argues that most of the
      twenty-one components are present, either explicitly or implicitly, in the
      Markan passion narrative, a fact that clearly indicates that Mark's passion
      account was intentionally composed in the style and form of the genre in
      order to cast Jesus as the persecuted righteous and innocent one who is

      With Nickelsburg components in mind, I turned to the story of Jesus son of
      Ananias to see if components of the genre of the persecuted
      righteous/innocent one vindicated can be detected in that story. I find
      thirteen of Nickelsburg's formal components. The thirteen components I
      detect as present, either explicitly or implicitly in, or secondarily
      associated with the telling of, the story of Jesus-Ananias, are as follows:
      Introduction, Provocation, Accusation, Conspiracy, Trial, Decision, Trust,
      Obedience, Condemnation, Reactions, Vindication, Punishment, and
      Acclamation. Let me elaborate by providing Nickelsburg's definition of the
      components of the genre I found in the Jesus-Ananias story and then identify
      the role of each of the genre components in that story.

      (1) Introduction: the point in the story where the introduction of the
      "dramatis personae" occurs and the contextual situation is described. In
      the story of Jesus-Ananias story, Jesus-Ananias is introduced and the
      contextual situation is depicted at the outset of the story (_J. W._, VI.

      (2) Provocation: an action by the protagonist in the story which provokes
      the antagonists of the story. In the story of Jesus-Ananias, his oracle of
      doom provokes the wrath of the Jerusalem elders (_J. W._, VI. 302).

      (3) Accusation: an accusation is brought against the protagonist by
      antagonists. In the story of Jesus-Ananias, the Jerusalem elders'
      accusation against Jesus-Ananias is implicit in arresting him and chastising
      him for his provocative oracle against Jerusalem, its people and the Temple
      (_J.W._, VI. 302).

      (4) Conspiracy: an act initiated by antagonists as a result of the
      provocation of the protagonist. In the story of Jesus-Ananias, the
      Jerusalem elders place Jesus-Ananias on "trial" for his provocation, and the
      Sanhedrin turns him over to Albinus for penal disposition (_J. W._, VI.

      (5) Trial: a formal hearing or trial is held and described at which the
      protagonist stands accused by antagonists. In the story of Jesus-Ananias,
      he is subjected to two formal hearings, a Jewish and a Roman hearing (_J.
      W._, VI. 302-305).

      (6) Decision: the protagonist is forced to decide to be either obedient to
      God or disobedient to God and subject to an earthly authority or some other
      kind of pressure. In the story of Jesus-Ananias, he refuses to capitulate
      to either the demands of the Jewish authorities or Albinus the Roman
      governor. Rather, he instead remains obedient to what he apparently
      considers his divine commission to proclaim his oracle of doom on Jerusalem,
      its people and Temple (_J. W._, VI. 303-305). Josephus in recounting the
      story certainly considers Jesus-Ananias to have been sent by God to warn the
      Jews of their impending doom (_J. W/ _, VI. 288, 300).

      (7) Trust: the trust in God is evident in the protagonist's decision to obey
      God. In the Jesus-Ananias story, while Jesus-Ananias does not explicitly
      indicate his trust in God, it appears that he does implicitly in his dogged
      refusal to obey earthly authorities and stop pronouncing his oracle of
      judgment (_J. W._, VI. 302-308).

      (8) Obedience: the obedience of the innocent/righteous one effectively seals
      his fate. In the story of Jesus-Ananias, his fate is sealed as he, in
      obedience to his divine vocation, persists in proclaiming his oracle of
      judgment up to the point that he is killed by a projectile while voicing his
      oracle as he walks along the wall of the city during the siege of Jerusalem
      (_J. W._, VI. 309).

      (9) Condemnation: antagonists condemn the protagonist or consign him to
      oblivion. In the story of Jesus-Ananias, he is apparently condemned by the
      Sanhedrin and delivered to Albinus the Roman procurator who could sentence
      Jesus-Ananias to death. But Albinus, declaring Jesus-Ananias a maniac,
      releases him, from Albinus' perspective, to the oblivion of his "madness"
      (_J. W._, VI. 305).

      (10) Reactions: varied negative and positive reactions are manifested toward
      the protagonist. In the story of Jesus-Ananias, he evokes strong negative
      reactions from the Jerusalem establishment and the Roman governor (_J. W._,
      VI. 302-305), but he apparently also evokes positive reactions or at least
      compassionate reactions from some people in Jerusalem who offered him food
      as he daily proclaimed his oracle of doom (_J. W._, VI. 307).

      (11) Vindication: the protagonist is vindicated against his/her antagonists
      for the action that provoked them into a conspiracy against her/him or the
      antagonist is proved to be innocent of accusations falsely brought against
      him/her. Such vindication may explicitly or implicitly be demonstrated by a
      future turn of events. In the Jesus-Ananias story, his persistence in
      warning Jerusalem, the people and the Temple for seven years and five months
      that they were all doomed is vindicated by the Roman siege of Jerusalem (_J.
      W._, VI. 309), a vindication that Josephus secondarily attests to in citing
      the story of Jesus-Ananias as a very frightening (FOBERWTERON) warning of
      God which the Jews, Josephus bemoans, failed to pay attention to (_J. W._,
      VI. 288, 300). It is a vindication Jesus-Ananias seems to have experienced
      himself, for having seen his prediction of the doom of Jerusalem and Temple
      fulfilled in the siege of Jerusalem, we are told that it was "then he found
      peace" (_J. W._, VI. 308).

      (12) Punishment: as a corollary to the vindication of the protagonist, the
      antagonists are punished. In the story of Jesus-Ananias, the punishment of
      the antagonists is implicitly suggested by the Roman siege of Jerusalem
      which led to the destruction of the city and the Temple and a holocaust for
      the people (_J. W._, VI. 309). And Josephus confirms that the
      Jerusalemites were punished by God for not heeding Jesus-Ananias'
      proclamation of doom, along with other ominous portents (J. W. _,VI. 288-

      (13) Acclamation: The protagonist is acclaimed in his/her new status. In
      the story of Jesus-Ananias, he is not acclaimed in a new status in the story
      itself. But Josephus secondarily places him in a new status --- an
      entirely different status from that given him by the Jerusalem elders, who
      considered him demon possessed, and Albinus, who considered him a maniac ---
      by treating Jesus-Ananias' mission to pronounce judgment as divinely
      directed. Thereby, Josephus implicitly acclaims Jesus-Ananias for
      providing the divine ominous warning which the people, in their
      recalcitrance, rejected (_J. W._, VI. 288, 300).

      All these various components of the genre of the persecuted
      righteous/innocent one vindicated, which I have identified as present in the
      story of Jesus son of Ananias, convinces me that the story was intentionally
      composed with that genre in mind and with its respective components, which I
      have identified, driving the story line. Moreover, the story's description
      of Jesus-Ananias' Jewish and Roman hearings lead me to suspect that the
      first teller(s) of the story of Jesus-Ananias intentionally framed the
      telling in the style and form of the
      persecuted-righteous/innocent-one-vindicated genre.

      B. The Framing of the Jesus-Ananias Story via Genre

      Consequently, I submit that the original teller(s) of the story fabricated
      the proceedings of the Jewish and Roman trial as a part of a conscious
      effort to cast the son of Ananias in the guise of a persecuted
      righteous/innocent one who is vindicated. Thus, the original framer(s) of
      the story of Jesus son of Ananias produced it as a version of that genre.
      Not only that, the framer(s) applied also a suffering-servant hermeneutic to
      the story of Jesus-Ananias, a hermeneutical spin, as John Donahue and
      Nickelsburg (156) have noted, which is also woven into the fabric of the
      Wisdom of Solomon version of the genre. And thus, further, the original
      teller(s) of the story of Jesus son of Ananias cast him in that genre with
      features of the Isaianic suffering servant. So it is that Jesus-Ananias is
      portrayed like the servant of Isaiah 53, namely, as a man who was "despised
      and rejected by others; a man of suffering [3a], . . . wounded for [others']
      transgressions [5a]," . . . . [a man who] was oppressed and [violently]
      afflicted, yet . . . did not open his mouth,. . . . [a man who] "shall show
      himself to be righteous and [so stand] as righteous among the many." (11b).

      This modeling of Jesus-Ananias after the prototypical suffering servant
      comes through most clearly, in my view, in the depiction of Jesus-Ananias'
      Jewish and Roman hearings. Of particular note is the motif of
      Jesus-Ananias' silence, aside from his incessant harangue, before his
      antagonists in the hearings, a silence motif indigenous to the Isaianic
      suffering servant, but not a formal component of the genre of the persecuted
      righteous/innocent one vindicated. This typological casting of
      Jesus-Ananias as an Isaianic suffering servant cannot be accidental, any
      more than it is accidental that Mark depicts Jesus of Nazareth as the ideal
      Isaianic suffering servant. Nor, I submit, is it accidental that both the
      story of the passion and death of Jesus of Jerusalem and the Markan story of
      the passion and death of Jesus of Nazareth employ the same genre for
      portraying their respective Jesuses as persecuted righteous/innocent
      suffering servants who were vindicated by God. They are intertextually
      connected, not just via individual parallels, as I proposed earlier, but
      also via genre.

      Now, Bob, to your observations about how John went about his use of his
      Markan source recounting the trials of Jesus of Nazareth (I think written)
      and his Josephus source recounting the story of Jesus of Jerusalem (I think
      written), I would argue that John likely recognized the common genre of each
      story. But it was not the genre John was interested in. What he did was
      take elements from the two sources with their common genre and worked those
      elements into his own genre for the presentation of his own ideational
      kerygmatic-spin on the Roman trial of Jesus. Thus, I do not think it was
      so much that John saw in the story of Jesus-Ananias the general format and
      proceedings of judicial processes which he adopted for his narrative.
      Rather, I think John recognized that the elements in both the Markan story
      of Jesus of Nazareth and the Josephus story of Jesus of Jerusalem served to
      empower a common genre which made each story "work" for the purposes cited
      above. John, I surmised, recognized the common genre but did not "buy it"
      for his own narrative purpose. But the elements of that genre which could
      serve his narrative purpose well he lifted from those stories and used in
      their tranvalued and transformed character in his narrative, particularly
      the his depiction of the Roman trial of Jesus in its two stages (as I noted
      in my post to Karel).

      As I close I wish to apologize to Karel Hanhart and other listers for
      numerous erroneous in syntax, punctuation, spelling etc in the long
      post-essay to Karel. I apologize to Karel and others. I worked on the post
      at night when I was tired, and morning light exposed what my eyes missed the
      night before. One correction in that essay I need to note here. I stated
      in the post that I held the provenance of Mark to be Caesarea. I meant
      Caesarea Philippi.

      Bob, you closed your post to Richard Fellows with this note to me:

      > In any case, thanks Ted for sharing your work with us again. I hope the
      changes in your life have settled down and you are developing some sense of
      "normalcy" in your life since your move.<

      Thank you for engaging me in dialogue over this and other theses I have
      presented. Your constructive critical feedback has been very helpful.
      Thank you, also, for inquiry about how my move from Appleton, WI to
      Fairport, NY (suburb of Rochester). It has been a difficult move,
      complicated by rotator-cup surgery in mid-November. I am now established
      here with family and old friends (having lived here for 25 years before I
      moved to Wisconsin), am on the mend, and trying to get some serious and,
      hopefully, significant writing done on a number of theses.

      Best regards,


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