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Re: [XTalk] Ted's Hypothesis (was Re: Methodological Presupposition re Gospel Accounts

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  • Theodore Weeden
    Brian Trafford wrote on Tuesday, July 11: Hello Ted Rather than get into a detailed response to your post, I would like to examine your working hypthosis a bit
    Message 1 of 3 , Jul 18 6:07 PM
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      Brian Trafford wrote on Tuesday, July 11:

      Hello Ted

      Rather than get into a detailed response to your post, I would like
      to examine your working hypthosis a bit more closely. From what I
      have read from you in the past, as well as in this post, Mark was
      primarily interested in undermining the authority and teaching of
      Peter, James, the Twelve and members of Jesus' family within the
      early Church. You base this argument, I believe, largely on the
      negative portrayal of Peter and the Twelve in most of Mark's Gospel.
      My apologies for the over simplification, but I hope I have
      characterized your position more or less accurately.

      [Ted]

      Thank you for writing and for your inquiry, Brian. I apologize for my
      delayed reply. Your statement is a fairly accurate representation of my
      position. My position on Mark's denigrating, debunking, and discrediting
      Peter, James, John and the rest of the Twelve has been comprehensively
      presented in my _Mark-Traditions in Conflict_ (1971, 1979 [paperback]).

      [Brian]

      My difficulty with this hypothesis is that I do not see how it can
      be supported without begging the question on a massive scale. No
      one disputes the "slowness" of the Twelve, including Peter, and
      their seeming denseness in understanding that Jesus is the Messiah,
      the Son of God as found in the Gospels, and especially in GMark. We
      also cannot dispute the hostility of Jesus' family toward's Jesus'
      ministry. But this lack of understanding/hostility on their part is
      confined entirely to the pre-Resurrection Jesus. Mark says nothing
      at all about how they responded to that Resurrection event (outside
      of the women fleeing in terror in Mark 16:8), but we can be
      reasonably certain from the evidence that they did respond by
      spreading the "gospel" that Jesus was the Christ, the Risen Lord, as
      it were.

      [Ted]

      That is certainly what Matthew, John, Luke and non-canonical Gospels (e.g.,
      the Gospel of Mary) tell us.

      [Brian]

      Moreover, Mark's audience would have known this as well.

      [Ted}

      We do not know what exactly they knew.

      [Brian]

      The only other example we have of how a 1st century Jew responded to
      Jesus prior to his own experience of the Resurrection is Paul. In
      his letters Paul is quick to point out his own hostility to
      Christians, the Gospel, and to Jesus before he received his
      commmission from Jesus himself. In effect, he admits that he was at
      least as dense and uncomprehending of the truth of Jesus' role as
      Son of God as had been the Twelve, Peter, and Jesus' family as
      portrayed in GMark. In fact, he was even more hostile to the truth
      of the gospel than was Jesus' family (which merely thought him
      mad). What we have from Paul's letters is a clearly "anti-Saul" (if
      I may use such a term) theme, but far from undermining Paul's
      authority, he uses it to bolster it!

      [Ted]

      I do not find Paul to be an example to support your point. Unlike the
      disciples, Paul never knew Jesus. Paul's initial association with Jesus'
      followers was in opposition to the claims about Jesus. One would expect
      him to be hostile to the claims made about Jesus. Where does Paul in
      effect admit "that he was at least as dense and uncomprehending of the truth
      of Jesus' role as Son of God as had been the Twelve, Peter, and Jesus'
      family as portrayed in GMark."

      [Brian}

      So, my question boils down to this: why should we assume that the
      negative portrayal of Peter, et al, as found in GMark should be read
      as intended to tear down their authority in the post-Resurrection
      experience church? If anything, the theme we see from Paul and the
      rest of the Gospels is that the Resurrection experience is what
      transforms *everyone* who has it, transforming them from what they
      once were (rebellious, uncomprehending, hostile to God's Son, etc.)
      into true followers of Christ, invested with his spirit and
      authority. Does it not make sense to read GMark in this same light?

      [Ted]

      I think it does make sense if one reads Mark in the same way as the first
      hearers of the Gospel heard it in oral performance. Since hearing the
      Gospel for the first time meant that they did not know how the story would
      unfold from one incident to the next, they would be dependent upon the way
      in which Mark constructed his plot as it unfolded and the way in which he
      shapes the depiction of his characters as the narrative unfolds. His first
      hearers would certainly not know the ending, and since there was no
      narrative Gospel prior to Mark, and the other narrative Gospels had,
      consequently not been written, the hearers could not have filled in the
      narrative gaps with information from the later canonicals as we do. Our
      problem in fully understanding Mark's literary genius in constructing his
      parabolic polemic, as I see it, is that we do not start with something like
      a tableau rosa with respect to the development of the Gospel drama, as his
      hearers would likely have had to do. We already know how the story will
      turn out, and we know what Matthew, Luke and John had to say about the
      story. Let me illustrate.

      As I point out in my _Mark_, if one follows the plot up to 8:26, without
      awareness of what follows thereafter, one gets the distinct impression that
      others who hardly know Jesus at all recognize things about him and correctly
      interpret the meaning of his proclamations (see below), but the disciples,
      compare to these "first-timers" with Jesus appear to be dunces. They have
      almost no clue as to who Jesus is and what is going on around him. The
      demons (certainly characters in the narrative) recognize Jesus as the Son of
      God. God, also a persona in the narrative, declares that Jesus is his Son.
      I am suggesting that the first hearer, and those of us who take the posture
      of the initial reading of the Gospel, wonder when the disciples, who have
      been given the secret of the kingdom, are going to wake up and get with it.

      Then, in 8:22-26, Mark introduces the story of the unusual double healing of
      the blindness of the man of Bethsaida, a symbolic narrative precursor of
      what is to follow (i.e., the surface blindness of the disciples will be
      removed but the deeper, ideological blindness will remain). With that Mark
      springs upon the first hearer and the reader in his/her initial reading the
      identity-question on the way to Caesarea Philippi: "Who do you say I am?",
      an identity question that runs as a subtext throughout the first part of
      Mark (see, e.g., the disciples' question: "Who then is this?" after Jesus
      calms the sea: 8:41) And out of the blue the uncomprehending disciples,
      represented by Peter, have a burst of profound insight equal to the demons.
      Peter proclaims that Jesus is the Christ (8:29). Hearer and reader alike
      would likely breathe a sigh of relief. But then Mark introduces the
      parabolic jolt by, for the first time, having Jesus describe what he
      understands to be his suffering-servant christological path. With that, and
      I would suggest, to the surprise of the first hearer and reader, Peter turns
      on Jesus and rebukes him, using the same Greek word (EPITIMAW] as is used to
      exorcise demons in the previous chapters. And Jesus, in turn, rebukes
      Peter, calling him Satan. Thus, we have Peter trying to exorcise Jesus of
      his misguided christology and Jesus trying to exorcise Peter of his
      obduracy to the christology Jesus claims for himself. From that point on
      as the parabolic narrative unfolds, the disciples refuse or fail to
      understand or accept Jesus' christology and the suffering-servant
      discipleship required of one who follows a suffering-servant Son of man/God.
      As the narrative draws to a close, members of the Twelve reject Jesus in
      various ways and they depart the narrative thereafter, never to be heard
      from again (see more on this below). Now, I dare to say that when you
      approach the Gospel from this stance, then you gain an entirely different
      perspective on the relationship between Jesus and the Twelve, a relationship
      polemically crafted by Mark (see more below).

      Let me elaborate further my position by making the following points with
      respect to my methodological approach to Mark, and the presuppositions which
      inform that approach:

      (1) Mark makes no claim to be writing in the style of historiographers of
      the first century CE. He does not adopt the first person persona of an
      ancient historian or establish objectivity and distance between himself and
      the matters his reports in his narrative as Herodotus does. Mark writes as
      a committed believer in what he tells (as his opening sentence clearly
      indicates). He does not report that certain things were said by others
      about Jesus and interject disclaiming distance from reports he finds
      incredulous, as Herodotus and other ancient historians did. Mark's genre,
      as I have suggested above and in other posts, is closer to that of a lengthy
      parable.

      (2) Mark is the first Gospel to narrate the relationship between Jesus and
      his disciples, in particular, members of the Twelve, during his public
      ministry. Q and Thomas (early Thomas) give us virtually no information
      about that relationship, how and when they became followers of Jesus, their
      engagement with him or even that they traveled with him (I part with some of
      my colleagues in the Jesus Seminar in that I do not see Jesus modeling his
      ministry after a Cynic. How much Jesus actually traveled from place to
      place I do not know). Likewise, Paul provides virtually no information
      about the relationship that existed between Jesus and his disciples.


      (3) The other canonical Gospels follow Mark and are dependent upon Mark (I
      hold that John was dependent upon Mark) in narrating the relationship
      between Jesus and the disciples during his public ministry.

      (4) From Paul, we are privy to a tradition (1 Cor 15:3-5) that Peter, along
      with the rest of the Twelve (according to the tradition) experienced the
      appearance of the resurrected Jesus. Mark does not narrate or state, for
      that matter, that the resurrected Jesus actually appeared to Peter and the
      Twelve. The Markan Jesus in Mk 14:28 declares that after he is raised from
      the dead, he will go before his disciples to Galilee, and in 16:8 the young
      man in the tomb adds that it is there in Galilee that Peter and the
      disciples will see Jesus. But Mark never indicates whether or not that
      actually happened. In fact, there is good reason to believe that what Mark
      has in mind with respect to Jesus' appearance is his appearance as the
      exalted one in the final event of the end-time (13:24-26). As far as
      Mark's resurrected Jesus is concerned, until the end-time, he is absent;
      and Mark holds a theology of absence with respect to that (see John
      Dominic Crossan, "Empty Tomb and Absent Lord," in _The Passion in
      Mark_, 135-152; and cf. my _Mark_, 111-117). All the other canonical
      Gospels, as well as non-canonical Gospels (see, e.g. the Gospel of Mary),
      do refer or allude to Jesus' disciples experiencing the post-resurrected
      Jesus).

      (5) Of all the canonical Gospels, Mark presents Peter, James, John and the
      rest of the Twelve in the most denigrating way. Each of the other Gospels,
      while not completely expunging the negative Markan depiction of the Twelve,
      do, however, redress the Markan negative treatment of the disciples in a
      more positive light, altering Markan narrative depictions to achieve this
      more positive presentation of the disciples. I could sight numerous
      examples of this, and do so in my book. But let me cite two here. In the
      Caesarea Philippi incident, Matthew (16:13-23), while preserving Jesus'
      stinging rebuke of Peter, introduces, following the Petrine confession ("You
      are the Christ. . . "), Jesus' high approbation of Peter's confession by
      declaring the Church will be built upon Peter and that he will be given the
      keys of the kingdom (16:17-19). Luke expunges Jesus' rebuke completely.
      The second example follows the third passion prediction. Whereas Mark tells
      us (10:35-40) that, contra suffering-servant discipleship, James and John
      seek the ultimate power status (seats on the right and left of Jesus in his
      "glory"), Matthew disassociates James and John from such a self-serving
      request, and instead places the request upon the lips of their mother
      (20:20-21). Luke, for his part, deletes this exchange from his Markan
      hypotext entirely in appropriating it for his hypertext (see 18:31-35). As
      I said, I can provide numerous other examples of the way in which Matthew
      and Luke air brush out much of the denigrating depiction of the Twelve found
      in Mark.

      (6) At practically every turn of the Markan narrative, the disciples either
      misperceive Jesus, fail to understand or obstinately go their own way in
      acting contrary to the cruciform life style Jesus calls upon his disciples
      to live. By contrast, other personae in the Gospel, particularly women, who
      encounter Jesus for the first time show amazing perspicacity about Jesus and
      his teaching. Again, two examples. First the hemorrhaging woman detects
      in Jesus the power to heal her and acts upon it, but the disciples are
      oblivious to the power the woman recognizes (5:25-34; cf. the storm-stilling
      story: 4:35-41). Second the Syrophoenician, woman (7:24-30) catches on
      quickly to Jesus' riddle and turns it to her advantage and the healing of
      her daughter. But, the disciples, despite the fact that they have been
      given the secret for understanding his teaching (4:10-12), fail to
      understand Jesus' parabolic message (4:13) and other aspects of his teaching
      and the point of his ministry and very being (8:14-21; 31-33; 9:32). Women
      are Mark's positive narrative foils to the obstinate, obdurate, and,
      finally, unfaithful disciples. This is manifestly clear in the latter part
      of the Markan narrative. The poor woman in the Temple is lifted up by Jesus
      as a model of self-sacrifice (12:41-44) over against the disciples who are
      concerned about how difficult it is for the rich to enter the kingdom
      (10:23-26). In the episode at Bethany, those gathered, presumably
      including the Twelve, denounce the extravagant act of anointing by the woman
      (14:3-9). But Jesus praises her with the highest of praise. She is a
      striking positive foil to the disciples. Finally, the Twelve reject Jesus
      via betrayal, denial, and flight. In contrast, women followers remain
      faithful to him and as a result are the only authoritative witnesses ---not
      the disciples-of three kerygmatic events of the creed of I Cor. 15:3-5.
      They witness Jesus' crucifixion-death, his burial, and the demonstrative
      evidence of his resurrection after three days (15:40-16:7).

      (7) Mark, as I have presented on XTalk, created the betrayal of Jesus by a
      member of the Twelve, created the denial of Jesus by Peter, a member of the
      Twelve, and the flight of the disciples from Jesus. Mark modeled Judas and
      his betrayal after David's counselor Ahithophel and his betrayal of David,
      the flight of the disciples after Ahithophel's plan to cause the flight of
      David's followers and the kill David. With respect to the denial of Peter,
      I have presented the case on XTalk for Mark inventing the Jewish and Roman
      trials of Jesus using as a model the Jewish and Roman hearings of Jesus son
      of Ananias in the Josephan story in _Jewish War_, VI. 300-309 (my full
      presentation of this thesis will appear in a forthcoming edition of _Forum_,
      hopefully, this year). Since, as I argue, the Jewish trial is a creation
      of Mark, then in addition to other factors undermining the claims for the
      historicity of the Petrine denial, once the Jewish trial is recognized as a
      Markan creation, then the very setting for the denial of Peter evaporates.
      Furthermore, I am convinced that Mark and Mark alone is responsible for the
      creation of what we call "the passion narrative." There was not a
      pre-Markan passion narrative. All attempts to win scholarly support for the
      various possible reconstructions of such a pre-Markan narrative have failed.
      Mark is in sole control of his passion narrative and its anti-Twelve
      subtext.

      (8) The coup de grace of Marks vendetta against the Twelve is found in
      16:7f. The women are told to go and tell the disciples that Jesus goes
      before them into Galilee and there they will see him. I take 16:8 at full
      face value. The Markan narrative ends with Peter and the disciples never
      getting the message that Jesus had, in fact, been raised from the dead, even
      though he predicts the same to his disciples. Thus, they exit the Markan
      drama as apostates, not as apostles of the risen Jesus. None of the
      canonical authors dependent upon Mark could tolerate such an ending. So
      they rewrote the ending, as did the authors of the shorter and longer
      endings appended to Mark, so that the disciples are restored to apostleship.

      (9) I would argue further, with many of other scholars, that Jesus never
      appointed twelve disciples as his primary disciple-associates in his public
      ministry. The tradition of the Twelve was invented post-Easter, likely by
      the Jerusalem Church or at least by Jewish Christians in their ideological
      envisioning of Jesus as God's chosen Messiah to actualize the eschatological
      hope and dream of a new Israel, symbolically represented by the Twelve
      tribes: thus, the need to have twelve of Jesus' closest disciples to be the
      leaders of the new Israel. It is against the purported authority of the
      fabricated Twelve that Mark wages his polemic, since it is that authority
      which has been introduced in Mark's community as a challenge to his own
      christology and interpretation of discipleship.

      What I have presented would require a book to defend in a comprehensive and,
      hopefully, compelling way.

      Thanks for engaging me on my Markan thesis. I will be away from Thursday
      until late Saturday and will not be able to address any responses you may
      wish to make until after that time. Unfortunately, I am also behind in
      answering other posts because of the "flooding disaster" I have experienced

      Best,

      Ted
      Theodore J. Weeden, Sr.
      Retired
      Ph.D., Claremont Graduate University
      Fairport, NY
    • Brian Trafford
      ... Actually, this is also what we get from Paul s letters as well, which, of course, predate all of the Gospels (canonical or not). In fact, the status of
      Message 2 of 3 , Jul 24 10:39 PM
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        --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, "Theodore Weeden" <Tweeden@...> wrote:
        > [Brian]
        > > My difficulty with this hypothesis is that I do not see how it can
        > be supported without begging the question on a massive scale. No
        > one disputes the "slowness" of the Twelve, including Peter, and
        > their seeming denseness in understanding that Jesus is the Messiah,
        > the Son of God as found in the Gospels, and especially in GMark. We
        > also cannot dispute the hostility of Jesus' family toward's Jesus'
        > ministry. But this lack of understanding/hostility on their part is
        > confined entirely to the pre-Resurrection Jesus. Mark says nothing
        > at all about how they responded to that Resurrection event (outside
        > of the women fleeing in terror in Mark 16:8), but we can be
        > reasonably certain from the evidence that they did respond by
        > spreading the "gospel" that Jesus was the Christ, the Risen Lord, as
        > it were.
        >
        > [Ted]
        >That is certainly what Matthew, John, Luke and non-canonical Gospels
        >(e.g., the Gospel of Mary) tell us.

        Actually, this is also what we get from Paul's letters as well, which,
        of course, predate all of the Gospels (canonical or not). In fact,
        the status of Peter, John and James is such that Paul refers to them
        as "pillars" of the church, and excepting 1st Corinthians sees no
        reason to elaborate on why they enjoyed such an exalted status
        (namely, that they were the first witnesses to the Resurrection).

        > [Brian]
        > Moreover, Mark's audience would have known this as well.
        >
        > [Ted}
        > We do not know what exactly they knew.

        Perhaps, but we can very reasonably assume that they did know that
        Peter, James and the Twelve (however that group is composed) were
        among the first to claim to see the risen Jesus. Moreover, we know
        from Paul (as well as later sources) that it is through this witness
        that the apostles gained their authority over the early church. Even
        for your own thesis to work we have to have some reason to believe
        that Peter, James and the others were viewed as of special authority
        based on something, and given that all of the evidence we have from
        every early source points to the Resurrection, this seems as good a
        place as any to accept it.

        > [Ted]
        >I do not find Paul to be an example to support your point. Unlike
        >the disciples, Paul never knew Jesus. Paul's initial association
        >with Jesus' followers was in opposition to the claims about Jesus.
        >One would expect him to be hostile to the claims made about Jesus.
        >Where does Paul in effect admit "that he was at least as dense and
        >uncomprehending of the truth of Jesus' role as Son of God as had been
        >the Twelve, Peter, and Jesus' family as portrayed in GMark."

        I am afraid that you have misunderstood my point. Paul relates his
        open hostility to the gospel prior to his experiencing the
        Resurrection. Moreover, he compares his experience to that of Peter,
        James and the Twelve, and uses it to justify his authority, placing
        him on par with the other apostles. So what we have is the
        pre-Resurrection experience Paul (I will call him Saul hereafter to
        make the distinction clearer) with the post-Resurrection Paul. The
        contrast is radical, and serves as a template from which Mark and
        others could work. Very simply, one could look as bad as possible
        prior to coming to a "true faith/understanding" of who Jesus happens
        to be. The transformation of the experience of the Resurrection makes
        the contrast highly dramatic, and serves to verify the power of Christ
        to change the lives of those who believe in him.

        Remember, Mark's whole reason for writing his Gospel is to have his
        readers come to believe that Jesus is the Christ. Why would he want
        this if he did not wish to have the new belief transform the lives of
        his readers, making them into Christians, just as it did for Peter and
        the apostles?

        > [Brian}
        > So, my question boils down to this: why should we assume that the
        > negative portrayal of Peter, et al, as found in GMark should be read
        > as intended to tear down their authority in the post-Resurrection
        > experience church? If anything, the theme we see from Paul and the
        > rest of the Gospels is that the Resurrection experience is what
        > transforms *everyone* who has it, transforming them from what they
        > once were (rebellious, uncomprehending, hostile to God's Son, etc.)
        > into true followers of Christ, invested with his spirit and
        > authority. Does it not make sense to read GMark in this same light?
        >
        > [Ted]
        >I think it does make sense if one reads Mark in the same way as the
        >first hearers of the Gospel heard it in oral performance. Since
        >hearing the Gospel for the first time meant that they did not know
        >how the story would unfold from one incident to the next, they would
        >be dependent upon the way in which Mark constructed his plot as it
        >unfolded and the way in which he shapes the depiction of his
        >characters as the narrative unfolds. His first
        >hearers would certainly not know the ending, and since there was no
        >narrative Gospel prior to Mark, and the other narrative Gospels had,
        >consequently not been written, the hearers could not have filled in
        >the narrative gaps with information from the later canonicals as we
        >do. Our problem in fully understanding Mark's literary genius in
        >constructing his parabolic polemic, as I see it, is that we do not
        >start with something like a tableau rosa with respect to the
        >development of the Gospel drama, as his
        >hearers would likely have had to do. We already know how the story
        >will turn out, and we know what Matthew, Luke and John had to say
        >about the story. Let me illustrate.

        Actually, we stop here. We do not just have Matthew, Luke and John to
        fill in the details of what happened after the Resurrection. We also
        have Paul, and to assume that Mark's audience would be totally
        ignorant of Paul, or at least of what Paul took for granted as being
        known to his readers would be unreasonable. Mark did not write in a
        vacuum with the story totally unknown to his readers. From 1
        Corinthians 15 we have the basic structure of what is known to
        everyone inside the church. Mark does not contradict that report. In
        fact, he does not even have Jesus appear first to Mary Magdeline or
        any other woman as do the other Evangelists.

        > As I point out in my _Mark_, if one follows the plot up to 8:26,
        >without awareness of what follows thereafter, one gets the distinct
        >impression that others who hardly know Jesus at all recognize things
        >about him and correctly interpret the meaning of his proclamations
        >(see below), but the disciples, compare to these "first-timers" with
        >Jesus appear to be dunces. They have almost no clue as to who Jesus
        >is and what is going on around him. The demons (certainly
        >characters in the narrative) recognize Jesus as the Son of
        >God. God, also a persona in the narrative, declares that Jesus is
        >his Son.
        >I am suggesting that the first hearer, and those of us who take the
        >posture of the initial reading of the Gospel, wonder when the
        >disciples, who have been given the secret of the kingdom, are going
        >to wake up and get with it.

        We already know when they "woke up". It was after they experienced
        the Resurrection. This is what made them Apostles, with authority over
        the church. Without that authority there would be no reason for Mark
        to even bother "attacking" them as you suggest in your hypothesis. We
        all agree that James, Peter et al. were the pillars in the church. We
        can also agree that the reason Jesus was thought to be the Son of God
        was because of the Resurrection. Mark hints at the visions to come
        (in Galilee), but sees no reason to explain them because they are
        already known to his readers (cf. 1 Cor. 15). And his contrast of the
        pre-Resurrection disciples with what his readers would know of these
        later "pillars" of the church would be well known to those same
        readers, offering them an illustration of what coming to believe in
        Jesus as the Christ will mean for them.

        Mark does not want his readers to just believe that Jesus is the
        Christ. He wants them to believe this because it will transform their
        lives, and make them new people, just as that belief has transformed
        the apostles before them.

        >(4) From Paul, we are privy to a tradition (1 Cor 15:3-5) that Peter,
        >along with the rest of the Twelve (according to the tradition)
        >experienced the appearance of the resurrected Jesus. Mark does not
        >narrate or state, for that matter, that the resurrected Jesus
        >actually appeared to Peter and the Twelve. The Markan Jesus in Mk
        >14:28 declares that after he is raised from
        >the dead, he will go before his disciples to Galilee, and in 16:8 the
        >young man in the tomb adds that it is there in Galilee that Peter and
        >the disciples will see Jesus. But Mark never indicates whether or
        >not that actually happened.

        This is because he does not have to. As we know from Paul, this is
        already well known (to the point that Paul does not have to bother
        mentioning it anywhere else in his letters), and that it is the
        experience of the actual Resurrection that gives the apostles the
        authority that they have in the first place.

        >In fact, there is good reason to believe that what Mark
        >has in mind with respect to Jesus' appearance is his appearance as
        >the exalted one in the final event of the end-time (13:24-26). As
        >far as Mark's resurrected Jesus is concerned, until the end-time, he
        >is absent; and Mark holds a theology of absence with respect to that
        >(see John Dominic Crossan, "Empty Tomb and Absent Lord," in _The
        >Passion in Mark_, 135-152; and cf. my _Mark_, 111-117). All the
        >other canonical Gospels, as well as non-canonical Gospels (see, e.g.
        >the Gospel of Mary), do refer or allude to Jesus' disciples
        >experiencing the post-resurrected Jesus).

        This thesis makes no sense. If Jesus is absent, then why have the man
        at the tomb tell the women that Jesus will appear to the disciples and
        Peter? Moreover, you have once again mysteriously left Paul out of
        your list of evidence, as if the readers of Mark are going to be
        ignorant not only of Paul, but also of everything Paul takes as a
        given (though you seem willing to mention spurious sources, such as
        GMary). Yet, equally mysteriously, you have them aware that Peter,
        John, the Twelve and Jesus' brother James are well known to those same
        readers, and that those individuals have sufficient authority in the
        church that Mark needs to tear them down. You appear to be wanting to
        have it both ways.

        >(5) Of all the canonical Gospels, Mark presents Peter, James, John
        >and the rest of the Twelve in the most denigrating way. Each of the
        >other Gospels, while not completely expunging the negative Markan
        >depiction of the Twelve, do, however, redress the Markan negative
        >treatment of the disciples in a more positive light, altering Markan
        >narrative depictions to achieve this more positive presentation of
        >the disciples.

        And this is not in dispute. Likewise Paul contrasts the old "Saul"
        with the new "Paul" in his own letters, and even the other Evangelists
        do not completely wash away the negative images of the disciples in
        their own Gospels.

        I have snipped the rest of your reply, as it is irrelevant to the
        discussion if Mark made up the details of the Passion, of Judas and
        the betrayal, or, for that matter, of just about anything else in his
        Gospel. It does not even matter if GJohn is dependent upon GMark
        (something I dispute, but, again, it does not matter in this
        particular discussion). Even if we assume, as you do, that he made
        pretty much all of it up, we are still left with the central
        difficulty of your thesis. Peter, the Twelve ( or if you prefer, some
        collection of people called, including presumably at least John), and
        James were the "pillars" of the church. The Resurrection was known to
        that early church, and direct experiences of that Resurrection served
        as the central source of authority for these men within the church.
        Finally, we have Mark relating multiple times that Jesus will appear
        to Peter and the disciples. If, as I am sure you believe, Mark is
        writing after Peter (and perhaps a few of the other disciples) has
        died, then Mark is saying something that his readers would then have
        to know never happened.

        Mark's portrayal of the disciples fits the pattern found in both Paul
        (pre-Marcan evidence) and John (post-Marcan). In fact, the Gospel
        message is largely about the transformative power of coming to believe
        in Jesus as the Christ. Showing a contrast between what individuals
        are like pre-belief and post-belief strengthens that message, and can
        even be shown, from Paul, to reinforce the authority enjoyed by those
        who embrace it. As you yourself point out, even in Mark, those who
        believe in Jesus *prior* to the Resurrection show some of these
        benefits. But, of course, we know that Mark is writing in light of
        the Resurrection itself, and his readers know this as well. Peter,
        James, John and Paul all preached that Christ is risen, and that they
        had personally witnessed that Resurrected Jesus. To argue that Mark's
        readers would be totally ignorant of this fact, even as they knew that
        Peter, James, John and the Apostles were the chief authorities in the
        church defies the evidence.

        Peace,

        Brian Trafford
        Calgary, AB, Canada
      • Mike Grondin
        ... But they weren t. Aside from the fact that no one at all witnessed the resurrection (i.e., the body rising from the slab), only Peter gets the first
        Message 3 of 3 , Jul 25 10:48 AM
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          --- Brian Trafford wrote:
          > the status of Peter, John and James is such that
          > Paul refers to them as "pillars" of the church,
          > and excepting 1st Corinthians sees no reason to
          > elaborate on why they enjoyed such an exalted status
          > (namely, that they were the first witnesses to the
          > Resurrection).

          But they weren't. Aside from the fact that no one at
          all witnessed the resurrection (i.e., the body rising
          from the slab), only Peter gets the first appearance
          in Paul's list. John is in the second group (the Twelve)
          and James doesn't get an appearance until after the 500.
          So while an appearance-claim may well have been sine
          qua non for a leadership position, that alone doesn't
          account for the pillar-status of John and James, either
          in fact or in Paul's mind.

          Mike Grondin
          Mt. Clemens
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