Re: [XTalk] Praised woman in Mark
- sdavies0 wrote:
> Hi folksYes, it's from Crossan. I believe it appears in his _Jesus: A Revolutionary
> How y'all? I hope you're doing fine. I've got a question. It has been
> observed that in Mark the praised woman who anoints Jesus before his
> burial, evidently knowing that he won't be there for the anointments at
> the usual time, J having gone off to Galilee in the meanwhile, knows
> that Jesus is going to die and rise again. Hallelulia for her. She is
> to be contrasted to the women who followed J from Galilee and who,
> clueless, go to anoint the body only to discover it missing. This is
> taken to be a final attack on Jesus' accompanists, specifically the
> women among them, who thus far have seemed to be doing right as opposed
> to the fellas. Now, I thought I got that notion from Ted Weeden's book,
> but recent of his letters indicate that that's not so. Did I get the
> idea from Crossan? Did I make it up myself? Can anybody recall
> instances of somebody discussing such a notion?
Biography_. I would be surprised if he had a longer article on the passage in
Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
> As I read the story in Mark, I have never received the impressionthat the woman knew that Jesus was going to die soon, or that she
intended her anointing of his body in the way that Jesus explained
Is this a common way of reading this story?
>Well, it says: "8 She has done what she could. She has anticipated
> John C. Poirier
anointing my body for burial. 9 Amen, I say to you, wherever the
gospel is proclaimed to the whole world, what she has done will be
told in memory of her."
I assume that when J says that "she has anticipated anointing my
body for burial" and that, therefore, she deserves uniquely high
praises, that indeed must be what she intended to do and it wasn't
some sort of accident. Anointing people for burial some days before
they actually die is unusual, and whenever I've done it a cascade of
global praises has not come forth.
Assuming that Jesus just stays dead, like so many others have, and
that his body is later anointed in the normal course of events, then
what the woman does has no particular importance at all. But in
Mark's narrative the other women quite specifically are said to have
brought spices so that they might go and anoint him. What to their
wondering eyes doth appear but some guy who tells them that Jesus
has gone off to Galilee and they get to return and cash in their
spices for treats.
So, who anoints Jesus' body for burial and when seems to be a
crucial narrative point, one woman is praised for doing it, but in
order to do it must do so ahead of normal time, and the women who
don't do it presumably should have known better. I'd like to know
more about the guy in the tomb; the revised Mark versions denote the
guy as an angel but in Mark he's just a guy. The guy is in a
contrasted narrative pair with the women who came to anoint Jesus,
I'd say. The guy and the praised woman both are anonymous and, I
think, fully aware of The Truth, to be contrasted with, first, the
men disciples who represent the Social Gospel, and then the women
disciples. I think it is literarily a neat bit of business. Jesus'
named guys contrasted with anonymous woman; Jesus' named women
contrasted with anonymous guy.
As for nard being used by a woman to anoint Jesus as Christ, I think
that point of view is mistaken.
- Hi Steve,
Great to hear from you. Two points on your remarks below, which for
some reason I couldn't divide up for comment:
1) It seems to me the story is ambiguous about whether the woman is
conscious of all that her action means, and one possible
interpretation would be on analogy with John's characterization of
Caiaphas as an unwitting prophet 11:51�52; the actor is unaware of
the full significance of his/her actions, which is however apparent
to the reader who knows the subsequent course of events. The
difference between the woman and Caiaphas is that she intends to pay
Jesus honor by her action, whereas Caiaphas isn't concerned to relate
himself positively to Jesus but to seek the best for the nation; for
that reason, believers in Jesus' resurrection can (should) look back
on the woman's action as praiseworthy in a way that Caiaphas' isn't.
2) The NEANISKOS isn't just a guy, he's a guy clothed in a white
STOLH, which in Ezek 10:2, 6-7 LXX designates an attendant of the
heavenly court, and he knows that the one the women are seeking has
been raised and is preceding the disciples to Galilee; he also knows
that Jesus had previously told his disciples this (in 14:28). I don't
think it's too much of a stretch to conclude that Mark characterizes
him as an angel.
Austin Graduate School of Theology
On Aug 28, 2006, at 10:42 AM, sdavies0 wrote:
> Well, it says: "8 She has done what she could. She has anticipated
> anointing my body for burial. 9 Amen, I say to you, wherever the
> gospel is proclaimed to the whole world, what she has done will be
> told in memory of her."
> I assume that when J says that "she has anticipated anointing my
> body for burial" and that, therefore, she deserves uniquely high
> praises, that indeed must be what she intended to do and it wasn't
> some sort of accident. Anointing people for burial some days before
> they actually die is unusual, and whenever I've done it a cascade of
> global praises has not come forth.
> Assuming that Jesus just stays dead, like so many others have, and
> that his body is later anointed in the normal course of events, then
> what the woman does has no particular importance at all. But in
> Mark's narrative the other women quite specifically are said to have
> brought spices so that they might go and anoint him. What to their
> wondering eyes doth appear but some guy who tells them that Jesus
> has gone off to Galilee and they get to return and cash in their
> spices for treats.
> So, who anoints Jesus' body for burial and when seems to be a
> crucial narrative point, one woman is praised for doing it, but in
> order to do it must do so ahead of normal time, and the women who
> don't do it presumably should have known better. I'd like to know
> more about the guy in the tomb; the revised Mark versions denote the
> guy as an angel but in Mark he's just a guy. The guy is in a
> contrasted narrative pair with the women who came to anoint Jesus,
> I'd say. The guy and the praised woman both are anonymous and, I
> think, fully aware of The Truth, to be contrasted with, first, the
> men disciples who represent the Social Gospel, and then the women
> disciples. I think it is literarily a neat bit of business. Jesus'
> named guys contrasted with anonymous woman; Jesus' named women
> contrasted with anonymous guy.
> As for nard being used by a woman to anoint Jesus as Christ, I think
> that point of view is mistaken.
> Steve Davies
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- --- In email@example.com, Jeff Peterson <peterson@...> wrote:
> 1) It seems to me the story is ambiguous about whether the womanis > conscious of all that her action means, and one possible
> interpretation would be on analogy with John's characterization ofapparent > to the reader who knows the subsequent course of events.
> Caiaphas as an unwitting prophet 11:5152; the actor is unaware of
> the full significance of his/her actions, which is however
I guess so.... I don't see that the text per se could have been
written in order to present ambiguity of this sort. It's not a Markan
trait that I know of, while I do think that this sort of ambiguity
and double meaning is Johannine. As for Tony's comments, we are
clearly dealing with two questions that are becoming a bit confused,
one is what happened in the Mark narrative (which, come to think of
it, presumes that Mark made it all up whether or not we believe he
did, for an author selects his stories and his means of presentation
even when the stories are videotapeable) and the other discusses the
real-life historical-Jesus event which, if any, I guess, why not,
presumably the woman may have been praised even though her own
reaction might have been "what the hell is he talking about?"
> 2) The NEANISKOS isn't just a guy, he's a guy clothed in a whitehas > been raised and is preceding the disciples to Galilee; he also
> STOLH, which in Ezek 10:2, 6-7 LXX designates an attendant of the
> heavenly court, and he knows that the one the women are seeking
knows > that Jesus had previously told his disciples this (in
14:28). I don't > think it's too much of a stretch to conclude that
Mark characterizes > him as an angel.
No no no no. Are there other angel-characters doing stuff and saying
stuff in Mark? I don't recall one and, if this is the only one, well
I think that would strongly indicate that there are none. Are we
really entitled to take an OT prooftext as giving the governing
meaning of a common Greek word? I don't think so. And 14:28 re: what
Jesus told his disciples is directed to the women whom, in the
narrative, Jesus didn't tell, which means to me that Mark isn't being
real careful here to recall who knows what. If I am right that the
woman anointing Jesus is doing so on purpose in the narrative
(whatever the case in the realife) she too knows what she can't know.
Probably the Arimathean and the guy that killed Jesus fit into the
same category, people who seem to get it even though the narrative
has given them no way of getting it.
- Bob Schacht wrote on
Steve Davis wrote:
>I've got a question. It has been[snip}
>observed that in Mark the praised woman who anoints Jesus before his
>burial, evidently knowing that he won't be there for the anointments at
>the usual time, J having gone off to Galilee in the meanwhile, knows
>that Jesus is going to die and rise again. Hallelulia for her. She is
>to be contrasted to the women who followed J from Galilee and who,
>clueless, go to anoint the body only to discover it missing.
>This is taken to be a final attack on Jesus' accompanists, specificallythe
>women among them, who thus far have seemed to be doing right as opposed[snip]
>to the fellas.
Now, I thought I got that notion from Ted Weeden's book,
>but recent of his letters indicate that that's not so. Did I get theBob:
>idea from Crossan? Did I make it up myself? Can anybody recall
>instances of somebody discussing such a notion?
Perhaps Ted himself will explain.
I am somewhat reluctant to respond to Steve and the topic of this thread
because I am behind in responding to Rikk Watts, you (Bob), and Brian
Trafford on responses to me a month old. It has been a very busy month,
with family visits and a major speaking engagement with has taken much time
to prepare for. I, also, have spend a great deal of time during extensive
research and thinking in response to Rikk's last post to me. That time has
been spent on only one of the issues which he has raised with me. I hope
soon to post an extensive essay, in only very partial response to Rikk,
showing that John has used Mark, alone, as his source for Judas and his
betrayal. I will respond to other issues Rikk raised later, as well as
answer later posts from Brian and you.
Steve, with regard to your query, I think the response of the woman must be
seen within the context of the way in which Mark portrays women in his
Gospel, as well as the way in which he has placed rhetorical emphasis in
14:1-11, of which 14:3-9 is the centerpiece. !6:8b aside for the moment,
women in Mark's drama serve as models for appropriate, intuitive responses
to the Markan Jesus and manifestations of the suffering-servant ideology he
advocates. In this narrative capacity the women exist dramatically as
positive foils to the chosen Twelve and their dense, dissident, and
disassociative response to Jesus and his suffering-servant ideology. These
female positive foils to the Twelve are (1): Peter's mother-in-law
(1:29-31), (2) the woman with hemorrhage (5:25-34), (3) the Syro-Phoenician
woman (7:24-30), (4) the poor widow (12:41-44), (5) the anointing woman
(14:3-9), and (6) Jesus' Galilean women followers, particularly the named
trio of women, Mary Magdalene, the mother of Joses, Salome (15:40-41, 47,
16:1). With the exception of the trio, all these women are nameless,
perhaps intentionally so.
A.. Woman with Hemorrhage
To be more specific now, as a positive foil to the Twelve, the woman with
the hemorrhage instinctively recognizes that Jesus possesses extraordinary
supernatural powers, such that even his clothing, by its attachment to him,
has the power to heal her, where previous physicians have failed. She
stands in mark contrast to the Twelve who do not have a clue as to why Jesus
should query regarding who touched him after feeling "that [healing] power
had gone forth from him" because of the woman's touch of his garments. The
denseness of the Twelve, their imperceptivity vis-à-vis the woman's
perceptivity is even more striking, since she perceives Jesus'
miracle-working power the first time she encounters him, whereas the Twelve
have been with Jesus all along in his miracle-working ministry, yet are not
instinctively aware of what has transpired and what has prompted Jesus'
B. Syro-Phoenician Woman
Moving on, the Syrophoenician woman, technically an "outsider," per 4:10-11
and thus incapable of understanding Jesus, is a stellar example of one who
demonstrates great perspicuity in understanding Jesus' riddle about bread
being given to dogs in contrast to the "insiders," the Twelve, who cannot
understand the meaning of Jesus' parables (4:13) and other teachings
(7:14-18), even though as insiders they have been given the "secret" for
understanding (4:10). It is no accident that Mark tells the story of the
perspicacity of the Syro-Phoenician woman immediately after the episode in
which the Twelve are depicted with struggling to understand some far less
complex teaching of Jesus than the riddle he responded with at the request
of the woman for healing of her daughter.
C. Poor Widow
Next, the poor widow serves as a positive foil not only to the rich, such as
the rich young man (10:17-22), reluctant to give up their riches for the
kingdom and eternal life, but, also, of course, the Twelve, who struggle
with how any one can be saved, if it is so nigh unto impossible for a rich
man to be saved (10:23-26). The poor widow is an exemplification of a
person who fulfills the suffering-servant ideology of giving up all one has
for God vis-à-vis 8:35f.).
D. Galilean Women
Next, the Galilean serve as positive foils to the Twelve in that they are
present with Jesus in his suffering death on the cross, in contrast to his
chosen twelve disciples, all of whom have in one way or another forsaken
him. Moreover, note the way in which Mark introduces these women, now late
in his narrative. He tells us these women HKOLOUQOUN AUTW KAI DIHKONOUN
("followed him [Jesus] and served him," 15:41). What differentiates these
women from the Twelve is that they not only like the Twelve followed Jesus,
but also *served* him. Now, I think Mark's use of the verb DIAKONEW has a
wider meaning then these women provided material assistance for Jesus (food
or whatever: see Lk 8:1-4). Mark uses the verb DIAKONEW ("to serve") and
its related substantive DIAKONOS ("servant") very discretely and with
distinctive theological meaning. He uses DIAKONEW only in 1:13; 1:31;
10:45 and 15:41. He uses DIAKONOS only in 9:35 and 10:43. It is in
10:43-45, a passage in which both DIAKONOS and DIAKONEW appear in the same
context, that the verb DIAKONEW receives its richest theological meaning.
It is there, in his repudiation of the Twelve and their competitive striving
for status, that the Markan Jesus declares that he, in contrast to the "lord
it over" Gentiles, serves in the christological role of servant, and
admonishes his disciple to seek the servant role as their own by serving
others, rather than striving for greatness as culturally defined (10:42-45).
The same theme is promulgated by Jesus in 9:35, where Mark uses DIAKONOS to
underscore the fact that only role that a disciple of a suffering-servant
Jesus should emulate, in contrast the Twelve's competitive aspiration for
greatness (9:33f.), is that of a servant of all.
Thus, in these two passages (9:33-35 and 10:35-35), which follow immediately
upon the Markan Jesus' suffering servant messiahship, the terms DIAKONEW and
DIAKONOS are specifically used as code words for suffering-servant
discipleship. With regard to two other Markan uses of DIAKONEW, aside from
15:41, there is reason to believe that Mark foreshadows his technical use of
DIAKONEW in 10:45 in both cases. In 1:13, the angels are described as
serving Jesus during his period of temptation in the desert. In 1:31,
Peter's mother-in-law, in response to Jesus' healing of her, *serves* Jesus,
i.e., like a servant to a master. Consequently, given the way in which
Mark has used his specific understanding of DIAKONEW in his drama to denote
suffering-servant christology and suffering-servant discipleship, his
depiction of the Galilean women who followed and served Jesus, including the
trio, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Joses, and Salome, suggests that
they emulated the role of suffering-servant discipleship. They are then
depicted as positive dramatic foils in contrast to the Twelve, who resisted
the role of suffering-servant discipleship and finally rejected it variously
by betrayal, denial and abandonment of Jesus.
That the rhetorical point in 15:41 is emphatically upon the women's servant
role is underscored by the Markan DNA rhetorical technique of using a
two-step progression throughout his drama, a two-step progression in there
is a repetitive character in a narrative description (see David Rhoads,
_Reading Mark_, 74), as in the case of the conjoining of two clauses in
stating that the women "followed him and served him." The first step in
this progression is the clause "followed him." The second step in the
progression is the clause "served him." In such Markan rhetorical two-step
progression, the second step refines further and more explicitly the meaning
of the more general statement in the first step, with the second step
representing the rhetorical emphasis which Mark intended his hearers/readers
to give special attention to (see Rhoads, 74). Thus, Mark, in the two-step
progression depicting the Galilean women's relationship to Jesus, is
intentionally underscoring, in contrast to the obstinate Twelve, that these
women fulfilled the role of suffering-servant discipleship in their
relationship to Jesus.
E. The Trio
With respect to the trio of women, Mary Magdalene, the mother of Joses, and
Salome, Mark elevates them to a celebrative status as positive foils to the
apostate Twelve by having them be the primary and only witnesses of the
three foundational kerygmatic events represented creedally in the creed of 1
Cor. 15:3-5, namely that Jesus was crucified, buried, and raised again on
the third day. These three women, in the Markan drama, alone vouch for
the empirical reality of all three of the creed's kerygmatic events. The
Twelve in their apostasy exit the drama and are absent from any of these
events. Furthermore, the rhetorical force of 16:8b, I still contend,
indicates that the remaining eleven of the Twelve, sans Judas, never
received the news of the resurrection of Jesus. I will be glad to speak to
this more fully, contra the interpretations of others that Mark does imagine
the eleven experiencing the post-crucified Jesus, a la 14:28. I am
convinced that Mark conceives of the time from Jesus' burial to the final
event in which he returns glorified, as a period in which the resurrected
Jesus is absent (see John Dominic Crossan, "Empty Tomb and Absent Lord," in
_The Passion in Mark_, ed. W. Kelber, 135-152). Thus, from Mark's point of
view, there were no post-resurrection appearances, contra the creed of 1 Cor
15:3-5. All we have as evidence of the resurrection is an empty tomb and
the message of the young man in the tomb that Jesus is raised from the dead.
What Mark has in mind in 14:28 is the appearance of the end-time appearance
of the exalted Jesus (13:24-27), returning to his community of followers in
Galilee, Mark's eschatological Mecca. It is then that Peter and the
eleven will see him, not before (see my _Mark-Traditions in Conflict_,
F. The Anointing Woman
Returning now to the story of the woman anointing Jesus, what I have sought
to underscore here is the fact that in the Markan drama women exemplify true
discipleship a la suffering-servant discipleship. They and only they
instinctively and intuitively respond to Jesus, have the perspicacity to
understand him and the commitment to follow him faithfully from his ministry
in Galilee to his death, attend to his burial and have an epiphany, via the
young man (angel?) in the tomb of his resurrection. Women, throughout the
drama, are positive foils to the apostate Twelve in their faithful following
and serving Jesus. I think the woman who anointed Jesus is cut out of the
same cloth of Markan rhetorical composition. Let me explain.
It is clear that Mark has carefully composed 14:1-11, which begins with the
Judean cultic authorities seeking a way to apprehend Jesus and put him to
death and ends with Judas supplying the missing ingredient to their plan,
someone who can deliver Jesus into their hands without the general public's
knowledge. It is clear, in my judgment, that Mark has composed this
passage using his framing technique, in which a story rhetorically is
interrupted by the inclusion of another story before the previous story is
brought to conclusion. The purpose of this framing technique is to draw
attention to the interior story and its point (see David Rhoads, Donald
Michie, _Mark as Story_, 51). Thus, in this rhetorical scenario, the
first story is the story of the plot of the cultic authorities and Judas'
role in that plot, namely, 14:1-2, 10-11. That story is interrupted by the
inclusion within it of the story of the anointing of Jesus by the woman.
Within the story of plot and betrayal, then, Mark is drawing his attention
specifically to the interior story of the anointing to be interpreted within
the framework of the plot-betrayal story.
The unexpected appearance of the woman, unidentified by name, as are all of
Mark's woman, with the exception of the trio mentioned above, and her lavish
act of devotion to Jesus creates disdain of her act and repudiation of her
personally by certain unnamed who were present. We are not told what her
own motivation was for performing the act. We are left to Jesus to
interpret it. He interprets it as her recognition of his forthcoming death
and her desire, absent of any other way to identify and empathize with him,
to anoint his body prior to the traditional anointing at the time of his
death. Thus, like the other women in Mark's drama, this woman is in sync
with Jesus and what he faces. She is intuitively and instinctively
empathic with Jesus as crucifixion looms before him. She, like the widow
woman earlier, has sacrificed her material possessions, and symbolically
herself, to buy an exorbitantly expensive perfume as the only fitting
sacrificial way by which she can demonstrate her empathic oneness with
Jesus. Recognizing her inner motivation and the reason for her "wasting,"
as the grumblers at the scene aver, an extraordinary amount of money for
such an extravagant act, Jesus praises her and pronounces the highest
approbation upon her of any person in the Markan drama: namely, wherever the
Gospel is preached what she has done will be told in memory of her.
Mark with great rhetorical skill depicts her, as in the case of other woman,
as a celebrated positive foil to the apostate disciples, and does so through
the framing technique. He accomplishes this foil motif in the case of the
anointing woman, by beginning the story of the plot against Jesus, but then
breaking it off to pick up the story of the anointing. His breaking off of
the plot story at that point creates a measure of suspense in the mind of
Mark's first hearers. There desire to know what the cultic authorities are
going to do to apprehend Jesus is frustrated by Mark turning to another
story. The hearers are left hanging, and their curiosity with regard to
what happened next is unsatisfied. With the conclusion of the story of
anointing, Mark returns to the conclusion of the plot-betrayal story which,
now by virtue of Mark's rhetorical tour de force, stands in sharp bold
relief and contrast to the story of the anointing. For Mark's hearers are
led from the empathic sensitivity of a woman to the plight of Jesus, via her
extraordinary sacrifice of money on Jesus' behalf, to the dastardly deed of
one of Jesus' twelve disciples, betraying him for to fill his own pockets
with money. By the way, not surprising, I think it is probable that Mark
created the story of the anointing for its dramatic effect as stated.
Finally, I have often wondered, given the esteemed role of women in Mark's
Gospel, the fact that they turn out to be true disciples of
suffering-servant Jesus, whether Mark may not have been a woman, and we
should call the Gospel not the "Gospel of Mark" but the "Gospel of Marcia."
Fairport, New York
Ph.D., Claremont Graduate University