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Re: [XTalk] Praised woman in Mark

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  • Jeffrey B. Gibson
    ... Yes, it s from Crossan. I believe it appears in his _Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography_. I would be surprised if he had a longer article on the passage in
    Message 1 of 10 , Aug 28, 2006
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      sdavies0 wrote:

      > Hi folks
      >
      > 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?

      Yes, it's from Crossan. I believe it appears in his _Jesus: A Revolutionary
      Biography_. I would be surprised if he had a longer article on the passage in
      Forum.

      Yours,

      Jeffrey
      --
      Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
      1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
      Chicago, Illinois
      e-mail jgibson000@...
    • sdavies0
      ... that 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 it. Is this a common
      Message 2 of 10 , Aug 28, 2006
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        > As I read the story in Mark, I have never received the impression
        that 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
        it.
        Is this a common way of reading this story?
        >
        > John C. Poirier

        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
      • Jeff Peterson
        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
        Message 3 of 10 , Aug 28, 2006
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          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.

          Jeff Peterson
          Austin Graduate School of Theology
          Austin, Texas



          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]
        • sdavies0
          ... is conscious of all that her action means, and one possible ... apparent to the reader who knows the subsequent course of events. I guess so.... I
          Message 4 of 10 , Aug 28, 2006
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            --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, Jeff Peterson <peterson@...> wrote:

            > 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.

            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 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.

            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.

            Steve
          • Theodore Weeden
            Bob Schacht wrote on ... [snip} ... the ... [snip] Now, I thought I got that notion from Ted Weeden s book, ... Bob: Perhaps Ted himself will explain. Ted: I
            Message 5 of 10 , Aug 29, 2006
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              Bob Schacht wrote on

              Steve Davis wrote:

              >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.

              [snip}

              >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.

              [snip]

              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?

              Bob:

              Perhaps Ted himself will explain.

              Ted:

              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'
              question.

              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_,
              106-117).

              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."

              Ted Weeden
              Fairport, New York
              Retired
              Ph.D., Claremont Graduate University
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