RE: [XTalk] Re:Historical Judas
- Ron Price wrote
> When applying the criterion of embarrassment, we should beRon, While I share your concern about to whom Judas would be
> asking who is supposed to be embarrassed. Mark shows no sign
> of embarrassment. If I remember correctly it was Hyam Maccoby
> who pointed out in one of his books that "Judas" means "Jew".
> Creating a fictional villain with that name thus helped to
> dissociate the nascent Christianity from its Judaic roots,
> which was one of Mark's primary aims, c.f. Mk 2:22.
embarrassing, I wonder though about the rest of your suggestion here.
Are you really suggesting that Mark made this up to assert a "Jewish"
Here, at least, are two problems. First, the name Judas is a very
common name in 1st century Judaism (4th most popular name in Palestine
from 330 BCE to 200 CE, as listed by Bauckham). So it is not really
likely that Mark would use Judah implying some kind of second reading as
"Jew." It seems naturally as a real name. Moreover, since it is
modified by Iscariot (from Kariot?, or in the case of John "the son of
Simon of Iscariot," then it seems to naturally to be a name intended to
be a real person, not a fictive reference to Jew.
Secondly, the reference is found in all the gospels, including John.
And, moreover, the references are a bit difference in Luke and John from
the Mark & Matthew references. Now unless it all derives from Mark, and
thus all totally literarily derivative, then some other oral memory is
at work. I see John as independent, and much of the Lukan material
seems distinct and independent. Even admitting a great degree of
compositional and/or editorial freedom, it still seems to point to
something other than Mark's fictive work.
> > Would someone invent Judas, if they could "create" the story whereRon and Darrell: I too was a bit puzzled by Darrell's comment. I am not
> > Jesus, viewed as a divinely understanding figure, chooses him?
> I'm not sure what this sentence means, but I guess you're
> thinking that no follower of Jesus would be silly enough to
> invent a story in which the hero selects as a follower
> someone who later turns out to be a betrayer. But I'm not
> convinced that 1st c. authors were necessarily so consistent
> in their narrative plots.
sure that the gospels presume Jesus to be a divinely understanding
figure. Even in John, I am not sure that is true. This seems to be
more a reflection of later Christian thought.
And I think Ron's basic point is, why wouldn't a betrayer be a possible
character in the story? It does drive the plot, and provides a way for
Jesus to end up dying. My bigger difficulty is not that a Judas is
there, but rather than the image of Judas is not absolutely consistent.
So rather than be overwhelmed by embarrassment as a criteria, I am
intriqued more by multiple attestation. Still seems to be a historical
Mark A. Matson
- Rikk Watts wrote:
> ..... if Mark is the creative writer youRikk,
> take to him to be, why did he not write Peter's failing into Mark 7? Since
> it is about purity and food, it would surely be the ideal spot. "And Jesus
> said "It's not what goes into a person that defiles them, but what comes
> out." And the Peter taking him aside began to rebuke him. But Jesus turning
> to Peter said "Get behind me Satan. You do not understand the things of
> God." Be quite brilliant really and no one would be any the wiser. So, given
> your view of Mark the creative author, if he was wanting to set Peter up in
> terms of the tension in Galatians, why wouldn't he have done this instead?
> Not understanding the reason for the cross is not exactly about food laws or
> son of God Christology.
But your last sentence surely gives the clue. For Mark chose to use the
'Satan' label in connection with the posited Christological failing, which
was more important than the wrong response to food laws.
>>> Was Mark too subtle? What kind ofWhat I gave was the brief outline of a methodology. The criterion is that of
>>> critical criteria can one establish to identify and interpret subtleties?
>> (1) Don't believe an evangelist's testimony unless it can be substantiated
>> (2) Start with the assured facts (Jesus as historical, crucifixion, Paul's
>> genuine letters) and build up on these.
> I think you've missed the point of the question. You've given my your
> working assumptions. I'm asking for some kind of objective criteria for
> determining when a subtle point is being made.
coherence. Use the methodology to build up a set of reliable data, then use
the criterion of coherence to assess the posited subtleties to see whether
they lead to a consistent history. But we should also bear in mind that most
of the subtleties are cases where a critical reader might reasonably suspect
that the truth is being deliberately obscured. Given the evangelical aim of
the writers, finding the truth will necessarily mean giving more credence to
> How is being designated, along with Paul himself, as a servant of Christ andI would argue that it's not so positive because in the next verse Paul
> steward of God's mysteries not to be construed as positive?
emphasizes not the privilege but the responsibility of being a steward
(1 Cor 4:2).
> ..... Actually not just Mark. No one anywhere records that JamesThere's Lk 6:14. Note the mistranslation involved in the commas in RSV
> followed Jesus during his ministry.
(corrected in NRSV): the Greek does not bracket James and John together. I
think Luke was here subtly correcting Mark.
> ..... But, let me rephrase this, by what objective criteria (i.e.Because the only logical explanation for the women not saying anything (and
> without invoking your prior theory) can you show this is a "special case"
> insofar as Mark's unfulfilled promises are concerned?
it's not connected to Mark's denigration of the disciples) is that Mark
wanted to explain why the story of the empty tomb had only now come to
light, 40 years after the crucifixion.
>> No. Mark's readers would have known that this promise had been fulfilled,We must agree to differ, for I think Mark counted the temple promise as
>> because they would have known what happened to the temple in 70 CE.
> Precisely my point. Markan non-fulfillment of promises is not a reliable
> sign of editorial activity.
> ..... By whatIn the first century we have Mt 16:16-18 which clearly shows a rehabilitated
> objective criteria can you show that 16:7 achieved the desired effect?
Peter. In the 21st century the majority of commentators still see Mark's
denigration of Peter as a slap on the knuckles instead of the exposure of an
unbeliever in the Son of God. Success couldn't be on a much grander scale.
> ..... you can't suggest something is an interpolation just because you canNo indeed. But finding a motivation for the posited interpolation is a
> think of a reason it might be.
necessary part of the evidence for the interpolation.
>> ..... The trouble is that we don't have any statement from Peter to back upWe're back to motivation. I believe these problems actually occurred because
>> Paul's assertion about what Peter did or did not experience.
> If that's the case why accept Paul's story in Galatians? After all, where's
> the corroborating evidence from Peter that he had problems with the Gentiles
> or with food? Maybe it never happened .....
I think it's unlikely Paul would have invented them.
> Further, you've just agreed that the Corinthians knew about Peter andProbably so. It might even have contributed to the Corinthians' criticisms
> apparently well enough for some of them to form a Cephas faction. If the
> resurrection issue was hot enough to take up such a large section of Paul's
> second letter to the Corinthians, isn't it reasonable to suppose that they
> would have been equally interested in Peter's ideas about the resurrection
> and hence be well aware if Paul was misrepresenting them?
of Paul implied in 1 Cor 4:3.
> If you're a sculptor who repairs statues and the best toolSurely a dubious analogy. Redaction Criticism is much more sophisticated
> you have is a sledge hammer, I'm not sure that makes your repair process any
> more effective or desirable.
than a sledge hammer.
>> ..... Mark's story of an empty tomb wouldIn itself, it does not. But such detail emerging so late is highly
>> naturally have made his readers ask why they hadn't heard the story before,
>> since there was a 40-year gap between the supposed events and the emergence
>> of the detailed story.
> Not sure this follows. How does the degree of detail, in and of itself, say
> anything about the historicity of an event?
> And how do you know that Mark'sHad there been apparent evidence of an empty tomb, Paul would probably have
> readers hadn't heard the story of the empty tomb, since as we agreed such
> seems the very natural implication of a resurrection and preaching the
> resurrection seems at the very least a key part of Paul's early preaching?
invoked it to support his proclamation of the resurrection.
> ..... that the women as first witnesses of the resurrection ..... do notBut this was not the main function of the empty tomb story. The 'being
> bear witness because they were afraid, can hardly be construed as Mark's
> paradigmatic model for Christian discipleship.
afraid' was to explain the 'told no one' which in turn was to explain the
late emergence of the story. The fear should not be taken as meant to
denigrate the women.
>> ..... The first attempt at a history of the Jesus movement, and LukeHaven't you forgotten Lk 1:4? Luke's account may not be regarded as good
>> fails to mention how its most prominent original disciple came to believe in
>> Jesus, neither in Vol.1 (Luke) nor in Vol.2 (Acts)? It should have been very
>> much the author's concern, but he chickened out.
> Ron, given your championing of critical scholarship, this is a very
> surprising comment. I'm not sure I know of too many critical Acts scholars
> who would see Acts as a history in this sense.
history by modern standards, but he did make an effort 'to write an orderly
account having followed all things closely ...'. By his own standards the
omission to explain James' rise to power is surely very strange.
> ..... You're asking me to believe in spite of James being one ofThe hint is there (see above on Lk 6:14).
> the twelve, Jesus' brother, the major figure in Jerusalem for some decades,
> and presumably having attracted devoted adherents (sufficiently so to go to
> Antioch) that no one, neither James nor his followers, managed to leave even
> a hint in any document or tradition if only to set the record straight that
> James was in fact one of the twelve from the beginning.
> ..... TheThat's the only way I can make sense of it.
> point is why does Mark's recalling what in his narrative is presented as a
> past failing, necessarily constitute an attack on Peter at the time Mark
> Obviously it strikes you that way, but how do you know it did so forWell of course neither Paul nor Peter ever knew that the latter was supposed
> Peter, Mark, Paul, or the early church?
to have denied Jesus, for they were respectively dead and almost certainly
so by the time Mark was penned. Most of the early church only saw Mark
through the sanitized filter of Matthew, or at best through an interpolated
copy of Mark.
> I should have thought for Paul to include Peter along with himself asBut see above re the following verse (1 Cor 4:2).
> servant of Christ and steward of God's mysteries is quite an affirmation.
> Paul ..... insists that Titus though aThere's probably something I've missed here, for it's not clear why Paul
> Gentile was not compelled to be circumcised (v.3)?
> Surely this indicates the Peter had indeed made more concessions to Gentiles
> than just food.
might have expected Titus to have to be circumcised just because he was to
take part in the meeting in Jerusalem.
> ..... assuming for thePaul's "gospel" (Gal 2:7) clearly includes Christology (see e.g. Gal
> moment that James didn't want Paul preaching to Jews, why not simply take
> Galatians at face value, as you've been happy to do so far, and accept that
> James didn't want Paul upsetting Jews and Jewish Christians with his
> attitude to the Law? There's nothing in the texts to justify your importing
> Christology into the equation.
> ..... My problem is that I cannot see how your theory passesBecause over a lengthy period of time, and much investigation, I find that
> muster on the basis of your own criteria. You've several times noted that
> you need some corroborative evidence to substantiate a claim or better still
> a statement in that individual's own words. So, given that you don't have
> this, how can you be so confident of your claims?
it leads to a consistent picture of what happened.
> Of course, you could choose to be selective about the application of thoseYes there's a real risk. But for me nothing hinges on my conclusions. For
> standards but then I'd need to know on what grounds. This kind of approach
> seems to me to run the very real risk of unconsciously manipulating the
> evidence to fit one's preconceived ideas.
the last four decades, researching what's behind the NT has been simply a
> Do you mean controls or do you mean evidence? Controls for me mean agreedAh, that sort of controls. Yes I do have them. Indeed I'm critical, for
> upon guidelines of interpretation which are supposed to be grounded outside
> the evidence under consideration.
instance, of the way criteria of authenticity are often used in isolation. I
did begin to sketch a methodology in the last email. Methodology is
important, but it really deserves a separate discussion.
> Well if we can "of course" deduce that neither Peter nor James gave Paul hisIt would appear that they didn't find it so easy. This is surely why Paul
> gospel, why not Paul's original audience?
was at pains to point out that his early contact with James et al. was very
minimal (Gal 2:19-20).
> Far from Paul hiding the fact itBut as I remarked above, "gospel" to Paul included Christology. It was not
> seems pretty clear to me that Peter's reneging attitude is precisely that
> different gospel that Paul so vehemently attacks.
just about attitude. It was the "good news" of Jesus and his saving role.
> ..... We don't actually know who he means by the "superlative" apostles,There were only twelve of them. Who else if not James and Peter?
> Paul's terminology is just not that precise.
> My problem here is on the one hand you want to have Mark denigrating theThe subtle hints were for the few who were perceptive enough not to be taken
> present Peter but then you argue that only critical scholarship can see it.
> So who then was Mark writing for?
in by the likes of Matthew and Clement.
> Actually I agree that Peter doesn't look great in Galatians. But my pointBut is that because Peter had changed, or because by then Paul realized he
> was, it doesn't end there. Peter looks much better in 1 Cor.
had to be more diplomatic if he was to preserve the loyalty of his churches?
The latter seems more likely to me. After all, many critics think Paul lost
the (North) Galatian churches altogether.
> Well, thanks for the exchange Ron.Thanks for the discussion, Rikk. It's been most interesting.
All the best,