Rikk Watts wrote:
> ..... if Mark is the creative writer you
> 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 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.
What I gave was the brief outline of a methodology. The criterion is that of
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 and
> steward of God's mysteries not to be construed as positive?
I would argue that it's not so positive because in the next verse Paul
emphasizes not the privilege but the responsibility of being a steward
(1 Cor 4:2).
> ..... Actually not just Mark. No one anywhere records that James
> followed Jesus during his ministry.
There's Lk 6:14. Note the mistranslation involved in the commas in RSV
(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.
> without invoking your prior theory) can you show this is a "special case"
> insofar as Mark's unfulfilled promises are concerned?
Because the only logical explanation for the women not saying anything (and
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,
>> 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.
We must agree to differ, for I think Mark counted the temple promise as
> ..... By what
> objective criteria can you show that 16:7 achieved the desired effect?
In the first century we have Mt 16:16-18 which clearly shows a rehabilitated
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 can
> think of a reason it might be.
No indeed. But finding a motivation for the posited interpolation is a
necessary part of the evidence for the interpolation.
>> ..... The trouble is that we don't have any statement from Peter to back up
>> 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 .....
We're back to motivation. I believe these problems actually occurred because
I think it's unlikely Paul would have invented them.
> Further, you've just agreed that the Corinthians knew about Peter and
> 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?
Probably so. It might even have contributed to the Corinthians' criticisms
of Paul implied in 1 Cor 4:3.
> If you're a sculptor who repairs statues and the best tool
> you have is a sledge hammer, I'm not sure that makes your repair process any
> more effective or desirable.
Surely a dubious analogy. Redaction Criticism is much more sophisticated
than a sledge hammer.
>> ..... Mark's story of an empty tomb would
>> 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?
In itself, it does not. But such detail emerging so late is highly
> And how do you know that Mark's
> 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?
Had there been apparent evidence of an empty tomb, Paul would probably have
invoked it to support his proclamation of the resurrection.
> ..... that the women as first witnesses of the resurrection ..... do not
> bear witness because they were afraid, can hardly be construed as Mark's
> paradigmatic model for Christian discipleship.
But this was not the main function of the empty tomb story. The 'being
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 Luke
>> 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.
Haven't you forgotten Lk 1:4? Luke's account may not be regarded as good
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 of
> 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.
The hint is there (see above on Lk 6:14).
> ..... The
> 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
That's the only way I can make sense of it.
> Obviously it strikes you that way, but how do you know it did so for
> Peter, Mark, Paul, or the early church?
Well of course neither Paul nor Peter ever knew that the latter was supposed
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 as
> servant of Christ and steward of God's mysteries is quite an affirmation.
But see above re the following verse (1 Cor 4:2).
> Paul ..... insists that Titus though a
> Gentile was not compelled to be circumcised (v.3)?
> Surely this indicates the Peter had indeed made more concessions to Gentiles
> than just food.
There's probably something I've missed here, for it's not clear why Paul
might have expected Titus to have to be circumcised just because he was to
take part in the meeting in Jerusalem.
> ..... assuming for the
> 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.
Paul's "gospel" (Gal 2:7) clearly includes Christology (see e.g. Gal
> ..... My problem is that I cannot see how your theory passes
> 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?
Because over a lengthy period of time, and much investigation, I find that
it leads to a consistent picture of what happened.
> Of course, you could choose to be selective about the application of those
> 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.
Yes there's a real risk. But for me nothing hinges on my conclusions. For
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 agreed
> upon guidelines of interpretation which are supposed to be grounded outside
> the evidence under consideration.
Ah, that sort of controls. Yes I do have them. Indeed I'm critical, for
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 his
> gospel, why not Paul's original audience?
It would appear that they didn't find it so easy. This is surely why Paul
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 it
> seems pretty clear to me that Peter's reneging attitude is precisely that
> different gospel that Paul so vehemently attacks.
But as I remarked above, "gospel" to Paul included Christology. It was not
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,
> Paul's terminology is just not that precise.
There were only twelve of them. Who else if not James and Peter?
> My problem here is on the one hand you want to have Mark denigrating the
> present Peter but then you argue that only critical scholarship can see it.
> So who then was Mark writing for?
The subtle hints were for the few who were perceptive enough not to be taken
in by the likes of Matthew and Clement.
> Actually I agree that Peter doesn't look great in Galatians. But my point
> was, it doesn't end there. Peter looks much better in 1 Cor.
But is that because Peter had changed, or because by then Paul realized he
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,