Rikk Watts wrote:
> 1. I'm still waiting for your rationale as to why an account of e.g. Peter's
> failing some decades earlier, absent any kind of argumentative link to the
> present, is necessarily an attack on his present role or belief (similarly
> James though of course James is not actually mentioned in Mark).
The rationale for taking Mark's criticisms of Peter and James as referring
to their post-crucifixion life is (a) that they aptly reflect the tension
evident in the primary direct source Galatians (for which see below) and
also in Acts (b) they are consistent with the purely Jewish outlook of the
first disciples as shown in my reconstruction of the early sayings source
(see my Web site).
> 2. Since we are dealing with so many subtleties we are compelled to ask
> whether such subtleties actually exist, and who better to tell us than the
> audiences to whom Mark originally wrote (appealing to modern authorities
> hardy fits the bill since they are manifestly not the audience Mark had in
> mind)? How does one account for the fact that none of Mark's contemporaries
> apparently read his gospel in this way?
How many of his contemporaries read Mark critically and then published their
findings? All we can know is that two early readers tried to rehabilitate
Peter (as mentioned before re Mark and John), so they must have considered
the criticisms to be too severe.
> 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.
> 3. Speaking of external evidence, you recommend working with Paul's
> materials. This indeed I've been most happy to do. Given that Paul openly
> records his public confrontation of Peter in Antioch, where is the evidence
> in Paul of any long-term tension between Peter or James and Paul over food?
> Or for that matter, at any point at all, over Christology?
Although Paul's testimony is in general a lot more reliable than that of
Acts, he was an evangelist trying to put over a particular point of view,
and his words cannot always be taken at face value. In other words, there
are subtleties in Paul as well as in Mark. More below.
> That there is
> none and that Paul continues to express a positive estimation of Peter who
> also preaches in the Pauline churches (e.g. 1 Cor 3.21-4.1) .....
Not negative here, bit hardly positive.
> strongly suggests .....
It doesn't strongly suggest anything except that Peter was well known to the
> 4. Given this lack of evidence in Paul .....
I don't accept it as a "given" (see below).
>> What conversion? There is no account of James' conversion in Acts or
>> anywhere else in the NT.
> Absent any comment on James, Jesus' brother, being his disciple during
> Jesus' lifetime we would expect him to be included in the family delegation
> in Mark 3. Yet he is later a leader in the church. One presumes he at some
> point changed his mind (hence "conversion').
Ah yes. You also presume that Mark's lack of mention of James as an active
follower of Jesus means that he wasn't such during Jesus' ministry. I don't
trust Mark's testimony on this point. As Mark was so critical of Peter, he
would probably have had an even more negative attitude towards James, c.f.
> ..... on what grounds can an account of Jesus' family's previous hostility
> be taken to mean hostility to present leadership? (I think I've probably
> asked this three or four times already).
>>> And how exactly does one know that much of what Mark says about Peter is
>>> fabricated, or that Mark had never met Peter?
>> By Redaction Criticism of Mark.
> Aside from the well-known difficulties associated with discerning redaction
> in Mark, at most it seems only able to tell us Mark used his own
> words/ordering, not whether he fabricated those traditions. I.e. since when
> does using one's own words equate to fabrication?
It doesn't. I use the term 'Redaction Criticism' in its wider sense, c.f.
C.Tuckett's "Reading the New Testament" pp. 118-119. I take Ted Weeden's
contribution to this list dated 11 Feb 2005 as including a perceptive
example of the conclusions of applying Redaction Criticism to Mark (re
> ..... Why does Mark
> have to relate that Jesus met them in Galilee? If he can leave his story
> hanging with "and they told no one because they were afraid" I'd be very
> careful in assuming that Mark felt the need to tidy up all his loose ends.
I've already explained why "they told no one" is a special case.
> Jesus' promised destruction of the Temple (Mark 13) is not fulfilled in
> Mark, is this also evidence of textual tampering?
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.
> Assuming you mean 14:28, yes some scholars do think it is an insertion, but
> of course without any hard text critical evidence. I'm not convinced.
> ..... If Mark/his editors are the kind of authors you say they are,
> how does one explain their not taking this glorious opportunity to add some
> explicit reference to Peter?
It wasn't necessary in 14:28. The reference in 16:7 was sufficient to
achieve the desired effect.
>> The third piece of evidence is that there is an obvious motive for the
>> interpolations, namely the rehabilitation of Peter.
> Isn't this again assuming the point at issue?
Not at all. Consider an analogy. When the police find that a suspect had a
motivation for the crime, the defence lawyers can't say: 'This should be
ruled out, you're arguing in a circle'. That would be nonsense.
> .....How is this later document evidence of what was going on in Mark?
The fayyum fragment is evidence insofar as it might have been dependent on a
'pre 14:28 interpolation' copy of Mark.
> ..... when Peter seems thoroughly rehabilitated and according to Paul
> preaches the same gospel of the resurrected Jesus that he does, cf.
> 1 Cor 15:5.
That's a big deduction from a verse designed by Paul to lend support to his
belief in Jesus' resurrection. The trouble is that we don't have any
statement from Peter to back up Paul's assertion about what Peter did or did
> .....The fact is that the redaction criticism of Mark is
> extremely difficult and perhaps beyond us, witness the very different and
> often incompatible conclusions to which its practitioners come. Surely this
> suggests that the tools are not really up to the task. I should have thought
> that the careful scholar would have been wary of building too much on such
> an uncertain foundation.
It's the best tool we've got. The alternative is to evaluate history by
taking at face value the testimony of evangelists, even though we know by
definition that they had an 'agenda'. That's not good historical practice.
It won't get us to the truth.
> ..... isn't it reasonable to assume that when
> Jewish people spoke of resurrection they implied an empty tomb:
That may be so. But the more details one supplies of an incredible event,
the easier it is to find fault. 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.
> ..... On what grounds can this action, i.e. the women keeping silent
> out of fear, be considered exemplary?
Why is it not exemplary (remembering that 16:7 is sub judice as far as this
debate is concerned)?
> ..... So back to the perennial question: why
> should recording an earlier failing of Jesus' family and hence apparently
> James be considered as evidence of an attack upon his present leadership?
See my first paragraph above.
> ..... But let's continue to play on your terms: even without
> a comment on son of God, why not at least "create" a moment where James is
> explicitly rebuked (as is Peter)? That would surely serve Mark's purpose.
Have you ever come across that wonderful short poem about Jesus coming to
Birmingham? It must presumably refer to Birmingham UK because (as I recall)
it pictures Jesus as cold and wet (and ignored, and longing for the cross).
In other words, the worse predicament is to be ignored. Mark probably knew
that the greatest insult to any supporter of James would be to leave him out
of the gospel story altogether.
> there's already a very high Christology in Mark long before the centurion
> (as early as 3.11).
Precisely. The reader knows that Jesus is the Son of God. He knew that from
the beginning (Mk 1:1). The demons know (3:11). But those dim old disciples
(as the story portrays them), they never cottoned on.
> ..... Acts might not mention James' conversion
> simply because it's not the author's concern.
Really?? 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.
> If James was a pre-crucifixion follower of Jesus then shouldn't one expect
> some documentary evidence of it somewhere?
The simplest explanation of Gal 2:9 and Acts 12:17, in the absence of any
conversion story, is that James had been the leading disciple from the
> ..... As I have been asking ad nauseum and
> which question you have steadfastly ignored: since when does recording a
> past(!) failing some decades or more earlier to a present(!) lack of respect
> or present criticism?
As indicated above, you're taking the story at face value. There was no past
failing. Mark was a keen evangelist but a mediocre historian. Mark's
characters were all presented with one purpose in mind, namely the
propagation of the gospel. Facts were not allowed to get in the way unless
they were inescapable (e.g. the crucifixion itself).
> ..... How do you, on your reading of how authors treat their
> opponents, explain Paul's otherwise continuing positive attitude to Peter in
> Gal and 1 Cor
I don't see it as positive in 1 Cor. But in Galatians Paul's last mention of
Peter is undeniably negative (2:14)
> ..... (Mark's
> editorial aside in chap 7 as I suggested earlier might then be Peter's own
> observation in support of his present position; on Mark and Peter, see now
> Byrskog and Bauckham)
Sorry, but that's just naïve.
> The "only" concession? We don't know what concessions he had made to
> Gentiles -- is it not possible that "living like a Gentile" might mean more?
> Since Paul's account is hardly exhaustive is seems unwarranted to add
Hardly. If Peter had conceded more, Paul would surely have been delighted to
boast about it.
> ..... But if you are right, why is there not a hint of
> on-going tension in the primary Pauline materials?
At last we've got to the crucial question. The answer is that there are such
hints. I've already mentioned the sarcastic "reputed to be pillars" in Gal
2:9, c.f. "those who were of repute" in 2:2. Then what about "certain men
came from James" in 2:12. Thus James reigned in Peter, and Paul criticized
Peter for "drawing back" and "acting insincerely". This sounds like more
than a hint of ongoing tension, more like a blow by blow account, and in
Galatians it wasn't followed by any clue that he'd made it up with Peter.
> You're assuming that what you are doing is modern NT criticism whereas the
> issue is the strength of your actual arguments. A subtlety without any
> concrete evidence is still a subtlety without any concrete evidence
> regardless of what label you might choose to put on it.
The nature of the NT as a set of ancient evangelical documents is such that
no one should expect concrete evidence from it. All we can extract are sets
> ..... According to Paul in Gal 2 his mission and his gospel were
> affirmed by the pillars, Peter, James, and John
All that we can deduce for sure from the intriguing statement in Gal 2:7-9
is that James didn't want Paul preaching to Jews and Paul didn't want James
upsetting his converts. If Acts is to be believed, Paul broke his side of
the bargain (e.g. Acts 19:8).
> ..... it
> seems reasonable to infer that the absence of even a hint of disagreement
> over Christology strongly suggests there was none.
Paul provides no direct evidence of Christological disagreement. But he
certainly hints at it. Firstly there is the rigid division of missionary
arenas in Gal 2:7-9. Why such a rigid division if there was agreement on
Christology? More crucially there is the acknowledged Jew/Gentile split in
2:11f., which is directly related to Jewish food laws. The fact is that over
two millenia Jews have *not* believed in a unique Son of God, and *have*
practised dietary restrictions. Whereas Christians *have* believed in a
unique Son of God, and have *not* insisted on dietary restrictions. This
consistency over two millenia is hardly a coincidence. In other words, when
Paul labelled people without qualification as "Jews", he really meant it,
and the label has widely understood theological connotations.
>>> How do you know that Paul's followers
>>> determined what went into Matthew, John, Hebrews,
>> Because they are all Christian documents, as opposed to Jewish documents.
> But again you are presupposing the very thing your are arguing for.
Technically you're correct here. So I clearly wasn't careful enough in the
wording of my reply. Let's try again. I know Paul's theology is behind
Matthew etc. because my reading of the evidence is that James and Peter
remained Jews and never got as far as acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God.
This is supported by my reconstruction of the early sayings source, which I
attribute to the Jerusalem Jesus movement and date ca. 45 CE. Jesus's role
there is that of Son of Man.
> ..... Where are the controls?
We have very few controls outside the NT.
> I thought critical
> thinking also entailed the ability to be critical about one's own orthodoxy.
Indeed. But in 1970 I was roughly where you are now (I mean in general
attitude to the testimony of the NT). But I was critical of my own orthodoxy
of that time, and consequently gradually came to my present position.
> ..... You argued that Paul was afraid of taking on known
> authorities lest he lose his converts. My point was that this is simply not
> the case.
Then we must simply agree to differ, as the evidence is not definitive.
>> A few verses later he claims that his gospel came
>> "through revelation" (1:12). It didn't come through James and Peter, though
>> he was careful not to spell that out
> Excuse me? He goes on and on about that very fact from his opening sentence
> (1:1) " neither by human commission nor from human authorities, but through
> Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead" (NRSV).
Of course we can deduce that James and Peter were not involved. What I meant
was that Paul didn't *explicitly* say that they were not the source. For if
Paul had written, for instance, "I didn't get my gospel from Peter", then
the penny might have dropped that James and Peter had a different gospel and
probably a different theology to go with it.
> ..... After all he still calls Peter an apostle
Paul couldn't deny that Peter was one of the twelve apostles. But in
Corinthians he describes some of them as "these superlative apostles". More
to the point is whether Peter would have called Paul an apostle. I doubt it!
> ..... If you can find no evidence of anyone among Mark's
> diverse contemporaries of reading his gospel like this, then I suspect you
> have a significant problem.
I have no problem at all in acknowledging that the critical tools available
to me in the 21st c were not available to Mark's contemporaries. Nor have I
a problem in seeing that most of Mark's contemporaries were easily persuaded
of Peter's Christian credentials by the posthumous honours placed on Peter
by the likes of Matthew and Clement.
>> A good example which goes at least
>> part way to this ideal is the modern approach to Paul's letters and Acts.
>> The modern approach tries first to build up a picture of Paul's activities
>> on the basis of his letters while ignoring the less reliable Acts.
> That's nice to know, especially as I've been appealing to Paul's letters. So
> what do you do with the fact that he seems to regard Peter highly, even in
> the midst of the spat over food,
Again we must agree to differ. Galatians' final portrayal of Peter is as a
weak coward. In the Corinthian correspondence Peter is included among the
"superlative apostles". Not a very high regard, it seems to me.
Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm