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RE: FW: [XTalk] The Mutilation of Mark's Gospel

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  • chris@mckinney.net
    Thanks Stephen, Mark, and Kurt for enlightening me! Although I knew Christians were codex early adopters, I had assumed this came a little later than the
    Message 1 of 11 , Jul 19, 2007
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      Thanks Stephen, Mark, and Kurt for enlightening me! Although I knew
      Christians were codex "early adopters," I had assumed this came a little
      later than the composition of Mark.

      Chris McKinney
      CGU


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • K L Noll
      Hello again, Once again I thank y all for giving me a chance to probe this thesis. I have several thoughts and would appreciate any comments or rebukes, as
      Message 2 of 11 , Jul 20, 2007
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        Hello again,

        Once again I thank y'all for giving me a chance to probe this thesis. I have several thoughts and would appreciate any comments or rebukes, as you see fit.

        James McGrath makes some very reasonable points. To paraphrase what he's been saying, there are many data to indicate almost universal dissatisfaction with Mark in ancient times. Not only do Matthew and Luke re-write Mark, but there is Papias, who apologizes for Mark, the popularity of the Long Ending, and James even suggests that the Gospel of Peter has re-written Mark in the manner of Matthew and Luke. (I would add that if John is dependent on Mark as a few scholars suggest, then this might support the thesis James offers us as well.) If I understand James, he suggests that there was an oral tradition about some post-resurrection appearances, but in outline form only (he invokes 1 Cor. 15 as an analogous datum), and those who re-wrote Mark did so by activating that oral tradition.

        Bob Schacht has supported James with several very good points: Croy's thesis fits the physical realities of manuscript production and distribution in the ancient world. And, if Matthew and Luke KNEW that Mark's manuscript had been mutilated, that would be INCENTIVE to re-write Mark.

        Mark Matson defends the majority viewpoint against Croy on several grounds: He believes the mutilation hypothesis is an argument from silence, as there is no evidence for mutilation. He suggests that Matthew and Luke display SATISFACTION with Mark by the very fact that they used his narrative as the basis for their own. And our contemporary Mark also believes that the ancient Mark functioned differently from Matthew and Luke and therefore needed an ending appropriate to that function, namely an external evangelical function rather than an "in-house" teaching function.

        I hope I have summarized reasonably accurately. Correct me if I have not.


        In my view, James and Bob have a stronger argument so far. I am still persuaded by the Q-Source hypothesis, and I believe that Matthew and Luke re-wrote Q because they disliked Q, not because they were satisfied with Q. In my view, they also disliked Mark. I interpret Luke's prologue to mean that he does not want to supplement those earlier sources, but replace them. Luke believes Luke is right and they got it wrong, or at least, they got it only partially right. In my view, Matthew can be interpreted (must be interpreted?) the same way: He really doesn't like the way Mark told the story and he adjusts it in many ways, large and small. What has always struck me as most interesting about all the ancient gospels is the polemical nature of each and (just like Paul) the polemics seem to be directed at other Christians (e.g., Matt 5:19, 7:21 and so forth). Now with respect to Croy's mutilation thesis, Mark Matson invokes Bauckham's thesis that the gospels were not composed for individual communities, but were intended for wide distribution. Though I have not yet read Bauckham, I have believed this for a long time, because I am not convinced that there existed tightly knit early Christian communities. Paul's letters give me the impression that early Christianity was chaos, a bunch of people doing whatever they wanted and inventing the kind of Jesus they needed for the purpose (2 Cor 11:4). I view the gospels as attempts by individuals or small groups to impose some kind of "orthodoxy" on wider audiences (each imposing a competing definition of "orthodoxy"), an effort that was doomed to fail and did fail until second-century Christianity invented an increasingly hierarchical network of bishops. I have no difficulty viewing the mutilation of Mark in such a Sitz im Leben. Perhaps the initial "publication" was small and all but one copy disappeared quickly, leaving only one extant copy, and a mutilated copy at that. Early data suggest that no one really liked Mark's gospel, so I doubt that many were motivated to retain and protect the manuscript. Mark became useful only later when his text was rehabilitated by people like Papias. As an additional (somewhat unrelated) comment, I think this makes better sense of Mark than Mark Matson's suggestion that the narrative was intended to function as evangelism. By my count, there are but two verses that bother to explain what is going on (10:45 and 14:24) and even those won't make much sense unless the reader presupposed something equivalent to Paul's letters, so I can't believe that Mark would have been compelling to anyone unfamiliar with some version of the early Jesus-movements. Someone like Celsus (whom I take to be representative of the vast majority who encountered these early Christian texts) would have dismissed Mark's narrative as merely weird. I think Mark, like all the others, simply tried to impose a new version of Jesus on readers that have already heard of him, but unlike Matthew and Luke, Mark was not particularly successful.

        Having said all this (and I doubt that many readers have continued this far into my post), I still have not yet bought Croy's hypothesis. So I have a question: Croy says that the missing part of Mark's beginning must not have included a birth narrative. Croy says this because Croy believes that Mark 1:9 seems to introduce Jesus for the first time. So, in Croy's view, the missing part would have been a more complete description of John the Baptist. Likewise, I suggested in an earlier post that the logic of Mark's narrative demands that no resurrection-appearance story be narrated. Mark introduced the narrative device of an Announcer, which is utterly unnecessary if Jesus shows up later (the awkwardness of Matthew 28:9-10 is an example). So my question is: Just how long would these missing beginning-and-ending have been? Has anyone ever done research to determine the average number of Greek letters that would have been contained on a page of a codex from the early Christian centuries? If, as Croy believes, the outer page, front and back, has been lost, then how much text can we hypothesize to have been lost? And would that fit with what seems to be (according to Croy's hypothesis) relatively short missing sections? I will be grateful if anyone knows of any research the might shed light on this question?

        Shalom,
        Kurt L. Noll
        Brandon University
        Brandon, Manitoba
        nollk@...
        klnoll@...




        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • K L Noll
        I tried to post this earlier today, but apparently it did not work, so I re-send it now and apologize in advance if it produces duplicate posts on the list.
        Message 3 of 11 , Jul 20, 2007
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          I tried to post this earlier today, but apparently it did not work, so I re-send it now and apologize in advance if it produces duplicate posts on the list.
          ***

          Hello again,

          Once again I thank y'all for giving me a chance to probe this thesis. I have several thoughts and would appreciate any comments or rebukes, as you see fit.

          James McGrath makes some very reasonable points. To paraphrase what he's been saying, there are many data to indicate almost universal dissatisfaction with Mark in ancient times. Not only do Matthew and Luke re-write Mark, but there is Papias, who apologizes for Mark, the popularity of the Long Ending, and James even suggests that the Gospel of Peter has re-written Mark in the manner of Matthew and Luke. (I would add that if John is dependent on Mark as a few scholars suggest, then this might support the thesis James offers us as well.) If I understand James, he suggests that there was an oral tradition about some post-resurrection appearances, but in outline form only (he invokes 1 Cor. 15 as an analogous datum), and those who re-wrote Mark did so by activating that oral tradition.

          Bob Schacht has supported James with several very good points: Croy's thesis fits the physical realities of manuscript production and distribution in the ancient world. And, if Matthew and Luke KNEW that Mark's manuscript had been mutilated, that would be INCENTIVE to re-write Mark.

          Mark Matson defends the majority viewpoint against Croy on several grounds: He believes the mutilation hypothesis is an argument from silence, as there is no evidence for mutilation. He suggests that Matthew and Luke display SATISFACTION with Mark by the very fact that they used his narrative as the basis for their own. And our contemporary Mark also believes that the ancient Mark functioned differently from Matthew and Luke and therefore needed an ending appropriate to that function, namely an external evangelical function rather than an "in-house" teaching function.

          I hope I have summarized reasonably accurately. Correct me if I have not.


          In my view, James and Bob have a stronger argument so far. I am still persuaded by the Q-Source hypothesis, and I believe that Matthew and Luke re-wrote Q because they disliked Q, not because they were satisfied with Q. In my view, they also disliked Mark. I interpret Luke's prologue to mean that he does not want to supplement those earlier sources, but replace them. Luke believes Luke is right and they got it wrong, or at least, they got it only partially right. In my view, Matthew can be interpreted (must be interpreted?) the same way: He really doesn't like the way Mark told the story and he adjusts it in many ways, large and small. What has always struck me as most interesting about all the ancient gospels is the polemical nature of each and (just like Paul) the polemics seem to be directed at other Christians (e.g., Matt 5:19, 7:21 and so forth). Now with respect to Croy's mutilation thesis, Mark Matson invokes Bauckham's thesis that the gospels were not composed for individual communities, but were intended for wide distribution. Though I have not yet read Bauckham, I have believed this for a long time, because I am not convinced that there existed tightly knit early Christian communities. Paul's letters give me the impression that early Christianity was chaos, a bunch of people doing whatever they wanted and inventing the kind of Jesus they needed for the purpose (2 Cor 11:4). I view the gospels as attempts by individuals or small groups to impose some kind of "orthodoxy" on wider audiences (each imposing a competing definition of "orthodoxy"), an effort that was doomed to fail and did fail until second-century Christianity invented an increasingly hierarchical network of bishops. I have no difficulty viewing the mutilation of Mark in such a Sitz im Leben. Perhaps the initial "publication" was small and all but one copy disappeared quickly, leaving only one extant copy, and a mutilated copy at that. Early data suggest that no one really liked Mark's gospel, so I doubt that many were motivated to retain and protect the manuscript. Mark became useful only later when his text was rehabilitated by people like Papias. As an additional (somewhat unrelated) comment, I think this makes better sense of Mark than Mark Matson's suggestion that the narrative was intended to function as evangelism. By my count, there are but two verses that bother to explain what is going on (10:45 and 14:24) and even those won't make much sense unless the reader presupposed something equivalent to Paul's letters, so I can't believe that Mark would have been compelling to anyone unfamiliar with some version of the early Jesus-movements. Someone like Celsus (whom I take to be representative of the vast majority who encountered these early Christian texts) would have dismissed Mark's narrative as merely weird. I think Mark, like all the others, simply tried to impose a new version of Jesus on readers that have already heard of him, but unlike Matthew and Luke, Mark was not particularly successful.

          Having said all this (and I doubt that many readers have continued this far into my post), I still have not yet bought Croy's hypothesis. So I have a question: Croy says that the missing part of Mark's beginning must not have included a birth narrative. Croy says this because Croy believes that Mark 1:9 seems to introduce Jesus for the first time. So, in Croy's view, the missing part would have been a more complete description of John the Baptist. Likewise, I suggested in an earlier post that the logic of Mark's narrative demands that no resurrection-appearance story be narrated. Mark introduced the narrative device of an Announcer, which is utterly unnecessary if Jesus shows up later (the awkwardness of Matthew 28:9-10 is an example). So my question is: Just how long would these missing beginning-and-ending have been? Has anyone ever done research to determine the average number of Greek letters that would have been contained on a page of a codex from the early Christian centuries? If, as Croy believes, the outer page, front and back, has been lost, then how much text can we hypothesize to have been lost? And would that fit with what seems to be (according to Croy's hypothesis) relatively short missing sections? I will be grateful if anyone knows of any research the might shed light on this question?

          Shalom,
          Kurt L. Noll
          Brandon University
          Brandon, Manitoba
          nollk@...
          klnoll@...




          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Bob Schacht
          At 02:04 PM 7/20/2007, K L Noll wrote: [snip] ... I really like this suggestion. The emphasis on J the B in the gospels seems incompletely explained, and we
          Message 4 of 11 , Jul 21, 2007
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            At 02:04 PM 7/20/2007, K L Noll wrote:

            [snip]

            >Having said all this ..., I still have not yet bought Croy's
            >hypothesis. So I have a question: Croy says that the missing part
            >of Mark's beginning must not have included a birth narrative. Croy
            >says this because Croy believes that Mark 1:9 seems to introduce
            >Jesus for the first time. So, in Croy's view, the missing part
            >would have been a more complete description of John the Baptist.

            I really like this suggestion. The emphasis on J the B in the gospels
            seems incompletely explained, and we know from Paul's letters that
            Paul encountered disciples of J the B on his missionary journeys. Of
            course, this material could later have become controversial, and may
            have been removed by the keeper of the document on purpose. But that
            is merely speculation piled upon conjecture. Nevertheless, a very
            intriguing sub-hypothesis that Croy proposes.

            > Likewise, I suggested in an earlier post that the logic of Mark's
            > narrative demands that no resurrection-appearance story be
            > narrated. Mark introduced the narrative device of an Announcer,
            > which is utterly unnecessary if Jesus shows up later (the
            > awkwardness of Matthew 28:9-10 is an example). So my question
            > is: Just how long would these missing beginning-and-ending have
            > been? Has anyone ever done research to determine the average
            > number of Greek letters that would have been contained on a page of
            > a codex from the early Christian centuries? If, as Croy believes,
            > the outer page, front and back, has been lost, then how much text
            > can we hypothesize to have been lost? ...

            These are not the right questions. The reason is shown by P45 (or am
            I confusing P45 with P66?), which is the earliest collection of
            Paul's letters. That Codex is useful because it shows that the scribe
            realized at some point into his copying that he had more material
            than he had space, if he continued to write with the same line
            spacing and character size, so the letters become smaller and smaller
            in the second half of the manuscript, and the line spacing grows
            tighter and tighter. A better question might be how many pages of
            papyrus were needed in the earliest complete copies of Matthew, Luke
            and John? Another better question would be to look at the surviving
            codices from the standpoint of physical production, i.e., some
            <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codicology>Codicology. A fundamental
            unit of the codex was a quire ("four"):
            4 sheets of papyrus of the same size were piled up, and then folded
            once, and then sewn at the fold. For example, see

            <http://www.google.com/url?sa=X&start=5&oi=define&q=http://www.slais.ubc.ca/people/students/student-projects/M_Chesko/L513/definitions.htm&usg=AFQjCNGPRkuJd-EZIAyFVF3G5B8_OD4vLg>www.slais.ubc.ca/people/students/student-projects/M_Chesko/L513/definitions.htm

            > * Quire: A gathering of usually two or more BIFOLIA (or
            > combination of bifolia and singletons) inserted into one another
            > and sewn together through the fold. One or more quires sewn
            > together may comprise a CODEX.
            or
            > * A quire was originally an unfolded stack of 4 sheets of
            > <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vellum>vellum or
            > <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parchment>parchment, which (depending
            > on the method used) would form an 8- or 16-page booklet when
            > stitched and folded. Back then, the terms
            > <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quaternion_%28disambiguation%29>quaternion
            > or quaternum were more commonly used.
            > (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_quire#Quire)

            Per the <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codex>wikipedia:
            >The first recorded use of the codex for literary works dates from
            >the late <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_century>first century
            >AD, when <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martial>Martial experimented
            >with the format. . . .
            >The earliest surviving fragments from codices come from Egypt and
            >are variously dated (always tentatively) towards the end of the 1st
            >century or in the first half of the 2nd. This group includes the
            ><http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rylands_Library_Papyrus_P52>Rylands
            >Library Papyrus P52, containing part of St John's Gospel, and
            >perhaps dating from between 125 and
            >160.<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codex#_note-1>[2]

            You might also want to consult

            <http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/gopher/other/journals/kraftpub/Christianity/Canon>"The
            Codex and Canon Consciousness" (Draft), by Robert A. Kraft [updated
            to 15 October 2000]

            But these sources don't answer your question completely. I'm sure
            that others must have better information.

            Bob Schacht
            University of Hawaii



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Stephen C. Carlson
            ... That would be P46. Stephen Carlson -- Stephen C. Carlson, mailto:scarlson@mindspring.com Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words.
            Message 5 of 11 , Jul 22, 2007
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              Bob Schacht wrote on Jul 22, 2007 1:01 AM:
              >The reason is shown by P45 (or am
              >I confusing P45 with P66?), which is the earliest collection of
              >Paul's letters.

              That would be P46.

              Stephen Carlson

              --
              Stephen C. Carlson,
              mailto:scarlson@...
              "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35
            • Bob Schacht
              ... Stephen, Thanks for the correction. I m traveling, and don t have my notes. And a quick Google didn t rescue my mistake. Bob Schacht University of Hawaii
              Message 6 of 11 , Jul 22, 2007
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                At 08:24 AM 7/22/2007, you wrote:
                >Bob Schacht wrote on Jul 22, 2007 1:01 AM:
                > >The reason is shown by P45 (or am
                > >I confusing P45 with P66?), which is the earliest collection of
                > >Paul's letters.
                >
                >That would be P46.

                Stephen,
                Thanks for the correction. I'm traveling, and don't have my notes.
                And a quick Google didn't rescue my mistake.

                Bob Schacht
                University of Hawaii


                >Stephen Carlson
                >
                >--
                >Stephen C. Carlson,
                >mailto:scarlson@...
                >"Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35
                >
                >
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              • K L Noll
                Bob, Many thanks for your correction and improvement of my question. I will pursue this. I will be grateful for any additional guidance from listers as well.
                Message 7 of 11 , Jul 22, 2007
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                  Bob,

                  Many thanks for your correction and improvement of my question. I will pursue this. I will be grateful for any additional guidance from listers as well.

                  Shalom,
                  Kurt L. Noll
                  Brandon University
                  Brandon, Manitoba
                  nollk@...
                  klnoll@...


                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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