Re: [XTalk] Re: [Synoptic-L] Re: SBL Report
- Dear Bruce...
> virtually none of the panelists except the author, were present. DiscussionPerhaps I ought also to forebear but in all fairness to Tom Shepherd two of
> was less than edifying, and I forbear to report on it.
the three panelists did in fact remain and then chatted with Adela
afterwards... I know because I was there with him : )
Oh dear... my sincere apologies about the accent which probably goes a
long way to explaining why I barely recognize my paper in your account ; )
- my points were ..
a) as expected of Hermeneia, a wealth of background materials (14 parallels
on 6:31-56 alone) and engagement with continental literature; worthwhile for
b) given the aim was to have a diversity of responses I would concentrate on
some of the more introductory/thematic issues (her Interpretation of Jesus
being the longest section, 40pps, in the Introduction). I noted in advance
that my caveats ought not be seen as undermining what was a tremendous
amount of useful work and for that we were grateful.
c) Adela's approach to authorship seemed eminently reasonable. She concludes
it is either one of the Marks mentioned in Papias/1 Peter or Act 12f/Col
4/Philem 23f. I suggested that given the small size of the early Xn
community and limiting factors such as literacy, lack of identifying
patronym, etc. probably reasonable to regard them as the one individual.
d) as far as dating, Adela employed Mark 13, proposing some time close to
the revolutionary war. I thought this was misreading Mark 13 as though it
was some kind of history when for me although containing some general
historical tendencies (increasing national tensions and hostility toward
Jesus' followers) it consists mainly of prophetic judgment topoi. This is
why, e.g. the abomination of desolation is so darned tricky to identify
(BTW: it is a gold standard in the Law, the Prophets and the Writings that
it is Israel's abominations that lead to Jerusalem's desolation). Given
Jesus' identity (Adela sees him as a divinized Messiah) Jerusalem's
rejection of him necessarily entails judgment. But how those judgments
precisely work out in history is no more Mark¹s concern than it was in the
prophets before him. This not only has important implications for how one
interprets Mark 13 but it obviates the need to posit any time close to the
first Jewish war simply because this neither occasioned the prophecy nor
inspired its language. Can't recall if she responded to this or not.
e) given Adela's emphasis on hearing Mark in its first century world, I
questioned the use of some non-first century terms to define Mark's genre. I
didn't see why she couldn't stay with a form of historical bioi, even if it
didn't fit precisely. Also I'm not persuaded that Mark is apocalyptic
because a) Mark's Jesus has far more parallels with Ps Sol 17, according to
Adela an older prophetic style eschatology (so also Mark I would argue) and
b) a few "on the clouds" phrases are insufficient to counter that weight and
in my view do not indicate that Mark has abandoned history (if that is
indeed actually what the apocalypticists thought they were doing; see
Wright). Adela responded by saying that she saw a difference between
apocalyptic (adj.) and an apocalypse (noun) which is partly true though it
is interesting that when asked for evidence of apocalyptic in Mark
proponents invariably point to what are typically genre indicators (language
such as "son of man," and certain kinds of imagery "on the clouds" etc.).
She said believed Mark thought we were indeed all going to heaven, though
I'm not sure how she knows this.
f) re "euaggelion": I expressed surprise, that Frankemölle's and
Stuhlmacher's work on the Isaianic background to the word rated only a
footnote. Particularly given a) that Adela affirms Mark's story was about
the fulfillment of Israel's scriptures, and b) although Adela mentioned the
importance of Paul's usage of euaggelion, she did not mention the recent
work of Hays, Wagner, Beale, Wilk, and others on the importance of Isa,
espec 40-66, for Paul's gospel (and the broader NT). Don't recall is she
responded (and of course Adela could not respond to everything).
g) Adela states that Mark's Jesus was modeled on Israel's past leaders:
namely, on Moses as teacher and interpreter of the law, Elijah and Elisha as
wonder-working prophets, and David as anointed king. David is a shoo-in, but
Jesus as a new Moses seems more Matthean than Markan, and instead of noting
a couple of isolated parallels, comparing the actual catalogues of Jesus'
wonders with those of Elijah and Elisha instead shows how dissimilar they
are. Don't think she responded to this either.
h) a major point of interaction: Adela has therefore three categories for
Jesus: teacher, prophet, and divinized messiah (see here Collins and
Collins, KING AND MESSIAH AS SON OF GOD, 2008). I thought, given Hurtado's
LORD JESUS CHRIST, and Fee's PAULINE CHRISTOLOGY both of which argue for an
early pre-Markan high christology, and Blackburn's early THEIOS ANER where
Jesus is assimilated to Yahweh, that she might have added a Jesus as Yahweh
category. E.g. in Mark's opening sentence and his only editorial citation,
Isa 40:3; Mal 3:1 in Mk 1:2-3, neither of these have anything at all to do
with a coming Messiah but instead echo the Exodus' motif of the very
presence of Yahweh. I then noted that the activities Mark ascribes to Jesus
have only minimal parallels with first century Messianic hopes, and are
instead, given his emphasis on Israel's scripture, are far closer to
Yahweh's deeds at creation/exodus and their prophetic counterparts of new
creation/new exodus. The latter coheres with Hurtado's and Fee's
observations: namely we should expect a high Christology in Mark since it
was already coin of the realm by the time he wrote. Adela of course does not
like Hurtado's work (and understandably has not yet engaged with Fee),
claiming to have refuted it. I'm not persuaded that she has. I was hoping to
engage with her in question time on that issue (I think her two main counter
arguments fail), and on what I see as Collins and Collins' confusion of
filial image-of-God language as per Israel (Ex 4:22; Deut 32:18) with
divine-King image-of-god language as per Egypt; both elements being present
in the ANE. My point is "son of God" "begotten" was also applied to Israel
but no one suggests Israel is divine, and the king as God's son is better
seen as a subset of Israel's kinship designation. Thus the complete lack of
evidence for cultic veneration of Israel's king and thus no divinized
Messiah in the Pss (they also misread the role of the names in Isa 9, which
nor more describe the ontology of the king than they do the preceding three
parable names in Isa 7-8; and seeing a divinized Messiah in e.g. 1 Enoch is
I suspect to misread the imagery).
i) in view of Adela's massive collection of background I texts, I offered
some supportive comments on Mark's Ideal Authorial Audience (Rabinowitz):
namely that he almost certainly had one eye on the elite house church
owner-leaders who would be responsible for teaching those churches. This
would justify her including a large number of literary allusions of which
one assumes most of Mark's uneducated audience would have been unaware.
j) in terms of the commentary itself: I did not see how the mention of Forms
actually informed her exegesis. Adela responded that they were evidence of
Mark's oral origins (someone in the audience picked up on this I think) and
thus explained Mark's less then even narrative. Even so, I couldn't see how
this actually informed her exegesis once we got to it. But on narrative:
given her citing of stories of the prophets as a possible precursor to Mark
(she criticizes Burridge for ignoring them), and having taught same (i.e.
Former Prophets), it should be noted that these involve highly sophisticated
narrative and literary techniques. No reason why Mark cannot be similar, as
many have argued.
k) I appreciated her seeing Isa 53 behind Jesus' passion predictions, but
in the pages devoted to the topic was surprised to find only a couple of
very general sentences, namely, "Jesus gave his life for many," as to what
it all meant for Mark. There was no comment on how this fulfills Scripture
(which is what she'd earlier said of Mark), nor why it should come here in
the gospel (we were promised that structural issues would be addressed
throughout the commentary). Similarly, given her intention to read Mark from
a first century perspective, I was surprised there was not even a raised
eyebrow at Mark's Jesus' revamping of Israel's foundational meal by changing
the menu and making himself its centre. Surely that must rank as one of the
most astonishing events of all time: what first century Jew would even dream
of doing such a thing, let alone imagine that another Jew would even
consider doing so?
l) overall then, lots of great info, background etc. and I DO mean that, but
somehow the sense of Mark's narrative and what he thought about Jesus got a
bit lost. BUT an enormous amount of work, really, and for that honor where
honor was due.
Hope that helps (I apologize again for any incoherence; I'd shared a room
with a protean snorer and had only got two hours sleep).
- To: Crosstalk
In Response To: Rikk Watts
On: SBL Session on AYC's Mark
Many thanks to Rikk for his authoritative account of his comments on AYC's
Mark at the recent SBL. (As mentioned, in addition to other shortcomings, my
own notes at the time were meant for my own later use, and did not aspire to
be a transcript of the session as such).
That session being now as adequately reported as it is likely to be, perhaps
the next step might be to engage, not that specific commentary, but the
larger question of Mark. Rikk's notes provide a variety of points from which
that engagement might begin: points which in his view were incompletely or
unsatisfactorily dealt with in the commentary, and thus inviting further
attention by the modern Markan community.
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst