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Re: [XTalk] Re: [Synoptic-L] On The Earliest Markan Narrative

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  • Bob Schacht
    ... Well, I m interested, too. Thanks to both of you for a very interesting discussion. Personally, I like what you re doing to tie early Christian ideas to
    Message 1 of 10 , Jan 16, 2009
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      At 08:24 AM 1/16/2009, Rikk Watts wrote:
      >HI Jeff,
      >
      >I'm busy too.. but you might be interested.

      Well, I'm interested, too. Thanks to both of you for a very interesting
      discussion.
      Personally, I like what you're doing to tie early Christian ideas to their
      roots in the literature available at the time.
      I always want to see more evidence that those more ancient sources, in the
      Tanakh, Septuagint or elsewhere, were actually part of the literary
      discussions of the day, so your citation of previous publications that have
      many of the relevant details is appreciated.

      So again, thanks.
      Bob Schacht
      University of Hawaii


      >Re Pss 2, 110: Adela and John Collins have just published King and Messiah
      >as Son of God and their starting point is to read Pss 2, 110 in the light of
      >Egyptian enthronements. They argue that the David King as God's newly
      >begotten son is already partly divinized. I note that this has become
      >something of a trend. However, I think this is problematic.
      >
      >First, one needs to go behind Egyptian rituals to the larger image of god
      >motif which according to a good friend of mine includes both kingship and
      >kinship (not a typo) elements. While sometimes coalesced, especially in the
      >Egyptian royal traditions, they need not be. This means that an assumption
      >of simple borrowing can be problematic, especially where insufficient
      >attention is given to the borrowing culture. (Few cultures borrow without
      >some kind modification and adaptation)
      >
      >Second, Exod. 4:22 already has Israel designated as God's son‹presumably
      >over against the identification of Pharaoh. Deut 32:18 also uses begotten
      >language of Israel. (These texts are nowhere mentioned in the volume that I
      >could see; their implications were not discussed.) However, no one suggests
      >this implies the divinization (in the Egyptian sense) of Israel. And I would
      >argue, nor should they with the Davidic Psalms. I.e. the latter are merely a
      >particularization of the larger Israelite use of the terminology (e.g. the
      >king must be one from among your brothers, not a foreign king) and imply
      >kinship with Yahweh (already alluded to in Gen 1) but not identity. I.e. the
      >Davidic king is just a focused expression of what Israel saw itself to be,
      >related to God as kin, i.e. his "son" but without any hint of divinization.
      >This would explain why there is simply no evidence of any kind of divine
      >ruler cult in Israel's traditions from this period.
      >
      >Some would point to the throne names of Isa 7. But this I would suggest is
      >the result of inadequate exegesis. Names are important in those chapters of
      >Isaiah, and we learn this initially by the meaning of the three
      >sign-children. I think it is generally agreed that these names are not
      >describing the children themselves (Shear-Yashub is not himself the remnant)
      >but rather some aspect of the situation then described and directly related
      >to Yahweh's dealings with his people. Thus Immanuel is not the child
      >himself, but the oracle describes the devastation of faithless Judah when
      >Yahweh does indeed come among them. We get this three times. It seems to me
      >that the same interpretative principle applies to the throne names in Isa. 7
      >just moments after we've had the three children's sign-names. They are not
      >describing the individual ruler but instead the situation that obtains under
      >his rule due to Yahweh's intervention; i.e. the conditions under his rule
      >demonstrate what it means when Judah accepts that Yahweh, and not Assyria,
      >is the mighty warrior, that his wisdom and counsel, not that of Ahaz'
      >advisors, leads to life and prosperity.
      >
      >Anyway, just a few thoughts.
      >
      >I'm thinking of writing a review, but finding the time is always a bit of a
      >problem these days.
      >
      >Regards
      >
      >Rikk Watts
      >
      >
      >On 16/01/09 9:41 AM, "Jeff Peterson" <peterson@...> wrote:
      >
      > > Bruce,
      > >
      > > Thanks for revisiting this for (at least) my benefit. I'm afraid I
      > > don't see the specifically philological nature of your arguments,
      > > which seem more or less a revival of the "titular Christology" of
      > > Hahn, Fuller, et al., the inadequacies of which were well exposed by
      > > Dahl and his students (especially Juel), de Jonge, Keck, et al. The
      > > big recognition here is that earliest Christology was an exercise in
      > > scriptural interpretation and involved the appropriation of traditions
      > > and methods of Jewish exegesis to interpret Jesus' career and
      > > significance (the same process attested in the Qumran texts, as Dahl
      > > outlined in his seminal essay "Eschatology and History in Light of the
      > > Qumran Texts," available in the collection Jesus the Christ, edited by
      > > Juel; the best introduction to this approach to Christology is
      > > probably Juel's Messianic Exegesis).
      > >
      > > I don't have as much time to spend as I'd enjoy discussing this — my
      > > administration will want to see more at the end of my sabbatical than
      > > a stack of emails printed out! — but in brief I'd say your treatment
      > > of "son of David" in Mark neglects the interpretation of Ps 89 and 2
      > > Sam 7:12ff, where David's son is adopted as God's Son; Ps 110:1, where
      > > the Davidic king is enthroned alongside God (and thus could be
      > > understood as having received divine honors and prerogatives); and Ps
      > > 80:17, which employs "son of man" in poetic parallelism with "the
      > > (royal) man of they right hand," and so supplies exegetical grounds
      > > for associating Ps 110:1 with Dan 7:13­14 (an exegesis that informs
      > > Mark 14:61­62). The titles reflect not different textual strata or
      > > stages in the growth of the text, but different exegetical lines of
      > > approach to Jesus' identity and significance, which the text weaves
      > > into a grand synthesis. (I haven't thought to read through any of
      > > Juel's book-length treatments of Mark with one eye on the scriptural
      > > exegesis incorporated into the work, but I suspect that might repay
      > > effort.)
      > >
      > > Okay, back to my own stuff; apologies in advance of my follow-up is
      > > negligible (which I'm afraid it will have to be if I see that it will
      > > require actual research!).
      > >
      > > All the best,
      > >
      > > Jeff Peterson
      > > Austin Graduate School of Theology
      > >
      > >
      > > On Jan 16, 2009, at 12:49 AM, E Bruce Brooks wrote:
      > >
      > >> To: Crosstalk
      > >> Cc: Other Previously Addressed Venues
      > >> In Response To: Jeff Peterson
      > >> On: The Earliest Markan Narrative
      > >> From: Bruce
      > >>
      > >> JEFF: Bruce, I hope you'll pardon me for jumping in medias res, but
      > >> can you specify briefly the philological criteria that justify
      > >> dispensing with the resurrection as a secondary accretion in Mark?
      > >>
      > >> BRUCE: I already did it briefly, but I know it is counterintuitive
      > >> for many, and I don't mind doing it again. First, though, an
      > >> objection: I don't "dispense" with anything whatever. I am not out
      > >> to identify, *and then exclude,* spuria in the text. I am out to see
      > >> how the text came into being, and as part of that task, to identify
      > >> any different strata it may contain. All the strata, the early and
      > >> the late, are evidence for history. The task of history is simply to
      > >> assign each part of the evidence to its correct place on the
      > >> timeline, and thus to its correct place in the course of the
      > >> development. From the evidence, as thus arranged, we can hope to
      > >> read such history as the text may be witness to.
      > >>
      > >> JEFF: On the face of things, it would seem to me in narrative terms
      > >> that the titulus of the work, promising the reader "the origins of
      > >> the gospel of Jesus Christ" (1:1) and the early evocation of the
      > >> binding of Isaac
      > >> in the voice from heaven at the baptism ("my beloved Son," 1:11) are
      > >> fulfilled precisely in the declaration, "He is risen" in 16:6; and
      > >> the PARRHSIA(i) of 8:32 marks this motif as the disclosure of the
      > >> "secret of the kingdom of God" intimated in Jesus' ministry
      > >> (4:11-12). I'd be interested to know just what you see in the text
      > >> that closes off this line of interpretation.
      > >>
      > >> BRUCE: Nothing closes it off. That interpretation works fine. It
      > >> very well summarizes the passages it is based on. But to my eye, it
      > >> is based on passages culled from several different layers of the
      > >> text. The composite sense of any such combination will normally tend
      > >> to be the sense of their most recent members. The final point
      > >> reached by the developmental sequence, accordingly, is the one which
      > >> will tend to emerge from any inclusive reading of the final product.
      > >>
      > >> But we can also read that final product analytically. Here is where
      > >> the "philological evidence" comes in. How would one read the text
      > >> analytically?
      > >>
      > >> There are a score of ways one might begin, but try this one. There
      > >> are a lot of names for Jesus in Mark. Among them are Son of David,
      > >> Son of God, Son of Man. Are these just synonyms, or have they
      > >> different associations in the text? We won't know until we check
      > >> them out. If we begin by grouping passages with those terms, we get
      > >> roughly the following:
      > >>
      > >> SON OF DAVID
      > >>
      > >> The Son of David passages are concerned with Jesus's qualification
      > >> to be himself the restorer of the Davidic Kingdom in Israel. He
      > >> himself deals with an objection to his qualifications in 12:35f.
      > >> Later tradition, not satisfied with this rather forced argument,
      > >> actually provided Jesus with standard Davidic credentials: lineal
      > >> descent and a birth in David's city Bethlehem. Blind Bartimaeus, not
      > >> waiting for later tradition, acclaims Jesus as Son of David in
      > >> 10:47. The crowd, shortly thereafter, is a little more careful with
      > >> their terms, and merely cries "Blessed be he who comes in the name
      > >> of the Lord! Blessed be the Kingdom of our father David that is
      > >> coming!" Jesus himself, in a carefully prearranged way, enters
      > >> Jerusalem in a manner intended to evoke prophetic precedent. All
      > >> this looks to the restoration of sovereignty in Israel, not to the
      > >> death of Jesus. The return of God to Israel is very openly announced
      > >> as the theme of the work, with the Malachi/Isaiah quote which heads
      > >> it, in Mk 1:2-3. So far the beginning. Is there a middle? Yes, in
      > >> the declaration of Peter at 8:29, "You are the Christ." To a Jew of
      > >> the time, and Peter was himself presumably a Jew of the time, the
      > >> meaning of that term could only have been a national saviour. This
      > >> declaration occurs at the halfway point of the Gospel. So this group
      > >> it items not only runs from first to last (I suggested earlier how
      > >> the initially disappointing last line might be read), it is signaled
      > >> by the writer of the text itself as his structural intent. We have
      > >> then:
      > >>
      > >> Beginning: Mk 1:2-3 (God)
      > >> Middle: Mk 8:29 (Peter)
      > >> End: Mk 15:38 (Rending of the Veil = God again)
      > >>
      > >> All this David stuff is utterly beside the point of later Jesus
      > >> theory. It is literally an embarrassment in the text. And by what is
      > >> sometimes called the Criterion of Embarrassment, it is unlikely to
      > >> have been devised and inserted by the later Church, whose beliefs
      > >> were of a different sort. The only plausible option left is that
      > >> these passages are remnants of early belief, or perhaps even of
      > >> historical memory.
      > >>
      > >> What is interesting is that (1) if we assemble all the explicitly
      > >> Davidic passages, and add to them the passages which are *not
      > >> doctrinally in conflict with them,* we get what amounts to a
      > >> consecutive narrative, running from the Isaiah epigraph through John
      > >> the Baptist to the final moment of the Crucifixion; and (2) no
      > >> passage of this Davidic narrative shows signs of being interpolated
      > >> into anything else. It all looks, philologically speaking, like
      > >> narrative bedrock.
      > >>
      > >> SON OF GOD
      > >>
      > >> I will now be briefer. Like the Davidic set, the Son of God set has
      > >> a beginning, a middle, and an end. Jesus is so labeled, or so
      > >> addressed, in the opening statement 1:1 (though I would rather say
      > >> "beginning," as a reciter might do, not "origin") and in the Voice
      > >> from Heaven at Jesus's Baptism (though with some others, including
      > >> Rikk Watts in Beale/Carson 2007 p122f, I see the allusion in Mk 1:11
      > >> as to Psa 2:7, not to Isaac). It has an even more dramatic middle in
      > >> the Transfiguration of 9:1f (God again). And it has a verbally
      > >> explicit ending in the Roman soldier's exclamation, "Truly, this man
      > >> was a Son of God." The early and the heavenly powers, and the powers
      > >> beneath the earth, join in saying so. Here then is a groundplan for
      > >> a Gospel of Jesus as the Son of God, overlaid on the already
      > >> literarily complete groundplan for the Gospel of Jesus as the Son of
      > >> David.
      > >>
      > >> Philologically, (1) the passages which can unambiguously be
      > >> associated with the Son of God group, including as a first
      > >> approximation all the exorcisms (the Davidic Jesus confined himself
      > >> to healings), DO NOT form a consecutive narrative by themselves;
      > >> they rely on the substrate Davidic Messiah narrative to constitute a
      > >> complete story. And, (2) these passages are at some points
      > >> interpolated into the Davidic narrative. By the standard presumption
      > >> obtaining in all fields where texts are examined in this way, the
      > >> Son of God layer as a whole is thus to be construed as later than
      > >> the Son of David layer. In theological terms, (3) it represents a
      > >> divinization of Jesus, a development which is easily seen between
      > >> the successive Gospels (Mk > Mt > Lk > Jn). The big news here is
      > >> that this same divinization development can also be seen *within
      > >> Mark.*
      > >>
      > >> SON OF MAN
      > >>
      > >> More or less ditto the above. These are associated with predictions
      > >> of Jesus's coming death. There are beginning, middle, and end:
      > >>
      > >> Beginning: Temptations to Desist (Mk 1:12-13)
      > >> Middle: Three Predictions of Death (8:31, 9:31, 10:32)
      > >> End: Three Temptations to Avoid (Mk 14:34-41)
      > >>
      > >> Matthew, enchanted with this design but seeing how it could be
      > >> improved still more, brought Satan onstage in his equivalent of Mk
      > >> 1:12-13, and thus made this incident a triple one also. Envious
      > >> Luke, eager to improve on Matthew whether the result was actually
      > >> better or not, arranged the Matthean temptations in what for him was
      > >> a more climactic order.
      > >>
      > >> There is also a magnificent coda in this layer, going beyond
      > >> anything preceding it. The theme of the Son of Man layer is Jesus's
      > >> sacrificial death, with its promise of salvation for those who
      > >> believe in Jesus. The coda, Mk 15:40-16:8, goes beyond his
      > >> Crucifixion to portray, or sufficiently to suggest, his
      > >> Resurrection. This is the only fully optimistic ending in any layer
      > >> so far. No wonder it quickly eclipsed in popularity the first two
      > >> attempts to make historical and operative sense of Jesus.
      > >>
      > >> Philologically, (1) The Son of Man passages, and those that can
      > >> plausibly be associated with them in theme, do not make a complete
      > >> narrative, and rely on the previously existing (now already
      > >> composite) substrate for their narrative continuity. (2) There is
      > >> also interpolation evidence that the Son of Man layer is secondary
      > >> to the underlying previous substrate narrative. (3) To the
      > >> divinization of Jesus in Layer 2, there is here added the further
      > >> theological complication of the salvific meaning of Jesus's death.
      > >> This gives rise to several famous controversies among the faithful,
      > >> such as, Is one saved by works (as in Judaism and in Layers 1 and 2)
      > >> or by faith in the salvific death of Jesus (as increasingly in Layer
      > >> 3)? Luther (with Paul) answered, Sola Fide, by faith alone. The
      > >> Epistle of James, which has no use for the Resurrection (earning
      > >> Luther's contempt in the process), ridicules this notion. Paul in
      > >> turn . . . but everyone will recognize this controversy. I only wish
      > >> to point out that the controversy could only have arisen between a
      > >> previously works-based belief (as with John the Baptist, and indeed
      > >> with the early Jesus as described in Mk 1:14-15) and a new faith-
      > >> based belief. Both these incompatible beliefs are attested within
      > >> Mark. The faith-based option is found within Mark at such places as
      > >> the unbelief of the epileptic boy's father in 9:22-23, the promise
      > >> to those who left everything "for my sake and the Gospel" (Mk
      > >> 10:29), the curse on those who cause "one of these little ones who
      > >> believe in me to sin" (Mk 9:42), and the promise of eternal
      > >> damnation for those who do not believe in Jesus's post-Crucifixion
      > >> presence, in Mk 3:28-30.
      > >>
      > >> Mark is here not a whit less angry at the opposition than Paul at
      > >> his most vituperative. At bottom, I suggest, it is the same
      > >> argument. In both Mark and Paul, we have at this point made the
      > >> transition from the religion of Jesus (what Jesus himself believed,
      > >> which concerned God) to the religion about Jesus, in which (not to
      > >> borrow a phrase from the books of Larry Hurtado and others) Jesus
      > >> himself comes more and more to occupy the God spot in the believer's
      > >> scheme of things.
      > >>
      > >> ENVOI
      > >>
      > >> Mark is a simple text, if we take its most vehemently argued
      > >> highlights and construe the rest in their light. It is a complicated
      > >> text if we notice its internal differences and indeed
      > >> contradictions. But it becomes simple again once we recognize that
      > >> the differences themselves make a pattern, and that we have before
      > >> us in Mark, not a single-theory interpretation of Jesus, but a whole
      > >> succession of such theories, the latest of which have the merit of
      > >> being recognizable in the orthodoxy of the present time, which is
      > >> always reassuring, and the earliest of which have the merit of
      > >> reflecting the point from which that orthodoxy began to grow, which
      > >> is of curious interest to at least a few, and the rest of which have
      > >> the charm of being transitional from the one to the other: of
      > >> showing theological history in the very process of happening.
      > >>
      > >> (Sorry for the length of this, but it seems that the previous notes,
      > >> also long in their way, didn't quite work, and this one may perhaps
      > >> more exactly meet the questions of at least one interested party).
      > >>
      > >> Bruce
      > >>
      > >> E Bruce Brooks
      > >> Warring States Project
      > >> University of Massachusetts at Amherst
      > >>
      > >> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > >>
      > >>
      > >>
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > >
      > >
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