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RE: [XTalk] Markan Authorship

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  • Kenneth Litwak
    ... From: Ken Olson Subject: RE: [XTalk] Markan Authorship To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com Date: Friday, January 30, 2009, 5:14 PM ...
    Message 1 of 7 , Feb 1, 2009
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      --- On Fri, 1/30/09, Ken Olson <kenolson101@...> wrote:
      From: Ken Olson <kenolson101@...>
      Subject: RE: [XTalk] Markan Authorship
      To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Friday, January 30, 2009, 5:14 PM

      Ken Litwak wrote:

      >>Why attribute this work to such a unknown figure? Assuming it is

      Mark of Jerusalem (who could also be the Mark of Papias), why would

      anyone associate this work with someone who is otherwise unknown and

      carries zero authority among Christians? It would be like assigning the book of Ruth to a specific author. For

      this reason alone, it seems to me that we should take the authorship

      claim seriously and assume that it has some value in understanding the

      text. It also argues against rejecting the identification because

      saying that "this text was written by smoeone you've never heard of and

      had no significance ever" seems like an odd thing to

      do unless the

      identification is correct. This does not prove which "Mark" wrote the

      text, but it seems to me that it only makes sense to accept that

      designation KATA MARKON because such identification does little to give

      authority to the work.<<


      Isn't your argument here open to the criticism you made in the Goulder/LP thread?:

      >>In my view, this is part of the larger, fallacious view that "well, if

      it had been me, I would certainly have done so-and-so. Therefore, since

      others did not do exactly as I would surely have done, it must be the

      case that....." <<

      You are claiming you can establish with a reasonable degree of certainty based on the fact that you don't see why, if the attribution is incorrect, it would not have been made. Someone giving a mistaken attribution would have given one that lent the gospel more authority. Surely there are any number of reasons someone might have ascribed the gospel to Mark, including that the name Mark might have carried some weight with the intended audience. It shows up in Col., Phil., 1 Pet, Acts and 2 Tim, aside from the references in Papias and Clement. You contend that Mark was "someone who is otherwise unknown and carries zero authority among Christians." You seem to be suggesting that, if the name Mark had had authority somewhere in the early church, we ought to have evidence of it in other sources. But against Goulder you argued: "I consider all such "we don't find evidence of it elsewhere" to be an unhelpful assertion at best. It seems to me that you
      are operating from contradictory premises in the two threads.

      Ken L:  Actually, this would be contradictory only if I had made my statement with reference to both conditions, there is data and there is not data.  I did not. In the Goulder post, I responded specifically to the tendency of many modern scholars to assume that "Absence of evdence is evidence of absence."  You can see this in Pauline studies.  Since Paul did not mention Jesus as the head of the body in 1 Corinthians, therefore, its absence proves that Paul could not have written Colossians, which does speak of Jesus as the head of the body.  Its absence from 1 Corinthians is viewed as evidence that Paul never ever could possibly have had such a notion.  This does not prove that Paul did or did not write Ephesians.   Rather, it is focusing solely on the view that since some author does not inlcude something that the author does not know about it.  My statement challenges the procedure that says in this case "if the Lord's Prayer had come from
      Jesus, Mark would have known about it.   If Mark had known about it he surely would have used it."  That is fallacious.  We do not know what Mark knew, we do not know what Mark woudl have done, and in spite of the confidence of many, we do not _know_ the relationship of the Synoptic Gospels.

         In the case of Markan authorship, I am not dealing with absence of evidence but the presence of evidence.  That, in my view, is a totally different matter.  In this case I am asking why someone would in fact do what has been done, i.e., attribute Mark's Gospel to someone named Mark.  Since Mark is relatively unknown, and his portrait in Acts is far from positive, I think it a reasonable question to ask, Why would someone attribute this work to John Mark, if that is in fact who is intended?  I am seeking to deal with real evidence, not explain lack of evidence.  Those are very different cases, so I do not think that what I said about the Lord's Prayer has anything to do with Markan authorship. Yes, I am asking why someone would attribute it falsely to Mark and I am, I suppose, suggesting my own reasons for this, which may or may not be valid.  The key difference, however, is that I am seeking to grapple with hard data, not specualte about
      non-existent data.

      Ken Litwak

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