The identity of Mary (Mark 16:40), and protective silences
- It is highly likely that Mary of James and Jose (Mark 16:40) was the
mother of Jesus. Not only do the names "Mary", "James", and "Jose" all
fit (see Mark 6:3), but we also have the mother of Jesus at the cross
in John 19:25).
The fact that Mark does not identify this Mary as the mother of Jesus
is not so surprising. I suspect that anyone who attended a crucifixion
would have been branded an insurgent by the authorities. Men, in
particular, would have come under suspicion, and this explains why the
male disciples are not mentioned in the text. Either the men were not
there (presumably because it was too dangerous) or the early church
kept quiet about their presence for their protection. It seems very
possible that the community of believers, when recounting the story of
the crucifixion, deliberately hid Mary's identity to avoid exposing
her to persecution. The family of Jesus might have been given a
particularly low profile in the public documents of the church, so
that they would not become a target for persecution.
John, probably writing later, is free to identify this Mary, as well
as the man who cut off the ear and the woman who poured the perfume,
while Mark (or his sources) protects their identities. There are
several other examples of protective silences in the NT. Here are
three that I discuss on my blog:
Acts is deliberately silent about Paul's illegal preaching in Arabia:
Acts is deliberately silent about Paul's illegal collection(s)
The believers in Rome cut the end off copies of Paul's letter to
prevent sensitive information falling into the hands of Nero's men.
It seems to me that strange silences in the NT are often associated
with conflict with the authorities, and this should be no surprise.
- William Campbell has a very interesting piece in JBL, in which he
analyzes the styles of self-designation by Josephus, Polybius and
Thucydides. I have reviewed his article here:
I use Campbell's data to argue that the author of Acts was present
with Paul before the "We passages" as well as during them. Campbell
himself seems to have overlooked this possibility and comes to a very
Let me know what you think.
Kenneth Litwak wrote:
> I hadn't been following this discussion so I'm sorry to be posting[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> "late." I'd agree with Richard's assessment generally. I need to
> read Robbins' essay but I'm familiar with MacDonald (I was at an SBL
> session on Acts where Alexander, MacDonald, and Penner all presented
> and found MacDonald's thesis far from demonstrated--and open to the
> same criticisms as raised by Karl Olav Sandnes in his 2005 JBL
> article on MacDonald's method),
> It seems to me that "we passages" do not indicate historigraphy
> or fiction on their own, but I'm not convinced that they affirm
> nothing about the narrator's participation but could mean either
> presence or absence.