Re: [XTalk] GOSPEL (OF THE KINGDOM) OF GOD
- To: Crosstalk
In Brief Response To: Gordon Raynal
On: Mark and Stuff
GORDON: Thus the differences will continue and continue.
BRUCE: Indeed, but not because there is no answer.
Gordon has listed the areas of our difference. I comment briefly:
a.) the dating and relationship of sources.
I find Mark to be the earliest Gospel, and with support from Daniel as
quoted in Mk 13, I notice that Mark or one of its later contributors was
excited by the Caligula threat of desecration in the summer of 40, a threat
which exactly parallels the situation which the writer of Daniel (alluded to
in Mk 13) had in mind. There is no reason to connect this with the
destruction of the Temple in 70, an event which Luke is the first to
describe realistically. Given the fairly evident relative order of the
Synoptics, plus the fact that Matthew takes Mark's Caligula reference over
without changing it, we then reach as a best first approximation:
The Summer of 40
Later Mark (Mk 13 is a late addition)
The Summer of 70
And a few more things like that. No chronology is valid unless it
consistently accounts for all the data, including Titus, and I concede that
there are some loose ends in my chart at this moment. The chronology which I
presented (in two pieces, at two sessions) at SBL needs adjustment after
further study. But I find that in general it holds up pretty well. I look
for future adjustments rather than future radical rearrangements, but of
course time will tell.
GORDON: I understand Mark to be a narrative creation from some 40 to 50 or
so years after Jesus, . .
BRUCE: A lot of people think that, and would agree with that sentence. But
do they realize what they are saying? They are saying that Jesus died, and
years passed and another generation grew up, (25 years) and then another
generation came along (15 to 25 years more), and only then, not within the
lifetimes of the first followers but only then, did it occur to anyone to
ask, "By the way, this Jesus fella, what was he like? What did he do? How
did he die, exactly?" And at that point, when all the memories were either
dead or dim, and all the trails were cold, somebody sat down to write out
the answer. I frankly find this preposterous. The question to which Mark is
the answer (all else is revisionism) is very likely to have been asked
immediately after the news of Jesus's death got back home to Galilee.
b.) where to find the mission agenda and what the actual mission agenda was
I don't know where Gordon is getting his mission agenda, since he hasn't
said. I get mine from the beginning of Mark, which is where we would expect
an author to put it. Besides that initial statement of what Jesus was
preaching (repentance and forgiveness and the Kingdom of God), it is
conspicuous that the Markan narrative is interrupted at several points in
which Jesus, out of nowhere, predicts his own death. This is received by his
disciples with disbelief and rejection, and the rejection is met by Jesus
with curses. I somehow get the impression that this was not the usual
content of Jesus's preaching, and that, on the contrary, it was a new
element added later, so much later that Mark could not with a straight face
represent the disciples as accepting it (let alone preaching it; compare the
Sending of the Twelve, which itself is rather late in the text) during
Jesus's lifetime. Mark makes it sufficiently clear that it was only after
Jesus's death that this second idea got going, and nobody, least of all
Luke, contradicts this. See also my earlier note about the place where Jesus
is made to deny his own teaching to the Galilean crowds. Here, as I may have
said before, we have a text in conflict with itself, and of the two parties
to that conflict, the one I want at this moment is the earlier party.
c.) the genre of Mark and how Mark utilized his sources to create his
narrative of Jesus, the anointed.
This presupposes all sorts of things, starting with the idea that Mark
himself knew nothing about Jesus, and was dependent on "sources," texts or
their equivalent which we do not now possess, and of which Mark as it stands
gives no hint (whereas the prologue to Luke gives ample hints). As I think I
showed earlier, or was that on another list, everything in Mark that is not
these interruptive self-denials by Jesus, that is, everything circumstantial
in Mark, could have been known either directly to John Mark of Jerusalem
(his mom's house was evidently a rendezvous for the Jesus people, probably
including Jesus), or learned from Peter (in the living room of that house,
not in Rome), or from his friends Rufus and Alexander, whose father had
witnessed the Crucifixion in a big way. Mark, then or later, is also open to
legends, like the Johannine myth of John the Baptist (which quite possibly
gave Luke the idea for Acts, or anyway for the speeches of Paul in Acts),
and the Christian devotional myth of the Woman of Bethany, which Mark
self-identifies as something celebrated in later times. Those bits stand out
stylistically, and they stand out substantively, from the rest of the story.
That these had sources in the usual sense of established stories which Mark
then took over and used, I do not doubt. But the amount of this kind of
stuff in Mark seems very limited otherwise. No?
If there is anything else equally clear, I would be glad to know about it.
The genre of Mark? I should think that is obvious: Mark is not a life of
Jesus, in either a modern or a Greco-Roman sense, it is an apologia for the
death of Jesus. It relates Jesus's teachings not as part of a portrait of
the man (as a biography would), but as part of the scenario for the
opposition that he aroused, and which (as Mark sees it) caused his untimely
and unanticipated death. (Of course, Jesus's Davidic enterprise was very
high-risk anyway, as Mark again makes clear in excruciating detail,
including where they got the donkey, and what the password was, etcetera
So no, I don't hold with Luke that Jerusalem was the beginning of
Christianity (Galilee was, no matter how vigorously Luke may curse the three
Galilean churches), and I don't hold with Paul that Paul was the first
Christian (I think a couple of hundred Galilean villagers were, including
little Sophie and her parents). I think that before Luke there was Mark, and
that before Paul there was Jesus. Is this actually a radical idea?
I go with the earliest evidence when I can find it, and in both these cases,
I think that there *is* such evidence, and that I and others can indeed work
with it. If they care to.
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
- <<Ariel, D.T., A Survey of Coin Finds in Jerusalem,
Liber Annuus 32, 1982, pp 273-326.
Unless we have an old print copy in the pre-1985 stack here,
the data for denarii in Jerusalem is out of reach
just now, so, at least for the time being, I'll just shift to your
view that there weren't that many around in the city.
I'm having trouble getting hold of it as well, so I'll have to go by
memory, unfortunately. I did contact Ariel himself, but he's got nothing beyond
a single paper copy. While it's not strictly on topic, I do have H Gitler's
'A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF NUMISMATIC EVIDENCE FROM EXCAVATIONS IN JERUSALEM'
(Liber Annuus 1996), which covers bronze coinage from the city. No
imperial bronze is recorded from before the 4th Century, after the abolition of
the provincial mints, and their replacement with imperial ones.
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