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RE: Mark and invention of gospel

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  • Matson, Mark (Academic)
    ... I looked back over your first post and reading Delta Sources: Mark and John (an early version thereof), I conclude you thought Mark and John had early
    Message 1 of 9 , Jan 20, 2011
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      Gordon Raynal wrote:

      > First, "early Mark?" Let me go back and see if I said that. I do believe
      > in layers in John, but if I said "early Mark," I made a mistake. I think
      > Mark was the first narrative Gospel... ca. 80 to 85 is my preferred
      > dating, although I lose no sleep over the tradition ca. 70 dating. I
      > think Mark does show some signs of later editing (especially in chapter
      > 13, not to mention all those extra endings that were appended). But I
      > think Mark was "the groundbreaker" in creating this form of communication.

      I looked back over your first post and reading "Delta Sources: Mark and John (an early version thereof)," I conclude you thought Mark and John had early versions and you then later in your list developed each in its later form. I see now you were including the parentheses only with regard to John. My apologies for misreading.

      I tend toward the 70 dating, only because it is hard for me to get to Matthew and Luke in a reasonable time without an earlier form of Mark. And I would date Luke ca. 90 (I know you place Luke after 100, which I don't think is credible. But that is probably a different discussion).

      >Now about story telling, I entirely agree with you. From what we have I
      > think Mark "invented" (so to speak) the thing we call a narrative gospel
      > and that "John" was hot on his heels in producing a delightful "other
      > version." I don't think either are biographical in nature. I think they
      > are "mega parables," if you will, about "the Good News of the Kingdom."
      >
      > Having said that, "invent" is really the wrong word. "Craft" is a better
      > one. The antecedent tradition is replete with narrative stories of "the
      > lives" of key children of Israel. The stories of Adam and Eve aren't
      > "biographies." The Patriarchal/ Matriarchal narratives aren't
      > biographies. Moses story isn't "a biography." And neither are they
      > "myths!" They are theological/ ethical stories that are
      > ***about*** the God of Israel. And so are the gospels, in my reading.
      > And yes, I think Mark is to be credited with creating such "an animal."

      I actually think we may agree on a lot, though certainly not all. First of all, my use of the word "invent" is derived primarily from rhetorical language. So for Aristotle "invention" is not some de novo "new thing" but involves arrangement, use of tropes, comparisons, etc. That is, invention is the "creative act" of putting something together for a rhetorical effect. You use craft... well that is fine also. The term Aristotle used for rhetoric in its broad sense was "techne" or art or craft. We aren't disagreeing. I do see Mark as remarkably creative in the way he chooses to tell the story of Jesus.

      And in some ways I agree about your concern about use of "biographies," if you mean biographies in our modern sense. But I think Burridge has a good point in arguing the closest literary form is the "bios" of antiquity. The bios (or many of them, there was certainly variation) certainly had a "biographical" interest in a person, but shaded into the rhetorical realm of encomium. You use the term "theological/ethical stories". I agree. In my earlier post I think I argued that Mark is evangelistic.. so I see the purpose as not presenting a "factual" presentation of Jesus, but a rhetorical narrative that attempts to grab the reader/listener and have them identify with the disciples and ask themselves at the end if they would be good soil or not??? (cf. Tolbert's reading of Mark). But the gospel is not just about the God of Israel, it is about human reaction to a particular person who has a special insight into God and whose death demands some kind of crisis of choice...


      Mark A. Matson
      Academic Dean
      Milligan College
      423-461-8720
      http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/mmatson/personal.htm
    • Gordon Raynal
      Good Morning Mark, Let me get at some responses here: ... No problem. Sometimes typing on these infernal machines I make dumb errors:)! (I still write my
      Message 2 of 9 , Jan 21, 2011
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        Good Morning Mark,

        Let me get at some responses here:
        On Jan 20, 2011, at 10:19 AM, Matson, Mark (Academic) wrote:

        > Gordon Raynal wrote:
        >
        >> First, "early Mark?" Let me go back and see if I said that. I do
        >> believe
        >> in layers in John, but if I said "early Mark," I made a mistake. I
        >> think
        >> Mark was the first narrative Gospel... ca. 80 to 85 is my preferred
        >> dating, although I lose no sleep over the tradition ca. 70 dating. I
        >> think Mark does show some signs of later editing (especially in
        >> chapter
        >> 13, not to mention all those extra endings that were appended).
        >> But I
        >> think Mark was "the groundbreaker" in creating this form of
        >> communication.
        >
        > I looked back over your first post and reading "Delta Sources: Mark
        > and John (an early version thereof)," I conclude you thought Mark
        > and John had early versions and you then later in your list
        > developed each in its later form. I see now you were including the
        > parentheses only with regard to John. My apologies for misreading.
        No problem. Sometimes typing on these infernal machines I make dumb
        errors:)! (I still write my lessons and sermons long hand on notebook
        paper:)! and so, do check out things that aren't clear, because that
        happens a lot!)
        >
        > I tend toward the 70 dating, only because it is hard for me to get
        > to Matthew and Luke in a reasonable time without an earlier form of
        > Mark. And I would date Luke ca. 90 (I know you place Luke after 100,
        > which I don't think is credible. But that is probably a different
        > discussion).

        I don't think Mark was hastily written. I do think this need for "a
        story" was generated by a number of communal needs, but also because
        of the utter disaster of the R-J War and its outcome. My preference
        for 80 to 85 is to make the guess of a time of reflection about this
        fine art and to place it squarely in the Flavian world. "Who is truly
        the August Caesar?" was a REAL question in the political landscape...
        and that had huge religious implications. In part, what Mark was
        addressing was the communities response to that.

        I think Matthew could have read Mark and been written the next week
        (time to go rooting through all those scrolls for all those quotes and
        for carefully re-reading Deuteronomy to frame the Q speech in terms of
        "the great speeches of Moses" in that work), but I think one needs to
        account for the spread of Mark and the thought about Mark and so I'd
        suggest 90 to 100 for Matthew.

        I got onto Luke-Acts as 120 from Burton Mack. And yes, I'll stick
        with sometimes after 110, at the earliest... to my mind, after the
        Trajan-Pliny correspondence... and after the rise of Hadrian,
        actually. (hence 120 for a nice round number.) Luke talks about "many
        have attempted." So time for some serious dispersal of "many." So
        starting at 80 with Mark... then this all folds together towards this
        dating. And then the felt need he had to connect TANAK to the Markan
        Story to the inclusion of Q and create his marvelous "Age of the
        Spirit" story in Acts. So, I'll stick with my dating.
        >
        >> Now about story telling, I entirely agree with you. From what we
        >> have I
        >> think Mark "invented" (so to speak) the thing we call a narrative
        >> gospel
        >> and that "John" was hot on his heels in producing a delightful "other
        >> version." I don't think either are biographical in nature. I
        >> think they
        >> are "mega parables," if you will, about "the Good News of the
        >> Kingdom."
        >>
        >> Having said that, "invent" is really the wrong word. "Craft" is a
        >> better
        >> one. The antecedent tradition is replete with narrative stories of
        >> "the
        >> lives" of key children of Israel. The stories of Adam and Eve aren't
        >> "biographies." The Patriarchal/ Matriarchal narratives aren't
        >> biographies. Moses story isn't "a biography." And neither are they
        >> "myths!" They are theological/ ethical stories that are
        >> ***about*** the God of Israel. And so are the gospels, in my
        >> reading.
        >> And yes, I think Mark is to be credited with creating such "an
        >> animal."
        >
        > I actually think we may agree on a lot, though certainly not all.
        > First of all, my use of the word "invent" is derived primarily from
        > rhetorical language. So for Aristotle "invention" is not some de
        > novo "new thing" but involves arrangement, use of tropes,
        > comparisons, etc. That is, invention is the "creative act" of
        > putting something together for a rhetorical effect. You use
        > craft... well that is fine also. The term Aristotle used for
        > rhetoric in its broad sense was "techne" or art or craft. We aren't
        > disagreeing. I do see Mark as remarkably creative in the way he
        > chooses to tell the story of Jesus.

        Thanks for this. Very helpful.
        >
        >
        > And in some ways I agree about your concern about use of
        > "biographies," if you mean biographies in our modern sense. But I
        > think Burridge has a good point in arguing the closest literary form
        > is the "bios" of antiquity.

        And I just don't buy this. Not to be trite, but the Harry Potter
        stories are stories of a teenager growing up and share many
        similarities with a biography of a teen... except Harry is not a
        biography. Now, let me be really clear. I do think Jesus was a real
        person. I do think we have "a voice print" from him. I do think we
        know some historical details... but not many.


        > The bios (or many of them, there was certainly variation) certainly
        > had a "biographical" interest in a person, but shaded into the
        > rhetorical realm of encomium. You use the term "theological/
        > ethical stories". I agree. In my earlier post I think I argued
        > that Mark is evangelistic.. so I see the purpose as not presenting a
        > "factual" presentation of Jesus, but a rhetorical narrative that
        > attempts to grab the reader/listener and have them identify with the
        > disciples and ask themselves at the end if they would be good soil
        > or not??? (cf. Tolbert's reading of Mark).

        For this note (and over time we can talk about more details if you
        like... or at SBL this Fall when we can talk face to face), I think
        creative fictional stories are just grand! Let me go to what I take
        it will be "safe" territory (Let me know) to begin this discussion.
        The stories of creation, Cain and Abel, Noah and the Flood, Babel are
        rich, rich fictional stories that profoundly raise up foundational
        theological, ethical and anthropological affirmations about the
        source, meaning and purpose of human life on Terra Firma. In the
        Hebrew sense they are "parables"... stories that "point" and "point
        out." What do we trust? What gives us courage/ encouragement? What
        empowers us to charitable living? (these most foundational issues of
        living... and of course, I'm giving the big nod to Paul in 1st Cor.
        13!) are bottom line what these stories engage hearers in "wrestling
        with." And I precisely think Mark is that sort of story. And I think
        John is that sort of story. To be sure and rightly so, later they
        became useful for theological and ethical reflection... on to formal
        philosophical pondering and so formal issues of Systematic Theology.
        And so the Church came up with "the Regula Fide" (basic hermeneutical
        "Rule of Faith") and Canon... and yes, that's where the preaching
        starts. I'm good with all of that, obviously:)! And still later, we
        modern, Classical culture inheritors have become mighty interested in
        history. I'm good with that, too:)! And so we go searching for all
        manner of stuff in these stories and stuff that probably just make the
        authors go, "huh? why are you interested in those question:)?"
        However, in the beginning, so to speak, what we have are these richly
        evocative stories founded and about the faith, hope and love of this
        ancient Hebraic tradition. I want to be careful with the term
        "evangelistic" (simply because the term evangelism is now so defined
        by current theological positions), but yes, I think you're correct and
        so to use another more neutral terms, lets go with "motivational
        stories," if that doesn't sound too bland. Written in communities of
        faith and for communities of faith, they serve to motivate belonging,
        motivate participation, motivate faithful living. And we humans live
        out of, by and in terms of the examples of others. And every
        community promotes "the supreme example or examples." Beethoven is
        certainly one of the Supreme exemplars for Classical music. Me, I'm
        more a Rock and Roll fan... and yes, "the Rolling Stones" are Rock and
        Roll:)! Teachers are recognized for their excellence. And so with
        Jesus, he was esteemed as THE model, the embodiment of the subject
        matter (faith, hope and love), and so "the Anointed" (the King), the
        true son of YHWH Elohim, etc. etc. etc. And so cut below...

        > But the gospel is not just about the God of Israel, it is about
        > human reaction to a particular person who has a special insight into
        > God and whose death demands some kind of crisis of choice...

        Pardon, but that sounds so, well gnostic. Now perhaps you don't mean
        that, but I don't think the first issue was ever "insight into God."
        Hebrew ancestral folks had boat loads of insight into God! The real
        "rubber meets the road" issue is what demonstrates that "Way" and who
        demonstrates that "Way?" And I think the Gospels lift up that Way and
        tell of the communities central devotion to who they saw exemplifying
        it (yes, "incarnating") it. And because that was affirmed, then the
        death, the continued sense of presence, the future sense of
        expectation and always the living NOW sense of accompaniment and
        belonging is what has always been at stake centrally in this sort of
        writing. This whole movement ***did not*** start tabula rasa, nor
        outside of "faith." Jesus was a Jew. All his immediate fellows were
        Jews. He didn't create "a faith." Better, to say, is it not that he
        "opened up a particular way/ movement of faith?"

        So, I'll precisely press you on that language at the source end of
        these stories and among the first hearers. Historically, Jesus and
        his friends, so to speak provided one hermeneutic, the Pharisees
        another, the Temple establishment another, the Saducees another, etc.
        (and let's never forget the Samaritans, because they're still around,
        too!). And so to end this, in some ways I think the most important
        thing Jesus raised up in "puzzle speak" (wisdom words) was simply (and
        profoundly) this:

        Mark 4:9 (NRSV) "Let anyone with ears to hear, listen!" No matter
        one's religion, philosophy or lack thereof, these words point back to
        the very heart of Torah and so the fundamental question... to what/who
        are you devoted? And I think that's where the story of Mark really
        "takes one," so to speak.

        Does this help?

        Gordon Raynal
        Inman, SC
        >
      • Mark Goodacre
        ... On this scenario, how do you account for Luke s lack of familiarity with Matthew? It has been around for 20-30 years; it is the most popular Gospel in the
        Message 3 of 9 , Jan 21, 2011
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          On 21 January 2011 09:47, Gordon Raynal <scudi1@...> wrote:

          > "the great speeches of Moses" in that work), but I think one needs to
          > account for the spread of Mark and the thought about Mark and so I'd
          > suggest 90 to 100 for Matthew.
          >
          > I got onto Luke-Acts as 120 from Burton Mack. And yes, I'll stick
          > with sometimes after 110, at the earliest... to my mind, after the
          > Trajan-Pliny correspondence... and after the rise of Hadrian,
          > actually. (hence 120 for a nice round number.) Luke talks about "many
          > have attempted."

          On this scenario, how do you account for Luke's lack of familiarity
          with Matthew? It has been around for 20-30 years; it is the most
          popular Gospel in the early to middle second century, where you are
          dating Luke; it might reasonably be described as a διήγησιν περὶ τῶν
          πεπληροφορημένων ἐν ἡμῖν πραγμάτων, which is not such a good
          description of Q; and it features close, verbatim agreement, sometimes
          near 100%, with Luke.

          All best
          Mark
          --
          Mark Goodacre
          Duke University
          Department of Religion
          Gray Building / Box 90964
          Durham, NC 27708-0964    USA
          Phone: 919-660-3503        Fax: 919-660-3530

          http://www.markgoodacre.org
        • Gordon Raynal
          Hi Mark, Glad to hear from my Q denying friend! ... May I ask you some questions first and do so in light of this scenario: If you are going to write a
          Message 4 of 9 , Jan 21, 2011
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            Hi Mark,

            Glad to hear from my Q denying friend!
            On Jan 21, 2011, at 10:47 AM, Mark Goodacre wrote:

            > On 21 January 2011 09:47, Gordon Raynal <scudi1@...> wrote:
            >
            >> "the great speeches of Moses" in that work), but I think one needs to
            >> account for the spread of Mark and the thought about Mark and so I'd
            >> suggest 90 to 100 for Matthew.
            >>
            >> I got onto Luke-Acts as 120 from Burton Mack. And yes, I'll stick
            >> with sometimes after 110, at the earliest... to my mind, after the
            >> Trajan-Pliny correspondence... and after the rise of Hadrian,
            >> actually. (hence 120 for a nice round number.) Luke talks about "many
            >> have attempted."
            >
            > On this scenario, how do you account for Luke's lack of familiarity
            > with Matthew? It has been around for 20-30 years; it is the most
            > popular Gospel in the early to middle second century, where you are
            > dating Luke; it might reasonably be described as a διήγησιν
            > περὶ τῶν
            > πεπληροφορημένων ἐν ἡμῖν πραγμάτων,
            > which is not such a good
            > description of Q; and it features close, verbatim agreement, sometimes
            > near 100%, with Luke.

            May I ask you some questions first and do so in light of this
            scenario: If you are going to write a commentary on say, Luke, no
            doubt you have many, but not every commentary ever written on said
            work. Correct? Would you attempt to get them all/ read them all,
            first? I take it, since you teach at a Methodist founded school, with
            a very good basketball program:)!, that you might, were you especially
            wanting to communicate with your Methodist brethren, perhaps have
            greater interest in and give greater attention to Methodist writers
            and users Luke... so say pay first attention to those Wesley boys, as
            opposed to my old John Calvin fella. But, as a writer inspired to do
            this... first you'd want to lay hold of the primary sources, in this
            case, Luke and Acts, and start with them, plumb their depths and focus
            upon them in and out of your own context of 2011 Duke world
            Methodism. Is this correct? And once you got to looking at
            references, as popular and important as Calvin is to us Calvinist
            folks, you might choose to focus upon those Wesley boys and their
            interpreters as your primary mode of helpful direction. As a scholar,
            that would be excellent work. It would be especially valuable to
            Methodist folks. Now, we Presbyterians would have a few things to
            say:)! But at Methodist meetings you'd get many grins:)!

            You frame your question... how do you account for lack of familiarity
            with Matthew? "Familiarity?" What are you packing into that term. I
            can't answer for sure, but there are all sorts of possibilities. He
            never himself got a copy? He'd heard of it, but had never read it?
            He'd heard of it, but didn't like the sound of what he'd heard? He'd
            been to a church and heard someone tell the story and said, "That
            Matthew fellow really screwed up." Or he missed the point? Or, hey,
            he did something like this, I'm going home and start from Mark and Q
            and some other stuff I've heard ("L" stuff) and my own ideas and tell
            the story my way.

            We can't exactly know for sure. But I do not buy that the time
            difference is really an issue at all. Lots of stuff becomes extremely
            popular ***in some places/ for some people*** and that gives us no
            indication whether it was popular for a particular person, or even
            moving for a particular person.

            As for your notion of whether to include Q, per se, in "the many,"
            well, we can only go by what we have left and by what we have in Luke,
            itself. Working from accepting that which you reject, Q's popularity
            shows up in (and this is in my ordering)... in the early layer of the
            Didache, as Kloppenborg says, in Epistle of James (although I'm still
            stubborn about dating something like the first 3 chapters earlier than
            he and others want to date it)... and my guess is that "Mark" had it
            or knew the essential contents of it... but more importantly for Mark,
            early Thomas, BTW (though I've now screwed up my order) I also think
            Paul knew "Q" (I'd pretty much bet that those "I belong to Jesus"
            folks in Corinth were BIG Q fans:)!) and then in Matthew and so,
            finally Luke. This said, I think you're specifically correct that
            this Markan "creation" was powerfully provocative for other artist
            sorts to produce "many" attempts. Wish we had them! I haven't a clue
            how many Luke had read. I also haven't a clue of how many more he
            didn't even know about. And I haven't a clue into his mind as to why
            he favored the ones he did. But it is clear he was very much in favor
            of carefully preserving Q, retelling Mark, adding some of his own
            source stuff... and very importantly carrying the story into a second
            volume.

            So, despite your continued rejection of Q, I, in no way, think the 120
            date puts Q in question. When one has a really valuable source one
            goes there first, not to others work with it, to incorporate it into
            their work.

            And so one final comment. We all work from what we have and
            especially how they have been esteemed across 2 millennia of tradition
            making. Just for fun, wouldn't it be fabulous to find say the
            writings of Aristion... if such things exist? Maybe one of these days
            we'll find a box of sermons from James the Just:)! My point is, I
            very much want us to all hold on to a lot of reticence and humility in
            the picturings we try to lift up out of these material. And I'll say
            that I continue to be most impressed with precisely what the Jesus
            Seminar did... start with all the sayings attributed to Jesus in every
            possible source before 300 and focus on those sayings and begin from
            there to try to make judgments. And so for all, I realize that this
            is something of an artificial exercise, but I think it is a good
            mental exercise to do "a top ten list" of the things from looking at
            all those sources... to make a claim of what this Jesus fellow was "on
            about." In my own reconstruction, I've tried to do this looking at
            the textual relationships from every angle and I still keep coming
            back to the same words. I will fully admit that maybe my own
            selection just might be jaundiced, but after spending my lifetime,
            literally with these materials, I've not heard anything to push me to
            change my mind about that ultimate core. And I note this to you,
            because Q or no Q, this doesn't change things for me.

            No doubt, Duke will handily dispatch my Alma Mater on the BB floor
            again this year:)!

            take care,

            Gordon Raynal
            Inman, SC
            >
            > All best
            > Mark
            > --
            > Mark Goodacre
            > Duke University
            > Department of Religion
            > Gray Building / Box 90964
            > Durham, NC 27708-0964 USA
            > Phone: 919-660-3503 Fax: 919-660-3530
            >
            > http://www.markgoodacre.org
            >
            >
          • Matson, Mark (Academic)
            ... We will disagree about this on a number of points. I have some suspicions about the whole idea that writings like gospels are written in response to
            Message 5 of 9 , Jan 21, 2011
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              Gordon Raynal wrote (and to whom I respond):

              > I don't think Mark was hastily written. I do think this need for "a
              > story" was generated by a number of communal needs, but also because of
              > the utter disaster of the R-J War and its outcome. My preference for 80
              > to 85 is to make the guess of a time of reflection about this fine art and
              > to place it squarely in the Flavian world. "Who is truly the August
              > Caesar?" was a REAL question in the political landscape...
              > and that had huge religious implications. In part, what Mark was
              > addressing was the communities response to that.

              We will disagree about this on a number of points. I have some suspicions about the whole idea that writings like gospels are written in response to communal needs (I deeply suspicious of the whole "community" approach to writing, and the tendency to read documents as reflections of those needs. I do agree that Mark was not hastily written. But that does not require decades. Heck I wrote my dissertation in 2 year, and that was an eternity. (and reading it feels like an eternity). So I think our own imagination of the writing process differs.


              > I got onto Luke-Acts as 120 from Burton Mack. And yes, I'll stick with
              > sometimes after 110, at the earliest... to my mind, after the Trajan-Pliny
              > correspondence... and after the rise of Hadrian, actually. (hence 120 for
              > a nice round number.) Luke talks about "many have attempted." So time
              > for some serious dispersal of "many." So starting at 80 with Mark... then
              > this all folds together towards this dating. And then the felt need he
              > had to connect TANAK to the Markan Story to the inclusion of Q and create
              > his marvelous "Age of the Spirit" story in Acts. So, I'll stick with my
              > dating.

              And I will have to disagree with this. But that should not deter a spirited discussion of other points.

              ....
              >
              > And I just don't buy this. Not to be trite, but the Harry Potter stories
              > are stories of a teenager growing up and share many similarities with a
              > biography of a teen... except Harry is not a biography. Now, let me be
              > really clear. I do think Jesus was a real person. I do think we have "a
              > voice print" from him. I do think we know some historical details... but
              > not many.
              >
              And again I think you are reading too much, anachronistically, into the concept of a bios.
              ....
              >
              > For this note (and over time we can talk about more details if you like...
              > or at SBL this Fall when we can talk face to face), I think creative
              > fictional stories are just grand!

              A good discussion at SBL would be nice. Let's have lunch.

              Let me go to what I take
              > it will be "safe" territory (Let me know) to begin this discussion.
              > The stories of creation, Cain and Abel, Noah and the Flood, Babel are
              > rich, rich fictional stories that profoundly raise up foundational
              > theological, ethical and anthropological affirmations about the source,
              > meaning and purpose of human life on Terra Firma. In the Hebrew sense
              > they are "parables"... stories that "point" and "point out." What do we
              > trust? What gives us courage/ encouragement? What empowers us to
              > charitable living? (these most foundational issues of living... and of
              > course, I'm giving the big nod to Paul in 1st Cor.
              > 13!) are bottom line what these stories engage hearers in "wrestling
              > with." And I precisely think Mark is that sort of story. And I think
              > John is that sort of story.

              I think I would agree with your evaluation of the foundational Genesis stories. I don't see them as operating that much like Mark or John. Mark and John seem quite focused on persuading an audience to accept the human being Jesus as somehow representing God in a special way (both doing it differently, of course). For Mark, it is that Jesus is interpreting God's kingdom and fashioning followers who will understand the secrets of the kingdom. [ahh, secrets, part of the apocalyptic perspective]. But in all, the focus is on the central character Jesus, and his interaction with other people (the disciples as examples of followers, and thus by implication the desired action of readers/hearers who also are hopefully also to be followers). It is not "what we trust" or "courage/encouragement" so much as "who is Jesus?" and "how do we appropriately follow him [and by implication, follow God]?

              To be sure and rightly so, later they became
              > useful for theological and ethical reflection... on to formal
              > philosophical pondering and so formal issues of Systematic Theology.
              > And so the Church came up with "the Regula Fide" (basic hermeneutical
              > "Rule of Faith") and Canon... and yes, that's where the preaching starts.
              > I'm good with all of that, obviously:)! And still later, we modern,
              > Classical culture inheritors have become mighty interested in history.
              > I'm good with that, too:)! And so we go searching for all manner of stuff
              > in these stories and stuff that probably just make the
              > authors go, "huh? why are you interested in those question:)?"

              Yes, I agree. Mark (and John) are to me much more dynamic than theological statements or rules of faith. They are more existential, raw attempts at persuasion and "conversion."

              > However, in the beginning, so to speak, what we have are these richly
              > evocative stories founded and about the faith, hope and love of this
              > ancient Hebraic tradition.

              Well, I agree with Hebraic tradition, but I would not want to choose just Genesis 1-11 as the basis of that Hebraic tradition. Perhaps David as a model of honest (though flawed behavior). Maybe Tobit. Maybe the examples of Sirach (!!)... We have more than the highly mythic construction of Genesis to use as a model.

              I want to be careful with the term
              > "evangelistic" (simply because the term evangelism is now so defined by
              > current theological positions), but yes, I think you're correct and so to
              > use another more neutral terms, lets go with "motivational stories," if
              > that doesn't sound too bland. Written in communities of faith and for
              > communities of faith, they serve to motivate belonging, motivate
              > participation, motivate faithful living.

              OK, I can see your caution. The term is loaded today. So perhaps the term should be "existential" or "persuasive." But the object of that existential claim or that persuasive term deals with the readers/hearers engagement with the person Jesus, the hero of the story. Right? It is not theoretical, it is not simply about ways to live well. It is a very focused story, and it wants the reader/hearer to respond in some way to the example and teaching (act and words) offered in Jesus.
              >
              > Pardon, but that sounds so, well gnostic. Now perhaps you don't mean
              > that, but I don't think the first issue was ever "insight into God."

              Sure it is. Jesus talks about God, and God's kingdom, and invites his followers to become more properly connected with that. Isn't that "insight into God?" God's kingdom is the manifestation of how God would want things to be ordered in tangible social situations. But that certainly has something to say about the nature of the God who is king.

              > This whole
              > movement ***did not*** start tabula rasa, nor outside of "faith." Jesus
              > was a Jew. All his immediate fellows were Jews. He didn't create "a
              > faith." Better, to say, is it not that he "opened up a particular way/
              > movement of faith?"

              I completely agree with you. But it is a distinctive way/movement that engages the listeners' understanding of God.
              >
              > And so to end this, in some ways I think the most important thing
              > Jesus raised up in "puzzle speak" (wisdom words) was simply (and
              > profoundly) this:
              >
              > Mark 4:9 (NRSV) "Let anyone with ears to hear, listen!" No matter one's
              > religion, philosophy or lack thereof, these words point back to the very
              > heart of Torah and so the fundamental question... to what/who are you
              > devoted? And I think that's where the story of Mark really "takes one,"
              > so to speak.

              And here we agree. This is, in some ways, what I mean by "evangelistic". But I do think that Mark deliberately constructs this question around the person of Jesus, not just his teaching. That is, his actions, his teachings and his death all are part of the (re)definition of "what/who you are devoted" to.

              Not sure where this leaves us on this issue. I think we agree on lots, and yet have very different constructions of the very nature of a gospel and the function of Mark for its hearers/readers.

              Mark A. Matson
              Academic Dean
              Milligan College
              423-461-8720
              http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/mmatson/personal.htm
            • jgibson000@comcast.net
              ... How long do you think it took the author of Daniel -- who *was* addressing a community situation -- to write his book? Jeffrey -- Jeffrey B. Gibson,
              Message 6 of 9 , Jan 21, 2011
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                On 1/21/2011 4:31 PM, Matson, Mark (Academic) wrote:
                > Gordon Raynal wrote (and to whom I respond):
                >
                >
                >> I don't think Mark was hastily written. I do think this need for "a
                >> story" was generated by a number of communal needs, but also because of
                >> the utter disaster of the R-J War and its outcome. My preference for 80
                >> to 85 is to make the guess of a time of reflection about this fine art and
                >> to place it squarely in the Flavian world. "Who is truly the August
                >> Caesar?" was a REAL question in the political landscape...
                >> and that had huge religious implications. In part, what Mark was
                >> addressing was the communities response to that.
                >>
                > We will disagree about this on a number of points. I have some suspicions about the whole idea that writings like gospels are written in response to communal needs (I deeply suspicious of the whole "community" approach to writing, and the tendency to read documents as reflections of those needs. I do agree that Mark was not hastily written. But that does not require decades. Heck I wrote my dissertation in 2 year, and that was an eternity. (and reading it feels like an eternity). So I think our own imagination of the writing process differs.
                >

                How long do you think it took the author of Daniel -- who *was*
                addressing a community situation -- to write his book?

                Jeffrey

                --
                Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
                1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
                Chicago, Illinois
                e-mail jgibson000@...
              • Gordon Raynal
                And good morning again. ... A good outlay of differences in perspective. I do agree that authors have their own particular agendas, but if I said it poorly, I
                Message 7 of 9 , Jan 22, 2011
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                  And good morning again.
                  On Jan 21, 2011, at 5:31 PM, Matson, Mark (Academic) wrote:

                  >
                  >
                  > We will disagree about this on a number of points. I have some
                  > suspicions about the whole idea that writings like gospels are
                  > written in response to communal needs (I deeply suspicious of the
                  > whole "community" approach to writing, and the tendency to read
                  > documents as reflections of those needs. I do agree that Mark was
                  > not hastily written. But that does not require decades. Heck I wrote
                  > my dissertation in 2 year, and that was an eternity. (and reading
                  > it feels like an eternity). So I think our own imagination of the
                  > writing process differs.

                  A good outlay of differences in perspective. I do agree that authors
                  have their own particular agendas, but if I said it poorly, I think
                  Mark was produced in relationship to him and his community dealing
                  with his times and circumstances.
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >> I got onto Luke-Acts as 120 from Burton Mack. And yes, I'll stick
                  >> with
                  >> sometimes after 110, at the earliest... to my mind, after the
                  >> Trajan-Pliny
                  >> correspondence... and after the rise of Hadrian, actually. (hence
                  >> 120 for
                  >> a nice round number.) Luke talks about "many have attempted." So
                  >> time
                  >> for some serious dispersal of "many." So starting at 80 with
                  >> Mark... then
                  >> this all folds together towards this dating. And then the felt
                  >> need he
                  >> had to connect TANAK to the Markan Story to the inclusion of Q and
                  >> create
                  >> his marvelous "Age of the Spirit" story in Acts. So, I'll stick
                  >> with my
                  >> dating.
                  >
                  > And I will have to disagree with this. But that should not deter a
                  > spirited discussion of other points.

                  And again... the difference noted.
                  >
                  > ....
                  >>
                  >> And I just don't buy this. Not to be trite, but the Harry Potter
                  >> stories
                  >> are stories of a teenager growing up and share many similarities
                  >> with a
                  >> biography of a teen... except Harry is not a biography. Now, let
                  >> me be
                  >> really clear. I do think Jesus was a real person. I do think we
                  >> have "a
                  >> voice print" from him. I do think we know some historical
                  >> details... but
                  >> not many.
                  >>
                  > And again I think you are reading too much, anachronistically, into
                  > the concept of a bios.

                  And I think you "bios" people are importing a foreign kind of writing
                  and so not paying close enough heed to the long and strong tradition
                  of wisdom story writing in the Hebraic heritage. [grin!]
                  >
                  > ....
                  >>
                  >> For this note (and over time we can talk about more details if you
                  >> like...
                  >> or at SBL this Fall when we can talk face to face), I think creative
                  >> fictional stories are just grand!
                  >
                  > A good discussion at SBL would be nice. Let's have lunch.

                  Let's to that!
                  >
                  > Let me go to what I take
                  >> it will be "safe" territory (Let me know) to begin this discussion.
                  >> The stories of creation, Cain and Abel, Noah and the Flood, Babel are
                  >> rich, rich fictional stories that profoundly raise up foundational
                  >> theological, ethical and anthropological affirmations about the
                  >> source,
                  >> meaning and purpose of human life on Terra Firma. In the Hebrew
                  >> sense
                  >> they are "parables"... stories that "point" and "point out." What
                  >> do we
                  >> trust? What gives us courage/ encouragement? What empowers us to
                  >> charitable living? (these most foundational issues of living...
                  >> and of
                  >> course, I'm giving the big nod to Paul in 1st Cor.
                  >> 13!) are bottom line what these stories engage hearers in "wrestling
                  >> with." And I precisely think Mark is that sort of story. And I
                  >> think
                  >> John is that sort of story.
                  >
                  > I think I would agree with your evaluation of the foundational
                  > Genesis stories. I don't see them as operating that much like Mark
                  > or John. Mark and John seem quite focused on persuading an audience
                  > to accept the human being Jesus as somehow representing God in a
                  > special way (both doing it differently, of course). For Mark, it is
                  > that Jesus is interpreting God's kingdom and fashioning followers
                  > who will understand the secrets of the kingdom. [ahh, secrets, part
                  > of the apocalyptic perspective].

                  Ahhh, back:)! "The hidden will be revealed" is something that is also
                  a wisdom trope... and I do hope in your life things that have been
                  puzzling you do on occasion become really clear:)! And I take it,
                  that in those moments, you say things like, "Wow, now I understand
                  what's going on!"

                  > But in all, the focus is on the central character Jesus, and his
                  > interaction with other people (the disciples as examples of
                  > followers, and thus by implication the desired action of readers/
                  > hearers who also are hopefully also to be followers). It is not
                  > "what we trust" or "courage/encouragement" so much as "who is
                  > Jesus?" and "how do we appropriately follow him [and by implication,
                  > follow God]?

                  And this nicely lays out the difference in our two approaches. Which
                  words in Mark do you think "make the point?" (is the Petrine
                  identification the one you'd point our or the soldier at the foot of
                  the cross? Or would you choose another?) I, reading Mark as a wisdom
                  story, don't think it's about "who Jesus is?" Character
                  identification is simply a part of the plotting of said story and in
                  my reading Mark couldn't be clearer about who his lead character
                  is:)! I think the close of Mark 9, which I take to be the literary
                  climax of the story, is very much "the point" of the story... and what
                  the story is trying to evoke for the hearers who are a part of the
                  community.
                  >
                  > To be sure and rightly so, later they became
                  >> useful for theological and ethical reflection... on to formal
                  >> philosophical pondering and so formal issues of Systematic Theology.
                  >> And so the Church came up with "the Regula Fide" (basic hermeneutical
                  >> "Rule of Faith") and Canon... and yes, that's where the preaching
                  >> starts.
                  >> I'm good with all of that, obviously:)! And still later, we modern,
                  >> Classical culture inheritors have become mighty interested in
                  >> history.
                  >> I'm good with that, too:)! And so we go searching for all manner
                  >> of stuff
                  >> in these stories and stuff that probably just make the
                  >> authors go, "huh? why are you interested in those question:)?"
                  >
                  > Yes, I agree. Mark (and John) are to me much more dynamic than
                  > theological statements or rules of faith. They are more existential,
                  > raw attempts at persuasion and "conversion."

                  So where is your prime location for the performance (reading) of the
                  story?
                  >
                  >
                  >> However, in the beginning, so to speak, what we have are these richly
                  >> evocative stories founded and about the faith, hope and love of this
                  >> ancient Hebraic tradition.
                  >
                  > Well, I agree with Hebraic tradition, but I would not want to choose
                  > just Genesis 1-11 as the basis of that Hebraic tradition. Perhaps
                  > David as a model of honest (though flawed behavior). Maybe Tobit.
                  > Maybe the examples of Sirach (!!)... We have more than the highly
                  > mythic construction of Genesis to use as a model.

                  Just a side note... I'm also for getting away from the term "myth" in
                  these stories, as in analyzing them in terms of "myth" or "history."
                  I also think that takes us outside the native story telling tradition.
                  >
                  >
                  > I want to be careful with the term
                  >> "evangelistic" (simply because the term evangelism is now so
                  >> defined by
                  >> current theological positions), but yes, I think you're correct and
                  >> so to
                  >> use another more neutral terms, lets go with "motivational
                  >> stories," if
                  >> that doesn't sound too bland. Written in communities of faith and
                  >> for
                  >> communities of faith, they serve to motivate belonging, motivate
                  >> participation, motivate faithful living.
                  >
                  > OK, I can see your caution. The term is loaded today. So perhaps the
                  > term should be "existential" or "persuasive." But the object of
                  > that existential claim or that persuasive term deals with the
                  > readers/hearers engagement with the person Jesus, the hero of the
                  > story. Right? It is not theoretical, it is not simply about ways
                  > to live well. It is a very focused story, and it wants the reader/
                  > hearer to respond in some way to the example and teaching (act and
                  > words) offered in Jesus.

                  And again, "no" to your question, from my approach to reading Mark.
                  It's about shared and sharing "salt!" If you're living a tangy,
                  "preserving freshness and taste" sort of a life... well, that's zesty/
                  delicious living, is it not? If you come away having your courage
                  restored and your own shalom built up, the day is going to go a whole
                  lot better and your attitude towards tomorrow(s) and what they will
                  bring, and your understanding of "where you have come from" will be,
                  at least to some degree, transformed, right? If that "salt" and
                  "shalom" are, yes, "resurrected" in you, well that's a very nice thing
                  to happen, eh:)?

                  And so one other venture into Markan plotting... if you find "the
                  silence" of said experiences, you have really found something. (and
                  so I'll point you to I Kings 17:11-12 to take you to a really key
                  text, in my view, for what Mark is trying to achieve with his
                  plotting. And then I also think Mark with his opening Isaiah quote is
                  wanting to send the hearer to think back to the opening of Isaiah
                  40... and on to all those following verses of the chapter... ***and***
                  (very key) the first verse of Isaiah 41!)
                  >
                  >>
                  >> Pardon, but that sounds so, well gnostic. Now perhaps you don't mean
                  >> that, but I don't think the first issue was ever "insight into God."
                  >
                  > Sure it is. Jesus talks about God, and God's kingdom, and invites
                  > his followers to become more properly connected with that. Isn't
                  > that "insight into God?" God's kingdom is the manifestation of how
                  > God would want things to be ordered in tangible social situations.
                  > But that certainly has something to say about the nature of the God
                  > who is king.

                  So, you're a gnostic:)? And that is fine, seriously. But there is
                  another "stance," and I'm truly not about "proof texting" our views, I
                  simply want to send you to some places in the antecedent tradition as
                  alternate "starting points," to understand where I'm coming from in
                  "my hearing" (and again, that's if you're interested in exploring a
                  position that has many contrasts with your own. I'm not trying to be
                  "evangelistic" with you or anyone:)! Quite the opposite, actually,
                  because I think there are all kinds of riches in a multitude of
                  stances about this rich literature. I actually think this literature
                  offers a lot of vantage points for hearing it richly!) That said, and
                  to invite you to another reference point, I'd suggest you muse on such
                  as: Deuteronomy 4:5-8, Psalm 19 with special focus on 19:7, Proverbs
                  3:13-18.
                  >
                  >> This whole
                  >> movement ***did not*** start tabula rasa, nor outside of "faith."
                  >> Jesus
                  >> was a Jew. All his immediate fellows were Jews. He didn't create "a
                  >> faith." Better, to say, is it not that he "opened up a particular
                  >> way/
                  >> movement of faith?"
                  >
                  > I completely agree with you. But it is a distinctive way/movement
                  > that engages the listeners' understanding of God.

                  Glad we're on the same page here, but just to reframe it in my
                  parlance: "But it is a distinctive way/ movement" where the listeners
                  discover where they are standing:)!
                  >>
                  >> And so to end this, in some ways I think the most important thing
                  >> Jesus raised up in "puzzle speak" (wisdom words) was simply (and
                  >> profoundly) this:
                  >>
                  >> Mark 4:9 (NRSV) "Let anyone with ears to hear, listen!" No matter
                  >> one's
                  >> religion, philosophy or lack thereof, these words point back to the
                  >> very
                  >> heart of Torah and so the fundamental question... to what/who are you
                  >> devoted? And I think that's where the story of Mark really "takes
                  >> one,"
                  >> so to speak.
                  >
                  > And here we agree. This is, in some ways, what I mean by
                  > "evangelistic". But I do think that Mark deliberately constructs
                  > this question around the person of Jesus, not just his teaching.
                  > That is, his actions, his teachings and his death all are part of
                  > the (re)definition of "what/who you are devoted" to.

                  Very cool, even in our disagreements. But I'm interested in the "re-"
                  part and what you mean by that. I don't think you mean that God had
                  thus far done a perfectly dandy job of defining his will:)? (to use
                  anthropomorphic speak). So, tell me about that "re-".
                  >
                  > Not sure where this leaves us on this issue. I think we agree on
                  > lots, and yet have very different constructions of the very nature
                  > of a gospel and the function of Mark for its hearers/readers.

                  Again... many ears and many perspectives are a good thing, in my
                  book. As you will understand from my own historical and literary
                  positions, I really don't think we know much about the man Jesus and
                  the events of his life. And I'm not in the least worried about either
                  that, nor about a lot of the claims that are laid out there for him.
                  Indeed I very much like the multitude of titlings that the early folks
                  played with and the sheer volume of places those early folks wanted to
                  sent hearers to think about "the Kingdom message." I like
                  creativity:)! And, I really like the apocalyptic genre, by the way.
                  But in looking over these materials I'm drawn again and again to that
                  core set of words that the Didache lays out as "the Way of Life." I
                  think that is vintage Jesus. I think those words, as we find them in
                  the Q/ Luke 6:27-31 remain permanently jaw dropping. And where those
                  words ever lead me is to their vocalization as distinct sayings... and
                  so behind the Didache's use of them, behind Matthew and Luke's use of
                  them, and yes behind Q's gathering them as a list. I think those are
                  "the core words," so to speak and that they deserve to be heard a
                  single saying at a time... not first as an ethical/ communal treatise,
                  not as a part of a sermon, and not as a "teaching," not as a part of a
                  list, but each individual verbalization... simply "heard."

                  Good to chat!

                  Gordon Raynal
                  Inman, SC
                  >



                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Matson, Mark (Academic)
                  ... Well, this does bring up another issue, and I m not sure whether you and I will differ. I am relatively convinced that all of the Syrio-Palestine was,
                  Message 8 of 9 , Jan 24, 2011
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                    Gordon Raynal wrote (and I respond):

                    > And I think you "bios" people are importing a foreign kind of writing and
                    > so not paying close enough heed to the long and strong tradition of wisdom
                    > story writing in the Hebraic heritage. [grin!]

                    Well, this does bring up another issue, and I'm not sure whether you and I will differ. I am relatively convinced that all of the Syrio-Palestine was, like most of the Mediterranean region, substantially Hellenized. Hence the gospels written in Greek -- and I suspect not translation of Aramaic originals (which reminds me of a discussion I am having with someone on the Johannine Lit list). So the "bios" would be a comfortable literary exemplar for the Jesus people to use. Would it really be foreign?

                    I'm trying to think of Hebraic exemplars that serve the same purpose of focusing on the importance of a person. Perhaps 1-2 Samuel on David, though that is part of a larger story with other lead characters. Tobit? 1 or 2 Maccabees? Joseph and Aseneth? I would welcome your example of a better exemplar for the genre of Mark.

                    For me the focus on Jesus that is consistent throughout the story, and of the study in reactions to him by others (mostly disciples, but others are not unimportant to the construction) seems best to fit a bios seen especially as bios-encomium.

                    > And this nicely lays out the difference in our two approaches. Which
                    > words in Mark do you think "make the point?" (is the Petrine
                    > identification the one you'd point our or the soldier at the foot of the
                    > cross? Or would you choose another?) I, reading Mark as a wisdom story,
                    > don't think it's about "who Jesus is?" Character identification is simply
                    > a part of the plotting of said story and in my reading Mark couldn't be
                    > clearer about who his lead character is:)! I think the close of Mark 9,
                    > which I take to be the literary climax of the story, is very much "the
                    > point" of the story... and what the story is trying to evoke for the
                    > hearers who are a part of the community.

                    Well, I think the centrality of the "lead character" is established pretty early -- the gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God -- followed by his baptism, reception of spirit and preaching/teaching. And followed by Jesus being the lead in virtually every story that follows.

                    But where is the point? I would find it woven in to the story. But perhaps beginning with Mark 4, the parable of the sower, and the passage in 4:10-12 which develops the idea of inside/outside language and identification of those who understand (based on the kind of soil". The question of "do you get it?" addressed to followers is reiterated in 4:40, 6:51-52; 8:14-21; and then developed in the reaction to Jesus passion (anticipation and then reaction): 8:27-29 but followed by 8:31-33; 9:9-10; 10:32-34 followed by 10:35-40; 11:26-31; 11:66-72; and finally 16:8. The them in all of them is "are you indeed disciples of Jesus" which is comprised of "do you get it? / understand" and "will you follow"? With the disciples as the exemplars of potential discipleship, the reader/listener experiences the story of Jesus.

                    Notice that for me the whole story is essential... it is not parts. It is the narrative in its completeness that makes the story and creates the reaction by the listeners.


                    > So where is your prime location for the performance (reading) of the
                    > story?

                    As I indicated, I think the story is primarily "evangelistic" or "existential". So I see the primary location for the performance as being in synagogues or groups of interested followers of Jesus. I imagine that Paul and others had established groups of believers already, but this would have also created further interest perhaps in synagogues and crossover groups -- families, community groups. Perhaps churches too. But I see the early period as far more fluid, and the clean distinction between "Jews" and "Christians" forming only slowly, and since this is largely Hellenistic society (even in Syro-Palestine), numerous Gentiles who were interested in various ways of framing religious ideas.

                    Mark A. Matson
                    Academic Dean
                    Milligan College
                    423-461-8720
                    http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/mmatson/personal.htm
                  • Gordon Raynal
                    Good Morning, ... Solomon s story, Job, Jonah, Ruth, Esther, and Daniel are all, in my view, similar kinds of stories. As for the above paragraph, the
                    Message 9 of 9 , Jan 25, 2011
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                      Good Morning,

                      On Jan 24, 2011, at 2:12 PM, Matson, Mark (Academic) wrote:

                      > Gordon Raynal wrote (and I respond):
                      >
                      >> And I think you "bios" people are importing a foreign kind of
                      >> writing and
                      >> so not paying close enough heed to the long and strong tradition of
                      >> wisdom
                      >> story writing in the Hebraic heritage. [grin!]
                      >
                      > Well, this does bring up another issue, and I'm not sure whether you
                      > and I will differ. I am relatively convinced that all of the Syrio-
                      > Palestine was, like most of the Mediterranean region, substantially
                      > Hellenized. Hence the gospels written in Greek -- and I suspect not
                      > translation of Aramaic originals (which reminds me of a discussion I
                      > am having with someone on the Johannine Lit list). So the "bios"
                      > would be a comfortable literary exemplar for the Jesus people to
                      > use. Would it really be foreign?
                      >
                      > I'm trying to think of Hebraic exemplars that serve the same purpose
                      > of focusing on the importance of a person. Perhaps 1-2 Samuel on
                      > David, though that is part of a larger story with other lead
                      > characters. Tobit? 1 or 2 Maccabees? Joseph and Aseneth? I would
                      > welcome your example of a better exemplar for the genre of Mark.

                      Solomon's story, Job, Jonah, Ruth, Esther, and Daniel are all, in my
                      view, similar kinds of stories. As for the above paragraph, the
                      Galilee, far from being simply "a backwater place" was rather in the
                      thick of the world, and I entirely agree about the number of
                      influences. Indeed, Brandon Scott has shown on literary grounds that
                      the parables themselves are structured to suggest that the higher
                      probability that they were created in Greek, hence that Jesus was
                      fluent in Greek. And this would not be unusual for someone of his
                      reported trade, where he grew up, but I would also add because of the
                      tradition, itself. Torah had long been translated into Greek, right!

                      But back to the issue of genre and for a musical analogy. Flipping
                      through the radio stations while you're driving around and wanting to
                      find some music, one button punch brings you to Dolly Parton singing
                      "Jolene," another punch brings you to "Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" being
                      sung with the words, "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee," and a 3rd punch
                      brings you to Led Zepplin's "Whole Lotta Love." It's all music, but
                      it doesn't take much listening to identify distinctive genre,
                      distinctive voices and distinctive sounds/ styles. And Dolly Parton
                      wouldn't quit sounding like Dolly Parton if she decided to move to
                      Paris for the rest of her life:)! She'd probably write some new songs
                      about walking by the Seine and falling in love in front of the Notre
                      Dame, but it wouldn't take many notes and many words sung before you'd
                      say, "that's Dolly singing a Country Music song!"

                      Point. That the region was Hellenized, and I agree that it was, has
                      no bearing on whether artists perpetuate particular craft styles.
                      And the crafting style of communicating not only short sayings and
                      short stories, but also longer wisdom stories had a long and enduring
                      heritage in the Hebraic tradition. Jesus had a particular "style" in
                      the short forms. Such as Mark and John had particular styles in the
                      long form. My suggestion, therefore, is that one begins in the native
                      tradition and in the particular genre to understand Mark.

                      >
                      >
                      > For me the focus on Jesus that is consistent throughout the story,
                      > and of the study in reactions to him by others (mostly disciples,
                      > but others are not unimportant to the construction) seems best to
                      > fit a bios seen especially as bios-encomium.

                      A couple of things: "Focus on Jesus?" Well, of course, a human
                      character driven story focuses on the lead character:)! This is true
                      in purely fictional stories (Harry Potter), fictional stories produced
                      to render a time in a real person's life in an imaginative way (the
                      Christopher Robin stories) and in mixed genre stories (biographies
                      than include "fanciful flights of imagination") and in "pure"
                      biographies. "Focus" on a lead character is not defining of a genre.

                      Second, and I'll note some "proclamation words" in the relevant
                      tradition (just a sampling):

                      Jesus' Mission agenda rendered in Q: "Say peace to this house... (and
                      the leaving words to accepting homes) "...say to them there the
                      Kingdom of God has come near."
                      Paul: Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an
                      apostle, set apart for ***the gospel of God....****

                      Mark 1:1 "The beginning of the good news ***of*** (not "about") Jesus
                      Christ, the Son of God."

                      Acts 28:30 [Paul] lived there two whole years at his own expense...
                      proclaiming ***the Kingdom of God*** and teaching about the Lord Jesus
                      Christ...."

                      My point here is that the center of the proclamation was "the Kingdom
                      of God." That Jesus became the face of, understood to be the faithful
                      exemplar and practitioner of, and so the iconic mediator of said
                      proclamation does not shift this "center." Of course, Christian
                      proclamation shifted to "a new starting point" with the long and slow
                      development of a "regula fide" and with the formation of the canon and
                      the creation of the lectionary. Working as a Christian theologian and
                      proclaimer, it continues to be right to begin as the Church teaches.
                      (Presbyterian folk, of course, continue to take this most
                      seriously:)!) But history pushes us to peer behind the veils of
                      Church teaching. Jesus was a Jew. Paul was a Jew. All these first
                      followers were Jews. In story form the term "Christian" didn't even
                      come into existence according to "Luke" until more than a decade after
                      Jesus, and that only up in and around Antioch. Paul, for instance, is
                      dealing with "I belong to..." groups as a way of self identification
                      between at least 4 groups in Corinth. How soon the term "Christian"
                      became the name all over is a rather interesting question, actually.
                      But amidst all of the naming issues, I do take the above selections to
                      point to the heart of the proclamation. Per what came to be called,
                      "the Lord's Prayer," the focus was then (and for Christians always,
                      n'est pas?) "Father... thy Kingdom come, thy will be done...." And as
                      for enlivening said Kingdom, Jesus according to all the sources we
                      have was certainly known for his wisdom word sharing! From my
                      perspective it is rather a natural thing that someone wanting to talk
                      of the beginnings of said "Kingdom movement," that they too would
                      start with that powerful genre. And from my reading, the plotting,
                      the structure, the tropes and that delightful puzzling ending
                      precisely best fit the overall genre of wisdom story... and show
                      delightful and surprising authorial creativity and ingenuity!
                      >
                      >> And this nicely lays out the difference in our two approaches. Which
                      >> words in Mark do you think "make the point?" (is the Petrine
                      >> identification the one you'd point our or the soldier at the foot
                      >> of the
                      >> cross? Or would you choose another?) I, reading Mark as a wisdom
                      >> story,
                      >> don't think it's about "who Jesus is?" Character identification is
                      >> simply
                      >> a part of the plotting of said story and in my reading Mark
                      >> couldn't be
                      >> clearer about who his lead character is:)! I think the close of
                      >> Mark 9,
                      >> which I take to be the literary climax of the story, is very much
                      >> "the
                      >> point" of the story... and what the story is trying to evoke for the
                      >> hearers who are a part of the community.
                      >
                      > Well, I think the centrality of the "lead character" is established
                      > pretty early -- the gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God --
                      > followed by his baptism, reception of spirit and preaching/
                      > teaching. And followed by Jesus being the lead in virtually every
                      > story that follows.

                      Of course:)! Mark tells us the lead characters name in the first
                      line:)! And notably "Dad" makes it really clear who the boy close to
                      the start and then leading up to the literary climax! The interesting
                      thing I want to note is... sticking within the frames of the story and
                      ***not*** jumping to other stories (so just reading Mark)... how was
                      "this story ever heard?" All the 11 ran away. A bunch of women see
                      him crucified "from a distance." Joseph buries him and disappears
                      from the story. Only MM, Mary the mother of James and one Salome go
                      to anoint and so get the angelic proclamation and direction... and
                      they run off in fear and "tell no one?"

                      Now, I know the desire to race on to other stories or jump to Paul or
                      just make up stuff, but in the frames of Mark's story, how was this
                      story ever heard? Tis a lovely puzzle:)! And there is one huge clue
                      to the genre of this work!
                      >
                      >
                      > But where is the point? I would find it woven in to the story. But
                      > perhaps beginning with Mark 4, the parable of the sower, and the
                      > passage in 4:10-12 which develops the idea of inside/outside
                      > language and identification of those who understand (based on the
                      > kind of soil". The question of "do you get it?" addressed to
                      > followers is reiterated in 4:40, 6:51-52; 8:14-21; and then
                      > developed in the reaction to Jesus passion (anticipation and then
                      > reaction): 8:27-29 but followed by 8:31-33; 9:9-10; 10:32-34
                      > followed by 10:35-40; 11:26-31; 11:66-72; and finally 16:8. The
                      > them in all of them is "are you indeed disciples of Jesus" which is
                      > comprised of "do you get it? / understand" and "will you follow"?
                      > With the disciples as the exemplars of potential discipleship, the
                      > reader/listener experiences the story of Jesus.

                      Crossan asked a splendid question about "where to start" in surveying
                      this (and it is applicable to any social tradition): "What did Jesus
                      ask others to do?" That is a key one for where I want to begin.
                      Another question: "What are the communications that form the basic
                      shape and dynamics of the social movement (ethos/ core praxis)? What
                      language is that found in? What's the genre of communication
                      capitalized upon? And so taking off from Mark's own story telling, I
                      think the crowd's question in that homecoming scene, "What is this
                      wisdom that has been given to him?" is ***really*** important.
                      >
                      > Notice that for me the whole story is essential... it is not parts.
                      > It is the narrative in its completeness that makes the story and
                      > creates the reaction by the listeners.

                      And I agree entirely with this. A grand thing to do is to compare
                      chosen plotting between Mark and John and then see how Matthew and
                      then Luke "play" with plotting in terms of working with Mark's story.
                      I am very much for starting with the whole. No one first reads Moby
                      Dick and starts by thinking about the 3rd paragraph on page 67;)!
                      Precisely how I want to read a story... any story... is to read the
                      whole thing straight through and see "where a story takes and leave
                      me." This story leaves me in "fear," "silence" and "running."

                      And so... I look back starting with that last word. Mark uses the
                      word "immediately" I think 43 times. It is a "dashing about" story.
                      Regarding "silence" I pay heed to issues of "hushing up," who is
                      silent in response to the lead character, who is blabbing and the
                      characters who are blabbing and who are silent. And then that "fear"/
                      "terror" business... hmmmm?... where do we hear something about that?
                      Well, now moving outside the story to the native tradition and
                      especially in terms of a couple of characters brought up in Mark's
                      story, yep, I go to Elijah and that story in I Kings 17:11 ff. And I
                      think about Jonah who is finally silenced with a haunting question
                      from YHWH. And I think about Isaiah 41:1. And I think about the
                      close of Job when all and he are finally "shut up" and YHWH speaks in
                      Job 38ff. And considering that aphorism of Jesus about "having good
                      ears," I think of Psalm 78:1-3. And all of that swims together in my
                      hearing to a real BIGGIE in the antecedent tradition: Job 28:28, in
                      the Psalms 2:11, 5:7, 19:9, etc. and multiple examples in Proverbs,
                      like 9:10, and then Ecclesiastes 5:7 and 12:13, for instance. Reading
                      the story straight through leaves me with a puzzle. Looking back that
                      puzzle is connected all the way through the story. So first looking
                      outside the story I look for key places where that whole issue is
                      addressed. That does not lead me to start with the Regula Fide
                      questions. Those are good questions for their own purpose. I'm not
                      led immediately by Mark to think of Canonical issues, nor
                      philosophical issues, nor even historical issues or "myth" issues.
                      Each of those are appropriate questions within their own frame.
                      Reading Mark "leaves" me with characters running, afraid and silent,
                      and so that's where I begin!

                      One other point about the genre classification and focus, here. That
                      among the surviving documents we have two examples of "how to tell
                      this story" and based on what 2 authors (Matthew and Luke) do with one
                      of these stories, I find in the study of those other documents
                      confirmation about this genre classification. In John we get a second
                      wisdom story, but a slightly different kind. In Matthew we find one
                      way of melding a primary wisdom story into a teaching story. In Luke-
                      Acts we find another way of melding the story that really does fit
                      what it later was used for... creating a liturgical calendar for
                      teaching/ preaching the origins story. Wisdom and knowledge, of
                      course, are related, and in the later molding of story telling we
                      precisely see a primary sort of wisdom story molded and melded towards
                      didactic and proclamatory ends.
                      >
                      >
                      >> So where is your prime location for the performance (reading) of the
                      >> story?
                      >
                      > As I indicated, I think the story is primarily "evangelistic" or
                      > "existential". So I see the primary location for the performance as
                      > being in synagogues or groups of interested followers of Jesus. I
                      > imagine that Paul and others had established groups of believers
                      > already, but this would have also created further interest perhaps
                      > in synagogues and crossover groups -- families, community groups.
                      > Perhaps churches too. But I see the early period as far more fluid,
                      > and the clean distinction between "Jews" and "Christians" forming
                      > only slowly, and since this is largely Hellenistic society (even in
                      > Syro-Palestine), numerous Gentiles who were interested in various
                      > ways of framing religious ideas.

                      My way of saying this is that the story was written for performing in
                      "house churches" at the meals. As for naming these folks... as the
                      Didache is still using the language of "the Way of" and as Acts is
                      still talking about "the Way" as a group name in the second century
                      (according to my dating), I think that should be the agreed upon
                      scholarly designation to refer to the organized social "Kingdom of
                      God" proclaiming social movement. Can Xtalk2 be a place to start that
                      clarifying work?

                      I close with a thought experiment. Imagine Mark nor John having ever
                      been written! Can you imagine that? Well, in my view, we need to
                      imagine that because whenever you date the writing of them... whether
                      in 40 or 80, the fact is the movement began without a narrative
                      story. And this fact points us to the question: "What were these
                      people on about?" Per Crossan's point: "what were they doing and
                      inviting others to do?" And as for "the genesis" of this, where do
                      you locate it? And what words "excited" the movement? What words
                      "gave it its shape?" Although I'm not at all surprised that this
                      movement did lead to some artists creating a narrative rendition of
                      the lead character and his closest company of friends (we are talking
                      about a social movement!), I can actually imagine it not ever leading
                      to this production. If you are interested, think about that. And,
                      of course, if you need a model to consider thinking about that, all
                      you need to do is to think about the development of Rabbinic Judaism
                      after the fall of Jerusalem. I suggest this as regards reading Mark
                      because the experiment is a good push for clarity about the
                      aforementioned questions. "What were these folks on about?" "What
                      did they do?"

                      good to chat,

                      Gordon Raynal
                      Inman, SC


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