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Paul's list of previous appearances of the risen Jesus

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  • Ronald Price
    I ve been listening to a recording of the debate between Bart Ehrman and Simon Gathercole, and was struck by the fact that even Ehrman assumes that 1 Cor
    Message 1 of 14 , Apr 23, 2014
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      Paul's list of previous appearances of the risen Jesus I've been listening to a recording of the debate between Bart Ehrman and Simon Gathercole, and was struck by the fact that even Ehrman assumes that 1 Cor 15:5-7 is a true record of some historical occurrences, whether visions (Gathercole) or hallucinations (Ehrman).

      As I see it, in 1 Cor 15 Paul was desperate to find support for his assertion that Jesus had risen from the dead. What better way of doing this than to claim that many people (some of whom were well-known) had actually seen the risen Jesus? It seems unlikely that any member of the Corinthian church who heard the letter read out would be able to contradict Paul.

      The difficulty is that there is no reliable independent witness to any of these earlier resurrection appearances. The appearance in Mt 28:16-20 is clearly late apologetic designed to ensure Matthew has a more satisfying ending than Mark. Lk 24:34 was probably inspired by Mk 14:28 and 16:7, which in turn are also plainly late apologetic material, designed to rehabilitate Peter after his negative portrayal elsewhere in Mark's gospel.

      Ron Price,

      Derbyshire, UK

      http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
       
    • Jeff Peterson
      Ron, One chapter after listing the witnesses (including Cephas, who was either personally known to the Corinthians or whom they had considered initiating
      Message 2 of 14 , Apr 23, 2014
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        Ron,

        One chapter after listing the witnesses (including Cephas, who was either personally known to the Corinthians or whom they had considered initiating contact with, per Nils Dahl's interpretation of 1:12), Paul invites representatives of the Corinthian assembly to convey their alms to the Jerusalem church, with or without Paul accompanying them, a decision he leaves to their discretion. 

        This is a rash thing to do if Paul isn't sure that the story he has told them from the founding of their community and which he recalls at the opening of chap. 15 will be corroborated by any believer in Jesus they might talk to when visiting Jerusalem.

        Jeff Peterson
        Austin Graduate School of Theology


        On Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 5:19 AM, Ronald Price <ron-price@...> wrote:
         

        I've been listening to a recording of the debate between Bart Ehrman and Simon Gathercole, and was struck by the fact that even Ehrman assumes that 1 Cor 15:5-7 is a true record of some historical occurrences, whether visions (Gathercole) or hallucinations (Ehrman).

        As I see it, in 1 Cor 15 Paul was desperate to find support for his assertion that Jesus had risen from the dead. What better way of doing this than to claim that many people (some of whom were well-known) had actually seen the risen Jesus? It seems unlikely that any member of the Corinthian church who heard the letter read out would be able to contradict Paul.

        The difficulty is that there is no reliable independent witness to any of these earlier resurrection appearances. The appearance in Mt 28:16-20 is clearly late apologetic designed to ensure Matthew has a more satisfying ending than Mark. Lk 24:34 was probably inspired by Mk 14:28 and 16:7, which in turn are also plainly late apologetic material, designed to rehabilitate Peter after his negative portrayal elsewhere in Mark's gospel.

        Ron Price,

        Derbyshire, UK

        http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
         


      • Ken Olson
        I would add to Jeff s argument that I do not think that Paul was desperate to find support for his assertion that Jesus had risen from the dead. He is
        Message 3 of 14 , Apr 23, 2014
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          I would add to Jeff's argument that I do not think that "Paul was desperate to find support for his assertion that Jesus had risen from the dead." He is presuming in 15.1-2, and 11, that the Corinthians accept Jesus' resurrection as a fact and reminding them of the tradition that that they have previously accepted in 15.3-8. What is in doubt among some of the the Corinthians is whether there will be a general resurrection of the dead. Paul is arguing from the specific to the general, that the general resurrection will be in character like Jesus' resurrection, and therefore they must accept the general resurrection of the dead on the basis of their acceptance of Jesus' resurrection from the dead (v. 12, 16, 20). 

          in all probability (and according to many commentators) what the doubters among the Corinthians balked at was not the idea of an an afterlife or the immortality of the soul, which were commonly accepted among the Greeks, but the idea that such immortality would involve a "standing up of corpses." This necessitates Paul's further discussion of the nature of the resurrection body in vv. 35-50. Paul seems to be tacitly granting the premise that the idea of a "resurrection of the dead" (or "upstanding of corpses") would be ridiculous if the risen body were identical to the dead corpse, but it it not. The resurrected body is a transformed body, not simply a re-animated corpse. So basically he is arguing that they will rise is transformed bodies as Jesus rose in a transformed body.

          Best,

          Ken

          Ken Olson
          Ph.D. Candidate
          Duke University
           



          Jeff Peterson wrote:

           

          [snipped]

           >>This is a rash thing to do if Paul isn't sure that the story he has told them from the founding of their community and which he recalls at the opening of chap. 15 will be corroborated by any believer in Jesus they might talk to when visiting Jerusalem.<<

          In response to Ron Clark writing:

          [snipped]

          >>As I see it, in 1 Cor 15 Paul was desperate to find support for his assertion that Jesus had risen from the dead. What better way of doing this than to claim that many people (some of whom were well-known) had actually seen the risen Jesus? It seems unlikely that any member of the Corinthian church who heard the letter read out would be able to contradict Paul.<<

        • Ronald Price
          ... Jeff, If Paul made this invitation immediately after writing about the risen Jesus experiences of the twelve et. al. ( One chapter after ... ), then you
          Message 4 of 14 , Apr 23, 2014
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            Re: [XTalk] Paul's list of previous appearances of the risen Jesus Jeff Peterson wrote:

            One chapter after listing the witnesses (including Cephas, who was either personally known to the Corinthians or whom they had considered initiating contact with, per Nils Dahl's interpretation of 1:12), Paul invites representatives of the Corinthian assembly to convey their alms to the Jerusalem church, with or without Paul accompanying them, a decision he leaves to their discretion.

            Jeff,

            If Paul made this invitation immediately after writing about the risen Jesus experiences of the twelve et. al. ("One chapter after ..."), then you would have quite a good point. However I have long considered ch. 15 to be part of 'Letter A' as opposed to the main 'Letter B'. The latter was probably written a year or two after the former, and by this time he probably had other things on his mind. Anyway I would argue that the risk of anyone challenging Paul's list in 15:5-7 was tiny compared with the other risks involved in taking a substantial sum of money on a long journey to the domain of his arch-rival James.

            Ron Price,

            Derbyshire, UK

            http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
          • Ronald Price
            ... Ken, Surely it s not as simple as that. v.12 clearly shows that some of the Corinthians (for convenience let s call them the minority, though we can t be
            Message 5 of 14 , Apr 23, 2014
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              Re: [XTalk] Paul's list of previous appearances of the risen Jesus Ken Olson wrote:

              I would add to Jeff's argument that I do not think that "Paul was desperate to find support for his assertion that Jesus had risen from the dead." He is presuming in 15.1-2, and 11, that the Corinthians accept Jesus' resurrection as a fact ...

              Ken,

              Surely it's not as simple as that. v.12 clearly shows that some of the Corinthians (for convenience let's call them the minority, though we can't be sure this was the case) were denying that the dead could be raised. And here I completely agree with Paul: this minority, by definition, cannot have accepted the resurrection of Jesus (v.13). So 15:12-19 is an impassioned plea for the acceptance of the resurrection of Jesus. It is here that I find an element of desperation, for he seems to be saying that it is pointless being a follower of Jesus unless one believes in his resurrection. At such an early a stage in the development of Christianity, this was an extraordinary risk to take because it might have severely curtailed its growth.

              Ron Price,

              Derbyshire, UK

              http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
            • Jeff Peterson
              1) Margaret Mitchell has ably demonstrated the argumentative unity of 1 Cor in *Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation*. 2) In estimating risk, I think you
              Message 6 of 14 , Apr 23, 2014
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                1) Margaret Mitchell has ably demonstrated the argumentative unity of 1 Cor in Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation.

                2) In estimating risk, I think you underestimate Paul's concern to maintain good relations with the churches that he founded.

                3) Gal 2:12 is a thin reed on which to reconstruct "James the arch-rival of Paul," especially when counterbalanced with 2:6–10.

                JP


                On Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 10:12 AM, Ronald Price <ron-price@...> wrote:
                 

                Jeff Peterson wrote:

                One chapter after listing the witnesses (including Cephas, who was either personally known to the Corinthians or whom they had considered initiating contact with, per Nils Dahl's interpretation of 1:12), Paul invites representatives of the Corinthian assembly to convey their alms to the Jerusalem church, with or without Paul accompanying them, a decision he leaves to their discretion.

                Jeff,

                If Paul made this invitation immediately after writing about the risen Jesus experiences of the twelve et. al. ("One chapter after ..."), then you would have quite a good point. However I have long considered ch. 15 to be part of 'Letter A' as opposed to the main 'Letter B'. The latter was probably written a year or two after the former, and by this time he probably had other things on his mind. Anyway I would argue that the risk of anyone challenging Paul's list in 15:5-7 was tiny compared with the other risks involved in taking a substantial sum of money on a long journey to the domain of his arch-rival James.


              • Ronald Price
                ... Jeff, If anyone thinks that they have demonstrated that every chapter of our extant 1 Cor was in the original letter, then they are quite simply wrong.
                Message 7 of 14 , Apr 24, 2014
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                  Re: [XTalk] Paul's list of previous appearances of the risen Jesus Jeff Peterson wrote:

                  1) Margaret Mitchell has ably demonstrated the argumentative unity of 1 Cor in Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation.

                  2) In estimating risk, I think you underestimate Paul's concern to maintain good relations with the churches that he founded.

                  3) Gal 2:12 is a thin reed on which to reconstruct "James the arch-rival of Paul," especially when counterbalanced with 2:6–10.

                  Jeff,  

                  If anyone thinks that they have demonstrated that every chapter of our extant 1 Cor was in the original letter, then they are quite simply wrong. Chapter 13 (more precisely: 12:31b-14:1a) at the very least was not in the original letter. To me, the evidence for this is overwhelming.

                  Of course Paul wanted to maintain good relations with the churches he founded. But this didn't stop him from insisting that they adopt the gospel as he had preached it. He couldn't put up with other people's ideas which contravened his own.

                  Gal 2:12 would be a slim foundation on which to build anything. The evidence for bitterness between James and Paul is much broader than one verse. It involves fundamental differences in outlook (the outlook of James is evident from the logia - the early collection of the sayings of Jesus), the treatment of James by Paul and Mark (c.f. Trocme, Brandon, Weeden), the failure of the collection (c.f. Ludemann), and the discovery that the Ebionites were James's theological successors (c.f. Goulder).

                  Ron Price,

                  Derbyshire, UK

                  http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
                • E Bruce Brooks
                  To: XTalk2 In Response To: Ron Price On: Paul and Stuff From: Bruce I would like to support all three points recently made by Ron, and maybe add a couple
                  Message 8 of 14 , Apr 24, 2014
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                    To: XTalk2

                    In Response To: Ron Price

                    On: Paul and Stuff

                    From: Bruce

                     

                    I would like to support all three points recently made by Ron, and maybe add a couple details.

                     

                    1. I Cor 13 is definitely an interpolation; it interrupts a discourse on another subject, which resumes as soon as the “love” discourse is finished. See William O Walker Jr, Interpolations in the Pauline Letters, 147-165.  Other 1 Cor passages treated as interpolations in that book are: 1 Cor 2:6-16, 1 Cor 10:1-22, 1 Cor 11:3-6, and 1 Cor 14:34-35. In a later CBQ article (2007), Walker takes up 1 Cor 15:29-34. Why are there so many of these, and why is there no manuscript support? Because with Romans, 1 Cor was recognized as Paul’s most important theological statement, and his early editors sought to correct and uniformize it before bringing it to the attention of the wider Christian world. It was only after the editors had finished their work that the corpus of 7 letters (including the spurious Colossians, as an introduction) were handed to the copyists for multiplication and distribution. We get manuscript variants only after that point.

                     

                    2. Paul loathed those whose ideas of Jesus differed from his own. The curse (anathema) at the end of 1 Cor (16:22, not an interpolation) is evidence enough, though there is more as well. It comes to this: If you don’t love the Lord Paul’s way, you don’t love the Lord at all.

                     

                    3. Yes. The trouble is that there are so many Jameses (Jacobs) running around. For Galatians purposes, Frank Beare (JBL 1943) has usefully distinguished between the James Zebedee who gave Paul the right hand of fellowship, and the Lord’s Brother James who later (after the first James had been killed) sent people to make trouble for commensality in Galatia. There was also the author of the Epistle of James, who I think is far more likely to be James of Alphaeus, who like James Zebedee was a member of the inner Jesus circle. James The Brother was an original unbeliever, and a very difficult later convert (the same may be said of Paul, as far as that goes). Zeal for the letter of the Law, or in Saul’s case, also its inverse, obsessed them both.

                     

                    Bruce

                     

                    E Bruce Brooks

                    Research Professor

                    Alpha Christianity Project

                    University of Massachusetts at Amherst

                     

                  • Richard Fellows
                    Ron Price wrote Gal 2:12 would be a slim foundation on which to build anything. The evidence for bitterness between James and Paul is much broader than one
                    Message 9 of 14 , Apr 24, 2014
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                      Ron Price wrote " Gal 2:12 would be a slim foundation on which to build anything. The evidence for bitterness between James and Paul is much broader than one verse. It involves fundamental differences in outlook (the outlook of James is evident from the logia - the early collection of the sayings of Jesus), the treatment of James by Paul and Mark (c.f. Trocme, Brandon, Weeden), the failure of the collection (c.f. Ludemann), and the discovery that the Ebionites were James's theological successors (c.f. Goulder)."

                      Hegesippus inadvertently provides evidence that there was no rift between Paul and James. He was a big admirer of James (see Eusebius EH 2.23.3-7) and yet he found Paul's legacy to be in line with true doctrine, for we read the following in Eusebius EH 4.22.7-8.

                      "Hegesippus in the five books of Memoirs which have come down to us has left a most complete record of his own views. In them he states that on a journey to Rome he met a great many bishops, and that he received the same doctrine from all. It is fitting to hear what he says after making some remarks about the epistle of Clement to the Corinthians. His words are as follows: “And the church of Corinth continued in the true faith until Primus was bishop in Corinth. I conversed with them on my way to Rome, and abode with the Corinthians many days, during which we were mutually refreshed in the true doctrine."

                      If James and his successors were theologically opposed to Paul and his successors, then how can Hegesippus (as well as Luke) be in both camps? I don't think anyone would be hypothesizing a theological rift between Paul and James if it were not for their mis-reading of Gal 2:12 in particular, and Paul in general.

                      Richard Fellows
                      http://paulandco-workers.blogspot.ca/
                    • Ronald Price
                      ... Richard, The testimony of Eusebius that Hegesippus lived immediately after the apostles is hopelessly incorrect if the date I have found on the internet
                      Message 10 of 14 , Apr 25, 2014
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                        Richard Fellows wrote:

                        > Hegesippus inadvertently provides evidence that there was no rift between Paul
                        > and James. He was a big admirer of James (see Eusebius EH 2.23.3-7) .....

                        Richard,

                        The testimony of Eusebius that Hegesippus "lived immediately after the
                        apostles" is hopelessly incorrect if the date I have found on the internet
                        for the his birth (110 CE) is to be believed. This date has Hegesippus born
                        40 or 50 years after the death of the apostles. By my reckoning this makes
                        his writings at least 30 years after Acts, which I take to have been written
                        ca. 100 CE. I can see no reason to trust the testimony of Hegesippus if it
                        contradicts what we can deduce from Galatians, Mark and Acts.

                        Ron Price,

                        Derbyshire, UK

                        http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
                      • Richard Fellows
                        ... Hegessipus s journey was in about 160 CE, as I mentioned on my blog. Acts is clear that James supported the inclusion of Gentiles without circumcision.
                        Message 11 of 14 , Apr 25, 2014
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                          Ron wrote:
                          >
                          > By my reckoning this makes
                          > his writings at least 30 years after Acts, which I take to have been written
                          > ca. 100 CE. I can see no reason to trust the testimony of Hegesippus if it
                          > contradicts what we can deduce from Galatians, Mark and Acts.

                          Hegessipus's journey was in about 160 CE, as I mentioned on my blog.

                          Acts is clear that James supported the inclusion of Gentiles without circumcision. Some argue that Luke's silence about the collection is evidence of its failure and that it failed because James and others refused to accept it. However, the pillars, including James, ASKED for a collection from Paul (Gal 2:11). It would be surprising for them to reject a collection that they had requested. The collection demonstrated to Judean Christians that Gentile Christians had a genuine commitment to the faith, even though they were not circumcised (see 2 Cor 9:12-14). The collection therefore served to unite the church behind the Gentile mission. We can assume that James, Peter, and John supported (or at least tolerated) this objective, since they asked for the collection. The supposed rejection of the collection does not, in any case, fully explain Luke's silence about it. Luke mentions plenty of conflict within the church, so it does not follow that he would want to be silent about the rejection of the collection. And why could he not mention the collection, but remain silent about its rejection? A better explanation is that the Romans would have viewed such collections with suspicion, so Luke kept a cautious silence.

                          It is also sometimes suggested that the Jerusalem church did not come to Paul's aid when he was in custody, and that this shows that they opposed his views on Gentile liberty. I suggest the opposite. If they did not speak in Paul's favour it was because they were known to have endorsed Gentile liberty (Acts 15). Paul had been accused of bringing an uncircumcised man into the temple. To defend himself he must present himself as a pious Jew (21:40ff) who associated with pious Jews such as Ananias (in 9:10 Ananias is disciple, but in 22:12 Paul stresses that he is a devout man according to the law). If the Jerusalem church had defended Paul, his accusers would have said, "look, he is a friend of those people who want to include Gentiles: he must have brought Trophimus into the temple!". The Jerusalem church leaders, I suggest, could help Paul best by keeping a low profile.

                          So, I don't think Acts can be used to argue for a split between Paul and James. I'll leave it to others to discuss Mark, if they want to.

                          Richard Fellows.
                        • Ronald Price
                          Richard, Acts 15:19-20 does indeed claim that James supported the inclusion of Gentiles without circumcision. But the writer of Acts was a strong supporter of
                          Message 12 of 14 , Apr 26, 2014
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                            Re: [XTalk] Paul and James Richard,

                            Acts 15:19-20 does indeed claim that James supported the inclusion of Gentiles without circumcision. But the writer of Acts was a strong supporter of Paul. We have no direct evidence about the views of James, so we have to rely on indirect evidence for these.

                             However, the pillars, including James, ASKED for a collection from Paul (Gal 2:11). It would be surprising for them to reject a collection that they had requested.

                            Yes it does seem strange at first sight. But if the relationship between James and Paul was one of enmity, then the request for a collection could have been a trap designed to demonstrate Paul's inconsistency (Ac 21:23-26) in front of some of his most loyal supporters (his companions with the collection), and to put him in danger. It can be argued that Paul fell into the trap, and that James would not have been surprised, or even disappointed, that it led to Paul's imprisonment and death. It was a short-lived victory for James. His following withered away over time, whereas Paul's following went from strength to strength.

                            ... the Jerusalem church ... who want to include Gentiles ...
                            ... I don't think Acts can be used to argue for a split between Paul and James ...

                            If we only had Acts, then it would indeed be very difficult to find the truth about James the brother of Jesus, though the convenient death of "James the brother of John" (Ac 12:2) just in time for the abrupt introduction into the narrative of the strangely unspecified "James" (Ac 12:17) should make us a tad suspicious. Fortunately we also have Matthew's gospel, and its author was quite conservative, retaining some of the sayings of Jesus which offended many other Christians. Thus we know that Jesus believed in the permanence of the Jewish 'law' (Mt 5:18) and in confining the mission to Jews (Mt 10:5; 10:23). There should be no doubt that his brother agreed. So the movement led by James did not want to include Gentiles.

                            Ron Price,

                            Derbyshire, UK

                            http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
                          • David Mealand
                            Ron wrote ... I ve been listening to a recording of the debate between Bart Ehrman and Simon Gathercole, and was struck by the fact that even Ehrman assumes
                            Message 13 of 14 , Apr 28, 2014
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                              Ron wrote
                              ---------
                              I've been listening to a recording of the debate between Bart Ehrman
                              and Simon Gathercole, and was struck by the fact that even Ehrman assumes
                              that 1 Cor 15:5-7 is a true record of some historical occurrences,
                              whether visions (Gathercole) or hallucinations (Ehrman).
                              ...The difficulty is that there is no reliable independent witness to
                              any of these earlier resurrection appearances.
                              ---------
                              I missed the recorded debate but I think Ron raises a very interesting issue.

                              Providing suitable evidence is an essential tool of the trade, and shows
                              us to be reliable empiricists. There are areas where this is essential, but
                              the passion for interrogating witnesses, or those who claim to have known
                              witnesses can lead to an impasse. If the witnesses to a particular event
                              are a closed group, and we can't cross examine them, overemphasizing this
                              line may prevent us from looking at other perspectives.

                              Suppose we try starting from much later in 1C15. At 15.45 we hit an
                              issue which was part of 1st C debate. If there were two accounts of Adam,
                              perhaps one related to the earthly, the other to the ideal human. Philo
                              took this line. There is no need to think that Paul was an avid reader of
                              Philo, but he may well have known about the speculation about the origin of
                              ideal and physical human beings. Paul's stance differs clearly from that
                              of Philo. His assertion is that the first Adam was a living human self,
                              but it is the last Adam who is a life giving spirit.

                              If we ask did Paul arrive at _that_ conviction as a result of a report about
                              a tomb, or because he, and people he knew, had visions, I am not sure that we
                              are on the right track at all for understanding this unjustly neglected part
                              of 1C15.

                              David M.


                              ---------
                              David Mealand, University of Edinburgh


                              --
                              The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
                              Scotland, with registration number SC005336.
                            • E Bruce Brooks
                              To: XTalk2 (and a few others) On: Evidence From: Bruce To quote Ron once again, Ron: I ve been listening to a recording of the debate between Bart Ehrman and
                              Message 14 of 14 , Apr 29, 2014
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                                To: XTalk2 (and a few others)
                                On: Evidence
                                From: Bruce

                                To quote Ron once again,

                                Ron: I've been listening to a recording of the debate between Bart Ehrman
                                and Simon Gathercole, and was struck by the fact that even Ehrman assumes
                                that 1 Cor 15:5-7 is a true record of some historical occurrences, whether
                                visions (Gathercole) or hallucinations (Ehrman).
                                ...The difficulty is that there is no reliable independent witness to any of
                                these earlier resurrection appearances.

                                Bruce: I don't know what would count as a reliable independent witness, to
                                anything that we may find in NT stories. Or for that matter, to anything at
                                any time. A law school course in rules of evidence (or even a peek at the
                                textbook) will add a lot of subtlety to this question.

                                What is sort of interesting, at least to me, is whether a given text bothers
                                to claim witnesses for a given event. Once we ask that question, it is sort
                                of notable that Mark's nature miracles (walking on water, calming the storm)
                                have no witnesses but disciples; they are in effect private events. Whereas
                                the Feedings are presented as public events. At the other end of the
                                attestation scale, much ink is spilled over why Mark and the rest choose
                                women as witnesses to the Empty Tomb. One reason would be that they are
                                outside the active disciple circle, and this Mark pounds into the ground by
                                emphasizing their surprise, and the fact that they do not tell anyone what
                                they have seen and heard. Here are witnesses (and very sympathetic ones;
                                like us, Mark probably had a predominantly female audience), offered to the
                                reader, but explicitly said not to be the source of a claim of resurrection.
                                I would suggest that they are there as Mark's version of "independent
                                verification" - corroboration of what would otherwise be, and if we believe
                                Matthew, actually was, disputed by hostile outsiders as a disciple fraud.

                                Also, by simply narrating a miracle in the present tense (the historic
                                present tense; another stylistic quirk of Mark, and very intelligible to
                                anyone who has ever been in charge of the Friday 10 AM story hour), an
                                author is more or less annexing the reader as a witness. The story, any
                                story, whether bedtime or other, is a very powerful means of making
                                something real to the one hearing it. Some traditions (I have in mind
                                classical China, which overflows with story literature) operate largely on
                                story fuel. No soteriology is involved in the China case, but those
                                accustomed to those Chinese stories hugely resist giving them up as
                                realities. A story, I have come to suspect, is about as real as most people
                                want to get.

                                Stories get in below the radar of the critical intelligence. The subliminal
                                advertising of antiquity. Once we see Mark as a chain, or anyway a series,
                                of stories (the Greek word pericope does not quite do the job for me), I
                                think we can detect, not the truth of what Mark says, but one of his chief
                                strategies in making it real, and thus effectively true, for his audience.

                                Luke, a fastidious stylist, likes to strip away the narratively superfluous
                                details in Mark's stories. But it is precisely those details, and precisely
                                because they are narratively inessential, that give vividness and realism to
                                Mark's way of telling the story. If Mark had walked into my library and
                                offered to volunteer, I would have put him in charge of the Friday 10
                                o'clock story hour. Immediately.

                                And I would have put Luke, the popular Antioch pediatrician, in charge of
                                soothing the mothers whose children were just two months shy of being
                                eligible for the story hour. Luke has a way with women, and we need him
                                badly in that role. Last thing any library wants is a lot of disgruntled
                                mothers.

                                Matthew? Matthew I want only as a distant donor, not as a contributor to
                                atmosphere. But even atmosphere needs some sort of endowment. Remember
                                Samuel of Perga? Matthew, at a distance of 160 miles, could be no less
                                valuable to the cause.

                                Bruce

                                E Bruce Brooks
                                Alpha Christianity Project
                                University of Massachusetts at Amherst

                                Mention of "library" above is not meant humorously. What is a synagogue, or
                                a house church on the synagogue model, or a modern small public library, if
                                not a contact point, a guidance point, between the written tradition and the
                                current faithful?
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