In response to my posting of 12/7 Nathan McGovern wrote:
>I think that the reason Mark (or more likely, his source) decks John out in
>camel's hair and a leather belt is that it is very important to him to
>demonstrate that John was Elijah. This was very important in demonstrating
>that Jesus is the Messiah, as it was generally believed that the Messiah
>would be preceded by Elijah.
But there was no "source" in the sense that someone had prepared something
that author Mark latched on to. This was Mark's own creative work.
We are too easily influenced by a synthetic gathering of stuff from other
Gospel writers' pens. Matt. is largely responsible for the idea that John
was a forerunner for Jesus. Luke has his irenic creativity to offer in an
effort to find a place for the Baptizer. GJohn, wisely, has John shoved
into the sidelines giving him the role of identifying Jesus as the Lamb of
God. They were all following Mark to some extent, but Mark was the
Innovator, making use of the Baptizer because of his baptismally inclined
John is indeed, according to Mark, to be identified with Elijah and we have
created a delightful fictional role for him, none of whose details are
historically verifiable. All Josephus could say was thst the Baptizer was
a very pious man.
My point, I think, is that while we are discussing the Historical Jesus in
ways that satisfy contemporary credulity, we swallow whatever myth we run
into - about John, Abraham, Moses, David - any of the figures of a past who
have had meaning for following generations. We don't ask them to verify
themselves historically - why are we so insistent that Jesus pass muster?
Can't we make a pretense, at least. of understanding the language with
which we have "received" him?