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[XTalk] Re: Provenance of G Mark

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  • Mahlon H. Smith
    ... ... Thanks for your comments, Philip. I don t wish to embattle you with an argument over the origin of GMark. But if I may be permitted a reply to
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 30, 2000
      > "Philip B. Lewis" wrote:

      > You are right, Mahlon. And that is why any argument based on Mark 13's
      > "Little Apocalypse" is flawed!!!
      > For Mark's L A *is* a pre-publication Interpolation!!!
      > The L A itself is an example of Crossan's "prophesy historicized."
      > That is, its compiler may, or may not have been from Judea. He
      > presents Jesus as predicting a Destruction which . The Jesus so presented is of course gifted with
      > prescience; he is, as Ted Weeden has described his *theios-aner*, "the
      > epiphany of God." (_Mark: Traditions in Conflict_, p.55). But wherever
      > the compiler may have come from, his origin has nothing to do with the
      > Provenance of Mark!!!
      > I have no desire to become embattled in argument over GMark's genesis.
      > I offer this critique of a crucial issue in Mahlon's critique so that
      > all Crosstalkers may reach balanced conclusions of their own.

      Thanks for your comments, Philip. I don't wish to embattle you with an
      argument over the origin of GMark. But if I may be permitted a reply to
      your conclusions about of the Markan "little apocalypse" for
      clarification sake:

      I'm not quite clear what you mean when you call Mark 13 "a
      pre-publication Interpolation." Are you suggesting that this chapter was
      not found in the autograph of Mark but was interpolated by some scribe?
      Interpolations are, after all, material that has been *added* to
      composition *after* it was written. If this is your meaning, then I
      don't know on what stylistic or narratological or text critical grounds
      such a position could be defended. If you mean instead that the original
      author of Mark has introduced & already existing composition into his
      work -- a text composed by another author for a previous occasion --,
      then it is more proper to identify the LA as a Markan "source." But that
      claim too needs to be supported by critical analysis of the gospel of
      Mark, since we do not have a ms. of the LA apart from Mark & those who
      copied him.

      The primary problem with this position -- which, as I've already said, I
      myself espoused for much of my academic career -- is that the LA is more
      a fluid concept than a clearly identifiable block of material. And
      recent scholars like Theissen & Weeden have recognized that not all of
      the material from Mark 13:5-37 can be retrojected to a particular
      indentifiable occasion (like the Caligula incident) prior to the
      composition of the gospel of Mark itself. Theissen, Weeden & Smith all
      agree that *Mark* has indeed carefully crafted the passages from
      12:35-13:4 but would add that he has just as carefully crafted most of
      the next 32 verses as well. At face value, this is all material that the
      author has addressed to his own intended audience.

      My question to Ted & anyone else who *believes* that Mark was using a
      prior document for some of these passages is actually very simple: how
      can you prove it? Once one removes material that is probably Markan,
      does one have enough left to consider a viable document composed by some
      other author? And if so, how did Mark get his hands on it? And why would
      he reissue it in almost its original form? Just because modern scholars
      can reconstruct from bits & pieces of Mark 13 a coherent alarm that
      conceivably *could* have been formulated in reaction to the Caligula
      crisis is no guarantee that these verses were actually composed for such
      an occasion. So *if* one is going to assert that the LA was in fact a
      pre-Markan composition, one has to be prepared to answer a host of
      practical questions about the preservation, transmission & use of such a
      work -- all of which can be at most *plausible* scholarly speculation.

      Therefore, I came to the conclusion some time ago that rather than spin
      castles in the air I will proceed on the assumption the the LA was
      composed where we have it, as a deliberate construction by the author of
      the Markan narrative. Can anyone *prove* otherwise?

      Now as for your description of the LA as "prophecy historicized": I
      believe this is a confusion of categories. The historicization of
      prophecy is evident when one has (a) one extant text which forecasts or
      prefigures something & (b) another extant text which describes that
      situation as having *already* happened. The perfect example is casting
      lots for garments -- Ps 22:18 & Mark 15:24 -- & there are hosts of other
      OT parallels in the gospels' passion narratives as Crossan & others have
      pointed out.

      But that is *not* what one has in the LA. For Mark 13 is presented as a
      prediction of things to come. Therefore, one can call it prophecy. *If*
      Mark used material from the previous Caligula incident, then you could
      say Mark 13 is "history prophesized." But even that would not be exact,
      since the LA material is itself a warning of things to come. So
      (assuming for argument sake that the LA is pre-Markan) Mark would simply
      have repeated an unfulfilled prophecy (since the "desolating sacrilege"
      was *not* erected in the Caligula incident).

      But there is no clear evidence in Mark 13 that the author himself
      thought that the "desolating sacrilege" had *already* been erected
      either in his own day or any time in the past. The aside to the reader
      in 13:14 calls for understanding of the cryptic reference to the AD &
      its unacceptable place (which have exercised so much scholarly
      imagination) not its occurrence. For *if* the erection of the AD had
      occurred recently, do you really think the author of the related warning
      to flee would have taken the time to compose a whole gospel? And *if*
      the author of the Markan narrative knew that it had occurred some time
      in the past, what would be the point of his heavy use of imperatives in
      this chapter, especially "Watch out" (13:5,9,23,33) & "Keep alert"
      (13:35,37)? Modern scholars may try to decipher these passages by
      referring to events in the past. But is that how an audience usually
      reacts when it hears such injunctions? If not, then one cannot assume
      that any of the events the author warns his audience about in this
      chapter are in the past, although some were probably current.

      As for your claim that the destruction "has already taken place
      historically": why then does the Markan narrator introduce the little
      apocalypse with the disciples' question: "When *will* this be?"?





      Mahlon H. Smith, http://religion.rutgers.edu/mh_smith.html
      Associate Professor
      Department of Religion Virtual Religion Index
      Rutgers University http://religion.rutgers.edu/vri/
      New Brunswick NJ

      Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus

      A Synoptic Gospels Primer

      Jesus Seminar Forum
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