[XTalk] Re: Provenance of G Mark
> "Philip B. Lewis" wrote:<SNIP>
> 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!!!
>Thanks for your comments, Philip. I don't wish to embattle you with an
> 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.
argument over the origin of GMark. But if I may be permitted a reply to
your conclusions about of the Markan "little apocalypse" for
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
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
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
Department of Religion Virtual Religion Index
Rutgers University http://religion.rutgers.edu/vri/
New Brunswick NJ
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