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Mark for 1st C listeners

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  • Philip B. Lewis
    On Sunday, April 9 Nathan McGovern wrote: I suppose one could describe them as novelistic, although they re not like any novels I ve ever read. If one wants
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 10, 2000
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      On Sunday, April 9 Nathan McGovern wrote:
       
      I suppose one could describe them as novelistic, although they're not like
      any novels I've ever read.  If one wants to comapare the gospels to novels,
      it seems that they would best (depending on the gospel) be compared to
      episodic novels, at least insofar as the gospels (especially the synoptic
      gospels, and even more especially Mark) are for the most part little
      stories about Jesus that have been loosely strung together in a narrative
      format.

      "And even more especially Mark (are/is) little stories about Jesus that have been loosely strung together in a narrative format"?  Oh Nathan!  Better shange your narrative-biased thinking!  Mark is better understood as of a carefully composed thematic structure over which a narrative disguise has been tossed.  Consider:
       
      How does GMark say Jesus taught?  Outwardly in parables while tp the discipled he explained everything (the mystery sayings of Ch.4.  And if AuMark understood Jesus teaching in this manner, how does anyone reasonably think the author wrote his "gospel"?
       
      Wht, oh why can't people see GMark's structure for what it is!!!
       
      Philip B Lewis, HR.
    • Nathan McGovern
      ... I agree with you 100%! At least I think I do; I don t really understand what you mean by how does anyone reasonably think the author wrote his gospel ?
      Message 2 of 3 , Apr 10, 2000
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        Philip B. Lewis wrote:

        > On Sunday, April 9 Nathan McGovern wrote: I suppose one could
        >describe them as novelistic, although they're not like
        >any novels I've ever read. If one wants to comapare the gospels to novels,
        >it seems that they would best (depending on the gospel) be compared to
        >episodic novels, at least insofar as the gospels (especially the synoptic
        >gospels, and even more especially Mark) are for the most part little
        >stories about Jesus that have been loosely strung together in a narrative
        >format.
        >
        >"And even more especially Mark (are/is) little stories about Jesus that
        >have been loosely strung together in a narrative format"? Oh Nathan!
        >Better shange your narrative-biased thinking! Mark is better understood
        >as of a carefully composed thematic structure over which a narrative
        >disguise has been tossed. Consider: How does GMark say Jesus taught?
        >Outwardly in parables while tp the discipled he explained everything (the
        >mystery sayings of Ch.4. And if AuMark understood Jesus teaching in this
        >manner, how does anyone reasonably think the author wrote his "gospel"?
        >Wht, oh why can't people see GMark's structure for what it is!!! Philip
        >B Lewis, HR.

        I agree with you 100%! At least I think I do; I don't really understand
        what you mean by "how does anyone reasonably think the author wrote his
        'gospel'?" After all, he did use pen and ink.

        When I said that Mark has a "loose narrative structure," I was trying to
        downplay the suitability of the use of the word "novel" with respect to
        Mark, not to deny that it has a very important thematic structure.
        Ultimately, I see Mark as being, for the most part, a compilation of
        traditions about Jesus. The innovation on Mark's part is not found so much
        in his tampering with the individual traditions, but rather the order and
        contexts into which he puts them to create the thematic structure to which
        you referred. So, whether or not Papias was dealing with trustworthy
        testimony, he was right to say that Mark did not put the events in Jesus'
        career into chronological order (at least not on purpose).

        My favorite example of the use of order to serve theme in Mark's gospel is
        in chapters 6 through 8. First, Jesus feeds 5000 by multiplying loaves and
        fishes. Then, he walks on water (but the disciples still don't
        understand). Then, there's the whole "tradition of the elders" episode
        where Jesus supposedly "cleanses all the food." Next, a Gentile actually
        convinces Jesus to perform a miracle for her. And after another miracle
        performed in the Decapolis, Jesus repeats his multiplication feat, but this
        time in a Gentile setting. This whole section's purpose is explained right
        before the blind man of Bethsaida is healed (although not explicitly).
        Jesus points out that there were twelve baskets left over after the feeding
        of the 5000 (symbolizing the 12 tribes of Israel) and 7 baskets left over
        after the feeding of the 4000 (7 hills of Rome?, seven(ty) nations?--in any
        case, a Gentile significance). In any case, the order of events shows a
        progression where ministers first to Jews and then to the whole world
        (because there is plenty of bread left over).

        Shalom,

        Nathan

        Nathan McGovern
        Franklin and Marshall College
        nm_mcgovern@...
      • Jan Sammer
        ... The explanation is explicit enough, if one has ears to hear. Mark has Jesus berating the disciples as being extraordinarily dense in not understanding the
        Message 3 of 3 , May 1 7:01 AM
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          Nathan wrote (a few weeks ago--just catching up...):

          > This whole section's purpose is explained right
          > before the blind man of Bethsaida is healed (although not
          > explicitly).

          The explanation is explicit enough, if one has ears to hear. Mark has
          Jesus berating the disciples as being extraordinarily dense in not
          understanding the significance of the feedings, so he practically
          hands them the solution by asking pointed questions. The author of
          GMark thought his readers could do simple math. Spelling out the
          solution to a simple mathematical puzzle would have blunted the
          intended effect. 8:21 "And you still don't understand?" is an
          invitation to the reader to find the solution to the problem as posed
          in the foregoing verses.

          > Jesus points out that there were twelve baskets left over after the
          feeding
          > of the 5000 (symbolizing the 12 tribes of Israel) and 7 baskets
          left over
          > after the feeding of the 4000 (7 hills of Rome?, seven(ty) nations?-
          -in any
          > case, a Gentile significance).

          The significance of the question posed in 8:21 (and more particularly
          of the word "still" or "oupw") is that the solution is to be found
          within the terms of verses 8:19-20. For this reason the solution
          cannot refer to anything beyond those verses. Thus bringing in 7
          deacons or 7 hills of Rome or the 7 pillars of wisdom is unwarranted.
          Nor is there any legitimacy to bringing in speculations such as 12
          tribes of Israel, or the 12 apostles. None of these are mentioned in
          8:19-20, hence none of these can be relevant to the solution. Instead
          one ought to pay close attention to the actual text and avoid using
          translations that gloss over important differences in terminology.
          The crucial fact to note is that in the above quotation, two
          different Greek words are translated as "basket"--kofinos and spyris.

          Let us look once more at the way the problem is posed and answered:
          1. When I broke the five loaves for the 5000, how many kofinous full
          of leftover pieces did you pick up? (Answer: 12)
          2. When I broke the seven loaves for the 4000, how many spyridwn full
          of leftover pieces did you pick up? (Answer: 7)
          **And you still don't understand?**

          The answer, which a first-century reader of Mark's gospel was
          expected to derive directly from points 1 and 2, reckons with the
          knowledge of the mutual ratio of the two standard bread containers,
          the kofinos, a small container used by pious Jews to carry on their
          persons their daily portion of bread, and the spyridon, a larger
          container, which from the context can be presumed to carry a full
          loaf.

          5 loaves yield 12 kofinous full of pieces, while 7 loaves yield 7
          spyrides full of pieces. Assuming the artous or loaves to be the same
          in both cases, we can further presume that 5 spyrides=12 kofinoi.
          This is the crucial equation, which is implicit in the text, but
          which I hope to be able to confirm by a study of the relevant
          metrology. We do know that a spyris was considerably larger than a
          kofinos. I am still looking for independent evidence that their exact
          ratio was as postulated.

          The point that the disciples are portrayed as failing to understand
          is that none of the bread they gave Jesus to break and distribute to
          the crowds was actually consumed by the crowds. The proof was
          provided by the fact that all the broken pieces were collected in the
          respective kofinous and spyrides. Thus the crowds were not fed
          on "the bread of the Pharisees" but on the "bread of life". The
          crowds in fact rejected the bread of the Pharisees and of Herod,
          because they were satiated with the bread of life which Jesus offered
          them. This solution is consistent with the reported event that
          sparked this exchange: The disciples talk about not having taken any
          bread with them on the boat, and Jesus responds: "Why are you
          discussing about not having any bread? Don't you know or understand
          yet?" Is it reasonable to think that the author of GMark would be
          portraying Jesus as berating the disciples for failing to understand
          a reference to the 7 hills of Rome or to the 7 deacons, for that
          matter?

          > In any case, the order of events shows a
          > progression where ministers first to Jews and then to the whole
          world
          > (because there is plenty of bread left over).
          >
          I would not completely discount the Jewish/gentile aspect of this
          interpretation, since the kofinos was a bread container associated
          with the dietary habits of pious Jews and the spyris was a bread
          container associated with gentile usage. But in my view the
          interpretation would be that both Jews and Gentiles are satiated with
          the bread of life, and reject the bread of the Pharisees and of Herod.

          Jan Sammer
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