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Markan Fabrications

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  • Barnes, Tom
    My first instinct when seeing this essay was to re read the Gospel of Mark. Did I do it? No. I read the essay and will read Mark again at another time. The
    Message 1 of 6 , May 26, 2000
      My first instinct when seeing this essay was to re read the Gospel of
      Mark. Did I do it? No. I read the essay and will read Mark again at
      another time. The only question I want to ask about the essay if it is
      a question at all is this, Are you trying to say that Mark had to have
      made the Petrine denial up because the Apostles according to Mark had no
      idea who Jesus "was" therefore, a denial would be unnecessary? In other
      words, if I did not know Michael Jordan was the best basketball player
      why would I deny knowing he was the best to someone. Does that make
      sense? Anyway, it was a great essay. I'm going to pass it along to my
      Christ fearing and Peter loving grandmother.
    • Ron Price
      Ted, It is great to find someone presenting such a forceful case that Peter s denial is a Markan fabrication. I have been convinced of this for many years. So
      Message 2 of 6 , May 28, 2000
        Re: Markan Fabrications Ted,

          It is great to find someone presenting such a forceful case that Peter's denial is a Markan fabrication. I have been convinced of this for many years. So please bear in mind that the following comments are of a secondary nature, and should not be seen as detracting from your main line of argument. Indeed in most cases I think they should strengthen it.

        (1) Does Mark really present Jesus as "the Christ"?
          My answer is "Yes, but only reluctantly."
          The best English translations of 1:1 show "Christ" as a mere surname, with "the Son of God" as the real title.
          It's clear to me that the label "Christ", with its widely accepted political connotations, was an embarrassment to Mark (12:35-37). The suffering etc. in 8:31f. was emphasized precisely in order to get away from the picture of a political leader which had a degree of justification historically (religion and politics had been inextricably intertwined for centuries in the history of the Jews), and which was so repugnant to good citizens of the Roman Empire especially after the Fall of Jerusalem. Thus the censure of Peter was nothing to do with miracle working and everything to do with political implications.

        (2) Did Peter see Jesus as the Messiah?

        > Nor is there any convincing evidence that the historical Peter ever
        >proclaimed the historical Jesus as "the Christ."

          Here I must disagree. Already in Mark 1:1 and regularly in Paul, "Christ" is relegated to a mere surname. This is a clear indication of the primitivity of the association.
          Above all, there is **no way** a crucified Jew could have been proclaimed as Messiah if he had not been seen as such during his heyday when it was possible to believe that he might be politically successful. If it wasn't his disciples who saw him as such, who on earth was it?
          Thus when Mark presented Peter as acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah he was for once being historically accurate (though the Caesarea Philippi location was probably invented). But it was a back-handed compliment, for he was saying that Peter (and of course the Christian Jews who were still a force to be reckoned with ca. 70 CE) had only limited perception in seeing Jesus as Messiah and not going further and seeing him as the Son of God.

        (3) I'm also convinced that 14:28, 16:7 and 14:61b-64 are later interpolations. In each case the text makes better sense when the verse(s) is/are extracted. In each case the motive for the interpolation is not difficult to see. The first two constitute a surprisingly successful attempt at rehabilitating Peter.
          All this seems to me to reinforce your general argument. It certainly puts an interesting twist on it.

        Ron Price

        Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK

        e-mail:  ron.price@...

        Web site:  http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
      • Ron Price
        ... Ted, This is true. But the majority is not always right. ... Are you claiming that the Danielic title Son of Man was applied to Jesus before the title
        Message 3 of 6 , May 29, 2000
          Re: Markan Fabrications Ted Weeden wrote:

          >very few scholars today that I know of would claim that Jesus in any way
          >linked himself with the aspirations of Jewish Messianism.

            This is true. But the majority is not always right.

          > With the help of the Son of man figure and the eschatological
          >enthronement of that figure (Dan. 7:13f., here I am slightly amplifying
          >on Hahn), Jesus became viewed as the Christ .......

            Are you claiming that the Danielic title "Son of Man" was applied to Jesus before the title "Messiah"?
          If so, you are on slippery ground. The title "Messiah" is much better attested.

          >Finally the term "Christ" became applied to Jesus miracle-working
          >ministry .......

            The earliest written attestation of Jesus' miracles is in Mark, ca. 70 CE. The earliest written attestation of the title "Christ" being applied to Jesus is in 1 Thess, ca. 50 CE. Your argument is contrary to this plain evidence.
            Anyway, if miracles were attrubuted to Jesus *before* he was proclaimed as Messiah, what prompted people to attribute miracles to him?

            You put a lot of weight on:

          > ....... the Signs Source, which later became the Signs Gospel .......

            I don't believe there was any such thing. "In recent exegesis ....... the existence of a 'semeia source' or 'Signs Gospel' has rightly been seen as problematic." (U.Schnelle, _The History and Theology of the New Testament Writings_ , ET: London, SCM, 1998, p.494). Schnelle provides references and arguments which are too long to repeat here.

            With regard to my proposed interpolations you wrote:
          > Without 16:7, 16:8 would suggest that the women refused to tell anyone about Jesus'
          >  resurrection, which would not be Mark's point

            The women's refusal to tell anyone was a crafty literary device to try to explain away the fact that his readers had never previously heard the story of the empty tomb. They hadn't heard it before because Mark invented it.

          Ron Price

          Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK

          e-mail:  ron.price@...

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

        • Ron Price
          ... Ted, Well the evidence is all there in Mark s gospel. It may not be enough to convince you, but there s no harm in trying. ;-) (1) Late in his ministry
          Message 4 of 6 , Jun 2, 2000
            Re: Markan Fabrications Ted Weeden wrote:

            >I have not seen any convincing evidence that Jesus linked himself with
            >the aspirations of Jewish messianism. Nor have I found any convincing
            >evidence that the early church linked Jesus with Jewish political
            >messianism during his earthly life.

              Well the evidence is all there in Mark's gospel. It may not be enough to convince you, but there's no harm in trying.  ;-)

            (1) Late in his ministry Jesus' head is anointed (14:3-9) at Bethany. Bearing in mind the fact that Messiah means "the anointed one", and that there was a long Jewish tradition of anointing their kings (e.g. 1 Sam 16:13), the Markan account was probably based on a historical anointing of the Messiah (_Questioning Christian Origins_, J.K.Elliott, London, SCM 1982, p.48).
            (2) Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on a donkey is clearly modelled on Zech 9:9 and graphically demonstrates Jesus' claim to be King/Messiah. This story, I contend, is no Markan fabrication but portrays the historical scene reasonably accurately.
            (3) The 'Cleansing of the Temple' makes little sense as it stands, but looks suspiciously like a distorted account of an attempt by Jesus to exert his messanic authority.
            (4) Mark's decision to transliterate KANANAION (3:18) rather than translate it "Zealot" as Luke does, is highly suspicious, for elsewhere he normally provides a translation for Aramaic terms. It was clearly an attempt to hide Jesus' connection with political aspirations.
            (5) The saying about giving Jesus' followers a cup of water to drink (9:41) does not look like a pure Markan fabrication, if only because the awkwardness of the Greek suggests that the author has modified an earlier saying. The Markan CRISTOU is a proper name, which is anomalous in a supposed saying of Jesus. It seems to me likely that the original version of the saying said: "....... because you are a follower of the Messiah".
            (6) Crucifixion was a peculiarly Roman form of punishment and they alone must take responsibility for it. In the light of Josephus' testimony concerning Pilate, Mark's presentation of Pilate as weak and vacillating is a patent fabrication. There can be little doubt that Pilate saw Jesus as a threat to peace. This must have been either because of something Jesus did (the 'Temple incident'?), or because he was considered to be the Messiah/King, or both.
            (7) The inscription on the cross "The King of the Jews" (15:26) can hardly be a Markan fabrication because it proclaims the messianic role of Jesus about which elsewhere Mark shows significant hesitation (8:30; 12:35-37). But if it is historically accurate, the Roman assessment must have been based on a claim to Jesus' messiahship by Jesus and/or his followers.

            Ron Price

            Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK

            e-mail:  ron.price@...

            Web site:  http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
          • David C. Hindley
            Ted, Last night I spent a little time cutting, pasting and pruning your recent responses to Richard Anderson, Ron Price and myself, in order to try to
            Message 5 of 6 , Jun 3, 2000

              Last night I spent a little time cutting, pasting and pruning your
              recent responses to Richard Anderson, Ron Price and myself, in order
              to try to understand what kind of christology you think the opponents
              of the author of Mark had.

              In response to me, you said the following with regard to the differing

              "The christology of Mark's opponents, as I see it, was a christology
              focused upon Jesus' power and success as a miracle worker. It was a
              christology which was patterned after the Greco-Roman divine-hero
              concept, a person who had unusual powers associated with the
              supernatural and used those powers to address human need. Dieter
              Georgi [_The Opponents of Paul in Second Corinthians_? D.H.] has
              identified Paul's opponents in Corinth whom Paul repudiates in his
              series of correspondences found in what we know as II Corinthians, as
              examples of early Christians having this divine-man orientation. ...
              They, as I see, disdained Mark's suffering-servant perspective as
              promoting a christology and, its corollary, a discipleship of
              weakness. Thus the Markan Jesus' call for self-giving,
              self-abnegation, humility, (e.g. 9:33ff.; 10:35-45), Mark's opponent's
              view contemptuously, as did their "cousins" in II Cor. 10-13, as Paul
              profiles them."

              "My own reading of Mark is that he is concerned about two
              christological titles "Christ" and "the Son of God," which appear in
              tandem in his introduction (1:1) and in the high priest's question.
              My theory is these are titles that Mark's opponents use to express
              their own christological orientation. Mark silences those titles when
              they have a divine-man christological orientation. And allows them to
              be used uncensored when they their meaning is conformed to Mark's
              suffering-servant christology by the Markan Jesus."

              In response to Richard Anderson, you said:

              "As I read the first half of the gospel, prior to the Petrine
              confession, I see the primary profile of Jesus presented is that of a
              miracle worker which fits the "divine man" or triumphalist orientation
              to christology Paul encountered in Corinth as evidenced in his
              correspondence with that church in what we call II Corinthians (cf.
              Dieter Georgi). Peter then makes a christological confession, calling
              Jesus, "the Christ." From the point of view of the hearers, the only
              profile that they have been given up to that point is that of Jesus as
              a miracle worker, and sometime teacher. My conclusion is that the
              hearers would assume that Peter made his confession based upon
              "living" with this miracle working profile of Jesus. Thus, so I
              conclude, Mark wants his hearers to assume that Peter's confession was
              to a "divine-man" christology. Once Jesus identifies his own
              christology as a suffering-servant christology and than urges his
              followers to be suffering-servant disciples (8:31-38), the disciples
              remain in conflict with Jesus over understanding his christology and
              their own preference for a triumphalist (divine-man) discipleship (see
              9:33-37; 10:35-45 and my _Mark_). Thus I see the christological
              conflict in the gospel and in Mark's community as being primarily
              between a divine-man christology and a suffering-servant christology."

              And to Ron Price, you said:

              "In my interpretation of the Markan gospel, Mark used this parabolic
              approach to present dramatically Jesus in the first half of his
              narrative as a successful miracle worker, whom some humans in the
              drama have begun to suspect has unusual supernatural powers. Demonic
              forces even recognize Jesus christologically as "the Son of God" as a
              result of Jesus' power to exorcise them. That presentation of Jesus,
              as I suggested in my essay, fits well the profile of a divine man in
              Greco-Roman culture, as well as a divine-man christology which certain
              Christians developed to win converts in that culture. I contend that
              that was what Mark's opponents were trying to do with their divine-man

              "Since the only presentation of Jesus in the first half of the drama
              is as a divine man, and since the demonic forces in effect make
              christological confessions to Jesus, therefore when, as Mark scripts
              the drama, Peter makes his surprising confession and names Jesus as
              "the Christ," that confession, according to the dramatic logic, can
              only have been made on the basis of Peter's experience and recognition
              of Jesus as a divine-man 'Christ.'"

              "Rather these miracle tellers imaged Jesus as a Messiah in mold of
              Moses, and as the one who fulfilled the prophecy of Deut. 18:15: "The
              Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your
              own people." Dieter Georgi has shown how the divine-man opponents of
              Paul in Corinth (II Corinthians) modeled their divine-man christology
              after the divine man "par excellence, Moses" (_The Opponents of Paul
              in Second Corinthians_, 124ff., 271ff.). The divine-man opponents of
              Paul us the title "Christ" to encapsulate their divine-man
              christological orientation."

              "Therefore, these divine-man Christians, in the interest of their
              evangelistic enterprise, accommodated themselves to the ideology of
              the Greco-Roman culture and began to refer to Jesus as "the Son of

              "Thus, the choice of the title "Son of God" as a christological title
              for Jesus not only solved these Christians' evangelistic problem, but
              it also served as an effective bridge title, linking their Jewish
              tradition with Greco-Roman culture in their missionary enterprise."

              "However, I also surmise that these Hellenistic Jewish-Christians did
              not want to abandon their Jewish messianic heritage that envisioned
              Jesus, their divine man, as the Christ. So they decided to preserve
              that title "Christ" while at the same time adopting the title "Son of
              God," required to evangelize their potential converts into belief in
              Jesus. Thus, they developed a hybrid christological title, h0 CRISTOS
              hO hUIOS QEOU or anarthrously, CRISTOS hUIOS QEOU ..."

              "As part of Mark's schema for unmasking his opponents' christology as
              false, he, in true parabolic fashion introduced his opponents' title
              at the outset (1:1) and then at the moment of parabolic reversal
              proceeded to describe Jesus as God's suffering-servant who
              acknowledges "the Christ, the Son of God" (14:61f.) as an acceptable
              christological identification of himself when it is properly
              understood in terms of his own self-defined christology of suffering

              My response:

              While I have not read Georgi (his book is not in stock at either
              Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or at the libraries I haunt) I have generally
              not found convincing those studies which identify a high degree of
              Hellenization in the ideas held by or about the person of Jesus in the
              letters of Paul or in the Gospels. I am also hesitant to accept the
              proposals of Crossan and others who see Galilee as a place where
              Jewish residents borrowed freely from Hellenistic and Roman culture
              and practices. My reading of Josephus and the few other
              contemporaneous sources available makes me believe that it was much
              more likely the original followers of Jesus had a political messianic
              vision of him than a mystical one.

              In my opinion, they have overstepped themselves in their use of
              cross-cultural anthropology. I do not object to using it to produce an
              explanation that incorporates the known evidence (after all, that is
              "history"), but I do have problems with using it to generate covering
              laws which are in turn used to reconstruct "history" that is otherwise
              not attested, especially when these reconstructions are treated the
              same as the former category of explanation. However, I will concede
              that I have yet to fully develop a personal position on the subject of
              the application of anthropology to historical reconstruction.


              Dave Hindley
              Cleveland, Ohio, USA
            • Mike MacDonell
              ... Dear Dave: If you are interested, ABEBOOKS (www.abebooks.com) has several copies. Best Regards, Mike
              Message 6 of 6 , Jun 4, 2000
                At 04:29 PM 6/3/00 -0400, you wrote:
                >While I have not read Georgi (his book is not in stock at either
                >Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or at the libraries I haunt)...

                Dear Dave:

                If you are interested, ABEBOOKS (www.abebooks.com) has several copies.

                Best Regards,

                Michael T. MacDonell, Ph.D. (Ransom Hill Bioscience, Inc.)
                Dieu mésure le froid à la brebis tondue.
                -Henri Estienne (1594): Les Prémices, etc. p. 47.
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