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Re: Markan Fabrications

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  • 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 1 of 6 , Jun 2 6:28 AM
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      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 2 of 6 , Jun 3 1:29 PM
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        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 3 of 6 , Jun 4 8:43 AM
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          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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