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Re: Markan Fabrications

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  • 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 1 of 6 , Jun 3, 2000
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      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 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
      christologies:

      "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
      christology."

      "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
      God."

      "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
      servanthood."

      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.

      Regards,

      Dave Hindley
      Cleveland, Ohio, USA
    • Mike MacDonell
      ... Dear Dave: If you are interested, ABEBOOKS (www.abebooks.com) has several copies. Best Regards, Mike
      Message 2 of 6 , Jun 4, 2000
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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,
        Mike

        _______________________________________________________________
        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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