Mark's more negative portrayal of the disciples.
- [Crossposted from Synoptic-L, at the request of Jeffrey Gibson.]
It is commonly asserted that Mark's more negative portrayal of
the disciples compared with Matthew and Luke is an argument for
Mark's priority. For example, Stein (1987: 65) writes, "If Mark
was not interested in vilifying the disciple [pace Weeden], in
which direction it is easier to understand the later writers to
have moved? Surely Matthew's and Luke's handling of the Markan
text, with its harder reading, is far more understandable than
a Markan change of Matthew and/or Luke."
I was recently reading Dennis R. MacDonald, THE HOMERIC EPICS
AND THE GOSPEL OF MARK (2000: 23), who observed: "Similarly,
in Mark, after Jesus himself, the next most admirable characters
are the disciples. When the earliest evangelist portrays them
negatively, he does so to contrast their vices with the virtues
of their Lord, especially his capacity for suffering. Although
the Twelve may be ciphers for an objectionable theology, they
surely are foils for a heroic christology that exalts the
suffering protagonist at the expense of his inept associates."
If MacDonald is correct in observing that the negative portrayal
of the disciple plays a positive role in exalting Jesus by
comparison, then isn't the common criterion of increasing
reverence of the disciples a reversible and, hence, an unreliable
indicator of Markan priority?
Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
"Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35