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The Pre-Markan Passion Narrative

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  • Peter Kirby
    Hello, I have completed a little project that gives a color-coded version of the pre-Markan passion narrative based on the data compiled by Marion L. Soards in
    Message 1 of 7 , Oct 9, 2001
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      Hello,

      I have completed a little project that gives a color-coded version of the
      pre-Markan passion narrative based on the data compiled by Marion L. Soards
      in _The Death of the Messiah_, vol. 2.

      Here it is:

      http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/passion-young.html

      Comments are welcome.

      One suggested use for this is to read through the red and pink verses to
      get a feel for a typical reconstruction of a pre-Markan passion narrative.

      best,
      Peter Kirby
      http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/
    • Bob Schacht
      ... Peter, Thanks for this very interesting compilation. First, a few general comments: 1. Determining authenticity by voting is a notorious procedure that
      Message 2 of 7 , Oct 13, 2001
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        At 12:48 AM 10/9/01 -0700, Peter Kirby wrote:
        >Hello,
        >
        >I have completed a little project that gives a color-coded version of the
        >pre-Markan passion narrative based on the data compiled by Marion L.
        >Soards in _The Death of the Messiah_, vol. 2.
        >
        >Here it is:
        >
        ><http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/passion-young.html>http://www.earlyc
        >hristianwritings.com/passion-young.html
        >
        >Comments are welcome.
        >
        >One suggested use for this is to read through the red and pink verses to
        >get a feel for a typical reconstruction of a pre-Markan passion narrative.
        >
        >best,
        >Peter Kirby
        ><http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/>http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/


        Peter,
        Thanks for this very interesting compilation.
        First, a few general comments:
        1. Determining authenticity by voting is a notorious procedure that depends
        significantly on who is voting. The presumption of the Jesus Seminar
        tabulations, and yours, is that in the aggregate, the panel of voters
        represents a "broad cross-section" of opinion. If I remember correctly, the
        complaint often offered by conservative scholarship about the Jesus Seminar
        is that its membership included only token representation from conservative
        scholarship, and that therefore the collective judgment of the Jesus
        Seminar was perceived to have a "liberal" bias, whatever that might mean.
        My point here is not to comment on the Jesus Seminar, but only to wonder
        what kind of sample the 34 scholars represented in your (or rather Soards')
        tabulations is.

        2. Your coding scheme is based on the number of scholars believing each
        verse to be "authentic" or partially "authentic." Do you mean "historical"?
        or what? Or as your title implies, do you merely mean authentic =
        pre-Markan source? You later qualify this to mean relative authenticity.

        3. I note in passing that your choice of Mark bypasses non-Markan parallels
        between Matthew and Luke that are generally not considered to be part of Q
        either. Not that there is much in this category, e.g. Appearance to the
        Eleven (Matt 28:16-20//Luke 24:36-49)

        4. I also note in passing that your tabulation does not attempt to
        differentiate sayings, deeds and narrative as separate categories. In some
        ways this makes an interesting counterpoint to the Jesus Seminar, which
        worked on the sayings first, and then the deeds separately.

        5. I also note in passing that you seem to have made the tacit assumption
        either that GJohn has no pre-Markan PN source, or that whatever source it
        might have had is not relevant to the present discussion.

        The "Passion Narrative," in this selection, may be outlined as follows. At
        the end of each line, I insert the number of Red, Pink, Gray, and Black
        verses in your tabulation in brackets.
        1. Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-42 and parallels in Matthew &
        Luke) [0R,2P,4G,5B]
        2. Arrest (Mark 14:43-52//M,L and John
        18:1-12) [6R,4P,0G,0B]
        3. Appearance before the High Priest (Mark 14:53-54//M,L & John
        18:13-18) [1R,1P,0G,0B]
        4. Appearance before the Council (Mark 14:55-65//M,L & John
        18:19-24) [0R,0P,2G,9B]
        5. Peter's Denial (Mark 14:66-72//M,L & John 18:15-18,
        25-27) [0R,0P,4G,3B]
        6. Appearance before Pilate (Mark 15:1-15//M,L, John 18:28-19:16 & Peter
        1:1-2)[3R,8P,3G,1B]
        7. Mocking (Mark 15:16-20//M, John 19:1-3, Peter
        3:1-4) [1R,3P,1G,0B]
        8. Simon of Cyrene (Mark 15:21//Matt 27:32//Luke
        23:26-32) [1R,0P,0G,0B]
        9. Crucifixion (Mark 15:22-32//M,L; John 19:17-24; Peter
        4:1-5) [6R,2P,2G,1B]
        10. Death (Mark 15:33-41//M,L; John 19:25-37; Peter
        5:1-6) [2R,2P,1G,4B]
        11. Burial (Mark 15:42-47//M,L; John 19:38-42; Peter 2:1-5; 6:1-4; Acts
        13:29) [0R,0P,2G,4B]

        The strongest consensus is for authenticity of Jesus' arrest and appearance
        before the High Priest. But an unexpected strong consensus backs the
        authenticity of the brief notice of Simon of Cyrene, found only in the
        synoptics. The appearance before Pilate, and the Crucifixion are also
        strongly supported, although a few verses within these units have little
        support. Interestingly, Mark's account of the Death of Jesus seemed to
        these sources to be only about half right, and Mark's Burial account is
        regarded as unlikely, despite its widespread attestation. The pericopes
        with the widest attestation (all synoptics + John + GPeter) are unevenly
        supported, with the authenticity of some (e.g. Appearance before Pilate)
        highly supported, and others (e.g. Burial) not supported at all.

        Bob



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Peter Kirby
        ... I think that Soards attempted to include all scholars who had published writings that included data on which particular verses in Mark might go back to a
        Message 3 of 7 , Oct 14, 2001
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          At 11:43 PM 10/13/01 -0700, you wrote:

          >Peter,
          >Thanks for this very interesting compilation.
          >First, a few general comments:
          >1. Determining authenticity by voting is a notorious procedure that depends
          >significantly on who is voting. The presumption of the Jesus Seminar
          >tabulations, and yours, is that in the aggregate, the panel of voters
          >represents a "broad cross-section" of opinion. If I remember correctly, the
          >complaint often offered by conservative scholarship about the Jesus Seminar
          >is that its membership included only token representation from conservative
          >scholarship, and that therefore the collective judgment of the Jesus
          >Seminar was perceived to have a "liberal" bias, whatever that might mean.
          >My point here is not to comment on the Jesus Seminar, but only to wonder
          >what kind of sample the 34 scholars represented in your (or rather Soards')
          >tabulations is.

          I think that Soards attempted to include all scholars who had published
          writings that included data on which particular verses in Mark might go
          back to a pre-Markan passion narrative. These scholars could be liberal or
          conservative. Their main distinguishing feature is that these scholars
          accept that there was a pre-Markan passion narrative and that its outline
          can be determined; these are assumptions that are not shared by all scholars.

          >2. Your coding scheme is based on the number of scholars believing each
          >verse to be "authentic" or partially "authentic." Do you mean "historical"?
          >or what? Or as your title implies, do you merely mean authentic =
          >pre-Markan source? You later qualify this to mean relative authenticity.

          Authentic means that it belongs to the pre-Markan passion narrative. It is
          not a synonym for historical. It also does not include material assigned
          to a second source that may have been used by the author of Mark.

          >3. I note in passing that your choice of Mark bypasses non-Markan parallels
          >between Matthew and Luke that are generally not considered to be part of Q
          >either. Not that there is much in this category, e.g. Appearance to the
          >Eleven (Matt 28:16-20//Luke 24:36-49)

          Consideration of this material would require the hypothesis that Matthew
          and Luke knew the pre-Markan passion narrative.

          >4. I also note in passing that your tabulation does not attempt to
          >differentiate sayings, deeds and narrative as separate categories. In some
          >ways this makes an interesting counterpoint to the Jesus Seminar, which
          >worked on the sayings first, and then the deeds separately.

          It does not quite do this, as the concern is not the historical veracity
          but the "authenticity to the pre-Markan passion narrative." While perhaps
          material in the PN has a better chance of being historical, the two cannot
          be equated.

          >5. I also note in passing that you seem to have made the tacit assumption
          >either that GJohn has no pre-Markan PN source, or that whatever source it
          >might have had is not relevant to the present discussion.

          Yes, this is a good point. Scholars like Koester believe that John also
          used the same PN. Unfortunately, I do not have a good source of data for
          opinions on the source behind John's passion narrative.

          >The "Passion Narrative," in this selection, may be outlined as follows. At
          >the end of each line, I insert the number of Red, Pink, Gray, and Black
          >verses in your tabulation in brackets.
          >1. Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-42 and parallels in Matthew &
          >Luke) [0R,2P,4G,5B]
          >2. Arrest (Mark 14:43-52//M,L and John
          >18:1-12) [6R,4P,0G,0B]
          >3. Appearance before the High Priest (Mark 14:53-54//M,L & John
          >18:13-18) [1R,1P,0G,0B]
          >4. Appearance before the Council (Mark 14:55-65//M,L & John
          >18:19-24) [0R,0P,2G,9B]
          >5. Peter's Denial (Mark 14:66-72//M,L & John 18:15-18,
          >25-27) [0R,0P,4G,3B]
          >6. Appearance before Pilate (Mark 15:1-15//M,L, John 18:28-19:16 & Peter
          >1:1-2)[3R,8P,3G,1B]
          >7. Mocking (Mark 15:16-20//M, John 19:1-3, Peter
          >3:1-4) [1R,3P,1G,0B]
          >8. Simon of Cyrene (Mark 15:21//Matt 27:32//Luke
          >23:26-32) [1R,0P,0G,0B]
          >9. Crucifixion (Mark 15:22-32//M,L; John 19:17-24; Peter
          >4:1-5) [6R,2P,2G,1B]
          >10. Death (Mark 15:33-41//M,L; John 19:25-37; Peter
          >5:1-6) [2R,2P,1G,4B]
          >11. Burial (Mark 15:42-47//M,L; John 19:38-42; Peter 2:1-5; 6:1-4; Acts
          >13:29) [0R,0P,2G,4B]
          >
          >The strongest consensus is for authenticity of Jesus' arrest and appearance
          >before the High Priest. But an unexpected strong consensus backs the
          >authenticity of the brief notice of Simon of Cyrene, found only in the
          >synoptics. The appearance before Pilate, and the Crucifixion are also
          >strongly supported, although a few verses within these units have little
          >support. Interestingly, Mark's account of the Death of Jesus seemed to
          >these sources to be only about half right, and Mark's Burial account is
          >regarded as unlikely, despite its widespread attestation. The pericopes
          >with the widest attestation (all synoptics + John + GPeter) are unevenly
          >supported, with the authenticity of some (e.g. Appearance before Pilate)
          >highly supported, and others (e.g. Burial) not supported at all.

          Thank you for this overview. The only comment that I would reiterate is
          that the "authenticity" that is being color-coded is not whether an item is
          historical but rather merely whether it is part of a pre-Markan passion
          narrative.

          best,
          Peter Kirby
          http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/
        • Bob Schacht
          ... Thanks for this explanation. ... Thanks for this clarification. ... [quotes snipped] ... Thanks for these clarifications. At present, I am not sure how to
          Message 4 of 7 , Oct 14, 2001
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            At 07:21 AM 10/14/01 -0700, you wrote:
            >At 11:43 PM 10/13/01 -0700, you wrote:
            >
            >I think that Soards attempted to include all scholars who had published
            >writings that included data on which particular verses in Mark might go
            >back to a pre-Markan passion narrative. These scholars could be liberal
            >or conservative. Their main distinguishing feature is that these scholars
            >accept that there was a pre-Markan passion narrative and that its outline
            >can be determined; these are assumptions that are not shared by all scholars.

            Thanks for this explanation.

            >Authentic means that it belongs to the pre-Markan passion narrative. It
            >is not a synonym for historical. It also does not include material
            >assigned to a second source that may have been used by the author of Mark.

            Thanks for this clarification.

            >... the concern is not the historical veracity but the "authenticity to
            >the pre-Markan passion narrative." While perhaps material in the PN has a
            >better chance of being historical, the two cannot be equated.

            [quotes snipped]

            >Thank you for this overview. The only comment that I would reiterate is
            >that the "authenticity" that is being color-coded is not whether an item
            >is historical but rather merely whether it is part of a pre-Markan passion
            >narrative.

            Thanks for these clarifications. At present, I am not sure how to
            distinguish between some authentic pre-Markan passion narrative and what is
            historical. If I knew what kind of editorial tendencies the pMPN had, for
            example, then it would be easier for me to see the difference.

            Lacking such insights, what interests me at the moment is to compare Funk &
            Hoover's attempts to summarize the Jesus Seminar's judgments in T5G and AJ,
            with the consensus of your tabulations. As you point out, to some extent
            this is like comparing apples and oranges, but making the attempt interests
            me. Besides, it might cast some light on the difference between the history
            and the pMPN.

            First, we cannot simply compare "redness" of each verse, because the
            systems used are different in important detail. For example, the JSem's
            tabulation was based on each scholar's vote on a four point scale (red,
            pink, gray, black), and then a numerical calculation of averages, etc. But
            your tabulation appears to be based on a bivalent assessment of each
            scholar. In essence, it looks like you counted, with respect to each verse,
            whether the scholar would have voted red or pink on it. Then, for each
            verse, you counted the number of scholars implicitly voting red or pink.
            Then you made your color coding based on the number of scholars voting red
            or pink, right? (Leaving aside for the moment whether they were voting red
            or pink on historicity, or authenticity in the pMPN). Your scaling of the
            colors follows a different distribution than the JSem votes, as well, but
            as you note a relative ranking of authenticity can be perceived.

            So, here goes.

            1. The historical core of the pMPN
            * Arrest (Mark 14:43-52//M,L and John 18:1-12) [6R,4P,0G,0B] This
            pericope is fundamental to the pMPN; The Jesus seminar rated parts of vss.
            46, 50 as Pink, but only the barest facts: 46 And they laid hands on him
            and seized him.... 50 And they all forsook him, and fled. Kirby's ratings
            of these two passages are both Red (25, 22 votes).
            * Appearance before the High Priest (Mark 14:53-54//M,L & John
            18:13-18) [1R,1P,0G,0B] Another solid part of the pMPN according to Kirby's
            ratings, the Jesus seminar rated the beginning of vs. 53 Pink: 53 And they
            led Jesus to the high priest... Kirby's rating for this verse: Red (24).
            * Appearance before Pilate (Mark 15:1-15//M,L, John 18:28-19:16 &
            Peter 1:1-2)[3R,8P,3G,1B] Kirby rates the bookends for this pericope as
            Pink (19) for the first verse and Red (21) for vs. 15. The Jesus Seminar
            rated parts of the first verse Pink: RSV Mark 15:1 [And as soon as it was
            morning] the chief priests, [with the elders and scribes, and the whole
            council held a consultation]; and they bound Jesus and led him away and
            delivered him to Pilate. The first phrase in brackets is rated Gray, and
            the second bracketed phrase is rated Black. The unbracketed parts are Pink.
            The Jesus seminar rated vs. 15b RED: having scourged Jesus, he delivered
            him to be crucified.
            * Crucifixion (Mark 15:22-32//M,L; John 19:17-24; Peter 4:1-5)
            [6R,2P,2G,1B]. The Jesus seminar rated vs. 24a RED: 24 And they crucified
            him... Kirby rates this verse Red (26), the highest Red rating in the whole
            Markan PN.
            Next, we get an oddity: The Jesus Seminar rates Mark 15:40-41 Pink, but it
            only gets Black in Kirby's survey:
            40 There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary
            Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome,
            41 who, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered to him; and
            also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.
            According to Funk's summary in AJ p. 158,
            "The only item in the Markan account of Jesus' death that has any claim to
            historical veracity is the presence of women followers at his execution...."
            So here we have an oddity, if we accept both surveys: an historical item
            that was not part of the pre-Markan PN!

            2. The non-historical core of the pMPN
            If the comparison above stands, then we are in a position to see what the
            non-historical portion of the pMPN is, and thereby possibly what spin the
            pMPN puts on the historical core.

            Bob


            Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
            Northern Arizona University
            Flagstaff, AZ


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Sakari Hakkinen
            Bob, It looks like you have not understood the difference between Kirby s survey and the results of Jesus Seminar s voting processes. Jesus Seminar was
            Message 5 of 7 , Oct 14, 2001
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              Bob,
              It looks like you have not understood the difference between Kirby's survey
              and the results of Jesus Seminar's voting processes. Jesus Seminar was
              searching for authentic Jesus (=historicity), Kirby is searching for
              something that could be called the pre-Markan Passion Narrative. In this
              Narrative the authenticity means the voice of authentic composer of the
              Narrative. It would be more useful to compare it with the search for the
              original Q or any of the original texts of NT writings.

              However, you made an excellent remark: "If I knew what kind of editorial
              tendencies the pMPN had..". As far as I know several tendencies have been
              recognized in the pMPN. First, it is largely based on Scriptures, especially
              the Psalms. The composer used more LXX than historical data of the last week
              of the life of HJ. Only some bare facts are considered as historical - just
              like you noticed in JS reports. Secondly, the composer wanted to build "a
              martyr legend". He already lived in a community of Christians that
              interpreted Jesus' death as martyr death. He took the task to write the
              whole martyr narrative down. Thirdly, in the pMPN the role of the Romans in
              the crucifixion might have been bigger than in the later Gospels, which seem
              to blame Jews on everything. This feature seems to me to be historical. As I
              am not an expert on this area, perhaps someone will continue the list of the
              "editorial tendencies" of the pMPN.

              I know there are some scholars who do not think that the pMPN was a written
              document at all - or at least not originally. They argue for the oral
              transmission, that could be compared to some other heroic death stories that
              were delivered (especially be women!) as poetry and lamentation.
              Unfortunately I am not able to name such scholars, but if I recall right
              Crossan wrote something on this in the Birth of Christianity. I would vote
              for the literal origin, but the close connection to Psalms fits well also
              for oral transmission. However, if the pMPN was not written it would be
              useless to present anything Peter Kirby has done, because in that case there
              would not have been one original (authentic) narrative. The similarities
              between the Gospel of Peter and the canonical Passion Narratives, as
              expressed by, for example Koester, point to the literal dependancy on one
              pMPN.

              All the best,

              Dr. Sakari Hakkinen
              Diocesan secretary
              Diocese of Kuopio, Finland
              sakari.hakkinen@...



              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Bob Schacht
              ... You are correct regarding my post of October 13, but Peter quickly straightened me out on that score. I think you are alluding to my October 14 statement,
              Message 6 of 7 , Oct 17, 2001
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                At 09:20 AM 10/15/01 +0300, =?US-ASCII?Q?Sakari_Hakkinen?= wrote:
                >Bob,
                >It looks like you have not understood the difference between Kirby's
                >survey and the results of Jesus Seminar's voting processes. Jesus Seminar
                >was searching for authentic Jesus (=historicity), Kirby is searching for
                >something that could be called the pre-Markan Passion Narrative. In this
                >Narrative the authenticity means the voice of authentic composer of the
                >Narrative. ...

                You are correct regarding my post of October 13, but Peter quickly
                straightened me out on that score. I think you are alluding to my October
                14 statement, "At present, I am not sure how to distinguish between some
                authentic pre-Markan passion narrative and what is historical." I wrote
                that sentence before getting into the subsequent analysis, which clarified
                matters for me.

                >However, you made an excellent remark: "If I knew what kind of editorial
                >tendencies the pMPN had..". As far as I know several tendencies have been
                >recognized in the pMPN. First, it is largely based on Scriptures,
                >especially the Psalms. The composer used more LXX than historical data of
                >the last week of the life of HJ. Only some bare facts are considered as
                >historical - just like you noticed in JS reports.

                Thanks for reminding me about the scriptural background. The point of my
                comparison of the work of the Jesus Seminar and Kirby's summary of the pMPN
                was to show that the pMPN was not based solely on scriptural models, but
                had a historical core. I still think it is quite interesting that the JSem,
                according to Funk in AJ, decided that Mark 15:40-41 was historically based,
                but most of the pMPN theorists do not consider it part of the pMPN. If
                Kirby's tabulation and the JSem according to Funk are both correct, then
                Mark must have had a source other than the pMPN for historical information.
                I am still interested in what others think: Should 15:40-41 be included in
                the pMPN? Or should the historical value of those verses be downgraded to
                gray rather than pink? Or did Mark draw upon two sources: one, the pMPN,
                and another that included vss. 40-41?

                The next issue is that characterized by Crossan as Prophecy Historicized vs
                History remembered, and brings us into that gray area where possibly
                historical events evoked memories of scriptural precedents, and the two
                become sufficiently interwoven to where it is difficult to tell where one
                leaves off and the other begins. Minimalists will want to promote the idea
                that such passages are based *only* on scriptural precedent; maximalists
                will promote the idea that such passages may be historical, and that the
                scriptural allusions are designed to aid in understanding the significance
                of the events.

                >... Thirdly, in the pMPN the role of the Romans in the crucifixion might
                >have been bigger than in the later Gospels, which seem to blame Jews on
                >everything. This feature seems to me to be historical. ...

                This is an interesting idea.

                >All the best,
                >
                >Dr. Sakari Hakkinen
                >Diocesan secretary
                >Diocese of Kuopio, Finland
                >sakari.hakkinen@...

                Thank you for your comments.
                Bob
                Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
                Northern Arizona University
                Flagstaff, AZ


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              • Jan Sammer
                I would like to make a few comments to Peter Kirby s reconstruction of the pre-Markan passion narrative in light of an analogous reconstruction that I have
                Message 7 of 7 , Nov 14, 2001
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                  I would like to make a few comments to Peter Kirby's reconstruction of the
                  pre-Markan passion narrative in light of an analogous reconstruction that I
                  have attempted following in the footsteps of the late Livio C. Stecchini.
                  The work in question, to which I have drawn attention on one or two previous
                  occasions in this forum, is entitled Nazarenus and is to be found at
                  www.nazarenus.com, the thesis being that prior to Mark's gospel there was in
                  circulation a passion play styled on an ancient drama, on which Mark and the
                  other gospel writers drew in compiling their narratives.

                  On the mentioned website I do not depart from Stecchini's thesis that the
                  author of the hypothesized play was Seneca. Even though I find the thesis
                  that the pre-Marcan narrative had the form of a drama persuasive, I am
                  increasingly convinced that its author could not have been Seneca, and I
                  intend to develop this thesis separately. In any case, taking the
                  reconstructed play as a starting point, it is interesting to note that
                  Peter's reconstruction starts at the same place as the hypothetical
                  Nazarenus play, with the agony in the garden. In terms of the play, the
                  agony serves as the Prologue to the play, the arrival of the chorus being
                  identified as the arrival of the Temple guard. The major difference is the
                  ending. The play as reconstructed had five acts, plus the mentioned
                  prologue. As said, the Prologue would correspond to the agony in the garden,
                  with the arrival of the chorus (the Temple guard) marking the inception of
                  the first act. Act One would correspond to the hearing before the Temple
                  authorities, Act Two to the trial before Pilate, Act Three to the
                  Crucifixion, Act Four to the Burial and Act Five to the Resurrection.

                  And here is the main point I would like to raise in this message. Would the
                  pre-Markan passion narrative omit the resurrection which was the foundation
                  stone of the Christian faith, as the letters of Paul, presumably
                  contemporary with this narrative, indicate? In terms of the postulated play
                  Act Five, or Resurrection is an integral and necessary part of it and in
                  some ways reflects Act One, as explained on the mentioned website. (Acts II,
                  III and IV require the background of a palace, common in ancient plays,
                  whereas a country scene is indicated as the background in Acts I and V). My
                  question for Peter would be if he can detect any literary structure to his
                  reconstruction of the pre-Markan narrative and if such a structure is
                  compatible with the omission of any allusion to the resurrection.

                  Jan

                  Jan Sammer
                  sammer@...
                  Prague, Czech Republic
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