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Dating of GMark

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  • Brian Trafford
    I would like to offer this essay as a summation of my reasons for reassessing the commonly accepted (and even assumed) dating of the Gospel of Mark. In my
    Message 1 of 4 , Nov 29, 2001
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      I would like to offer this essay as a summation of my reasons for
      reassessing the commonly accepted (and even assumed) dating of the
      Gospel of Mark. In my view, and as I will argue below, the date of
      c. 70CE for this Gospel is almost certainly too late, and at the very
      least, it should not be viewed as more than the absolute uppermost in
      a date range that should be between the years 55 and 70CE.

      1) The Olivet Discourse (Mark 13:1-36/Matthew 24:1-51/Luke 21:5-36)

      Mark 13:1-2 As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said
      to him, "Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent
      buildings!" "Do you see all these great buildings?" replied
      Jesus. "Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be
      thrown down."

      A lot of the debate surrounding the dating of the Synoptics hinges
      around whether or not Jesus could have made this prophecy so long
      before the events that led to the actual destruction of Jerusalem and
      the Temple in the Jewish War 66-70CE. After all, Palestine and Judaea
      were relatively peaceful up to Jesus' time, so a prediction of the
      destruction of Herod's Temple, if made in the late 20's-early 30's
      would appear to be pretty spectacular. For this reason, the majority
      of scholars argue that Jesus did not make this prophecy, and that it
      was a later addition by Mark, when it became obvious that the Jewish
      revolt would be put down by the Romans, and in traditional Roman
      style, Jerusalem would be leveled, so Mark was not really going out
      on a limb in making this forecast, even if he did make it at the
      beginning of the War (66CE).

      There is a serious problem with this argument however, and one that
      leaves those arguing for this relatively late date in a bit of a
      dilemma. If we assume that it was the author that added this prophecy
      later on (when it was relatively safe to do this), why did he also
      then add the other parts of the prophecy that clearly had not
      happened (and have still not happened) by the late 1st Century. Worse
      yet, why would Matthew and Luke put them into their works, especially
      if these prophecies would embarrass Christians, and possibly expose
      Jesus to the charge of false prophecy? Given the explicit nature of
      the prophecies, and the clear fact that they had not been fulfilled
      during the period in question (mid to late 1st Century), how likely
      is it that a pure invention would be put in the Gospels and
      attributed to Jesus himself?

      Let's look at the prophecies:

      (a) Major wars would break out (Mark 13:8), with "nations rising
      against nation". The Jewish War was quite regional in nature, and
      certainly did not bring on any kind of world wide conflagration
      (especially by the 80's, when it would have been obvious to Luke and
      Matthew that the Jewish rebellion was going to have no long lasting
      impact beyond Palestine itself).
      (b) The Gospel must be preached to all nations first (v. 10). None of
      the Evangelists could have believed that all of the nations of the
      world had heard the Gospel even by 80-100CE.
      (c) In verse 14 we are told of the `abomination that causes
      desolation' standing where it does not belong". In the words of
      Donald Guthrie, "the key item in the internal evidence is the
      reference in Mark 13:14 to the `abomination that causes
      desolation.' . . . If it be admitted that Jesus himself predicted the
      event, Mark 13:14 would cease to be a crux . . . The phrase used to
      describe the event is of such vagueness . . . that it is even more
      reasonable to assume that it belongs to a time well before the actual
      happenings." (D. Guthrie, _New Testament Introduction_, pg. 86-87.) I
      am aware that some speculate that Mark is thinking about the Roman
      desecration of the Temple in 70, but I think it is far more likely
      that he is referring specifically to the apocalyptic language found
      in Daniel 9:27. Whether this reference originates with Jesus, or
      with Mark, one can hardly use it as a means to date Mark to a post 70
      time frame.
      (d) Finally, we have a cataclysmic prophecy of the end of the world
      found in verses 19-26. If Mark is endorsing such a prophecy, it makes
      very little sense to assume that Mark invented it himself, then
      attributed it to Jesus, especially since it had not come true even by
      the late dates of 80-100 commonly ascribed to Luke and Matthew. It
      seems much more likely that he believed that Jesus had said it
      himself. And if Jesus said these prophecies, then why would he not
      have also said the others? And if Jesus did say these prophecies,
      then the reasoning used from verses 1-2 to give Mark a date of
      66-70 collapses.

      That said, the argument that Mark would have used these images of
      suffering and destruction in the late 60's because of the
      persecutions by Nero after the great fire in 64 has some merit. After
      all, this was the first great mass persecution directed specifically
      at Christians, and it was taking place in the heart of the Empire, at
      what Christians were already coming to see as the "Whore of Babylon".
      Apocalyptic beliefs and literature abounded at this time as well,
      both in the Christian and Jewish communities. And if Mark was written
      in Rome at this time, then perhaps we have our answer as to why Mark
      would record such warnings, and attribute them to Jesus. For Oxford
      New Testament Studies Professor R. Griffith-Jones, this is the most
      compelling argument both for Mark's authorship taking place in Rome,
      and for the tone of his Gospel to be so bleak and apocalyptic. In his
      words, the Great Fire of 64 was "Mark's Crucible… [W]hen fear was in
      the air, when troops were searching the streets and Tigellinus was
      hungry for culprits, how many Christians sought safety for their
      families and themselves with names of old opponents and long-
      resented "apostates"? It is no coincidence that Mark's Jesus warns
      his pupils, "And brother will betray brother to death, and father his
      son, and children will rise up against their parents and kill them.
      And you shall be hated by all on account of my name." (Mark 13.12-
      13). (Robin Griffith-Jones, _The Four Witnesses_, pg. 63)

      The problem, of course, is that these persecutions were a distant
      memory to Luke and Matthew, if they wrote in the early 80's (or even
      later as others have suggested). Why would they keep these messages
      in their own Gospels, especially as they made little effort to soften
      them or offer alternative explanations for them? This question is
      especially troublesome if they did not believe that they came from
      Jesus himself. Griffith-Jones never tells us what he thinks on these
      questions, nor, to my knowledge, do any other scholars that subscribe
      to the late dating of Mark, and believe that the Olivet Discourse was
      a Marcan invention. But if one is going to posit the prophecies as
      Marcan inventions, then a plausible explanation needs to be offered
      as to why he would attribute these words to Jesus when they had
      clearly NOT been fulfilled. By contrast, acceptance that the
      prophecy did come from Jesus explains very well why it was included
      in all three of the Synoptics.

      This is why I am more inclined to side with scholars like Michael
      Grant, who argues that it is very probable that these prophecies came
      from Jesus himself. To Grant, the coming of the Kingdom of God was
      THE central message of Jesus' ministry, and the case he builds is
      quite convincing (see Michael Grant, _Jesus_, pgs. 7-29). "...every
      thought and saying of Jesus was directed towards subordinated to one
      single thing, …the realization of the Kingdom of God." (Grant,
      _Jesus_, pg. 10). To Grant the ideas of Jesus flowed naturally from
      the apocalyptic worldview of other Jews, like those at Qumran. "And
      he (Jesus), like the people of Qumran, was convinced that this
      expected end of the world was going to come a very soon… on occasions
      he explicitly declared that the Kingdom of Heaven has `come near'
      (engiken)", (Ibid. pg. 18-19 and citing Mark 13:20). In fact, for
      Grant it was the fact that these prophecies did not come to pass that
      proved that Jesus' ministry failed, and he was mistaken in his belief
      that the end of the world was at hand. "When the evangelists
      attribute the same view (that the world was about to end) to Jesus we
      must believe them since they would not have included a forecast which
      remained unfulfilled unless it had been a part of an authentic,
      ineradicable tradition." (Ibid. pg. 19).

      Now Grant is an historian, and setting aside the theological
      implications of his above stated argument, the implications of his
      argument for dating the Synoptics is very clear. If Jesus himself
      spoke the Olivet Discourse, then Mark can be literally dated to
      ANYTIME after the death of Jesus. At the very least, the argument
      that the Olivet Discourse was a Marcan invention should be thrown
      out, and with it the assumption that it had to have been created when
      Jerusalem's fall was certain in the aftermath of the Jewish War 66-70.

      Finally, it need hardly be said that if Mark had little reason to use
      this prophecy of Jesus, except to tie it in with the suffering of the
      Christians in Rome c. 65-69CE, then Matthew and Luke, supposedly
      writing much later, would have even less reason. Grant goes so far as
      to postulate that the Evangelists may have actually softened Jesus
      message regarding the coming of the Kingdom of God (though,
      interestingly, not the Olivet Discourse itself) out of embarrassment
      that it had not yet occurred! Grant was not interested in the debate
      of the dating of the Gospels (in fact, he appears to accept that the
      Gospels are post 70CE creations), but if we are to take his argument
      seriously (and I see no reason not to) that Jesus himself was the
      source of the prophecies of the Olivet Discourse, then a lot of
      assumptions about dating Mark are going to have to be discarded.

      2) Using Nero's Persecutions (65-68CE)

      We have already seen Griffith-Jones use the argument that Nero's
      persecution of the Christians in Rome served as a perfect backdrop
      for Mark's Gospel. William Lane, in his book, _The Gospel of Mark_
      tells us that "the production of the Gospel of Mark must have an
      effective cause." (Lane, Mark, pg. 17), and while this is true, why
      MUST it be Nero's persecutions? Without a doubt, the persecutions of
      65-69 would have made Mark's message especially meaningful to his
      Christian community, but that can hardly be used as the best reason
      to date Mark to the late 60's (or later). After all, how often do we
      see people from one period of time drawing comfort and wisdom from
      past writings? Just because Mark's message would have had a great
      deal of meaning to the Roman Christians of this time does not mean
      that it was written specifically for them, or to them.

      We can assume that Christians had very likely already suffered at
      least one earlier persecution, albeit with their Jewish fellows under
      the emperor Claudius, when he expelled them in 49. We also know from
      the writings of Tacitus, that many already considered them to
      be "notoriously depraved Christians (as they were popularly
      called) . . ." (Tacitus, _Annals_ 15.44), thus confirming that
      Christians were being persecuted even before 64. Finally, we must not
      forget that in 62, James, the "brother of Jesus" had already been
      killed by stoning, and the early persecution of Christians in which
      Saul of Tarsus played a role was also underway. All of this began as
      early as the mid to late 30's. Thus, I would argue that using any
      specific persecution as a means by which to date the Gospels is
      highly suspect, and almost certainly question begging.

      3) Peter as Mark's Source

      Since even by the most conservative estimates, Mark could be dated to
      as late as 66, it is not inconceivable to imagine that Peter (who
      died c. 65-67) could have been at least one of Mark's sources.
      Certainly the external evidence (found in Papias) supports such a
      belief, and given Peter's obvious high status within the early
      Church, it is very plausible to see him as the main source of one (or
      more) of our earliest Gospels.

      But this probability only makes more complex the task of fixing a
      firm date for Mark's Gospel. The reality of persecutions in Rome were
      hardly needed to give Peter reason to talk about such things in any
      Gospel he might influence. From Dr. D.B. Wallace,

      "if Mark truly derived his gospel in large measure from Peter, then
      the tone of eschatological urgency should hardly be surprising,
      regardless of when this gospel was written. In Peter's Pentecost
      address, the core of the message may be viewed as essentially that of
      eschatological urgency (Acts 2:14-39; cf. especially his use of Joel
      2); in his first epistle, too, there is such a tone (1 Peter 1:5, 11,
      13, 20; 2:12; 4:5, 7, 12-19; 5:4); and especially in 2 Peter do we
      see this (2 Peter 3:1-13). It would hardly be an overstatement in
      fact to speak of Peter as belonging to an apocalyptic-type of
      Christianity since the twin themes of suffering and eschatological
      urgency go hand in glove throughout his sermons and letters,
      stretching from 33 CE to 65 CE. Yet, if Peter wrote the two letters
      that bear his name, he must have done so before the Jewish War began.
      Thus what may first appear as a difficulty for a mid-50s date for
      Mark turns out to be very much for this view, provided that Peter
      stands behind the gospel."

      4) Simon, Father of Alexander and Rufus

      Perhaps the most compelling internal evidence for a probable early
      dating (c. 50-55CE) for Mark comes from his mentioning of "Simon (of
      Cyrene), the father of Alexander and Rufus" (Mark 15:21). As others
      have noted (including in Mark Goodacre's excellent essay on history
      scripturized), there is no theological motive for mentioning either
      Simon, nor that he was the father of two other unknowns. The most
      reasonable assumption remains that Alexander and Rufus were known to
      the readers of Mark's Gospel. This makes the document no later than
      second generation amongst early Christians, meaning within 20 to 30
      years of the events being described. Clearly it remains a
      possibility that the brothers are much older (as would be necessary
      if Mark is written 40+ years after Jesus' death), but it is certainly
      not a given. I think the very casualness of this citation of two
      minor figures within the Church argues powerfully for an early dating
      of Mark's Gospel.

      Concluding remarks

      To me the arguments for a late 60's dating of Mark are not
      overwhelming. I recognize that the majority scholarly opinion has
      come down on this conclusion, including a good number of scholars I
      respect a great deal. But I do not find their arguments very
      compelling. The Olivet Discourse, often cited as the strongest
      argument for a late dating of ALL of the Gospels could, very well
      have come from Jesus himself, virtually eliminating its value in
      dating the Gospels at all!

      On this basis, I have concluded that while it is not certain that
      Mark was written in the mid-50's to early 60's, I do not think that
      this possibility can be discounted. At a minimum, the commonly given
      assumption that ALL of the Gospels are almost certainly post 70AD
      creations should be rejected. The evidence is far from conclusive,
      and, at most, we should broaden the probable range of dates for this
      particular Gospel to c. 55-70CE.

      Be well,

      Brian Trafford
    • Brian Trafford by way of Bob Schacht
      Hello Ted Thank you for the response. ... Yes it does, and this is exactly my point. As Grant and others argue, the most plausible explanation for why Mark and
      Message 2 of 4 , Dec 4, 2001
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        Hello Ted

        Thank you for the response.

        --- In crosstalk2@y..., "Ted Weeden" <weedent@e...> wrote:

        > If the prophecies originated with Jesus, and those prophecies by
        > the time of writing of Mark, as you propose, had not been fulfilled,
        > does that not still subject Jesus "to the charge of false prophecy."

        Yes it does, and this is exactly my point. As Grant and others
        argue, the most plausible explanation for why Mark and the
        evangelists would carefully preserve embarrassing details of what
        Jesus said and did is because they were too deeply ingrained in the
        Christian memory for them to remove them. On this basis, the sayings
        go back to Jesus himself, and the usefulness of using the Olivet
        Discourse to date the Synoptics disappears.

        > I have difficulty seeing how Jesus is any less subject "to the
        > charge of false prophecy" if the prophecies originated with him than
        > he is if the prophecies have been falsely ascribed to him.

        Jesus would remain subject to a charge of giving false prophecies in
        both scenarios. Under the theory of those that say Mark invented
        this prophecy, he is needlessly ascribing an embarrassing non-
        fulfilled prophecy to the man he considers to be the Messiah. That
        is highly unlikely, and the simpler and more plausible explanation
        is that Jesus did offer these sayings himself, and the community
        already knew about them.

        > With regard to whether Jesus would have uttered
        > such prophecies to begin with, I, with many other Jesus scholars,
        > do not think that the historical Jesus was an apocalyptist and,
        > therefore, I do not consider the apocalyptic sayings attributed to
        > him to be authentic..

        I understand what you are saying here, and have heard this argument advanced
        before (by Crossan for example) but the Synoptics clearly portray Jesus as
        an apocalyptist. On cannot simply say Jesus was not an apocalyptist, so the
        sayings that make him an apocalyptist are not historical. In my opinion such
        reasoning is circular.

        > Much pure invention is put into the Gospels and attributed to
        > Jesus. Most Jesus scholars today recognize that a number of the
        > sayings attributed to Jesus are "pure invention" of his followers
        > post facto.

        While some of the things in the Gospels may or may not be "pure inventions",
        we should evaluate each saying in its context,
        and make determinations one by one. To give an example, George Washington
        wrote in a letter that his troops were "naked and starving" at Valley Forge,
        when, in truth, they were simply out of ammunition. From this we need not
        accept that everything in all of his letters were pure invention. In the
        case of the Olivet Discourse we should examine the sayings, and attempt to
        determine the likelihood that Mark would invent them, and then ascribe them
        to Jesus when they had not come to pass. And if we then wish to use such
        sayings to date the Synoptics, we must also keep in mind occasions where
        authors like Mark may be drawing from earlier well known apocalyptic
        traditions, like Daniel and Zechariah. If Mark used such sources (as we know
        is likely, given his use of Hebrew Scripture throughout his Gospel), then
        requiring a late as opposed to earlier dating is unwarranted.

        > Classic examples
        > of such pure invention, to name some among many of them in the
        > Gospels, in my view, are the discourse of Jesus in John 13-16 and
        > the prayer in John 17.

        I would argue that one should not use a case of possible invention in John
        to justify belief
        in invention in Mark on totally different sayings. For example, it would not
        be correct for me to argue that George Washington never said or did "X"
        because in another story about him he never cut down a cherry tree.

        > Mark is not the first early Christian given to hyperbole. Mark and
        > other Christians at the time the Roman-Jewish War must have felt
        > like their whole world was either at war or threatened with war
        > (see below on my location of the Markan community). Likewise with
        > respect to the evangelization of the world, I consider this again
        > to be Markan hyperbole.

        In my view such a conclusion begs the question. The Christians
        could very well have felt like this at *any* time, so trying to say
        that the Jewish War *had* to be the image in the mind of Mark and the
        other evangelists is not necessarily the case. From Acts we can see that
        Peter's speeches contain a great many apocalyptic visions and ideas. As
        Wallace pointed out, if Peter and other disciples were apocalyptists from the
        beginning of their ministry (a possibility we cannot dismiss,
        especially given Paul's own apocalyptic tendencies, and we have no
        evidence of conflict on this point in the early Church), then we
        cannot use the presence of apocalyptic visions or even hyperbole as an
        argument in order to ascribe a late date to Mark or any of the other Synoptics.

        I wrote:
        > > c) In verse 14 we are told of the `abomination that causes
        > > desolation' standing where it does not belong"... but I think it
        > > is far more likely
        > > that he is referring specifically to the apocalyptic language
        > > found in Daniel 9:27. Whether this reference originates with
        > > Jesus, or with Mark, one can hardly use it as a means to date
        > > Mark to a post 70 time frame.

        > My response:
        > Are you familiar with Joel Marcus' article, "The Jewish War and the
        > *Sitz im Leben* of Mark" (_JBL_, 1992: 441-462) and his
        > interpretation of 13:14 and its historical allusion to the
        > occupation of the Temple by Eleazer and other Zealots during the
        > winter 67-68 CE, and also the links between Josephus' account of
        > the time and Mark 13? I think that Marcus' scenario fits well
        > with the struggle that the Markan community is facing as a result
        > of the Roman-Jewish War, and I recommend it to you for your
        > consideration.

        I am unfamiliar with this work, but this does not really address my
        argument. It is a fact that Mark uses Hebrew
        Scripture more than once in his Gospel. For example, we know for
        that the saying "son of man" is found in Daniel 7:11, and given its
        theological connotation, may well
        have inspired Mark's (and/or even Jesus' own) use of the term. More
        importantly, the saying "abomination that causes desolation" is found verbatim
        in the apocalyptic writings of Daniel 9:27. It is very reasonable to
        assume that Mark is quoting from this specific source, just as he
        quotes from Psalm 22 in Jesus' death cry for example.

        > As Mahlon Smith has suggested in a post-response to your argument
        > for a Roman provenance for the Gospel, I find little convincing
        > support for Mark being written at Rome (see below on Peter as
        > source for Mark), and have argued instead for the Markan community
        > being located in the village area of Caesarea Philippi (see my
        > Xtalk essay of 2/29/00 in the XTalk archives, "Guidelines for
        > Locating the Markan Community,"

        I agree that Mark may or may not have been written in Rome, but my argument
        not depend on such a scenario. And Peter may or may not have stood behind
        the Gospel. But in my argument, I do not accept the persecution of
        Christians by Nero as a *necessary*
        causal factor in Mark's Gospel, and that was my reason for bringing
        in rejecting this argument (offered primarily by Griffith-Jones). Quite
        location of writing can, at best, have only a peripheral impact on
        any debate on dates of the gospels in any case.

        > Caesarea Philippi had a significant observant Jewish ghetto, which
        > could have been the source of some of the tension between the Markan
        > Christians and the Jewish ghetto.It also helps account in part for
        > the anti-Judean position, as well as anti-Temple position, which
        > Mark takes.

        Since I do not accept that Mark is anti-Judean (or at least anti-
        Semitic, assuming you mean the same thing by this), then I do not see
        the relevance of this argument at all.

        > I also would argue that the Jerusalem church fled to Caesarea
        >Philippi as the Roman assault on Jerusalem appeared imminent. The
        >admonition to flee to the mountains in Mk. 13: 14, in my opinion is a
        >historical allusion to these Judean Christians who fled to the
        >mountainous region

        And I would argue that it is more plausible that Mark is alluding to
        Isaiah 17:13 or Zechariah 14:5 where we have similar images of
        disaster and fleeing to the mountains. Remember, with apocalyptic
        literature we need not look for literalism to find the meaning behind
        the text. More often than not, the author wants to draw the readers
        attention to other, earlier, well known and respected visions that
        are similar in nature. If these are found in Hebrew Scripture (as is
        the case with Isaiah and Zechariah), then its appeal to the author
        and reader alike is greatly enhanced.

        > Given Mark's vendetta against Peter and the Twelve, as I have
        > articulated in my _Mark-Traditions in Conflict_, I find it
        > inconceivable that Peter is a source for Mark. Unless Peter is in
        > to assassination of his own character, I do not see how it is
        > possible that Peter could be the source of the negative profile
        > Mark gives him, a profile that Matthew and Luke try
        > assiduously to correct..

        First off, I would reject the hypothesis that Mark had a vendetta going
        against Peter and the Twelve.
        Quite simply, it is not uncommon for a person to say that they were foolish
        in the past, but now have "seen the light" literally or figuratively. Paul
        did this himself in his
        own letters (1 Cor. 15:9 among others)! If Peter were offering his own
        recollections for Mark to record, there is no reason to reject the idea that
        he may have seen that time as being one in which he was quite foolish in
        many ways.

        In any event, I see this as a side issue to that of dating GMark, as my
        belief in an early dating for Mark does not depend on Petrine authority, nor
        even that Peter was a source for GMark. That said, if you wish to argue this
        point, I would be happy to do so in a new thread.

        > > 4) Simon, Father of Alexander and Rufus

        > I am agreement with Mahlon's position that, while one cannot prove
        > or disprove the historicity of the Simon of Cyrene, Alexander and
        > Rufus (Mk. 15:21), I think they may well be literary inventions of
        > Mark, much the same as Judas (as I have argued in several essays on
        > XTalk and still plan one to answer critiques of my position) and
        > Barabbas and others likely were.

        >From my own point of view I do not see that Judas was an invention, nor,
        even if he was, would I see
        this as having any bearing on the question of Simon's historicity. In the
        case of the Twelve, they clearly were
        legendary, and the arguments that any one of them was not historical can be
        made on that basis. Additionally the theological motivations for including
        the Barabbas story are obvious (release of the guilty so that the innocent
        might die in his place for example), and can be used to question his
        historicity. But in the neither the case of Simon of Cyrene, nor of
        his sons in particular, do any such legendary or theological elements exist.
        In fact, the criteria of embarrassment could be cited, as John appears to
        eliminate references to him because of
        the embarrassment his presence causes. On the basis of this possible
        embarrassment, coupled with the off handed nature with which Mark tells us
        of this man and his sons, I think that we can be confident that Simon,
        Alexander and Rufus were historical. Finally, the finding of the unusual
        Jewish name, "Alexander, son of Simon", in a tomb near Jerusalem becomes one
        more piece of evidence that adds to the credibility of this hypothesis.

        > By the way in a study of the frequency or lack of frequency of
        > names in the time of Jesus, Margaret Williams, in her
        > essay, "Palestinian Jewish Personal Names in Acts," in _The Book of
        > Acts in Its Palestinian Setting_, finds that "Simon" is "[a]
        > perennial favourite with Jews, especially those in Greek-speaking
        > areas...and the commonest male name by far in 1st-century
        > Palestine."

        Yes, I am aware of this, and the name Simon is, in fact, very common
        in the NT as well. I have never disputed this point.

        > And she notes with respect to "Alexander " (ALEZANDROS), a
        > Greek name (contra your statement that it is a Roman name in your
        > 12/3 post),

        You are correct. My apologies. Alexander is, indeed Greek, and as
        you note, Rufus is Roman. You help to make my actual point below

        > that it was not a name commonly used "among 1st-century Jews despite
        > its earlier popularity there in aristocratic circles. Most of the
        > (1st-century) individuals of the name mentioned by Josephus belong
        > to the royal family and all but one of those occuring on the
        > Jerusalem ossuaries came from the Diaspora" [She cites Avigad and
        > Sukenik ("Jewish Tomb") at this point]. She goes on to say: "In
        > the Diaspora, its [the name "Alexander " ] fortunes were mixed.
        > Egypt and Cyrene there is only a scattering of cases and in Greece
        > and Asia Minor not many at any time" (96f.). Josephus mentions
        > four men with the name "Rufus," none of them Jews:, namely, a Roman
        > calvary commander, a consul, an Egyptian who is a soldier in the
        > Roman army, and the Roman procurator of Judea
        > (12-15 CE).

        Agreed, and this, in my view, strengthens the argument for the
        historicity of the names Alexander and Rufus found in Mark. In the
        ossuary we have a known "Alexander, son of Simon" dating from the 1st
        Century, and *if* such a name was not common, then it is more
        probable that the tomb is that of the man mentioned in Mark. As
        Mahlon argues, it is the rarity of the name Panthera that leads him to
        believe it is likely to be the same person referred to in the anti-
        Christian propaganda. On this basis, the rarity of the name
        Alexander, son of Simon in Jewish circles would make it more
        probable that the man in the tomb and the one in the Gospel are the
        same person.

        > I may have missed it, but what is the date given for the ossuary?
        > I am assuming first century CE, given your position.

        Just an FYI, but I did not raise this argument originally, Richard
        and Bob did, but given your arguments, and Mahlon's, I would say that
        we can be more confident that Mark is talking about the man buried in
        the tomb outside Jerusalem. For example, your belief that Mark was written
        near Jerusalem would strengthen this argument. Personally I am
        agnostic as to where Mark wrote his Gospel, but I accept that his
        audience certainly included non-Jews.

        > Thank you for stimulating our thinking with your essay.

        You're welcome Ted. And thank you for your response.

        Be well,

        Brian Trafford
        Calgary, AB, Canada
      • David C. Hindley
        ... found verbatim in the apocalyptic writings of Daniel 9:27. It is very reasonable to assume that Mark is quoting from this specific source, just as he
        Message 3 of 4 , Dec 4, 2001
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          Brian Trafford says:

          >>More importantly, the saying "abomination that causes desolation" is
          found verbatim in the apocalyptic writings of Daniel 9:27. It is very
          reasonable to assume that Mark is quoting from this specific source,
          just as he quotes from Psalm 22 in Jesus' death cry for example.<<

          Those words are also used together in Dan 11:31 and 12:11. Why not
          have the author of Mark draw upon these passages?

          Even then, 1 Maccabees 6:7 speaks of tearing down the abomination
          which Antiochus erected upon the alter, and 4:38 speaks of the temple
          being desolate. 1 Macc is, of course, either interpreting Dan 9, 11 &
          12 or drawing from the same well of symbols, but could not also the
          author of Mark have derived his phrases from 1 Macc?


          Dave Hindley
          Cleveland, Ohio, USA
        • Brian Trafford
          ... Hello David I am not ruling out the possibility that Mark was thinking of any one of these specific verses when he wrote the Olivet Discourse, though I
          Message 4 of 4 , Dec 4, 2001
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            --- In crosstalk2@y..., "David C. Hindley" <dhindley@c...> wrote:

            > Those words are also used together in Dan 11:31 and 12:11. Why not
            > have the author of Mark draw upon these passages?
            > Even then, 1 Maccabees 6:7 speaks of tearing down the abomination
            > which Antiochus erected upon the alter, and 4:38 speaks of the
            > temple being desolate. 1 Macc is, of course, either interpreting
            > Dan 9, 11 & 12 or drawing from the same well of symbols, but could
            > not also the author of Mark have derived his phrases from 1 Macc?

            Hello David

            I am not ruling out the possibility that Mark was thinking of any one
            of these specific verses when he wrote the Olivet Discourse, though I
            think given the context of the prophecies, my own belief is that Mark
            would be more likely to draw from Daniel than from 1 Macc (see the
            clear reference found in Mark 13:26 and Daniel 7:13, and referenced
            again later in Mark 14:62 at Jesus' trial). The point remains that
            Mark had this earlier tradition, dating from the 2nd Century BCE to
            draw upon, and on this basis, we should not be using these sayings to
            date Mark later, rather than earlier.

            Thanks for your imput David.

            Be well,

            Brian Trafford,
            Calgary, AB, Canada
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