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Re: [XTalk] Dating of GMark

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  • Brian Trafford
    ... I would like to cover off this point first. Michael had previously said: The use of known or other legendary characters/events/objects/sites to lend a
    Message 1 of 28 , Dec 1, 2001
      --- In crosstalk2@y..., "Michael A. Turton" <turton@e...> wrote:

      > The issue isn't whether such characters had status in all Christian
      > communities, or were legendary or real. Those are red herrings.

      I would like to cover off this point first.

      Michael had previously said:
      "The use of known or other legendary characters/events/objects/sites
      to lend a tale verisimilitude is common one throughout legendary
      fiction from antiquity down to the present day."

      Clearly he is telling us that Alexander and Rufus fit into the mold
      of "legendary characters", yet he has no evidence at all that they
      are legendary. In fact, the scanty evidence we have on these
      individuals (found entirely in Mark 13:21) is that they are not
      legendary. Therefore his speculation is unfounded, and the most
      plausible conclusion is that the brothers are incidental figures
      inteded to help the reader identify who Simone of Cyrene happens to
      be.

      > The point is that your dating depends on Simon and sons being real
      > people taking part in actual events, whereas it is just as likely
      > that Mark has borrowed character(s) known to other Christians, and
      > inserted them in his own tale. Creative writers do things like that.

      Again you have committed a basic fallacy here. Using your criteria
      we might as well reject any report offered by any writer at any time
      about anything. What has what other writers done got to do with what
      Mark has actually done here? Michael's hyper scepticism is
      unwarrented, and would lead to doubting all historical reports about
      everything.

      I said:
      > > Such a scenario would be more likely if we knew of other 1st
      Century instances in which Alexander and Rufus are featured. Since
      they are not found anywhere else, we have no reason to suspect that
      they held any kind of special meaning to the readers, beyond the
      possibility that they were members of the community.

      Micheal replied:
      > If we had a copious amount of documents from the first century, you
      > might have an argument here. All we know is that two characters
      > occur in a passing mention in Mark's gospel.

      Actually, this is my point exactly Michael. Given the casual nature
      of their names being mentioned, we have no reason to speculate that
      they are more than minor, but known figures within the communtity to
      which Mark is writing.

      > Maybe they are historical figures, maybe they are names from a
      > common pool of Christian legends/stories.

      Until you offer evidence of such a thing (something you admit does
      not exist), then you are merely reaching to justify your scepticism.

      > Maybe they are two friends of Mark who he wants to make famous.

      This would be ridiculous of course. Given that all we are told is
      their names, and the name of their father, we have no reason to
      suppose he is merely trying to "make them famous".

      I said:
      > > While this is an interesting theory, it does not serve to help
      date the Gospel of Mark, which is the purpose of my essay. Further,
      if you wish to theorize a conflict with gnosticism, it is necessary to
      offer at least some evidence that such a conflict existed, and that
      Mark would have been aware of it.

      You replied:
      > Actually, it would place Mark somewhat later than the early date you
      > keep trying to pin on him.

      What is missing here is evidence that such a conflict existed, and
      that Mark was aware of it. As this is what I asked from you, do you
      have such evidence?

      Later you said:
      > > > You ask, in another context: how likely is it that a pure
      invention would be put in the Gospels and attributed to Jesus himself?
      The answer is, of course: 100% likely. If Mark's account that Simon
      carried the cross is true, that means that John's story that Jesus
      carried it himself is false.

      I responded:
      > > Are you saying that it is 100% likely that Mark invented his
      entire story? That strikes me as extreme, even for a sceptic.

      > I didn't say that. What I said was, it is 100% likely that writers
      > invented/borrowed stories/events/sayings and attributed them to
      > Jesus.

      And this is yet another misrepresentation of what I said. To recap:

      From my post of http://groups.yahoo.com/group/crosstalk2/message/8572
      I had said:
      "Given the explicit nature of the prophecies (or the Olivet
      Discourse), 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?"

      Michael replied:
      "You ask, in another context: how likely is it that a pure invention
      would be put in the Gospels and attributed to Jesus himself?
      The answer is, of course: 100% likely."

      I was talking about a specific instance. In other words, how likely
      is it that Mark would have attributed a prophecy to Jesus that had
      not yet been fulfilled? You tried to reword my statement, then
      answered the straw man. Please answer my original question.

      > We know this as a fact from the other gospels, canonical and not. I
      > also said both the version in Mark and the version in John cannot be
      > true.

      And this is a red herring. Concerning the question being discussed,
      it makes no difference if John is true or not. At most you are trying
      to build an argument from silence, when you have not established why
      John would have had to mention Simon, let alone Alexander or Rufus.
      Such an argument is inherently fallacious. We are examining a
      possible dating of GMark, and thus far you have not answered my
      questions, addressed my points, nor offered evidence of your own to
      support an alternative dating.

      > Perhaps. But it certainly relates to the "evidence" you put forth.
      > You claimed that the "most compelling" piece of evidence for an
      > early Mark is the Simon of Cyrene story.

      And this is yet another mistatement. I said, specifically, that Mark
      15:21 was "perhaps the most compelling piece of internal evidence" as
      to the dating of GMark. I went on to explain how this makes it no
      later than a 2nd generation story taking place probably within 20 to
      30 years of the described events. Please do not straw man my
      arguments, and address the points directly.

      > If this chain of assumptions you have about Mark, his audience, the
      > historicity of Rufus and Alexander, and the historicity of Mark is
      > your strongest argument for an early Mark......

      My argument has been that the commonly accepted dating of Mark to c.
      70CE is at best, an upper limit on a date range that could well be 15
      to 20 years earlier than this. Finally, I would remind you that I am
      not assuming the historicity of Alexander and Rufus, but that
      historicity does appear more probable than not. Speculation in the
      absense of any supporting evidence does not change this probability.

      I would appreciate it if, in the future, you addressed my arguments
      directly Michael, and not try to reframe them. This would make
      discussion both simpler, and more productive.

      Thank you,

      Brian Trafford
    • Michael A. Turton
      ... There are at least three plausible conclusions about these characters: 1) they are historical characters that Mark is properly citing (both clauses must
      Message 2 of 28 , Dec 1, 2001
        > Clearly he is telling us that Alexander and Rufus fit into the mold
        > of "legendary characters", yet he has no evidence at all that they
        > are legendary. In fact, the scanty evidence we have on these
        > individuals (found entirely in Mark 13:21) is that they are not
        > legendary. Therefore his speculation is unfounded, and the most
        > plausible conclusion is that the brothers are incidental figures
        > inteded to help the reader identify who Simone of Cyrene happens to
        > be.
        >

        There are at least three plausible conclusions about these characters:

        1) they are historical characters that Mark is properly citing (both
        clauses must obtain for Brian's claim about them to be plausible).

        2) they are characters, perhaps in the common/local pool of Christian
        legend Mark borrowed to lend his story truthfulness (or some variation
        on the borrowing/inventing theme).

        3) they are later interpolations, not in the Gospel of Mark that Matt
        and Luke used, which is why they don't mention Rufus and Alexander.

        There are other logical possibilities. Given the evidence we have,
        there is no way to choose between them. It is simply too scanty.

        > And this is a red herring. Concerning the question being discussed,
        > it makes no difference if John is true or not. At most you are trying

        The question being discussed is whether Simon of Cyrene is a historical
        character! If he is a historical character and Mark is properly using
        him, why isn't he in John? You bet this basic contradiction is relevant
        to the discussion at hand. Which account is the correct account, and how
        can you choose between them?

        Some commentators argue that Simon cannot be historical because Mark
        says he was "coming in from the fields/country" and a Jew would not be
        working on a high holy day. How do you respond to that?

        Michael
        --
      • Richard Anderson
        Brian and Michael et al., greetings: Clearly he is telling us that Alexander and Rufus fit into the mold of ... About 40 years ago N. Avigad wrote an article
        Message 3 of 28 , Dec 1, 2001
          Brian and Michael et al., greetings:

          Clearly he is telling us that Alexander >and Rufus fit into the mold of
          >"legendary characters", yet he has no >evidence at all that they are
          >legendary.

          About 40 years ago N. Avigad wrote an article about a depository of
          inscribed ossuaries found in the Kidron Valley in the Israel Exploration
          Journal wherein he stated that the members of this family belonged to the
          community of Cyrenian Jews known to have existed in Jerusalem. One of the
          inscribed ossuaries stated Alexander, son of Simon and Avigad indicated that
          J.T. Milik had proposed that the tomb in question belonged to the family of
          the man who helped Jesus carry the cross.

          I think it is fair to say that these individuals are not legendary
          characters but real historical figures who inscribed ossuaries provide
          documentary evidence.

          Richard H. Anderson
          Wallingford PA
          http://www.geocities.com/gospelofluke

          I am unfortunately a customer of Comcast with internet connection thur
          Excite.com, a subcontractor of Comcast who filed bankruptcy. I apologize in
          advance if my service is disconnected and your reply to me is bounced.
        • Brian Trafford
          ... Hello Richard, and thank you very much for this information. I am unfamiliar with this article, and was unaware of its existence. I did manage to find a
          Message 4 of 28 , Dec 1, 2001
            --- In crosstalk2@y..., "Richard Anderson" <randerson58@h...> wrote:

            > About 40 years ago N. Avigad wrote an article about a depository of
            > inscribed ossuaries found in the Kidron Valley in the Israel
            > Exploration Journal wherein he stated that the members of this
            > family belonged to the community of Cyrenian Jews known to have
            > existed in Jerusalem. One of the inscribed ossuaries stated
            > Alexander, son of Simon and Avigad indicated that J.T. Milik had
            > proposed that the tomb in question belonged to the family of
            > the man who helped Jesus carry the cross.
            >
            > I think it is fair to say that these individuals are not legendary
            > characters but real historical figures who inscribed ossuaries
            > provide documentary evidence.
            --------------------------------------------

            Hello Richard, and thank you very much for this information. I am
            unfamiliar with this article, and was unaware of its existence. I
            did manage to find a brief reference to the paper in Raymond Brown's
            _Death of the Messiah_, Vol. 2, pg. 916, n. 12. Brown refers the
            reader to a German book by R. Pesche called _Markus_, but I do not
            read German. I would, of course, be very interested in any additional
            information on the characters Simon, or his sons.

            Thank you again,

            Brian Trafford
            Calgary, AB, Canada
          • Michael A. Turton
            ... Simon and Alexander were common names at the time. We can t even say for certain that Simon came from that community of Cyrenian Jews, much less that he is
            Message 5 of 28 , Dec 2, 2001
              >
              > About 40 years ago N. Avigad wrote an article about a depository of
              > inscribed ossuaries found in the Kidron Valley in the Israel Exploration
              > Journal wherein he stated that the members of this family belonged to the
              > community of Cyrenian Jews known to have existed in Jerusalem. One of the
              > inscribed ossuaries stated Alexander, son of Simon and Avigad indicated that
              > J.T. Milik had proposed that the tomb in question belonged to the family of
              > the man who helped Jesus carry the cross.
              >
              > I think it is fair to say that these individuals are not legendary
              > characters but real historical figures who inscribed ossuaries provide
              > documentary evidence.
              >

              Simon and Alexander were common names at the time. We can't even say for
              certain that Simon came from that community of Cyrenian Jews, much less
              that he is the Simon on that particular ossuarie. The evidence is simply
              too thin to serve as a foundation for moving the date of Mark.

              After all, there is a grave of Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera out there
              too, but nobody seriously believes it is the tomb of the father of
              Jesus.

              Michael
              --
              http://users2.ev1.net/~turton/Main_index.html
              "In this time of war against Osama bin Laden and the oppressive Taliban
              regime, we are thankful that our leader isn't the spoiled son of a
              powerful politician from a wealthy oil family who is supported by
              religious fundamentalists, operates through clandestine organizations,
              has no respect for the democratic process, bombs innocents, and uses war
              to deny people their civil liberties. Amen."
              from Boondocks by Aaron McGruder
            • Mahlon H. Smith
              ... that ... of ... Thanks for the notice, Richard. But I can accept your conclusion only with an important qualifier. The ossuaries reported by Avigad may be
              Message 6 of 28 , Dec 2, 2001
                Richard Anderson wrote:

                > About 40 years ago N. Avigad wrote an article about a depository of
                > inscribed ossuaries found in the Kidron Valley in the Israel Exploration
                > Journal wherein he stated that the members of this family belonged to the
                > community of Cyrenian Jews known to have existed in Jerusalem. One of the
                > inscribed ossuaries stated Alexander, son of Simon and Avigad indicated
                that
                > J.T. Milik had proposed that the tomb in question belonged to the family
                of
                > the man who helped Jesus carry the cross.
                >
                > I think it is fair to say that these individuals are not legendary
                > characters but real historical figures who inscribed ossuaries provide
                > documentary evidence.

                Thanks for the notice, Richard. But I can accept your conclusion only with
                an important qualifier. The ossuaries reported by Avigad may be taken as
                evidence that *an* individual named Alexander ben Shim'on actually lived &
                was known among Cyrenian Jews in the vicinity of Jerusalem. I would not go
                so far as to call him a "real historical figure" since we know absolutely
                nothing about anything he himself said or did to influence subsequent
                history. As far as historical documentation is concerned all we have is one
                enigmatic reference in Mark 15:21 to a deed done by "Simon of Cyrene" who
                *may* have been the same person as the *father* of the Alexander whose
                bones were found in the Jerusalem ossuary. But Shim'on was not so uncommon a
                Jewish name that there was only one among the community of Cyrenian Jews.
                Nor was Alexander so rare a name among the Hellenized Jews of North
                Africa -- I think immediately of Philo's renegade nephew Tiberius
                Alexander -- that there could only have been one Alexander ben Shim'on among
                Cyrenian Jews. So it is still a leap of faith to identify the names on the
                ossuaries (which obviously belonged to real people) with those "individuals"
                who are alluded to by Mark. So the evidence of the ossuaries in no way
                documents the actual existence of "these individuals" -- i.e., those
                mentioned in Mark's text. Much less does it indicate that the Markan claim
                that a Simon of Cyrene was coopted to carry Jesus cross for him reflects an
                actual historical event rather than a legend fabricated by unfounded rumor
                or the pious imagination.

                Permit me to illustrate this point by reference to two other figures whom
                the gospels represent as having a far more significant role in the Passion
                narrative: Caiaphas & Pontius Pilate, both of whom are rightly identified as
                "historical" persons since (a) they are prominently mentioned not only in Xn
                but Jewish sources & (b) we have archaeological evidence of their existence
                & prominence (in the form of Yosef Kayafa's ossuary & the Pilate inscription
                at Caesarea). Here only the most dogmatic skeptic would deny that the
                persons reported by the gospels to have played a prominent role in the
                execution of Jesus were historical individuals. Yet that does not
                demonstrate that anything the gospels report about Caiaphas or Pilate was
                historically well-founded other than their official status. On the
                contrary, all the gospels demonstrate a primitive Xn penchant for reporting
                things about both men for which there is no identifiable Xn eye-witness &
                portraying Pilate as treating Jesus in a manner that is virtually impossible
                to reconcile with either Josephus' description of the man or the fact of
                Jesus' crucifixion. If the original author of the passion narrative could so
                freely fictionalize his account of figures who were so publicly notorious
                among Palestinian Jews & if these fictionalized caricatures could be so
                readily elaborated on by subsequent gospel writers. Why should one not think
                that the same sort of unhistorical imagination was at work in portraying the
                figures who play lesser roles in the PN (e.g., Simon of Cyrene & Joseph of
                Arimathea)?

                Thus, the most one can say with relative historical certainty is that the
                Alexander & Rufus mentioned *seem* to be individuals Mark expects his
                intended readers would have heard of. But how, where, etc. is all a matter
                of conjecture, since Mark does not even claim that the father Simon was a
                resident of the area around Jerusalem. *If* the Alexander referred to by
                Mark is the same individual whose bones were recovered in the Kidron valley,
                then we might be justified in concluding that Mark was originally drafted
                for an audience familiar with residents of the Jerusalem area (a conclusion
                which those who read my debate with Ted Weeden last year regarding the
                provenance of Mark might recall I tend to favor). But unfortunately, there
                is no way to demonstrate the historicity of Mark's off-handed association of
                this Alexander with the figure whom the PN credits with carrying Jesus'
                cross (a alleged deed that I find difficult to accept as historical for a
                variety of reasons). Thus, I would still contend that the Markan story of
                Simon of Cyrene is more legend than history.

                Shalom!

                Mahlon


                Mahlon H. Smith
                Department of Religion
                Rutgers University
                New Brunswick NJ 08901

                http://religion.rutgers.edu/mh_smith.html

                Synoptic Gospels Primer
                http://religion.rutgers.edu/nt/primer/

                Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
                http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/
                ----- Original Message -----
                From: "Richard Anderson" <randerson58@...>
                To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
                Sent: Saturday, December 01, 2001 9:02 PM
                Subject: RE: [XTalk] Dating of GMark


                > Brian and Michael et al., greetings:
                >
                > Clearly he is telling us that Alexander >and Rufus fit into the mold of
                > >"legendary characters", yet he has no >evidence at all that they are
                > >legendary.
                >
                > About 40 years ago N. Avigad wrote an article about a depository of
                > inscribed ossuaries found in the Kidron Valley in the Israel Exploration
                > Journal wherein he stated that the members of this family belonged to the
                > community of Cyrenian Jews known to have existed in Jerusalem. One of the
                > inscribed ossuaries stated Alexander, son of Simon and Avigad indicated
                that
                > J.T. Milik had proposed that the tomb in question belonged to the family
                of
                > the man who helped Jesus carry the cross.
                >
                > I think it is fair to say that these individuals are not legendary
                > characters but real historical figures who inscribed ossuaries provide
                > documentary evidence.
                >
                > Richard H. Anderson
                > Wallingford PA
                > http://www.geocities.com/gospelofluke
                >
                > I am unfortunately a customer of Comcast with internet connection thur
                > Excite.com, a subcontractor of Comcast who filed bankruptcy. I apologize
                in
                > advance if my service is disconnected and your reply to me is bounced.
                >
                >
                >
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              • Richard Anderson
                ... I think the point that J.T. Milik made was although both Simon and Alexander were common names in 1st century Palestine, the perplexing similarity of these
                Message 7 of 28 , Dec 2, 2001
                  Mahlon, greetings:

                  >So it is still a leap of faith to >>identify the names on the ossuaries
                  >(which obviously belonged to real >people) with those "individuals"
                  >who are alluded to by Mark. So the >evidence of the ossuaries in no way
                  >documents the actual existence of >"these individuals" -- i.e., those
                  >mentioned in Mark's text.

                  I think the point that J.T. Milik made was although both Simon and Alexander
                  were common names in 1st century Palestine, the perplexing similarity of
                  these names with those on the ossuary was more than mere coincidence. Yes
                  you can name other individuals with the name Alexander but can you point to
                  another Alexander in the Cyrenian Jewish community who was the son of Simon.

                  Richard H. Anderson
                  Wallingford PA
                  http://www.geocities.com/gospelofluke

                  I am unfortunately a customer of Comcast with internet connection thur
                  Excite.com, a subcontractor of Comcast who filed bankruptcy. I apologize
                  in advance if my service is disconnected and your reply to me is bounced.
                • Richard Anderson
                  Mahlon, greetings: One point not made clear by my two earlier posts on the Avigad s article. The 11 ossuaries described by the article were all found within
                  Message 8 of 28 , Dec 2, 2001
                    Mahlon, greetings:

                    One point not made clear by my two earlier posts on the Avigad's article.
                    The 11 ossuaries described by the article were all found within one chamber.
                    Several of the ossuaries contained names which previously had only been
                    found in Cyrenaica. Avigad concluded this chamber contained the ossuaries
                    of related family members. It is this fact when considered in conjunction
                    with the inscription containing Alexander, son of Simon that led the
                    ultimate conclusion made by J.T. Milik.

                    Richard H. Anderson
                    Wallingford PA
                    http://www.geocities.com/gospelofluke

                    I am unfortunately a customer of Comcast with internet connection thru
                    Excite.com, a subcontractor of Comcast who filed bankruptcy. I apologize
                    in advance if my service is disconnected and your reply to me is bounced.
                  • rconte@voyager.net
                    Kindly forgive me, I m not a church historian by any means, but a manager of a branch of a temporary agency. According to _The Archaeology of the New
                    Message 9 of 28 , Dec 2, 2001
                      Kindly forgive me, I'm not a church historian by any means, but a manager of a branch of a temporary agency.

                      According to _The Archaeology of the New Testament_ by Jack Finegan, pps 361-363:

                      1. The tomb was found in 1941 by E. L. Sukenik and N. Avigad.
                      2. The tomb contained 11 ossuaries
                      3. All but two have inscriptions, eight in Greek, one in Hebrew, one in both Greek and Hebrew, the one in both languages, the inscription reads "Alexander son of Simon" (in Greek) and in Hebrew says "Alexander (of) Cyrene". There is also an ossuary (number 5) for "Sara (daughter) of Simon of Ptolemais." Finegan concludes that Sara and Alexander are the children of Simon of Cyrene. [I've greatly condensed the arguments, please don't criticise my condensation until you read the original!]
                      4. The conclusion Finegan writes is that "we have here a family burial at least to the extent of two children and a certain Simon, and their place of origin was probably Cyrene. From Acts 6:9 we know that there was a synagogue of Cyrenians in Jerusalem, and in Mk. 15:21 it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus, who was compelled to carry the cross of Jesus. It is surely a real possibility that this unostentatious tomb was the last resting place of the bones of at least two members of the family of this very Simon. That the members of the family became Jewish Christians is also a likelyhood, for Mark's reference to Alexander and Rufus suggests that they were well known in Christian circles."

                      The original is cited as N. Agigad, "A Depository of Inscribed Ossuaries in the Kidron Valley, in IEJ 12 (1962) pp. 1-12.

                      But why the reference in G of Mark and not the other Gospels? According to one theory, Mark wrote to Roman Christians. Mark describes Simon as the father of Alexander and Rufus, perhaps because this was the Rufus known to the Roman Christians, Ro 16:13 for whom he more especially wrote.

                      I find the evidence compelling that these bones are of the family mentioned in G of Mark, and hence his mention of them is similar to citing a reference to a famous person, a Jew from Cyrene in Jerusalem in the first century, and provides an anchor for the reader. Clearly these osuarries, even if they are as claimed, do not prove the passage in G of Mark is authentic, but in the absence of evidence to the contrary, they weigh heavily in that direction.


                      --- In crosstalk2@y..., "Richard Anderson" <randerson58@h...> wrote:
                      > About 40 years ago N. Avigad wrote an article about a depository of
                      > inscribed ossuaries found in the Kidron Valley in the Israel Exploration
                      > Journal wherein he stated that the members of this family belonged to the
                      > community of Cyrenian Jews known to have existed in Jerusalem. One of the
                      > inscribed ossuaries stated Alexander, son of Simon and Avigad indicated that
                      > J.T. Milik had proposed that the tomb in question belonged to the family of
                      > the man who helped Jesus carry the cross.
                      >
                      > I think it is fair to say that these individuals are not legendary
                      > characters but real historical figures who inscribed ossuaries provide
                      > documentary evidence.
                      >
                      > Richard H. Anderson
                      > Wallingford PA
                      > http://www.geocities.com/gospelofluke
                      >
                      > I am unfortunately a customer of Comcast with internet connection thur
                      > Excite.com, a subcontractor of Comcast who filed bankruptcy. I apologize in
                      > advance if my service is disconnected and your reply to me is bounced.
                    • Brian Trafford
                      First of all, thank you to those that have commented on the tomb of Simon and ALexander in Jerusalem. I would agree that it is not possible to say with any
                      Message 10 of 28 , Dec 3, 2001
                        First of all, thank you to those that have commented on the tomb of
                        Simon and ALexander in Jerusalem. I would agree that it is not
                        possible to say with any certainty that these are the same men
                        mentioned in Mark, but at the same time, given that Simon is
                        obviously a Jewish name, while Alexander (and Rufus) are clearly
                        Roman names, we need not assume that it was excessively common for a
                        Jewish father to name his sons accordingly. On this basis the weight
                        of the evidence increases on the side of claiming the two sources
                        speak of the same individuals, but the evidence is in no way
                        conclusive.

                        Now, about Michael's comments:

                        --- In crosstalk2@y..., "Michael A. Turton" <turton@e...> wrote:

                        > There are at least three plausible conclusions about these
                        characters:
                        {Snip}

                        Actually, there are virtually unlimited possibilities as to what
                        happened, and how these names came to appear in Mark's Gospel. But
                        as with all hypothesis, we tend to favour the simplest explanations,
                        unless the evidence tells us that this solution cannot be correct.
                        In this specific instance, accepting that Alexander and Rufus were
                        minor, but known characters in Mark's community strikes me as both
                        plausible, and simple. No elaborate and increasingly complex
                        theories need be advanced. On this basis, historicity is preferred to
                        non-historicity.

                        To use a mundane example, if we find a document with a few names
                        mentioned on it, we can always theorize ad infinitum as to whether or
                        not these people are real, or if they are using their real names, but
                        in the absense of actual evidence against their reality, the only
                        reason to reject this possibility is the need to be sceptical. This
                        is not good reasoning in my view.

                        Later I wrote:
                        > > And this is a red herring. Concerning the question being
                        discussed, it makes no difference if John is true or not. At most you
                        are trying

                        Michael replied:
                        > The question being discussed is whether Simon of Cyrene is a
                        > historical character! If he is a historical character and Mark is
                        > properly using him, why isn't he in John? You bet this basic
                        > contradiction is relevant to the discussion at hand.

                        Michael, your straight black and white question is not warranted
                        here. We do not know why John excluded Simon from his Gospel. Again
                        we can speculate, but we cannot, and should not, treat this argument
                        from John's silence as necessarily being a contradiction. Many, like
                        Raymond Brown, have speculated that it did not fit in with John's
                        theology to have someone else carry Jesus' cross, so he omitted this
                        detail. Given that Simon has no significance or role in any other NT
                        books, this is not a glaring omission on his part.

                        Remember that my arguments have never questioned the fact that the
                        evangelists, including Mark, had theological reasons for writing what
                        they did, and including the details they chose. The question here is
                        simply one of simplicity, probability and plausiblity. At the end of
                        the day, the most plausible, probable, and simplest explanation for
                        the inclusion of Simon and (especially his sons) in Mark's Gospel is
                        that Mark and his readers knew these people personally.

                        > Which account is the correct account, and how can you choose
                        between them?

                        Evaluating the evidence and using criteria is what historical inquiry
                        is all about. Using the criteria you have listed in your replies
                        would leave us knowing nothing about virtually anything in history.
                        This may be your preferred method, but it is hardly good historical
                        inquiry. After all, one can always be sceptical about anything. The
                        trick is to come up with a good hypothesis that accounts for the data
                        that we do happen to have.

                        Brian Trafford
                        Calgary, AB, Canada
                      • L. J. Swain
                        ... I don t want to appear to be defending the other thesis, but if Mark s CHRONOLOGY (not quite the same thing as his historicity) is correct then ALL the
                        Message 11 of 28 , Dec 3, 2001
                          "Michael A. Turton" wrote:

                          >
                          > Some commentators argue that Simon cannot be historical because Mark
                          > says he was "coming in from the fields/country" and a Jew would not be
                          > working on a high holy day. How do you respond to that?
                          >

                          I don't want to appear to be defending the other thesis, but if Mark's
                          CHRONOLOGY (not quite the same thing as his historicity) is correct then
                          ALL the Jews in Mark's account have violated the high holy day.

                          Larry Swain
                        • Brian Trafford
                          ... Mark s CHRONOLOGY (not quite the same thing as his historicity) is correct then ALL the Jews in Mark s account have violated the high holy day. ... Hello
                          Message 12 of 28 , Dec 3, 2001
                            --- In crosstalk2@y..., "L. J. Swain" <larry.swain@w...> wrote:

                            > I don't want to appear to be defending the other thesis, but if
                            Mark's CHRONOLOGY (not quite the same thing as his historicity) is
                            correct then ALL the Jews in Mark's account have violated the high
                            holy day.
                            >
                            > Larry Swain

                            Hello Larry

                            I did not answer this particular question because the text does not
                            say that Simon was working. All it says is that he was "coming in
                            from the field/country (agros)". From this we cannot assume that he
                            was breaking some Jewish law.

                            Brian Trafford
                            Calgary, AB, Canada
                          • Ted Weeden
                            ... My response: Apocalypticists are always predicting events with timetables which turn out to be an embarrassment when the timetables are not met. The Book
                            Message 13 of 28 , Dec 3, 2001
                              Brian Trafford wrote on Friday, November 30, 2001:

                              > 1) The Olivet Discourse (Mark 13:1-36/Matthew 24:1-51/Luke 21:5-36)
                              >
                              > Mark 13:1-2 [snipped]
                              > 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. [snipped]. [T]he 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?

                              My response:
                              Apocalypticists are always predicting events with timetables which turn out
                              to be an embarrassment when the timetables are not met. The Book of
                              Revelation, as in the case of the Synoptic little apocalypse, has always
                              been an embarrassment to Christians, particularly for those who have read it
                              literally, because the world still goes on, its prophecy of the end of the
                              world notwithstanding.

                              I am also puzzled by your suggestion that the creation of the prophecies
                              would have the effect of exposing "Jesus to the charge of false prophecy,"
                              only for you to state the following a few paragraphs later:
                              > (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 still later you state:
                              > 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.

                              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." 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. 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..

                              You go on to state:
                              > 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?

                              My response:
                              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. 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.

                              You proceed:
                              > 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
                              [snipped
                              > (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.

                              My response:
                              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.

                              > 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.

                              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. There
                              are points where I differ with Marcus (e. g., the issue of Davidic
                              messianism as it is related to Mark, as well as his location of the Markan
                              provenance, which I note below), but the basic scenario he suggests is
                              compelling.

                              > 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

                              My response;
                              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," See also Joel Marcus'
                              article in which he argues against a Roman provenance. Marcus argues
                              that the Mark community is located in a Hellenistic city and that Mark
                              wrote just before or after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE. I agree with
                              him that Mark with respect to the dating of Mark and that it is written in
                              the midst of a Hellenistic environment. He locates the Markan community
                              at Pella. I think, as I state in my essay, that the text itself gives
                              significant
                              clues that the author lives in the village region of Caesarea Philippi.
                              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.
                              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
                              (Mt. Hermon, etc.) of Caesarea Philippi to avoid the conflagration.

                              > 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.

                              My response:
                              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..

                              > 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).

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

                              Thank you for stimulating our thinking with your essay.

                              Ted Weeden
                            • Ted Weeden
                              ... My response: Apocalypticists are always predicting events with timetables which turn out to be an embarrassment when the timetables are not met. The Book
                              Message 14 of 28 , Dec 3, 2001
                                Brian Trafford wrote on Friday, November 30, 2001:

                                > 1) The Olivet Discourse (Mark 13:1-36/Matthew 24:1-51/Luke 21:5-36)
                                >
                                > Mark 13:1-2 [snipped]
                                > 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. [snipped]. [T]he 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?

                                My response:
                                Apocalypticists are always predicting events with timetables which turn out
                                to be an embarrassment when the timetables are not met. The Book of
                                Revelation, as in the case of the Synoptic little apocalypse, has always
                                been an embarrassment to Christians, particularly for those who have read it
                                literally, because the world still goes on, its prophecy of the end of the
                                world notwithstanding.

                                I am also puzzled by your suggestion that the creation of the prophecies
                                would have the effect of exposing "Jesus to the charge of false prophecy,"
                                only for you to state the following a few paragraphs later:
                                > (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 still later you state:
                                > 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.

                                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." 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. 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..

                                You go on to state:
                                > 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?

                                My response:
                                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. 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.

                                You proceed:
                                > 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
                                [snipped
                                > (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.

                                My response:
                                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.

                                > 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.

                                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. There
                                are points where I differ with Marcus (e. g., the issue of Davidic
                                messianism as it is related to Mark, as well as his location of the Markan
                                provenance, which I note below), but the basic scenario he suggests is
                                compelling.

                                > 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

                                My response;
                                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," See also Joel Marcus'
                                article in which he argues against a Roman provenance. Marcus argues
                                that the Mark community is located in a Hellenistic city and that Mark
                                wrote just before or after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE. I agree with
                                him that Mark with respect to the dating of Mark and that it is written in
                                the midst of a Hellenistic environment. He locates the Markan community
                                at Pella. I think, as I state in my essay, that the text itself gives
                                significant
                                clues that the author lives in the village region of Caesarea Philippi.
                                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.
                                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
                                (Mt. Hermon, etc.) of Caesarea Philippi to avoid the conflagration.

                                > 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.

                                My response:
                                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..

                                > 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).

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

                                Thank you for stimulating our thinking with your essay.

                                Ted Weeden
                              • Brian Trafford
                                Hello Ted Thank you for the response. ... the time of writing of Mark, as you propose, had not been fulfilled, does that not still subject Jesus to the
                                Message 15 of 28 , Dec 3, 2001
                                  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 explanaition 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 explanaition
                                  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..

                                  This is fine Ted, but the Synoptics clearly portray Jesus as an
                                  apocalytist. Your reasoning here is merely circular. You say Jesus
                                  was not an apocalyptist, so the sayings that make him an apocalyptist
                                  are not historical.

                                  > 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.

                                  Most scholars have believed a great many things that are simply false
                                  Ted. Therefore such an appeal to authority and concensus is not a
                                  legitimate argument. We should evaluate each saying in its context,
                                  and make determinations one by one. As you know, I can point to many
                                  scholars that agree with me, so this kind of argument will get us no
                                  where.

                                  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.

                                  Well, one can hardly use supposed invention in John to justify belief
                                  in invention in Mark on totally different sayings. I could just as
                                  easily say that George Washington never said or did "X" because he
                                  never cut down a cherry tree. I'm sure you can see the fallacy in
                                  such reasoning.

                                  > My response:
                                  > 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.

                                  But your conclusion here is merely question begging. 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 quite poor argumentation. You can argue that
                                  the apocalyptic visions found in Peter's statements in Acts are pure
                                  invention as well, but this is simply more speculation. As Wallace
                                  pointed out, if Peter and other disciples were apocalyptists from the
                                  beginning of their ministry (a posibility 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 your argument in order to ascribe a late date to Mark or
                                  any of the other Synoptics.

                                  > > 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. At the same time, I would not mind
                                  if you would actually address my own argument. Mark uses Hebrew
                                  Scripture more than once in his Gospel. This is a fact. We know for
                                  a fact that the saying "son of man" is found in Daniel, and may well
                                  have inspired Mark (and/or Jesus' own) use of the term. More
                                  importantly, the saying "abomination that causes desolation" is found
                                  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. I am puzzled
                                  as to why you dismiss such a possibility so readily.

                                  > 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,"

                                  This is interesting Ted, but as you will see from my own post, I do
                                  not depend on Mark being written in Rome to advance my argument.
                                  Peter may or may not have stood behind the Gospel, for example, but 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 this argument (largely based on Griffith-Jones). Quite frankly,
                                  location of writing can, at best, have only a peripheral impact on
                                  any debate on dates of the gospels in any case.

                                  {Snip}
                                  > 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. Further, it is your
                                  speculations that are serving as the very evidence for your
                                  arguments, and this is not sound historical research.

                                  > 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 Zachariah 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 Zachariah), then its appeal to the author
                                  and reader alike is greatly enhanced.

                                  > My response:
                                  > 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..

                                  Since I again reject the very premise of your argument (that Mark had
                                  a vendetta going against Peter and the Twelve), then your argument
                                  carries no real weight here. 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)! Your reasoning here is
                                  especially weak. I see this as a side issue to that of dating GMark,
                                  however, so 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.

                                  And this is the final example of a question begging argument. I do
                                  not see that Judas was an invention, nor, even if he was, would I see
                                  this as having any bearing on this point. The Twelve clearly *were*
                                  legendary, and the arguments that they were not historical can be
                                  made on that basis. NOTHING in the Simon traditions, nor those of
                                  his sons in particular, bear any such legendary elements. As I
                                  explained to Michael previously, to see these as pure invention is
                                  being unnecessarily sceptical, and requires the construction of much
                                  more complex theories to explain their presense. The simple fact of
                                  the matter is that there is no theological motive for Mark to include
                                  this man, and John appears to eliminate references to him because of
                                  the embarrassment it causes. Quite frankly, when I encounter this
                                  kind of scepticism, I am left to wonder what would satisfy the
                                  sceptic. After all, if it embarrassing, the sceptic will argue that
                                  it is probably an invention (see your argument on the Olivet
                                  Discourse), and if it is not embarrassing, it serves a theological
                                  motive, and, again, it is not historical.

                                  Out of curiousity, what is the criteria you use to decide that
                                  anything in the Gospels is probably historical? Or do you simply
                                  rule all of it to be an invention?

                                  > 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 apoligies. Alexander is, indeed Greek, and as
                                  you note, Rufus is Roman. You help to make my actual point below
                                  however...

                                  > 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 Pantera 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 ciricles 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. Even 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
                                • Jan Sammer
                                  ... In terms of the Stecchini thesis that the gospel accounts of the Passion are based on a dramatic performance, the indication that Simon was coming into the
                                  Message 16 of 28 , Dec 3, 2001
                                    > "Michael A. Turton" wrote:
                                    >
                                    > >
                                    > > Some commentators argue that Simon cannot be historical because Mark
                                    > > says he was "coming in from the fields/country" and a Jew would not be
                                    > > working on a high holy day. How do you respond to that?
                                    > >
                                    In terms of the Stecchini thesis that the gospel accounts of the Passion are
                                    based on a dramatic performance, the indication that Simon was coming into
                                    the city from the country (Luke) means that he had entered the stage from
                                    the left and was moving towards the right. In the ancient Greek and Roman
                                    theater the left was the direction of the country and the right the
                                    direction of the city.

                                    As far as the names Simon, Alexander and Rufus are concerned, it should be
                                    noted that the first is a typically Jewish name, the second a typically
                                    Greek name and the third a typically Latin name. Luke and John report that
                                    the inscription on the cross was written in three languages. John states
                                    that Pilate wrote the inscription. It seems more likely that Simon was
                                    understood to have written it at Pilate's instructions; being a Jew with two
                                    sons, one having a Greek name and one having a Latin name, he was understood
                                    as having adequate linguistic skills to execute the inscription in the three
                                    languages.

                                    In terms of the literary construction, Simon's precise identification serves
                                    a dual purpose. Firstly, establishing his identity and credentials was
                                    important since he was understood to be a witness to the crucifixion; in the
                                    play he acted as a messenger on the stage reporting the details of the
                                    crucifixion, which was understood to be taking place offstage to the left.
                                    Secondly, the names of his sons and his origin from Cyrene explain how a
                                    local peasant who happened to be passing by had the requisite linguistic
                                    skills to execute the trilingual inscription. Thus I see sufficient literary
                                    reasons to explain the character. That does not necessarily mean, of course,
                                    that he was a wholly fictional character.

                                    Jan Sammer
                                  • Ted Weeden
                                    Brian Trafford, December 03, 2001 11:43 PM, wrote: Subject: Re: [XTalk] Dating of GMark ... My response: There are a number of reasons that I do not think that
                                    Message 17 of 28 , Dec 4, 2001
                                      Brian Trafford, December 03, 2001 11:43 PM, wrote:
                                      Subject: Re: [XTalk] Dating of GMark


                                      > > 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 explanaition 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.
                                      >
                                      >
                                      > > 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..
                                      >
                                      > This is fine Ted, but the Synoptics clearly portray Jesus as an
                                      > apocalytist. Your reasoning here is merely circular. You say Jesus
                                      > was not an apocalyptist, so the sayings that make him an apocalyptist
                                      > are not historical.

                                      My response:

                                      There are a number of reasons that I do not think that Jesus was an
                                      apocalypticisit. I will list them but not expand upon them, unless you wish
                                      further argumentative support in a subsequent post. I do not think that
                                      the apocalyptic sayings attributed to Jesus can stand up to the usual
                                      criteria applied to make judgments with regard to the authenticity of those
                                      sayings as original to Jesus. The four criteria widely applied by many
                                      Jesus scholars are multiple attestation, discontinuity, embarrassment and
                                      coherence. When I consider Mark 13, particularly 13:5-27, with respect to
                                      the criterion of multiple attestation, virtually nothing in that complex of
                                      sayings is multiply attested as originating with Jesus. The
                                      interdependence of the Synoptics, however you resolve the Synoptic Problem,
                                      rules out multiple attestation existing among the Synoptics. There is no
                                      other independent source, that I am aware of, outside the Synoptics that
                                      attibutes any of the sayings of 13:5-27 directly to Jesus. The discourse
                                      of 13:5-27 fails the test for authenticity according to the criterion of
                                      multiple attestation.

                                      With respect to the criterion of discontinuity, that criterion argues that
                                      authenticity is evident if a saying is neither coherent with Judaism and
                                      Jewish perspective at the time nor coherent with the particular
                                      theological/christological interests of early Christian communities. Mk
                                      13:5-27 fails this test for authenticity because it is clear that the early
                                      church had an apocalyptic agenda (you acknowledge that the Synoptic writers
                                      and Paul were apocalypticists) and thus its apocalyptic perspective coheres
                                      with the kerygmatic perspective of early Christians. The discourse of Mk
                                      13:5-27 also fails the test for authenticity with respect to the criterion
                                      of embarrassment, the criterion you seem to be using when you replied to my
                                      statement that Jesus is subject to the charge of false prophecy whether the
                                      words originated with Jesus or were placed in his mouth by a Christian
                                      prophet. Here is my statement and your response:

                                      > > 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 explanaition
                                      > is that Jesus did offer these sayings himself, and the community
                                      > already knew about them.

                                      My response:

                                      You acknowledge that the Synoptic writers are apocalypticists. An
                                      apocalypticist never allows himself to be embarrassed by his prophecy for he
                                      constructs his prophecy such that he predicts history from the point of view
                                      of someone in the past by putting his prophecies on the lips of some revered
                                      figure or visionary (the author of Revelation is an exception to this
                                      practice). The apocalypticist always places himself at some mid point of
                                      the history to be prophecied. Thus he gains credibility by being able to
                                      cite actual events of history which have already transpired from the time of
                                      his historic mouthpiece to his own time. The hearer or reader of the
                                      prophecy assumes that the antecedent mouthpiece, the revered figure, is
                                      truly clairvoyant, for he has accurately recounted the events of history at
                                      least up to the time of the apocalypticist (and the time of apocalypticist's
                                      contemporaenous audience) who has generated the prophecy for his historic
                                      mouthpiece. But then when the apocalypticist comes to providing prophecy
                                      for his historical mouthpiece for the future beyond the time of the
                                      apocalypticist, the prophecy of that future becomes quite general and rather
                                      vague with respect to what events are to be anticipated. The
                                      apocalypticist at that point avoids the embarrassment of predicting
                                      something that does not come true in the immediate future. And it is only
                                      the immediate future from his own historic point of reference that the
                                      apocalypticist is concerned about. For he is trying to speak only to the
                                      existential conditions and raise the hopes of his contemporaries and not
                                      some future generation who may subsequently be embarrassed because the vague
                                      future of the apocalypticist never materialized.

                                      Thus no charge really can be made against Jesus for false prophecy, whom I
                                      view as the mouthpiece for Mark's apocalyptic predictions. All the events
                                      that the Markan Jesus predicts up to 13:24 are events that many scholars
                                      have recognized as having parallels with the history of the time from Jesus
                                      to 70 CE. Many commentaries cite such parallels. I call your attention
                                      to Joel Marcus' article, which I mentioned in my last post, and also for a
                                      scholar with a different perspective, I point you to John Meier's _A
                                      Marginal Jew_, II:344ff. Finally with respect to the criterion of
                                      coherence, the apocalyptic orientation in 13:5-27, in particular, does not
                                      cohere with Jesus' orientation in sayings which are judged tobe
                                      authentic to Jesus. I think, particularly of the parables. I just do not
                                      find any apocalyptic thread running through the parables. Thus, since the
                                      discourse of Mk.13:5-27 fails to pass the test of authenticity, according to
                                      the criteria of multiple attestation, discontinuity, embarrassment and
                                      coherence, I not consider that discourse to have originated with the
                                      historical Jesus.

                                      > > 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.
                                      >
                                      > Most scholars have believed a great many things that are simply false
                                      > Ted. Therefore such an appeal to authority and concensus is not a
                                      > legitimate argument. We should evaluate each saying in its context,
                                      > and make determinations one by one. As you know, I can point to many
                                      > scholars that agree with me, so this kind of argument will get us no
                                      > where.

                                      > > 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.
                                      >
                                      > Well, one can hardly use supposed invention in John to justify belief
                                      > in invention in Mark on totally different sayings. I could just as
                                      > easily say that George Washington never said or did "X" because he
                                      > never cut down a cherry tree. I'm sure you can see the fallacy in
                                      > such reasoning.

                                      My response at this point was to a question you asked in your post, namely:

                                      > 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?

                                      My reference to the Johannine inventions of the Jesus discourse and prayer
                                      was cited as an example of the fact that pure inventions have been "put in"
                                      to the Gospels, John being a gospel. I could have cited Synoptic examples
                                      of pure Christian invention that are not authentic to Jesus, such as the
                                      allegorical interpretation of the Parable of the Sower.

                                      >
                                      > > My response:
                                      > > 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.
                                      >
                                      > But your conclusion here is merely question begging. 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 quite poor argumentation. You can argue that
                                      > the apocalyptic visions found in Peter's statements in Acts are pure
                                      > invention as well, but this is simply more speculation.

                                      Are you suggesting that the Petrine statements in Acts are authentic to the
                                      historical Peter and not inventions of Luke? If so, you and I have
                                      radically different understandings of the rhetorical conventions Luke used
                                      in order to communicate the points of his theologized history? Many Lukan
                                      scholars have made a compelling case for Luke composing de novo the speeches
                                      in Acts. Their work,in my judgment, is not "simply more speculation."

                                      As Wallace
                                      > pointed out, if Peter and other disciples were apocalyptists from the
                                      > beginning of their ministry (a posibility 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 your argument in order to ascribe a late date to Mark or
                                      > any of the other Synoptics.
                                      >
                                      > > > 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. At the same time, I would not mind
                                      > if you would actually address my own argument. Mark uses Hebrew
                                      > Scripture more than once in his Gospel. This is a fact. We know for
                                      > a fact that the saying "son of man" is found in Daniel, and may well
                                      > have inspired Mark (and/or Jesus' own) use of the term.

                                      Now I am not sure of the point you are making. Maybe I have missed
                                      something or misunderstood you. It was my impression that you are
                                      ascribing to the historical Jesus *all* of the Jesus-discourse in Mk. 13.
                                      On the otherhand, as I have stated, I would ascribe Mk. 13 to Mark, with him
                                      drawing upon Christian material and adding his own redactional touches. But
                                      here you indicate that the "Son of the Human" saying from Daniel "may well
                                      have inspired Mark to use the term. It appears to me here that you think
                                      it is possible that Mark borrrowed from Daniel, and thus the saying of
                                      Mk. 13:26 could possibly be attributed to Mark.

                                      More
                                      > importantly, the saying "abomination that causes desolation" is found
                                      > 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. I am puzzled
                                      > as to why you dismiss such a possibility so readily.
                                      >
                                      > > 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,"
                                      >
                                      > This is interesting Ted, but as you will see from my own post, I do
                                      > not depend on Mark being written in Rome to advance my argument.
                                      > Peter may or may not have stood behind the Gospel, for example, but 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 this argument (largely based on Griffith-Jones). Quite frankly,
                                      > location of writing can, at best, have only a peripheral impact on

                                      It strikes me that the provenance of a writing may have a good deal to do
                                      with the dating of the writing, if the events occuring in that location
                                      cohere with internal clues in the Gospel. It is my own methodological
                                      presupposition that an early Christian author writes out of the necessity
                                      to address certain existential exigencies which confront him or his
                                      community. I think it is safe to say that how and what he writes is
                                      colored by his attempt to address that which confronts him or his
                                      commmunity. Thus, it is that in the coloration of the narrative lie the
                                      internal textual clues as to the author's provenance and the plausible
                                      dating for the document. For example, when Luke intentionally revises Mk.
                                      13:14, updating its historical allusion to conform more closely to actual
                                      history, to read in his Gospel: "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by
                                      armies, then you know that its desolation has come near" (21:20), that is a
                                      pretty clear clue that Luke writes at the earliest around 70 CE. I think
                                      Mark also offers such internal clues as to his location. Those clues serve
                                      as some of the evidence for my locating Mark's community in the village
                                      region of Caesarea Philippi.

                                      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 Zachariah 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 Zachariah), then its appeal to the author
                                      > and reader alike is greatly enhanced.
                                      >
                                      > > My response:
                                      > > 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..
                                      >
                                      > Since I again reject the very premise of your argument (that Mark had
                                      > a vendetta going against Peter and the Twelve), then your argument
                                      > carries no real weight here.

                                      Have you read my argument in _Mark-Traditions in Conflict_ (20-51)? If you
                                      have, I would like to know why you reject it, and if you have not, I would
                                      like to know why you reject the argument out of hand without having engaged
                                      it and the evidence I have marshalled to support it.


                                      > > > 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.
                                      >
                                      > And this is the final example of a question begging argument. I do
                                      > not see that Judas was an invention, nor, even if he was, would I see
                                      > this as having any bearing on this point. The Twelve clearly *were*
                                      > legendary, and the arguments that they were not historical can be
                                      > made on that basis. NOTHING in the Simon traditions, nor those of
                                      > his sons in particular, bear any such legendary elements. As I
                                      > explained to Michael previously, to see these as pure invention is
                                      > being unnecessarily sceptical, and requires the construction of much
                                      > more complex theories to explain their presense. The simple fact of
                                      > the matter is that there is no theological motive for Mark to include
                                      > this man, and John appears to eliminate references to him because of
                                      > the embarrassment it causes. Quite frankly, when I encounter this
                                      > kind of scepticism, I am left to wonder what would satisfy the
                                      > sceptic. After all, if it embarrassing, the sceptic will argue that
                                      > it is probably an invention (see your argument on the Olivet
                                      > Discourse), and if it is not embarrassing, it serves a theological
                                      > motive, and, again, it is not historical.
                                      >
                                      > Out of curiousity, what is the criteria you use to decide that
                                      > anything in the Gospels is probably historical? Or do you simply
                                      > rule all of it to be an invention?

                                      See above with respect to the criteria I have articulated for determining
                                      what authentically originates with Jesus and what does not appear to


                                      >>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 apoligies. Alexander is, indeed Greek, and as
                                      > you note, Rufus is Roman. You help to make my actual point below
                                      > however...
                                      >
                                      > > 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.

                                      I think that is information that does tend to strengthen your argument.

                                      Ted Weeden
                                    • Ted Weeden
                                      Brian Trafford, December 03, 2001 11:43 PM, wrote: Subject: Re: [XTalk] Dating of GMark ... My response: There are a number of reasons that I do not think that
                                      Message 18 of 28 , Dec 4, 2001
                                        Brian Trafford, December 03, 2001 11:43 PM, wrote:
                                        Subject: Re: [XTalk] Dating of GMark


                                        > > 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 explanaition 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.
                                        >
                                        >
                                        > > 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..
                                        >
                                        > This is fine Ted, but the Synoptics clearly portray Jesus as an
                                        > apocalytist. Your reasoning here is merely circular. You say Jesus
                                        > was not an apocalyptist, so the sayings that make him an apocalyptist
                                        > are not historical.

                                        My response:

                                        There are a number of reasons that I do not think that Jesus was an
                                        apocalypticisit. I will list them but not expand upon them, unless you wish
                                        further argumentative support in a subsequent post. I do not think that
                                        the apocalyptic sayings attributed to Jesus can stand up to the usual
                                        criteria applied to make judgments with regard to the authenticity of those
                                        sayings as original to Jesus. The four criteria widely applied by many
                                        Jesus scholars are multiple attestation, discontinuity, embarrassment and
                                        coherence. When I consider Mark 13, particularly 13:5-27, with respect to
                                        the criterion of multiple attestation, virtually nothing in that complex of
                                        sayings is multiply attested as originating with Jesus. The
                                        interdependence of the Synoptics, however you resolve the Synoptic Problem,
                                        rules out multiple attestation existing among the Synoptics. There is no
                                        other independent source, that I am aware of, outside the Synoptics that
                                        attibutes any of the sayings of 13:5-27 directly to Jesus. The discourse
                                        of 13:5-27 fails the test for authenticity according to the criterion of
                                        multiple attestation.

                                        With respect to the criterion of discontinuity, that criterion argues that
                                        authenticity is evident if a saying is neither coherent with Judaism and
                                        Jewish perspective at the time nor coherent with the particular
                                        theological/christological interests of early Christian communities. Mk
                                        13:5-27 fails this test for authenticity because it is clear that the early
                                        church had an apocalyptic agenda (you acknowledge that the Synoptic writers
                                        and Paul were apocalypticists) and thus its apocalyptic perspective coheres
                                        with the kerygmatic perspective of early Christians. The discourse of Mk
                                        13:5-27 also fails the test for authenticity with respect to the criterion
                                        of embarrassment, the criterion you seem to be using when you replied to my
                                        statement that Jesus is subject to the charge of false prophecy whether the
                                        words originated with Jesus or were placed in his mouth by a Christian
                                        prophet. Here is my statement and your response:

                                        > > 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 explanaition
                                        > is that Jesus did offer these sayings himself, and the community
                                        > already knew about them.

                                        My response:

                                        You acknowledge that the Synoptic writers are apocalypticists. An
                                        apocalypticist never allows himself to be embarrassed by his prophecy for he
                                        constructs his prophecy such that he predicts history from the point of view
                                        of someone in the past by putting his prophecies on the lips of some revered
                                        figure or visionary (the author of Revelation is an exception to this
                                        practice). The apocalypticist always places himself at some mid point of
                                        the history to be prophecied. Thus he gains credibility by being able to
                                        cite actual events of history which have already transpired from the time of
                                        his historic mouthpiece to his own time. The hearer or reader of the
                                        prophecy assumes that the antecedent mouthpiece, the revered figure, is
                                        truly clairvoyant, for he has accurately recounted the events of history at
                                        least up to the time of the apocalypticist (and the time of apocalypticist's
                                        contemporaenous audience) who has generated the prophecy for his historic
                                        mouthpiece. But then when the apocalypticist comes to providing prophecy
                                        for his historical mouthpiece for the future beyond the time of the
                                        apocalypticist, the prophecy of that future becomes quite general and rather
                                        vague with respect to what events are to be anticipated. The
                                        apocalypticist at that point avoids the embarrassment of predicting
                                        something that does not come true in the immediate future. And it is only
                                        the immediate future from his own historic point of reference that the
                                        apocalypticist is concerned about. For he is trying to speak only to the
                                        existential conditions and raise the hopes of his contemporaries and not
                                        some future generation who may subsequently be embarrassed because the vague
                                        future of the apocalypticist never materialized.

                                        Thus no charge really can be made against Jesus for false prophecy, whom I
                                        view as the mouthpiece for Mark's apocalyptic predictions. All the events
                                        that the Markan Jesus predicts up to 13:24 are events that many scholars
                                        have recognized as having parallels with the history of the time from Jesus
                                        to 70 CE. Many commentaries cite such parallels. I call your attention
                                        to Joel Marcus' article, which I mentioned in my last post, and also for a
                                        scholar with a different perspective, I point you to John Meier's _A
                                        Marginal Jew_, II:344ff. Finally with respect to the criterion of
                                        coherence, the apocalyptic orientation in 13:5-27, in particular, does not
                                        cohere with Jesus' orientation in sayings which are judged tobe
                                        authentic to Jesus. I think, particularly of the parables. I just do not
                                        find any apocalyptic thread running through the parables. Thus, since the
                                        discourse of Mk.13:5-27 fails to pass the test of authenticity, according to
                                        the criteria of multiple attestation, discontinuity, embarrassment and
                                        coherence, I not consider that discourse to have originated with the
                                        historical Jesus.

                                        > > 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.
                                        >
                                        > Most scholars have believed a great many things that are simply false
                                        > Ted. Therefore such an appeal to authority and concensus is not a
                                        > legitimate argument. We should evaluate each saying in its context,
                                        > and make determinations one by one. As you know, I can point to many
                                        > scholars that agree with me, so this kind of argument will get us no
                                        > where.

                                        > > 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.
                                        >
                                        > Well, one can hardly use supposed invention in John to justify belief
                                        > in invention in Mark on totally different sayings. I could just as
                                        > easily say that George Washington never said or did "X" because he
                                        > never cut down a cherry tree. I'm sure you can see the fallacy in
                                        > such reasoning.

                                        My response at this point was to a question you asked in your post, namely:

                                        > 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?

                                        My reference to the Johannine inventions of the Jesus discourse and prayer
                                        was cited as an example of the fact that pure inventions have been "put in"
                                        to the Gospels, John being a gospel. I could have cited Synoptic examples
                                        of pure Christian invention that are not authentic to Jesus, such as the
                                        allegorical interpretation of the Parable of the Sower.

                                        >
                                        > > My response:
                                        > > 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.
                                        >
                                        > But your conclusion here is merely question begging. 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 quite poor argumentation. You can argue that
                                        > the apocalyptic visions found in Peter's statements in Acts are pure
                                        > invention as well, but this is simply more speculation.

                                        Are you suggesting that the Petrine statements in Acts are authentic to the
                                        historical Peter and not inventions of Luke? If so, you and I have
                                        radically different understandings of the rhetorical conventions Luke used
                                        in order to communicate the points of his theologized history? Many Lukan
                                        scholars have made a compelling case for Luke composing de novo the speeches
                                        in Acts. Their work,in my judgment, is not "simply more speculation."

                                        As Wallace
                                        > pointed out, if Peter and other disciples were apocalyptists from the
                                        > beginning of their ministry (a posibility 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 your argument in order to ascribe a late date to Mark or
                                        > any of the other Synoptics.
                                        >
                                        > > > 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. At the same time, I would not mind
                                        > if you would actually address my own argument. Mark uses Hebrew
                                        > Scripture more than once in his Gospel. This is a fact. We know for
                                        > a fact that the saying "son of man" is found in Daniel, and may well
                                        > have inspired Mark (and/or Jesus' own) use of the term.

                                        Now I am not sure of the point you are making. Maybe I have missed
                                        something or misunderstood you. It was my impression that you are
                                        ascribing to the historical Jesus *all* of the Jesus-discourse in Mk. 13.
                                        On the otherhand, as I have stated, I would ascribe Mk. 13 to Mark, with him
                                        drawing upon Christian material and adding his own redactional touches. But
                                        here you indicate that the "Son of the Human" saying from Daniel "may well
                                        have inspired Mark to use the term. It appears to me here that you think
                                        it is possible that Mark borrrowed from Daniel, and thus the saying of
                                        Mk. 13:26 could possibly be attributed to Mark.

                                        More
                                        > importantly, the saying "abomination that causes desolation" is found
                                        > 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. I am puzzled
                                        > as to why you dismiss such a possibility so readily.
                                        >
                                        > > 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,"
                                        >
                                        > This is interesting Ted, but as you will see from my own post, I do
                                        > not depend on Mark being written in Rome to advance my argument.
                                        > Peter may or may not have stood behind the Gospel, for example, but 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 this argument (largely based on Griffith-Jones). Quite frankly,
                                        > location of writing can, at best, have only a peripheral impact on

                                        It strikes me that the provenance of a writing may have a good deal to do
                                        with the dating of the writing, if the events occuring in that location
                                        cohere with internal clues in the Gospel. It is my own methodological
                                        presupposition that an early Christian author writes out of the necessity
                                        to address certain existential exigencies which confront him or his
                                        community. I think it is safe to say that how and what he writes is
                                        colored by his attempt to address that which confronts him or his
                                        commmunity. Thus, it is that in the coloration of the narrative lie the
                                        internal textual clues as to the author's provenance and the plausible
                                        dating for the document. For example, when Luke intentionally revises Mk.
                                        13:14, updating its historical allusion to conform more closely to actual
                                        history, to read in his Gospel: "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by
                                        armies, then you know that its desolation has come near" (21:20), that is a
                                        pretty clear clue that Luke writes at the earliest around 70 CE. I think
                                        Mark also offers such internal clues as to his location. Those clues serve
                                        as some of the evidence for my locating Mark's community in the village
                                        region of Caesarea Philippi.

                                        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 Zachariah 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 Zachariah), then its appeal to the author
                                        > and reader alike is greatly enhanced.
                                        >
                                        > > My response:
                                        > > 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..
                                        >
                                        > Since I again reject the very premise of your argument (that Mark had
                                        > a vendetta going against Peter and the Twelve), then your argument
                                        > carries no real weight here.

                                        Have you read my argument in _Mark-Traditions in Conflict_ (20-51)? If you
                                        have, I would like to know why you reject it, and if you have not, I would
                                        like to know why you reject the argument out of hand without having engaged
                                        it and the evidence I have marshalled to support it.


                                        > > > 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.
                                        >
                                        > And this is the final example of a question begging argument. I do
                                        > not see that Judas was an invention, nor, even if he was, would I see
                                        > this as having any bearing on this point. The Twelve clearly *were*
                                        > legendary, and the arguments that they were not historical can be
                                        > made on that basis. NOTHING in the Simon traditions, nor those of
                                        > his sons in particular, bear any such legendary elements. As I
                                        > explained to Michael previously, to see these as pure invention is
                                        > being unnecessarily sceptical, and requires the construction of much
                                        > more complex theories to explain their presense. The simple fact of
                                        > the matter is that there is no theological motive for Mark to include
                                        > this man, and John appears to eliminate references to him because of
                                        > the embarrassment it causes. Quite frankly, when I encounter this
                                        > kind of scepticism, I am left to wonder what would satisfy the
                                        > sceptic. After all, if it embarrassing, the sceptic will argue that
                                        > it is probably an invention (see your argument on the Olivet
                                        > Discourse), and if it is not embarrassing, it serves a theological
                                        > motive, and, again, it is not historical.
                                        >
                                        > Out of curiousity, what is the criteria you use to decide that
                                        > anything in the Gospels is probably historical? Or do you simply
                                        > rule all of it to be an invention?

                                        See above with respect to the criteria I have articulated for determining
                                        what authentically originates with Jesus and what does not appear to


                                        >>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 apoligies. Alexander is, indeed Greek, and as
                                        > you note, Rufus is Roman. You help to make my actual point below
                                        > however...
                                        >
                                        > > 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.

                                        I think that is information that does tend to strengthen your argument.

                                        Ted Weeden
                                      • Bob Schacht
                                        ... Thanks, Ted, for taking the time to respond in detail to Brian. I have a problem with your characterization of apocalypticists quoted above because it
                                        Message 19 of 28 , Dec 4, 2001
                                          At 10:47 PM 12/4/01 -0600, Ted Weeden wrote:
                                          >...An apocalypticist never allows himself to be embarrassed by his
                                          >prophecy for he
                                          >constructs his prophecy such that he predicts history from the point of view
                                          >of someone in the past by putting his prophecies on the lips of some revered
                                          >figure or visionary (the author of Revelation is an exception to this
                                          >practice). The apocalypticist always places himself at some mid point of
                                          >the history to be prophecied. Thus he gains credibility by being able to
                                          >cite actual events of history which have already transpired from the time of
                                          >his historic mouthpiece to his own time. ... The
                                          >apocalypticist at that point avoids the embarrassment of predicting
                                          >something that does not come true in the immediate future. And it is only
                                          >the immediate future from his own historic point of reference that the
                                          >apocalypticist is concerned about. For he is trying to speak only to the
                                          >existential conditions and raise the hopes of his contemporaries and not
                                          >some future generation who may subsequently be embarrassed because the vague
                                          >future of the apocalypticist never materialized....

                                          Thanks, Ted, for taking the time to respond in detail to Brian.
                                          I have a problem with your characterization of apocalypticists quoted above
                                          because it assumes that they are calculating rational actors rather than
                                          visionaries. Some writers may wish to pass themselves or others off as
                                          prophetic in the calculating, rational way that you describe, but others
                                          are visionaries who don't bother to calibrate whatever it is that they feel
                                          impelled to say. It is later writers who sort out the prophetic voices
                                          according to whether their visions were perceived to bear some truth, or
                                          maybe to pass on a vision yet to be fulfilled.

                                          I am mixing apocalyptic with prophetic voices here, and recognize that one
                                          can believe in apocalyptic messages without being at the same time
                                          prophetic. That is, one can accept the apocalyptic visions expressed by
                                          others, and can pass along one's own interpretation of them. But I felt
                                          that you might be missing the boat on the apocalyptic messengers here.

                                          Bob
                                        • Octavian Baban
                                          Dear Ted, I always read with great interest your thoroughly argued comments on NT and varia. As I was parsing the recent GMark thread, my attention was drawn
                                          Message 20 of 28 , Dec 4, 2001
                                            Dear Ted,

                                            I always read with great interest your thoroughly argued comments on NT
                                            and varia. As I was parsing the recent GMark thread, my attention was drawn
                                            to your evaluation of Luke's rhetorics, i.e.

                                            >[...] Are you suggesting that the Petrine statements in Acts are authentic
                                            to the
                                            > historical Peter and not inventions of Luke? If so, you and I have
                                            > radically different understandings of the rhetorical conventions Luke used
                                            > in order to communicate the points of his theologized history? Many
                                            Lukan
                                            > scholars have made a compelling case for Luke composing de novo the
                                            speeches
                                            > in Acts. Their work,in my judgment, is not "simply more speculation."
                                            >

                                            Rhetorics does not suppose, apparently, first and foremost creating
                                            arguments, or speeches, de novo, but rather reporting them in a form that
                                            suits the argument of the presenter (the rhetor). Somewhat dissimilar to
                                            Tacitus, for example, it could be argued that Luke does not invent speeches
                                            "from scratch", yet he rather reconstructs them in a credible way,
                                            condensing them and reporting them according to the literary practice of
                                            mimesis (imitation), with a certain dramatical touch (not far removed from
                                            the style of helenistic historians such as Theopompus of Chios, Phylarchus,
                                            Ephorus, Duris of Samos; B. Witherington iii takes them into consideration,
                                            for example, in his recent commentary on Acts, _The Acts of the Apostles. A
                                            Socio-Rhetorical Commentary_, Carlisle, UK: Paternoster, 1998, n. 114, p.
                                            31). If not exactly intending to leave us with the ipssisima verba of their
                                            heroes, such historians would still attempt to convey a genuine
                                            reconstruction of the past (although, quite often, a partisan one). Of
                                            course, there is a question to ask, here: how close is Luke to such
                                            historians, in ideology and his actual style?

                                            Returning to rhetorical habits of apocalypticists, are the apostolic
                                            apocalypticists succumbing to the temptation of creating things de novo? It
                                            would be interesting to remember the Early Church reluctance in accepting
                                            John's Apocalypse. Would the first Christians have accepted Mark's
                                            apocalyptic speeches attributed to Jesus, if there would not have been ways
                                            of connecting in a credible way his reconstructions to Jesus' actual
                                            utterances?

                                            Tavi Baban





                                            ----- Original Message -----
                                            From: Ted Weeden <weedent@...>
                                            To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
                                            Sent: Wednesday, December 05, 2001 6:47 AM
                                            Subject: Re: [XTalk] Dating of GMark
                                          • Ted Weeden
                                            ... authentic ... used ... speeches ... Phylarchus, ... consideration, ... A ... their ... Thank you, Tavi, for raising this issue with me. When I made the
                                            Message 21 of 28 , Dec 5, 2001
                                              Octavian Baban wrote on Wednesday, December 05, 2001:

                                              > As I was parsing the recent GMark thread, my attention was drawn
                                              > to your evaluation of Luke's rhetorics, i.e.
                                              >
                                              > >[...] Are you suggesting that the Petrine statements in Acts are
                                              authentic
                                              > to the
                                              > > historical Peter and not inventions of Luke? If so, you and I have
                                              > > radically different understandings of the rhetorical conventions Luke
                                              used
                                              > > in order to communicate the points of his theologized history? Many
                                              > Lukan
                                              > > scholars have made a compelling case for Luke composing de novo the
                                              > speeches
                                              > > in Acts. Their work,in my judgment, is not "simply more speculation."
                                              > >
                                              >
                                              > Rhetorics does not suppose, apparently, first and foremost creating
                                              > arguments, or speeches, de novo, but rather reporting them in a form that
                                              > suits the argument of the presenter (the rhetor). Somewhat dissimilar to
                                              > Tacitus, for example, it could be argued that Luke does not invent
                                              speeches
                                              > "from scratch", yet he rather reconstructs them in a credible way,
                                              > condensing them and reporting them according to the literary practice of
                                              > mimesis (imitation), with a certain dramatical touch (not far removed from
                                              > the style of helenistic historians such as Theopompus of Chios,
                                              Phylarchus,
                                              > Ephorus, Duris of Samos; B. Witherington iii takes them into
                                              consideration,
                                              > for example, in his recent commentary on Acts, _The Acts of the Apostles.
                                              A
                                              > Socio-Rhetorical Commentary_, Carlisle, UK: Paternoster, 1998, n. 114, p.
                                              > 31). If not exactly intending to leave us with the ipssisima verba of
                                              their
                                              > heroes, such historians would still attempt to convey a genuine
                                              > reconstruction of the past (although, quite often, a partisan one). Of
                                              > course, there is a question to ask, here: how close is Luke to such
                                              > historians, in ideology and his actual style?

                                              Thank you, Tavi, for raising this issue with me. When I made the statement,
                                              "Many Lukan scholars have made a compelling case for Luke composing de novo
                                              the speeches in Acts, I had in mind a Lukan scholar like Hans Conzelmann who
                                              states with respect to Luke's speeches in Acts as follows (_Acts of the
                                              Apostles_, xliiif. ):

                                              "Luke follows the general example of ancient historiography by inserting
                                              'speeches' into his narrative.... Luke shapes his speeches in a *completely
                                              independent manner, corresponding to his conception of his work as a whole*
                                              [emphasis: mine].... These are *not abbreviated versions of actual speeches
                                              but are literary creations* [emphasis:mine]; the same practice was followed
                                              in other literature of the time.... [T]he speeches do not attempt to
                                              reflect the individual style of the speaker, but rather the substantial
                                              unity of early Christian (i.e., normative) preaching; note that Luke has
                                              Peter speak in the same Pauline manner.... [T]hey are designed specifically
                                              as sermons directed to Jews...and thus represent Luke's historical
                                              reflections on the difference between the time of the earliest church and
                                              the time when he writes... [T]hey are ... constructed... according to a
                                              literary scheme, albeit a primitive one. Thus we can *recognize in the
                                              speeches the specifically Lukan theology with its understanding of
                                              Christology, Scripture, promise and fulfillment, and the pattern of
                                              salvation---repentance---baptism* [emphasis: mine]."

                                              Thus, Tavi, when I state that Luke composes the speeches de novo, I am
                                              stating essentially what I find Conzelmann states in the above quote:
                                              namely, all the speeches in Acts are literary creations of Luke, composed by
                                              Luke to push his own theological and christological agenda. Nothing in the
                                              content of the speeches nor their style bears any trace of an actual and
                                              authentic utterance of the respective historical figures upon whose lips
                                              Luke places his independently crafted and stylistically uniform discourses.
                                              That sounds like invention "from scratch" to me. And invention "from
                                              scratch" does not necessarily mean, in my view, that Luke has not drawn upon
                                              Christian resources to formulate his speeches, but rather invention "from
                                              scratch" means one cannot "scratch their surface" and find beneath anything
                                              that goes back directly and originally to the historical figures Luke
                                              features in his theologized history.

                                              > Returning to rhetorical habits of apocalypticists, are the apostolic
                                              > apocalypticists succumbing to the temptation of creating things de novo?
                                              It
                                              > would be interesting to remember the Early Church reluctance in accepting
                                              > John's Apocalypse. Would the first Christians have accepted Mark's
                                              > apocalyptic speeches attributed to Jesus, if there would not have been
                                              ways
                                              > of connecting in a credible way his reconstructions to Jesus' actual
                                              > utterances?

                                              I think you are dealing with two different issues here. Your reference to
                                              the Early Church's reluctance to accept Revelation is an issue of canon,
                                              namely, what is considered orthodox Christian scripture and what is not.
                                              The issue of canon only began to raise its head with Marcion, some fifty
                                              years after John penned his apocalypse. When John wrote he was not
                                              concerned with whether his apocalypse would be acceptable to any other body
                                              of Christians but his own community. He certainly was not concerned with
                                              whether he was writing something that would be recognized as canonical by
                                              future generations.

                                              With respect to the issue regarding the first Christians accepting Mark's
                                              apocalyptic speeches if there was no apparent connection between the
                                              substance and orientation of the Markan apocalypse and actual utterances of
                                              Jesus, I would venture the following. The early church was, as I see it,
                                              constantly reshaping and adding to the oral tradition, and, in the course of
                                              doing so, producing material that has no direct link to the historical
                                              Jesus. With respect to narratives which the church created, and which are
                                              inauthentic portrayals of Jesus, I would suggest the birth stories, the
                                              feeding of 4,000 and 5,000 people, walking on water, etc. I do not think
                                              that the inventors of that material worried about whether or not they were
                                              being faithful to the historical evidence regarding Jesus. And I doubt
                                              that early Christians who heard those stories pondered whether the stories
                                              were historically verified or verifiable accounts and, thereby, could be
                                              trusted as authentical portrayals of the historical Jesus.

                                              With respect to sayings, I doubt that the early Christians questioned
                                              whether Jesus followed up his parables with allegorical interpretations of
                                              them. The "invented" allegorical interpretations spoke so well to the
                                              current existential situations and needs the church was facing that they
                                              were accepted as originating with Jesus. Likewise, my guess is that early
                                              Christians in Mark's time and thereafter never questioned whether Jesus
                                              actually prayed the prayer that all three of the Synoptics record him
                                              variously praying in Gethsemane, even though it is obvious no one could have
                                              heard that prayer to preserve for the oral tradition, since Jesus was alone,
                                              with only three sleeping disciples at a distance, and no recording
                                              machines or video cameras were present to capture that prayer for
                                              Christian posterity. The prayer is a fabrication, an invention of the
                                              later
                                              church, and I would argue an invention of Mark *de novo*. But until
                                              more recent times what Christians would have ever raised the issue as
                                              to whether the prayer can be traced to an actual utterance of Jesus?

                                              Ted Weeden

















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                                            • bjtraff
                                              I am going to have to do a fair bit of snipping in order to keep this post to a manageable size. I hope that it will remain comprehensible. ... complex of ...
                                              Message 22 of 28 , Dec 5, 2001
                                                I am going to have to do a fair bit of snipping in order to keep this
                                                post to a manageable size. I hope that it will remain comprehensible.

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

                                                > Â…When I consider Mark 13, particularly 13:5-27, with respect to
                                                > the criterion of multiple attestation, virtually nothing in that
                                                complex of
                                                > sayings is multiply attested as originating with Jesus. The
                                                > interdependence of the Synoptics, however you resolve the Synoptic
                                                Problem,
                                                > rules out multiple attestation existing among the Synoptics.
                                                > There is no other independent source, that I am aware of, outside
                                                > the Synoptics that attibutes any of the sayings of 13:5-27 directly
                                                > to Jesus. The discourse of 13:5-27 fails the test for
                                                > authenticity according to the criterion of multiple attestation.

                                                I would agree that multiple attestation does not apply when
                                                considering the Olivet Discourse only appears in the Synoptics.
                                                (Small aside but I reject any definition of "Q" that includes
                                                material found in Mark. I know this is a separate issue, and do not
                                                wish to side track the discussion further, but wanted to clarify my
                                                position, given your later qualification of your own statement to
                                                Bob).

                                                > With respect to the criterion of discontinuity, that criterion
                                                > argues that authenticity is evident if a saying is neither coherent
                                                > with Judaism and Jewish perspective at the time nor coherent with
                                                > the particular theological/christological interests of early
                                                > Christian communities.

                                                I do not think that this particular criteria is useful in determining
                                                the authenticity of *any* of the sayings or acts of Jesus. I do not
                                                think we can divine the theological motivations of the early
                                                Christian community with sufficient certainty to make this a useful
                                                tool. More often than not, the conclusions drawn from this criteria
                                                simply beg the question, and betrays the prejudices of the exegete
                                                more than casting significant light on what Jesus may or may not have
                                                said.

                                                > Mk 13:5-27 fails this test for authenticity because it is clear
                                                > that the early church had an apocalyptic agenda (you acknowledge
                                                > that the Synoptic writers and Paul were apocalypticists) and thus
                                                > its apocalyptic perspective coheres with the kerygmatic perspective
                                                > of early Christians.

                                                What I will say here is that the argument for dating GMark does not
                                                depend on absolute authenticity of the Olivet Discourse per se, so
                                                much as that it reflects Jesus' own thoughts. In other words, if he
                                                were to read it himself, would he have rejected it? Given the clear
                                                apocalyptic message of the early church (as found in Paul's writings,
                                                as well as those of the Gospels, Jude, the Petrine letters, and the
                                                Apocalypse/Revelation), I think we presume too much if we try to use
                                                the apocalyptic quality of the discourse to date the Synoptics late.
                                                Certainly Paul would not have had a problem with the Olivet
                                                Discourse, and he was writing in the 50's and early 60's. Based on
                                                the probability that Paul's apocalyptic views do not stir any
                                                controversy with James, Peter and the rest of the disciples, there is
                                                no reason to suppose that Mark's recording of the prophecies in the
                                                50's or early 60's would have been all that surprising.

                                                Now, the reason I think that these beliefs dated back to Jesus
                                                himself is due first to the fact that the earliest known sources from
                                                Christians do have this view. Given that no explicit link can be
                                                made between Mark and Paul, for example, we can say with considerable
                                                confidence that the early church was apocalyptic, and since there was
                                                no apparent opposition to this world view within the church, we can
                                                assume that the view originated not with Jesus' followers, but with
                                                Jesus himself.

                                                Secondly, I think that the apocalyptic Jesus is very likely because
                                                the known later writings of the Church continued to use apocalyptic
                                                literature, like Paul's letters and the Synoptics as authoritative.
                                                The only reason for them to accept that such sources were
                                                authoritative, even as they were clearly embarrassing to the Church
                                                tells us the traditions were very old, and widely accepted. The fact
                                                that later Gospels, like Luke and Matthew did not remove the
                                                apocalyptic sayings attests further to probable authenticity. For
                                                example, if Matthew and Luke were writing in the 80's or even later,
                                                then their reasons for including seemingly failed prophecies like the
                                                Olivet Discourse becomes even more problematic. Given that both
                                                Matthew and Luke had no problem removing other Marcan material they
                                                found embarrassing tells us that they easily could and would have
                                                done this.

                                                I wrote:
                                                > > 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 explanaition is that Jesus did offer these sayings
                                                > > himself, and the community already knew about them.
                                                >
                                                > My response:
                                                >
                                                > You acknowledge that the Synoptic writers are apocalypticists. An
                                                > apocalypticist never allows himself to be embarrassed by his
                                                > prophecy for he constructs his prophecy such that he predicts
                                                > history from the point of view of someone in the past by putting
                                                > his prophecies on the lips of some revered figure or visionary (the
                                                > author of Revelation is an exception to this practice).

                                                First, it is a curious argument to say that a group *always* does a
                                                thing, even as one acknowledges that one clear member of that group
                                                did *not* do that thing.

                                                Second, if Mark is drawing on known earlier apocalyptic sources (like
                                                Daniel for example), then it becomes highly problematic to use those
                                                sayings that depend on this source in order to date the text. Mark
                                                uses Daniel, but he could have done so literally any time after
                                                Daniel was written (2nd Century BCE). To make the events of 66-70CE
                                                the most probable specifics behind the Olivet Discourse simply begs
                                                the question. Paul was already predicting final disaster in the 50's
                                                if not earlier. Why could Mark not also be doing such a thing? For
                                                that matter, why couldn't Jesus himself? As you agree that Mark is
                                                probably drawing on Christian sources even earlier than himself, then
                                                I do not see why we should not say simply that they did come from
                                                Jesus.

                                                > ...And it is only the immediate future from his own historic point
                                                > of reference that the apocalypticist is concerned about. For he
                                                > is trying to speak only to the existential conditions and raise the
                                                > hopes of his contemporaries and not some future generation who may
                                                > subsequently be embarrassed because the vague future of the
                                                > apocalypticist never materialized.

                                                My apologies for snipping so much Ted, and I do get your point. My
                                                question, given the fact that we know apocalyptical material was
                                                circulating in this period, not only from Paul (and presumably
                                                Peter), but also from the Qumran community, and all of these sources
                                                were speaking in the 50's or even earlier, why reject the idea that
                                                Mark and/or Jesus was speaking in a similar vein and at a similar
                                                period of time? Jesus would have found an audience for apocalyptic
                                                sayings in the 30s'. Paul certainly did in the 40's and 50's. So
                                                did Peter. Surely Mark would have found a ready audience for his
                                                message, even if he wrote in the 50's, long before the Temple
                                                actually was destroyed.

                                                > Thus no charge really can be made against Jesus for false prophecy,
                                                > whom I view as the mouthpiece for Mark's apocalyptic predictions.
                                                > All the events that the Markan Jesus predicts up to 13:24 are
                                                > events that many scholars have recognized as having parallels with
                                                > the history of the time from Jesus to 70 CE. Many commentaries
                                                > cite such parallels.

                                                Yes, I am aware of this fact. At the same time, there is no reason
                                                to think that the prophecies *must* be connected to the destruction
                                                of Jerusalem and the Temple. The sayings are simply too vague to
                                                argue with certainty. For evidence of this, we need only examine how
                                                differently you view the internal evidence, vs. how Grant or Griffith-
                                                Jones interpret the same passages. In other cases, like the
                                                encirclement of Jerusalem, one need look no further than Jeremiah and
                                                Isaiah (see for example Jer. 52:12-14). In fact many of the images
                                                found in Mark 13 can be traced back to past prophecies from Hebrew
                                                Scriptures, including especially descriptions of the destruction of
                                                Jerusalem.

                                                > Finally with respect to the criterion of coherence, the apocalyptic
                                                > orientation in 13:5-27, in particular, does not cohere with Jesus'
                                                > orientation in sayings which are judged tobe authentic to Jesus. I
                                                > think, particularly of the parables. I just do not find any
                                                > apocalyptic thread running through the parables.

                                                This is circular reasoning. One cannot declare all apocalyptic
                                                saying as non-authentic, then use this as justification for the
                                                belief that Jesus was not an apocalyptic prophet. The fact is that
                                                the early Christianity was heavily apocalyptic, and we have no reason
                                                to reject that this belief came from its founder, namely, Jesus
                                                himself.

                                                > My reference to the Johannine inventions of the Jesus discourse and
                                                > prayer was cited as an example of the fact that pure inventions
                                                > have been "put in" to the Gospels, John being a gospel. I could
                                                > have cited Synoptic examples of pure Christian invention that are
                                                > not authentic to Jesus, such as the allegorical interpretation of
                                                > the Parable of the Sower.

                                                The question of whether or not Jesus said exactly word for word any
                                                specific saying is far less interesting than whether or not it
                                                represented his overall world view and theology. Once again,
                                                focussing on the narrow question of when Mark could have come to
                                                attribute sayings to Jesus, like the Olivet Discourse and other
                                                apocalyptic sayings, there is no reason to reject an early over a
                                                later date. As I argued previously, the only question is whether or
                                                not Jesus would have been comfortable with the specific saying. And
                                                in the question of dating Mark, specifically, even if Mark invented
                                                the saying completely out of whole cloth (something I find to be
                                                extremely unlikely), it lines up with theology already being spread
                                                in the 40's and 50's, and therefore could easily be dated to this
                                                period.

                                                What becomes more difficult to understand is why authors writing long
                                                after the immediate crisis had passed, and the end of the world had
                                                not been realized, would have included such sayings in their works.
                                                I will get into that question in greater depth when we move on to a
                                                discussion of the later Synotics. Very briefly, I would argue that
                                                these works were either from a similarly early date (early 60's for
                                                example), or that the tradition was so old and so well known, that
                                                they could not be excluded from Matthew and Luke.

                                                > Are you suggesting that the Petrine statements in Acts are
                                                > authentic to the historical Peter and not inventions of Luke?

                                                No, I am not saying this at all. What I am saying is that the
                                                writings of the early Church most probably reflected the beliefs of
                                                the members of that Church, and especially of its leadership. Thus,
                                                Luke may or may not be inventing speeches (and I happen to think in
                                                many cases he was doing exactly that), but those speeches reflect the
                                                thoughts, beliefs and theology of the men speaking them. On that
                                                basis, finding apocalyptic statements in a Gospel dating to the 50's
                                                is hardly surprising. Mark may well have been that Gospel.

                                                > Now I am not sure of the point you are making. Maybe I have missed
                                                > something or misunderstood you. It was my impression that you are
                                                > ascribing to the historical Jesus *all* of the Jesus-discourse in
                                                > Mk. 13.

                                                I believe that Mark 13 closely parallels Jesus' own thoughts. More
                                                importantly, given the fact that the early Church (c. 40's and 50's)
                                                was apocalyptic, then we need not date Mark late because it contains
                                                these apocalyptic writings. Finally, ascribing them to the
                                                destruction of Jerusalem in 70CE is not certain, given the vagueness
                                                of the sayings. We could just as easily see Jesus and/or Mark taking
                                                them from Hebrew Scriptures, and their own beliefs as to the
                                                approaching end of the world.

                                                > On the otherhand, as I have stated, I would ascribe Mk. 13 to Mark,
                                                > with him drawing upon Christian material and adding his own
                                                > redactional touches. But here you indicate that the "Son of the
                                                > Human" saying from Daniel "may well have inspired Mark to use the
                                                > term. It appears to me here that you think it is possible that
                                                > Mark borrrowed from Daniel, and thus the saying of Mk. 13:26 could
                                                > possibly be attributed to Mark.

                                                Whether we ascribe the final sayings to Mark or Jesus, there is no
                                                question that they could have been penned early. The debate over the
                                                autheticity of the sayings themselves then becomes a side issue. But
                                                the reason I accept that they belong to Jesus' own belief system is
                                                that the early documents from Christianity reflect this world view
                                                themselves, and it is very reasonable to ascribe this early and wide
                                                spread belief amongst Christians to the idea that they came from the
                                                founder of their movement. (Yes I am aware of the argument that Q
                                                contains no apocalyptic views, but I take a very dim view of most Q
                                                scholarship, especially what has been produced more recently. My
                                                opinions on this question closely follow those of Donald Akenson as
                                                found in _Saint Saul: Skeleton Key to the Historical Jesus_,
                                                especially his appendix outlining his objections to what he called
                                                the "Q Industry".)

                                                > It strikes me that the provenance of a writing may have a good deal
                                                > to do with the dating of the writing, if the events occuring in
                                                > that location cohere with internal clues in the Gospel. It is my
                                                > own methodological presupposition that an early Christian author
                                                > writes out of the necessity to address certain existential
                                                > exigencies which confront him or his community.

                                                I certainly do not reject the idea that the evangelists were writing
                                                to communities, and that they were keeping the needs of that
                                                community in mind when authoring their works. What I reject is that
                                                we can have much confidence (a) in where the Gospel was specifically
                                                authored (see how many different locations are proposed for Mark
                                                alone as proof), and (b) from this dubious conclusion as to place of
                                                writing to extrapolate a probable date. From my original post you
                                                will note that I was arguing against Griffith-Jones' use of Rome as
                                                the probable location of Mark's Gospel, and especially the specific
                                                incidence of Nero's persecutions of 65-66CE. I found his
                                                argumentation to be excessively speculative, and going beyond the
                                                available evidence. Quite simply, I find all such arguments to date
                                                to be excessively speculative, and therefore unreliable in giving us
                                                a firm dating for the Gospels. Even today we have no more of a
                                                consensus as to where Mark was written, and if anything, as your
                                                posts, as well as Steven's and Mahlon's shows, we appear to be
                                                growing further away from such a consensus on this question, not
                                                closer to one.

                                                > I think it is safe to say that how and what he writes is
                                                > colored by his attempt to address that which confronts him or his
                                                > commmunity.

                                                I agree. Where I differ is in the level of confidence we can have as
                                                to which specific community, and which specific events the
                                                evangelists were writing to. I am far more sceptical of our ability
                                                to determine such things with any kind of certainty or confidence.

                                                > Thus, it is that in the coloration of the narrative lie the
                                                > internal textual clues as to the author's provenance and the
                                                > plausible dating for the document. For example, when Luke
                                                > intentionally revises Mk. 13:14, updating its historical allusion
                                                > to conform more closely to actual history, to read in his
                                                > Gospel: "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you
                                                > know that its desolation has come near" (21:20), that is a pretty
                                                > clear clue that Luke writes at the earliest around 70 CE.

                                                For myself, I would argue that Luke is drawing even more strongly
                                                from Hebrew Scripture, and especially accounts of the Assyrian and
                                                Babylonian attacks on Jerusalem, than he is on specific historical
                                                events. Again, the evangelists are simply too vague to be confident
                                                as to what they are addressing in these verses. This is why I
                                                directed your attention to similar verses found in Isaiah and
                                                Zachariah.

                                                > I think Mark also offers such internal clues as to his location.
                                                > Those clues serve as some of the evidence for my locating Mark's
                                                > community in the village region of Caesarea Philippi.

                                                And Mahlon uses those clues to point to Judaea, while Steven and
                                                Robin-Griffith Jones use them to point to Rome.

                                                I wrote:
                                                > > Since I again reject the very premise of your argument (that Mark
                                                > > had a vendetta going against Peter and the Twelve), then your
                                                > > argument carries no real weight here.

                                                Your replied:
                                                > Have you read my argument in _Mark-Traditions in Conflict_ (20-
                                                > 51)? If you have, I would like to know why you reject it, and if
                                                > you have not, I would like to know why you reject the argument out
                                                > of hand without having engaged it and the evidence I have
                                                > marshalled to support it.

                                                I will read these posts, but they have no bearing on the question of
                                                dating GMark for the reasons I have already given.

                                                {Snip arguments on Simon and Alexander}
                                                I then wrote:
                                                > > Agreed, and this, in my view, strengthens the argument for the
                                                > > historicity of the names Alexander and Rufus found in Mark.

                                                You replied:
                                                > I think that is information that does tend to strengthen your
                                                argument.

                                                Thanks again for your reply Ted, and for your time and thoughts.

                                                Be well,

                                                Brian Trafford
                                                Calgary, AB, Canada
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