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Re: [XTalk] Historical vs. Legendary Characters (was Dating of GMark)

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  • Bob Schacht
    ... Perhaps so; Mahlon is usually right, and I respect his scholarship greatly. But what I was reacting to was his bald assertion that ... Shim on is ... I
    Message 1 of 14 , Dec 3, 2001
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      At 04:45 PM 12/3/01 +0000, you wrote:
      >On 3 Dec 2001 at 7:55, Bob Schacht wrote:
      >
      > > I think your emphasis indicates your bias. Clearly, you don't *want*
      > > the two Alexanders to be the same person. To equate the evidence for
      > > Cyrenian Alexander b. Shim'on in a Jewish cemetery in Jerusalem as
      > > Alexander b. Shim'on in Mark whose father is reported by Mark in
      > > Jerusalem with the evidence from the tomb *in Germany*, if I remember
      > > correctly, of a Roman soldier from Sidon named Tiberius Julius Abdes
      > > Pantera as the same as the Pantera (not Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera)
      > > mentioned in some Mishnaic tracts dating hundreds of years later than
      > > Mark shows a very skewed set of balanced scales, I'm afraid.
      >
      >I think you may be being a little harsh on Mahlon here, Bob.

      Perhaps so; Mahlon is usually right, and I respect his scholarship greatly.
      But what I was reacting to was his bald assertion that
      >I tend to agree with Michael Turton that the ossuary of Alexander b.
      Shim'on is
      > *no more*
      >evidence that "these individuals are not legendary characters but real
      >historical figures" than the discovery of the tomb of a Roman soldier from
      >Sidon named Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera is evidence that Jewish claims
      >that Jesus' father was a Roman soldier named Pantera involved a "real
      >historical figure."

      I added emphasis to his words "no more." Both cases involve burial data
      compared with textual data.


      > On balance, we can't say much more than that this could be the character
      >referred to by Mark. It's quite interesting and certainly worth our
      >attention, but I don't know that we can go much further than that.
      >The Panthera tradition isn't anything like as late as you suggest.
      >The earliest reference is in Origen (3rd C.) and he is clearly
      >referring to Celsus's tradition on this (mid-late 2nd C.), within
      >100 years of the publication of the Gospels (see Contra Celsum,
      >1.32).

      I argue that the evidence is stronger for Alexander b. Shim'on than for
      Pantera based on these data:
      1. Mark is 100 years earlier than the Pantera tradition. 35 years after the
      events depicted is better than 135 years later.
      2. Alexander b. Shim'on is identified by the confluence of two names, not
      just one as with Pantera.
      3. If I remember correctly, Pantera in the Pantera tradition is not
      *explicitly* identified as the father of Jesus, and requires several
      assumptions to make the connection. But perhaps I am remembering the
      Mishnaic versions and not Contra Celsus
      4. The location of the Jewish ossuary is located much closer to the events
      described than the connection of Pantera with Sidon on a grave in Europe.
      5. The Pantera tradition is clearly polemical rather than historical in
      nature. On the other hand, the mention of Alexander b. Shim'on by Mark
      plays only a minor role in the story, which indicates to me that the
      motivation for inventing the Pantera tradition is stronger than the
      motivation for inventing a tradition about Alexander b. Shim'on.

      Again, I don't think this constitutes "proof", but it is, to me, better
      evidence than the Pantera tradition. So again, to equate the strength of
      the evidence in these two cases is, to me, just bizarre.

      But in any case my apologies to Mahlon if my response was too tart.


      >Thankyou very much, by the way, for the helpful feedback on my SBL
      >paper, and to others -- especially Ken Olson -- who have provided
      >similarly useful feedback. More anon.
      >
      >Mark


      Good! Don't let this drop. I look forward to your replies in this regard.
      Thanks,
      Bob


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Mark Goodacre
      ... Surely not! Mahlon s only sometimes right : ) Looking at your email again, I see what you mean; and you make some good points. The evidence for the
      Message 2 of 14 , Dec 3, 2001
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        On 3 Dec 2001 at 12:05, Bob Schacht wrote:

        > Perhaps so; Mahlon is usually right,

        Surely not! Mahlon's only sometimes right : )

        Looking at your email again, I see what you mean; and you make some
        good points. The evidence for the correlation between Alexander b.
        Simon in the ossuaries & Mark 15 is stronger than it is between
        Pantera & Pantera's gravestone. I think you went into hyperbole,
        though, with the hundreds of years gap.

        > 3. If I
        > remember correctly, Pantera in the Pantera tradition is not
        > *explicitly* identified as the father of Jesus, and requires several
        > assumptions to make the connection. But perhaps I am remembering the
        > Mishnaic versions and not Contra Celsus

        It's explicit in Contra Celsum. I copy this from the on-line CCEL
        Ante-Nicene fathers collection:

        > But let us now return to where the Jew is introduced, speaking of the
        > mother of Jesus, and saying that "when she was pregnant she was turned
        > out of doors by the carpenter to whom she had been betrothed, as
        > having been guilty of adultery, and that she bore a child to a certain
        > soldier named Panthera; "and let us see whether those who have blindly
        > concocted these fables about the adultery of the Virgin with Panthera,
        > and her rejection by the carpenter, did not invent these stories to
        > overturn His miraculous conception by the Holy Ghost: for they could
        > have falsified the history in a different manner, on account of its
        > extremely miraculous character, and not have admitted, as it were
        > against their will, that Jesus was born of no ordinary human > marriage. (Contra Celsum I.32).

        You don't mean "Mishnaic versions" either -- the Mishnah has no
        reference at all to Jesus. But otherwise, I appreciate your points.
        Correction humbly accepted.

        Cheers
        Mark
        -----------------------------
        Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
        Dept of Theology tel: +44 121 414 7512
        University of Birmingham fax: +44 121 414 4381
        Birmingham B15 2TT UK

        http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre
        http://NTGateway.com
      • Mahlon H. Smith
        ... I m afraid you re wrong there, Bob. As I ve already indicated in two posts I would be very happy to be able to use Avigad s ossuaries as proof that the
        Message 3 of 14 , Dec 3, 2001
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          Bob Schacht wrote:

          > I think your emphasis indicates your bias. Clearly, you don't *want* the
          > two Alexanders to be the same person.

          I'm afraid you're wrong there, Bob. As I've already indicated in two posts I
          would be very happy to be able to use Avigad's ossuaries as proof that the
          Alexander b. Shim'on mentioned in Mark 15:21 was a resident of Jerusalem or
          its environs. For that would add weight to my argument that GMark was
          originally addressed to a Judeo-Xn audience in that region. But I don't
          draw that conclusion because I'm sure that Ted Weeden & other critically
          trained scholars who dispute my hypothesis of a Judean provenance for Mark
          would not let me get away with it. And rightly so, since there is no
          rhetorical DNA in our evidence to exclude the possibility that the Alexander
          referred to by Mark (plausibly a person known to Mark's audience) is someone
          other than the Alexander whose bones were found in the Jerusalem ossuary.
          Mark after all never claims that Alexander or his father lived or was buried
          near Jerusalem.

          I don't know any scientific investigator familiar with modern forensic
          research who *qua scientist* would have any problem with my cautious
          assessment of the nature of the evidence in this case, any more than s/he
          would with my reservations about identifying the Shroud of Turin as HJ's
          burial garment. The only "bias" involved in such judgments is historical
          circumspection & caution against leaping to conclusions that the evidence
          does not warrant. Such caution is no less objective than the hesitancy of
          the FBI or the NASB to conclude that the recent anthrax scare or the crash
          of AA 587 were the handiwork of the al-Qaeda network. As much as
          investigators may want to establish such a historical connection, they bend
          over backwards not to jump to historical conclusions that the extant
          evidence simply does not support.

          Accurate historical reconstruction does not depend on what individual
          reporters or researchers may or may not "want" to find. For the Quest of HJ
          is not variation on the Quest of the Holy Grail. It is rather more akin to
          restoration of an art work that has been obscured by centuries of pious
          speculation & half-truths proposed in good faith by people who really
          *wanted* to believe in the historical veracity of the gospel reports without
          pausing to make a clear-headed assessment of the character of the evidence.

          You wrote:

          > I don't think the Jewish ossuary data "proves" the historicity of the
          > Alexander b. Shim'on of the Markan text; but I consider the evidence much
          > better than the Pantera canard.

          The only reason I mentioned the Pantera tombstone in Bingerbruck is that
          Michael Turton had already introduced it into this thread & I said I
          "tended" to agree with him. You may dismiss the Pantera tradition as a
          "canard" & in that I *tend* to agree with you. But I disagree with your
          assessment that the inscription on the ossuary discovered by Avigad is "much
          better evidence" that the Alexander b. Shim'on referred to by Mark was a
          real person than the Bingerbruck tombstone is evidence that Pantera was a
          real person. In both cases one has an ancient burial relic on the one hand &
          a singly attested incident -- in the one case involving Jesus' birth in the
          other involving his death -- reported by a writer who can hardly be
          characterized as a neutral observer of these events. Would I be wrong to
          conclude that your judgment that historicity of the Markan report is a "much
          better" case than the anti-Xn rumor about reported by Celsus reveals your
          own canonical "bias" or desire to believe the historical veracity of gospel
          writers? Or can you produce some cogent argument that the Alexander in
          Avigad's ossuary was none other than the person alluded to in Mark 15:21? If
          the latter I'm willing to listen.

          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/
        • Mahlon H. Smith
          ... Nor is Mahlon under any illusion to the contrary. Fifteen years of having my arguments voted down by the majority of my colleagues in the JS has kept me
          Message 4 of 14 , Dec 3, 2001
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            Mark Goodacre wrote:

            > I think you may be being a little harsh on Mahlon here, Bob. On
            > balance, we can't say much more than that this *could be* the character
            > referred to by Mark.

            to which Bob Schacht replied:

            > Perhaps so; Mahlon is usually right,

            and Mark retorted:

            > Surely not! Mahlon's only sometimes right : )

            Nor is Mahlon under any illusion to the contrary. Fifteen years of having my
            arguments voted down by the majority of my colleagues in the JS has kept me
            from getting a swollen head (unfortunately I cannot say the same for my
            waist). At any rate thanks to both for your votes of confidence in my
            arguments.

            At risk of prolonging this thread ad nauseum, however, I am curious as to
            why you both seem to think that there is a "stronger correlation" between
            the Avigad ossuaries & Mark 15:21 than the Bingerbruck tombstone & Celsus'
            report of the Pantera rumor. Is it dating? Or geography? Or the patronym? Or
            what? Anyone care to elucidate?

            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/
          • Bob Schacht
            ... Thanks; I stand (or sit) corrected! :-) ... The Pantera tradition in the Mishnah does not explicitly mention Jesus, but for at least a century the
            Message 5 of 14 , Dec 3, 2001
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              At 08:21 PM 12/3/01 +0000, you wrote:
              >On 3 Dec 2001 at 12:05, Bob Schacht wrote:
              >
              >...
              > > 3. If I
              > > remember correctly, Pantera in the Pantera tradition is not
              > > *explicitly* identified as the father of Jesus, and requires several
              > > assumptions to make the connection. But perhaps I am remembering the
              > > Mishnaic versions and not Contra Celsus
              >
              >It's explicit in Contra Celsum. I copy this from the on-line CCEL
              >Ante-Nicene fathers collection:... (Contra Celsum I.32).

              Thanks; I stand (or sit) corrected! :-)


              >You don't mean "Mishnaic versions" either -- the Mishnah has no
              >reference at all to Jesus. ...

              The Pantera tradition in the Mishnah does not explicitly mention Jesus, but
              for at least a century the connection has been made with such passages as
              b. Shabbath 104b (cf. b. Sanhedrin 67a), and analyzed by Travers Hereford
              in Christianity in Talmud and Midrash (1903), pp. 35-41. Contra Celsus is a
              better source.

              Bob


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Bob Schacht
              ... In my remarks to Mark Goodacre, I wrote [with slight emendations] ... My third point is removed by Mark Goodacre s quote from Contra Celsus ... Please keep
              Message 6 of 14 , Dec 3, 2001
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                At 04:11 PM 12/3/01 -0500, Mahlon wrote:
                >...At risk of prolonging this thread ad nauseum, however, I am curious as
                >to why you both seem to think that there is a "stronger correlation"
                >between the Avigad ossuaries & Mark 15:21 than the Bingerbruck tombstone &
                >Celsus' report of the Pantera rumor. Is it dating? Or geography? Or the
                >patronym? Or what? Anyone care to elucidate?

                In my remarks to Mark Goodacre, I wrote [with slight emendations]
                >I argue that the evidence is stronger for Alexander b. Shim'on than for
                >Pantera based on these data:
                >1. Mark is 100 years earlier than the Pantera tradition. 35 years after the
                >events depicted is better than 135 years later.
                >2. Alexander b. Shim'on is identified by the confluence of two names, not
                >just one as with Pantera.

                My third point is removed by Mark Goodacre's quote from Contra Celsus

                >4. The location of the Jewish ossuary is located much closer to the events
                >described than the connection of Pantera with Sidon on a grave in
                >[Bingerbruck].
                >5. The Pantera tradition is clearly polemical rather than historical in
                >nature. On the other hand, the mention of Alexander b. Shim'on by Mark
                >plays only a minor role in the story, which indicates to me that the
                >motivation for inventing the Pantera tradition is stronger than the
                >motivation for inventing a tradition about Alexander b. Shim'on.

                Please keep in mind, Mahlon, that I am not saying that these things prove
                that Alexander b. Shim'on in Mark is historical, as I have stated for about
                the third time now. My reaction to your post was motivated mainly by your
                claim that the evidence is *no better than* that for the Pantera tradition,
                and that was what I was objecting to.

                Bob


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Mahlon H. Smith
                Apologies to Bob Schacht. I responded to Mark G s post before reading yours in which you spelled out your reasons for considering the two references to
                Message 7 of 14 , Dec 3, 2001
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                  Apologies to Bob Schacht. I responded to Mark G's post before reading yours
                  in which you spelled out your reasons for considering the two references to
                  Alexander to be a "stronger" correlation, thereby anticipating my request
                  for clarification. If you'll pardon a nit-picker's comments, here's an
                  off-the-top of my head dissection of your carefully compiled case favoring
                  the canonical report.

                  You wrote:

                  > I argue that the evidence is stronger for Alexander b. Shim'on than for
                  > Pantera based on these data:
                  > 1. Mark is 100 years earlier than the Pantera tradition. 35 years after
                  the
                  > events depicted is better than 135 years later.

                  That assumes of course that the Pantera tradition originated with Celsus.
                  But Origen at least did not think that he invented this rumor. How can one
                  be sure exactly when & where rumors about HJ's illegitimate paternity
                  originated? One can hardly expect earlier Xn writers to have reported this.
                  The only reason Origen reports it is that he committed himself to a
                  refutation of a text written by Celsus. We simply do not have any other
                  Jewish or anti-Xn literature that pretends to be well-informed about Jesus
                  earlier than Celsus. Had any such document been written Orthodox
                  ecclesiastical censors in the Constantinian era would certainly have
                  suppressed it as they did Celsus' volume.

                  Conversely, Mark's relatively closer historical proximity to the "event" he
                  reports only makes his witness stronger *if* one assumes that that event
                  actually happened & was not just a Markan fiction (as Ted Weeden supposes)
                  or an unfounded rumor that he uncritically echoed. But the strength of
                  Mark's testimony in this matter is no stronger than his testimony in
                  reporting other "events" -- such as the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus -- to which
                  he was not an eye-witness. And few contemporary critics would consider
                  Markan testimony in such matters much closer than 2nd or 3rd hand hearsay.
                  Given the speed with which unfounded rumors develop, I wouldn't be inclined
                  to conclude that a gap of 35 years made Mark's report any stronger than that
                  of Celsus.

                  > 2. Alexander b. Shim'on is identified by the confluence of two names, not
                  > just one as with Pantera.

                  But as I have already argued Alexander & Shim'on were both common Jewish
                  names. So the number of Jews who may have been known as Alexander b. Shim'on
                  cannot be restricted to a single individual. Pantera, on the other hand, is
                  a rare name not attested anywhere in ancient literature outside the rumor of
                  Jesus' paternity. That is why the discovery of the Bingerbruck tombstone in
                  1859 caused such a stir. The fact that it was a 1st c. artifact that
                  identified Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera as an archer from Sidon who had
                  served 40 years in a Roman legion provided details has led a long line of
                  scholars over the past 140 years to entertain the notion that the rumor
                  about Jesus' illegitimate paternity *may* not have been a complete
                  fabrication after all [see *Jesus & His World* by J.J. Rousseau & Rami Arav,
                  pp. 223f]. Since neither Mark nor the Jerusalem ossuary gives any
                  information about Alexander than his common Jewish patronym & his region of
                  origin, it is debatable whether the correlation between these references is
                  any "stronger" than the instances of reference to a Roman soldier with the
                  uncommon name of Pantera.

                  > 3. If I remember correctly, Pantera in the Pantera tradition is not
                  > *explicitly* identified as the father of Jesus, and requires several
                  > assumptions to make the connection. But perhaps I am remembering the
                  > Mishnaic versions and not Contra Celsus.

                  As I recall Celsus did not name of the Roman soldier who was rumored to be
                  Jesus' illegitimate father -- or at least Origen did not report a name
                  (unfortunately my copy of Origen's Contra Celsum is in my office at school).
                  The rumor is not mentioned in the Mishna which is not surprising since that
                  collection of rabbinic lore is largely legal in nature & contains few
                  aggadic tales. Rabbinic stories in Talmud, Tosefta etc. that identify a "ben
                  Pantera" or "ben Pandira" as the illegitimate offspring of a Roman soldier
                  do not explicitly mention the name of Jesus [if they had Xn censors would
                  certainly have burned these books]. But other rabbinic tales explicity
                  identify this ben Pandira as Jesus (Yeshua). Cf. Tosefta Hullin 2.22-23 in
                  my *Into His Own* URL
                  http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/jesus.html#snakebite
                  Few scholars would suggest that Celsus' reference to Jesus' paternity & the
                  ben Pantera/Pandira of rabbinic lore are unrelated rumors. The fact that we
                  have to piece together the Pantera rumor from several sources is
                  attributable to a well-documented history of Xns destroying works that
                  contradicted Orthodox doctrine.

                  At any rate we have far wider literary evidence of the currency of a rumor
                  that Jesus was son of a Roman soldier than we have of the name of an
                  *Alexander* b. Shim'on. For even Matt & Luke fail to echo Mark on that
                  detail.

                  > 4. The location of the Jewish ossuary is located much closer to the events
                  > described than the connection of Pantera with Sidon on a grave in Europe.

                  I fail to follow your logic here. Though Tiberius Pantera's grave is in
                  Europe -- due to his 40 years of service in the Roman military -- he is
                  described as a native of Sidon, a Lebanese city that is about 70 miles from
                  Nazareth & therefore a lot closer to HJ's probable place of origin than any
                  Judean city. It is the relative proximity of the place of Tiberius Pantera's
                  origin to HJ's hometown that is relevant to the tombstone's role in
                  supporting the legend, not the fact that he happened to die in Europe.

                  Mark 7:31 even reports Jesus taking an unexplained detour "through Sidon"
                  situated 25 mis. due north of Tyre (the site of his encounter with the
                  Syro-Phoenician woman) on his way to the Sea of Galilee (which lies 25 miles
                  southeast of Tyre). So even Mark does not regard some association of Jesus
                  with Sidon extraordinary. (Remember it is Mark who identifies Jesus only as
                  "son of Mary" & never reports the name of his human father).

                  As for the location of the Jewish ossuary containing the bones of Alexander
                  b. Shim'on: that attests only this Alexander's probable residence near
                  Jerusalem -- something Mark fails to mention, if in fact these Alexanders
                  are to be regarded as the same person. Note that Avigad did not claim to
                  recover the remains of Alexander's father Shim'on in that ossuary. So this
                  Jerusalem burial relic presents no concrete evidence that the father Simon
                  ever himself visited much less lived in Jerusalem. Note also that the
                  inscription of the ossuary claims that *Alexander* was himself from Cyrene.
                  So it is quite conceivable that this Alexander's father never left his
                  homeland. Thus the ossuary's location outside Jerusalem presents absolutely
                  no concrete evidence to support the historicity of the only *event* that
                  Mark credits to a member of this family (i.e. the Roman enlistment of Simon
                  of Cyrene to carry Jesus cross as he was approaching the city).

                  > 5. The Pantera tradition is clearly polemical rather than historical in
                  > nature. On the other hand, the mention of Alexander b. Shim'on by Mark
                  > plays only a minor role in the story, which indicates to me that the
                  > motivation for inventing the Pantera tradition is stronger than the
                  > motivation for inventing a tradition about Alexander b. Shim'on.

                  Were it not for the coincidence of the discovery of the 1st c. tombstone of
                  a Roman soldier with the unusual name of Pantera I might be inclined to
                  agree with you (& Origen) that the rabbinic references to Jesus as ben
                  Pantera could easily be dismissed as a total fiction designed to discredit
                  Xn claims of Jesus' virgin birth. Since Jane Schaberg's study on the case
                  for the illegitimacy of Jesus, however, I have to admit the opposite is just
                  as likely to be the case: i.e., that Xn claims of Mary's virginity were a
                  "mask" designed to turn the disgrace of Jesus' illegitimacy to theological
                  advantage. Cf. par 21 URL

                  http://www.pinn.net/~sunshine/book-sum/illegit.html

                  As for Mark's reference to Alexander b. Shim'on, I would hardly characterize
                  this as a tradition, since Mark is the only gospel writer who ever mentioned
                  this Alexander. I agree that Mark's off-handed allusion to Alexander *seems*
                  to be ingenuous. But he might have introduced this historicizing aside to
                  give credence to the otherwise questionable claim that Roman soldiers
                  exempted Jesus whom they had scourged & were on the verge of crucifying from
                  the ordeal of lugging his own cross.

                  So IMHO it is a toss-up as to which link between grave relic & rumor
                  presents a "stronger correlation." As I read the evidence, neither case is
                  particularly strong. But if I had to bet I *might* join Jane Schaberg in
                  wagering that the ben Pantera tradition may have a better claim to a core of
                  historical truth than the synoptic report that Romans relieved HJ of the
                  burden of having to bear his own cross to the site of his execution. In that
                  case my vote would neutralize yours.

                  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: "Bob Schacht" <r_schacht@...>
                  To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
                  Sent: Monday, December 03, 2001 3:05 PM
                  Subject: Re: [XTalk] Historical vs. Legendary Characters (was Dating of
                  GMark)


                  > At 04:45 PM 12/3/01 +0000, you wrote:
                  > >On 3 Dec 2001 at 7:55, Bob Schacht wrote:
                  > >
                  > > > I think your emphasis indicates your bias. Clearly, you don't *want*
                  > > > the two Alexanders to be the same person. To equate the evidence for
                  > > > Cyrenian Alexander b. Shim'on in a Jewish cemetery in Jerusalem as
                  > > > Alexander b. Shim'on in Mark whose father is reported by Mark in
                  > > > Jerusalem with the evidence from the tomb *in Germany*, if I remember
                  > > > correctly, of a Roman soldier from Sidon named Tiberius Julius Abdes
                  > > > Pantera as the same as the Pantera (not Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera)
                  > > > mentioned in some Mishnaic tracts dating hundreds of years later than
                  > > > Mark shows a very skewed set of balanced scales, I'm afraid.
                  > >
                  > >I think you may be being a little harsh on Mahlon here, Bob.
                  >
                  > Perhaps so; Mahlon is usually right, and I respect his scholarship
                  greatly.
                  > But what I was reacting to was his bald assertion that
                  > >I tend to agree with Michael Turton that the ossuary of Alexander b.
                  > Shim'on is
                  > > *no more*
                  > >evidence that "these individuals are not legendary characters but real
                  > >historical figures" than the discovery of the tomb of a Roman soldier
                  from
                  > >Sidon named Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera is evidence that Jewish claims
                  > >that Jesus' father was a Roman soldier named Pantera involved a "real
                  > >historical figure."
                  >
                  > I added emphasis to his words "no more." Both cases involve burial data
                  > compared with textual data.
                  >
                  >
                  > > On balance, we can't say much more than that this could be the
                  character
                  > >referred to by Mark. It's quite interesting and certainly worth our
                  > >attention, but I don't know that we can go much further than that.
                  > >The Panthera tradition isn't anything like as late as you suggest.
                  > >The earliest reference is in Origen (3rd C.) and he is clearly
                  > >referring to Celsus's tradition on this (mid-late 2nd C.), within
                  > >100 years of the publication of the Gospels (see Contra Celsum,
                  > >1.32).
                  >
                  > I argue that the evidence is stronger for Alexander b. Shim'on than for
                  > Pantera based on these data:
                  > 1. Mark is 100 years earlier than the Pantera tradition. 35 years after
                  the
                  > events depicted is better than 135 years later.
                  > 2. Alexander b. Shim'on is identified by the confluence of two names, not
                  > just one as with Pantera.
                  > 3. If I remember correctly, Pantera in the Pantera tradition is not
                  > *explicitly* identified as the father of Jesus, and requires several
                  > assumptions to make the connection. But perhaps I am remembering the
                  > Mishnaic versions and not Contra Celsus
                  > 4. The location of the Jewish ossuary is located much closer to the events
                  > described than the connection of Pantera with Sidon on a grave in Europe.
                  > 5. The Pantera tradition is clearly polemical rather than historical in
                  > nature. On the other hand, the mention of Alexander b. Shim'on by Mark
                  > plays only a minor role in the story, which indicates to me that the
                  > motivation for inventing the Pantera tradition is stronger than the
                  > motivation for inventing a tradition about Alexander b. Shim'on.
                  >
                  > Again, I don't think this constitutes "proof", but it is, to me, better
                  > evidence than the Pantera tradition. So again, to equate the strength of
                  > the evidence in these two cases is, to me, just bizarre.
                  >
                  > But in any case my apologies to Mahlon if my response was too tart.
                  >
                  >
                  > >Thankyou very much, by the way, for the helpful feedback on my SBL
                  > >paper, and to others -- especially Ken Olson -- who have provided
                  > >similarly useful feedback. More anon.
                  > >
                  > >Mark
                  >
                  >
                  > Good! Don't let this drop. I look forward to your replies in this regard.
                  > Thanks,
                  > Bob
                  >
                  >
                  > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  >
                  >
                  >
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                • Mahlon H. Smith
                  ... Thanks Mark. Like Bob I sit corrected. Just goes to show how right you were in assuring Bob that I am not always right ;-) I m such a print scholar that I
                  Message 8 of 14 , Dec 3, 2001
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                    Mark Goodacre wrote:

                    > It's explicit in Contra Celsum. I copy this from the on-line CCEL
                    > Ante-Nicene fathers collection:

                    Thanks Mark. Like Bob I sit corrected. Just goes to show how right you were
                    in assuring Bob that I am not always right ;-)

                    I'm such a print scholar that I have yet to learn always to check the
                    on-line classic texts that I know full well are just a click away.

                    BTW. For anyone else who is interested. The CCEL URL for Origen's citation
                    of Celsus' reference to Panthera is

                    http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/ANF-04/anf04-55.htm#P7657_1778987

                    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/
                  • Stephen C. Carlson
                    ... Given my participation in the aforementioned thread, I could not let this pass without comment. First, the view that Mark was written in Rome has much
                    Message 9 of 14 , Dec 4, 2001
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                      At 12:12 PM 12/3/2001 -0500, Mahlon H. Smith wrote:
                      >(1) The thesis thaat Mark wrote to Roman Xns is a patristic tradition that
                      >has been challenged by many recent scholars, including Ted Weeden & yours
                      >truly in an extended email debate regarding the Provenance of Mark that is
                      >still accessible in the archives of this list.

                      Given my participation in the aforementioned thread, I could
                      not let this pass without comment. First, the view that Mark
                      was written in Rome has much more evidentiary support that
                      what is stated here. It is is not based only on various
                      patristic traditions (note plural) but also, as Hengel has
                      ably argued, on a congruence of internal criteria that all
                      independently point to a Roman provenance.

                      Second, even though it has become fashionable for some scholars
                      to dispute a Roman provenance for Mark, they are hardly in
                      agreement as to where Mark was written. You, Mahlon, have
                      called for Judea, Weeden has suggested Galilee, and Joel
                      Marcus has pooh-poohed both ideas calling for Syria instead.
                      A close examination of the positive reasons for the alternate
                      sites for Mark shows that much of the same evidence supports
                      Rome about as well.

                      For example, Marcus argues for Syria because it was "close enough
                      in contact with many traditions about Jesus", but given the Pax
                      Romana, so was the capital Rome, which already had a sizeable
                      church at the time of Paul's letter to the Romans. Marcus says
                      that Syria was "also a predominantly Gentile region and an area
                      of Pauline influence" -- so was Rome. The term "Syrophoenician"
                      is appropriate not just in Syria, but in Rome too. Finally,
                      Marcus argues that Syria fits with Mark's emphasis on persecution
                      due to massacres of Jews by Gantiles there, but Rome remains the
                      best attested place in the first century where Christians per se
                      were persecuted, in Nero's reign.

                      Furthermore, the arguments for an Eastern provenance have
                      not been able to factor out successfully the fact that the
                      plot of Mark takes place in Galilee and Judea. Just because
                      Mark's gospel states that there will be a resurrection appearance
                      in Galilee does not mean that Mark was written in Galilee.

                      If one is to view the evidence in favor of Rome as (overly)
                      skeptically as the challengers, applying the same standard
                      to the evidence asserted in favor an Eastern provenance
                      would result in absolutely nothing left to go on.

                      Stephen Carlson
                      --
                      Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
                      Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
                      "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35
                    • RSBrenchley@aol.com
                      ... Jerome, ... Could Papias be writing partly from a desire to justify two divergent texts? Mark used Peter, so had an accurate source, but did not write the
                      Message 10 of 14 , Dec 16, 2001
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                        Stephen Carlson writes:

                        > In terms of substance, it is an overstatement to claim that Papias reported
                        > that "Mark records the preaching of Peter" and that Mark "preserves Peter's
                        > testimony" as if Mark were some sort of transcript of Peter's preaching.
                        > That
                        > is not how Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria understood the situation, and
                        > they -- unlike us -- had Papias's full statement in its context. Clement
                        > asserted that Peter did not endorse Mark's gospel. This is hardly the
                        > behavior of a person whose preaching and/or testimony was recorded.
                        > Irenaeus
                        > tells us that Mark's gospel was composed after Peter's "departure." Most
                        > likely, Irenaeus meant after Peter's death, but in any case Peter was not
                        > around when Mark composed his gospel, according to Irenaeus. In fact, the
                        > dictation theory does not appear in the tradition until the 5th-cen.
                        Jerome,
                        > who has shown no independent knowledge of Papias's remarks (in fact, Jerome
                        > denied having translated Papias into Latin). Thus, the idea that Papias,
                        > Clement, and even Irenaeus were operating under the presumption of Petrine
                        > inspiration is an anachronism.

                        Could Papias be writing partly from a desire to justify two divergent
                        texts? Mark used Peter, so had an accurate source, but did not write the
                        story down in order. He 'kept a single aim in view: not to omit anything of
                        what he heard, nor to state anything therein falsely'. As you say, that does
                        not preclude other sources.

                        Matthew, on the other hand, is presumed to be the Matthew named as 'one
                        of the Lord's disciples', and is therefore an eyewitness. So he's likely to
                        get the order right. On the other hand, he 'compiled the oracles in the
                        Hebrew language [or dialect], but everyone translated them as he was able'.
                        So we shouldn't be too surprised if the details are occasionally somewhat
                        inaccurate; this would be due to poor translation. Maybe the translator
                        wasn't very able.

                        So on this picture, we have a neat explanation of why these two Gospels
                        differ in so many details, which avoids impugning either of them.

                        Regards,

                        Robert Brenchley

                        RSBrenchley@...
                        Birmingham, UK.
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