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Re: [Synoptic-L] Thesis: Mark Used Cross Gospel in 15:42-16:8, Pt.1

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  • Karel Hanhart
    ... Dear Ted, Before going into your reasons for not finding my thesis persuasive, I would first like to consider with you the fact that Markan studies have
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 29, 2002
      Ted Weeden wrote:

      > Karel Hanhart wrote on Tuesday, January 22, 2002:
      > > Dear Ted,
      > > Last year you offered the Synoptic-L readers a detailed description of your
      > > position. It was much appreciated. It did not deal with a marginal
      > > problem.
      > [snip]
      > > It is my contention that Mark's ending determines the content of his Gospel.
      > > Hence my question why most commentators ignore the suggestions of C.
      > > Montefiore (1927!) that the open tomb story is a midrash on LXX Gn 29,2.3,
      > > Isa 22,16; 33.16. ....

      > My response:
      > That Mark may have had in mind Gen. 29: 2, 3; Isaiah 22:16; 33:16, is a
      > suggestion worthy of consideration. You are correct that there are some
      > terminological parallels between the LXX passages you cite and Mk. 15:46. But
      > I am not persuaded that Mark scoured the LXX to find terms to piece together, in
      > such patch-like fashion, to shape his own narrative of the burial and empty-tomb
      > stories, and in the course of doing so, alighted on Gen. 28:2-3; Isa. 22:16;
      > 33;16.

      Dear Ted,

      Before going into your reasons for not finding my thesis persuasive, I would first
      like to consider with you the fact that Markan studies have reached an impasse. Your
      effort is a valiant attempt to force your way through it. I am sure others feel
      likewise about my own. So I'll focus my first reply on your presuppositions. In a
      later post I would want to respond to your attempt at reconstructing the historical
      context of Mark's community.

      But what makes you write:
      "I am not persuaded that Mark scoured the LXX to find terms to piece together,
      such patch-like fashion?".

      I have read that expression "scouring the LXX" before, as a description of the
      method of midrash. Did you also read it, perhaps , and did the term 'scouring the
      LXX' stick in your mind? At the time I thought, "this man has not been exposed to a
      serious study of Talmud and Midrash". I hasten to say, that I thought this at the
      time; I respect your scholarship But in this connection I cannot help repeating my
      Mind you, I believe in the exegesis of a Gospel story, a student should succumb
      to the rigors of literary, synchronic, diachronic and rhetorical critique. This
      holds true for someone who tries the method of midrash to decipher a mysterious
      passage. I have done so, as best I could. But I certainly did not 'scour the LXX'.
      For that ignores the basic rules for communicating truth through midrash. And that
      is what Mark did. Tell me, why did the editors refer to all possible references in
      Mark to the LXX and why did they ignore this last one? Is perhaps the reason that
      the idea of an empty tomb has become so deeply ingrained in the Western mind that a
      possible reference to Isaiah is simply ignored? They ought to have a good reason for
      the omission.

      Now about the very first foundational lines of your own position, demonstrating
      its vulnerability
      You write:

      > I think Mark did draw upon another major source which he used to mine
      > terminology and motifs for his burial story, as well as his empty-tomb story.
      > My thesis is that the source was a pre-Markan Gospel, a source which John
      > Dominic Crossan has reconstructed from the Gospel of Peter and dubbed "the Cross
      > Gospel ... I am well aware that Crossan's reconstructed "Cross Gospel,"
      > which originated, according to Crossan's proposal, in the early
      > 40's in Jerusalem.. has not been widely embraced ... by most scholars....

      > ... Yet, despite the radically different perspectives represented by Crossan,
      > Brown
      > and Neirynck, on the relationship between the Gospel of Peter and the canonical
      > Gospels, they do, surprisingly, agree on one thing. They all agree that the
      > author of the Gospel of Peter had, in addition to the canonical Gospels, access
      > to an independent, traditional and consecutive account, which was composed with
      > careful consistency, and which depicted a centurion and his soldiers standing
      > guard at Jesus' grave and witnessing a spectacular Easter event, an event which
      > they subsequently reported to Pilate. That traditional story is preserved in
      > the Gospel of Peter 8:28-11:49.

      I wonder if Neyrinck agrees with you. I will ask him as soon as I see him. But
      let me state some of my own conclusions regarding this so-called Cross Gospel:.
      In his 'The Cross that Spoke', J.D. Crossan conjectured a pre-Markan existence of
      an open tomb story. I myself defend the position that Mark composed the story, as
      we have it, as the new ending of a revised post-70 passion story: a midrash on Isa
      22,16; 33,16; Gn 29,1.2. So our views are radically opposed. Both Crossan and I try
      to break through the impasse. The difference is that Crossan first created a fictive
      pre-70 Gospel with an empty tomb which I strictly kept to the literal text of Mark -
      the oldest text we have. Trying to make sense of the story we actually have and
      applying principles of midrash, I concluded that Mark did not teach an empty tomb.
      He was formulating a new post-70 message of hope for his readers in the ecclesia of
      Rome or Alexandria, based on his own belief and that of his readers in Jesus'
      resurrection. In composing this midrash, he applied Isaiah's prophecies on the
      destruction of the first temple to his own situation. In LXX Isaiah 22,16 the word
      for tomb, ‘mnemeion' is a euphemism for the temple that would soon be in ruins, as
      the context makes amply clear. The news of the fall of Jerusalem had just
      reverberated throughout the Empire. So a reaction of leaders in the ecclesia was
      urgently needed.
      Now about the critique of the hypothetical Cross Gospel. According to his
      ingenious theory this 'Gospel' is embedded in the apocryphal Gospel of Peter. By
      eliminating from 'Peter's Gospel' words, phrases and incidents known from the
      synoptic and Johannine gospels, he believes that the residue formed the core of the
      earliest passion/ resurrection narrative. It was a gospel story written for Romans,
      "a tale of vindicated innocence " in which, like the king in 3 Maccabees, a
      vindictive ruler (Pilate) is 'converted' in the end. Jesus rises, Rome converts
      (p.402). This Cross Gospel served Mark and also Matthew and Luke as source for
      their own passion and resurrection narratives. John, in turn drew on the synoptics
      as well as on this supposedly earlier manuscript. The Cross Gospel itself, says
      Crossan, must have been expanded later with an 'intra-canonical layer', while
      finally a redactional stratum can be detected that mediated between the 'original'
      story and the 'later' additions. The end result was the Gospel of Peter, as we have
      In my view Crossan tries to explain some of the irritating variations in the
      resurrection stories of the four gospels. Crossan's hypothesis, - he does not deal
      with Mark 16:1ff. specifically-, contains a number of fine insights. But the
      following objections may suffice.
      a) The 'Cross Gospel' ends with an elaborate version of the guard before the
      tomb. Following a Johannine dating (Jesus' crucifixion occurred on Friday, Nisan
      14), the story stresses Roman activity, on Sabbath Eve.
      "Pilate gave them Petronius, the centurion, with soldiers to watch the sepulchre".
      [On the Sabbath itself] "a crowd from Jerusalem and the country round about came to
      see the sepulchre that had been sealed". "In the night when the Lord's Day
      dawned...," the soldiers hear a voice; they see 'two men' coming down from heaven
      and enter the tomb, the stone having rolled aside by itself. The soldiers awaken the
      centurion and the elders (!), where upon they saw 'three men' come out of the tomb.
      This is supposed to be the earliest resurrection narrative. But why would
      'Petronius', the centurion's name in the Cross Gospel, have been omitted in the
      supposedly later canonical gospels? Is it just coincidence that the name of Pilate's
      superior also happened to be Petronius, governor of Syria? It is more plausible to
      hold that a second century pro-Roman author wished to exculpate the Roman
      officials. A more serious objection is the Johannine dating of the crucifixion in
      this core gospel. To me, it is a sure sign that this assumed 'early text' must be
      dated in the second century and not before the destruction of the temple. According
      to the synoptics, Jesus died on Nisan 15. Crossan does not make clear, why Mark,
      followed by Matthew and Luke, would have changed the date of the crucifixion - no
      light matter! - while supposedly all four gospels would derive from this core
      gospel. As Crossan sees it, the oldest tradition of Jesus' trial, i.e. the major
      portion of the Cross Gospel, "began not with historical information"; those closest
      to Jesus knew only that he was crucified "during the Passover time"; they did not
      know "the exact day" (!). Reliable historical information on the trial is not
      available, but the date of the crucifixion was public knowledge. The disciples
      surely must have known the day when Jesus was crucified. The Johannine change of
      date was clearly suggested by later theological meditation on the 'passover' meaning
      of the crucifixion (behold, the lamb of God) . Finally, Crossan fails to give an
      adequate explanation of why a ‘guard' was needed for a dead man's grave in order to
      prevent his rising from the dead!
      b) Crossan rightly places the passion narratives in the context of Israel's
      history and destiny. The passion story is steeped in Israel's reflection on the
      suffering of the righteous.

      "Just as passion prophecy combined the sufferings both of Israel's past and of
      Jesus' resent, so also did his Resurrection at the head of the holy ones
      fulfill the ancient promises of God affirming vindication for those who had remained
      faithful despite persecution".

      But could this Peter gospel have been so radically anti-Jewish? An entire nation is
      condemned in a period when the parties were still able to distinguish between the
      population and their leaders. Not only the extant Gospel of Peter, as end product,
      but also the supposedly early core is obviously anti-judaic and pro-Roman, as
      Crossan also maintains. But is not that highly unlikely, for the word 'Judean'
      (ioudaios) is here used in a general, abstract, mostly negative sense, just as in
      John (cf. e.g. 8:31ff.). Yet, strangely enough, Crossan does not find it an anomaly
      that this ‘early' Cross Gospel "removes Roman soldiers from any role in the
      crucifixion" (the 'people' crucify Jesus) and that he has Pilate confessing that
      Jesus was 'Son of God'. Statements like these fit better into a second century
      context when apologetic turned into antijudaism. According to this ‘Cross Gospel',
      the ‘authorities' are of a judgment better "to make ourselves guilty of the greatest
      sin before God than to fall into the hands of the people of the Jews and be stoned
      (Ev. Pet. 11:48 cmp 7:27)". One cannot escape from the 'stifling prison of
      prejudice' (J. Armitage Robinson).
      c) Ev. Pet 7:25 demonstrates that also this hypothetical core gospel must be dated
      after the Roman-Jewish war in spite of Crossan's flat denial,
      "Then the Jews and the elders and the priests, perceiving what great evil they had
      done to themselves, began to lament and to say, "Woe on our sins, the judgment and
      the end of Jerusalem is drawn nigh".
      It certainly would make early Christians Quislings. Does not it make more sense to
      see the verse as a late 'pro-Roman' development, an outgrowth of John 11:48, 54 in
      stead of a very early tradition? In the context of such prejudice, I would replace
      Crossan's summary ‘Jesus rises, Rome converts' to the Gentile's gain, is Israel's
      loss. Even the hypothetical core of the G. F Peter is pro-Roman and as such is
      better date in the second century.Why would Christian ioudaioi in the 30's or 40's
      believe that specifically the 'end' of Jerusalem would come soon? The parousia, yes,
      the temple's downfall, perhaps, but not Jerusalem's destruction. The early 'Cross
      gospel' is a fiction.
      I have dealt at some length with Crossans's thesis. He is, of course, fully aware
      of the hypothetical nature of his work as is my own approach. No doubt, if Crossan
      were right concerning the date of the 'core' gospel with its open tomb narrative,
      exhibiting unadulterated antijudaism, his theory would present the only concrete
      alternative to my own approach forcing us to regard the similarities between Mark
      15:46 and Isa 22:16 as a late Markan addition or as sheer coincidence. But now the
      verdict of C.F.D. Moule should stand for the whole of this apocryphal gospel,
      including its core. It is "strictly docetic...its extravagances mark it as
      Crossan's ingenious attempt to isolate a pre-Markan hard core from an open tomb
      story in Ev. Pet does not adequately explain the late Johannine dating, the omission
      of the name Petronius in the canonical gospels, the use of ioudaios as a late
      stereotype exhibiting unadulterated antijudaism and the clear allusion to Isa 22:16.

      I apologize for the length of this response. It was necessary for a meaningful

      your Karel hanhart
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