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

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  • Jan Sammer
    I would like to make some comments on the first installment of Ted Weeden s essay on the empty tomb. Since Ted has presented only the first of nine
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 4, 2002
      I would like to make some comments on the first installment of Ted Weeden's
      essay on the empty tomb. Since Ted has presented only the first of nine
      installments of his essay, some of the criticisms presented below may be
      obviated by arguments he will make in the subsequent installments. However,
      since the subsequent installments will presumably build on the conclusions
      reached in this introductory essay, I though it advisable to try to point
      out what I consider its shortcomings. These comments are also intended to
      provide an opportunity to compare the explanatory value of the postulated
      pre-Markan Cross Gospel with the explanatory value of another hypothetical
      document, a pre-Markan drama tentatively entitled Nazarenus (for details,
      see www.nazarenus.com), on which Mark in particular would have drawn in his
      account of the empty tomb.

      In his initial essay Ted defends Crossan's thesis of a pre-Markan Cross
      Gospel, a major source of evidence for which would the Gospel of Peter.

      Ted summarizes his argument as follows:
      > It is in that story --- the so-called "guard-at-the-sepulcher story," a
      > which makes up fifty percent of Crossan's reconstructed Cross Gospel
      > [henceforth: CG], a story recognized by Brown and Neirynck as originating
      > independently of the canonical Gospel tradition--- that I find parallels
      > material in Mark's burial and empty-tomb stories. Moreover, as a result
      of my
      > analysis of those parallels, I have come to the conclusion that direct
      > dependency exists between Mk 15:42-16:8 and the guard-at-the-sepulcher
      > and, further, that it is Mark who is the dependent one.

      Ted then continues by citing the portion of GPet that in his view provides
      the best glimpse of the pre-Markan CG.

      I cannot find anything in Ted's argument that would dispel the view of
      numerous commentators that the guards-at -the-tomb story, in both its
      Matthean and GPetrine versions, serves a purely apologetic purpose of
      countering objections of those opposed to the fundamental Christian tenet of
      the bodily resurrection of Jesus. And it was the Markan account of the empty
      tomb which first gave rise to such objections. Prior to Mark the evidence
      for Jesus' resurrection were the appearances, as listed on several occasions
      by Paul. I concur with Ted that Mark's account of the empty tomb is an
      abbreviation of an earlier account, but in my view this account cannot have
      had anything to do with guards at the tomb, since the notion of the empty
      tomb and of the the missing body came into existence as a result of the
      choices Mark made in composing his gospel. The account of the missing body
      was fuel on the fire of anti-Christian polemicists. The account of the
      guards is an argument that is understandable only in an atmosphere of
      intense polemics. It is an attempt to counter the objection that the
      evidence of absence of Jesus' body from the tomb is far from an adequate
      proof of Jesus' resurrection and can be more easily explained by his
      followers having stolen it and buried it secretly elsewhere. The
      counterargument present in Matthew and GPeter is, in effect, how could you
      say that the body was stolen, when the tomb was sealed with seven seals and
      placed under armed guard? The claim that an episode of guards at the tomb is
      pre-Markan begs the question of why such guards would be considered
      necessary by Christian apologists prior to Mark. The issue of what happened
      to Jesus' body arose only as a result of Mark's account of the empty tomb,
      as pointed out below.

      As we learn from Paul's writings, Christian catechisms before Mark taught
      that Jesus resurrected and was seen at various times by his disciples and by
      larger gatherings of the faithful in Galilee. In the thesis that I would
      like to present, Mark, used a source that contained an account of Jesus'
      burial, followed by a visit by a group of women to his tomb, who become
      witnesses to the resurrection. In the original document the women are
      introduced specifically to act as witnesses to the resurrection, but Mark
      has to reject this notion for theological reasons of his own. Mark ends his
      gospel with the women, having witnessed an appearance of a young man at the
      tomb, fleeing away in terror. The reason that Mark does not identify the
      young man is that he wishes to stay faithful to Christian beliefs that Jesus
      appeared to his disciples, first of all to Peter, in Galilee. The source
      that Mark followed had the young man at the tomb gradually reveal himself to
      the women as the resurrected Jesus. The women first flee in terror, then
      approach the tomb a second time, to question the young man further. The
      young man then offers hints as to his identity (e.g., Luke's "why do you
      look for a living one among the dead?"), which the women fail to grasp; they
      walk away in sorrow and disappointment at not having found the body, only to
      be called back by the young man who finally reveals to them his true
      identity as the resurrected Jesus. Had Mark reproduced this account of his
      source (the Nazarenus drama) in full, this would have constituted a negation
      of Christian doctrine of the priority of Peter as a witness to the
      resurrection. Furthermore, the Nazarenus drama evidently had the resurrected
      Jesus ascend to heaven immediately afterwards, in the presence of the
      women. This in particular, prompted Mark to abbreviate his rendition of this
      source, since it contradicted the notion of the Galilean appearances. Thus
      Mark preferred to end his gospel by linking the scene at the empty tomb,
      which was an innovation introduced by his source, to the Galilean
      appearances. By failing to identify the young man at the tomb as Jesus, Mark
      opened the door to critics who could claim that Jesus' body was missing. It
      was in response to these critics that Matthew introduced the story of the
      guards, which is echoed and expanded in the so-called Gospel of Peter.

      To summarize, before Mark, the evidence of the resurrection was not the
      empty tomb, but appearances to Peter, James, the twelve, the 500, etc. The
      empty tomb as evidence of the resurrection was a Markan invention, based on
      an abridgement of the postulated Nazarenus drama, which immediately
      engendered hostile polemics by the enemies of Christianity, polemics which
      Matthew and GPeter sought to quash with their accounts of guards at the

      Jan Sammer
      Prague, Czech Republic
    • Karel Hanhart
      ... Dear Ted, I promised in return to critique your position. But let me first, briefly, answer your question. ... a) I object to the term empty tomb story .
      Message 2 of 2 , Feb 5, 2002
        Ted Weeden wrote:

        > Dear Listers,
        > Last week, as I was working on my next post on the topic,"The Galilean-NK
        > Connection: Alive and Well," I received a post from Karel Hanhart, via
        > Synoptic-L, reminding me that I still owed him a reply to his post of May 26,
        > 2000, which I promised to respond to as soon as I could find some time.

        Dear Ted,
        I promised in return to critique your position. But let me first, briefly, answer
        your question.

        > 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.

        a) I object to the term "empty tomb story". Taken literally, a youth in a white
        [baptismal] robe is in the grave. According to my interpretation, Mark is depicting
        here the Pauline metaphor of "being buried with Christ" in baptism in order to rise
        with him.
        b) It probably is a typing error. But Montefiore did not suggest Gen. 28:2-3. He
        referred to Gn 29,2.3. So besides the verbal agreement with Isa 22,16 which you
        ELATOMHSAS. . . MNHNEION . . . MNHMEION . . . EN PETRA (Isa. 22:16) vis-a-vis
        MNHMEIWi . . . LELATOMHMENON EK PETRAS (Mk. 15:46). "

        Mark also took over terms from the Jacob story near the well in Gn 29. The shepherds
        of Haran conspired against Rachel, sothat she could not draw water for the sheep.
        Jacob, however, moved the stone, that covered the well, singlehandedly. The verbal
        agreement is in the verb APOKULIO, to roll away, and the words LITHOS [ stone] and
        EN MEGAS, the stone "was very large". This ombination is, like the cited text in
        Isa 22,16 a hapax. Nowhere else in Tenach do we find this combination of three
        Would you maintain that Mark in the final and all important ending of the
        crucifixion narrative, used this combination of terms by accident? Is it not the
        better policy to start off by asking why he cited these passages ? A midrash is not
        a random 'patchwork'. It is a carefully planned system of referring the reader to
        passages in scripture, - much like a code -, in order that the reader, struck by the
        strangeness of the story - remembers that a situation similar tp the one they find
        themslves in, was already encountered in the Torah and the prophets. We should read
        Mark on his own terms. Scriptures were holy writ. Jesus and his disciples lived by
        them and so did the authors of the gospel.
        Exegesis of LXX Isa 22,16 and Hb Isa 22,16 results in the conclusion that the
        prophet uses the term mnemeion - monument / sepulcher in a metaphorical sense
        meaning the temple. The conclusion finds confirmation by the great Jewish scholar
        The women in 16,4 receive a vision near the 'tomb', as in Isa 32,9, of the future
        destruction of the temple (anablepsasai). The angel/youth in the tomb dressed in a
        white stola (= 'buried with Christ")
        is not pointing to a slab of stone in the tomb, where the dead body of jesus was
        laid. In that case the angel would have said "idete ton topon". Instead, he says
        with a Hebraism "behold, the Place" -Gr. "ide, ho topos" [Hb. lo, ha-maqom]. Now
        ha-Maqom is in Hebrew Scriptures and in Jewish lore the Holy Place, JHWH has chosen
        to dwell. The women in this vision of the future see to their horror the
        destruction of the Holy Place. Hence, their fear and their flight and their absolute

        What evidence is there that Mark searches the LXX and pieces terms found in

        > various passages together in patchwork fashion?

        One piece of evidence is the midrash at the opening of the Gospel. Mark writes "as
        it is written by the prophet Isaiah". However, continues by not citing Isaiah, but
        Ex 23,20; Mal 3,1. As I see it, Mark in revising a pre-70 passover story beginning
        with the joyous; a voice crying in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way of JHWH, make
        his paths straight.." (citing LXX Isa 40,3). The voice is joyous, for it introduces
        the 'euaggelion' of Isa 40,9. In the pre-70 version of the story this passages
        marked the beginning of Second Isaiah dealing with Israel's weal and woe after the
        Babylonian exile. In the original pre-70 version the verb 'euaggelizo' was typical
        of the proclamation of salvation through faith in Jesus Messiah in the diaspora, as
        Paul demonstrates.
        But after 70 Jerusalem no longer could be pictured as a messenger of good
        tiding. So Mark prefaced the phrases in proto-Mark re. the 'good tidings' from
        Jerusalem by deliberate referring to Malachi 3 and the function of the baptism by

        > But I do not find the occurrence of such similar terminology in these two
        > passages points to a
        > dependence of Mark upon Isa. 22:16 for descriptive material of how a tomb is
        > fashioned. For archaeological evidence indicates that creating tombs by
        > hewing out rock was common in the Palestinian area of Jesus' time (see Jonathan
        > Reed, _Archaeology and the Galilean Jesus_, 47, 59f., 134, and John Dominic
        > Crossan and Jonathan Reed, _Excavating Jesus_, 237f., 241, 245).

        You are quite right. In the haggadah itself (the open-tomb-story} we are dealing
        with the burial of Jesus and the discovery of the removal of the very large stone.
        The question is; what does this story mean? The metaphor of the opened grave has
        been used by Ezekiel, of course. In the vision of the.
        "valley of the dry bones" the voice of JHWH is heard, " I am going to open your
        graves, o Israel".
        The metaphor express the idea of returning to the motherland after the exile. In
        the case of Mark the metaphor isn't taken directly from Ezekiel. For in Mark's
        situation the context is the very opposite. A new exile has just begun. The author
        challenges the readers to search for the right application of the passages cited
        to their own situation.

        > So Mark,
        > whom I place in the village region of Caesarea Philippi (see my essay,
        > "Guidelines for Locating the Markan Community," Kata Markon [2/29/00]; XTalk
        > [2/29/00; Archives #3913], would have been well aware of this Palestinian
        > practice for creating tombs. And, thus, he would not have had to scour the LXX
        > to find terminology to fit his compositional needs. He had his own personal
        > experience to draw upon.
        > I find it a logical stretch to suggest that Mark had to turn to Gen. 29:2-3--- a
        > passage that has nothing to do with burial--- to find a a reference to a large
        > stone which he needed in his burial narrative to describe how Jesus' tomb was
        > sealed. Similarly, to argue that there is an intentional, allusive link in Mk.
        > 15:46 to Isa. 33:16 is an even greater logical challenge. Thus, I am not
        > persuaded by your argument that Mk. 15:46 is a part of a Markan midrash on the
        > unrelated LXX passages of Gen. 29:2-3; Isa. 22:16 and Isa. 33:16.

        How the story of Jacob making water available to the herd of sheep of Rachel (Gn
        29,2.3) makes perfect sense in the midrash, I will explain in a later post.

        regards, your Karel

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