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Re: [XTalk] The short ending of Mark: a conjecture

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  • Karel Hanhart
    ... Not so! The setting if one considers the structure of Mark. It is the result of what is called synchronic reading of the text. Many interpreters agree (a)
    Message 1 of 5 , Feb 27, 2002
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      Bob Schacht wrote:

      > At 07:34 AM 2/24/2002 +0100, you wrote:
      >
      > >Bob Schacht wrote:
      > >
      > > > A number of issues have been raised about the ending of Mark, and the total
      > > > Sitz of the gospel. I propose below an explanation-- I would be grateful if
      > > > someone would point me to any such prior literature on this idea.
      > > >
      > >
      > >Dear Bob.
      > >Your idea was proposed by Benoit Standaert, L'évangile selon Marc:
      > >Composition et
      > >genre littéraire. Brugge (Belgium) Zevenkerken, 1978. It was summarized by
      > >Augustine Stock, Method and Message of Mark. Wilmington: Michael Glazier,
      > >1989.
      >
      > Thanks!
      >
      > ..
      > > > * The ending of Mark seems cut off because it was meant to be followed
      > > > immediately by an Easter Liturgy, echoing the phrase, "He has risen!" (Mark
      > > > 16:6; cf. Romans 10:9)
      > >
      > >The three authors mentioned above believe that the reading was followed by the
      > >rite of baptism of new (non-Judean) converts. Jesus' mission begins with
      > >his baptism by John; it ends with the baptism of new members of his body.
      >
      > That seems an awkward transition. Baptism immediately after the barest
      > proclamation of the resurrection?

      Not so! The setting if one considers the structure of Mark. It is the result of
      what is called synchronic reading of the text. Many interpreters agree
      (a) that the Galilean and Judean sections of the Gospel are not meant to be simply
      biographical details, although it would be difficult to deny that the Jesus of
      history was mainly active in Galilee while Pilate had him executed in Jerusalem.
      Mark's story is told, however, in the framework of the annual Passover feast and
      was meant to be read during this festival in the ecclesia somewhere in Rome or
      Alexandria just after the disastrous destruction of the Temple, where up till that
      time the heartbeat of the Judean nation was felt.

      Jesus' decision - after his baptism and after the 'delivering up' of the Baptist in
      Judea - to go to Galilee and there proclaim "the kingdom of God is at hand"
      creates a peculiar distinction between the two regions in a deliberate way.
      The peculiarity becomes clear when the story slowly moves to its climax after
      Jesus' pilgrimage
      to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. Incidents on that journey are marked by the
      notations that he was "on the way". The term "on the way" reminds one of the Exodus
      story; the Israelites being "on the way" after JHWH their God. The term halacha is
      derived from that seminal idea.
      Having arrived in Jerusalem, his teachings and actions take place in and around
      the temple complex. After his arrest his activities cease; he becomes totally
      passive, except his confession before Caiaphas and his Eloi, Eloi.
      The theological meaning of his passion was related progressively in the three
      passion predictions of 8,31, 9,31 and 1033f. ending with the delivering up of the
      Son of Man [better: the Human One] to the 'nations' !. The progression in the
      predictions imply, I think, a double theme: Negatively: Jesus himself would be
      delivered up to Caiaphas and then delivered up to Pilate (representing the
      Gentiles) unto his dreadful death on the Cross, but God would place him at his
      right. This prediction was worked out in the narrative itself. But there is a
      second layer in the prediction: the Human One [the huios tou anthropou is a
      corporate term] will be delivered up to the high priests (plural !) and to the
      nations (plural !). The term Human One is a corporate term referring to Jesus
      Messiah AND his people. In the pre-70 years the people of the Messiah would be
      delivered up to the high priests and then (after the fall of Jerusalem) to the
      nations. But they too would share in Christ's resurrection.
      (b) Mark' s story breaks off short at 16,8, but not after first turning the
      attention of the reader back to Galilee. For the final actors, the women, had come
      "from Galilee", where they had "served" their Master and observed his ministry to
      Gentiles. They observe and reflect on the final outcome of the story (an outcome
      dictated by Heaven). They receive a vision of the future (anablepsasai, 16,4) in
      which they are told that their (risen) Master is going ahead "to Galilee". Thus the
      story hinges structurally on 1,14 (decision to go from the desert in Judea to
      Galilee) and 15,41 (having come from Galilee the women are called to go with the
      disciples, especially Peter, to meet the Master in Galilee). The point is that this
      structural pattern apparently derives from the fact that John's preaching and
      baptizing in Judea was suddenly broken off after Jesus has been baptized.

      > >I believe Mark knew and had studied Paul's letters. In his open tomb
      > >narrative he
      > >uses the Pauline clothing metaphor for "putting on Christ". The young man
      > >in the
      > >tomb is dressed in a white stola, worn at baptism. He is pictured in a
      > >grave. In their
      > >baptism they were "buried (!) with Christ: in order to "rise with him".
      > >Does it make sense?
      >
      > Not without more liturgical context. That is, it makes sense *at some
      > point* for the catechumens to be dressed in white, and for them *at some
      > point* to be buried with Jesus, and thus to "rise with him", but how that
      > might articulate with a reading of Mark, I'm not sure.

      The liturgical context is provided by the order of the Judean 'liturgical'
      festivals
      when the temple still stood with its rituals and sacrifices dominating the
      religious
      and political life. The order of the feasts includes a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for
      the feast of Pesach and the Pascal meal, immediately followed by the agricultural
      feast of 50 days of Shabuoth (Pentecost). This order was also followed in the
      christian ecclesia in the diaspora.
      A remarkable aspect of the language re: resurrection and new life is the
      agricultural
      terminology of a seed dying in order to produce new fruit. Thus, the message of
      the resurrection is set in the context of the festival of the dedication of the
      "first fruits" in the temple on the first Sunday after Pesach. In I Cor 15, the
      chapter on the resurrection, Jesus is proclaimed to have been raised from the dead,
      the first fruits of those who died (20). And after their baptism converts are
      called first fruits.
      Highly important is, it seems to me, that the Pharisaic calendar dates of
      Shabuoth was forcefully imposed on the population sometime before 70. The first of
      the fifty days would no longer be "the Sunday of Passover". It would be henceforth
      the fixed day of Nisan 16, no matter on what day of the week it would fall. In my
      book I have pursued the hypothesis that this change in the calendar coincided with
      the persecution of the christian Judean community under Herod Agrippa I (40-44 ce.,
      cf Acts 12).
      It seems to me that the creed "raised on the third day according to the Scripture",
      originated in that period. In some way or other the Jesus' movement was officially
      deemed to be heretical.
      So, if the movement of the story begins after Jesus was baptized, and Jesus
      continues with a fruitful ministry, punctuated and explained in chapter 4 on
      'seed' and harvest, followed by feedings and encounters with Gentiles; one gets the
      picture of a Galilean ministry in the context of the harvest festival of Shabuoth
      (Pentecost) and a Judean section of Pesach, for the commemoration of the death of
      the Lamb, who "died for our sins according to the scriptures (Isa 53) and who was
      raised on the third day according to the scriptures. The creed refers defiantly to
      Lv 23,11.15 ( the "sheaf" must be "raised before JHWH" on a Sunday, "the day after
      the Sabbath", mimacharot ha-shabbat.
      Moreover, in the story of Mark the burial takes place immediately after the
      onset of Nisan 16, the Pharisaic date; the women receive their vision on "the
      first.day of Shabuoth" (Mc 16,2, translation mine). Thus in ending of Mark the (in
      his eyes) the new and illegitimate date of the burial of Jesus, namely, the sabbath
      of Nisan 16 is followed at once by the date, ordained by the Torah, set aside for
      the dedication of the First Fruits, Sunday, Nisan 17.
      In other words, I have tried to read the Gospel through the eyes of a Chritian
      Judean participating in the celebration of Passover somewhere in the diaspora. The
      reading would then be followed by the solemn baptism of new (Gentile) converts,
      who joined the Messianic Reform Movement. ..
      This expose is too short, I am sure.
      your Karel
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