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Re: [XTalk] Beyond Belief: supporting 1Cor 15?

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  • Ted Weeden
    ... Thank you, Jan. ... Jan, I will address this issue fully soon. It will be addressed as part of my thesis on Mark s use of the Cross Gospel. But let me
    Message 1 of 5 , Mar 28, 2002
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      Jan Sammer wrote on Wednesday, March 27, 2002:

      > Thus I do not see that Mark is attempting here to blacken the reputations of
      > the disciples. I have great respect for Ted Weeden's work on GMark; it is in
      > many ways congruent with my own conclusions,

      Thank you, Jan.

      > but I still do not consider
      > that Mark was engaging in a vendetta against Jesus' earliest followers. His
      > artful scenes of the disciples being confounded are a literary device that
      > enables the reader to feel wiser and have a better understanding of Jesus'
      > thought and purpose than Mark's cast of characters. Their reputations are of
      > course not enhanced thereby; perhaps Mark did wish to diminish their
      > stature, to take away some of their nimbus. But a real literary vendetta
      > would look far different than GMark.

      Jan, I will address this issue fully soon. It will be addressed as part of my
      thesis on Mark's use of the Cross Gospel. But let me here address my position
      briefly with a snip from a post-reply I made to Bob Schacht on March 2, 2002,
      entitled "Sternberg's Insights." You may have already seen this snip. But if
      not, let me share here the way I put my position in that post:

      "I think it is important to recognize that Mark is an author who communicates
      intent within his narrative, and, from my perspective, we need to discover his
      intent (Sternberg: the narrator's "whole truth') within his narrative world and
      not as some literary critics do with complete disregard for historical context,
      or as some scholars with interests in making Mark conform to preconceived
      historical ideas of what he is about and what he is trying to say based upon
      theological presuppositions or the assumptions that Mark is presenting a fairly
      faithful account of what actually happened. Let me illustrate by briefly
      addressing the issue of Mk. 16:8 and the ending of Mark. What follows is a
      condensed treatment of the issue, which will receive a full treatment in one of
      my forthcoming essays on my thesis regarding Markan use of the Cross Gospel."

      "The fact that Mark concludes his Gospel with the women running away from the
      tomb and saying nothing to anyone, despite their mandate to deliver message of
      the young man to the disciples and Peter, has been problematic almost from the
      beginning. Matthew (28:8ff.) and Luke (24:9), in particularly, could not
      accept that ending. So they rewrote it, when they respectively incorporated
      the Markan empty-tomb narrative in their Gospels. They portrayed the women not
      running from the tomb with sealed lips, afraid to say anything to anyone, but
      rather running to the disciples to deliver the message given them by the young
      man. Then they each narrated resurrection appearances of Jesus to his disciples
      (Mt. 28:16-20; Lk. 24:13-49), something Matthew and Luke found unacceptably
      lacking in the Markan account of Easter. I would also argue that John followed
      suit and, in his own way, corrected Mark much the same as Matthew and Luke had
      done (Jn. 20:11-18). And then, of course, we have later copyists who also
      "corrected" the Markan account of Easter by appending the "Shorter" and "Longer"
      endings to Mark's Gospel."

      "Ever since, virtually no one has been able to accept the fact that Mark
      to conclude his Gospel just as he has. It has almost been impossible to accept
      the fact that Mark would have intentionally ended his Gospel in such an abrupt
      and negative way, namely, with the Easter message of the young man of the tomb
      forever silenced by the sealed lips of the women. Scholars have tried to
      explain away that ending by all kinds of theories and thereby give a more
      positive spin to Mark's abrupt, negative conclusion."

      "Yet all the efforts that have tried to put the best spin on the Gospel's
      negative ending have been attempts to make sense out of why Mark would have
      ended his Gospel in such a strange way by superimposing agendas from the real
      world on the Markan narrative world. Such attempts fail to come to terms, in
      my judgment, with what Mark and his narrative world dramatizes and fail, as
      well, to take seriously the logic of the conclusion based upon the narrative
      constructs of that narrative world (its structure, motifs and patterns). In
      that narrative world a primary theme is the failure of Jesus disciples to
      understand him and to accept his christology (outlined in the passion
      narratives) and his view of discipleship (8:34ff.; 9:33-37; 10:35-45), a
      failure which leads them to betray, deny and forsake him. According to the
      Markan drama the disciples leave the stage as apostates. There is no Markan
      narrative evidence that they will be rehabilitated into apostles of the faith at
      some future date. With the resurrection, the Markan Jesus himself leaves the
      stage and does not and will not return, according to chapter 13 (see my
      _Mark-Traditions in Conflict_, 124-137), until the end-time when he is exalted
      and gathers his elect to him (13:24-27). In the interim Jesus as the risen Lord
      is absent from the world. As the risen Lord, Jesus makes no resurrection
      appearances. No human experiences Jesus' presence in any form him after his
      crucifixion and burial. Mk. 14;28, 16:7 are not allusions to resurrection.
      They are references to his end-time appearance, his parousia appearance in
      Galilee (see my _Mark_, 1111-117), where Jesus will be revealed to the faithful
      and vindicated before his enemies (so Mk. 14:62). If we stick to the logic of
      the narrative, the silence of the women means that the fallen disciples never
      got the Easter message."

      "All of this negative portrayal of the disciples throughout the Gospel, I
      is a Markan vendetta against the Twelve and their apostolic authority. Why is
      it so difficult to conceive that Mark could debunk the Twelve? I submit that
      without realizing it we view Mark anachronistically. It is very difficult for
      us to read Mark without first already knowing the story line, where it is going
      and how it ends. Most problematic is the fact that we tend to view it,
      unconsciously for the most part, through our awareness of Matthew, Luke, John
      and later Christian tradition. Consequently, it is very difficult for us to
      take Mark at face value with respect to his treatment of the disciples because
      the other Gospels do "a number on us." The high veneration of the disciples in
      the canonical successors to Mark, as well as Christian tradition thereafter,
      shapes the way in which we look at Mark's treatment. We cannot free ourselves
      from a biased reading of Mark via the portrayal of the disciples in the other
      Gospels. And two thousand years of tradition of veneration of Peter and the
      other disciples in those Gospels does not help. Having Mark "shelved" Mark
      between Matthew and Luke in the New Testament Library does not help either."

      "But as hard as it is for us to accept, Mark in 16:8 produces his ultimate coup
      de grace in his vendetta against the disciples. When the curtain falls on the
      Gospel drama, the Peter and the rest of the disciples remain unrehabilitated
      apostates. Despite the fact that we as hearers and readers might prefer it
      otherwise, Mark's Gospel defrocks the apostolicity of the Twelve. Among the
      Gospels, Mark is an anomaly. As the author of the first full-length narrative
      of Jesus' public ministry, passion, death, burial and resurrection, Mark attacks
      rather than venerates the Twelve, contrary to the practice of his canonical and
      non-canonical successors who follow him. That is why I hold so strongly, as
      Sternberg insists, that we must be guided by the author's intent within the
      narrative world and not bring our presuppositions or faith perspectives to our
      interpretation and, thereby, superimpose upon the narrative world what was never

      On the matter of forthcoming essays on my thesis that Mark used the Cross Gospel
      to create 15:42-16:8, I regret that I have been delayed in finishing the essays
      on this thesis. I have been working on a major rewrite. Oneof the reasons it is
      taking me so much time is that in my thesis I argue, contra Crossan (_Four
      Gospels_, _The Cross that Spoke, and _The Historical
      Jesus_),that Mark did *not* use the material from his deconstruction of the
      Secret Gospel of Mark to create the empty-tomb narrative, as Crossan proposes.
      To make my counter argument that Mark used the Cross Gospel and not SGM I have
      had to revisit the arguments for the trajectory of the Markan tradition, namely
      canonical Mark to Secret Gospel or Secret Gospel to canonical Mark, etc.
      Digesting the literature on the Secret Gospel (Clememt of Alexandria, Morton
      Smith, Helmut Koester, Crossan, H.-M.Schenke, Marvin Meyer, Raymond Brown and
      most recently, and helpfully, Eric Eve) has taken a lot of time. But SGM must
      be addressed, if I am to present my case with thoroughness. My position now
      is that SGM was a second century alteration of canonical Mark produced by
      "gnostic"-oriented Christian(s) in Alexandria in support of their own
      "spiritual" ideology. Eric Eve, in his fine paper (which he made reference to
      on Synoptic-L and which has been made available to us with Mark Goodacre's help
      at http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l/eve.pdf [PDF version] or
      http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l/eve.rtf [Rich Text version]),
      describes SGM as a forgery. I am inclined to agree with him. I hope to have
      an excursus on SGM as one of my essays in my thesis on Mark and CG.

      Ted Weeden
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