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Re: Gospels as Historical Novels

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  • mgrondin@tir.com
    ... You make two arguments here that both seem to be throw-aways. The first is that, if Mark s work had been a novel, he would have said so in the text. The
    Message 1 of 2 , May 4, 2001
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      --- Frank McCoy wrote:
      > Mark does not call his document a novel, nor does it fall into
      > any known literary type of historical novel current in the first
      > century CE. If Mark is a novel, then why doesn't Luke, in Luke
      > 1:1-4, tell Theophilus that his main source for Luke was a novel?
      > I see, then, no reason to think that Mark's gospel is a novel.
      > What reason(s) do you have for thinking it is?

      You make two arguments here that both seem to be throw-aways. The
      first is that, if Mark's work had been a novel, he would have said so
      in the text. The second is that, if LUKE had thought that Mark's work
      was a novel, then HE (Luke) would have said so in HIS text. I must
      say that I don't feel much intuitive force behind either of these
      arguments. The natural question in both cases is "Why SHOULD they
      have done so?" But I won't belabor the point, since you have what
      appears to be a much stronger argument at hand, namely, that GMark
      doesn't "fall into any known literary type of historical novel
      current in the first century CE". In support of that argument, you
      contrast the case of GJohn:

      > ... the basic point ... is this: In literary terms, JA and John are
      > closely related and, so, belong to the same literary genre. In the
      > case of JA, we know that this is the literary genre of Jewish
      > historical novels written in Greek. Therefore, this must be the
      > literary genre to which John belongs as well

      Your argument can't be, I assume, that any Jewish historical novel
      written in Greek (JHN-G) must strongly resemble JA. So the argument
      must be that, in order to consider GMk as being of the genre JHN-G,
      there must be ANOTHER text which clearly belongs to JHN-G, and which
      GMk strongly resembles. Aside from the obvious fact that GMk might
      have been the first of a new breed of JHN-G's, I'm not sure why you
      narrowed the genre down to JHN-G's in the first place. I had spoken
      of historical fiction in a broad sense that would allow for the
      possibility, for example, that Mark might have been inspired not by a
      preceding JHN-G, but by, say, some Greek tragedy he had read. I
      assume that "Mark" had some content to relay - some of which he had
      picked up from oral tradition, some of which was his own (how much of
      each is anybody's guess) - and that he put this content into a form
      that indicates a considerable amount of artistic structure. If
      pressed to the wall, I'll have to admit that there's no way of
      proving how much of the content of GMk was the work of the authors'
      imagination(s), but that it was the work of SOMEBODY's imagination
      (probably a great many folks') is, I think, beyond question. There's
      every evidence, and every reason to believe, IMO, that the
      orally-transmitted story of Jesus had taken on the characteristics of
      a legend prior to its ever having been written down. So even if Mark
      had been (contrary to what I believe) simply artfully arranging
      selected information from his memory-banks, the end result would have
      been "historical fiction".

      Regards,
      Mike
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