[GTh] A question about Logion 114
- J. S. Chandler:
I propose to you that 114 is pre-Markan.
I The Contrasts between Th 114 and Mk 16:6-8
The first point I would like to make is that there are a number of
contrasts between this ending to Th and the ending to Mk in 16:6-8.
Th 114 reads:
Simon Peter said to them, "Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy
of life." Jesus said, "I myself shall lead her in order to make her
male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males.
For every woman who will make herself male will enter the kingdom of
heaven." Mk 16:6-8 reads: But he (i.e., the young man) says to them
(i.e., the three women), "Do not be amazed. You seek Jesus the
Nazarene, the one having been crucified. He was raised (egerthe). He
is not here. Look, the place where they laid him. But go, tell his
disciples and Peter, 'He goes before you into Galilee. There you will
see him, just as he told you.'" And, having gone out, they fled from
the tomb-for trembling and ecstasy seized them. And they told no one
nothing-for they were afraid!
There are at least four major contrasts between these two passages:
1. In Mk 16:6-8, it is said that Jesus will go before his disciples and
Peter-and they are all men. In Th 114, Jesus will lead Mary-and she is
2. In Mk 16:6-8, it is declared that Jesus has risen and that his body
is no longer present-the clear implication being that he has become a
living body. In Th 114, Jesus declares that he will make Mary a living
3. In Mk 16:6-8, Peter looks good. A young man tells the women "But go,
tell his disciples and Peter.". Here, Peter, although he had been one
of Jesus' disciples, is differentiated from Jesus' disciples because,
with the death of Jesus, he has been elevated above them into the unique
status of being the legitimate successor to Jesus as the earthly head of
his movement. In Th 114, Peter looks bad, with Jesus rebuking him for
his position on women.
4. In Mk 16:6-8, the women look bad, fleeing the tomb and failing to
tell the disciples and Peter what they were told. In Th 114, Mary, a
woman, looks good, for Jesus says that he will make her a living spirit.
I think that there is a fifth major contrast between Mk 16:6-8 and Th
114 as well-with it implicit in Mk 16:6-8 that the Kingdom is a future
earthly reality and explicit in Th 114 that the Kingdom is a present
In particular, I think that Theodore J. Weeden, Sr. is correct in
thinking that the message of the young man regards the return of the
risen Jesus to Galilee help inaugurate the Kingdom. In Mark Traditions
in Conflict (p. 110), he states:
The announcement "He is not here. See the place where they laid him"
states unequivocally that Jesus is no longer present on this earthly
plane of existence. At this point on of Hamilton's insights is right on
target: "In the place of the presence of the risen Jesus, Mark simply
and strikingly affirmed his absence." The importance of the angel's
words for our evangelist could not have been more sharply perceived.
Jesus is absent! He is absent not just from the grave. He has
completely left the human scene and will not return until the parousia!
He has been translated (egerthe) to his Father. There he must await the
time when the kingdom dawns in power (9:1) and he is re-united with his
In this case, there is a fifth major contrast between Mk 16:6-8, where
the Kingdom is taken to be a future earthly reality that will dawn at
the time that Jesus returns to earth from heaven, and Th 114, where the
Kingdom is a present spiritual reality entered by living spirits.
To a large extent, I suggest, these contrasts between Mk 16:6-8 and Th
114 reflect differences in thinking between the Hebrews and the
In some past posts, I have proposed that the first followers of Jesus at
Jerusalem were divided into two main groups--the Hebrews and the
Hellenists. From the Hellenists comes a tradition that finds reflection
in the Epistle of James and Th and what I call original John (which is
our John less 6:1-7:14 and chapter 21). From the Hebrews comes a
tradition that finds reflection in Mk and John 6:1-7-14 and chapter 21.
In particular, I suggest, these contrasts between Mk 16:6-8 and Th 114
reflect differences in thinking between the Hebrews and the Hellenists
in these two areas:
(1) Who was the legitimate successor to Jesus as the earthly head of his
movement? Was it Peter (so the Hebrews) or was it James (so the
(2) What is the role of women in the Jesus movement? Should they either
be excluded, at least if they are unmarried (the original position of
the Hebrews), or else kept in subordination to the men (the fall-back
position of the Hebrews) or should they have the right, like the men, to
be empowered (the position of the Hellenists)?
As a result, I suggest, the positive image of Peter and the negative
image of the women in Mk 16:6-8 reflect the pro-Hebrew stance of the
Markan group, while the negative image of Peter and the positive image
of women in Th 114 reflect the pro-Hellenist stance of the Thomasine
However, these contrasts also reveal another area of dispute between the
Markan and Thomasine groups. That is, there is a dispute between them
over whether the Kingdom is a future earthly reality to be bodily
entered or a present spiritual reality to be entered as a spirit/soul.
This is why there is an emphasis on the bodily resurrection of Jesus and
(implicitly) the future coming of the Kingdom in Mk 16:6-8, while there
is an emphasis on Mary entering the Kingdom as a living spirit/soul in
In any event, that there appear to be three major doctrinal contrasts
between Mk 16:6-8 and Th 114 is quite remarkable. Further, since each
passage is only three units long (Mk 16:6,7,8 and Th 114.1,2,3) and
occurs at the very end of the gospel in which it appears, it is
difficult to maintain that this is mere coincidence. Rather, it
appears, one of them is intended to be a refutation of the other.
II. An Indication that Mk 16:6-8 is a Refutation of Th 114
The second point I would like to make is that there is an indication
that Mk 16:6-8 is intended to be a refutation of Th 114.
It is said in Mk 16:1:
And, having passed the Sabbath, Mary the Magdalene and Mary the mother
of James and Salome bought spices in order that, having come (to the
tomb), they might anoint him (i.e., Jesus).
Here, we learn, the women who, in Mk 16:6-8, flee the tomb and fail to
deliver the divinely inspired message to the disciples and Peter are
Mary the Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome.
In this regard, it is noteworthy that, in Th, we find:
A man named James in Th 12
A woman named Mary in Th 21
A woman named Salome in Th 61
A woman named Mary in Th 114.
This is truly remarkable, given that, besides Jesus, only seven people
are named in Th, i.e., Thomas, Matthew, Peter and these four people.
Almost surely, then, this can be no coincidence! Rather, it appears,
the four people named in Mk 16:1 are these four people named in Th 12,
21, 61 and 114--with:
1. The James of Th 12 being the son of the Mary of Th 21 and this Mary
of Th 21 being the Mary the mother of James of Mk 16:1.
2. The Salome of Th 61 being the Salome of Mk 16:1.
3. The Mary of Th 114 being Mary the Magdalene of Mk 16:1.
In this case, since the James of Th 12, who is called James the
Just/Righteous, is a brother of Jesus, the person called Mary the mother
of James in Mk 16:1 is none other than Mary the mother of Jesus.
In this case, further, one of the primary objects of Mk 16:6-8 is to
show that the three women named in Th were unworthy of being given any
responsibilities because they proved their inability to handle
responsibility by failing to convey the divine message they heard to the
disciples and Peter.
Further, by emphasising that one of the women who miserably failed to
handle responsibility was the mother of James, this reflects negatively
on James (the leader of the Hellenists), thereby making Peter (the
leader of the Hebrews)look all the better in 16:6-8.
III. This Explains a Major Problem
Mk 16:6-8 has no proof of Jesus' resurrection, just an empty tomb and an
unproven assertion by a young man. Further, it gives us a very unhappy
ending in that the women do not say anything to anyone, so that the
disciples and Peter remain in ignorance and, presumably, fail to go to
To say this least, this perception of an inadequate and unhappy ending
to Mk has been a major problem from the time of Matthew and Luke until
As a result:
1. Matthew and Luke perceived the need to radically change it and to add
accounts of appearances of the risen Jesus
2. Several attempts were made by early Christians to add an appendix to
Mk, thereby giving it an ending on a happy note by narrating how the
risen Jesus appeared to some others. 3, Further, in modern times, the
argument is frequently raised that the ending of Mk got torn off an
early copy of it and all we possess are copies of this manuscript with
its missing ending. In this case, there was an ending to Mk that was
satisfactory, but it has been lost. For example, this is point 7 of
this e-mail on April 9th by E Bruce Brooks on the Synoptic-L list:
On April 10th, Ron Price responded by stating, "You're supporting a
dying cause. Nowadays most scholars recognize, correctly, that Mark
intended to end at 16:8." See:
However, this problem disappears if the purpose of Mk 16:6-8, as
suggested above, is polemical, i.e., to try to refute three major
theological beliefs found in Th 114 and related passages. In this case,
for its original purpose, it is a quite satisfactory ending.
St Paul, MN 55119