Re: [Synoptic-L] the Priority of Mark a response to E. Bruce Brooks
- In a message dated 7/3/2005 12:07:38 AM Eastern Daylight Time, brooks@... writes:
I quite agree, as a general principle, that prohibitions imply previous
practice of the thing prohibited. But it seems to me that the Markan version
of the travel instructions very easily comes under this general principle.
What GMk prohibited is likely to have been, not the prescription of a rival
gospel, but simply the normal standard practice of travelers at that period.
Only an idiot, so to speak, would leave home without a backpack, containing
some money, a bit of lunch, maybe a spare shirt, but it is precisely these
reasonable precautions that GMk forbids.
I think Bruce says it well in this paragraph, though I would apply the whole thing to the missionary discourse in Matthew. And the point made by Bruce makes it clear why Matt's text does not presuppose the account in Mark. The gospel account simply expressess the radical dependency on God that is expected of the Christian missionary. If God is with them on their mission (cf. Matt 28:20), then they need nothing else. What is listed (and prohibited) in Matthew's text is accordingly everything that a normal traveler would take along for his journey.
The only difference (in GMk)
between someone just standing there and someone on a missionary journey is
the minimal equipment for the road: a staff and sandals. Those two and
nothing else. That is, from the standard traveler's outfit, two things are
allowed as necessary for coping with the roads, but the rest are forbidden,
since in the food, clothing, and lodging department, the missionaries are
expected to earn their keep, day by day.
Minimal equipment for the road...Yes, Mark's text is less radical, and therefore belongs to a period of accommodation -- more likely a later period. Mark's minimal allowances (sandals and a staff) may well, as Bruce suggests be concessions to a certain realism in reflecting on the needs of a missionary on the road. I still think, however, that with a little imagination one can also think of the fusion of horizons in Mark that I suggested in an earlier post: Mark wishes the description of the first missionaries to resemble that of, and be recognized in, the pastor who is reciting the gospel drama to his Roman flock, with staff in hand and sandals on his feet.
By the way, Mark's text is accommodationist in another sense as well: As Bruce pointed out, the staff was used to defend against robbers on a normal traveler's journey (as in violent self-defence). Matt does not allow taking the staff even for this purpose. Mark's reversal of this injunction in the missionary discourse is consistent with his omission of Matt 26:52-53, after reporting on the lopped off ear of the high priest's servant in 14:47.
Blessed John XXIII National Seminary