Re: [Synoptic-L] Markan fatigue: was response with regard to Mark and the she...
- To: Synoptic-L
In Response To: Leonard
On: Preaching of the Disciples
As part of his reply to John Lupia, Leonard had said:
LEONARD: What seems to be implied here, however -- and this is
significant -- is that what the apostles are envisioned as "preaching" in
6:12, even if its stated goal is repentance, is really the more familiar
Christian proclamation: "Christ Jesus .... and him crucified ... the power
and wisdom of God"... in good Pauline fashion (cf. 1 Cor 1:23 and see Mk
16:15, the final commissioning to preach in the long ending).
BRUCE: The long ending of Mark is, I should think, well known to be a later
supplied item, and it is thus perhaps not evidentially cogent for present
purposes. I will here ignore it. Otherwise, and overall, this looks to me
like a harmonizing reading, specifically, an importation of Pauline
preaching into a passage which really says something else, namely, a John
the Baptistical preaching of repentance.
Comparativist Note: We have this sort of thing all the time in the Confucian
commentarial literature. Confucius says, in the Analects, that he is not a
sage. The notorious Sung-dynasty commentator Ju Syi (more than a thousand
years later) notes, Of course Confucius was a sage, he is just being modest.
The early, more modest Confucius is thus, in one sentence, assimilated to
the later, aggrandized, all but divine, Confucius.
The trouble with this and all harmonizing interpretations, from the
philological point of view, is that they obliterate, and in Ju Syi's case
the harmonization is meant to obliterate, all the differences and
inconsistencies within the canonical texts, all the signs of doctrinal
evolution over time, all the points at which the history of those texts is
most evident. So, speaking from the philological standpoint, I would much
prefer to keep "repentance" in this Markan passage as meaning exactly what
it says. There is, inter alia, a definite schematic association, in GMk as
we have it, between John and Jesus. Maybe AMk was wrong to weave this into
his text, but he, or he and his interpolator together, certainly did so.
Isn't it worth considering, if only for a minute, that the original Jesus
may have been a preacher much more along John the Baptist lines than we,
with our heavily Paulinized outlook, are accustomed to think? Herod, for one
(see previous thread), seems to have had something like that idea. GMk seems
to give us warrant for thinking so, including his frequent seeking of
wilderness to refresh himself from the labors of crowd preaching, and his
remark that only prayer (done, as far as GMk lets us imagine, in solitude in
remote places) gives power to cast out specially resistant demons. The faith
of the possessed (in that passage) has nothing to do with it.
On the assumption (see my earlier note on the aggrandization effect of the
genealogies, plus and minus, in the Synoptics plus Thomas) that we have the
Mk > Mt > Lk > Thos
what if anything does the Preaching of the Disciples do, either to
strengthen or weaken that assumption, at least as to the first three? I
experiment with this question, hastily, by looking at the Huck/Throckmorton
lineup (but taken, as per the experiment, in the above order).
Mk 6:6b And [Jesus] went about among the villages teaching
Mt 9:35 . . preaching the gospel of the kingdom . . .
Lk [no direct parallel]
Mk 6:12 [the disciples] preaching that men should repent
Mt [no direct parallel]
Lk 9:6 [the disciples] preaching the gospel
In these parallels, Jesus' own preaching is not directly described as to
content, so we have an indeterminate result. The disciples' preaching IS
described, one way or another, and their teaching is like that of John the
Baptist in the source here hypothesized as earliest, whereas it is readily
assimilable to Pauline preaching in the sources here hypothesized as second
I submit that we have here evidence of a change over time, not so much the
substitution of a Pauline for what I may temporarily call a Johannine
message, but the gradual obliteration of an old tradition in which Jesus's
teaching was much closer to John than to Paul. Of this tradition there are
still unsubmerged traces in the already late and composite GMk, and those
traces are systematically eliminated or changed in the GMt and GLk rewrites.
Which, as to this one issue, are thus readily interpretable as regularizing
and harmonizing enterprises.
This hypothesis provides an intelligible motive for the differences as from
the AMt and ALk side; they were concerned to get rid of the obsolete picture
of Jesus that had still survived, albeit in tatters, in one of their
sources, and to systematically replace those traces with a homogeneous
gospel preaching which was closer to, or unproblematically compatible with,
that of Paul, namely, that of Second Phase Christianity. On the ranking
opposite hypothesis of source order, namely Mt > Lk > Mk (or its variant, Lk
> Mt > Mk), what would have been AMk's reason for inserting, in the contextof a contemporary and thoroughly Paulinized Christianity, an obsolete,
upsetting, Johannine note? I can't find one, and I count my failure as
further evidence in favor of the sequence Mk > Mt > Lk. The imputed
authorial motives in that sequence are more readily framable than are those
of the alternative possibilities.
In the ocean of NT scholarship, whose surrounding sands I occasionally and
inexpertly tread, there must be some paper exploring the John/Jesus
connection somewhat along these lines. Could some learned person refer me to
same? I would like to see where this comes out, without doing the actual
Thanks in advance,
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
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