re: Mk 15:38-39 + mystery motif
- i'm not a marcan priorist, though i have a reason for mark's prior
arranagement of the text at 15.38-9.
mark has added an exclamation to the recounting of the tradition of jesus
on the cross. this fits his other two examples of 'mysterious' language,
'5.41, 7.34', where awe/supernatural-power is implied/added to the text by
quoting something in a foreign language. (by the way, aramaic was
traditional for talismans/magic among jews).
here in 15:34-39, the supernatural innuendo needs an explicit 'prop' in
order to communicate, hence the centurion is explicitly cited, and probably
as one climactic theme to the gospel. the roman confession certainly fits
an intended roman audience for the mk gospel in a powerful way. in
addition, within judaism there was a tradition about the bat-qol, divine
voice, appearing in aramaic during hasmonean times. this may have
influenced mark's choice to reinforce a 'supernatural/mysterious' effect by
citing a foreign language. "it was a dark [and stormy night] . . . eloi,
eloi, lema sebachtani!
[i read the above naturally, though without such a background deardorff
would have a case of a marcan slip, (a countrary-'sleeper' for goodacre)
since the result would be bad character development for the centurion]
as for synoptic theory, although i see/claim the above phenomenon as
marcan, three instances cannot prove anything. there is a slight nudge,
though, in favor of mark to matthean flow. [i say 'three', because these
are the instances where the meaning of the foreign words is 'insipid, flat'
and adds nothing to story except its foreignness, contrary to an 'emotive'
word like raqa, or interpretation of names.]
mt could have dropped 2 of the 3 foreign quotations for lack of interest in
the words themselves and not being interested in the supernatural/magic
theme, assuming he saw mark. likewise, if mt did not want to play on the
foreign-mystery-suternatural nexus he would have needed to record an event
like an earthquake beyond the marcan account. for matthew, with an
earthquake, his centurion has plausible character 'development'.
on the otherhand, would mark have used the foreign-mystery-supernatural
theme so early in his gospel and assumedly connected the cry to the
centurion over the matthean earthquake, all from seeing matthew?
less likely, though certainly possible. if mark had read or heard mattew
read, he could have made his own midrashic connection of the cry of
dereliction to the centurion and used such a literary device earlier when
writing his own gospel. add -- that leaves unexplained matthew's inclusion
of a sentence in a foreign language unless it were to provide a setting for
like i said, i prefer the markan explanation for the overall phenomenon,
and then the partial flow to matthew. all of the above is rather like
interpreting shapes in a swirling mist. it works if you know who's out
there and the kind of clothes they might be wearing.