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Re: Motivation of women in Mark 16/Mt 27-28

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  • K. Hanhart
    ... Dear Thomas, I m sorry I am reacting late to your above contribution. I read your article in NTS once again and looked again at Semachot 8:1, Rule 1: We
    Message 1 of 4 , Jan 30, 1999
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      Thomas R. W. Longstaff wrote Dec 16, 1998:

      > On the other hand, as I have tried to show in my NTS article on Matthew 28:1
      > (which is now being revised for publication in an expanded form), it seems to
      > me reasonable to suggest that Matthew's narrative, although not without some
      > difficulties, is understandable in the light of Jewish funerary traditions and
      > practices. If Mark were using Matthew as a source, it could be argued that he
      > (Mark) did not understand the finer points of Jewish practice - unless one
      > suggests that in 16:1 Mark is aware of and makes the very subtle distinction
      > that the women could have anointed the body of Jesus on the Sabbath (Mishnah:
      > Sabbath 23:5) but would have been prevented from purchasing the necessary
      > material on that holy day. That would put a very different spin on what most
      > people think Mark expects his readers to understand about Jewish practice.
      > I don't think that I'm inclined to argue that Mark makes this fine distinction
      > in 16:1, largely because he does not seem to assume such subtle understanding
      > on the part of his readers elsewhere (7:1-4 being a classic case in point to
      > the contrary).

      Dear Thomas,
      I'm sorry I am reacting late to your above contribution. I read your
      article in NTS once again and looked again at Semachot 8:1," Rule 1: We
      go out to the cemetery and examine the dead within three days and do not
      fear [being suspect of] superstitious practices...". For as you wrote:
      in Matthew it "is the third day and the (women) come, as the law
      requires, for the final inspection to ensure that Jesus is really dead".
      It certainly is an important argument for refuting Goulder's thesis
      that Matthew's version is incoherent "the women, having set opposite the
      tomb (27,61), come, weakly, to see the tomb (28,1)"
      However, Goulder too offered an important argument in favor of Markan
      priority. Mark' story does seem indeed coherent: the women come to
      anoint him.
      I still believe Goulder is right. I would grant you that the
      possibility exists that "some of the customs in this tractate"
      [Semachot] go back to the first century CE. For it is difficult to date
      the origin of the oral traditions behind the written version.
      However, I am inclined to take Semachot 8:1 in an apologetic sense for
      the purpose to ward off christian teachings. I am INCLINED to do so, I
      cannot be certain - For as J.Z. Lauterbach wrote of the early teachers
      of Judaism, "we can only guess sometimes and draw conclusions from a
      veiled allusion or a side remark about other questions that may have
      been prompted by what they knew and thought of early christianity."
      (Jesus in the Talmud) It stands to reason that counterarguments to the
      resurrection story were furnished if not for the mature adults, than
      certainly for the simple and the children in the synagogue who might be
      subject to evangelization by christian neighbors.
      I believe the first "rule" in Semachot could well reflect on the
      Gospel's open tomb story.
      1. It seems rather strange that a "first rule" should be formulated for
      the unlikely event that someone accidentally has been buried alive. It
      DOES happen, but how often? But the "rule" does make sense in giving an
      alternative interpretation of the Gospel's story.
      For 2. The stipulation "within three days" is odd. One would expect
      something like "as soon as possible" or the very next day. If the
      provision was taking the Sabbath into accopunt, one would expect "within
      two days". However, "within three days" covers precisely the time span
      of the Gospels inclusing Mark's "after three days"
      3. "superstitious practices" is also odd. What superstitious practice
      would the rabbi's think of when a person would want to make what you
      call "the final inspection". Again, the rule makes perfect sense if one
      considers that the rabbi's alluded to what they considered to be the
      superstitious belief in the coming to life of a dead person. For to the
      simple one's that seemed to be the implication.
      4. I too believe that irony is involved in Mark's and Matthew's story.
      But it seems to me that Matthew developed Mark's story with his own
      peculiar style of irony. Matthew in 27,63 shows he is fully aware of
      Mark's version of the Gospel "meta treis hemeras (8,31)" and the
      traditional "tei tritei hemera"(16,21).

      With Goulder I believe Mark and Matthew wrote a midrash. However, I
      think Montefiore was right suggesting that Mark in his epilogue (15,46!)
      referred to LXX Isa 22,16 for his midrash. Does not the exegete shoot
      himself in the leg maintaining that in 13,14 Mark refers to Dan 9,27
      without mentioning the author and again in 14,18 to Ps 41,9 and in 15,36
      Ps 69,21 without naming his source (giving but a few examples) and then
      refuse to acknowledge that in 15,46 he likewise refers to and reminds
      his readers in the First Century ecclesia of the "memorial tomb hewn
      from the rock" in LXX Isa 22,16 (a hapax)? Is that choice of words in
      that instance simply accidental?

      Caution should be excercised with such allusions but it is worth
      pursuing the trail.
      with greetings, Karel
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