Re: Motivation of women in Mark 16 and Matthew 27
On Jan 3 1999 Yuri Kuchinsky wrote:
Hanhart had written :
> > ... The epilogue [of Mark] is, I think, a midrash
> > on LXX Isa 22,16 and LXX Isa 33,16. For in the Septuagint "a tomb hewn
> > from the rock" (22,16), a hapax, appears to be a metaphor for the
> > temple to be destroyed. Mark may well pit Joseph of Arimatea, the
> > councilor over against Peter
> I really don't see why would Mark do this, or how he does this. Perhaps
> you can clarify.
'Clarify' will take up too much space and time. Most of my argumentation
you may find in my book put out by the Liturgical Press, "The Open Tomb,
A New Approach". The new approach is based on the premise that after the
trauma of 70 Mark, a christian 'ioudaios' ('interpreter' of Peter who
had read Paul's letters) revised an earlier Passover hagadah, used in
the ecclesia to commemorate Jesus' death and celebrate his resurrection.
The pre-70 hagada was set in the tone of the prayer 'Maranatha', for
they expected the coming of the bar-nash in their life time. The delay
of the Parousia necessitated a revised hagada on the ministry of Jesus
whose death was regarded as that of the Passover Lamb (1 Cor 5,7).
In his revision Mark attempted to build a bridge between the
crucifixion and the (to him recent!) destruction of the Temple some
forty years later. The cruelty and injustice by the Romans and the
impious handling of the ancient traditions by the temple priests and the
Jerusalem elite, would be set aright by God who had raised Jesus from
The epilogue of the Gospel was inspired by Mark's re-reading of LXX Isa
22,16 and LXX Isa 33,16 dealing with the destruction of the First
Temple. You ask how he does this? By cleasrly referring to the text of
Isa 22" "a tomb hewn from the Rock", and by altering the nickname of
Simon, "Cephas", into "Petros = Rock" throughout his Gospel.
> > as Isaiah pitted Somnas (Sebna) overagainst Eljakim. It is worth
> > following this trail in the absence of another viable interpretation
> > (except the classical, literal one).
> The logical interpretation seems to be that Joseph of A had to be found to
> make the tomb burial story (remotely) possible. How else could they get
> the body from the authorities?
You put your finger on the weak link in the chain of argument. However,
Mark himself gave himself the impossible task of building a literary
bridge between the crucifixion of a single prophetic figure and the
national disaster of 70. This mysterious Joseph must somehow be related
to the death of Jesus and the persecution of the early Christians in
Jerusalem and also to the destruction of the Temple in 70. Arimathea is
not a family name. Mark writes "having come from Rama" (15,43, cf Jer
31,15) thus linking him to the destruction of the temple. Moreover, in
LXX Isa 22,16 the 'tomb' is a metaphor of the Temple to be destroyed. In
"story time" Joseph 'dares' to petition Pilate for the 'body of Jesus'.
This occurs at the onset of the Sabbath, Nisan 16, which is the first
day of the harvest (Pentecost) on Pharisaic counting of the 50 days.
The 'body of Jesus' appears to be a metaphor as well. For Pilate does
not grant him this 'sooma' but a corpse 'ptoma' (15,45). Joseph may
think he has put a final seal on Jesus' mission by rolling a stone
before the tomb, but this symbolic burial merely concerns a 'corpse' and
his socalled funeral would prove to be in vain. Mark, I think is
applying Paul's metaphor of the ecclesia as the "body" of the living
Christ to his midrash.
In "story time" the women have their horrifying vision (anablepsasai,
16,3) some FORTY HOURS after Jesus' death according to Mark's time
indicator in 15,33. The implication is, I believe, that the vision
concerns the disastrous events in 70, hence FORTY YEARS LATER; the women
are like the women in LXX 32,9 who behold the destruction of Jerusalem.
They flee the scene in horror (16,8).
Mark's time indicators are filled with symbolism. In "story time"
Joseph's frustrated attempt at 'burying Jesus for good' occurs at the
onset of Nisan 16; and the vision occurs in the early hours of Nisan 17.
According to the priestly festival calendar that is in the year of the
crucifixion the correct date for the first of the fifty days of the
harvest on which the "first fruit" is offered in the temple. It should
always fall on a Sunday (Lev. 23,11.15).
> I'm not sure if the parallel with the displacing of Shebna, and the
> promotion of Eliakim in Isaiah 22:15-25 will work here.
It works, I think, for Simon Peter became with all his failings the
apparent head of the ecclesia, according to Mark. It is promised by the
angel in 16,7. The enigma would be solved if we could know the identity
of the mysterious Joseph (who in "story time" follows the Pharisaic
counting of Shavuoth - who "came from Rama" and breaks the Sabbath laws
by "buying" linen). The midrash is highly complex. But Mark makes it
very clear that this Joseph is in his eyes an evil person. He is a
'bouleutes', eminent member of the Council. In his time he played a role
in "the plot" (sumboulion) "to kill Jesus" (3,6). In fact he wanted to
put a seal on it. If I'm right this Joseph must be somehow related to
the persecution of the christians (Acts 12,1) in "real time" and be "in
real time"a contemporary of Mark, a person of great eminence who could
be cast opposite Simon Peter.
> > We
> > both agree that the "early morning" of Mark 16,2 is Niesan 17.
> Yes, the earliest version of the empty tomb story would have been on 14th
> + 3 days = 17th. But later different versions were also tried.
Here I disagree. Therefore, I prefer to call it the 'open tomb', not the
empty tomb story. Mark is not handing on a known tradition concerning
Jesus' grave. He is conveying of message of hope to a community in
despair after 70, based on his faith in the risen Messiah. His "raised
after three days" is, I believe, half of a world-week; Mark wanted to
explain the delay of the parousia. The term "after three days"
symbolically stands for half-way to the End, "after six days" the
apotheosis of the Transfiguration will follow. For the Transfiguration
scene was the original ending of the pre-70 Gospel.
> The Sadduccee first day of Shabuoth was not fixed according to the lunar
> calendar. It was celebrated from the first Sunday after Passover, this
> falling on a variety of possible dates, to the Sunday 50 days later.
No, according to Lev 23,11 it must be the day after the Sabbath after
Pesach; not "a variety of possible dates". Pesach and Shavuoth are also
Spring festivals and both are related to the offering of firstlings and
> > The important question is WHEN and WHY was the official festival
> > calendar for the harvest ritual in the temple changed from the
> > priestly to the Pharisaic interpretation of Lv 23,11.15?
> But how do we know it was changed? How do our texts reflect the Temple
> rituals in the 1st c?
I already pointed to Mishna Menachot 10:3 and the Boethusian
controversy, dealing with Nisan 16 or the Sunday after Pesach in an
> I'm quite pessimistic that analysis of the endings of the gospels can
> provide many valid insights about the priority of any gospel. This is
> because I believe that the endings (as well as the beginnings) were the
> most heavily edited and changed parts of the gospels.
I am distinguishing between a pre-70 Mark I and a heavily revised
post-70 Mark II.
> > Cf 1 Cor 16,2.8 - Paul wants the Corinthians to lay aside gifts only
> > during these seven weeks, and not during 52 Sundays in a year).
> I don't quite see how this is derived from this text.
Paul himself sets a time limit in 1 Cor 16,8. He apparently wants to
present this 'contribution for the saints" on the (fiftieth) day of
>> ...the first day of Pentecost - it became our Easter Day.
> Yes, eventually. But originally the Easter Day was the same as the Jewish
In pre-70 days the early christians must have celebrated Passover with
in the night of Nisan 15, following the slaughtering of the lambs on
But "on the third day" - that is Nisan 17, - a Sunday! in the year of
according to the Synoptics - they also rejoiced in his resurrection as
> I think it is quite significant that the women are the first witnesses of
> the resurrection in Mt.
> > Now does Matthew elaborate on and clarify the Markan story? Or
> > vice versa - does Mark abbreviate Matthew?
Matthew elaborates, clarifies and corrects Mark (there is no 'neaniskos'
in Matthew and no 'Salome')
He clarifies because he lets the angel appear the very moment Nisan 15
turns to Nisan 16 on the eve after the Sabbath. The reader is thus
alerted to the Pharisaic-Boethusian controversy with its bitter
memories, I believe, of the persecution under Herod Agrippa (cf Acts
12,1; Mark 3,6).
> As already noted above, I think Passion narratives are in a class by
> themselves. They are the most elaborated and edited. I don't think it's
> possible to find many clues to the solution of the Synoptic problem there.
> > The Gr. participle "terountes" (of the guard in Mt) is also the
> > technical term for "observing" a feast day. In that case it is their
> > duty to hinder 'the observance of Nisan 17' as the beginning of the
> > harvest of the resurrection, as the Christians were proclaiming it on
> > the Day of Pentecost.
> Whose duty is to "hinder"? I don't quite understand.
In "story time" the guards are told on the Sabbath they must make sure
that 'no resurrection' takes place on the "third day" (cf Mt 16,21), so
they must keep guard until the following Tuesday. In "real (liturgical)
Christians were proclaiming Jesus' resurrection on the Sunday following
Pesach in defiance of the forceful introduction of Nisan 16 by Herod
The agricultural symbolism of seed and harvest apparently was applied
to the history of Jesus and his movement by the early Christians (f.i.
Mark 4, 1 Cor 15, 4.20.37).
Whatever motivated Agrippa to officially change the dates of Pentecost
is not clear. It is clear that Mark interpreted this as a direct attack
on christian observance (Mark 3,6).
> > These calendrical problems, which seem to be so insignificant,
> They are very significant.
>> It would become highly relevant if indeed Herod Agrippa had the official
> > calendar changed for religio/political reasons in opposition to Peter
> > and the apostles who kept proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus on the
> > Temple square and perhaps opposed his policies as well.
> I don't think Peter and friends were in any position to influence how and
> when Temple ceremonies were observed. They were not so influential.
Perhaps not. But, as you also said, Samaritan chronology coincided with
calendar. Also Qumranites seemed to have adhered to the "day after the
Sabbath". The opposition to Herod was perhaps stronger than you infer.
Karel - 's-Hertogenbosch
- David C. Hindley wrote:
> Message text written by INTERNET:K.Hanhart@...
> >Jan Van Goudoever does explain the difference between
> the old priestly calendar and the Pharisaic calendar for the beginning
> and ending of Shavuoth.<
> >What do you think?<
> Now it appears that everything boils down to the a possible change in officially sanctioned practice, similar to the difference in inerpretation regarding when to slay the passover lamb. It is still the same lunar calendar.
The terms old priestly 'calendar' and the Pharisaic calender with regard
to Shavuoth are frequently used.
1. There is no dispute re. the fact that the Boethusians defended the
priestly calendar and that at some time the dates of Shavuoth were
replaced by the Pharisaic counting of the fifty days. The temple then
still stood and in the Talmud the Pharisaic counting of the Omer
beginning with Nisan 16 still prevails. The question is WHEN the
official celebrations began on Nisan 16 which is not necessarily a
Of course,thare were other halakhic controversies in the First Century
between Boethusians and Pharisees.
2. This is no small matter. For the burial took place at the onset of
Nisan 16. Nothing happend thereafter. For the women. however, the "first
day" of Shavuoth, Nisan 17, is filled with the promise of the Messianic
harvest to come as Jesus rose from the dead, as the first fruit.
Greetings, your KAREL