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[Synoptic-L] Re: "good news" (Mk 1:15d)

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  • Steven Craig Miller
    To: Jim Deardorff, You wrote:
    Message 1 of 6 , Oct 1, 1999
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      To: Jim Deardorff,

      You wrote:

      << Surely Mt 3:2 is more original than Mk 1:15, as the latter includes
      "believe in the gospel." Since at the time the Markan words were supposedly
      spoken in that form there was not yet any "good news" to believe in, and
      certainly no written gospel, this points to redaction by AMk, not by AMt.
      If Mark is allowed to be a secondary gospel, it is understandable that
      "gospel" had come to be used in the sense of the written word by the time
      Mark was written. Hence AMk used it in this sense also in Mk 1:1, this
      being the introduction to his entire written works. >>

      It is true that scholars have debated whether or not the historical Jesus
      used the term 'euaggelion' "good news" to describe his own proclamation.
      And whereas the Jesus Seminar color coded Mark 1:15d as black, Vincent
      Taylor suggests: "there is no reason why the words should not be regarded
      as authentic."

      In addition, 'euaggelion' "good news" occurs 48 times in the authentic
      Pauline letters, and this shows that 'euaggelion' "good news" had already
      been well-established as a technical term for the Christian message and its
      proclamation long before any of the Synoptic gospels were written. So, even
      if one seriously doubts that Mk 1:15d is authentic, that should not be used
      as evidence, IMO, for Markan posteriority.

      FWIW ... my own interpretation of Mark 1:1 is that verses 2 & 3 are
      parenthetical so that verses one and four are connected. E.g.: "The
      beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ [Son of God] (...) was John
      who was baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming ..."

      When was "the beginning of the good news about Jesus" (according to Mark)?
      IMO it does not make any sense suggest that Mark thought his written text
      was the BEGINNING of the good news about Jesus, for surely this good news
      about Jesus was even pre-Pauline! And if one assumes Markan posteriority,
      such an idea makes even less sense. My own interpretation of Mark 1:1-4 is
      that Mark thought of John's message about the more powerful one coming (and
      thus John himself) to be the BEGINNING of the good news about Jesus.
      Matthew and Luke, then, omit Mk 1:1 because they held that the BEGINNING
      wasn't with John the Baptist, but rather I believe they held that the
      beginning of the good news about Jesus could be found in Hebrew scripture.

      -Steven Craig Miller (scmiller@...)
    • Steven Craig Miller
      To: Jim Deardorff, I wrote:
      Message 2 of 6 , Oct 2, 1999
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        To: Jim Deardorff,

        I wrote:

        << Another example, might be the pericope concerning the healing of the man
        with the withered hand (Mt 12:9-14). Here Matthew appears to have inserted
        a saying (verse 11) into his redaction of Mark 3:1-6. If one takes Mt 12:11
        as derived from Q (cf. Lk 13:15; 14:5), then it is possible to suppose that
        Matthew simply borrowed it from Q and slipped it into this pericope. On the
        other hand, Davies and Allison (1991) suggest that Mt 12:11 might "go back
        to Jesus." What do you think? >>

        To which you replied:

        << Mark appears to be secondary to Matthew in that Mark has Jesus order the
        man to "rise into the midst" -- thus having Jesus be a more commanding
        figure. The pericope in Mark also seems secondary in that Mk 3:1 starts out
        with Jesus entering into *a* synagogue in which "they" -- presumably the
        people inside -- all wish to accuse him. Again in vv. 4 and 5 "they" refers
        to these accusers, while one wouldn't expect everyone in the synagogue to
        be intent upon accusing him. Only by v. 6 can we infer that Jesus had been
        speaking angrily just to the Pharisees, presumably not to the others inside
        also. Mark's redactions to Mt 12:9-14 then caused the problems. In Matthew
        Jesus had entered *their* synagogue, referring to the Pharisees of the
        previous pericope who had presumably followed Jesus inside. This connection
        is lost in Mark. >>

        This raises some interesting issues. Is it possible to really discern
        details which are clearly secondary and so argue from them for a particular
        solution to the Synoptic Problem? You mention Mark's "rise into the midst"
        as an indication that Mark's account was secondary. Frankly, I don't find
        such an argument to carry much weight.

        In my opinion, a case can be made for Matthean redaction. Assuming the
        Two-Source hypothesis, Matthew appears to have made the problem, which is
        implicit in Mark, explicit. It is interesting to note Jesus' supposed
        motivation. In Mark, Jesus is motivated into action by malevolent scrutiny.
        Matthew makes this even more explicit by transforming the indirect question
        of Mk 3:2 into a direct question. Once the question is asked, the stage is
        set for the Matthean Jesus' answer. There is no need in Matthew version to
        move the man with the withered hand to center stage, and so the passage
        "rise into the midst" is omitted. Frankly, I find it much more reasonable
        that in this pericope Matthew changed Mark's indirect discourse into direct
        discourse than to assume that Mark changed Matthew's direct discourse into
        indirect discourse. What could be Mark's motivation for that? I don't mean
        to suggest that there is a GENERAL tendency here. Rudolf Bultmann, in his
        "The History of the Synoptic Tradition" (ET: 312), tried to suggest:

        << ... there appears in the Tradition a further tendency to produce new
        sayings of the person engaged, in part as a continuation of an earlier
        report into direct speech. Of course it is not possible to speak of a
        natural law here; it also happens that a saying in direct speech is put
        into indirect ... >>

        There are examples for each of the Synoptic gospels having direct discourse
        where one or both of the others have indirect discourse (e.g., see: E.P.
        Sanders' "The Tendencies of the Synoptic Tradition," pp. 259-262). Only
        with this particular pericope (Mt 12:9-14 & Mk 3:1-6), I find it more
        reasonable to suppose that Matthew changed Mark's indirect discourse into
        direct discourse than the other way around. Matthew's motivation for such a
        change is to have the question asked so that he then could insert into his
        redaction of Mark Jesus' answer. What could be Mark's motivation for
        omitting both the question (in direct discourse) and Jesus' answer?

        -Steven Craig Miller (scmiller@...)
      • Jim Deardorff
        ... Steven, By that reasoning, AMt would have had no reason to omit Mark s references to the gospel at Mk 1:15d and 1:1, if Matthew had been secondary to Mark.
        Message 3 of 6 , Oct 2, 1999
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          At 08:41 PM 10/1/99 -0500, Steven Craig Miller wrote:
          >To: Jim Deardorff,
          >
          >You wrote:
          >
          ><< Surely Mt 3:2 is more original than Mk 1:15, as the latter includes
          >"believe in the gospel." Since at the time the Markan words were supposedly
          >spoken in that form there was not yet any "good news" to believe in, and
          >certainly no written gospel, this points to redaction by AMk, not by AMt.
          >If Mark is allowed to be a secondary gospel, it is understandable that
          >"gospel" had come to be used in the sense of the written word by the time
          >Mark was written. Hence AMk used it in this sense also in Mk 1:1, this
          >being the introduction to his entire written works. >>
          >
          >It is true that scholars have debated whether or not the historical Jesus
          >used the term 'euaggelion' "good news" to describe his own proclamation.
          >And whereas the Jesus Seminar color coded Mark 1:15d as black, Vincent
          >Taylor suggests: "there is no reason why the words should not be regarded
          >as authentic."
          >
          >In addition, 'euaggelion' "good news" occurs 48 times in the authentic
          >Pauline letters, and this shows that 'euaggelion' "good news" had already
          >been well-established as a technical term for the Christian message and its
          >proclamation long before any of the Synoptic gospels were written. So, even
          >if one seriously doubts that Mk 1:15d is authentic, that should not be used
          >as evidence, IMO, for Markan posteriority.

          Steven,

          By that reasoning, AMt would have had no reason to omit Mark's references to
          the gospel at Mk 1:15d and 1:1, if Matthew had been secondary to Mark.

          When the content of a verse from one gospel contains words that Jesus might
          actually have spoken (e.g., Mt 4:17b) and the parallel within another gospel
          contains words he could not have spoken (e.g., Mk 1:15d), it is only common
          sense to place greater reliance on the former than on the latter. The latter
          thus appears as the redaction, though this reasoning doesn't begin to tell
          you whether or not the more original text itself contains redactions. So I
          would go by common sense here.


          >FWIW ... my own interpretation of Mark 1:1 is that verses 2 & 3 are
          >parenthetical so that verses one and four are connected. E.g.: "The
          >beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ [Son of God] (...) was John
          >who was baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming ..."
          >
          >When was "the beginning of the good news about Jesus" (according to Mark)?
          >IMO it does not make any sense suggest that Mark thought his written text
          >was the BEGINNING of the good news about Jesus, for surely this good news
          >about Jesus was even pre-Pauline!

          Partly for that reason, it's easiest for me to give most weight to the
          likelihood that AMk thought of the gospel he was writing as a written works,
          not as "good news." I.e., that he thought of EUAGGELION here, and more
          definitely in 1:15d, as a written account. With Matthew having already
          appeared, and likely having been termed a EUAGGELION, AMk would not be
          setting any new precedent here in calling his works a gospel in the written
          sense. The relatively late date I assign to the gospels, circa 120, makes
          this position more reasonable.

          >... My own interpretation of Mark 1:1-4 is
          >that Mark thought of John's message about the more powerful one coming (and
          >thus John himself) to be the BEGINNING of the good news about Jesus.
          >Matthew and Luke, then, omit Mk 1:1 because they held that the BEGINNING
          >wasn't with John the Baptist, but rather I believe they held that the
          >beginning of the good news about Jesus could be found in Hebrew scripture.

          This does seem a possibility even to me, or that AMk could have had both
          meanings of EUAGGELION in mind in 1:1. However, within the framework of
          Matthew having preceded Mark and being the first written EUAGGELION, and AMt
          not using the word in his opening verse -- not "improving" upon Mark -- I
          must place more weight upon the written-gospel interpretation along with
          Mark being secondary.

          Jim Deardorff
          Corvallis, Oregon
          E-mail: deardorj@...
          Home page: http://www.proaxis.com/~deardorj/index.htm
        • Jim Deardorff
          ... Steven, Thanks for the continuing discussion. It takes the accumulation of large numbers of similar indications to carry real weight. But I do find AMk had
          Message 4 of 6 , Oct 2, 1999
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            At 09:51 AM 10/2/99 -0500, Steven Craig Miller wrote:
            >To: Jim Deardorff,
            >
            >I wrote:
            >
            ><< Another example, might be the pericope concerning the healing of the man
            >with the withered hand (Mt 12:9-14). Here Matthew appears to have inserted
            >a saying (verse 11) into his redaction of Mark 3:1-6. If one takes Mt 12:11
            >as derived from Q (cf. Lk 13:15; 14:5), then it is possible to suppose that
            >Matthew simply borrowed it from Q and slipped it into this pericope. On the
            >other hand, Davies and Allison (1991) suggest that Mt 12:11 might "go back
            >to Jesus." What do you think? >>

            >To which you replied:

            ><< Mark appears to be secondary to Matthew in that Mark has Jesus order the
            >man to "rise into the midst" -- thus having Jesus be a more commanding
            >figure. The pericope in Mark also seems secondary in that Mk 3:1 starts out
            >with Jesus entering into *a* synagogue in which "they" -- presumably the
            >people inside -- all wish to accuse him. Again in vv. 4 and 5 "they" refers
            >to these accusers, while one wouldn't expect everyone in the synagogue to
            >be intent upon accusing him. Only by v. 6 can we infer that Jesus had been
            >speaking angrily just to the Pharisees, presumably not to the others inside
            >also. Mark's redactions to Mt 12:9-14 then caused the problems. In Matthew
            >Jesus had entered *their* synagogue, referring to the Pharisees of the
            >previous pericope who had presumably followed Jesus inside. This connection
            >is lost in Mark. >>

            >This raises some interesting issues. Is it possible to really discern
            >details which are clearly secondary and so argue from them for a particular
            >solution to the Synoptic Problem? You mention Mark's "rise into the midst"
            >as an indication that Mark's account was secondary. Frankly, I don't find
            >such an argument to carry much weight.

            Steven,

            Thanks for the continuing discussion. It takes the accumulation of large
            numbers of similar indications to carry real weight. But I do find AMk had
            the tendency to turn Jesus into a more commanding figure, as in Mk 11:16.

            >In my opinion, a case can be made for Matthean redaction. Assuming the
            >Two-Source hypothesis, Matthew appears to have made the problem, which is
            >implicit in Mark, explicit.

            Mark's problem of "they" and "them" in 3:2,4,5 not referring back to the
            Pharisees of 2:24 is due to AMk not hving followed Matthew (Mt 12:9) quite
            closely enough (in the AH view), in referring to "a" synagogue rather than
            "their" synagogue. So I don't see it as a Matthean problem. I see it as a
            Markan problem associated with a minor change for the sake of change.

            >It is interesting to note Jesus' supposed
            >motivation. In Mark, Jesus is motivated into action by malevolent scrutiny.
            >Matthew makes this even more explicit by transforming the indirect question
            >of Mk 3:2 into a direct question.

            However, Mk 3:2 does not contain an indirect question. Certain people in the
            synagogue (one later concludes they were Pharisees) were watching Jesus to
            see if he would heal the man so that they could accuse him of healing on the
            sabbath. There is no question there, implicit or explicit. If Jesus were to
            heal the man on the sabbath, the act would speak for itself. In all
            likelihood it would not occur to an editor or gospel re-writer who came
            across that verse that he should insert a verse of direct speech there,
            containing a question.

            >Once the question is asked, the stage is set for the Matthean Jesus' answer.

            However, consider AMk as one who was writing a gospel for gentiles with very
            little information to go on but what was present within Matthew's
            anti-gentile text. It should be obvious that he could not just repeat what
            Matthew said (but in Greek rather than Hebraic) if his gospel were to be
            considered a different writing. He had to make it different wherever he
            could, not only by numerous omissions but by minor additions and alterations
            as well. This AMk did in this pericope as elsewhere, viewed from the
            modified AH. He could improve upon Matthew's sheep-in-the-pit saying by
            extending Jesus' remark to good or evil and to saving or destroying life.
            This then was a Markan improvement that was successful, except that he had
            Jesus ask a question that could not be answered by a simple "yes" or "no,"
            even if one had wished to respond in the affirmative to doing good and
            saving life, due to the two or's involved. AMk was likely not much impressed
            with the Matthean saying whose punch line was that a man is worth much more
            than a sheep, any more than he had been when omitting Matthew's 10:31 of
            being of more value than many sparrows.

            >There is no need in Matthew version to
            >move the man with the withered hand to center stage, and so the passage
            >"rise into the midst" is omitted.

            Well, the man who was healed was the center-stage event in both the Matthean
            and Markan pericopes. However, since Mark fails to contain so many of
            Matthew's teachings yet does contain practically all the healings, by the AH
            one sees that for AMk the healing miracles and other miracles were, if
            anything, of even greater relative importance to him than to AMt. So the
            phrase is easily consistent with being a bit of embellishment by AMk over
            Matthew. However, I see it even more as another bit of change for the sake
            of having his gospel be more than a mere translation of Matthew with a
            different name attached.

            >Frankly, I find it much more reasonable
            >that in this pericope Matthew changed Mark's indirect discourse into direct
            >discourse than to assume that Mark changed Matthew's direct discourse into
            >indirect discourse. What could be Mark's motivation for that?

            See the above. In making his many abbreviations and omissions of Matthean
            direct speech (from the AH view), AMk at times needed to summarize them with
            brief narration.

            >I don't mean
            >to suggest that there is a GENERAL tendency here. Rudolf Bultmann, in his
            >"The History of the Synoptic Tradition" (ET: 312), tried to suggest:
            >
            ><< ... there appears in the Tradition a further tendency to produce new
            >sayings of the person engaged, in part as a continuation of an earlier
            >report into direct speech. Of course it is not possible to speak of a
            >natural law here; it also happens that a saying in direct speech is put
            >into indirect ... >>

            >There are examples for each of the Synoptic gospels having direct discourse
            >where one or both of the others have indirect discourse (e.g., see: E.P.
            >Sanders' "The Tendencies of the Synoptic Tradition," pp. 259-262). Only
            >with this particular pericope (Mt 12:9-14 & Mk 3:1-6), I find it more
            >reasonable to suppose that Matthew changed Mark's indirect discourse into
            >direct discourse than the other way around.

            I wonder, to what extent is Bultmann's statement here dependent upon the
            assumption that Mark came first and Matthew second? It may be that Mark has
            more of these relative to Matthew than vice versa, and more than with the
            other two synoptic gospel pairings. Are there unbiased statistics on this
            available?

            >Matthew's motivation for such a
            >change is to have the question asked so that he then could insert into his
            >redaction of Mark Jesus' answer. What could be Mark's motivation for
            >omitting both the question (in direct discourse) and Jesus' answer?

            See the above. Why would AMk want his gospel to be no more than a
            translation of Matthew?

            Jim Deardorff
            Corvallis, Oregon
            E-mail: deardorj@...
            Home page: http://www.proaxis.com/~deardorj/index.htm
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