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[Synoptic-L] Mark's more negative portrayal of the disciples.

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  • Stephen C. Carlson
    It is commonly asserted that Mark s more negative portrayal of the disciples compared with Matthew and Luke is an argument for Mark s priority. For example,
    Message 1 of 6 , Jul 5, 2000
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      It is commonly asserted that Mark's more negative portrayal of
      the disciples compared with Matthew and Luke is an argument for
      Mark's priority. For example, Stein (1987: 65) writes, "If Mark
      was not interested in vilifying the disciple [pace Weeden], in
      which direction it is easier to understand the later writers to
      have moved? Surely Matthew's and Luke's handling of the Markan
      text, with its harder reading, is far more understandable than
      a Markan change of Matthew and/or Luke."

      I was recently reading Dennis R. MacDonald, THE HOMERIC EPICS
      AND THE GOSPEL OF MARK (2000: 23), who observed: "Similarly,
      in Mark, after Jesus himself, the next most admirable characters
      are the disciples. When the earliest evangelist portrays them
      negatively, he does so to contrast their vices with the virtues
      of their Lord, especially his capacity for suffering. Although
      the Twelve may be ciphers for an objectionable theology, they
      surely are foils for a heroic christology that exalts the
      suffering protagonist at the expense of his inept associates."

      If MacDonald is correct in observing that the negative portrayal
      of the disciple plays a positive role in exalting Jesus by
      comparison, then isn't the common criterion of increasing
      reverence of the disciples a reversible and, hence, an unreliable
      indicator of Markan priority?

      Stephen Carlson
      --
      Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
      Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
      "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35
    • Richard Anderson
      Luke s more primitive theology These types of argument are difficult. I would argue that the theology of Luke is the most primitive of the synoptics in that
      Message 2 of 6 , Jul 6, 2000
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        Luke's more primitive theology

        These types of argument are difficult. I would argue that the theology of
        Luke is the most primitive of the synoptics in that Luke has no theology of
        the cross and no condemnation of the animal sacrificial system while both
        Matt and Mark have both a theology of the cross and a condemnation of the
        animal sacrificial system.
        But does it follow that one develops from the other, or one form is earlier
        than the other.

        Mark is critical of the Jerusalem community, its theology and its
        leadership and in response develops his theology of the cross. Luke does
        not develop a theology of the cross because he/his community believes that
        on the Day of Atonement the HP by offering a goat as a sacrifice the sins of
        the Jewish nation are forgiven and because he/they still believe in the HP,
        Temple and the animal sacificial system.

        There is ambivalence in Luke noted by several writers and examples that
        the list may supply but to me this only means Luke is a theology in
        transition, that his community still clings to the old ways. For them,
        these orphans, the writer of Hebrews offer a compromise. He makes Jesus the
        new High Priest and in this process/way the NT doctrine of atonement is
        established.

        Richard H. Anderson
        http://www.geocities.com/gospelofluke

        > It is commonly asserted that Mark's more negative portrayal of
        > the disciples compared with Matthew and Luke is an argument for
        > Mark's priority.
      • Maluflen@aol.com
        In a message dated 7/5/2000 10:47:42 PM Eastern Daylight Time, scarlson@mindspring.com writes:
        Message 3 of 6 , Jul 6, 2000
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          In a message dated 7/5/2000 10:47:42 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
          scarlson@... writes:

          << I was recently reading Dennis R. MacDonald, THE HOMERIC EPICS
          AND THE GOSPEL OF MARK (2000: 23), who observed: "Similarly,
          in Mark, after Jesus himself, the next most admirable characters
          are the disciples. When the earliest evangelist portrays them
          negatively, he does so to contrast their vices with the virtues
          of their Lord, especially his capacity for suffering. Although
          the Twelve may be ciphers for an objectionable theology, they
          surely are foils for a heroic christology that exalts the
          suffering protagonist at the expense of his inept associates."

          If MacDonald is correct in observing that the negative portrayal
          of the disciple plays a positive role in exalting Jesus by
          comparison, then isn't the common criterion of increasing
          reverence of the disciples a reversible and, hence, an unreliable
          indicator of Markan priority?>>

          I think so. I believe MacDonald is correct in his observation, but there is
          also another factor that is likewise consistent with (though of course not
          decisively probative of) a late Mark: because of a growing distance from the
          time of the apostles, there would be a fading interest in them in Mk,
          compared with the other Synoptics, as historical leaders of Jewish
          Christianity (the legitimation factor, prominent in Matt and Lk, is almost,
          if not entirely lacking in Mark); they therefore become dramatic characters
          who represent the weak faith and timidity in following Jesus in time of
          persecution that Mark may have found to be typical of many in his Roman
          audience. Jesus' various responses to the disciples and especially to Peter
          in Mark's narrative thus become words that are pointedly directed to the
          Gospel's audience who naturally identify themselves with the disciples of
          Jesus.

          Leonard Maluf
        • Stephen C. Carlson
          ... What then would you make of the proliferation of the apocryphal acts of various apostles? Stephen Carlson -- Stephen C. Carlson
          Message 4 of 6 , Jul 7, 2000
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            At 09:46 AM 7/6/00 EDT, Maluflen@... wrote:
            >I think so. I believe MacDonald is correct in his observation, but there is
            >also another factor that is likewise consistent with (though of course not
            >decisively probative of) a late Mark: because of a growing distance from the
            >time of the apostles, there would be a fading interest in them in Mk,
            >compared with the other Synoptics, ...

            What then would you make of the proliferation of the apocryphal acts
            of various apostles?

            Stephen Carlson
            --
            Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
            Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
            "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35
          • Maluflen@aol.com
            In a message dated 7/7/2000 6:40:43 AM Eastern Daylight Time, scarlson@mindspring.com writes: ... the ... What then would you make of the proliferation of the
            Message 5 of 6 , Jul 7, 2000
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              In a message dated 7/7/2000 6:40:43 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
              scarlson@... writes:

              << At 09:46 AM 7/6/00 EDT, Maluflen@... wrote:
              >I think so. I believe MacDonald is correct in his observation, but there is
              >also another factor that is likewise consistent with (though of course not
              >decisively probative of) a late Mark: because of a growing distance from
              the
              >time of the apostles, there would be a fading interest in them in Mk,
              >compared with the other Synoptics, ...

              What then would you make of the proliferation of the apocryphal acts
              of various apostles?>>

              Stephen, you didn't complete my original sentence: "...because of a growing
              distance from the time of the apostles, there would be a fading interest in
              them in Mk, compared with the other Synoptics, as historical leaders of
              Jewish
              Christianity (the legitimation factor, prominent in Matt and Lk, is almost,
              if not entirely lacking in Mark)..".

              But you raise a good point: at the same time that we note a fading interest
              in the apostles as historical leaders of Jewish Christianity, there is a
              definite trend toward developing interest in them as legendary characters. A
              neat progression can be noted in this regard that extends from Matt, through
              Luke, through John and into the second century apocryphal writings (I will
              note briefly at the end how Mark fits into this pattern):

              1. In Matt, as a general rule (and with the exception of Judas) only Peter
              speaks and acts in isolation from others of the twelve; exceptions to this
              rule are Matt 20:22, where "the sons of Zebedee" are addressed by Jesus in
              isolation from the ten, and respond (in unison) with the single word:
              DUNAMEQA, and Matt 26:22, where a short saying: "is it I, Lord?" is
              attributed to "each one" of the apostles separately.

              2. In Luke, by comparison to Matt, places are multiplied where Peter
              intervenes or speaks alone (5:5; 8:45; 12:41; [24:12]); others of the twelve
              than Peter begin to speak alone (e.g., John alone in 9:49; James and John in
              9:54); Peter appears in the narrative in conjunction with John (or James and
              John) in places where the Matthean par. does not mention them (8:51; 22:8).

              3. In John, the tendencies begun in Luke continue: Peter's role in the
              narrative increases with respect to the Synoptic accounts (6:68; 13:8, 9;
              13:24, 36; 18:10, etc.); others of the twelve than Peter also begin to take
              on active roles in the narrative, and they are also the subject of direct
              speech: Andrew, Philip, Thomas, etc.

              In some respects, Mk fits in this trajectory between Lk and Jn (i.e., the
              position it occupies according to the Two-Gospel Hypothesis): Mark introduces
              apostles into the narrative in places where they are not present in the other
              Synoptics, and at times their direct speech is even cited: Mk 1:29, 36-37;
              10:35 (where James and John are mentioned by name, and initiate the action,
              differently from their role in the Matthean par. Note that the dialogue
              between Jesus and the two disciples here is also slightly expanded);
              12:43;13:3.

              On the other hand, Mark omits some of the places in Matt where Peter alone
              appears, and some of the additional places in Luke where Peter alone appears
              (and one text in Luke where James and John alone appear: Lk 9:54). Also, the
              reference to "two of his disciples" in Mk 14:13 would probably be judged
              "earlier", by the canons of the above described trajectory, than the parallel
              in Lk 22:8 ("and he sent Peter and John..").

              Leonard Maluf
            • Maluflen@aol.com
              In a message dated 7/7/2000 11:13:36 AM Eastern Daylight Time, Maluflen@aol.com writes:
              Message 6 of 6 , Jul 8, 2000
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                In a message dated 7/7/2000 11:13:36 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
                Maluflen@... writes:

                << In some respects, Mk fits in this trajectory between Lk and Jn (i.e., the
                position it occupies according to the Two-Gospel Hypothesis): Mark
                introduces
                apostles into the narrative in places where they are not present in the
                other
                Synoptics, and at times their direct speech is even cited: Mk 1:29, 36-37;
                10:35 (where James and John are mentioned by name, and initiate the action,
                differently from their role in the Matthean par. Note that the dialogue
                between Jesus and the two disciples here is also slightly expanded);
                12:43;13:3. >>

                Actually, for the 10:35 passage, the dialogue between Jesus, on the one hand,
                and James and John on the other, is considerably expanded in this passage,
                compared to the Matthean parallel, if we take into account that in the first
                part of the dialogue it is now the disciples, not their mother, who are
                speaking.

                Leonard Maluf
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