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Re: Synoptic Conundrums

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  • E. Bruce Brooks
    Topic: Synoptic Conundrums From: Bruce In Response To: Yuri ... I would tend to agree with Reuss in the case of Mk 1:1-20. This passage of Mk does seem to be a
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 27, 1998
      Topic: Synoptic Conundrums
      From: Bruce
      In Response To: Yuri

      On Mk 1:1-20, regarded by Reuss as late, Yuri observes:
      ----------
      I would tend to agree with Reuss in the case of Mk 1:1-20. This passage of
      Mk does seem to be a conflation of Mt and Lk. The baptism scene in
      particular may depend on Mt. The idea of JB baptising Jesus presented a
      clear theological problem for early Christians. If Jesus was the Son of
      God, why did he need to be baptised by someone obviously inferior to him?
      Lk and Jn have serious problems with this concept, and try to get around
      it. It seems quite possible that the baptism scene was not in the earliest
      version of Mk.
      ----------

      I think this may be a too sweeping conclusion. If I may, I would like to
      accept here my own earlier suggestion (Syn-L archive #687) that Mk 1:2b,
      and that only, is a later harmonizing intrusion from Mt (and/or Lk), and
      that Mk 1:2a was much later, centuries later (but not in the best texts),
      scribally adjusted to reharmonize the context. I here explore the
      possibilities of defending the remainder of Mk 1:1-20 as pre-Matthean, on
      the agreed principle that "the idea of John baptizing Jesus presented a
      clear theological problem for early Christians." If the texts, read in the
      order Mk > Mt > Lk (accepted by both Yuri and myself, which is enough for
      the present paragraph; for others, the example itself may serve as one
      reason for crediting this sequence), show a linear progression in how they
      meet that problem, then the hypothesis of pre-Matthean Mk 1:1-20 is
      supported, and the hypothesis of later conflation from Mt/Lk in that
      passage is to that degree rendered superfluous.

      Mk 1:9 . . In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was
      baptized by John.
      Mt 3:13 . . [adds] "John would have prevented him, saying, I need to be
      baptized by you . . '
      Lk 3:21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had
      been baptized . . .

      Mk straightforwardly records the baptism, Mt does so also but voices the
      "problem" felt by the later church by making John himself articulate
      Jesus's superior position, and proceed only on Jesus's remark "it is
      fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness." Luke all but suppresses
      mention of the baptism as such, by putting it in an afterthought clause.

      Also, on the apparition of the Spirit:

      Mk 1:10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the
      heavens opened
      Mt 3:16 And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water,
      and behold, the heavens were opened
      Lk 3: . . . and [Jesus] was praying, the heaven was opened

      Here Mt generally retains Mk, with the one difference that the opening of
      the heaven is a public event, not one implied to be visible to Jesus alone.
      The more public miracle is plausibly later (actually, all that is involved
      is making Mk's viewpoint consistently public, but even that counts as
      progress). Luke adds a distancing device, interpolating Jesus's prayer, so
      that the opening of the heavens follows, and is presumptively due to, not
      John's baptism, but *Jesus's prayer.* The effect of Mt in both cases is to
      explain (or literarily edit) the Markan text; the effect of Lk in both
      cases is to downplay the act of baptism, and deny its efficacy in producing
      the apparition. For Lk, Jesus is his own validating contact with Heaven.

      Both Mt and Lk might easily have adopted other strategies, but at minimum
      there seems to be nothing in what is actually present that would invalidate
      the hypothesis of Mk > Mt > Lk order, under the assumed constant constraint
      of the "problem" of the Baptism.

      As to the element of John as a precursor and predictor of Jesus, that also
      evolves smoothly, but in the opposite direction. The scripture prediction
      in GMark is (see my earlier post) amplified in GMatt, and GLuke retains
      this while adding the gynecological fantasy that even in the womb, John
      recognized Jesus (also in the womb) as his superior. So the *ordination* by
      John is an attenuation-motif in the three GSyn, while the *harbinger*
      function of John is an expansion-motif in the same texts. All this is very
      consistent, very intelligible in terms of the respective agendas, and to my
      eye offers no evidence against the sequence Mk > Mt > Lk, or against the
      pre-Matthean status of (most of) Mk 1:1-20.

      Yuri continues:
      -----------
      In my view, Koester's (and previously, Alfred Loisy's) proto-Mk provides
      good answers to both Mk prioritists and to their opponents. Clearly there
      are passages in Mk that furnish support for both these camps.
      Unfortunately, most Synoptic scholars still labour under the rather blithe
      assumption of the iron-clad "monolithic textual unity of Mk". They wish to
      have Mk either all late or all early. The simplicity of such a view surely
      may be attractive to many, but perhaps it is also deceptive? Why is it so
      difficult for people to accept that Mk may be _both_ early and late?
      ------------

      I sympathize to a degree with this, since I am also inclined by the
      evidence to a nonunitary view of GMark, and am aware that it is an uphill
      proposition. But both of my conjectural strata happen to be pre-Matthean,
      so that the equations are not greatly changed for such matters as the Mk >
      Mt > Lk sequence, whether or not one accepts my proposal. Whereas Yuri
      obviously envisions a major stratum of Mk as following Mt/Lk, giving the
      picture:

      Mk1 > Mt > Lk > Mk2 (including Mk 1:1-20)

      This interferes more drastically with evolution-statements such as those
      above. If Yuri would specify, in chapter and verse, the contents of his
      Mk2, people might more readily envision what is involved, and be encouraged
      to take the step of belief. Apparently a reference to Koester (let alone
      Loisy; not available to me in local libraries and not on the used book
      market at a figure I can afford to think about) is not going to take the
      place of direct preaching in the local parlor. Yuri, could you be so kind
      as to list your Mk2? You owe me; I listed Reuss's.

      One more extract from Yuri's post:
      ----------
      BTW, the very idea of Peter preaching in Rome, as stated by Papias, is of
      course quite suspect, and should not to be taken literally. If Peter was
      ever in Rome, it would have been as a prisoner soon to be executed. He
      would have been in no position to preach to anyone. But the idea of a
      _monolinguial_ Peter in Rome, Peter needing an interpreter, seems
      downright absurd. I think we should give the historical Peter a little
      more credit for intellectual achievement. If he was monolinguial, he would
      have been most unlikely to make missionary journeys outside of Israel. But
      since he did make missionary journeys -- we know he was in Syria,
      presumably for some time -- he would have surely learned Greek, if he
      didn't know it already from the earliest times...
      ----------
      Well, it is possible that Paul preached in Rome while under house arrest.
      But on the main point, I think that Yuri is absolutely correct: Peter could
      not have been, or remained, monolingual. This definitively disposes of the
      idea of Mark or anyone else serving as his interpreter in Rome (unless
      someone wants to propose that Mark knew Latin? No, I thought not).

      That is already important, but notice how much else it proves. It proves
      that Papias, for all his explicit care to seek out qualified informants,
      and to sift and winnow the testimony of even those informants, has
      swallowed a mythical account of the origin of GMark. It proves that variant
      accounts of that origin, such as the version that has Mark writing down
      Peter's stories before, not after, Peter's execution, are elaborations of
      the basic myth and not variant witnesses attesting its ultimate factuality.
      It also proves that these evidently pro-Roman myths were circulating as far
      east as Hierapolis and vicinity by the end of the 1c. As noted in my
      previous post, this usefully shortens the time-lag that need intervene
      before the addition of Mt 16:18 (if indeed it was added and not original)
      to the main GMatt text.

      And, finally, it goes beyond what I have recently suggested, and makes it
      likely that the 1 Peter and deutero-Pauline testimony to the presence of
      Mark in Rome is not only false, but false along the lines of a
      Roman-centrist agenda myth. These texts might now profitably be re-examined
      from the angle that this is one of their reasons for becoming. I don't know
      if that would be legal on Syn-L; if not, those interested might get
      together to find, or create, another pub (the signboard Historic Paul has
      already been proposed) in whose hospitable parlor such matters might be
      explored at appropriate length.

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks / University of MAssachusetts
    • Yuri Kuchinsky
      Thanks for your reply, Bruce, Here are some quick points. ... Yes, this is the model that I accept. ... Well, Bruce, to be perfectly honest, I don t have a
      Message 2 of 4 , Jul 28, 1998
        Thanks for your reply, Bruce,

        Here are some quick points.

        On Mon, 27 Jul 1998, E. Bruce Brooks wrote:

        > Topic: Synoptic Conundrums
        > From: Bruce
        > In Response To: Yuri

        ...

        > Yuri continues:
        > -----------
        > In my view, Koester's (and previously, Alfred Loisy's) proto-Mk
        > provides good answers to both Mk prioritists and to their opponents.
        > Clearly there are passages in Mk that furnish support for both these
        > camps. Unfortunately, most Synoptic scholars still labour under the
        > rather blithe assumption of the iron-clad "monolithic textual unity of
        > Mk". They wish to have Mk either all late or all early. The simplicity
        > of such a view surely may be attractive to many, but perhaps it is
        > also deceptive? Why is it so difficult for people to accept that Mk
        > may be _both_ early and late?
        > ------------
        >
        > I sympathize to a degree with this, since I am also inclined by the
        > evidence to a nonunitary view of GMark, and am aware that it is an
        > uphill proposition. But both of my conjectural strata happen to be
        > pre-Matthean, so that the equations are not greatly changed for such
        > matters as the Mk > Mt > Lk sequence, whether or not one accepts my
        > proposal. Whereas Yuri obviously envisions a major stratum of Mk as
        > following Mt/Lk, giving the picture:
        >
        > Mk1 > Mt > Lk > Mk2 (including Mk 1:1-20)

        Yes, this is the model that I accept.

        > This interferes more drastically with evolution-statements such as
        > those above. If Yuri would specify, in chapter and verse, the contents
        > of his Mk2, people might more readily envision what is involved, and
        > be encouraged to take the step of belief. Apparently a reference to
        > Koester (let alone Loisy; not available to me in local libraries and
        > not on the used book market at a figure I can afford to think about)
        > is not going to take the place of direct preaching in the local
        > parlor. Yuri, could you be so kind as to list your Mk2? You owe me; I
        > listed Reuss's.

        Well, Bruce, to be perfectly honest, I don't have a ready made list of
        such passages that I can give you. The matter is quite complicated.

        But in general, as a rule of thumb, you can take the passages that the
        Griesbachians usually cite as their best proof-texts for the posteriority
        of Mk, et voila! You get your secondary strata of Mk!

        So what Koester gives in his ANCIENT CHRISTIAN GOSPELS is a number of
        passages that are good candidates either for having been inserted into Mk
        later, or for having been altered in the later editions. I think this is a
        good start. What Koester doesn't provide, is a good historical background
        for these alterations, i.e. the political reasons that may have prompted
        these alterations.

        In general Loisy supplies precisely that. In particular, he makes it clear
        that the whole process of opening Christian movement up to the gentiles is
        reflected very well precisely in these secondary stata of Mk. I'm still
        not sure if Koester is even aware of Loisy's work.

        But I will try to provide some more background material on pMk for you
        soon. Some material about this is available on my webpage, but not much.

        The Secret Mk is another wild card here. Myself, I accept SecMk fragments
        as authentic. I think that basically Clement gave a fairly accurate
        account of what he knew about this. But there's so much controversy that
        is associated with SecMk at this time...

        If one assumes SecMk is authentic, this will cast significant light on the
        history of Mk composition. Loisy of course couldn't know about this, but
        in my view, his theories streamline extremely well with what SecMk is
        telling us.

        So there are many complexities in this area.

        Myself, I would rather look at this matter not in isolation, not focusing
        strictly on the history of Mk, but rather as a part of the larger Synoptic
        debates. In particular, pMk provides a very neat solution to the Minor
        Agreements conundrum.

        > One more extract from Yuri's post:
        > ----------
        > BTW, the very idea of Peter preaching in Rome, as stated by Papias, is of
        > course quite suspect, and should not to be taken literally. If Peter was
        > ever in Rome, it would have been as a prisoner soon to be executed. He
        > would have been in no position to preach to anyone. But the idea of a
        > _monolinguial_ Peter in Rome, Peter needing an interpreter, seems
        > downright absurd. I think we should give the historical Peter a little
        > more credit for intellectual achievement. If he was monolinguial, he would
        > have been most unlikely to make missionary journeys outside of Israel. But
        > since he did make missionary journeys -- we know he was in Syria,
        > presumably for some time -- he would have surely learned Greek, if he
        > didn't know it already from the earliest times...
        > ----------

        [Bruce:]
        > Well, it is possible that Paul preached in Rome while under house
        > arrest.

        Well, how much credence can we give this story, really? The author of Acts
        was trying to be quite pro-Roman, and so he included this story. So Paul
        was allowed to live quite comfortably under house arrest and to preach?
        But I don't think the Romans were so tolerant of subversion. For them,
        Paul was a dangerous subversive on his way to being executed in the most
        brutal fashion. Why do you think the Romans would provide him with any
        kind of an opportunity to spread his message that they thought was very
        dangerous?

        My guess is that Paul would have been housed in a dark dungeon, in some
        cage next to the hungry wild beast that will be sent to devour him.
        Perhaps he was allowed visits, if someone would have been brave enough to
        visit him?

        Regards,

        Yuri.

        Yuri Kuchinsky || Toronto

        http://www.trends.net/~yuku/bbl/bbl.htm

        The goal proposed by Cynic philosophy is apathy, which is
        equivalent to becoming God -=O=- Julian
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