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Re: City of Mark (was: Reuss)

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  • Maluflen@aol.com
    This note is more a take-off than a response to the following paragraph of Bruce, and should probably have been re-labeled for clarity: Matt 16:18 Roman? (or
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 28, 1998
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      This note is more a take-off than a response to the following paragraph of
      Bruce, and should probably have been re-labeled for clarity: Matt 16:18 Roman?
      (or some such).

      Bruce wrote, in a message dated 98-07-26 16:33:25 EDT:

      << This imputation of political skulduggery in the *history* of the Synoptic
      Problem is for me quite believable, though it might be dismissed by some as
      irrelevant. The point at which such considerations become unavoidably
      relevant, even for the more unworldly of us, is with possible skulduggery
      in the *Synoptic Problem.* As I have argued it does with any discussion of
      such passages as Mt 16:18 itself, as originally composed. This passage is
      unique to Matthew. It was either added to the prior Markan material or, if
      one prefers, the Markan version subtracted it from the Matthean text.
      Either way, only Mt has it, and I ask again: Is it there to give Jesuine
      sanction for the supremacy of the Church of Rome? >>

      It seems to me that the very formulation of this final question betrays a
      (probably unintentional) Protestant perspective, with its implications: 1)
      that Petrine primacy is a relatively late construction in biblical terms and
      2) that it is originally Rome-connected.

      The following notes on the Matthean passage may open up some new horizons for
      those for whom they may be new. The observations are not, for the most part,
      my original discoveries, but I don't have handy access to the original source,
      other than that I recall reading a series of articles in Italian on the
      subject, in a semi-popular format, by Jean Galot, S.J., of the Gregorian
      University in Rome. In English, I have not seen the points made, except in a
      small book on the "Keys of the Kingdom", by Stanley Jaki. Here is my synthesis
      of what I recall from the articles of Galot:

      1. The incident at Caesarea Philippi in Matt 16:13ff takes place, at the level
      of Matthean composition at least, on the Feast of Atonement,Yom Kippur, the
      only day of the Jewish liturgical year when the High Priest was allowed to
      enter the Holy of Holies, and upon exiting therefrom would solemnly pronounce
      the Divine Name in blessing over the gathered people, the Qahal Israel. This
      dating is deduced from the obvious dating of the Transfiguration event in Matt
      17 to Sukkoth, the Feast of Tents, coupled with the notice in Matt 17:1 that
      this event took place "six days later", with reference to the events narrated
      at the end of chapter 16. The Solemn Day of Atonement, of late OT origin,
      occurs a week before the ancient Feast of Sukkoth.

      2. Peter's confession in Matt is not so much a recognition of the Messianic
      status of Jesus as it is a solemn utterance of the Divine Name, analogous to
      that being made simultaneously by the High Priest in Jerusalem, but with
      reference to the person of Jesus: you are the Messiah, THE SON OF THE LIVING

      3. The name-change for Peter that occurs in this passage is a not-too-subtle
      play on the names of two famous Jewish High Priests -- one from 200 BC, the
      great Simon son of Johannan, who is described in Sir 50 in his Atonement-Day
      splendor (echoes of which are transferred by Matt to his description of Jesus
      in the transfiguration scene), including a reference to his utterance of the
      divine name (50:20); and the other, the currently reigning High Priest,
      Caiaphas, which is the same name, in Aramaic, as Cephas. Note that this is the
      only place in Matt where Peter is referred to as "Simon son of Jonah" (Greek
      Sir 50 has Simon Oniou Huios, hiereus ho megas, but cf. the Hebrew text,
      Shim'on ben Johannan, referred to as "great among his brothers, and the crown
      of his people", if my translation of the first line of the Hebrew text is

      4. Note further that in Matthew's passion narrative the issue of the divine
      sonship (divine status) of Jesus is also the crucial point in the trial before
      the High Priest Caiaphas: "I put you on oath by the living God (the only other
      use of this phrase in Matthew) to tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of
      God". The fact that Jesus' response here is interpreted by Caiaphas as
      blasphemy, indicates that Matthew understands Jesus' reply to be a claim of
      divinity on his part, a claim that Cephas, unlike Caiaphas, accepts. It is
      this claim specifically that makes Jesus worthy of death in the eyes of Jewish

      5. Jesus' response to Peter in 16:18: "you are Peter and on this rock I will
      build my church" is often thought to be a late formulation, particularly
      because it employs the term ekklesia, church. But apart from the fact that the
      term ekklesia occurs in our earliest NT document (I Thess), what is presumably
      being referred to here is the Qahal Israel, which is in fact referred to in
      Sir 50:13 and 20 (ekklesia Israel/ huion Israel, in Greek). Jesus, of course,
      is here God's presence with/ for Israel, Emmanuel (cf. Matt 1:23) and
      therefore "my church" means, in context, God's (new) ekklesia, which will
      henceforth have new human leadership in a new Caiphas. "My church" should be
      compared, e.g., with "my covenant blood" (Matt 26:28) as a NT appropriation of
      the God-Israel relationship for the person of Jesus.

      6. (Point I don't remember having been made by Galot, but more generally
      known). The referrence to the "keys of the kingdom of heaven" is a probable
      allusion to the function of interpreting and applying Torah for the community
      of believers (cf. the binding and loosing metaphor, and Lk 11:52). Leadership
      of God's new community (my church) is thus conceived here in strictly Jewish
      terms, even though a kind of counter-community to the Jewish temple-centered
      community is also here envisioned -- one centered rather around Jesus-Messiah,
      son of God.

      Some implications of the above:

      1. The first notable implication is that the sequence of events from the
      confession of Peter in Matt 16 through the transfiguration in Matt 17 is most
      probably originally Matthean, a product of the author's sophisticated scribal
      ingenuity. The needed allusions to Sir 50 and the play on the names of famous
      High Priests are altogether lacking in the other Synoptics. This, probably
      because, at a later time, inner Jewish leadership claims were less relevant
      than other issues that could be drawn on from the passage as a whole. (In
      Mark, e.g., the implications of a suffering Messiah for a church, with
      Christological orthodoxy, but also under threat of persecution).

      2. The issue of Petrine primacy in this passage, if the above analysis has
      merit, has nothing directly to do with the later question of a (Roman) primacy
      AMONG CHRISTIAN CHURCHES. Rather, the passage arises in a context described
      narratively in the early chapters of Acts, where the issue is: where is the
      authoritative voice of leadership in Israel, in God's eyes? Does it reside in
      the acknowledged Jerusalem leadership, under Caiaphas, who reject Jesus'
      claims to Messiahship and divinity, or is it in the twelve Apostles of Israel,
      headed by Peter (Caiphas), who accept these claims?

      3. Not so much an implication, as an additional point: the Hebrew text of Sir
      50:24 should be read for its analogy to what happens in the Caesarea Philippi
      incident in Matt (the verse is, for historically obvious reasons, drastically
      altered in the Greek Sir). My translation of Sir 50:24 Heb would be: "May he
      (God) confirm his Hesed with Simon, may he establish with him the covenant of
      Phinees (an eternal covenant), which shall never be cut off from him or his
      seed, like the days of heaven". (The gates of hell will never prevail against
      it!). I invite corrections on my translation of the Hebrew text of Sirach.

      4. In the light of the above, the possibility of an early date for the
      emergence of a Petrine primacy (of sorts), possibly even reaching back into
      the life of Jesus, should perhaps be reconsidered.

      Leonard Maluf
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