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Re: Provenance and Audience

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  • Maluflen@aol.com
    Subj: Re: Provenance and Audience Date: 98-07-31 14:39:23 EDT From: Maluflen To: mmatson@aswest.aas.duke.edu, Synoptic-L@bham.ac.uk Responding to Mark, who
    Message 1 of 5 , Jul 31, 1998
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      Subj: Re: Provenance and Audience
      Date: 98-07-31 14:39:23 EDT
      From: Maluflen
      To: mmatson@..., Synoptic-L@...


      Responding to Mark, who writes:

      << Bauckham's thesis, which is developed especially in his thematic
      essay, and amplified in various forms by a number of other essays in
      the book, is that the gospels were (a) widely distributed at the
      outset, (b) were therefore rapidly disseminated across a wide
      geographical area, and, most importantly (c) were in fact written
      precisely with the large audience of christian churches generally (or
      at least a large subset of this group) in mind. That is to say, the
      gospels were not meant to be geographically isolated, nor in fact
      written for a narrow geographical or social group.>>

      I don't see a priori why the above need be true TO THE SAME DEGREE of ALL the
      Synoptic Gospels. I have, however, long maintained that Matt and Lk were
      written for very general audiences, limited not geographically, but in terms
      of social sophistication/status (so one could say that they were aimed at
      general, but not "popular" audiences). Matt, e.g., can only be properly read,
      in my view, if one understands it as a self-conscious
      foundational/programmatic document for the Christian community as a whole, and
      for its hierarchy in particular. (The reference, in Jesus' words, to "my
      church" in 16:18, e.g., makes poor sense if thought to connote no more than
      the Antiochian, or Caesarean community). My understanding of Mark is that it
      was written third, and with a (more particular) popular audience in mind,
      while by no means intending to criticize or replace the earlier, literary
      Gospels, which had served, and would continue to serve (admirably), their own
      aims and constituencies. Mk is homiletic-liturgical in character, I think, and
      such a setting would require adaptation to a more particular audience. So for
      me, it makes more sense to speak of provenance and/or specific-geographic
      intended audience when thinking about Mark than it does with reference to the
      other Synoptics. This is not however to deny an aspect of universal validity
      even to Mark's pastoral perspective.

      Mark continues:

      << Two fascinating essays in the book address related issues: One is an
      article by Richard Burridge that argues that the biographical genre
      of the gospels (for which he has previously argued) would suggest
      that the audience is indeed broader than a local community. This,
      generic discussion, it seems to me, has important implications.>>

      Indeed, and I would only add that the biographical genre is present in Mark
      primarily as a by-product of a fairly literal borrowing from the more self-
      consciously biographical Gospels of Matt and Lk.

      Again Mark:

      << The second is a discussion by Bauckham, "John for Readers of Mark," which
      discusses the production of the Fourth Gospel if Mark is already well
      known and meant to be recalled (i.e. intertextual reading) when
      reading John!>>

      I must admit to having cringed when I read this sentence. In my view, one of
      the most tragic consequences of the theory of Marcan priority has been its
      effect on Johannine studies, where a massive and profound influence of Matt on
      the author of Jn is virtually ignored in favor of focus on the influence of
      Mark. I say this without intending to deny that the author of Jn knew, and
      used Mark. (The evidence is there for that, but on the other hand, the price
      of bread on the Bethsaida market, or of the ointment used by a woman to anoint
      Jesus, is hardly a profound level of influence). For the author of Jn, as for
      all other authors of the late first and early second century, the Gospel of
      Matthew was clearly THE Gospel of the Church par excellence. It is of course
      also true that Jn knew Lk and used it -- to some extent more patently, because
      somewhat more literally, than Matt. The relationship between Jn and the
      Synoptics as a whole is similar to that between Lk and Matt -- an evident
      knowledge of, but a highly creative use of older Gospel material. (Both Luke
      and John are writers, in the Hellenistic sense of the term). Bauckham's point
      would of course still be fully valid if, instead of speaking of MARK being
      "already well known and meant to be recalled", he had spoken of the Synoptic
      Gospels being same.

      Mark again:

      << As a John-Synoptics student, this was a provocative
      thesis, which also has implications for other gospels --- what if,
      for instance, Luke is written for people who already know Mark?>>

      Mark, may I suggest that you read Luke as written for people who already know
      Matt? Believe me, life will be far less boring for you.

      Mark concludes:

      << What I am wondering is whether any have read Bauckham's book, and
      whether there is any reaction to it. >>

      I haven't read this book of Bauckham's, but have always enjoyed his articles
      in various reviews. In spite of my apoplectic reactions to some points above,
      I hope you can see that I am in favor of the general drift of his thesis. Look
      forward to reading it, and thanks for the bibliographical tip!

      Leonard Maluf
    • Mark Matson
      ... I would agree with you that the thesis of universal audience need not apply to the same degree to all gospels. The thesis is sufficiently important, to
      Message 2 of 5 , Aug 3, 1998
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        Leonard Maluf wrote:
        >
        > I don't see a priori why the above need be true TO THE SAME DEGREE
        > of ALL the Synoptic Gospels. I have, however, long maintained that
        > Matt and Lk were written for very general audiences, limited not
        > geographically, but in terms of social sophistication/status (so one
        > could say that they were aimed at general, but not "popular"
        > audiences). Matt, e.g., can only be properly read, in my view, if
        > one understands it as a self-conscious foundational/programmatic
        > document for the Christian community as a whole, and for its
        > hierarchy in particular. (The reference, in Jesus' words, to "my
        > church" in 16:18, e.g., makes poor sense if thought to connote no
        > more than the Antiochian, or Caesarean community). My understanding
        > of Mark is that it was written third, and with a (more particular)
        > popular audience in mind, while by no means intending to criticize
        > or replace the earlier, literary Gospels, which had served, and
        > would continue to serve (admirably), their own aims and
        > constituencies. Mk is homiletic-liturgical in character, I think,
        > and such a setting would require adaptation to a more particular
        > audience. So for me, it makes more sense to speak of provenance
        > and/or specific-geographic intended audience when thinking about
        > Mark than it does with reference to the other Synoptics. This is not
        > however to deny an aspect of universal validity even to Mark's
        > pastoral perspective.

        I would agree with you that the thesis of universal audience need not
        apply to the same degree to all gospels. The thesis is sufficiently
        important, to the degree that it breaks the provincial emphasis on
        gospel writing, that even some variation in degree would be
        important.

        I am not, however, convinced about your argument re: Mark. While I
        agree that it is homiletical (seems to be primarily urging an
        examination of the listener's own commitment to Jesus, in light of
        the disciples failures), but I hardly see it as liturgical. Assuming
        it follows Matthew and Luke, which I doubt, why would you say it was
        not engaging at the very least in a critical dialogue? Perhaps
        "replace" or "criticize" are too pejorative. But surely another
        gospel, with a major reinterpretation of the disciples response to
        Jesus, and the deletion of significant teaching while expanding other
        pericopes, is a major "interpretation" of the story. And if the
        other gospels were already broadly distributed (as Bauckham's thesis
        suggests), then Mark must have been writing to an audience that
        already had the other versions. This seems to beg an intertextual,
        and dialogical strategy.


        > I must admit to having cringed when I read this sentence. In my
        > view, one of the most tragic consequences of the theory of Marcan
        > priority has been its effect on Johannine studies, where a massive
        > and profound influence of Matt on the author of Jn is virtually
        > ignored in favor of focus on the influence of Mark. I say this
        > without intending to deny that the author of Jn knew, and used Mark.
        > (The evidence is there for that, but on the other hand, the price of
        > bread on the Bethsaida market, or of the ointment used by a woman to
        > anoint Jesus, is hardly a profound level of influence). For the
        > author of Jn, as for all other authors of the late first and early
        > second century, the Gospel of Matthew was clearly THE Gospel of the
        > Church par excellence. It is of course also true that Jn knew Lk and
        > used it -- to some extent more patently, because somewhat more
        > literally, than Matt. The relationship between Jn and the Synoptics
        > as a whole is similar to that between Lk and Matt -- an evident
        > knowledge of, but a highly creative use of older Gospel material.
        > (Both Luke and John are writers, in the Hellenistic sense of the
        > term). Bauckham's point would of course still be fully valid if,
        > instead of speaking of MARK being "already well known and meant to
        > be recalled", he had spoken of the Synoptic Gospels being same.

        I am intrigued by Bauckham's discussion of John's use of Mark,
        although I am not yet convinced that John is dependent on any of the
        synoptics. The particular items Bauckham raises to show an
        intertextual relationship between John and Mark are found in Jn 3:24
        and Jn 11:2. These are parentheses designed to explain material
        that differs from Mark -- and for your purpose could equally explain
        material that differs from Matthew. It is this focused examination
        of real intertextual dialogue that intrigues me -- more than simply
        common material. The proof of "direction" of influence seems to
        require some evidence that the use or misuse of material fits the
        evangelist's purposes.

        But aside from Bauckham's thesis, I am not at all convinced that the
        contacts between John and Matt are all that extensive. The contacts
        between John and Luke ARE extensive, but efforts to demonstrate
        John's reliance on Luke are failure's in my opinion. My dissertation
        argues, in a close analysis of the passion and resurrection
        narratives, that a better explanation is that Luke used John. But
        that's a whole additional discussion.

        > Mark, may I suggest that you read Luke as written for people who
        > already know Matt? Believe me, life will be far less boring for you.

        Well, I actually believe that Luke probably used Matthew ..... and
        Mark. So on this we agree. It's your placement of Mark at the tail
        end of the process for which I would need convincing.


        Mark A. Matson, Ph.D.
        Asst. Director, Sanford Institute of Public Policy
        Adjunct Professor of New Testament
        Duke University
        Durham, NC 27713
        (919) 613-7310
      • Maluflen@aol.com
        Thanks, Mark, for your kind response. There are a couple of points here that I think are worth pursuing a bit further. Mark writes:
        Message 3 of 5 , Aug 5, 1998
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          Thanks, Mark, for your kind response. There are a couple of points here that I
          think are worth pursuing a bit further.

          Mark writes:

          << I am not, however, convinced about your argument re: Mark. While I
          agree that it is homiletical (seems to be primarily urging an
          examination of the listener's own commitment to Jesus, in light of
          the disciples failures), but I hardly see it as liturgical.>>

          My main arguments for thinking of Mark as liturgical are the following
          (admittedly by no means conclusive or even especially strong, but of possible
          validity, I think, especially if the 2 GH is one's starting point):
          Unlike what I call the more "literary" gospels that preceded it, Mark seems to
          have been composed for a single, one-time recitation or reading (see
          Standaert, e.g.). It has recently been proposed (by Mary Anne Beavis [?] inter
          alia) that Mk was intended to be performed in (secular) theatre. It think it
          more likely that it was composed for a liturgical occasion, such as a
          Christian initiation/baptismal ceremony. Evidence for this would be its
          starting point, with the reference to Christian baptism by Christ in water and
          the Holy Spirit (note that in Lk and especially in Matt, the reference to
          Christ's future baptism in chapter 3 is clearly metaphorical, "baptism" with
          spirit and fire being a metaphor for judgment. Mark has "christianized" and
          ecclesiastized the reference, I think). Then too, the main emphases in Mk seem
          to be on Christian-initiation-related values. Also, many of the encounters of
          individuals with Jesus in Mk, including at least two that are proper to his
          Gospel, seem to have clear baptismal/ sacrament of initiation overtones (cf.
          Bartimaeus, the spittle passages, etc.). Also, Jesus' death is interpreted in
          Mk as a "baptism" (Mk 10:39), and indirectly, Christian baptism, as a
          participation in Jesus' death, a la Rom 6 (cf. a frequent interpretation of Mk
          14:51-52 and 16:5) . It's just a hypothesis, but I think it explains a lot, at
          least on Griesbachian terms.

          Mark continues:

          << Assuming it follows Matthew and Luke, which I doubt, why would you say it
          was
          not engaging at the very least in a critical dialogue? Perhaps "replace" or
          "criticize" are too pejorative. But surely another gospel, with a major
          reinterpretation of the disciples response to Jesus, and the deletion of
          significant teaching while expanding other pericopes, is a major
          "interpretation" of the story.>>

          This approach really doesn't work well on Griesbachian terms. I don't see Mk
          as critical of positive statements about the disciples in the other gospels
          (which, by the way, are few, to begin with). He merely highlights one negative
          aspect, namely, their inability to understand who Jesus is. This, I think, is
          more in service of Mark's high Christology. Jesus' person, because divine, is
          mysterious and incomprehensible. On the other hand, Mark would have to be
          thought of as letting the disciples off the hook, so to speak, in his parallel
          to Matt 26:8 (where, in Matt only, it is the disciples who complain about the
          cost of the ointment); to Matt 14:31 (where Peter is rebuked as being of
          "little faith"); and to Matt 16:23, where Jesus says to Peter in Matt, "you
          are a scandal to me". Mark does have his own emphases (and I think, for one
          thing, the disciples do become more representative in Mark of current
          Christian discipleship, though this element may already be present in Matt, to
          some degree), but I really don't see his position as standing in clear
          critical posture with reference to the earlier Gospels' treatment of the
          disciples. Also, omission of "significant teaching" material by Mark should
          not automatically be interpreted as "deletion" of same. Mk probably assumes
          his audience to be aware of the teaching of Jesus as preserved in the other
          Gospels, and I don't see any good reason to think of "Mark" as being in any
          way critical of material he fails to reproduce. Presumably, the material
          simply would have interfered with his specific goal of creating a fast-moving,
          action-packed, dramatic retelling of the well-known story of Jesus, for
          occasional recitation - and for a "popular" audience. Does this at least make
          sense as a hypothesis?

          Mark writes further:

          << But aside from Bauckham's thesis, I am not at all convinced that the
          contacts between John and Matt are all that extensive. The contacts
          between John and Luke ARE extensive, but efforts to demonstrate
          John's reliance on Luke are failure's in my opinion. My dissertation
          argues, in a close analysis of the passion and resurrection
          narratives, that a better explanation is that Luke used John. But
          that's a whole additional discussion.>>

          My understanding of Matthean influence on John does not come from a
          perspective based on "source" analysis, or literal borrowing. It is a much
          more profound influence than that (and, I admit, for that reason, less easily
          demonstrable to some). "John's reliance on Luke" also seems to me to
          presuppose a literal-type dependency- relationship which I do not assume. I
          would say that Jn develops motifs and characters found in the Gospel of Luke,
          which I would assume he knew. John is an author, not (like Mark) a copier and
          expander/contractor of sources. His gospel relates to the Synoptics very much
          the way Lk relates to Matt, except that Jn takes greater liberties with the
          verba Jesu than Luke generally does, though cf., e.g., the relationship
          between Lk 12:16-21 and Matt 6:19-20. Here the parable is Luke's creation, I
          think, but illustrating the point made in the Matthean passage. Much of Jn
          relates to the Synoptics, and in particular to Matt, in this way.

          Leonard Maluf
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