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Re: Mk. 3:28-29 and the Scribal charge against Jesus

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  • E. Bruce Brooks
    Topic: Charge of Blasphemy From: Bruce In Response To: Jeffrey Gibson ... It is not so much the charge of blasphemy that bothers me, but the accusation that
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 6, 1998
      Topic: Charge of Blasphemy
      From: Bruce
      In Response To: Jeffrey Gibson

      Jeffrey asks, of the charge of blasphemy in Mk 3:28-29, cf Mk 3:22:
      It is not so much the charge of blasphemy that bothers me, but the
      accusation that because of their proclamation of Jesus being in league
      with the prince of demons the Scribes have earned the refusal of
      forgiveness EIS TON AIWNA. Surely, if the scribes are venting their
      opinion regarding what they honestly see as the power behind Jesus
      exorcisms -- a view which would not be hard to come by honestly in that,
      given how Jesus seems prior to Mk. 3:20-30 to be calling Israelites to
      engage in breaking Sabbath and purity laws, Jesus seems to be the false
      prophet of Deut. 13--, then Jesus' designation of the degree of their
      blameworthiness is way out of proportion to the "crime" in which they
      have taken part. So does not Jesus' accusation imply that something more
      sinister is going on here -- that the Scribes are consciously engaging
      in "dirty tricks", that is to say, that they are not only intentionally
      trying to blacken Jesus' name with a charge of witchcraft, but that they
      do this in *full knowledge* that what they say is *not* the truth?

      This, of course, would imply that the enemies of Jesus are privy to the
      "messianic secret". . .

      COMMENT: I think there is an easier, if perhaps messier, solution. It is
      roughly this: that the "blasphemy" charge in GMark always involves the
      question of Jesus's divinity (express it how you will; his *unique*
      relation to God). The Temple authorities condemn him for claiming it; Jesus
      condemns the Scribes for denying it (associating him rather with the other
      pole of the great World Magnet). Of course that involves what looks like a
      late Christology. Then we need to recognize that the Christology of GMark
      is in part late. Does this challenge the position it holds, with many, as
      the earliest of the three GSyn? Not necessarily, if you are willing to see
      strata in GMark. I think this is not so hard to do, and one key, in my
      outside opinion, is precisely the Messianic Secret, which Jeffrey, I am
      sure intentionally, also mentions. It seems to me that there are areas in
      GMark in which there *is no* Messianic Secret, where Jesus preaches openly
      and is understood by the multitudes, and he and his immediate followers
      (four, in that stratum; not yet the symbolically upgraded Twelve) are on
      terms of mutual confidence and understanding. Those areas, may I propose,
      are an early stratum, or anyway a stratum reflecting early opinion. Then
      there is also the Messianic Secret zone, where entirely different and more
      elaborate rules obtain, and where, as I think I ventured to suggest
      earlier, a situation of definition by opposition takes over. Much less
      sunshine. This, by and large (obviously the details require elaborate
      statement, not appropriate here) would be the late stratum or strata. Jesus
      taking offense, Jesus damning his doubers, Jesus withering a recalcitrant
      if seasonally blameless fig tree; the vexed Jesus, in short, is all within
      those textual boundaries. Check it out.

      The original Synoptic Problem was a naive attempt to reconcile three
      supposed *transcripts* of Jesus (the GSyn), undertaken out of faith and not
      out of skepticism. In complete ignorance of the existence of such a thing
      as scholarship, critical or otherwise, I undertook just such a
      reconciliation out of mere personal curiosity at the age of ten; probably
      many on this list went through such a phase. It's not solvable on that
      assumption. If instead we see these as three *histories* of Jesus, with all
      the special intentions that historians always inject into their product,
      the problem perhaps becomes tractable. And on that basis, whereas GMt and
      GLk can be plausibly and successfully analyzed as *unitary-viewpoint*
      historical constructs, GMk for many previous investigators has repeatedly
      recommended itself as a composite of more than one historical construct.
      Whatever the final detail may be, my feeling (my gut philological feeling,
      for what that may prove to be worth) is that they are in general right
      about this. GMk is the funny one, the one which has to be disentangled from
      itself before it makes unitary sense.

      Just an impression. But one with precedents in the literature.

      So, bottom line: if this holds, then Jesus in GMk is not a person, but a
      persona. At the end of the Synoptic Problem is not, alas, a Historic Jesus,
      but an Earliest Constructed Jesus, the evangelists being the constructors.
      (That's why I like the term Synoptic Jesus; it avoids the natural but
      unjustified expectation, really a survival of the Naive Synoptic Problem of
      so many of our childhoods, which expects to uncover a real-world historical
      person at the end of its labors). It then follows that it may not be sound
      to apply real-world arguments to explain the conduct of the Jesus Persona,
      since the Jesus Persona in GMk (indeed, any of the several Synoptic
      Jesuses) is not moving in a real world, but in a *constructed* world. His
      conduct may at any point be *emblematic* rather than mundane.


      E Bruce Brooks / University of Massachusetts
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