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[Synoptic-L] Re: [XTalk] Re: Healings and Nature Miracles [was Apologetics]

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  • Karel Hanhart
    ... My response See my answer above. If a perfectly meaningful interpretation can be derived through midrash, why should I believe that Mark is trying to
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 7, 2002
      >> Karel Hanhart wrote:
      >> > Dear Eric,
      >> > Thank you for your keen observations re. the miracles in Mark. In
      >> my
      >> remarks I
      >> > merely wanted to make clear that interpreters should not
      >> distinguish
      >> between
      >> > healing miracles and nature miracles in order to be able to
      >> safeguard the
      >> idea
      >> > that Jesus was an exorcist and faith healer in the modern
      >> religious sense.
      >> > But you rightly explain that the two types of miracles serve
      >> different
      >> purposes
      >> > in the Gospel. Your distinctions are astute.
      >> Dear Karel,
      >> Thank you for your appreciative and interesting response.
      >> I'm not sure I
      >> entirely agree with the point you make above (about whether or not
      >> Jesus was
      >> an exorcist and faith healer), but that depends on what exactly your
      >> argument is here.
      > My response:

      > Briefly, I would list three points:
      > 1. The story of Jesus exorcising the demons, that tortured 'Legio'
      > and then entered a herd of swine making them rush down into the sea
      > (5,13), is just as impossible as Jesus commanding the winds to be
      > silent. In no way Mark signals his readers that the one is to be taken
      > literally and the other is not. 2. If Mark made no distinction in
      > these 'miraculous' occurrences, why should we? In fact, Mark and his
      > readers both knew he was communicating truth through metaphors.
      > Incidentally, 'Legio' is a Latin, not a Greek word. And 'Talita koum'
      > in the same chapter is Aramaic. Surely, no coincidence here - Roman
      > legions were encamped in the Dekapolis.
      > 3. At the very outset of the Gospel, Mark states that his first
      > socalled exorcism is "a new teaching with authority!", (Gr. didache
      > kaine kat' exousian; 1.27). One doesn't associate the work of a
      > regular exorcist with teaching. However, metaphorically speaking,
      > teaching may have a healing effect. Jesus' teaching was deemed to be
      > authoritative because of the Spirit, that had descended on him at
      > baptism. The result of his teaching is that human ills cease at once.
      > The people were suffering from 'impure (or not-kosjer) spirits' vexing
      > their minds or from being shunned as if they were lepers. These
      > various stories can be deciphered through midrash. Mark's adult
      > listeners were well aware, I think, they should be understood
      > metaphorically. However, for the sake of the children and the
      > uneducated in the ecclesia, Jesus' authority was 'translated' and
      > 'illustrated' in terms of miraculous events, almost like cartoons,
      > just as the authority of Elijah and Moses were illustrated by
      > miraculous events.

      >> If your point is simply that a distinction in narrative
      >> function between healing miracles and nature miracles does not
      >> automatically
      >> entail that the former are historical but the latter are not, then
      >> of course
      >> you are right. But you seem to be saying more than this. In your
      >> previous
      >> post you wrote:
      I wrote in an earlier post:

      >> > Either all of them reflect to a degree an actual historical event
      >> or they
      >> should be taken
      >> > in a metaphorical sense. In the miracle stories the effects of
      >> Jesus'
      >> teaching and example
      >> > were metaphorically pictured as healings from heaven. [snip] Jesus
      >> was not
      >> an exorcist and
      >> > he was not a faith healer.
      Eric responded:

      >> Even granted that Mark at least sometimes attaches a metaphorical
      >> meaning to
      >> Jesus' healings , it does not follow that 'Jesus was not an exorcist
      >> and he
      >> was not a faith healer.' The logic of this argument is that 'because
      >> x
      >> attaches a metaphorical meaning to a doing b, a never did b', and
      >> this is
      >> strictly a non sequitur; the most we can say is, 'because x attaches
      >> a
      >> metaphorical meaning to a doing b, we should exercise due caution in
      >> assuming a actually did b'. For example, Mark closely associates
      >> Jesus'
      >> healing/exorcism with his teaching and represents both as causing
      >> astonishment and puzzlement; the teaching as well as the miracles
      >> feature in
      >> Mark's secrecy motif; should we therefore argue that because Mark
      >> puts his
      >> own narrative (and ideological) construction on Jesus as a teacher,
      >> the HJ
      >> never actually taught anything? I think the distinction in narrative
      >> functions I noted between the healings and nature miracles (e.g.
      >> that the
      >> former form part of the Markan Jesus' public ministry while the
      >> latter seem
      >> more blatantly symbolic) at least leaves fairly open the possibility
      >> that
      >> Mark was using and working up a tradition that Jesus had been a folk
      >> healer.
      My response
      See my answer above. If a perfectly meaningful interpretation can be
      derived through midrash, why should I believe that Mark is trying to
      convince his audience that Jesus was a folk healer by telling
      astonishing healings such as the half-healed blind man who saw people
      walking like trees (8,24) . Used to 'haggadic midrashim', the readers
      would seek the meaning of this particular story in Jdg 9,8ff., the only
      place in Tenach where we do see men walking like trees.

      I went on:

      >> > I cannot go into detail. But the motif of the "boat" and of "sea
      >> crossings"
      >> > seem to be a retrojection of the later mission of the apostles who
      >> crossed
      >> the
      >> > Mediterranean Sea. They would encounter physical and spiritual
      >> dangers,
      >> > including martyrdom, but, as Mark put it, the "Gospel must first
      >> be
      >> preached to all
      >> > nations" (Mc 13,10) . In other words, Mark wanted to make clear
      >> that the
      >> apostles in
      >> > their preaching - also to the Gentiles - and welcoming them in the
      >> ecclesia, were
      >> > continuing the work and mission which Jesus had begun in Galilee
      >> and
      >> beyond.
      >> > Jesus had crossed Lake Kinneret and entered pagan territory, so
      >> would they
      >> do in the
      >> > years after the crucifixion and continue to do after the
      >> destruction of
      >> the Temple.
      Eric's response:

      >> I think you could be broadly correct here (although I think the
      >> nature
      >> miracles in Mk 4-8 have a christological function as well). I first
      >> came
      >> across the idea that Mk 6-8 contained a retrojection of the church's
      >> post-Easter mission in Austin Farrer's _A Study a St Mark_; I think
      >> it was
      >> Farrer who suggested that this might explain Luke's 'great omission'
      >> from
      >> Mark (on the grounds that Luke recognized what Mark was about but
      >> planned to
      >> treat the same themes in Acts).
      A fine observation, worthy to be pursued!.

      >> I do think that various features of this
      >> part of Mark do indeed suggest a retrojection of the post-Easter
      >> mission. My
      >> one reservation is in wondering whether the Mark's Sea of Galilee
      >> stands for
      >> the Mediterranean (if that's what you intended to say)
      yes, that's what I intended

      >> rather than more
      >> generally for all the dangers and barriers the mission encountered
      >> (Mark
      >> seems to be heavily relying on the mythology that saw the sea as an
      >> image of
      >> chaos).
      He relied on Passover stories in Tenach and on theophanies in the

      My response in a previous post

      >> > I believe that Mark meant by the "musterion" a post-70
      >> interpretation of
      >> > musterion in Rom 11,25.
      >> > This seems to fit in with your observations re. the nature
      >> miracles. Would
      >> you
      >> > agree? How do you explain Mark 4,11?
      >> My former NT Teacher and D.Phil supervisor holds a very similar view
      >> on the
      >> relation between Mk 4.11 and Rom 11.25. Since I believe Mark intends
      >> his
      >> audience to recall Mk 4.12 at Mk 8.17-18 this at least strengthens
      >> the link
      >> with Rom 11.25 (since both Mk. 8.17 and Rom 11.25 mention hardening)
      >> and the
      >> link with the nature miracles (given the context of Mk 8.17-18). Is
      >> this
      >> what you had in mind?
      My response:
      I have much more in mind. I am defending the position that after the
      disastrous turn of events in 70, Mark was searching Scripture to find an
      answer to its meaning. He asked, how could all this have happened? Jesus
      had taught "the kingdom is at hand" and Mark believed he was "seated at
      the right hand of power". Mark found the answer in (a) prophecies re.
      the destruction of the First Temple and the following Babylonian exile
      (LXX Isa 22,15-15, Isa 33) AND (b) in Rom 11,25. The new exile would
      serve to have the Gospel "preached to all nations" (13,10). In other
      words, Mark was looking for a divine purpose in the delay of the
      parousia, a theodicy. He found it in Rom 9 - 11, particularly in the
      'musterion' of Rom 11,25.
      Mark then decided to re-write an earlier pre-70 christian haggadah, that
      had been in use in the ecclesia. It is sometimes called proto-Mark. This
      second edition now has the new theme: " the Son of Man must be
      delivered...to the nations" ! (10,34). Mark also created a new ending, a
      midrash on LXX Isa 22,16 and 33,16 and Gen 29,2.3.

      Eric also wrote:

      >> Mk 4.11-12 is something of a puzzle the common
      >> solution to which (I mean, the notion that Mark thought of the
      >> parables as
      >> riddles designed to conceal Jesus' meaning from outsiders). I'm not
      >> entirely
      >> convinced by (if it were correct, the punchline of the parable of
      >> the sower
      >> should have been the farmer scattering the seed along the path in
      >> order to
      >> feed the birds!). I don't want to go into this at length on a Sunday
      >> afternoon, but it does seem to me that Mk 4.11 is too often
      >> interpreted as
      >> if it was Mt. 13.13 (i.e. as if the disciples had asked Jesus why he
      >> spoke
      >> in parables and as if he was specifically answering this question).
      >> Clearly
      >> some kind of Markan irony is at work here (at 4.11 the reader is led
      >> to see
      >> the disciples as insiders, but this is reversed by 8.17-18).

      Yes, Mark 4,10-12 is notoriously difficult. Vs 12 likely refers to the
      enemies of Jesus and his followers - they are the ones whose hearts are
      hardened. Mark must refer here to the highpriests in 8,31; 9,31 and 10,
      33f (curiously in the plural) and their supporters. For various reasons
      I concluded Mark was referring to several highpriests of the house of
      Annas (Hanan). Kajafas condemned Jesus to death; John Zebedee was
      killed and Simon Peter arrested under Matthias of the same house etc
      They were blind and deaf to what they were actually doing.. However,
      Mark also states that the evils of the crucifixion and of the later
      persecution - indeed the bitter evil of the new exile which his people
      were experiencing - would be turned to good in the end, namely when the
      full number of the Gentiles [would have] come in." In other words Mark
      gave a post-70 interpretation of Paul's pre-70 'mystery' in Rom 11,25
      In other words, Mark tried also to formulate the meaning of the
      unexpected delay of the parousia in 4,10-12.
      In the narrative world the full meaning of this mystery was revealed to
      the women in a vision of the future, the destruction of the temple.
      "Behold, the Place, the Maqom", the youth says in the vision. And the
      women flee in anguish. They remained silent about this vision for in the
      real world the vision would come true some forty years later. Indeed,
      Paul wouldn't have foreseen this turn of events.
      Surely, this is too brief to serve as an adequate answer.



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