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[Synoptic-L] Re: "Desert" of Bethsaida & authorial fatigue

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  • Eric Eve
    ... Dear John, Thank you for your lengthy, detailed and most interesting observations. As I indicated in my previous post, I m currently miles away from my
    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 30, 2002
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      John Lupia wrote:

      > Thank you Eric for your helpful response. The reading
      > you and Mark Goodacre have of Lk 9:10 is not what the
      > text actually says. Your (plural) reading "Jesus
      > first takes the apostles 'to a city called Bethsaida'
      > (Lk 9.10)" is not quite right, since hUPECWRHSEN is in
      > the aorist clearly indicating that the action cannot
      > have been completed, but rather, conveys that the
      > action is current. Hence, the correct reading of the
      > final clause would read: "and having taken them
      > privately he began to withdraw [enroute] to the city
      > of Bethsaida."

      Dear John,

      Thank you for your lengthy, detailed and most interesting observations. As I
      indicated in my previous post, I'm currently miles away from my study taking
      a break at the moment, so I don't have to hand the basic tools (such as a
      Greek New Testament and a Synopsis) I'd need in order to respond to your
      points properly. On the face of it I should have thought that the imperfect
      would have been a more natural way for Luke to have expressed the inceptive
      nature of the withdrawal to Bethsaida, but at this juncture I can do more
      than put down a marker than this point is one I'd like to come back on in
      ten days time or so once I'm back in Oxford.

      > Mark 6:30-37; 47-48 is riddled with fatigue: (1) Mk
      > 6:32 has them travel by boat to a deserted place, but
      > Mk 6:33 has crowds on foot getting to the same
      > destination before them. The fatigue elements are:
      > (1) traveling by foot is quicker than traveling by
      > boat; (2) the crowds already knew where Jesus and the
      > twelve were heading since they arrive there ahead of
      > them, suggesting that they were either psychic or knew
      > this place as one of their roosting places, a detail
      > not given in the text; (3) since Jesus and the twelve
      > were in a boat they could have just as easily not
      > disembarked seeing the crowds already there and
      > continued on to another place sticking to their
      > original intention;

      I suppose this depends whether one envisages the disciples rowing across the
      lake at this point (which would entail the difficulties you observe) or
      whether one pictures them rowing the boat parallel to the shore, just a
      short way out, looking for a suitable lonely spot to land at, which might
      get over some of these difficulties. But I accept that Mark's narrative does
      read oddly even on the second alternative. Yet to argue that these features
      of the text are evidence of Markan 'fatigue', in the sense that Mark
      Goodacre uses the term, you surely need to show that these incongruities
      arise from Mark's infelicitous use of a source.

      > 4) Now Mk 6:47-48 has the 12 go
      > across the lake to Bethsaida. The Lake is only 8
      > miles wide and 13 miles long. We do not know from
      > where they disembarked, but, the distance from any of
      > the following to Bethsaida are as follows: Capernaum 4
      > miles; Chorazin 3 miles; Gamala 7 miles; Magdala 9
      > miles; Tiberias 11 miles. They disembark as it was
      > evening (nona or 6 pm) yet Jesus meets them in early
      > morning (prima or 6 am) midway walking on the Lake. [much snipped]

      > Mk 6:47-48 has
      > the 12 row only about 4 miles (6.4K) or possibly 6.5
      > miles (10.46K) but it took them the entire 12 hrs.

      Although the disciples set out for Bethsaida, they don't arrive there, and
      Stephen Notley has been pointing out that Mark apparently has them perform a
      U-Turn on the lake, so perhaps that helped Jesus to catch up with them! But
      I'm not suggesting that Mark's narrative makes a lot of sense if one tries
      to read it as a literal account of a sequence of events that actually
      occurred; patently it does not. But once Mark has Jesus step out onto the
      lake we have surely abandoned the realm of empirical reality. If one can
      swallow the camel of aquatic perambulation, worrying about the speed thereof
      is a little like an exercise in straining out gnats (what would be a
      reasonable speed for a human being to walk across a choppy lake?). To be
      sure, Mark does have the disciples struggle against an adverse wind, which
      might help to explain why they make such poor headway, but I wouldn't want
      to press this point too far, since Mark hardly seems to be aiming at a great
      deal of realism here (having Jesus see the disciples struggle against the
      wind and respond by walking across the sea with the intention of passing
      them by does not strike me as the mark of someone primarily interested in
      realism at this point). And again, to argue that this is Markan 'fatigue' in
      Mark Goodacre's sense you surely need to show how Mark's muddle has been
      generated by his use of his source(s), and not merely point to their absence
      from Luke and, to a lesser extent, Matthew. Otherwise, one could just as
      well argue that Matthew and Luke had tidied up the confused Markan account.

      Best wishes,

      Eric
      -------------
      Eric Eve
      Harris Manchester College
      Oxford



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    • John Lupia
      Synoptic-L@bham.ac.uk Re: Desert of Bethsaida & authorial fatigue ... but ... the ... knew ... twelve ... Eric Eve wrote: I suppose this depends whether one
      Message 2 of 3 , Mar 30, 2002
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        Synoptic-L@...

        Re: "Desert" of Bethsaida & authorial fatigue

        John Lupia wrote:
        > Mark 6:30-37; 47-48 is riddled with fatigue: (1) Mk
        > 6:32 has them travel by boat to a deserted place,
        but
        > Mk 6:33 has crowds on foot getting to the same
        > destination before them. The fatigue elements are:
        > (1) traveling by foot is quicker than traveling by
        > boat; (2) the crowds already knew where Jesus and
        the
        > twelve were heading since they arrive there ahead of
        > them, suggesting that they were either psychic or
        knew
        > this place as one of their roosting places, a detail
        > not given in the text; (3) since Jesus and the
        twelve
        > were in a boat they could have just as easily not
        > disembarked seeing the crowds already there and
        > continued on to another place sticking to their
        > original intention;

        Eric Eve wrote:
        I suppose this depends whether one envisages the
        disciples rowing across the lake at this point (which
        would entail the difficulties you observe) or whether
        one pictures them rowing the boat parallel to the
        shore, just a short way out, looking for a suitable
        lonely spot to land at, which might get over some of
        these difficulties.

        1. Not at all Eric. I assumed they *were* rowing
        parallel to the shore in this part of both Mt and Mk's
        narrative. However, your point that they were rowing:
        "just a short way out, looking for a suitable lonely
        spot to land at" makes no sense whatsoever.

        (1) Cruising has rowers sitting on deck working their
        oars. An example drawn from the 1985 archaeological
        discovery and excavated in 1986 under the direction of
        Shelley Wachsmann of the 26' (8.2 meters x 2.3
        meters) fishing boat (now in the Yigal Allon Center
        Museum at Kibbutz Ginosar) discovered by amateur
        archaeologist Yuval Lufan near ancient Migdal had a
        single square sail and two pairs of oars. (See Shelley
        Wachsmann, The Sea of Galilee Boat -- An Extraordinary
        2,000 Year Old Discovery). Between the sail and oars
        it is impossible that anyone running along the shore
        could keep pace with the boat. There is an element in
        Mk 6:33 that paints the picture of a huge crowd
        running (aor. SYNEDRAMON, also in Luke's Acts 3:11) as
        if in a Greek marathon. However, they would all have
        to be record time champions to sustain the story which
        gives one the idea that Mk was painting a picture to
        flesh-out 1 Cor. 9:24 and Heb. 12:1b, especially the
        passage where the athlete outruns Christ. In this
        latter sense Mk would have given the narrative a
        spiritual and theological motif. However, this image
        is weak and introduces extraordinary inconsistency
        into the narrative straining it too far. But, beyond
        this aspect the time element remains an obvious
        problem which is a pit and conundrum Mk has fallen
        into in his changes of the Matthean text. Matthew's
        version of Luke changes the story so that the crowds
        appear to catch up with them just about the same time
        they land. However, I have been thinking about
        Matthew's narrative regarding this point and wonder if
        the text really establishes this simultaneous or near
        simultaneous arrival, or if he has created a sense of
        an external anachrony, rather than an internal one. In
        this sense the crowds knew they were leaving and left
        ahead of them on foot down the shore where they
        eventually meet much later on; where Matthew makes
        this sound like a smooth transition with a time lapse
        expecting his readers have enough sense to know what
        he means is not a near miraculous event but a natural
        one. Mk who displays awkward Greek could have misread
        Matthew here and took Matthew the wrong way leading
        him to overstate the case by having the crowds arrive
        ahead of them making it a super miraculous event and
        necessitating their running

        (2) ."just a short way out" contradicts the remaining
        portion of the narrative that places them so far away
        from food that they must travel into the "surrounding
        country and villages" rather then sending them home
        "just a short". So, in this case this hypothetical
        "short way" only adds to the conundrums of the Markan
        narrative. The fact that they *have* traveled
        considerable distance requiring them to travel into
        the "surrounding country and villages" strains the
        running and getting there ahead of them to the point
        of either incredulity or the miraculous.

        Eric Eve wrote:
        But I accept that Mark's narrative does read oddly
        even on the second alternative. Yet to argue that
        these
        features of the text are evidence of Markan 'fatigue',
        in the sense that Mark Goodacre uses the term, you
        surely need to show that these incongruities arise
        from Mark's infelicitous use of a source.

        2. I thought I had established this clear enough. If
        you go back and read the posts again seeing it from
        the point of view of Lukan priority you will find how
        both Matthew and Mark make changes that create
        inconsistencies in their narratives according to Mark
        Goodacre's definition. If you need further
        clarification's on this I will respond with more lucid
        treatments. But, I think the points are already
        sufficiently clear.

        John Lupia wrote:
        > 4) Now Mk 6:47-48 has the 12 go
        > across the lake to Bethsaida. The Lake is only 8
        > miles wide and 13 miles long. We do not know from
        > where they disembarked, but, the distance from any
        of
        > the following to Bethsaida are as follows: Capernaum
        4
        > miles; Chorazin 3 miles; Gamala 7 miles; Magdala 9
        > miles; Tiberias 11 miles. They disembark as it was
        > evening (nona or 6 pm) yet Jesus meets them in early
        > morning (prima or 6 am) midway walking on the Lake.
        [much snipped]

        > Mk 6:47-48 has
        > the 12 row only about 4 miles (6.4K) or possibly 6.5
        > miles (10.46K) but it took them the entire 12 hrs.

        Eric Eve wrote:
        Although the disciples set out for Bethsaida, they
        don't arrive there, and Stephen Notley has been
        pointing out that Mark apparently has them perform a
        U-Turn on the lake, so perhaps that helped Jesus to
        catch up with them!


        3. Not in Luke (who has no boat motif), only Mark, but
        not at this point in the narrative.


        Eric Eve wrote:
        But I'm not suggesting that Mark's narrative makes a
        lot of sense if one tries to read it as a literal
        account of a sequence of events that actually
        occurred; patently it does not. But once Mark has
        Jesus step out onto the lake we have surely abandoned
        the realm of empirical reality.


        4. You are confusing two different things here. The
        narrative as a whole is a storyline that *does* take
        place in reality and must maintain semblances of
        realism, if not, we arrive at inconsistencies and
        fatigue. The walking on the lake is a *miraculous*
        event one that transcends our natural abilities and
        scientific explanations, which is what constitutes a
        miracle by definition. So, the actions of Jesus
        walking on the lake is a motif within a narrative,
        separate and must be seen separate. If the walking on
        the lake motif were taking place within a surreal
        story then it would not even be considered a miracle,
        but something normal, since all other features of the
        story violate reality. The narrative as a whole has
        the real world we know and experience in everyday
        life, the latter does not. So, the former must
        conform to conventions typical and consistent with
        reality as it is described and employed in first
        century literature that follows its conventions. The
        miracle motif is an expression of *faith* in the
        divine nature of Christ who has supernatural power.
        This is not part of our ordinary daily experience and
        falls outside the scope of historical analysis. It is
        only perceptible as a miracle since it takes place
        within the real world we know and can readily identify
        it as such within the story.

        Eric Eve wrote:
        If one can swallow the camel of aquatic perambulation,
        worrying about the speed thereof is a little like an
        exercise in straining out gnats (what would be a
        reasonable speed for a human being to walk across a
        choppy lake?).

        5. You have moved completely out of a scholarly
        analysis and have enter the arena of faith here.
        Returning to the analysis, walking is depicted here
        the same on land or water. No description is given
        here of any time element requiring supernatural speed
        that violates reality. The only violation of reality
        is that Jesus walks on water, something that escapes
        our normal experience. However, on this point, one is
        reminded of Camilla mentioned by Virgil, Aeneid 7.809
        who tells us that Camilla the virgin queen of the
        Volscians made haste with such swiftness that she
        could traverse the sea without wetting her feet. But,
        Mk does not recreate any parallel to Camilla nor is he
        writing an epic mythological genre like Virgil.

        Eric Eve wrote:
        To be sure, Mark does have the disciples struggle
        against an adverse wind, which might help to explain
        why they make such poor headway, but I wouldn't want
        to press this point too far, since Mark hardly seems
        to be aiming at a great deal of realism here (having
        Jesus see the disciples struggle against the wind and
        respond by walking across the sea with the intention
        of passing them by does not strike me as the mark of
        someone primarily interested in realism at this
        point).

        6. I did take the wind into consideration as a factor
        of slowing them down which might account for an hour
        of time at most. This was found deficient to account
        for the numerous hours unaccounted for. The rest of
        your statement has already been addressed above in
        response No. 5.

        Eric Eve wrote:
        And again, to argue that this is Markan 'fatigue' in
        Mark Goodacre's sense you surely need to show how
        Mark's muddle has been generated by his use of his
        source(s), and not merely point to their absence from
        Luke and, to a lesser extent, Matthew.


        7. See my response No. 2

        Eric Eve wrote:
        Otherwise, one could just as well argue that Matthew
        and Luke had tidied up the confused Markan account.


        8. This is a contradiction of terms. The euphemism of
        "the confused Markan account" is to avoid the
        characterization of it for what it actually is Markan
        fatigue resulting from changes of Luke and Matthew.
        You are looking at the whole of my postings in reverse
        order Mk>Mt>Lk. Try to see what I am saying, which
        is: Lk>Mt>Mk. The one who writes last according to
        Mark Goodacre's thesis would be, to use your term,
        "untidy" or the most "confused" story, not the other
        way round.

        Best wishes and
        Happy Holidays,

        Condolences to all UK members on the death of Queen
        mother.

        John



        =====
        John N. Lupia
        501 North Avenue B-1
        Elizabeth, New Jersey 07208-1731 USA

        __________________________________________________
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      • Eric Eve
        ... Dear John, Once again, thank you once again for your long and detailed reply. I fear it rather suggests to me, however, that we have got ourselves at
        Message 3 of 3 , Apr 1, 2002
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          Eric Eve wrote:
          > But I accept that Mark's narrative does read oddly
          > even on the second alternative. Yet to argue that
          > these features of the text are evidence of Markan 'fatigue',
          > in the sense that Mark Goodacre uses the term, you
          > surely need to show that these incongruities arise
          > from Mark's infelicitous use of a source.

          John Lupia wrote:
          > 2. I thought I had established this clear enough. If
          > you go back and read the posts again seeing it from
          > the point of view of Lukan priority you will find how
          > both Matthew and Mark make changes that create
          > inconsistencies in their narratives according to Mark
          > Goodacre's definition. If you need further
          > clarification's on this I will respond with more lucid
          > treatments. But, I think the points are already
          > sufficiently clear.

          Dear John,

          Once again, thank you once again for your long and detailed reply. I fear it
          rather suggests to me, however, that we have got ourselves at cross-purposes
          at several places. In the exchange quoted above, for example, I think we are
          not using 'fatigue' to mean precisly the same thing. Your point seems to be
          that Matthew's boat trip to the lonely place of the feeding (for example)
          introduces problems that were not in Luke's text, and that Mark compounds
          the problems by having the crowds anticipate the disciples disembarkation
          from their boat trip. I agree that on the order Lk>Mt>Mk this would entail
          each successive evangelist introducing inconsistencies into the text, but
          this wasn't quite what I took Mark Goodacre to mean by 'fatigue'. As I
          understood Goodacre's article on 'Fatigue in the Synoptics', fatigue in text
          B's use of text A does not simply mean that Text B's account is less
          coherent than Text A's, but that the inconsistency is generated specifically
          by Text B beginning an account by altering Text A's version and then lapsing
          back into details of Text A's version; for example, Matthew's parable of the
          talents starts with three servants whereas Luke's parable of the pounds
          starts with three, but at the end of Luke's parable only three servants give
          an account of what they had done, as if Luke's parable had begun with
          Matthew's three. I'm not sure that the examples of Markan inconstencies you
          have given in previous posts actually demonstrate Markan 'fatigue' in this
          sense, but, as I have explained several times before, I'm taking a break
          away from Oxford and don't have to hand any of the standard tools, such as a
          synopsis, that would allow me to check this readily; all I can say is that
          it is not immediately apparent to me flicking between the Gospel accounts in
          the small Bible I do have to hand. But I'll return to the fatigue question
          below.

          > Eric Eve wrote:
          > Although the disciples set out for Bethsaida, they
          > don't arrive there, and Stephen Notley has been
          > pointing out that Mark apparently has them perform a
          > U-Turn on the lake, so perhaps that helped Jesus to
          > catch up with them!

          John Lupia replied:
          > 3. Not in Luke (who has no boat motif), only Mark, but
          > not at this point in the narrative.

          We must be thoroughly at cross-purposes here, since I was under the
          impression that it was the Markan account we were discussing. The relevance
          of your (perfectly accurate) observation here thus escapes me.

          Eric Eve wrote:
          > But once Mark has
          > Jesus step out onto the lake we have surely abandoned
          > the realm of empirical reality.

          John Lupia replied:
          > 4. You are confusing two different things here. The
          > narrative as a whole is a storyline that *does* take
          > place in reality and must maintain semblances of
          > realism, if not, we arrive at inconsistencies and
          > fatigue. The walking on the lake is a *miraculous*
          > event one that transcends our natural abilities and
          > scientific explanations, which is what constitutes a
          > miracle by definition. So, the actions of Jesus
          > walking on the lake is a motif within a narrative,
          > separate and must be seen separate. [much snipped]

          I thought the context of my remark made it quite clear that I was replying
          specifically to your point about Mark 6.47-48, which does describe the walk
          across the lake (or 'sea', as Mark calls it). Since I was making separate
          comments about this separate miraculous incident, I don't see how your
          observations on miracle constitute an objection to what I said. Once again
          we seem to be badly at cross-purposes. I certainly was not confusing two
          different things since I was only discussing one of them.

          > Eric Eve wrote:
          > If one can swallow the camel of aquatic perambulation,
          > worrying about the speed thereof is a little like an
          > exercise in straining out gnats (what would be a
          > reasonable speed for a human being to walk across a
          > choppy lake?).

          > 5. You have moved completely out of a scholarly
          > analysis and have enter the arena of faith here.
          > Returning to the analysis, walking is depicted here
          > the same on land or water. No description is given
          > here of any time element requiring supernatural speed
          > that violates reality. The only violation of reality
          > is that Jesus walks on water, something that escapes
          > our normal experience. However, on this point, one is
          > reminded of Camilla mentioned by Virgil, Aeneid 7.809
          > who tells us that Camilla the virgin queen of the
          > Volscians made haste with such swiftness that she
          > could traverse the sea without wetting her feet. But,
          > Mk does not recreate any parallel to Camilla nor is he
          > writing an epic mythological genre like Virgil.

          Again we must be quite horribly at cross-purposes if you think I "have moved
          completely out of a scholarly
          analysis and have entered the arena of faith here." On the contrary, I was
          replying specifically to your point that "They disembark [did you mean
          'embark' as I assumed?] as it was evening (nona or 6 pm) yet Jesus meets
          them in early morning (prima or 6 am) midway walking on the Lake." My point
          was that you appeared to attempting very detailed calculations about the
          difficulties of the time-scale involved in Jesus' meeting the boat mid-way
          on the lake ('straining out gnats'), while ignoring the difficulty posed by
          the fact that Mark has Jesus walk across the water to meet them there
          ('swallowing a camel'). I was expressing myself whimsically, and I'm sorry
          if my attempt at humour fell flat, but there was no appeal to faith
          considerations here. My point is rather that given that the whole account is
          miraculous, it seems odd to complain about the timing. You say 'No
          description is given here of any time element requiring supernatural speed
          that violates reality. The only violation of reality is that Jesus walks on
          water, something that escapes our normal experience.', but in an earlier
          post you in effect complained that the figures involved in the relative
          speed of walking and sailing 'like Zeno's do not correspond to reality', and
          this comment came in what appeared to me to be a quite detailed discussion
          of Jesus' catching up the disciples' boat by walking across the lake. So you
          are in effect creating an inconsistency in Mark's narrative at this point by
          simultaneously asserting and denying that the story involves Jesus walking
          across the lake at a speed that does not correspond with reality.

          > Eric Eve wrote:
          > Otherwise, one could just as well argue that Matthew
          > and Luke had tidied up the confused Markan account.

          John Lupia replied:
          > 8. This is a contradiction of terms. The euphemism of
          > "the confused Markan account" is to avoid the
          > characterization of it for what it actually is Markan
          > fatigue resulting from changes of Luke and Matthew.
          > You are looking at the whole of my postings in reverse
          > order Mk>Mt>Lk. Try to see what I am saying, which
          > is: Lk>Mt>Mk. The one who writes last according to
          > Mark Goodacre's thesis would be, to use your term,
          > "untidy" or the most "confused" story, not the other
          > way round.

          Again we have got at cross-purposes by apparently using 'fatigue' in rather
          different senses. I'm well aware that your postings were not written on the
          assumption of the order Mk>Mt>Lk. We also seem to have rather different
          understandings of what Mark Goodacre was arguing. I did not take him to be
          saying that it was always the case that the one who writes last produces the
          most confused or untidy account; I took him to be confining his observations
          to the specific phenomenon of editorial fatigue. The proposition that
          fatigue produces inconsistencies does not entail the further proposition
          that all inconsistencies are due to fatigue. Since I have so far seen no
          evidence of Markan fatigue in the sense that I took Mark Goodacre to intend,
          I was merely pointing out that your argument about the relationship of the
          three synoptic gospels was reversible. Sure, one can imagine Matthew
          introducing incongruities into the account through the introduction of the
          boat motif and Mark compounding the confusion (since, as Leonard Maluf
          correctly pointed out in another post, Mark is concerned with story rather
          than history), but *at this level of generality* the argument is completely
          reversible, and one could just as well imagine Matthew and Luke successively
          tidying up an account in the interest of creating greater historical
          verisimilitude. Mark Goodacre's narrower definition of 'fatigue' was an
          attempt to prevent this type of reversibility, but I have yet to see
          evidence of Markan fatigue in this narrower sense. You have so far argued
          that, if the order is Lk>Mt>Mk, then each successive author would have
          introduced inconsistencies into his predecessor's account, but you have not
          shown that these inconsistencies are explicable by the specific mechanism of
          fatigue.


          > Best wishes and
          > Happy Holidays,

          > Condolences to all UK members on the death of Queen mother.

          > John

          Thank you for your good wishes, and on behalf of all UK members, for your
          kind condolences.

          Best wishes,

          Eric
          --------------------
          Eric Eve
          Harris Manchester College
          Oxford


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