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[Synoptic-L] Re: Mark's use of Matt: was "Matthew's additions to Mark"

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  • Eric Eve
    ... But then the tendences would not always be the direction you seek. For example Mark s version of the Walking on the Sea (Mk 6.45-52) focuses both on the
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 21, 2003
      Leonard Maluf wrote:

      > Again, this is a good issue to raise. But I think it would
      > be possible to develop a fairly firm law (though not entirely
      > without circularity in one's argument) that texts tended to
      > become more and more "applied", as it were, made to speak
      > directly to the concerns of Christian audiences.

      But then the tendences would not always be the direction you seek. For
      example Mark's version of the Walking on the Sea (Mk 6.45-52) focuses both
      on the Markan theme of the disciples' failure to understand, and on the
      Christological theme of the epiphany Jesus effects (or planned to effect) by
      passing his disciples by, as Yahweh once passed by Moses and Elijah. The
      addition of Peter's attempting aquating perambulation in Mt 14.28-33 turns
      the passage into an allegory of the trials of discipleship, an allegory
      signalled also by the notice at Mt 14.33 that those in the boat worshipped
      Jesus (i.e. the boat becomes a figure for the church). This makes Matthew's
      version more applied, does it not? (I suspect one could mount an analogous
      argument about the Stilling of the Storm in the two Gospels).

      > It would be interesting, for example, to study what Mark does with the
      > pericopes involved with healing from blindness and restoration of sight
      > (there are three of them at least).

      Only two that I know of (Mk 8.22-26 & 10.46-52). Have I missed one?

      > Here Mark is clearly moving in the direction of John 9, and I
      > find difficult the idea that this kind of process would be reversed
      > by Matthew, and exchanged for the rather pedantic view of two blind
      > men and two other blind men as minimally quantified witnesses who can
      > testify in support of the messianic status of Jesus. In his version of
      > these stories, Mark seems already to anticipate the theology of baptism
      > (=Christian initiation) as illumination in the Eastern Fathers. It would
      > be difficult to step back from this kind of a development, I would think.

      Mark's deployment of these stories is indeed interesting, though I'm not
      sure how precise the parallel with John 9 is (it's certainly true that both
      Evangelists are using sight as a metaphor for spiritual insight, but that
      was already a commonplace in the Hebrew Bible wasn't it? E.g. the
      much-quoted Isaiah 6.9-10). Part of Matthew's tendency to make his text more
      applied to his audience's situation (if you want to see things in such
      terms) is to make the disciples represent the believers of Matthew's own
      day. Mark's polemic against the disciples is thus inappropriate to Matthew's
      purposes. Mark's story of the Blind Man at Bethsaida (Mk 8.22-26) functions
      triply as part of this Markan polemic. As a pair with the healing of the
      deaf-mute at Mk 7.31-37 it symbolizes Jesus' ongoing struggle with the
      impercetiveness of the disciples, which Jesus complains about between these
      two stories (Mk 8.17-18) - ironically those who were meant to be insiders
      (Mk 4.10-12) have shown themselves to be outsiders. As a prelude to Peter's
      confession it suggests that Peter's confession of Jesus as Messiah (but, not
      a suffering Messiah!) was akin to the partial restoration of sight to the
      man who who people looking like trees walking (Mk 8.24). Matthew's version
      of Peter's Confession makes it a much more positive event than Mark's (Mt
      16.13-20 / Mk 8.27-30), notably through the presence of Mt 16.17-19 which
      has no parallel in Mark. The effect of the Matthean version is that Peter's
      confession becomes the representative confession for the whole church - a
      far more 'applied' version that Mark's bare command not to tell anyone that
      Jesus is the Messiah (even though Matthew does also have this, it's been
      softened by the intervening material). Finally the Blind Man of Bethsaida
      forms a pair with Blind Bartimaeus at Jericho (Mk 10.46-52) who is made to
      represent the ideal disciple who follows Jesus 'on the way' - another
      outsider becomes an insider ahead of the 'official' disciples whom Matthew
      is using as types of believers in his audience. It would not be surprising
      if Matthew wanted to dismantle Mark's symbolic application of these stories
      given that it was so hostile to his 'applied' purposes. (As an added note,
      the authors of Matthew and Mark seem to have very different temperaments; at
      the risk of over-simplificaton Mark seems to revel in paradox and
      open-endedness, while Matthew seems to hate them and like everything neatly
      tied up; some of the differences we're discussing in the Gospels could be
      due to this difference, which has no essential chronology attached to it,
      though I freely admit that I tend to read Matthew as tidying up what he
      considers messy Markan loose ends).

      > Your Synoptic source model does not invite to perceive any originality
      > in Matt at all. But there is no reason in God's earth why Matthew cannot
      > have been the first to make this connection. Somebody was. On the other
      > hand, he need not be, of course. But I think it unlikely that Mark is
      > the source of this thinking, since Mark doesn't directly allude to this
      > set of texts (with the possible exception of his MOGILALON in 7:32
      > [see Is 35:6]). And because Mark's healing stories so clearly have
      > another agenda than that of establishing the Messianic identity of Jesus.

      I agree that Matthew *could* have been the first to make this connection; I
      suppose I'm just wondering about its plausibility basis: would Matthew's
      deployment of this Isaian text in this way be persuasive to an audience who
      had not already been made familiar with the notion that Isaiah 35 was to be
      read as a messianic prophecy? But I agree that Mark probably wasn't the
      source of this thinking, but then even on the theory of Markan priority
      Matthew had access to material and ideas he didn't find in Mark. I'm not so
      sure I entirely agree with you about the agenda of Mark's healing stories,
      if for no other reason than I think he had more than one (but perhaps you
      didn't mean to deny this); I think I would agree that Mark's use of his
      nature miracles is more overtly Christological than his use of the healing
      stories (with the exception you've already noted at Mk 7.32), but surely
      there's some Christological significance in the demonic cries in Mark's
      exorcisms too. Or is your point partly that Matthew's Christology is more
      interested in the title 'Messiah' than Mark's, so that Mark is not being
      specifically messianic?


      > Hardly a fresh allusion. Mark is copying from Matt 9:36 here,
      > where the theme is firmly embedded in, and indeed undergirds,
      > the entire narrative of 9:35 -- 11:1 (see 10:6). It is precisely
      > "traces" of this Matthean project that Mark picks up in 6:34,
      > where the important "Israel" connection is not alluded to, as
      > in Matt 10:6 and 2:6. Mark's text simply highlights the generic
      > compassion of Jesus on the crowds (=Mark's community) in connection
      > with an upcoming pericope that is transparent of the Eucharist in
      > Mark's community. A beautiful enough point, but a secondary one, I think.

      By itself Mk 6.35-44 seems to combine three or four elements: (a) the
      Eucharistic theme you have identified; (b) a close parallel to the feeding
      story in 2 Kings 4.42-44 (perhaps indicative of an earlier stratum that saw
      Jesus as a prophet like Elijah/Elisha); (c) the Markan theme of Jesus'
      interaction with the disciples and their failure to understand; and (d)
      perhaps an allusion to the Exodus story (which is sometimes seen through the
      possibility that 'green grass' dates the story around Passover, or, more
      specifically, that the sitting of the picnickers in groups of hundreds and
      fifties alludes to Exod 18.21-25, and that a wilderness feeding recalls Exod
      16.8-36 [manna] - although I mount a partial argument to the contrary in
      _Jewish Context_). However, the allusion to Ezekiel 34 in the immediately
      preceding verse 6.34 also turns this story into a fulfilment of Ezek. 34.23,
      giving it a messianic meaning that would not otherwise be apparent, a
      meaning that is generated directly by Mark's redactional placement of this
      allusion directly before the feeding story. I thus find it very hard to
      believe that "Mark's text simply highlights the generic compassion of Jesus
      on the crowds" here. In support of this I would point out the discussion in
      the boat at Mk 8.14-21 in which Jesus berates the disciples for failing to
      see the significance of the two feedings; this incident is directly followed
      by the restoration of sight to the Blind Man of Bethsaida (don't forget that
      Jesus has just berated the disciples for their failure to see), and then by
      Peter's Confession that Jesus is the Messiah, the connexion of which with
      the story of the blind man I have already discussed above. This strongly
      suggests to me that Mark intends the Feeding stories to have messianic
      significance. Even if Mark had taken over Mk 6.34 from Mt (which I'm not
      conceding ) he would have created what is effectively a fresh allusion *in
      this context* that was lacking from the parallel Matthean context, and would
      thus be doing rather more than reflecting 'traces' of this Matthean project.

      Best wishes,

      Eric
      -------------------------------
      Dr Eric Eve
      Harris Manchester College
      Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3TD
      Tel: 01865 281473



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