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Re: Exploring How the Gospel of Mark was Made

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  • steve_huller
    Hi everyone: As you will soon see, I have a lot of spare time on my hands and think about these matters a lot. As a follow up to my previous message while I
    Message 1 of 65 , Jun 9, 2009
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      Hi everyone:

      As you will soon see, I have a lot of spare time on my hands and think about these matters a lot. As a follow up to my previous message while I think that the specific tradition that Mark was martyred in Alexandria is very late (Michael the Syrians testimony that Mark was martyred at Paneas is probably more correct) I do think that the Alexandrian tradition that Mark somehow 'deposited' an ur-Gospel in the city is probably correct.

      My understanding is of course unique but then again this is the study of the New Testament rather than physics or some scientific field where empirical evidence or ration thought determines commonly held beliefs. In the case of this religion in particular commonly held beliefs were established by whoever held the biggest stick (or sword or gun - choose the appropriate analogy for your period of history).

      I know that Clement's Letter to Theodore is supposed to be controversial because it suggests that Mark left an autographed copy of the gospel essentially in the church there but this is only so because most scholars haven't a clue about Alexandrian Church history. If these people actually made themselves familiar with this tradition they would discover a number of fascinating things which corroborate the basis of To Theodore.

      Take the autographed copy of the gospel of Mark. We all know that the Ephesus claimed to have the original gospel of John. No one doubts that an early textual tradition was there. Yet there is a parallel Alexandrian example which gets little attention.

      In 828 CE a group of Venetian sailors went to Alexandria and apparently stole one - possibly two - bodies of prominent saints there - viz. St. Mark and St. Athanasius. Whether or not you accept the second story the first story is generally recognized. However what gets very little attention is the fact that they also claimed to have taken two other objects - the original episcopal throne (which now stands beside the body in the Basilica di San Marco AND the original autographed copy of the Gospel of Mark.

      Now I am not here to argue that THIS REALLY WAS the original autographed copy of the Gospel of Mark. Scholars have such a strong impulse to dismiss 'silly' stories like this that they fail to pick up on subtle nuances.

      The fact that even at that time you have an echo of a claim made in to Theodore where - the Copts who rebuilt the Church of St. Mark after the Islamic invasion couldn't have known about To Theodore AND Morton Smith certainly did not know about this rather obscure claim associated with the Venetian Basilica di San Marco (I only know about it because I just finished writing a paper on the throne for the Journal of Coptic Studies).

      Incidentally the body of St. Mark, the throne of St Mark and the supposed autographed gospel of the Gospel of Mark were hidden in the damp crypt of the Basilica for almost seven hundred years - not the best place for a manuscript. As such when scholars finally got a chance to look at the original manuscript they found it "so worn, torn, defaced, and rotten with Moisture, and other Injuries of Time [that] it is a hard matter to discern anything in it, even if it was written in Latin or Greek."

      The point of course is that I - for a variety of reasons which go far beyond the limited imagination of people like Scott Brown - believe the Letter to Theodore is authentic and as such its witness to Alexandria claiming in the late second century to possess such a text is powerful evidence to suggest the city as the place of origin for the gospel.

      The claims about Rome are much later and implausible - why didn't/doesn't the Roman Church claim to similarly possess this 'autographed' text (the claim that they were 'too honest' to invent such foolishness is contradicted by other claims about the relics of Peter etc.

      I should also like to mention in passing how specific Clement's identification of 'the church of Alexandria' really is. I know for most of us we project our own experience of Christianity on the ancient past however scholars who have studied the Alexandrian tradition (Telfer, Meinardus etc) make clear that there really was ONLY ONE CHURCH in Alexandria up to the late third century and really into the fourth century JUST AS THERE WAS ONLY ONE BISHOP OF ALL EGYPT up to the time of Clement.

      Power was localized in the martyrium of St. Mark located just beyond the eastern walls of the city of Alexandria in a region called Boucolia (cow pasture). Severus Al'Ashmunein AND Alexander the nineteenth Patriarch of Alexandria make reference to the fact that traditional Egyptian religious services took place in graves or caves up until this time. Peter the seventeenth Patriarch apparently began work on the Church of Theonas which was finally complete sometime in Alexander's reign BUT THIS WAS ONLY THE SECOND CHURCH THAT WE KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT IN ALEXANDRIA.

      The point again is that Clement's reference to 'the Church of Alexandria' is quite specific - it is the Church of St Mark. The descriptions of that Church down through the centuries (with destructions and rebuilding of that original structure not withstanding) CONSISTENTLY identify a body buried in the aduton (or sanctuary) in the eastern part of the Church. It was here also where the Episcopal throne stood as well as the so-called autographed copy of the Gospel of Mark (Coptic churches retain this 'aduton' in their layout given that the faithful enter from the west and face the bishop sitting in the east; this is reflected in various solar images on the throne in Venice too). The aduton or sanctuary was also veiled or curtained.

      I want to stress again that BECAUSE of Clement's description of a 'truth hidden by seven veils' (loose translation from memory) that I am quite convinced that there was an early Alexandrian claim to possess the autographed copy of St Mark's gospel.

      Also - for reasons I don't want to get into here - I am convinced that this was a form of Diatessaron - which was attributed to Mark (unlike other texts which 'officially' get associated with Matthew. I think I can trace this text through Clement (and his Gospel of the Egyptians AND his reference to the Sicilian bee - look at the reference which immediately follows in Stromata 1:1 - he says he 'rested' like the Gospel of Hebrew logion 'he who asks ... and will rest/reign), Origen and others.

      This doesn't mean of course that the Alexandrians actually retained this text past the third century. The point is that tradition REMEMBERS truths even if they are no longer available to subsequent generations. This is represented by Severus Al'Ashmunein's strange statement about the Church of St. Mark in the Boucolia that Mark had

      found means to build a church in a place called the Cattle-pasture 23, near the sea, beside a rock from which stone is hewn.

      This is unmistakably a preservation of an Alexandrian parallel to the Roman claims that Petros was the Petra of Matthew 16:18. As everyone knows a petros is a stone and not a rock. Those who claim that Peter is proved to be a rock by the Aramaic kepha don't know what they are talking about - a kepha is still a stone.

      The Alexandrian understanding clearly is that there was a petra where petros was taken away and rejected perhaps intimating contact with Origen's faint anti-Petrine arguments in his Commentary on Matthew in this section. This could only have come from a Diatessaron (or a single long gospel as I prefer to call it) in the name of Mark present in the Church of Alexandria and identified as 'secret Mark' by Clement in his letter to Theodore but elsewhere by other names.

      This is also my proof that I have way too much time on my hands.


      Stephan Huller

      --- In textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com, "James Snapp, Jr." <voxverax@...> wrote:
      > Jay Rogers:
      > JR: "You are assuming that Mark was written in Rome by Mark?"
      > I like to call it a deduction rather than an assumption, but my view is, yes, that the Gospel of Mark 1:1-16:8 was written at Rome by John Mark, using Mark's written notes of Peter's remembrances as his main source (with his own remembrances of some events), and that he also wrote a short freestanding composition about Jesus' post-resurrection appearances. (But Marcan authorship of 16:9-20 is not a requirement for its original-ness as part of the Gospel of Mark when it was initially disseminated in the church.) And that the Gospel of Mark was finished by a Roman Christian, or group of Christians, to whom Mark had entrusted his work to finish, who completed it by attaching Mark's freestanding composition about Jesus' post-resurrection appearances.
      > I also think that Mark's written notes of Peter's remembrances constituted a "Proto-Mark," which mutated as Mark occasionally reorganized and expanded his material, and that Matthew and Luke used two different forms of "Proto-Mark," not the Gospel of Mark as we know it, when they wrote their Gospel-accounts. This is, I think, the most plausible way to explain the Minor Agreements, and Luke's non-use of large parts of the Gospel of Mark, and other phenomena.
      > JR: "And that there must have been some sort of committee (or apostolic individual) who redacted the text before it was released and copied?"
      > Yes, although the redaction was of an extremely simple kind: adding the short composition. J.K. Elliott has expressed a strong suspicion that Mark 1:1-3 was not written by John Mark, but was added very early; this is a possibility but considering the external evidence it looks like Elliott's suspicion is about a higher-criticism question.
      > The entrance of a redactor into the equation raises the question, "How thorough was the redaction?" and a while ago, out of curiosity, I isolated all the parts of Mark which are not paralleled in Matthew or Luke, and looked for unique vocabulary. The results were interesting.
      > In Unique-Parts-of-Mark, there is material about the word (2:2, 4:33, 5:36, 7:29, 8:32a, 9:10, 10:24, ), the hardness of hearts (3:5, 6:52, 8:17) lack of faith (4:40), details of exorcisms (3:11, 3:15, 5:3b-5, 6:13, 9:14-27), preaching (3:14, 6:12, 13:10, ), and the use of hands in healing (6:5, 7:31-37 esp. 7:33, 8:22-26 esp. 8:25, 9:27).
      > [Also notice the explanatory notes or details (3:30, 4:34b, 4:36b, 5:26, 5:29, 5:41, 5:42, 6:31, 6:40b, 7:2-4, 7:19b, 7:24, 7:27, 7:30, 10:12, 10:46, 10:50, 11:19, 12:5, 12:42b, 14:51-52, 15:21b, 15:44. And notice the absence of TOU KRASPEDOU in Mk. 5:27, where in the parallels it is present in Mt. 13:20 and Lk. 8:44, and the absence of KAI DIESTRAMMENH in Mk. 9:19, where in the parallels it is present in Mt. 17:17 and Lk. 9:41, and the absence of TIS ESTIN hO PAISAS SE in Mk. 14:65; cf. Mt. 26:68 and Lk. 22:64. Advocates of a simple Two-Source Theory as the solution of the Synoptic Problem sometimes appeal to Matthew and Luke's non-use of Mark 16:9-20 as evidence that Mark 16:9-20 was not in their copies of Mark. An underlying premise of such a case is that if Matthew and Luke don't use something in Mark, it must not have been in their copies. So how do they explain all of the little places where Matthew and Luke do not use Mark? Streeter's explanations are frequently unpersuasive. But I'm veering away from the main subject.]
      > What is interesting about these features in Unique-Parts-of-Mark is that, in such a small amount of Mark, we find several elements which are also present in 16:9-20:
      > the word (16:20), hardness of hearts (16:14) lack of faith (16:11, 16:13, 16;14, 16:16), exorcisms (16:17), preaching (16:15, 16:20), and the use of hands in healing (16:18).
      > Perhaps if a person were to isolate all the Unique-Parts-of-Mark without considering 16:9-20, and perform a vocabulary-analysis on them, the results might show a greater departure from Mark's usual vocabulary than what is seen in 16:9-20 or even in 15:40-16:4. But whether that is or isn't the case, the evidence allows, if not suggests, the theory that the text of the Gospel of Mark as we know it, and the Proto-Marks used by Matthew and Luke, were different, and that they were different because the text of the Gospel of Mark as we know it has been slightly edited at the points just listed.
      > I suspect that it was Mark himself who is responsible for this editing. This would add to the case, I think, that 16:9-20 is Marcan. But because the evidence is so sparse, and because much of it is capable of alternate explanations (given enough Two-Source Theory advocates with enough imagination), I (currently) don't think anything should be built on these observations. It is just interesting.
      > JR: "What language was Mark written in?"
      > Greek.
      > JR: "What of the idea that there were two autographs of Mark? A Latin copy with the longer ending and a Greek copy that either did not have the ending or had lost it very early on."
      > I don't think a Latin copy was involved in the loss of the LE. Despite what an author from Dallas Theological Seminary claims, the LE is supported by the Old Latin; it is present in all extant Old Latin copies of Mk. 16 except Codex Bobbiensis, which is particularly suspect because of its wild interpolation in Mk. 16:3-4 and, perhaps, its alteration to Mk. 8:32 (which it shares with the Sinaitic Syriac). The only other Latin witnesses against the LE are conceivably Codex Vercellensis (but the evidence is a little complicated) and Pacian.
      > JR: "The patristic testimonies are that Mark was in Italy and wrote a Gospel there, and also wrote in Egypt being martyred there."
      > Chrysostom's comment that the Gospel of Mark was written in Egypt looks to me like a casual comment without foundation. The ancient testimony is that the Gospel of Mark was written in Rome; there is disagreement about whether this was before or after the death of Peter.
      > The account of Mark's martyrdom in Egypt, on the other hand, appear remarkably precise -- the date of the year of his martyrdom is recorded; it was the day before a certain pagan feast-day. Like so many martyrdom-accounts, there are some barnacles in it, but the basic facts seem firmly established, setting Mark's martyrdom in A.D. 68.
      > JR: "The early church fathers unamimously record or suppose that Matthew was written in Hebrew whenever language is mentioned."
      > Because they echo Papias' statement about the Logia.
      > Yours in Christ,
      > James Snapp, Jr.
    • schmuel
      Hi Folks, Jay Rogers ... James Snapp ... Steven All of them ? As their first language or second ? James Snapp ... Steven Since a translation from Latin or a
      Message 65 of 65 , Aug 12, 2009
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        Hi Folks,

        Jay Rogers
        >Why Greek if it was written to Italians? I realize that the vast
        >consensus is Greek, but this question seems logical. If one were
        >writing to Latin speakers, and if Mark was indeed the "interpreter"
        >of Peter, who was likely speaking in Aramaic or Greek, why not write
        >in the Italians' own language?

        James Snapp
        >The reason why Mark would write for Italians in Greek is that the
        >Italians, then and there, were speaking and reading and writing in

        All of them ? As their first language or second ?

        James Snapp
        >If you would like to see demonstrations of the extensive verbal
        >affinities (in Greek) between Mark, Matthew, and Luke, consult John
        >Hawkins' "Horae Synopticae," which can be downloaded for free from
        >Google Books or Archive.org.

        Since a translation from Latin or a Graeco-Latin dialect to Greek
        would likely have been done by someone aware of Mark and Matthew,
        such verbal affinities are expected in all scenarios.

        >Jaay Rogers:
        >"Just how would (theoretically) a Latin copy be involved in the loss
        >of the longer ending?"

        James Snapp
        > Theoretically ..- if Mark had written the Gospel of Mark in Latin,
        someone could have translated an early draft of it into Greek,

        And this was the theory of Herman Hoskier, accompanied with extensive
        analysis, that Mark was written in either Latin or a Graeco-Latin dialect.

        Steven Avery
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