Working on my #SBLAAR (2014) paper, “There and Back Again, A Jesus Tale: The Poetics of Apologetic Reversal”

The romanticized woodcut engraving of Flavius ...

The romanticized woodcut engraving of Flavius Josephus appearing in William Whiston’s translation of his works. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I will propose Mark is borrowing two well-known and horrible entries into Jerusalem. First up, Mark 11.1-17:

Καὶ ὅτε ἐγγίζουσιν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα εἰς Βηθφαγὴ καὶ Βηθανίαν πρὸς τὸ Ὄρος τῶν Ἐλαιῶν, ἀποστέλλει δύο τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ 2 καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· Ὑπάγετε εἰς τὴν κώμην τὴν κατέναντι ὑμῶν, καὶ εὐθὺς εἰσπορευόμενοι εἰς αὐτὴν εὑρήσετε πῶλον δεδεμένον ἐφʼ ὃν οὐδεὶς οὔπω ἀνθρώπων ἐκάθισεν· λύσατε αὐτὸν καὶ φέρετε. 3 καὶ ἐάν τις ὑμῖν εἴπῃ· Τί ποιεῖτε τοῦτο; εἴπατε ὅτι Ὁ κύριος αὐτοῦ χρείαν ἔχει· καὶ εὐθὺς αὐτὸν ἀποστέλλει πάλιν ὧδε. 4 καὶ ἀπῆλθον καὶ εὗρον πῶλον δεδεμένον πρὸς θύραν ἔξω ἐπὶ τοῦ ἀμφόδου, καὶ λύουσιν αὐτόν. 5 καί τινες τῶν ἐκεῖ ἑστηκότων ἔλεγον αὐτοῖς· Τί ποιεῖτε λύοντες τὸν πῶλον; 6 οἱ δὲ εἶπαν αὐτοῖς καθὼς εἶπεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς· καὶ ἀφῆκαν αὐτούς. 7 καὶ φέρουσιν τὸν πῶλον πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν, καὶ ἐπιβάλλουσιν αὐτῷ τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτῶν, καὶ ἐκάθισεν ἐπʼ αὐτόν. 8 καὶ πολλοὶ τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτῶν ἔστρωσαν εἰς τὴν ὁδόν, ἄλλοι δὲ στιβάδας κόψαντες ἐκ τῶν ἀγρῶν. 9 καὶ οἱ προάγοντες καὶ οἱ ἀκολουθοῦντες ἔκραζον· Ὡσαννά· Εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι κυρίου· 10 Εὐλογημένη ἡ ἐρχομένη βασιλεία τοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν Δαυίδ· Ὡσαννὰ ἐν τοῖς ὑψίστοις.

11 Καὶ εἰσῆλθεν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα εἰς τὸ ἱερόν· καὶ περιβλεψάμενος πάντα ὀψὲ ἤδη οὔσης τῆς ὥρας ἐξῆλθεν εἰς Βηθανίαν μετὰ τῶν δώδεκα.

12 Καὶ τῇ ἐπαύριον ἐξελθόντων αὐτῶν ἀπὸ Βηθανίας ἐπείνασεν. 13 καὶ ἰδὼν συκῆν ἀπὸ μακρόθεν ἔχουσαν φύλλα ἦλθεν εἰ ἄρα τι εὑρήσει ἐν αὐτῇ, καὶ ἐλθὼν ἐπʼ αὐτὴν οὐδὲν εὗρεν εἰ μὴ φύλλα, ὁ γὰρ καιρὸς οὐκ ἦν σύκων. 14 καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτῇ· Μηκέτι εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα ἐκ σοῦ μηδεὶς καρπὸν φάγοι. καὶ ἤκουον οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ.

15 Καὶ ἔρχονται εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα. καὶ εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν ἤρξατο ἐκβάλλειν τοὺς πωλοῦντας καὶ τοὺς ἀγοράζοντας ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ, καὶ τὰς τραπέζας τῶν κολλυβιστῶν καὶ τὰς καθέδρας τῶν πωλούντων τὰς περιστερὰς κατέστρεψεν 16 καὶ οὐκ ἤφιεν ἵνα τις διενέγκῃ σκεῦος διὰ τοῦ ἱεροῦ, 17 καὶ ἐδίδασκεν καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς· Οὐ γέγραπται ὅτι Ὁ οἶκός μου οἶκος προσευχῆς κληθήσεται πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν; ὑμεῖς δὲ πεποιήκατε αὐτὸν σπήλαιον λῃστῶν.

Thanks to Rick from Logos and an experimental feature, I got a jumpstart. This is what the search for literary connections looks like:

Dataset Canonical Reference Relationship Noncanonical Reference
Josephus Mark 11:1 Phrase Wars 2.262
Josephus Mark 11:1 Remove Wars 2.261–263
Josephus Mark 11:1 Remove Ant 20.169–170
Josephus Mark 11:1 Topical Ant 20.169
Josephus Mark 11:1 Remove Life 269
Josephus Mark 11:2 Remove Wars 2.261–263
Nag Hammadi Codices Mark 11:8 Allusion NHC II 2, 39:29–NHC II 2, 40:2
Apostolic Fathers Mark 11:9 Topical Did 12.1
Apostolic Fathers Mark 11:9 Echo Did 10.6
Apostolic Fathers Mark 11:9 Remove Barn 6.4
Josephus Mark 11:9 Remove Wars 1.673
Josephus Mark 11:9 Remove Ant 7.40–41
Nag Hammadi Codices Mark 11:9 Allusion NHC II 2, 39:29–NHC II 2, 40:2
NT Apocrypha Mark 11:9 Remove APt 24
Dead Sea Scrolls Sectarian Material Mark 11:10 Topical 4Q174
NT Apocrypha Mark 11:10 Remove Acts Pil. 1
Josephus Mark 11:11 Topical Ant 18.90
Josephus Mark 11:11 Topical Ant 15.405

 

Mark came before some of the material here, so you have to mark that out…mark that out, I slay me… I am looking at Wars in particular.

So, we come up with at least one section, the entry into Jerusalem by the Egyptian. This is found in BJ 2.261-263:

τούτοις Φῆλιξ, ἐδόκει γὰρ ἀποστάσεως εἶναι καταβολή, πέμψας ἱππεῖς καὶ πεζοὺς ὁπλίτας πολὺ πλῆθος διέφθειρεν. Μείζονι δὲ τούτου πληγῇ Ἰουδαίους ἐκάκωσεν ὁ Αἰγύπτιος ψευδοπροφήτης· παραγενόμενος γὰρ εἰς τὴν χώραν ἄνθρωπος γόης καὶπροφήτου πίστιν ἐπιθεὶς ἑαυτῷ περὶ τρισμυρίους μὲν ἀθροίζει τῶν ἠπατημένων, περιαγαγὼν δὲ αὐτοὺς ἐκ τῆς ἐρημίας εἰς τὸ ἐλαιῶνκαλούμενον ὄρος ἐκεῖθεν οἷός τε ἦν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα παρελθεῖν βιάζεσθαι καὶ κρατήσας τῆς τε Ῥωμαϊκῆς φρουρᾶς καὶ τοῦ δήμου τυραννεῖνχρώμενος τοῖς συνεισπεσοῦσιν δορυφόροις. φθάνει δ’ αὐτοῦ τὴν ὁρμὴν Φῆλιξ ὑπαντήσας μετὰ τῶν Ῥωμαϊκῶν ὁπλιτῶν, καὶ πᾶς ὁ δῆμοςσυνεφήψατο τῆς ἀμύνης, ὥστε συμβολῆς γενομένης τὸν μὲν Αἰγύπτιον φυγεῖν μετ’ ὀλίγων, διαφθαρῆναι δὲ καὶ ζωγρηθῆναι πλείστους τῶνσὺν αὐτῷ, τὸ δὲ λοιπὸν πλῆθος σκεδασθὲν ἐπὶ τὴν ἑαυτῶν ἕκαστον διαλαθεῖν.

There are common points. Both start at the Mount of Olives. Both have friends with them. For Jesus, they are his disciples. For the Egyptian, guards. There is a multitude of people as well.

If we go further, we find a connection between Mark 11.15–17 and the siege of the Temple, with the entry by my favorite baddie, Simon bar Giora (4.570-584).

I am attracted to the Egyptian story as a literary source because of Acts 21.38–39. I think there is something in Luke, perhaps calling attention to Mark’s usage.

So, why is Mark using two literary sources, but reversed, to present the story of Jesus’s entry? Because it is apologetic. Mark does not want Jesus seen as the conquering tyrant. He wants to show how peaceful Jesus was, so he mimics (borrows) the language of Josephus so that his audience can get a sense his intent.

Jesus does not come to conquer Jerusalem. /a/Christians are not traitors or treasonous.

Post By Joel L. Watts (10,125 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

Connect

5 thoughts on “Working on my #SBLAAR (2014) paper, “There and Back Again, A Jesus Tale: The Poetics of Apologetic Reversal”

  1. The last sentence here sounds too much like Luke’s emphasis. If Mark is concerned to show that Jesus is not conquering, would it not be more plausible that his concern is to blunt the typical “messianic” symbolism of the entry, given that he is trying to change the content of messianism?

  2. 1st, none of your noncanonical links work.
    2nd, I see no connection between Mark and The Wars of the Jews, at least in the references you gave.
    I’m no expert…but you really are serious? Or it’s all Greek to me, and buried in the Greek. The English translations do nothing for me.

    • Gary, it would have to be based in the Greek… so it is all Greek. As I develop the literary basis more, i will post more.

      briefly, ancient authors would use previous works and morph them in some way and write their stuff. Sometimes, they would use it to counter it.

  3. First of all, I am progressive, and do not believe in inerrancy. But there just seems to be something wrong about Mark (the gospel, since I agree that the author wasn’t the disciple), being written by using Wars of the Jews as a guide. I would much prefer believing it was derived from Q. Not based upon facts, but based upon hope. If the author of Mark can’t even come up with his own original story, without stealing from Josephus, I might as well worship Titus. But I digress…

Leave a Reply, Please!