I’ve uploaded my paper presented at the Markan Literary Sources seminar, Working on a Building: Mark’s Correspondence to Daniel’s Structure, to academia.edu.
I’ve uploaded my paper presented at the Markan Literary Sources seminar, Working on a Building: Mark’s Correspondence to Daniel’s Structure, to academia.edu.
Michael Kruger states,
In fact, it is worth noting that Mark presents Jesus as God from the very opening few verses in his gospel, in a manner that is often missed on a quick reading of that passage.
His entire post can be found here: Does the Gospel of Mark Present Jesus as God? | Canon Fodder.
James McGrath has since responded.
My answer is nuanced. By opening his Gospel as Mark does, he is presenting Jesus as representing God, but this does not (as we know from the OT) mean the representative is the represented. But, Jesus is in God’s place.
Why? Because Jesus is slowly taking the place of God. Jesus is not God in Mark, but because God is absent, Jesus replaces God by doing what God does not. Jesus forces God to act by becoming the obedient Israel and absorbing the violence of his world into his body.
This is tiring, I know — but we see the same theology in Lucan’s Pharsalia. Cato the Younger acts in the place of God to become the God(divine)-Man. His death is the sacrifice for Rome and to the gods because the gods are absent.
Is Jesus God and a party of the Trinity in Mark’s Gospel? I don’t think so, but Jesus does become God.
Others have noticed Mark’s adoptionistic language. I’m okay with that.
Theologically, this is why we have four Gospels.
I wanted to write this for first to start my thought process and second, perhaps, for discussion:
Mark is the first, and as I explained in my book, uses this for a particular reason. I think it is a rhetorical ploy. This explains Matthew’s continued use with it (keeping in mind the textual tradition you use and hoping we have a fairly accurate representation of the original text). In Luke-Acts, it is almost done away with and thus becomes just another verb choice.
However, in Revelation, we see another uptick.
Wait. Go here and read this paper by Steve Runge first.
Anyway, here is my current hypothesis:
Mark begins the Gospel genre. His use is rhetorical. Matthew sees this and uses it, expanding Mark’s story with his own. Luke‘s rhetoric goes into a different direction and thus doesn’t need word choice, or rather, doesn’t need this particular grammar choice. Or, he may not get the entire theme as displayed in Mark and Matthew and thus attempts to correct the “poor” grammar. Acts doesn’t really count here, except to show the author(s) of Luke-Acts as a single-minded writer who likes tidiness.
John reworks the Markan narrative including other narratives along the way and his own material but unlike Matthew and Luke, retains more of Mark’s rhetorical flair.
Oh, yes. Thomas (the Greek fragments such as P. Oxy 654) uses the historical present in relation to Jesus. The Coptic has it as past tense, indicating a translation from the Greek, I’d argue. Wonder if this means Thomas knew the Synoptics? —->
What does this mean for Revelation? First, I would argue Revelation is written by the same author(ial community) as The Gospel of Mark. Second, I believe there are direct literary connections between Revelation and Mark, such as the borrowing of certain phrases. Not words. Phrases.
I think the use of the historical present as we move from Mark to Revelation indicates an awareness — perhaps a theological intent — of the original literary use in the first written Gospel. I think it also indicates reliance (especially for Matthew, Luke, and John) on Mark.
What about Thomas? I don’t know, really, but it would be interesting to do a vivisection of the use of historical presents and where each of them end up. Numbering the usage starts us on a path, but the path should lead us to examining the exact use — where are the HP’s used in relation to one another.
Anyway, just wanted to jot this down.
I briefly made use of this in my book, but it bears more examination and given the question I was asked yesterday (see below), I wanted to write a short post on it. James P. Scott, the great writer of resistance, has three transcripts available for writers and audiences alike. They are the public, the hidden, and the double-meaning transcript. The double-meaning transcript allows for the “subordinate group politics” to act itself out in plain sight (Scott, Domination, 18–9). This acting-out involves using folk ways, words, and other things only the group would recognize to tell a story of resistance, but the difference between this and the hidden is the public performance of the former.
There is something along those lines in Latin rhetoric as well, at least according to Quintilian. Palam involves language used by orators and poets meant to be plain or forthright.1 Aperte is that language which is “open,” or rather, open to those who understand it.2 Finally, silentium is used only when there is a need, when the outside and hegemonic group is prancing around with its power, and is done in such a way as to allow the orator/poet to speak freely but to have the audience apply their meaning to it.3 Like the doubling-meaning transcript to the hidden, silentium exists as a subordinate to aperte. It takes place only at the must crucial of times, but in plain view.
Yesterday, I was asked privately (so, no names) about the possibility of understanding the final production if one doesn’t understand or know of the source material. The Gospel of Mark, I contend, contains this aperte–silentium rhetoric, where the author is using a known story (namely that of Jesus) to present a hidden transcript in pubic (the double-meaning; i.e., the mirrored-reflection of the Jewish War and the messiahs who followed). My convoluted answer is that yes, on some level every audience will understand something of the final production even without knowing the source material or intention of the author. This doesn’t remove the original intent, nor does it suggest reception is the dominant aspect of the production. On another level, an audience may pick up on that something is being said but not clearly heard, even without the source material. This, I believe, drives our examination for the sources of these works today. But, there will always be an audience who understands the production as the author intended, namely the first audience (hence the importance of Matthew and Luke in reading Mark).4
Unfortunately, we today find it difficult to hear the silentium because the story is now so invested in our culture we see ourselves as the source material, hearing no cues as to the hidden meaning(s). Are we wrong, then, in reading Mark as a simplistic historical narrative of the life of Jesus? Hardly, but we aren’t fully reading it with the ears of the first audience. We have replaced the aperte with our need for palam and that prevents any serious investigation into the Gospel.
short post, short editor, going home now.
Parallelism is a dangerous disease, as I believe Tom has shown us with this post. In this post, he suggests the young man in Mark 14.52 and 16.5 are the same person but transfigured through the lens of 2 Corinthians 5. I am unsure as to how he has come to such a conclusion but it is one based on the wrong parallel.
The first young man (Mark 14.52) is quite possibly the author, or rather understood as the author; however, this is not likely the case given some other autobiographical footnotes along the way. The second (Mark 16.5) is also not the author as the women are meant to be the ones to have seen Jesus first, or maybe not seen Jesus but believed. Instead, it is reasonable that these two instances of linen-glad men are meant to represent something else.
In 2 Maccabees 3.22-34, there is a scene depicting a proposed blasphemy against God’s Temple. Twice a young man appeared. In the first instance, the young man “splendidly dressed” beat Heliodorus until he fainted, preventing him from damaging the Temple. Heliodorus was going to die until his friends pleaded with the high priest to entreat God for his recovery. To further protect the Jews, God restored Heliodorus to life. The young man reappeared to give Heliodorus a message that it was God who had given life. After the message was delivered, the young man disappeared. In both instances, the dress of the person is noted. Likewise, in both instances, it is a man and not explicitly an angel who is said to have appeared and disappeared. Given the location of the appearances of the young man in relation to Jesus, the Temple, and the Passion, I favor the use of 2 Maccabees — due to the placement of the appearances as well as the number of them in accordance to the placement.
Tom rightly turns to Matthew to judge Mark’s reception, but misses the mark here as well. In Matthew 28.5, the Evangelist plainly says ‘angel’ whereas Mark simply has a human. Whereas Tom attributes to Matthew some disagreement with Mark about the nature of the bodily resurrection, I suspect this is more about Tom’s hopes than Matthew’s intentions. At several times, Matthew has not corrected Mark, but placed into the light what Mark has only subtly hidden. This is such a case. Matthew is calling the young man at the Tomb what Mark hinted at him to be, an angel.
Mark follows the program of 2 Maccabees in hiding the divine identity of the angels. While Mark does expressly name angels, angels are given for a unique purpose, and that is to minister to Jesus or act as a minister of Jesus/God. Matthew changes this up somewhat when angels begin to speak to people, such as with Mary. So, it is not out of the realm of possibility that Matthew would dispense with Mark’s subtleness here and simply states the young man is an angel. Further, given the placement of these two events, it is not difficult to see something of 2 Maccabees rather than Carrier’s mathematical assumption of 2 Corinthians.
One final word about the placement of the two young men — In regards to placement, I think Anthony Le Donne is correct when he comments on Tom’s blog post (see link above). Note the use of angels in context of Jesus’s eschatological forecasting in Mark 13. Angels are promised to proceed/succeed the final event (destruction of the Temple). Before Jesus enters the Temple for his own passion, there is the young man. To assure that God has indeed restored life to Jesus (Israel?), there is once more the young man. It’s all about placement and context.
I mention in my book Lucan using Caesar’s structure to somewhat frame his own poem. And it should be really, if you think about it. Lucan is (re)writing the Civil War, responding to the Vergilian myth of Caesar. As much as Pharsalia is anti-Aeneid, it is likewise anti-Caesar’s Commentary on the Civil War. Julius’ commentary, by the way, ends rather oddly, as does Lucan (as does Mark).
Anyway, as I am reading Paolo Asso‘s commentary on Book IV of Pharsalia, I am struck by his conversation regarding Lucan’s use of Caesar’s structure. The Poet retains the general’s structure, somewhat, although he alters it just a little to refocus several different plot points.1 Of course, this leads me to ponder again my suggestion (found in a proposal to an SBL section) about Mark’s use of a Danielic structure.
First, to suggest Mark is using a Lucanian style, something I do believe is happening, does not mean Mark is using Lucan as a literary source so much as it is a teacher-student thing. So, don’t go off crazy and think I am saying Mark is saying Jesus is Caesar, because I’m not. Jesus is Lord, Caesar is not. What I am, again, saying is that we should look for an underlying writing philosophy shared between the two poets which will lead us to better examining Mark.
Second, the use of an overarching structure, as Asso points out, does not limit the structure to rigidity, nor limit pericope sources. Lucan, while using a Caesarian structure for his poem, manages to use Homer, Vergil, and real life sources to fill in his imaginative pericopes. If you look close enough, Nero makes appearances in Pharsalia, a poem about events long before Nero. Ahh, the collapsing of memory and history, eh?
Anyway, while I disagree with Asso’s suggestion that Lucan intended to write a full twelve books, thus far, his work is sublime.
Chris asked me a question about this line in a book:
Clearly, from Mark’s vantage point, the ministry of Jesus cannot be understood apart from the cross, which casts its shadow back across the whole Gospel (here)
I think Mark’s vantage point doesn’t necessarily begin with the Cross. I think we can look at two places. First, it either begins with the Resurrection or it begins with the Destruction of the Temple (chapter 13). I saw this for two reasons. First, the Resurrection is God’s answer to being placed on trial during the passion of Jesus. Second, the truth of Jesus wasn’t realized until the destruction of the Temple. This is when the Gentile mission started. Chris has my book, a book in which I discuss this portion of course.
So, what is Mark’s vantage point? I would say it has to be the destruction of the Temple. If the autobiographical footnotes in the Gospel (by that, I mean Mark’s method of self-identification) are any hint, Mark is writing after the destruction of the Temple, after having experienced the Resurrection (we might think), but it was the former more than the latter signaling Mark’s new take on the message of Jesus.
Matthew, on the other hand, has the vantage point of the Cross, since this is where the dead are raised and the such. It is all about where the new world begins.
But, this is my answer (for now). What sayeth ye?
On arguably the second best biblioblog (mad props to Mark Goodacre) a commenter questioned my interpretation I recently released on Huffington Post Religion, daring to suggest I was wrong, suggesting a better interpretation based on Mark 10.45.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (NASB)
I can’t write fully on this, namely because I don’t have the time today and second BUY MY BOOK.
However, 10.45 is written after, long after, the time of Jesus. Second, I would see this as responding to Israel’s nationalistic sins, such as the Revolt — see Maurice Casey here who is sublime in his reasoning, although I place the date of Mark much later than he. In other words, Jesus is pictured here as excepting his death as a martyr for Israel in penance for its revolt against Rome/crime against God. We see this exemplified in the death of Simon bar Giora. (See my book)
So, does this verse/saying of Jesus still fit with my view that the Historical Jesus could very well have taken the initiative? Yes. For instance, Jesus names himself as the primary participant here in his death. Second, this fits the martyrdom hypothesis. If the Historical Jesus (let’s separate that from the Gospel Jesus) saw Israel in need of repentance (Daniel’s closing chapters c.f. with John’s baptism), a repentance only achieved by sacrifice (Psalms of Solomon, Maccabees) then it is still possible he intended to give himself to the Romans as a sacrifice to God for the sins of Israel.
While this doesn’t fit our patina layered theology, it can easily fit the time and place and a few other things.
For my money (until someone comes along with a more persuasive suggestion), the early association of GMark with the Apostle Peter was likely at least one major factor.
That is Larry Hurtado’s answer.
The second reason is that the early Christian community was super smart. Super. Just super. Which is why they kept the things associated with Peter.
Actually, I think Mark was preserved for that reason and almost that reason along, although I think Le Donne offers an interesting take.
If you’ve read my book, you will not that I think Papias was arguing for Mark’s inclusion but really didn’t care much for it. And why? Because it contains only some things from Peter. Some, as in a lot of that stuff is not from Peter.
I had hoped that this would be picked up by HuffPo Religion, seeing as they invited it. Oh well. I’m not going to waste it. This is limited only to a 1000 words.
Did God kill Jesus? That seems to be the proposition Bernard Starr is stating.
In my recent work, Mimetic Criticism and the Gospel of Mark, my attempt was to uncover the literary sources of the Gospel. In one particular part, the accusation of Jesus (Mark 14.53-65), I show the use of 2 Kings 18.19-37 as Mark’s literary source — the genesis of his imagination. This latter pericope involves a theological struggle between the Assyrians and the Israelites. Sennacherib’s mouthpiece, Rabshakeh, states without a doubt YHWH is as impotent as the gods of other nations trampled over by the might of Assyria. Each time Rabshakeh talks, there is no answer either from YHWH or Hezekiah. There is silence — a theological silence to be sure.
Mark’s use of this literary source is not accidental, as nothing is when a writer picks up his or her pen to craft well a story. Steven Runge, in his work on Discourse Greek, states unequivocally “choice implies meaning.” If this is true for words and word placement, this is true for literary sources as well.
So, what might the use of a scene where YHWH is clearly on trial mean for Mark? I stand with other scholars who would see in the narrative of Jesus a mythologized account of Israel. We know Matthew did. After all, he gave a certain rhyme pulled from the Jewish sacred writings to Mark’s reasonings (assuming Matthew used Mark because there is no Q). Mark was written during a time of severe crisis — following the end of the Jewish Revolt and the subsequent destruction of the Temple, when it appeared God had forsaken Israel. Reading Mark in this setting tells us something rather breathtaking if we are able to hear it.
Mark sees the death of Jesus not caused by God, but as a challenge directly to God. Mark is writing in this instance to put God on trial for abandoning Israel in her struggle to attain independence. God has abandoned Mark, his community, and Israel through his abandonment of Jesus. God did not kill Jesus. God’s abandonment allowed Jesus — and thus all of Israel — to suffer torture even to the point of death. Perhaps God was “deep in thought or busy preparing for travelling. Or maybe he needs to be awakened from sleep.”
I use this because in these final hours of Jesus there are echoes of Elijah and the prophets of Ba’al. After all, where is God when Jesus calls for him from the cross (Mark 15.34; 1 Kings 18.16-40)? Indeed, throughout the Gospel of Mark, God only appears twice although there is plenty of conversation about God. The voice of God is heard at the baptism of Jesus (Mark 1.9-11) and once more at the Transfiguration (Mark 9.2-8). When Jesus needs to do something, such as forgiving sins (mark 2.7-9), Jesus does it in of himself without the assistance of God. God is absent from the Gospel of Mark except to tell everyone to listen to Jesus. This startling fact is remedied in later Gospels, but for Mark God is placed on trial — a fact clearly seen in the trial of Jesus.
So, the question really remains — who killed Jesus? If we read the Gospels poorly, as with what is labeled “face value” or “plain sense”, we will always have to decide between the three usual culprits: God, the Romans, or the Jewish leaders.
To state that God killed Jesus is to supplement what the Gospel says for what later, better-educated theologians say. To state the Romans did is to read the Gospel only as a political tractate where Jesus is suddenly the political messiah and Rome is extracting some sort of revenage. To give culpability to the Jews is to wreak havoc not only upon the Jewish authors and audiences of the Gospel, but so too Jews throughout the centuries and even us Gentiles today.
Instead, we must understand the Gospels as ancient biographies, stories more interested in truth than fact. The Historical Jesus died, for whatever reasons we may surmise (I personally believe Jesus died because he was thought to be, if not was, a social bandit), hung on a cross by Romans. Paul says Jesus died to bring in the new covenant that the Apostle himself barely understood. But, when it comes to the Gospel of Mark, Jesus does not die to appease a terrible cosmic overseer who has had his honor slighted. Nor is Jesus killed because the Jews hated him and his message. The Empire did not kill Jesus for his statements again them either.
Jesus died because God had abandoned Israel, leaving his people to fend for themselves. Jesus died because sometimes we create our own problems and we must suffer the consequences. Jesus died because he chose a path that led to the cross and did his level best to annoy everyone else on the way.
There are times we can “take initiative with God and so develop over against God the ego-strength that is necessary for responsible faith (Brueggemann, The Psalms and the Life of Faith, 103).” This is what Jesus, or at least Mark’s Jesus, did. Because God had clearly abandoned (or was abandoning) Israel, Jesus decided to make him notice once more.
No one killed Jesus. Jesus died.