The Markan bombshell « Next Theology

John Anngeister begins by stating the Markan Priority. Okay, so I’ve come around. I think that Mark is first, followed quickly by his editor, Matthew and then by the intellectual, know-it-all, Luke. John? Well, that’s a different story.

Personally, I think Mark was written right around 71 ad, with a Palestinian provenance. But, alas, he is not speaking about such things. Instead, he is speaking about the impact of a written record of the life of Jesus – the impact it had on an oral tradition community:

However, as I suggested in an earlier post, the date of Mark’s ‘publication’ (i.e. the day a first copy was sent to Ephesus or Jerusalem) might be called one of those “good news / bad news” days for God and the church. Think of it – this abbreviated record, suddenly authoritative at Rome, is dumped into the laps of other tradition-communities by a writer who has failed to consult with them about their own traditions before going public with an epoch-making narrative about an epoch-making career. In these apostolic communities I think Mark must have had the effect of a literary ‘bombshell’.

The Markan bombshell « Next Theology.

I would have to agree. I would also argue that with the writing down of Mark’s preaching ‘corrupted’ the teachings of the disciples by forcing it upon on a mold which only the first or second immediate audience would understand, and since as we all know, humans are an intellectually lazy species, the transmission of the oral tradition which provided insight into the written tradition didn’t occur, so we lost the provenance and the sitz im leben of Mark’s message.

But, I could be just a little cranky this morning too.

Also, Mark 5.1-20 is my Master’s Thesis topic. Expect more posts about Mark.

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Joel L. Watts
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).

6 thoughts on “The Markan bombshell « Next Theology

  1. Honored, Joel, to be joined with your thoughts on this interesting topic.

    Your representation of the author of Matthew as ‘Mark’s editor’ is correct I think, and one of the corollary principles we gain as holders of Markan priority. Matthew’s layout fits the view that it has been compiled in the spirit of a writer who feels that his own yet-unpublished material justifies a new, expanded edition of the story (this is often the case with biography and non-fiction, in which second editions are often more desirable to own than first editions – although it’s nice to have the original effort alongside).

    I would go so far as to say that the author of Matthew (by including as much Mark as he could stand) actually entertained the idea of usurping or replacing Mark’s gospel with his own. I’ll be writing about that soon I hope.

      1. The ‘Palestinian provenance’ you see in Mark could be explained by a dominant Petrine influence, I think.

        I think the tradition which makes Mark Peter’s ‘interpreter’ and places Peter in Rome (at the end of his life) is pretty good and feasible . At least the two concepts explain each other quite well (Peter would need a translator outside Palestine).

        I wonder if a certain family of scholars who cannot accept this Roman provenance for Peter are influenced too heavily by the belief that all connection between Peter and Rome was a fabrication of later Roman Catholics. Tsk. Those ‘apostolic’ issues are old hat in my opinion.

  2. I’ve always worked on the assumption that Mark was written just before the outbreak of war (so, early-mid 60s), then Matthew (late 70s) and Luke (early 80s); but Maurice Casey makes more of a case for Mark coming out of the Caligula Crisis of the 40s. I’d agree that Mk.13 comes from then, but the whole Gospel?

    Oh, for a Tardis, to go back and see for myself…

    1. hahahaha. I wish I had a Tardis myself!

      I like Dr. Casey as well! Please tell him that I, Steph’s American friend’ said hello.

      I see that Mark may have been pieced together over time. I do think it came together after 71, however. (psst… for now)

  3. Ooops – I meant to say, the Casey in question is “Jesus of Nazareth” pub 2010; well worth a read. He’s red-hot on getting back to the Aramaic tradition, and is scathing about certain Historical Jesus scholars who don’t read Aramaic.

    I met him briefly at St Deiniols Library a month or two back, and if all goes according to plan, I I hope to meet him in Nottingham for a chat in a couple of weeks. Nice man.

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