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Batanat

John the Baptist & Early Christianity

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danydandan

@eight bits, @Batanat & @Davros of Skaro thanks for the interesting read. 

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Batanat
On 10/10/2019 at 5:01 PM, eight bits said:

Or maybe a forerunner of Paul, even while on the surface of the story, positioning him as a forerunner of Jesus. Josephus doesn't give John's cause of death, but Mark goes with beheading, the traditional cause of Paul's death. Mark's John never endorses Jesus as the true Messiah (just as Paul initially didn't), and John is pointedly excluded from the baptismal visionary experience which carries the same information as Paul says he got from his visions - but not in time to avoid opposing and even hating the Jesus movement.

Yeah that's very true. 

On 10/10/2019 at 5:01 PM, eight bits said:

On a point arising, though

I think Mark's jabbing at Rocky may be over-rated, and reflects harmonization with the later Gospels. The first clue, I think, is that Mark's Peter is one of the most sympathetic secondary characters in world literature. That's an odd outcome if a writer as skilled as Mark was looking to portray Peter as a loser.

If we only had Mark, so nobody felt the need to harmonize Peter's story arc across the canon, then it would be more obvious what's on the page. On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus instructs Peter directly to tell nobody that Jesus is the Christ. On the night of the arrest, yes, Jesus predicts that Peter will deny him three times before morning. But Peter also makes a prediction, that he will stay with Jesus even when all the others have left him.

And so it comes to pass. Only Peter is still with Jesus at the time of the trial, right outside in the courtyard, just as he said. What Peter doesn't know (and this is only laid out this way in Mark) is that Jesus has already spilled the Messianic beans to the Sanhedrin. From Peter's point of view, he can't defend Jesus, or even thinks that he can only make Jesus' predicament worse by trying. So yes, he denies Jesus as the necessary step to do the only thing he can do, and the thing he has promised to do, and that which he alone has done: stay close by. But it unravels. The servant won't shut up. Somebody else appoints themselves dialect connoisseur. Peter can't stay; at some point the guards will make a move. cawk-a-doodle-do, and Peter realizes that he is existentially stuffed.

That plays a lot differently than a comical cowardly blowhard, no?

Yeah I agree that Mark doesn't so much demonize Peter as some have claimed. I'd say he takes a similar approach to that later taken by Luke-Acts: seeking not to totally discredit him but to reform him. Which is not unlike what's being done with John the Baptist, however there's more that seems intended to erase Cephan ideology than Baptizer ideology. With John, Mark seems to want to appropriate him by putting Pauline-type ideology in his mouth and making him Jesus' subordinate. With Peter however, Mark seems to want to paint a picture that he was wrong, and foolish, but then appropriate him. This might have been done after Cephas' death to try and corral his followers into the Pauline fold, just as Luke did. "Oh, ya see, Cephas was wrong to begin with, because he didn't get it, he was listening too much to the Torah and not enough to Jesus; but don't worry, in the end he saw the light and realized that Paul was right all along." Posthumously retconning a rival sect leader as a reformed exemplar is a much smarter move than outright vilifying him and alienating his sect altogether.

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Batanat

Something I've been thinking about the past couple days at work. 

Some versions of messianic lore in the Second Temple era professed a belief in two messiahs: Meshiach ben David and Meshiach ben Yosef. How might this work into early Christian lore? I think it's almost certainly the reason why Matthew and Luke go out of their way to try and make Jesus be not only a descendant of David but have a father named Joseph. There are also evident parallels between Jesus and John the Baptist, James and John, Jacob and Esau, even David and Samuel, Benjamin and Joseph, Moses and Aaron, etc., etc. Parallels could even be made between them and Shachar and Shalim from pre-Exilic polytheism, Castor and Pollux of Greco-Roman culture, or perhaps Metatron and Sandalphon of esoteric Second Temple literature. Twin brothers or paired magical/divine men seems like it may have had some significance in earliest Christianity. Was John the Baptist considered a second messiah? A twin brother of Jesus? Thomas/Didymus could perhaps represent a vestige of this idea of twin saviors. Luke portrays Jesus and John as cousins, but if Luke didn't simply invent the story himself (inspired by perhaps the nativities of Samuel and/or Samson), could whatever source he may have taken it from (since at least the songs in the nativity narrative appear to be derived from some prior material) have originally had Jesus and John as twin brothers? John "leaping in the womb" in response to Jesus feels rather reminiscent of Jacob and Esau wrestling in the womb. 

Metatron in esoteric Jewish texts was said to be the ascended form of Enoch, and is sometimes also identified with Michael the archangel, the Ancient of Days of Daniel, and the Son of Man. Metatron was also called Yahoel or "the lesser YHWH", and was said to sit at the right hand of G-d. Metatron is also identified by some texts as having a twin brother, the archangel Sandalphon, who was the prophet Elijah transformed. John the Baptist is strongly identified in the gospels with Elijah; would this then identify him as an incarnation of Sandalphon? And if John and Jesus were seen as twin brothers, would this then make Jesus the incarnation of Metatron? 

Mark has Jesus being mistaken by some people for a resurrected John the Baptist or another reincarnation of Elijah. Might the fact he could be so mistaken imply that John and Jesus look alike, like twin brothers? Or does this imply that some people thought that Jesus was John's ascended spirit after his death (making them two forms of the same being: a physical one and a spiritual one)? Did some gnostics perhaps believe that Jesus (whom they took to be wholly spiritual) was a kind of ghost of the human John the Baptist? 

And what of James and John? Mark portrays them as a pair, and having magical powers (the ability to summon lightning at will). Were these two thought by some to be twin messiahs or something as well? Or is Mark simply transposing the twin idea onto them so as to redirect it away from Jesus? And what then of Thomas/Didymus? Is he supposed to be Jesus' twin brother (as some apocryphal and pseudepigraphal texts state)? Or is his role as the "doubter" meant to be commentary on (or against) some Docetist group(s) who might also have believed in the twin idea? 

The comparison to Shachar and Shalim also fascinates me. At least some early Christians do seem to have explicitly linked Jesus with Shachar/Helel/Ashtar from pre-Exilic polytheist beliefs: John of Patmos has Jesus refer to himself as the morning star. Isaiah 14 (from which later Christian sects derived the idea of "Lucifer") expresses the ancient myth of the morning star rising to the highest heavens and then descending to the earth (or even into the underworld, below the horizon). This feels a lot like Ascension of Isaiah and other gnostic-type early Christian ideologies to me. Is Jesus supposed to be the god of the dawn, the morning star, bringing gnosis from the Ogdoad down to earth, and perhaps also dying and going to Sheol? That would also imply the existence of his twin, Shalim, the god of the twilight, and peace, the evening star. In Greek mythology, the morning star is Phosphoros, and was also used as an epithet of Dionysus (dying-and-rising god associated with water-to-wine, interestingly). The morning star and the evening star, Venus appearing at the eastern and western horizons, could both be said to have a cyclical death-rebirth. Going by Jewish reckoning (evening followed by morning, not the other way around), it could be said that the evening star rises and falls, and is then resurrected and departs again as the morning star. Was this astrological myth integral to early Christian beliefs? Surely the fact that Revelation seems to directly reference such a myth must imply that at least some sects did consciously associate Jesus with these older astronomical deities.

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Piney

Wow! A lot to absorb but some good theories.

@eight bits

This is past my pay grade but this kid has some interesting ideas. 

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eight bits
18 minutes ago, Piney said:

This is past my pay grade but this kid has some interesting ideas. 

Indeed she does, As for you, you could ask for a raise :)

 

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third_eye

I'll be respectfully quiet and let it all sink in in a few days, or weeks... 

I'm rather dense lately.. 

~

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Piney
1 hour ago, third_eye said:

I'll be respectfully quiet and let it all sink in in a few days, or weeks... 

That certainly is a few days worth of "sinking in". :yes:

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eight bits
11 hours ago, Batanat said:

Yeah I agree that Mark doesn't so much demonize Peter as some have claimed. I'd say he takes a similar approach to that later taken by Luke-Acts: seeking not to totally discredit him but to reform him.

Ah, but now you're harmonizing. There are about 100 identifiable characters in Mark, of whom about 60 speak. Among them, even Jesus doesn't display full understanding of his mission and his role in it. Jesus aside, who comes closer in Mark than Peter? Surely not John, his speeches are as focused on relative rank as is typical of the disciples' speeches, and he doesn't recognize the guy he's talking about even when the guy is soaking in front of him.

It's not about ideology. As the great Jewish sage Woody Allen observed, "Seventy percent of success is showing up." The key to Peter's character in Mark is that Peter shows up. As the sage says, showing up is important but not enough by itself, and in that missing thirty percent lies the potential for comedy. In life, not just in Mark.

11 hours ago, Batanat said:

Which is not unlike what's being done with John the Baptist, however there's more that seems intended to erase Cephan ideology than Baptizer ideology. With John, Mark seems to want to appropriate him by putting Pauline-type ideology in his mouth and making him Jesus' subordinate.

Mark's John never takes any instruction from Jesus, nor otherwise subordinates himself to the man. John acknowledges that a higher rank than his is possible, but he doesn't ackowledge that any living person holds that rank.

Compare Eisenhower's wartime and retirement rank, defined so that he outranks everybody else in his assigned theater, but is outranked by George Washington. As luck would have it, George didn't show up in Europe during the forties, so maybe Dwight thought, spoke and acted as if the "but" part wasn't so important.

John feels that he has rank enough to offer an alternative to the official program for getting right with G_d, both in Mark and in Josephus'  history. The official program has living representatives with big hats. John outranks them, or so he reckons. He knows the Messiah would outrank him, but never even asks whether the flesh-and-blood Jesus outranks him.

As to the later ideologies, damned if I know what any "Cephan" ideology actually was. Mark's John, like Jesus' disciples, avoids dwelling on death and resurrection, which seem to me to be the core of anything Pauline.

11 hours ago, Batanat said:

With Peter however, Mark seems to want to paint a picture that he was wrong, and foolish, but then appropriate him.

Sometimes wrong, never a rocket scientist to be sure, but IMO the humor emerges from the unprecedented situation and human limitations, not foolishness. Rocky's humanity in the face of a worthy challenge is what makes him the top sympathetic secondary character anywhere, IMO, not any peculiar individual deficiency, including foolishness.

11 hours ago, Batanat said:

This might have been done after Cephas' death to try and corral his followers into the Pauline fold, just as Luke did.

Yes, I think all the first generation apostles were dead or retired when the piece was written. I don't know that there was any Pauline fold that survived him. Regardless, I don't think Mark was an advocate of Paul against anybody. Mark may well have had no other written source of information about earliest Christianity than Paul's letters (just like us, in other words). That would inevitably impart what might be read as "pro Paul bias" from the perspective of a later reader who has other purported written sources (including the rewrites that the other evangelists imposed on Mark). Mark's not on the hook for what's inevitable, nor that his artisitic success later led to knock-offs by more ideological authors (or if you prefer, authors with different ideologies).

What's on the page in Mark is the wide variety of reactions to and understandings of Jesus, even apart from the opposition, even among those who would count themselves as followers or admirers. That variety is also on the page in Paul. Paul opposes it, I don't see that Mark does. It makes a great story, and Mark's a storyteller.

11 hours ago, Batanat said:

"Oh, ya see, Cephas was wrong to begin with, because he didn't get it, he was listening too much to the Torah and not enough to Jesus; but don't worry, in the end he saw the light and realized that Paul was right all along."

Assuming Luke's goal is to paper over what seems to have been a contentious relationship between Paul and Rocky, of the two, only Paul left a written record. That constrains how far Luke can go with reimagining Paul (and he does go far), but in the absence of anything else written down, it's easier to move Peter towards Paul than Paul towards Peter.

To his credit, Luke uses the lever that Paul gives him to move Peter: Paul's Peter is as susceptible to visions as Paul himself. All righty then. Paul says Peter saw the risen Jesus before Paul did. Luke says Peter saw the potential in Gentiles before Paul did, even before Paul saw the potential in Jesus. Kumbaya when the two leaders finally meet. Uh huh.

This is one of the disadvantages of being dead. You find yourself allied with people you'd rather not be so close with.

11 hours ago, Batanat said:

Posthumously retconning a rival sect leader as a reformed exemplar is a much smarter move than outright vilifying him and alienating his sect altogether.

I don't think that's the situation. I get it that Protestants see early Christianity as a smaller version of modern Protestantism, featuring competing denominations within a context that it hugely matters for each individual to believe correct things, lots of things, with stable collectives advancing different corpora of things that might be correct.

Of course it became that, but that's not what's on the page in Paul's letters. The unit of organization is geographical, not ideological. Within the geographical unit, there is ideological diversity. Paul doesn't like it, but there it is. And the diversity constellates around living teachers ("I follow Peter." "I follow Apollos." etc.) whose teachings we don't actually know. Their differences might not have been "ideological." One of them might even have had the "anti-ideology" let a thousand flowers bloom against Paul's minimalist ideology that you damned well better believe that little bit (what's now at the tail end of Galatians 2, perhaps) against maybe somebody who thought Jesus offered a more comprehensive ethical program than Paul's pragmatic but made-up-as-he-went-along don't ask, don't tell approach to meat sacrified to idols or no divorce (says Jesus) unless it's a mixed marriage (says Paul on his own authority), ... etc.

Actually, the visibly improvised quality of Paul's teaching combined with the source of his authority being a literally personal charism makes it nearly impossible for him to become a dynastic founder. What is possible, however, is that once he's dead, anybody could claim to be his true successor (as the authors of 1 Clement happiy do against the corporate memory of the Corinthian church regarding its founder), or confer that distinction on a conveniently absent authority figure (like "Luke").

And all that addresses only your shorter post.

It's going to be a while before I crack the longer one, and @Piney has a head start on me.

For now, I'll just throw some sand in the gears and buy myself some time. Parallels can arise entirely from shared psychology and human circumstances.

For example: Put aside that the recognition that the evening star and the morning star are one "thing" with two "aspects" is an inferential achievement in itself. The Venus show is available to every sighted person and hard to miss by any such person who ever looks up. All manner of things can be projected onto the cyclical pattern, and all manner of things have been. There need be no other relationship between any two projections, unless there were evidence of contact and adoption for the specific parallel claimed.

Plus, myths are tar babies. Once Jesus dies, is buried and rises, then of course he becomes both a solar figure (the type that visits the land of the dead and returns) and a Venusian (ditto). All existing ideas about solar and Venusian figures will eventually be applied to Jesus. Plus, what sticks leads to further development of the tar baby.

For example, solar figures (Odysseus) and Venusians (Inana) typically have interesting adventures while they're underground, what about Jesus? What adventures did Jesus have between the time he was buried and when he rose? Well, he harrowed hell, ..., he visited the ancient Jews of the Americas. We can be pretty sure that those (especially the last one, which was added in modern times) come later than the basic myth they embellish.

It's not that the observed parallels aren't there, it's that what parts came together in which order may be difficult to sort out, and any conclusions reached about the time sequence may be unable to carry much weight in explaining anything else.

 

Edited by eight bits
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Davros of Skaro
On 10/9/2019 at 2:11 PM, Will Due said:

Neither was Joseph ben Caiaphas.

Or did whoever wrote Matthew sourced Josephus for Caiaphas to fill out their narrative? Then Luke Acts, and John took Matthew's borrowed character?

On 10/9/2019 at 3:45 PM, eight bits said:

 

@Davros of Skaro

I think discussion of Mark in general should be deferred to that thread you've been promising since Christ made corporal. Besides, I think some of the points you've just brought up are matters you and I have discussed before in other threads (e.g. the Homeric influence question). John the Baptist as a character in Mark is on-topic here, maybe we should stay close to that when we sally forth into the muddy waters of Mark?

I do not know when I will pull the trigger on that. I just downloaded an Hebrew/English Greek/English Bible app that finally answered a question I looked high, and low for. It's also a handy tool for a revision I'm doing.

I don't mind slightly dipping  (no baptism pun intended) in what I'm working on because this thread is related. Besides the OP looks up to speed.

On 10/9/2019 at 3:45 PM, eight bits said:

One idea that Mark introudces which I think is huge is the hypothesis he places both in the mouths of unspecified plural people and in the mouth of Antipas (6:12-16):

Later, the disciples repeat that the resurrection of John is on the lips of people in general (8:27-28):

I don't know if Mark is witnessing here to a resurrection tradition for John, earlier than Jesus' own, but he plainly thinks his audience will find this idea plausible, and we know that this idea survived in later Gospels (Matthew 14:2 and Luke 9:7 for Antipas' opinion; Matthew 16:13-14 and Luke 9:18-19 for hoi polloi), so early Christians must have found this plausible.

To hear Paul tell it, Jesus' resurrection is the first fruits of a general resurrection and the sign that Jesus has attained a deputy-divine status.

Mark may make you wonder if anybody back then ever thought that John was the first fruits, and whether we are seeing some kind of mystical merger of two religious figures in early Christianity: a historical martyred John and a visionary sacrificial Jesus.

Why two, when one would do? One possibility: There is no indication in Josephus that John had any interest in Gentiles one way or the other; Markan Jesus emphasizes a Jewish audience, but is open to (if not super enthusiastic about) Gentile participation. Pauline Jesus, then, may have opened the door for Paul to bring authentic John-pioneered salvation methodology to the underserved Gentile market.

Regardless, something is going on there.

If Mark is not writing history at all, but a symbolic parable? Then who knows what meaning he's conveying?

2 Kings 13:20-21

"20 So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. 21 As a man was being buried, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown into the grave of Elisha; as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he came to life and stood on his feet."

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eight bits
2 hours ago, Davros of Skaro said:

If Mark is not writing history at all, but a symbolic parable?

First, you're asking the wrong person. I don't think Mark is writing history, not even in the sense that Shakespeare was "writing history" in Henry V. Second, symbolic parable could be applied to a lot of things, including actual history (e.g. the spontaneous "Christmas truce" during the First World War; it did really happen, and it ended, but yet...).

2 hours ago, Davros of Skaro said:

Then who knows what meaning he's conveying?

That can be asked of any creative literary work. Mark is a tough nut to crack, because we lack any reliable information about its author, even that there was a single author (that there was exactly one author is a religious teaching, not a historical one) or a single definitive original version (it's more fun and easier to excavate "scribal errors" while copying a hypothetical "autograph" for which there is no evidence that any such thing ever existed, nor is there any shortage of literary and dramatic works for which it is known that no such thing ever existed).

Nevertheless, there's a lot on the page for an 11K word performance piece. We can discuss what's there, and maybe not sweat what "the author intended," in favor of attending to what "somebody bothered to write down." We can surely avoid rookie errors like reading Mark as if Matthew were a second draft written by the same author ("harmonization of the Gospels," and of course the people who reverently do that do believe that Mark and Matthew actually do have at least a single co-author, Almighty God).

Thus

2 hours ago, Davros of Skaro said:

2 Kings 13:20-21

"20 So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. 21 As a man was being buried, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown into the grave of Elisha; as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he came to life and stood on his feet."

Cool story, but nobody is raised from the dead in Mark except Jesus himself. That resurrection happens off-stage, and Jesus surely doesn't resume his earthly life. In Mark, Jairus' daughter is saved from premature burial, but is no more raised from the dead than the boy in the "difficult exorcism." who, like the girl, was also pronounced dead by a gaggle of amateur pathologists surrounding him, and whom Jesus restored using the identical gestures as Jairus' daughter - and Peter's mother-in-law for that matter.

It is a religious teaching that a historical Peter was so stupid as to lack any idea of what the phrase "raising from the dead" means even after having seen one first-hand. No. What's on the page in Mark is that Peter (along with James and John, his fellow eyewitnesses in Jairus' house) had no idea of what "raising from the dead" meant, full stop. They understood healing of living people just fine, having seen a gazillion of those, including the rousing of Jairus' daughter from what we call a coma and what any First Century healer would call sleep. Which is what Mark's Jesus called it.

 

Edited by eight bits
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Davros of Skaro
26 minutes ago, eight bits said:

First, you're asking the wrong person. I don't think Mark is writing history, not even in the sense that Shakespeare was "writing history" in Henry V. Second, symbolic parable could be applied to a lot of things, including actual history (e.g. the spontaneous "Christmas truce" during the First World War; it did really happen, and it ended, but yet...).

That can be asked of any creative literary work. Mark is a tough nut to crack, because we lack any reliable information about its author, even that there was a single author (that there was exactly one author is a religious teaching, not a historical one) or a single definitive original version (it's more fun and easier to excavate "scribal errors" while copying a hypothetical "autograph" for which there is no evidence that any such thing ever existed, nor is there any shortage of literary and dramatic works for which it is known that no such thing ever existed).

Nevertheless, there's a lot on the page for an 11K word performance piece. We can discuss what's there, and maybe not sweat what "the author intended," in favor of attending to what "somebody bothered to write down." We can surely avoid rookie errors like reading Mark as if Matthew were a second draft written by the same author ("harmonization of the Gospels," and of course the people who reverently do that do believe that Mark and Matthew actually do have at least a single co-author, Almighty God).

Thus

Cool story, but nobody is raised from the dead in Mark except Jesus himself. That resurrection happens off-stage, and Jesus surely doesn't resume his earthly life. In Mark, Jairus' daughter is saved from premature burial, but is no more raised from the dead than the boy in the "difficult exorcism." who, like the girl, was also pronounced dead by a gaggle of amateur pathologists surrounding him, and whom Jesus restored using the identical gestures as Jairus' daughter - and Peter's mother-in-law for that matter.

It is a religious teaching that a historical Peter was so stupid as to lack any idea of what the phrase "raising from the dead" means even after having seen one first-hand. No. What's on the page in Mark is that Peter (along with James and John, his fellow eyewitnesses in Jairus' house) had no idea of what "raising from the dead" meant, full stop. They understood healing of living people just fine, having seen a gazillion of those, including the rousing of Jairus' daughter from what we call a coma and what any First Century healer would call sleep. Which is what Mark's Jesus called it.

 

Well Mark is painting John to be Elijah with his fashion sense, and diet among other things. Elijah gave a portion of his spirit to Elisha which had enough mojo in his skeleton to ressurect a guy.

I have to run. But a nod to 2 Corinthians 11:4 could possibly be this to do with the ressurection of John, or other prophets hubbub? Who knows? Even if Mark is conveying some history about an historical Jesus, he's mostly not. This is not fringe scholarship.

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eight bits
9 minutes ago, Davros of Skaro said:

Well Mark is painting John to be Elijah with his fashion sense, and diet among other things. Elijah gave a portion of his spirit to Elisha which had enough mojo in his skeleton to ressurect a guy.

Yes, but Mark doesn't do anything with that part of the Elisha legend. Jesus doesn't have a bear kill people who mock him, either. There are a lot of stories and characters in the Hebrew Bible, Mark picked and chose, and the incident you mentioned didn't make the cut.

Once again, I find it interesting that neither in Mark nor in Josephus does John have any reputation for mojo, whatever other similarities there may be linking John with miracle workers like Elijah and Elisha. Another salient difference was that Elijah was into animal sacrifice big time, and neither John nor Jesus had anything to do with that practice, the raison d'etre of the Second Temple, the dominant feature of the Judaism of their time.

Ya know, sometimes when an artsy author makes an allusion, the differences can be just as important as the similarities. Just sayin'.

31 minutes ago, Davros of Skaro said:

I have to run. But a nod to 2 Corinthians 11:4 could possibly be this to do with the ressurection of John, or other prophets hubbub? Who knows? Even if Mark is conveying some history about an historical Jesus, he's mostly not. This is not fringe scholarship.

Well, yeah, we're fringe. The mainstream has moved away from Mark as history in the sense of Josephus or Tacitus, but the guild still organizes its gospel studies around some sort of rooting in actual events, with various theories about embellishment, layering, intertextuality, social memory, etc.

Mostly is a slippery word anyway. Is Shakespeare's Julius Caesar "mostly" history or not? You can argue it either way. There's lots that's obviously, even necessarily, made up. If you pare it down to a succinct prose summary, that would probably be "mostly" history, and you could say that the summary comprises the "important parts" of a work with many "decorative" features.

As to:

For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we didn’t preach, or if you receive a different spirit which you didn’t receive, or a different “good news” which you didn’t accept, you put up with that well enough. (2 Corinthians 11:4)

That wouldn't fit John very well. There's no Christian material about him ever teaching a different Jesus, at worst he never recognizes anybody as the Christ, and if somebody in Paul's time said he was John resurrected (that might have flown; other important Jewish figures would later be resurrected in Matthew), I think the Christian interpretation of any such claim would be that the resurrectee owed his new lease on life to Jesus.

I think Paul is just B&M'ing about people like himself, traveling preachers with a distinctive spin on an emerging Jesus movement; in other words, ordinary competition. Maybe not, but that's how I read it.

 

 

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Will do

 

@Davros of Skaro @Batanat @eight bits

I have to be honest. I'm finding your approach to the NT writings very interesting. I must thank you for all the work you've done in researching and studying the original writings. As well as explaining your take on them. All put together, your work has gone a long way for me to make more sense of what I have religious faith in, and why.

I wonder if you might take a moment to give us your opinion about the validity and accuracy of the statements (regardless of their source) what follows from @eight bits.

 

5 hours ago, eight bits said:

Mark is a tough nut to crack, because we lack any reliable information about its author, even that there was a single author (that there was exactly one author is a religious teaching, not a historical one) or a single definitive original version 

 

1. The Gospel by Mark. John Mark wrote the earliest (excepting the notes of Andrew), briefest, and most simple record of Jesus’ life. He presented the Master as a minister, as man among men. Although Mark was a lad lingering about many of the scenes which he depicts, his record is in reality the Gospel according to Simon Peter. He was early associated with Peter; later with Paul. Mark wrote this record at the instigation of Peter and on the earnest petition of the church at Rome. Knowing how consistently the Master refused to write out his teachings when on earth and in the flesh, Mark, like the apostles and other leading disciples, was hesitant to put them in writing. But Peter felt the church at Rome required the assistance of such a written narrative, and Mark consented to undertake its preparation. He made many notes before Peter died in A.D. 67, and in accordance with the outline approved by Peter and for the church at Rome, he began his writing soon after Peter’s death. The Gospel was completed near the end of A.D. 68. Mark wrote entirely from his own memory and Peter’s memory. The record has since been considerably changed, numerous passages having been taken out and some later matter added at the end to replace the latter one fifth of the original Gospel, which was lost from the first manuscript before it was ever copied. This record by Mark, in conjunction with Andrew’s and Matthew’s notes, was the written basis of all subsequent Gospel narratives which sought to portray the life and teachings of Jesus.

 

Source

 

 

Edited by Will Due

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joc
On 10/9/2019 at 11:41 AM, Will Due said:

 

Good to hear it isn't your view.

I agree Mark is the canonical root of the Christian Gospel.

However it dilutes, the good news of the fatherhood of God and the materialization of the brotherhood of men proclaimed by Jesus, with Paul's personal religious ideas.

 

 

Absolutely. 

 

 

As I've mentioned before, I only use books as a reference to help me understand better how to engage directly with an individual unique part of the Absolute that indwells us all.

In my estimation that's what all these types of books are for. To help understand better how to engage directly. 

 

 

If you wish to engage with the 'Absolute'... might you consider first the 'origin' of the Absolute in your own mind?  I.e.  Why is it you even think there is an Absolute?  Was it an original thought of yours...are you mentally dwelling on what someone else wrote or said?  Or do you even remember?  

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joc
On 10/10/2019 at 6:01 PM, eight bits said:

From Peter's point of view, he can't defend Jesus, or even thinks that he can only make Jesus' predicament worse by trying. So yes, he denies Jesus as the necessary step to do the only thing he can do, and the thing he has promised to do, and that which he alone has done: stay close by.

Or....possibly Peter was suddenly terrified that he would be crucified as well.  Just my two cents.  Later, conspiring with others to 'steal' the body of Jesus.  I will say that I do tend to believe the story as non-fiction rather than fiction.  I really don't have the desire nor the intelligence to delve deeply into it as you and others do. But it is very interesting to read the various input. :)

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Will do
43 minutes ago, joc said:

If you wish to engage with the 'Absolute'... might you consider first the 'origin' of the Absolute in your own mind?  I.e.  Why is it you even think there is an Absolute?  Was it an original thought of yours...are you mentally dwelling on what someone else wrote or said?  Or do you even remember?  

 

I find it hard to think of God as being anything less than total or absolute.

Which then would include that a part of God's totality would exist as an integral part of every person.

Whether it's recognized or not.

 

 

Edited by Will Due

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1 hour ago, joc said:

Or....possibly Peter was suddenly terrified that he would be crucified as well. 

Not suddenly. Peter walked into the situation, warming his hands at the fire with the guards who might arrest him if they knew who he was. He's surrounded and outnumbered from the get go. He enters the courtyard anyway.

Courage isn't lacking fear; it's acting well despite your fear. If there's a sudden realization, then it's that if Peter screws up, he'll get Jesus crucified, not knowing that Jesus has already ratted himself out as a Messianic pretender. (The setup for that is unique to Mark.)

1 hour ago, joc said:

Later, conspiring with others to 'steal' the body of Jesus. 

Again, not so much in Mark (compare Matthew where the accusation is stated explicitly and held to be in circulation an entire generation after the events). Mark does place an oddly dressed young man in the tomb early Easter morning - a man, so maybe a grave robber, but dressed in the ancient equivalent of a tuxedo. The man knows of Peter, mentioning him by name, but there's nothing on the page that suggests Peter is conspiring with the man in a grave robbery, or that any of the male disciples even know there is a tomb.

Now that you mention it, I do have a theory about the guy :)  Body parts of executed criminals were highly prized in the illicit magic subculture of the time, added to which Jesus was supposedly reputed to be a magician, so his body parts would fetch a premium compared with run of the mill victims. Perhaps ritual garb was used for "harvesting" magical body parts ...

The point is not that I think that was what happened historically, but rather that that may have been on Mark's mind in composing the scene that way. Seculars in the audience might understand the man as an illicit magical practitioner, while pious audience members would interpret him as an angel (as that character does in fact get rewritten in later, definitely Christian-composed Gospels). Appealing to the widest possible audience maximizes revenus, and I'm pretty confident that Mark did this sort of thing for a living.

Mark's insistence that the person in the tomb is a "young man" (there's a specific word for that in Koine, and Mark knows and uses the typical word for "angel" elsewhere) is one of the many things that makes me wonder how committed Mark personally was to Christianity at the time he wrote. He opens wide the door to a naturalistic interpretation of the missing corpse. Not very Christian of him, IMO.

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1 hour ago, eight bits said:

Appealing to the widest possible audience 

 

Projecting what you are doing?

And then to do it on a stage to what to you, is just a character. Making a character out of you.

I guess you don't see it.

 

 

Edited by Will Due

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eight bits
1 hour ago, Will Due said:

Projecting what you are doing?

And then to do it on a stage to what to you, is just a character. Making a character out of you.

I guess you don't see it.

What's it to you if Mark made it up? You've got your eyewitnesses giving Team UB the inside scoop. Surely they aren't dependent on Mark, right?

Since even Christians don't believe that there was a young man in Jesus' tomb that morning, why the psychobabble? You sound like Habbie. First Mr W, now you. It's contagious.

Yes, Will, some of the characters in Mark are fictional. Some of those who represent historical persons are caricatures, not portraits.

It's like the joke whose straight line must not be repeated in a family friendly forum, and whose punch line goes "we've already established that, now we're dickering about the price." There's no question that some of Mark's characters have nothing to do with real people who actually lived. What's left to discuss is what percentage and which ones.

ETA Briefly on the block you quoted earlier from the UB.

I am comfortable with the late 60's as a composition date for Mark, but respectable estimates place it as late as 80 CE. I don't see Peter as a plausible source for Mark, and only tradition places either Peter or Mark in Rome, ever. Except for the John the Baptist material (for which none of the apostles would be witnesses), Paul is a likely inspiration for many of the narrative elements (many scholars are willing to go so far as to portray Mark as an apologist for Paul against Peter). I suppose you could imagine Peter's preaching as an extended rant against the letters of Paul, but that sounds like a stretch.

If I may ask, what are the notes of Andrew?

Edited by eight bits
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14 minutes ago, eight bits said:

What's it to you if Mark made it up? You've got your eyewitnesses giving Team UB the inside scoop. Surely they aren't dependent on Mark, right?

Since even Christians don't believe that there was a young man in Jesus' tomb that morning, why the psychobabble? You sound like Habbie. First Mr W, now you. It's contagious.

Yes, Will, some of the characters in Mark are fictional. Some of those who represent historical persons are caricatures, not portraits.

It's like the joke whose straight line must not be repeated in a family friendly forum, and whose punch line goes "we've already established that, now we're dickering about the price." There's no question that some of Mark's characters have nothing to do with real people who actually lived. What's left to discuss is what percentage and which ones.

 

Like I said.

I guess you just don't see what you serve.

 

 

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42 minutes ago, eight bits said:

If I may ask, what are the notes of Andrew?

hmmmm....and is there a Gospel according to Judas Iscariot? 

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2 hours ago, Will Due said:

 

I find it hard to think of God as being anything less than total or absolute.

Which then would include that a part of God's totality would exist as an integral part of every person.

Whether it's recognized or not.

 

 

I find it hard to think of God as being.

But that's another thread somewhere on a different day.

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2 hours ago, eight bits said:

Not suddenly. Peter walked into the situation, warming his hands at the fire with the guards who might arrest him if they knew who he was. He's surrounded and outnumbered from the get go. He enters the courtyard anyway.

I get the gospels all mixed up in my head...but...in some writings somewhere...Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane pulled out his sword and attacked those who had come to arrest Jesus...so...yeah, I don't think he was afraid of much.  For some reason, I have it in my memory that Peter was denying Christ at the same time the people were yelling Crucify him, Crucify him...but, like I said...I get all the gospels mixed up in my head.  If I really cared I guess I could go back and read Mark...but I defer to other's expertise on what is in there. 

2 hours ago, eight bits said:

Now that you mention it, I do have a theory about the guy :)  Body parts of executed criminals were highly prized in the illicit magic subculture of the time, added to which Jesus was supposedly reputed to be a magician, so his body parts would fetch a premium compared with run of the mill victims. Perhaps ritual garb was used for "harvesting" magical body parts ..

Well that's interesting.  Never even contemplated that before.  Perhaps the entire Christian experience is based loosely on an advertising campaign by those who were attempting to create a Magic Jesus Story for the express purpose of increasing the profit margin on the young 'prophet's' body parts.  Makes a good script line for a movie at any rate.  :)

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1 hour ago, eight bits said:

If I may ask, what are the notes of Andrew?

 

Very soon after Jesus’ ascension on high, Andrew began the writing of a personal record of many of the sayings and doings of his departed Master. After Andrew’s death other copies of this private record were made and circulated freely among the early teachers of the Christian church. These informal notes of Andrew’s were subsequently edited, amended, altered, and added to until they made up a fairly consecutive narrative of the Master’s life on earth. The last of these few altered and amended copies was destroyed by fire at Alexandria about one hundred years after the original was written by the first chosen of the twelve apostles.

 

Source

 

 

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Batanat
59 minutes ago, eight bits said:

I am comfortable with the late 60's as a composition date for Mark, but respectable estimates place it as late as 80 CE. I don't see Peter as a plausible source for Mark, and only tradition places either Peter or Mark in Rome, ever. Except for the John the Baptist material (for which none of the apostles would be witnesses), Paul is a likely inspiration for many of the narrative elements (many scholars are willing to go so far as to portray Mark as an apologist for Paul against Peter). I suppose you could imagine Peter's preaching as an extended rant against the letters of Paul, but that sounds like a stretch.

On this point: I personally tend to date the bulk of Mark to the 70s or early 80s, though as we don't know precisely how the text was developed it's possible that parts of it could have been composed a little earlier. And as you mentioned in passing, yeah it's tough to say for sure that it was one guy. Certainly the text has seen subsequent edits (the ending has been altered multiple times, for instance), but does this imply one person making different drafts of his own work, or multiple people who either added to an original core piece or perhaps collaborated or were compiled together? I do think it's plausible that Mark might've been an ethnic Roman, though this is far from decisive of course. And his status vis-à-vis Christianity is, as you've said, ambiguous at best. Was he a Christian writing both esoteric and exoteric messages for a mixed audience; or was he a non-Christian with an interest in Middle Eastern religions (not unlike Western fascination with 'exotic' Eastern spirituality and philosophy in more recent times; was Mark the Blavatsky of his day, lol)? We've discussed Mark's position on Cephas/Peter a bit already, and I do think that there's something to the idea that he's influenced strongly by Paul and was making a sort of caricature of Cephas; however as we've said, he obviously wasn't intending to outright demonize Peter or anything like that. So what was he going on about? I think it's clear from things like Peter amphiballontas ("tossing back and forth") that Mark's initial portrayal of Cephas is in line with Paul's accusation that he was in some way Janus-faced. Even the naming might be a reflection of this: the Semitic Simon (depicted as a wishy-washy blockhead most of the time) contrasting the Greek Peter (who despite his failings is, as you've observed, still there in the end; even despite his denial of Jesus). In some sense it can be argued that Mark sees Simon/Peter/Cephas' Jewishness as blinders that must be peeled away for him to be redeemed: which would appear to work thematically quite well with Pauline doctrine and his ideological divide with Cephas.

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