Revisiting Mark

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Redbaron

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David Read did a sermon many years ago,the gist was that Mark's Gospel was SUPPOSED to end at verse 8. It feels like an unfinished story. Which, in fact, it is. We are still writing the story in the way we respond to the story of Christ. This story does not end.
 

Waterfall

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Appeared to be? It wasn't even on his radar. Jesus was more interested in reforming the nation spiritually than in giving the Romans the boot.

I always find it interesting that modern interpreters (Last Temptation of Christ, Jesus Christ Superstar) often put Judas in the role of zealot egging Jesus on, which puts a rather different spin on the betrayal.
And then there's also the Gospel of Judas with another take on it, that has Jesus asking Judas to hand him over to the authorities.
 

Waterfall

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Although there are two alternative endings to Mark, their authenticity is disputed. Some bibles provide one or both of these endings, generally indicated with brackets or mentioned only in the footnotes. Verse 16:8 is usually regarded as the end of the Gospel of Mark.

"And they said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid." (Mark 16: 8 NET)

Makes you wonder how the writer of Mark knew they said nothing to anyone.:giggle:
 

paradox3

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David Read did a sermon many years ago,the gist was that Mark's Gospel was SUPPOSED to end at verse 8. It feels like an unfinished story. Which, in fact, it is. We are still writing the story in the way we respond to the story of Christ. This story does not end.
Mark's gospel takes us from the baptism of Jesus to the empty tomb. There is something powerful and mysterious about framing the whole narrative this way. I am beginning to think the author of Mark is a very clever writer.
 

Mendalla

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I am another fan of the ending at verse 8. But I am seeing it as a writer and thinking, "Yeah, that works."

I do get why the later interpolation happened. Leaving it to the reader's imagination works well for storytelling but not so much for teaching/preaching Christology. But it does have that tacked on feeling that makes it clear that it was a later addition.

Father Just, BTW, talks about the problem and his discussion of the death and Resurrection stops at 16:8. He does not really discuss the "longer ending" beyond its existence and the textual history.
 

paradox3

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Does anyone (besides me) think Mark might be the most historical of the synoptic gospels?

All of the elements added by Matthew and Luke at the beginning & end of their gospels seem like they could be mythological.
 

Mendalla

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Does anyone (besides me) think Mark might be the most historical of the synoptic gospels?

All of the elements added by Matthew and Luke at the beginning & end of their gospels seem like they could be mythological.

The mentions I have seen about Mark getting his stories directly from Peter might be a factor there. Perhaps he is hewing closer to what the Apostles saw and experienced? The others maybe tapped more into the broader community and some of the stories being told there had maybe been embellished over time. And, of course, we don't really know what was in Q, only conjecture and the reasonable hypothesis that Matthew and Luke had another source besides Mark.

Though I would suggest that the legion of demons getting cast into the pigs in 5:10-13 seems pretty damn fantastical/mythological to me. It's a scene that would definitely not be out of place in a modern horror or fantasy story. It's definitely going to be in my film version of Mark in all its CGI glory. :cool: So those kinds of stories aren't totally absent in Mark, just the birth and post-Resurrection ones that kind of frame Jesus' story.

For the record (and I'm sure we'll touch on this in greater detail when we get to Luke 2 in the next thread), I consider the birth narratives to be purely mythological beyond maybe the parents' names. The fact that Matthew and Luke basically tell two completely different stories, neither of which really makes sense historically, is the big clue there. The Resurrection I am still unsure of. I don't buy the idea of Jesus literally coming back from the dead at this point, but that's my natural skepticism in action. It does seem clear that something happened after his death that was big enough to empower his followers to create the church. Even the abrupt ending to Mark's original text in 16:8 suggests that much.
 

paradox3

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The Resurrection I am still unsure of. I don't buy the idea of Jesus literally coming back from the dead at this point, but that's my natural skepticism in action.
I am certainly with you on this one. I have never understood resurrection to be the physical resuscitation of a dead body. Even as a child, I considered it some kind of weird supernatural mystery. I was well into adulthood before I realized many Christians actually take the resurrection so literally.

Mark's ending in verse 8 leaves open the possibility of a logical explanation. Someone, for unknown reasons, may have removed the body, after all. Mark doesn't even identify the young man in the tomb as an angel.

I agree that the story continues after the empty tomb.
 

paradox3

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Though I would suggest that the legion of demons getting cast into the pigs in 5:10-13 seems pretty damn fantastical/mythological to me.
When I said that Mark might be the most historical of the gospels, I didn't mean it was completely accurate historically. The demon possessed pigs are a good example of a mythological twist to a story. There are others in Mark.
 

Mendalla

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You know, there's an interesting question here. If we regard at least some of Jesus' story as myth (and I realize that not all of us do), when did the myth-making begin? Pre-crucifixion when stories about healings drew people to see him? Post-Crucifixion when the Resurrection experiences begin? Later as the community shared and embellished stories? It seems to have been well underway by Mark's time, about 30-40 years later.

Not sure we have an answer or that one is entirely possible, but it is an interesting question.
 

paradox3

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Not sure we have an answer or that one is entirely possible, but it is an interesting question.
Yes, a really interesting question. If the Jewish people in His day were steeped in the law and the prophets, were they knowingly embracing mythology? I suspect not.

If they looked to the Hebrew scriptures to explain any aspect of Jesus, the mythology around Him would have been underway in His lifetime.

There is also the complication that people of the day believed many physical illnesses were caused by demons. It is not hard to understand them creating supernatural explanations for the healing stories.

So I guess I would say the mythologizing started in Jesus' lifetime and was embellished afterwards.
 

Redbaron

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You know, there's an interesting question here. If we regard at least some of Jesus' story as myth (and I realize that not all of us do), when did the myth-making begin? Pre-crucifixion when stories about healings drew people to see him? Post-Crucifixion when the Resurrection experiences begin? Later as the community shared and embellished stories? It seems to have been well underway by Mark's time, about 30-40 years later.

Not sure we have an answer or that one is entirely possible, but it is an interesting question.
Short answer to your questions? "Yes." It was a growing process, that began very early, and snowballed after the earthly life of Jesus.
 

paradox3

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I am getting very interested in the stories that are unique to any of the synoptic gospels.

In the case of Mark, I remembered reading somewhere that there are approximately 24 verses in Mark which do not appear in either Matthew or Luke (or both). I had been unable to relocate this reference but now I have found it! It is in my hard copy concordance.

Pinning it down to an exact number is a bit of a judgement call. Sometimes there are nuanced differences between the verses in different gospels.

According to most commentators, the key passages unique to Mark seem to be:
  • the healing of the deaf and blind man in Decapolis (7: 31-37)
  • the healing of the blind man in Bethsaida in two stages (8: 22-26)
  • the certain young man running away naked (14: 51-52)
  • the parable of the seed growing secretly (4: 26-29)
Why did Mark think these stories were important enough to include? Why did the other gospel writers leave them out?

The two healing stories involve the application of spit. Did this bother Matthew and Luke? Were they looking for healing stories with more emphasis on faith?
 

paradox3

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Who actually wrote these gospels, do we think?

Traditionally, John Mark, an associate of Peter, wrote the gospel of Mark. This makes him one step away from being an eye-witness to Jesus.

Traditionally, the disciples Matthew and John wrote the first and last gospels. That would make them direct witnesses to Jesus.

Why then, would Matthew rely so heavily on the writings of Mark? If he had, in fact, been present to see for himself? And why would he, like Luke, rely on yet another source of information (the theoretical Q)?

Luke, traditionally, was a physician, an educated man, and the travelling companion of Paul. His reliance on others' material makes sense to me.

Is there current scholarship on the identity of these authors, does anyone know?
 

paradox3

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Sorry if I am getting us sidetracked. I am just sharing some general thoughts about Mark as this thread winds down.

Anyone want to talk about Mark 16: 1-8 and its presentation of Easter morning?

Or the verse I chose today for reflection?

"And they said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid."
 

Mendalla

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"And they said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid."

Fear is such a common emotion in these texts, isn't it? Which makes sense. Encountering power on that scale is going to be frightening, even if it is ultimately a benign form of it. God can be as scary as the Devil, even if God's motives may be better (depending on how you see God). Also, in some languages, fear goes hand in hand with awe. The awesome can sometimes be scary, even if it is in a good way.

They do seem to have gotten over it at some point but I have this image of them huddled away talking about it, then someone, maybe Mary Magdalene, realizes that others need to know or something.
 

Mendalla

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Who actually wrote these gospels, do we think?

Traditionally, John Mark, an associate of Peter, wrote the gospel of Mark. This makes him one step away from being an eye-witness to Jesus.

Traditionally, the disciples Matthew and John wrote the first and last gospels. That would make them direct witnesses to Jesus.

Why then, would Matthew rely so heavily on the writings of Mark? If he had, in fact, been present to see for himself? And why would he, like Luke, rely on yet another source of information (the theoretical Q)?

Luke, traditionally, was a physician, an educated man, and the travelling companion of Paul. His reliance on others' material makes sense to me.

Is there current scholarship on the identity of these authors, does anyone know?

I find it highly unlikely that Matthew and John actually wrote those Gospels given, as you say, the seeming reliance on Mark and Q. More likely, they were attributed to them and the real author remains anonymous. That kind of attribution was common in the Greek world especially, and we see it again in the New Testament with the pseudo-Pauline letters. That said, I am not up on the scholarship, just going on instinct and knowledge of that world.
 

Waterfall

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  • the healing of the blind man in Bethsaida in two stages
Why did Mark think these stories were important enough to include? Why did the other gospel writers leave them out?

The two healing stories involve the application of spit. Did this bother Matthew and Luke? Were they looking for healing stories with more emphasis on faith?

I was reading Bart Ehrmans explanation for the above healing of the blind man in two stages and he feels it has to do with how the man first only sees the people as shadowy trees until his eyes are made clearer during the second healing.
This he feels is representative of how the disciples and others didn't recognize who Jesus was and couldn't really see at first but eventually came to realize and see more clearly who He was.
 

paradox3

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I was reading Bart Ehrmans explanation for the above healing of the blind man in two stages and he feels it has to do with how the man first only sees the people as shadowy trees until his eyes are made clearer during the second healing.
This he feels is representative of how the disciples and others didn't recognize who Jesus was and couldn't really see at first but eventually came to realize and see more clearly who He was.
That's a very reasonable interpretation but it doesn't explain why Matthew and Luke would have declined to use the story in their gospels.
 
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