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Bible Study > The Gospel According to Mark

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message 1: by Manny (last edited Oct 01, 2017 05:55PM) (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3723 comments Mod
From the Introduction in the New American Bible:

This shortest of all New Testament gospels is likely the first to have been written, yet it often tells of Jesus’ ministry in more detail than either Matthew or Luke (for example, the miracle stories at Mk 5:1–20 or Mk 9:14–29). It recounts what Jesus did in a vivid style, where one incident follows directly upon another. In this almost breathless narrative, Mark stresses Jesus’ message about the kingdom of God now breaking into human life as good news (Mk 1:14–15) and Jesus himself as the gospel of God (Mk 1:1; 8:35; 10:29). Jesus is the Son whom God has sent to rescue humanity by serving and by sacrificing his life (Mk 10:45).

The opening verse about good news in Mark (Mk 1:1) serves as a title for the entire book. The action begins with the appearance of John the Baptist, a messenger of God attested by scripture. But John points to a mightier one, Jesus, at whose baptism God speaks from heaven, declaring Jesus his Son. The Spirit descends upon Jesus, who eventually, it is promised, will baptize “with the holy Spirit.” This presentation of who Jesus really is (Mk 1:1–13) is rounded out with a brief reference to the temptation of Jesus and how Satan’s attack fails. Jesus as Son of God will be victorious, a point to be remembered as one reads of Jesus’ death and the enigmatic ending to Mark’s Gospel.

You can read the rest of the introduction here:
http://www.usccb.org/bible/mark/0


message 2: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3723 comments Mod
The Catholic Church has historically believed that Matthew's Gospel was the first of the Gospels written - and so it's listed first - and the Gospel of Mark followed, but somewhere in 20th century I think scholars have been convinced that Mark was the first Gospel and that Matthew and Luke used Mark and some other now lost texts as a basis for their Gospels.

It’s a little surprising that the NAB right up front endorses the scholar’s position. I don’t think the Catholic Church has officially endorsed it, though I have heard Bishops and priests endorse it as well in offhand comments. It’s kind of become a universal position.

I have to admit I was convinced too. Many years ago in college I studied the nature of folklore and how folkloric texts evolve. Now the texts are not folkloric – they are not oral, they are written, but you can think each Gospel as a snapshot of the oral transmission. Folklore, by the way, doesn’t mean the stories aren’t true. They can be true or fiction. It deals with the transmission of orally derived stories.

Now I put I was convinced in past tense, but as I’m reading the Gospel of Mark now it strikes me differently. Part of the reason why scholars think Mark is first is because Mark consolidates the events where as Matthew and Luke seem to expand on them. For instance, there is no birth story in Mark. If Mark followed Matthew, then why wouldn’t he include a birth story? The thought here is that folklore tends to expands. But folklore doesn’t always expand. Many times folklore contracts and siphons off material. If Mark were solely focused on getting to the nature of Jesus, then I could see him not including the nativity. He starts the Gospel with the initiation of Jesus’ ministry at the Baptism. Look at that first chapter. Mark starts with John the Baptist preaching, then Jesus comes to John and gets baptized, then Jesus is goes into the desert for His temptations, then Jesus starts His ministry in Galilee after John is arrested, then Jesus attracts disciples, performs a number of cures, and then moves out to the neighboring towns. That’s a lot of scenes for one chapter. Each scene is only a handful of lines. Mark is a minimalist. Surely he could have elaborated on each of the scenes. My point is that Mark appears to me to pare down, and if so then the rationale that he must precede Matthew falls apart.

I'm beginning to think the Catholic Church was correct putting Matthew ahead.


message 3: by John (new)

John Seymour | 167 comments I doubt I will be able to add Mark on top of Heart of Joy with everything else I have going on. Any chance we could stick with the original schedule?


message 4: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3723 comments Mod
John wrote: "I doubt I will be able to add Mark on top of Heart of Joy with everything else I have going on. Any chance we could stick with the original schedule?"

The original schedule doesn't change John. Join this one on the 15th. It will go on to the end of the month. In fact I'll refrain from adding anything.


message 5: by Irene (new)

Irene | 909 comments My study of biblical exegesis,especially redaction criticism, has convinced me that the Gospel of Mark is most likely the first to be written down, sometime between 67 and 70 AD. That is what most contemporary Catholic and mainline Protestant biblical scholars think.


message 6: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3723 comments Mod
Yes, I know that's what most scholars think and I did too. I said that. But I'm getting a different intuition on it this reading. Like I said in my comment above, the ordering seems to depend on whether you see Matthew as an expansion of Mark or Mark as a condensation of Matthew, or if not Matthew some other text or oral history. Yes, that would be redaction criticism. Who is redacted who? For me right now in this reading it feels like Mark is summarizing and reducing. It feels like a Hemingway-esk intentional underwriting, and so Mark is quite possible reducing to mere essentials the larger story.


message 7: by Irene (new)

Irene | 909 comments In that case, he would not simply be summarizing, but explicitly excluding all of Q.


message 8: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1347 comments Mod
I am on the fence regarding the validity of Q (Q = Quelle, German word for source). Is there enough evidence for lost manuscripts or is it a cop-out? So far every time I've encountered it I haven't been fully persuaded.


message 9: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3723 comments Mod
Irene wrote: "In that case, he would not simply be summarizing, but explicitly excluding all of Q."

Yes, if he were basing it on Matthew. He could be basing it elsewhere. There's no proof that Q ever existed. Personally I think what people consider the proto Gospels were randomly written texts - and note the plural there - the equivilent of scraps of paper today where parts were on one and not the other. My intuition tells me there wasn't one "Q" but something like a dozen parts of a "Q" and the different evangelists had different parts. There was no formal scribing system then. Each partial "Q" was taken from a different oral statement and passed around. I don't know if Q was ever a synthesized text. If it were it would have been treasured and preserved.


message 10: by Manny (last edited Oct 02, 2017 09:25AM) (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3723 comments Mod
Kerstin wrote: "I am on the fence regarding the validity of Q (Q = Quelle, German word for source). Is there enough evidence for lost manuscripts or is it a cop-out? So far every time I've encountered it I haven't..."

We were typing at the same time Kerstin. See my statement above on my thoughts about Q. Q is pure speculation.

And Church history has Mark second. It's actually amazing how often the Church turns up right on historical disputes. They preserved the history quite well. They may be wrong on this one but there are reasons why they may be right.


message 11: by Irene (new)

Irene | 909 comments There is too much consistency between the "Q" material between Luke and Matthew for it to be coincidence in my humble opinion. The material Matthew and Luke have in common (which Mark does not have) is so similar that oral tradition alone does not seem to account for it.

But there are other reasons that I would find it easier to date Mark before Matthew, not just source criticism work. For example, Matthew has a far more developed ecclesiology than Mark. It implies greater time between Pentecost and its writing elapsed allowing for more church structure to develop.

Just a question, as we share this reading of the Gospel of Mark, are we going to focus on technical discussions such as the dating of Mark or on spiritual conversations such as how various passages touched our lives. I am fine with either. However, I expected it would be a more personal conversation, so was surprised when it kicked off with a critique of contemporary scholarship.


message 12: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3723 comments Mod
Irene:
"There is too much consistency between the "Q" material between Luke and Matthew for it to be coincidence in my humble opinion. The material Matthew and Luke have in common (which Mark does not have) is so similar that oral tradition alone does not seem to account for it. "

Oh I didn't say there wasn't proto material available. What i said was it was in numerous texts rather than a unified single text. That would explain why there is material in Matthew and not in Luke and vice versa. The scholars also claim there are "M' source for Matthew and an "L" source for Luke. What I'm saying is that there weren't such comprehensive texts but maybe a dozen fragments (scaps of texts) which Matthew had some, Luke had some and Mark had some, and that some overlapped and some didn't. That would explain why some texts are in one of the three, others in two of the three, and still others in all three. It would also explain why the Church believed Mark came after Matthew.


message 13: by Manny (last edited Oct 02, 2017 11:52AM) (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3723 comments Mod
Irene:
"But there are other reasons that I would find it easier to date Mark before Matthew, not just source criticism work. For example, Matthew has a far more developed ecclesiology than Mark. It implies greater time between Pentecost and its writing elapsed allowing for more church structure to develop. "

Unless Mark wasn't interested in it. He apparently wasn't interested in a nativity scene. Certainly if even he wrote his Gospel in 67 AD, the nativity of Christ was known by then. The scholars presuppose that Mark wrote everything he knew or found in the proto texts. As I'm reading I'm sensing he is very deliberate and curt. He's a minimalist.

I admit, my opinion is not the prevailing opinion of the day. I'm using my understanding writing and rhetoric to arrive at an intuitive position.


message 14: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3723 comments Mod
Irene:
"Just a question, as we share this reading of the Gospel of Mark, are we going to focus on technical discussions such as the dating of Mark or on spiritual conversations such as how various passages touched our lives. I am fine with either. However, I expected it would be a more personal conversation, so was surprised when it kicked off with a critique of contemporary scholarship. "

Of course. You can discuss whatever you want. I was just struck with the NAB introduction and what appears to be the Catholic Church reversal on the Gospel order, and my sense as I'm reading that Mark is understading and filtering his sources which would explain a lot of the disputes.

Anyway, discuss what you wish.


message 15: by Irene (new)

Irene | 909 comments I have never read any contempory biblical scholar that claims that Mark, or any other of the 4 Evangelists for that matter, used all the stories they knew of Christ. Every scholarly book I have read of a modern biblical scholar claims that the 4 Evangelists were sophisticated theologians who told the story in a way, shifting or selecting details, arranging the order, etc., to communicate a theology. I would be interested in anyone you have come across that argues that Mark used everything he had access to.

I think this discussion over which gospel was written first or second is going to dominate this thread and neither of us is going to be able to lay out our position adequately given the limitations of this text box. So, I am officially done with this aspect of the conversation. If I don't make further comments, it is not because I agree with future posts on the topic, but because I think it could become divisive and, in the end, won't be profitable.


message 16: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3723 comments Mod
We can end it here Irene. I've already stated my thoughts on it.


message 17: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1347 comments Mod
Let’s get started on the discussion of the Gospel of Mark. This week we’ll do chapters 1-8 and next week 9-16.


message 18: by Susan (new)

Susan | 192 comments Kerstin wrote: "Let’s get started on the discussion of the Gospel of Mark. This week we’ll do chapters 1-8 and next week 9-16."

I started reading! :)


message 19: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1347 comments Mod
Right from the start Mark establishes who Jesus is:
"The beginning of Jesus Christ, the Son of God"
Now this is straight to the point and a bit provocative at the same time. The Son of God? What does this mean?

In the Ignatius Bible the notes say that 'Son of God' is Mark's predominant title for Jesus. So we'll encounter it multiple times reading through the text. I wonder how exactly it is that Mark establishes the divine sonship of Jesus.


message 20: by Joseph (new)

Joseph (jsaltal) | 0 comments Kerstin wrote: "Let’s get started on the discussion of the Gospel of Mark. This week we’ll do chapters 1-8 and next week 9-16."
Is any edition of the New American Bible fine to use?


message 21: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1347 comments Mod
Of course! Use what you have.


message 22: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1347 comments Mod
Joseph, the icon I used for our read is just a stand-in. The Gospel of Mark is not published separately from any Bible - at least from what I saw.


message 23: by Doreen (new)

Doreen Petersen | 438 comments Kerstin wrote: "Right from the start Mark establishes who Jesus is:"The beginning of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" Now this is straight to the point and a bit provocative at the same time. The Son of God? What doe..."

Kerstin I think it was through faith and all the time spent with Jesus that Mark knew He was the Son of God. Sometimes we don't need physical proof to believe. Just my opinion.


message 24: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3723 comments Mod
Doreen, you're probably right. I didn't realize it, but while Mark wasn't one of the twelve apostles, he was apparently one of the seventy. And Mark later participated on St. Paul's journeys and ultimately came together with Peter in Rome. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but it has been assumed that Mark's Gospel was guided with St. Peter's experiences.


message 25: by Joseph (new)

Joseph | 150 comments Manny wrote: "Doreen, you're probably right. I didn't realize it, but while Mark wasn't one of the twelve apostles, he was apparently one of the seventy. And Mark later participated on St. Paul's journeys and ul..."

Traditional views on the authorship of the Gospels has St Mark as a disciple of St Peter who recorded St Peter's preaching in Rome sometime around 60.


message 26: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1347 comments Mod
Doreen wrote: "Kerstin I think it was through faith and all the time spent with Jesus that Mark knew He was the Son of God. Sometimes we don't need physical proof to believe. Just my opinion. "

Oh! I hadn't thought of this interpretation.
I wasn't thinking of Mark's personal faith in Jesus, but how he brings the message across on the page.


message 27: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3723 comments Mod
I found chapter 4 particularly striking for a few reasons.

First, I love it that Jesus climbs into a boat and preaches. Matthew has the sermon on the mount off a hill or mountainside, and Luke has him preach on the plains, I think. But Mark has Him preach off a boat! Herman Melville in Moby Dick has a famous sermon in a church with the pulpit shaped in the shape of a ship's bow. I think Melville is alluding to this scene in chapter 4.

It seems that Mark has Jesus by the sea more than the other Gospels. But that's an impression on my part. I haven't compared.

The other ting that strikes me about chapter 4 is that so much of the chapter is dedicated to the related sower and mustard seed parables. If you look at most of Mark's chapters, at least the early ones, they have about four or five short scenes, one leading to the next, sometimes in an unconnected fashion. (That's why I get the feeling that Mark is summarizing Matthew or something else in those short scenes.) Except for the calming of the sea at the end of the chapter, this is a very unified and focused chapter. And even the calming of the sea brings the chapter back to the beginning where Jesus is on a boat by the sea.


message 28: by Kerstin (last edited Oct 16, 2017 06:55PM) (new)

Kerstin | 1347 comments Mod
Joseph wrote: "Traditional views on the authorship of the Gospels has St Mark as a disciple of St Peter who recorded St Peter's preaching in Rome sometime around 60."

Yes, it is sometime in the 60s of the first century according to most sources. In the early Church class I am taking at our parish Father just spoke about this.

There was an early Christian community in Rome before either Peter or Paul arrived. They were Christians of gentile background and Christians of Jewish background. When Peter and Paul each arrive in Rome is not precisely known. It is also not known when exactly they suffered martyrdom, so there is a bit of wiggle room there as well.
With the great fire of Rome in 64 AD the Christians were the perfect scapegoats. They were truly odd ducks, more so than the Jews, as they didn't participate in the normal life of the city which was permeated with pagan rituals. For instance, they couldn't make regular business contracts with pagans, as it was common practice to seal the deal with a pagan ritual. So they kept to themselves and many unsavory rumors about them were spread. Now it is said that perhaps Nero set the fire himself to make room for some building projects he wanted to do, but there is no hard evidence.

So here we have persecutions of Nero from 64-68 AD, and it almost wipes out the entire Christian community in Rome. It is speculated that Peter helps with the rebirth of the Christian community, and this is the Church he founded.


message 29: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3723 comments Mod
Oh I thought Peter died as part of the Nero persecutions. Kerstin, are you saying he survived it and went on to rebuild the church?


message 30: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1347 comments Mod
This is where it gets a little murky. Bernard Green* writes that Peter might have arrived after the persecution of 64 to "bring comfort and effectively re-found the Church. " In this scenario he may have survived the initial thrust of the persecution but eventually became a victim. If he died towards the end of the persecutions which ended with Nero's death in 68, he could have had enough of an impact.

All of this is really an attempt to answer how can it be that we say Peter founded the Church in Rome when there were already established Christian communities before his arrival? We do know St. Irenaeus puts Peter in Rome at the time, and others after him.

*Christianity in Ancient Rome: The First Three Centuries


message 31: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1347 comments Mod
Manny wrote: "Except for the calming of the sea at the end of the chapter, this is a very unified and focused chapter. And even the calming of the sea brings the chapter back to the beginning where Jesus is on a boat by the sea."

That's a great observation!
The sea is a symbol for chaos in the Bible, so Jesus teaches in multiple ways he is the true guide through times of chaos and uncertainty.


message 32: by Frances (new)

Frances Richardson | 549 comments N.T Wright points out that when Augustus became ruler of Rome, he declared that his adopted father, Julius Caesar, had become divine, and this meant that he, Augustus Octavian, was officially "the son of god." And so, Bishop Robert Barron, commenting on the opening line of Mark's Gospel, says how startling and provocative it was for Mark, speaking in the heart of Rome, to proclaim Jesus, a crucified Jew, the son of God.


message 33: by Kerstin (last edited Oct 18, 2017 12:10PM) (new)

Kerstin | 1347 comments Mod
Yes. It becomes even more startling when we look at how people understood adoption from a first century perspective. Our priest explained this once.

In antiquity the family was seen more as a spiritual entity than a biological one. Each pagan family had their own (ancestral) gods which they worshiped. Heading these devotions was the father of the family, since his role was also that of spiritual father to the family. -- Some of this sounds familiar, doesn't it? -- Now, when a person was adopted into the family this was not a legal act as it is today, but a spiritual act. This new son or daughter took on the new identity of the spiritual ancestry of the family they became part of. All former spiritual associations were severed. They then were truly recognized as having the ancestry of this new family, biological realities didn't figure in at all. The same was true when a woman married. She no longer was part of the ancestry of her birth family and the family gods they worshiped but took on the new spiritual identity of her husband's family.

When in the New Testament Paul writes in various places about adoption, this is what he meant, a new spiritual identity. So when a person gets baptized, becomes an adopted child of God, he or she takes on a new identity in Christ, is part of a new family. The change is ontological, our entire essence is changed. We are no longer the person we were before.


message 34: by Irene (new)

Irene | 909 comments Interesting. It makes me think of the Book of Ruth. As you describe it, Ruth really is no longer a Moabite woman since she married into a Hebrew family. When she declares to Naomi that your people would be my people, your gods my gods, she is simply reminding Naomi of what took place at the marriage. It really is not a great declaration to Naomi, but a stating of the new reality created at her marriage. In that case, what happened to a woman like Orpah who is sent back home? Does she retain her marriage identity if there was an ontological change? Was it wrong for Naomi to send Orpah back, away from what is now her ancestral identity?


message 35: by Manny (last edited Oct 18, 2017 01:01PM) (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3723 comments Mod
The one issue I have with the understanding of Mark reacting to the account of the Roman emperor’s claim of a son of god is that it makes it seem that Mark - or any of the Gospel writers - is reacting to the Roman Emperor's claim, and therefore Christ being the Son of God is a comparable empty claim. Christ is the second person of the Trinity whether a Roman Emperor claimed adoption or not. So I don't particularly see the relevance of it.


message 36: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1347 comments Mod
Irene wrote: "In that case, what happened to a woman like Orpah who is sent back home? Does she retain her marriage identity if there was an ontological change? Was it wrong for Naomi to send Orpah back, away from what is now her ancestral identity? "

Now that's a really good question! I'm going to have to find out. :)


message 37: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1347 comments Mod
Manny wrote: "The one issue I have with the understanding of Mark reacting to the account of the Roman emperor’s claim of a son of god is that it makes it seem that Mark - or any of the Gospel writers - is react..."

If I remember correctly, Bishop Barron addresses all of this in his Catholicism series. I'll have to watch this particular segment again and see into which context he puts it.


message 38: by Frances (new)

Frances Richardson | 549 comments Manny, I'm sorry I wasn't clearer with my remarks. Neither N.T. Wright nor Bishop Robert Barron implied that Mark was reacting to the claim made by the emperor. Barron was complimenting Mark on his opening line, saying it "set the tone for the whole story" of Jesus and, in addition, evoked the opening words of Genesis. All that in one line.


message 39: by Manny (last edited Oct 18, 2017 04:53PM) (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3723 comments Mod
No need to apologize Francis. Actually I was rushed and couldn't get my entire thought out. I am very much aware of that parallel with Roman Emperor. I happen to be an ancient Roman history buff. But I also heard Bishop Barron the other day draw the parallel, and now that someone mentioned it I think it was in Barron's Catholicism series. When Bishop Barron made the comment the other day i felt somewhat uncomfortable with it. Like I said above, what is it supposed to say? Obviously we know one is the true Son of God and one isn't. Is it a coincidence that the same language was drawn? The Roman Emperors couldn't have gotten it from the Gospels; then the Gospel writers, if it wasn't a coincidence, got it from the Emperors unless it came straight from God. And if so, then what does that mean? Did they appropriate the Emperor's language, and if they did wouldn't that call into question their truthfulness? An atheist could say that the whole Son of God concept was a human derived notion.

But the language in the Gospels comes from God Himself. Among other places, God says at the transfiguration scene, "This is my beloved son." Or was it at the Baptism scene? Connecting it back to the Roman Emperor's claim doesn't seem to be all that significant if it came from God himself.

I don't know if I'm making myself clear.


message 40: by Frances (new)

Frances Richardson | 549 comments You are very clear and direct, Manny. I think the confusion -- if there is any -- is a result of my having linked the thoughts of two brilliant, learned men: Bishop Robert Barron and the Anglican theologian to whom he frequently refers, N.T. Wright.

In his book Simply Jesus, Wright begins by defining the cultural, philosophical. linguistic, etc. difficulties which, like the elements of a perfect storm, challenge anyone who tries to address the questions surrounding Jesus of Nazareth.

One of those storms was the social and political reality of Jesus's time, the Roman empire. In discussing the influence of Rome, Wright tells the story of how Augustus came to power, and the titles he took for himself, one of which was "son of god." Jesus's public career took place during the reign of Tiberius Caesar, and in fact, it was a coin with Tiberius's image on it that was shown to Jesus when he was asked whether or not one should pay tribute to Caesar. So, that was the context of N.T. Wright's discussion of the title "son of god."

Bishop Robert Barron was commenting on the courage and conviction of Mark, how, standing in the heart of the Roman empire, he declared, simply and straightforwardly, his intention to tell the story of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. You may have already seen Barron's discussion of the Gospel of Mark on YouTube. Like everything else Barron presents, it's both erudite and accessible.

Thank you for a good mental workout!


message 41: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3723 comments Mod
Ah, now I see. Mark was defiantly stating who the real Son of God was. He wasn't picking up on the Emperor's language. He was refuting him. That makes sense. Thank you.


message 42: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3723 comments Mod
I love chapter five. I think that is Mark at his best constructing a chapter. First you have the demoniac scene, led to Ja’irus coming to Jesus to save his sick daughter, and while on the way to the sick daughter, the woman with the continuous hemorrhage gets healed, which during the delay, the death of the Ja’irus’ daughter is announced, upon which Jesus goes to her and raises her from the dead.

That Gerasene Demonic scene has loaded and, in some cases, strange language. In line 2 the demon is referred to as “an unclean spirit,” singular but later we find out it multiple demons, maybe two thousand if there is at least one spirit to a swine. Isn’t it strange that when the spirit sees Jesus, he runs over and worships him (line 6)? Why would an unclean spirit worship Jesus? And the spirit in the next line cries out “What have you to do with me…” “Me” again being singular, but then we find out it’s not a single spirit but many. A Roman legion by the way consisted of anywhere from three to five thousand men. Isn’t it interesting that the two thousand spirits that went into the swine drowned? Spirits are not immortal? They can die? Also it’s fitting that unclean spirits enter swine, which would be unclean animals in Judaism.

Again the sea plays a role here in Mark that I don’t think plays in the other Gospels. Line 17 is another line that baffles me. After Jesus has cured the demoniac and killed the spirits, why do the townspeople “beg Jesus to depart from their neighborhood”? So Jesus gets into His boat and sails off to another harbor on the sea coast. That’s where He meets Ja’irus. Interesting that Ja’irus is one of the rulers of the synagogue. Jesus seems to be at odds with most of the Jewish rulers, but here Ja’irus begs him to cure his daughter.

The continuous hemorrhage on the woman is usually considered a non-stop menstrual problem, which like the spirits in the demoniac would make her unclean per the Jewish laws. There is a bathing ritual which Jewish women are supposed to go through after a menstrual cycle to become clean, but this woman has a continuous hemorrhage, which means she can never become clean. Her healing is along the lines of the demoniac who has been cleared of the uncleanliness.

It’s interesting also that young girl he raises from the dead is twelve, which probably makes her pre-menstrual but close in age to her first menstruation. And her being raised from the dead is the opposite of the unclean spirits and swine that go to their deaths.

Despite the questions I can’t answer, I find that a remarkable chapter.


message 43: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3723 comments Mod
I hate to beat a dead horse, but now that I’ve read the seventh and eighth chapters in Mark, I want to present what I think is the strongest evidence for the primacy of Matthew’s Gospel over Mark. Both Gospels have the story of the Syrophoenician Woman who pleads with Jesus to save her daughter. A comparison of the two versions I think lends insight on who came first. Here’s Mark’s version:

24 From that place he went off to the district of Tyre. He entered a house and wanted no one to know about it, but he could not escape notice. 25Soon a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him. She came and fell at his feet. 26The woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter. 27He said to her, “Let the children be fed first.* For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”28She replied and said to him, “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” 29Then he said to her, “For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.” 30When the woman went home, she found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.

Now here’s Matthew’s version (Mat 15: 21-28):

21 Then Jesus went from that place and withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.”23But he did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” 24 He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”26He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”27She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” 28 Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour.

Notice how much more Matthew’s version has than Mark’s. Matthew tells us the situation happened in “Tyre and Sidon” not just in Tyre as Mark. (I don’t think there’s any relevance to Mark caller her Syrophoenician and Matthew calling her Canaanite.) Matthew has her beg in actual words while Mark has what’s called a narrative summary. Matthew has the disciples tell Jesus to “send her away,” while Mark doesn’t even mention the disciples. Both versions have Jesus use that derogatory phrase about the non-Jews being dogs and both versions have Jesus cure the daughter after the woman’s persistence, but Matthew has Jesus spell out that the woman’s faith was great while in Mark it’s rather ambiguous on what Jesus finds so admirable. In Mark’s version it seems like it’s the woman’s humility and not her faith that Jesus finds admirable.

So which version relied on the other? If Matthew relied on Mark as the current scholars claim, then where did Matthew get all that extra detail? Tyre and Sidon are two separate places, though contiguous. If Mark came first, why did Matthew add Sidon? Did he make it up? As a believer in the honesty of the Gospel writers, that would be a non-starter. If Matthew relied on Mark, why did he add the disciples trying to shoo her away and have her say “Lord help me?” Now flip that around and ponder if Mark relied on Matthew as the Church historically has claimed. Isn’t it more likely that Mark would drop what he considered extraneous detail if he were looking to consolidate? The key for me is that Mark jumps into narrative summary, which is a method of simplifying narrative. If Mark didn’t consider Matthew’s details of the addition of Sidon to the itinerary or the disciples’ reaction to the woman and the extra words the woman spoke important, then it seems natural for him to drop the details.

And then in chapter 8, there is the event of the blind man of Bathsaida. Here Mark is quite elaborate in his use of detail because he evidently finds this event very important. The town brought the blind man to Jesus to be cured and Jesus takes the blind man by the hand and leads him out of town. Now that is quite dramatic. To take him by the hand and walk out of town must have been at least an hour’s walk, if not much more. My father was blind by the way and I know firsthand it’s not the smoothest walk leading a blind man, especially if they don’t know each other’s walk habits. And once out of town Jesus puts spittle on the blind man’s eyes and he half sees and then touches the blind man again and he has vision. What a dramatic little scene.

Now this scene is not found in either Matthew or Luke. If Mark came first, and the other two relied on Mark, why would they leave out this dramatic scene? It really does not follow. The Mark primacy has a lot of holes in it.


message 44: by Irene (new)

Irene | 909 comments That poor dead horse.


message 45: by Joseph (new)

Joseph | 150 comments I'm just going to jump in that this is hotly debated among professional scripture scholars. There are representatives of both schools at the seminary where I study and we won't know for sure which theory is right until we can ask the Evangelists themselves "So which of you wrote first?"


message 46: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1347 comments Mod
Indeed it does. And for anyone with a little brain power to do so should tell us something.

Both my NABRE and Ignatius state that traditionally Matthew has been seen as the first Gospel written. There is supporting evidence from the Church Fathers. According to Scott Hahn in his Catholic Bible Dictionary the challenge came with modern biblical scholarship and the so-called "Synoptic Problem." Hahn clearly states this is "a modern problem that occupies the attention of modern scholars." Basically, scholars started to do deep text analysis beginning in the 18th century and how the Gospels correlate to one another. Out of this came the reversal of Matthew being the first Gospel written in favor of Mark. There are several hypotheses as to how all of them fit together, and then there are the hypotheses about proto-evangeliums. When I read stuff like this, I wonder if these are largely constructs to keep biblical scholars employed. My money is on the early Church Fathers when it comes to stuff like this.


message 47: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3723 comments Mod
Irene wrote: "That poor dead horse."

LOL. ;)

Joseph and Kerstin, thank you. It is not a resolved question as the modern scholars want you to think. And frankly most of them are secular scholars, many of which don't even believe in Christianity.


message 48: by Irene (new)

Irene | 909 comments Many of them are Catholic scholars who are very faithfilled, even priests and bishops. Let's not denigrate these modern scholars by calling their faith into question. WE need to keep this conversation respectful.


message 49: by Susan (new)

Susan | 192 comments Irene wrote: "Many of them are Catholic scholars who are very faithfilled, even priests and bishops. Let's not denigrate these modern scholars by calling their faith into question. WE need to keep this conversat..."

However if some are non-Christians, that would be a fact that could be consequential. I don't think stating facts is 'disrespectful'. We need to be able to have clear, full discussions.


message 50: by Irene (new)

Irene | 909 comments The statement was not that "some" are secular scholars, but that "most" are secular scholars which is not true. The large majority of Catholic biblical scholars hold that Mark is the first Gospel to be written down.


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