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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Once again, the date of Mark's Gospel

Mark Goodacre has again summarised his position on the dating of Mark and how the issue of a prediction by the historical Jesus is largely beside the point. It's more about what you do with a prediction, if you like, and Mark Goodacre thinks post 70 best explains Mk's use of a prediction. Again, I would re-stress the counter argument. Yes, it is perfectly plausible that a) Jesus could have made a prediction of the fall of the Temple and b) Mk could have framed it to make his own point about successful prophecy (I also don't like the debate when it get dragged down into whether or not someone could or could not make a genuine prediction). But I wouldn't throw out the importance of an early pre-Markan prophecy so quickly. Let's say that Jesus and the earliest Christians did predict and expect the fall of the Temple. If so then it remains possible that Mk could have framed the prophecy in light of another event (e.g. Caligula crisis) when it might have seemed likely that Jesus' prophecy would be fulfilled. It might have been written in the aftermath when people appeared to have expected a repeat action. It might have been written in the late 60s when it might have looked as if it were coming true. Throw into the mix, various biblical traditions about what had happened to the first Temple when an imperial power advanced and then maybe add the book of Daniel which was regarded by many as still prophetic and had things to say about the future of the Temple. (And maybe add that Luke did precisely what Mark did not, and made major changes to Mk 13 to make it clear that there was a reference to the fall of Jerusalem). Throughout all of this, it is possible to imagine the importance of an early prophecy guiding later interpretion and influencing narrative placement, all in the name of proving Jesus right. Of course, on the basis on Mark 13 alone, it might all be about something that has already happened in 70. But, then again, it might not. There are different historical contexts which could have given rise to the narrative placement of the prophecy (see Crossley, Date of Mark, ch. 2). This is why I was and am very reluctant to use Mark 13 as a source for dating Mark's gospel.

This sort of reasoning could, if we are that way inclinded, be applied to other aspects of Mark's narrative. Mark notes how the temple functions 'alongside a narrative climax that stresses its connection with Jesus' death'. While that is a bit too vague for my tastes, the connection between Jesus' death in Mark's narrative and the Temple, if there is such a strong connection (I'm not so sure), could still be explained by different historical contexts and by the question of what to do with earlier traditions. Again, like using Mark 13, this is why I remain reluctant to use such narrative themes in dating the gospel (see Date of Mark, ch. 3).

13 Comments:

Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

It is my view that if the prophet was referring to the destruction of anything, he was referring to the destruction of the altar for animal sacrifices, not the temple -a later amendment. The prophet's argument with the priest's was about the method of cleansing - the Spirit versus animal sacrifice. The temple wall affair in the writings attributed to Josephus was very much about this issue.

Original prophetic 'Mark' was pre-70. No doubt Goodacre is correct about extant Mark being post 70, according to his own method of dating by the youngest data. But there's none so blind as those who don't want to see, or acknowledge, in their dating, that much of the text of Mark has a prophetic basis that is pre 70.

December 23, 2008

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

If you have a copy of Eisenman's James The Brother of Jesus, at page 357. There, Eisenman compares the time at which the so-called 'Jesus ben Ananias' BEGAN his activities (supposedly four years before the war began, i.e. 62CE) with the time at which James met his end (also 62 CE). In effect, Eisenman sees events surrounding 'Jesus ben Ananias' as predating the war, not post dating it, although in the Writings attributed to Josephus, 'Jesus ben Ananias' is supposed to have met his end at the end of the War, in a lurid account that has all the hallmarks of Flavian propaganda created from previous pre 70 events.

This was all shortly after the temple wall affair, when, laughably, Herod is supposed to have built a 'dining room' to watch the sacrifices in the temple, and the objecters supposedly built a wall to obscure his view.

December 23, 2008

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

Given that Jesus ben Ananias occurs in text that has all the hallmarks of a Flavian interpolation, Mark G. is on shaky ground using this Jesus as evidence that the gospel of Mark is post 70. My own view is that the author of original prophetic Mark was indeed someone like James the son of Judas, and that James wrote that document between 60 and 62 CE (the time when the fictitious 'Paul' was supposed to have been in Rome).

I disagree with Eisenman when he links Jesus ben Ananias directly with James. Better to see the comments about Jesus ben Ananias as having some real basis in the original prophet, but brought forward by Flavian historians for their propaganda describing events at the end of the War. Thus the real events were removed from their proper place in Josephus' original account. Such removal of material and its interpolation elswhere is typical of the numerous interpolations related to the name of Judas in the writings attributed to Josephus. I would see the events related to Jesus ben Ananias as earlier real events related to Judas ben Zechariah the real prophet of the NT - John the Baptist was a short-term substitute for Judas. In the mythical story, John was eliminated, and Jesus was introduced.

December 24, 2008

 
Blogger Steven Carr said...

'Let's say that Jesus and the earliest Christians did predict and expect the fall of the Temple.'

What effect , if any, would that have had on Paul's view of the Law and Christianity?

None presumably, if Jesus and the earliest Christians did predict the fall of the Temple.

After all, Paul never uses the predicted fall of the Temple in his arguments about the Law.

Which I find rather surprising.

I could think of many ways in which the fall of the Temple could be interpreted as pointing to a lesser need for the Law.

Paul missed a trick there, surely....

December 24, 2008

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

The pauline editors missed a trick by not having their 'Paul' as the writer of Hebrews which contains more than a few hints in its tenses that sacrifices in the temple had ceased. The editors did manage to sneak-in the idea that the law was defunct. But in original Hebrews, sacrifices were the issue, not the law. I believe the sacrifices were stopped by the prophets in the period 66-70CE before the Flavians destroyed the sanctuary. The priests and the altar for animal sacrifies had been cleared-out by Neronian forces in 66 CE. Vespasian's war starting in Galilee is a complete fabrication by Flavian historians.

December 24, 2008

 
Anonymous steph said...

Time for a hobby horse!

December 24, 2008

 
Anonymous Antonio Jerez said...

Don´t know exactly if the destruction of the temple does automatically imply that the Law is obsolete. The Jews lost already their temple during the time of the babylonians without any Jews concluding that the Laws should be abolished.
But I do from time to time find it strange that Paul never mentions anything in his letters about a coming destruction of the temple. It would have been natural for him to have mentioned it in places like 1 Thessalonians when he talks about the Parousia of Christ. Strange...

December 24, 2008

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

Time for some lateral thinking, eh Steph! - that is instead of building a pack of cards citing what others have written. When were the original epistles and 'gospels' gathered together? I suggest that this was done during that period of peace from 66 to 70 CE - the so-called coins of the revolt were coins of peace and joy.

The messianic priests had been given short shrift by Neronian forces most of which departed to Greece in 66 leaving behind garrisons at Jerusalem, Machaerus, Masada and Qumran (Jotapata in the extant account). Some internal walls of the temple had been destroyed to make it less easily defended. But the sanctuary had been left standing with the blessing of Nero.

From 66, the Jewish religion was to be prophetic belief of worship in the Spirit without the temple cult of animal sacrifice as previously espoused by the messianic priests. This was to be a belief peacefully disposed to the Romans with no desire for a king messiah. The documents that would form the basis for the prophetic beliefs was being assembled. And it was those documents that Vespasian received later and had adapted for the new cult of Jesus.

By the way Steph, have you ever thought how the Romans got the gold out of the sanctuary? They would have had to erect an extensive system of scaffolding, laughably while the sanctuary was a blazing inferno, at least according to the extant account. Happy Christmas!

December 25, 2008

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

In effect Steph, the Flavians had an off-the-shelf Jewish religion in the form of existing prophetic documents recovered from the place where records were kept near or in the sanctuary.

December 25, 2008

 
Blogger Steven Carr said...

ANTONIO
The Jews lost already their temple during the time of the babylonians without any Jews concluding that the Laws should be abolished.

CARR
Did any of them rethink the significance of the Laws, many of which are about the Temple?

1 Peter 2 says 'As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.'

The idea that Christians are the new Temple would surely be reinforced by the teachings of their Lord and Saviour that the physical Temple was doomed.

December 26, 2008

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

'Living stones', 'spiritual house', 'holy priesthood', 'spiritual sacrifices' are yet more examples of pauline romanticism applied to what may have been a short prophetic document, written while the sanctuary was still standing.

The letter was originally addressed to priests who had experienced the Spirit. The invitation to them was to come into the Lord's house, the sanctury, and offer prayers in the Spirit (which came down in the smoke of the incense). The pauline editor was aware that those invited had previously offered animal sacrifices as priests, which was why he thought of using the term 'spiritual sacrifices' and 'holy priesthood' for his modified text.

In a prophetic format, I would see 2 Pet.2:1-5 as being something like: "Therefore, rid yourselves of all spirits of deceit of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave the pure milk of the Spirit, so that by it you may grow up in the Spirit. Now that you have tasted that the Spirit is Lord, come
into his house offering prayers acceptable to Him in the Spirit."

Hey Steph, who do you think Stephen Carr from the North east is - you know where the good bishop resides? Antonio mumbles a few words, then 'Stephen' answers him in that typical style - like I know the naughty bishop likes to use.

December 27, 2008

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

More lateral thinking Steph:

The 'Idumeans' being sent for by the 'Zealots' (War 4.4.1) was, in reality, the Romans being sent for by the prophets. The Roman forces under Nero were near Jerusalem having already taken the major fortresses in Judea during early 66There was some urgency to get a message to the Roman rulers (rulers explicit) because the priests under Ananus had threatened to destroy all the prophets of Jerusalem who were held under seige in the sanctuary by the priests. Two young messengers were chosen because they could speak well and run quickly. The message was that they (the prophets) would soon be in the power of Ananus, and the city in the power of the priests.

NT will love this.

December 27, 2008

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

Did you know that in 66, Vespasian was aged 57? Yet he was supposed to have been in the thick of the fighting leading the attacks on Gamala (Machaerus in my view) when the Romans lost what for them was a considerable number of their soldiers. (War 4.1.5,6.)

In 66, Nero was aged 29. It was Nero leading the attacks.

December 29, 2008

 

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