Godfrey schools Mark on how to write a gospel

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Paul the Uncertain
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Godfrey schools Mark on how to write a gospel

Post by Paul the Uncertain » Fri Jul 12, 2019 2:17 am

Fellow member here and blogger Neil Godfrey has faulted the Gospel according to Mark for its lack of realism in its portrayal of a human Jesus, compared with Matthew's version.

https://vridar.org/2019/07/08/the-myste ... l-of-mark/
https://vridar.org/2019/07/11/this-is-w ... rom-where/

I largely disagree, and wonder how others feel about Godfrey's analysis.

There is no defending Mark's choice to use repeatedly vague terms for timing and audience reactions (what often gets translated as "and immediately," "to amaze" and synonyms of awe-struckedness). More substantive is Godfrey's thesis that Jesus' power to amaze onlookers is somehow unnatural, and induces unrealistic plot advancement (Compared with Matthew? Lol).

Example: Jesus calls four men to follow him, and they do (1:14-20).

What would be unrealistic is for the four men to abandon their families, join his Twelve, go out on the road in pairs to preach, follow him to Jerusalem ... solely because Jesus asked them to follow him during a casual seaside stroll. No such commitment is on the page, however.

What's on the page is that Jesus walks along the shore, and then the other men do, too. Peter doesn't give up his house, or his business. There is no Twelve yet, and at least one person whom Jesus will "call" later on (Levi the tax collector) doesn't show up among the Twelve as listed. Jesus makes no specific commitment to the four on the shore, either. Their relationship will develop organically over the course of the performance. The relationship works out, of course, but that is not settled here in chapter 1. The stroll by the sea is the beginning of a long-term relationship, much of it dramatized with ups and downs, not the sealing of it.

Example: The subsequent preaching and exorcism in Capernaum (1:21-28)

This is the second time Jesus is depicted as preaching in Galilee (1:14-15), and this audience likes what it hears, compared with the preaching style of the "scribes" (some of whom, we will later learn, are unlike Jesus in oh so many ways). Then there is the unforeseen exorcism, and the audience likes that, too. They find a common quality in the two events, a poised teacher conducting himself with authority, whether preaching or commanding demons.

As near as I can make out, the nub of the Godfrey objection to the scene centers on verse 1:28, that the effects of these two incidents cause an unrealistically rapid dissemination of Jesus' fame. That claimed flaw seems to depend on translation as well as interpretation. The World English Bible is effusive:
The report of him went out immediately everywhere into all the region of Galilee and its surrounding area.
https://ebible.org/web/MRK01.htm

Wow, indeed. But that's not the only way to translate the line, nor is it especially descriptive of what happens next. A man and his companions go to his home after the service, encounter a sick relative there, and hatch the bright idea that Jesus might be of assistance. What is dramatized in the specific instance (Simon's return home to a sick mother-in-law) might have been typical of other attendees' experience that day, because after the sabbath was over, other people bring their sick and possessed to Jesus (1:32-34).

Hmm. Then the next morning, Jesus suggests to his new friends that they all go to other towns in Galilee to preach (1:35-39). Thus, Jesus deepens his and their commitment to the mission (see previous example), and continues a realistically graduated process of dissemination which began at the synagogue.

So, what of verse 1:28? If you must translate it effusively, then perform it as what is called a forward in the writing trade: announcing to the audience something about the action yet to come. Or, you can translate it as saying that Jesus' reputation was quickly and solidly established within the synagogue's service area. Or do both, since even that less effusive 1:28 would still introduce the step-by-step dissemination of Jesus' reputation within the borders of Galilee, and in time, throughout Galilee, starting with the neighboring towns.

Example (second post): Verse 1:38 is in some bad way mysterious; from whence Jesus came is unspecified.

Staying with WEB,
He said to them, “Let’s go elsewhere into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because I came out for this reason.”

Yup, that's unspecified all right. Just as it was unspecified when the Narrator said much the same thing back at 1:14
Now after John was taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Good News of God’s Kingdom,
Narrator and character agree that some travel was involved, and that the purpose of the travel was to preach in Galilee. And before that? Jesus' last specified location was somewhere in the desert, and before that he was depicted at John's base, on and near the Jordan River.

I don't know where Jesus was immediately before coming to Galilee, but I am satisfied that Mark violates no canon of realism by depicting him as being outside of Galilee at the time of John's arrest. Jesus has other places to be. There is no mystery here. A human Jesus changed his location on Earth, for an articulated reason.

I appreciate that my enthusiasm for Mark's craftsmanship is disputed. and I don't begrudge Neil his opinion. I do think, however, that Mark exposes himself to enough criticism for the things he really does; there's no need to blast him for things he doesn't do.

Giuseppe
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Re: Godfrey schools Mark on how to write a gospel

Post by Giuseppe » Fri Jul 12, 2019 5:16 am

What would be unrealistic is for the four men to abandon their families, join his Twelve, go out on the road in pairs to preach, follow him to Jerusalem ... solely because Jesus asked them to follow him during a casual seaside stroll. No such commitment is on the page, however
I agree with Neil here but while he doesn't see the solution of the problem (He limits himself to signal it) I see also the solution.

Three are two possible solutions.

One was proposed by Stuart: the disciples abandon their father Zebedee (someway connected with the creator) and they follow the Christ of an alien god.


The my solution:

The disciples believe in advance that they know who is calling them. They think that he is John the Baptist risen from the dead. Hence they follow immediately him.

They are killers of fishes i.e. persecutors of Christians (The sect of the Baptist was rival of the Christian sect). They become now Christians themselves but still without knowing it.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

Giuseppe
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Re: Godfrey schools Mark on how to write a gospel

Post by Giuseppe » Fri Jul 12, 2019 5:26 am

I don't know where Jesus was immediately before coming to Galilee, but I am satisfied that Mark violates no canon of realism by depicting him as being outside of Galilee at the time of John's arrest. Jesus has other places to be.
here I disagree also. Jesus descends from heaven. He doesn't come from Nazaret. There is a perfect sense once the interpolation is removed:

And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.

That Jesus is not a mere man is made clear by the his being one "more powerful" than John. Even if he is not really who was predicted by John.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

Paul the Uncertain
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Re: Godfrey schools Mark on how to write a gospel

Post by Paul the Uncertain » Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:27 am

I agree with Neil here but while he doesn't see the solution of the problem (He limits himself to signal it) I see also the solution.
Well, that's cool, but before you sweat seeking a solution, perhaps it's wise to establish first that there is a problem.

That's where I differ with Neil. There's nothing on the page that any of those four men made any commitment to Jesus that day beyond walking with him for a bit, and nothing on the page that Jesus made any commitments to them then and there, either.

The reader who complains that there's anything unnatural or more than merely human in those verses shoulders the burden of proof to show that anything worthy of such complaint appears on the page. No such thing appears on the page; the complaint is thus without foundation.

By all means, take your explanation and apply it to the development of these five men's relationship as it actually is written and performed. How did these four make the Twelve when not all who were called did make it? How did three of them eventually become Jesus' top disciples among the Twelve, and how did one of those three finally turn out to be the last man to leave Jesus to his captors?

Those are the problems on the page, how the long game played out. But day one? Taking a break from drudge work is its own reward. I could persuade those guys to take a break and walk with me for a few minutes. I might even talk one of them into letting me crash in his crib for a few days, if I had the chutzpah to ask strange men for shelter. This is not magic, not unnatural and not something that only God's favorite could pull off.
Jesus descends from heaven. He doesn't come from Nazaret
The only issue before us is Jesus' warrant for claiming that he changed location in order to preach in Galilee. The Narrator agrees that he did, and Jesus has been on Earth for a while at the time of John's arrest, which is when the Galilee expedition is said to have begun.

Before that? Whatever you like, but Mark's not on the hook for what you or Neil read into the narrative.

Giuseppe
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Re: Godfrey schools Mark on how to write a gospel

Post by Giuseppe » Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:22 am

The reader who complains that there's anything unnatural or more than merely human in those verses shoulders the burden of proof to show that anything worthy of such complaint appears on the page. No such thing appears on the page; the complaint is thus without foundation
usually the reaction is considered unnatural insofar one sees a comparison with Elijah-Elisha narrative. Jesus is better than Elijah (again: John the Baptist) since the called disciples follow him without going from their parents before. I don't think that for you Elijah is "normal" (for the way he persuades Elisha to follow him). After all, he is the Sun (Helios) euhemerized.

Note that the four disciples represent the 4 cardinal directions. Their intersection forms in advance a cosmic cross. Some may think that the episode was trasposed from after resurrection to before crucifixion.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

Giuseppe
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Re: Godfrey schools Mark on how to write a gospel

Post by Giuseppe » Fri Jul 12, 2019 9:06 am

Jesus has been on Earth for a while at the time of John's arrest, which is when the Galilee expedition is said to have begun
if the Baptism is an interpolation in Mark (The reason is that the reader assumes already the apology neutralizing the embarrassment of the Baptism, an apology found only in late gospels and not in Mark), Jesus does the his first apparition when he started to preach. Hence Jesus is right when he explains:

. “Let us go somewhere else–to the nearby villages–so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”

The first and only reason for Jesus coming in the place X is to preach. Hence he can't be in a place X for another reason (for example: to be born there, or to be grown there).
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

Paul the Uncertain
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Re: Godfrey schools Mark on how to write a gospel

Post by Paul the Uncertain » Fri Jul 12, 2019 10:17 am

Jesus is better than Elijah (again: John the Baptist) since the called disciples follow him without going from their parents before.
We are not told where the sons of Zebedee or Andrew spent the night. Simon Peter has his own house, and he's apparently hosting Jesus. I don't know where Andrew and Peter's parents are, but Peter's mother-in-law is at his house.

"Competition" with Elijah is nowhere on the page, nor is there any indication that Mark himself cares whether Jesus' new companions clear things up with their parents, nor that their decisions about that would be the basis of any competition with Elijah based upon what Elisha chose to do in another time and cultural setting. That other evangelists arguably played with such themes isn't Mark's problem.
the embarrassment of the Baptism
And your evidence that Mark was embarrased by the baptism is where on the page?

There is no issue (not with Neil anyway) that Jesus is correct about his explanation of why he came. It is Mark's lack of explanation of where Jesus was immediately before then (i.e., according to Mark, when John is taken into custody) that gives rise to Neil's complaint.

If you like that somewhere to be Heaven, then that's fine. Neil can complain to you if he disagrees with that placement, but not to Mark, who is in no way committed to anything other than a timely trip to Galilee from anywhere that isn't Galilee.

Giuseppe
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Re: Godfrey schools Mark on how to write a gospel

Post by Giuseppe » Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:11 am

Paul the Uncertain wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 10:17 am
And your evidence that Mark was embarrased by the baptism is where on the page?
my point is that the Baptism by John raises embarrassment and requires an apology for it. If there is not apology in Mark, the reason is why the reader knows already the apology for it from the later Gospels. The embarrassment is not in Mark because it is neutralized in advance by the reader's knowledge of the apology for it found in late gospels.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

Charles Wilson
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Re: Godfrey schools Mark on how to write a gospel

Post by Charles Wilson » Fri Jul 12, 2019 12:17 pm

Neil Godfrey wrote:Luke 4:36 significantly changes the public reaction in Mark 1:27 so that the people are solely amazed at Jesus’ authority over the demon; in Mark the power over the demon is only one instance of something much bigger that awes them all.
NG--

I ask for a little forbearance, plz. I don't even disagree with what you say here. I agree with you that in Mark there is a subtlety that does point to "...something much bigger that awes them all" and it explains why Mark is Mark and why Mark is Mark-the-First-Book. BTW, not much from me on this Post is new but it is important for the Understanding of Markan Style:

Mark 1: 22 - 24 (RSV):

[22] And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.
[23] And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit;
[24] and he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God."
All the focus is on how the crowd are so awed by Jesus’ authority. He teaches with an “amazing” authority. There is clearly here more to be imagined than a bombastic orator who shouts like he knows better than anyone else. Such a person does not “amaze” anyone. No, Jesus’ “authority” is clearly meant to be understood as unique.
When Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant walked into a room, nobody spoke. He was "unique". He spoke in that low, gravelly voice. In his later years he could have scared no one. He was simply an old man. People away from him laughed. "How could that old man inspire anyone?" Ask his players from any decade. Ask the teams that played against his Alabama Crimson Tide. He was simply "Bear".

I request that you look at the Markan Passage and examine the 3 verses given for a different Set of clues as to what is being stated. I'm not asking that you believe in Space Aliens or hidden Miracles, understood by the Chosen Few. If the rewrites of Matthew and Luke are to make a savior/god more Plausible, as NG claims, what else could the less-plausible Markan exposition show?


[22] And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.

Straightforward: The Scribes are reproducing what they are told to write. They are "without authority" to say what they might otherwise state. The Party Line, if that is what it is, is to be given in the form in which it is ordered. Written and read without straying from what is ordered to be told and I admit that this is going slightly beyond what is stated - but not much more beyond. I could restate this in a slightly milder form with no loss in descriptive power. The Scribes are tightly controlled in what they may write. By implication, "Jesus" is riffing extemporaneously. We could argue all day as to what exactly Jesus is saying. I offer the idea that Jesus focuses on Galilee, associates with friends who speak with Galilean Accents and is allowed in the Temple Area and is known for teaching in the Temple. This is Priestly Material.

[23] And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit

Ummm...Synagogue. OK. Fine with that. Note, however, the Meta-Data: We are TOLD that the man was with an "unclean spirit". What does that mean? What follows from that?

Here is that "Clue Statement" that points to something different. If you believe that this is written to seem as it appears then move on, please. Nothing to see here. However, if we are to look at the Set as telling us of the Milieu of the person and, by implication, the people surrounding the Participants, not the transition from the singular person to the plural demons:


[24] and he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? ."

Here is Mark at the magician's table: "Keep your eye on this card that I hold in my hand". The switch has already been made. "What have you to do with us...?" Singular or plural? The person or all of the people surrounding these two?

If you believe that this argument is about a savior/god's ability to destroy a spirit-demon or demons then have at it. There is no argument that I could produce that would decide whether the demon(s) here are veridical or not. See David Hume and A J Ayer. *IF*, however, this discussion is a Literary Device that points to an argument - a possibly violent argument - that was around at the time, then different meanings might accrue.

"What have you to do with us..." The language may carry a different Intentionality: "We are not the same people you dealt with (BEFORE)". We are having this same type of argument today and it is seen on the American Left: "We will have nothing to do with the old Segregationists, even if those old men were from the same party (DEMOCRATS) as we are today." If association with such evil people is a punishable offense, what are you doing in that same party? Evil stated is evil seen. You are convicted by your own associations.

Again, the word "BEFORE" goes only slightly beyond the data. I believe the implication is correct. However, such assumptions are notoriously wrong even in their "reasonableness".

"Have you come to destroy us?"

Here is the moment. If Jesus can destroy spirit-demons AT ANY TIME, then why not now? Why not anytime? Why have anything to do with swine? Running into a body of water? "I will turn you into strawberry fruit punch!" Why not?

Further, why do the demons believe that Jesus is there to destroy them at that moment?. I believe that this points to the implied meaning given just above. This is a human moment, described in metaphysical language. Jesus is known by the people who knew something that happened before.

"I know who you are, the Holy One of God"

Again, "I" or "We"? There appears to be some mischief here. Is the demonic spokesman professing a volitional belief or making a statement of knowledge? There is some puzzlement surrounding the use of "ONE of God". On the interpretation given above, the sense is clear: Jesus was known in the past and is now returning. The people surrounding the one possessed are claiming innocence, even as they betray themselves.
As later with the haemorraging woman power comes out of his body and clothes
A final note: "The Woman with the 12 Year Issue of Blood" is another pointer to another Story, a Jewish Story. Of course Jesus loses his Powers, he has touched a woman with a discharge. He is Unclean. The important point is that the Discharge has been ongoing for 12 years, the same amount of time as the age of the little girl that Jesus raises.

This is coincidental? You kiddin' me?

In short, another Story is being overwritten, using a metaphysical language. Matthew and Luke certainly moderate the harshness of Mark, yet Mark is the more "honest".

CW

Martin Klatt
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Re: Godfrey schools Mark on how to write a gospel

Post by Martin Klatt » Sun Jul 14, 2019 3:43 am

A final note: "The Woman with the 12 Year Issue of Blood" is another pointer to another Story, a Jewish Story. Of course Jesus loses his Powers, he has touched a woman with a discharge. He is Unclean. The important point is that the Discharge has been ongoing for 12 years, the same amount of time as the age of the little girl that Jesus raises.

This is coincidental? You kiddin' me?

In short, another Story is being overwritten, using a metaphysical language. Matthew and Luke certainly moderate the harshness of Mark, yet Mark is the more "honest".

CW
Well spotted. But there is something else going on here. In this story we find as a theme female menstruation and it's consequences. The woman with the flow is having her last menstruation after a prolonged period of 12 years of irregular menses which is often the prelude to menopause, that would have made her ritually impure according to Jewish law and not able to participate in public life. In fact she was not ill at all, but suffering dire consequences nonetheless. Doctors could not help her and probably knew that but took her money gladly. The young girl on the other hand is having her first menstruation at the age of 12, in those days widely considered the right time for it, so she wasn't really ill either. However the consequences for her would have been similar to the plight of the woman because she would have been ritually impure too, only temporary, but how is a young terrified child to know. In fact we know from cultural anthropology that even today there are many cultures that perform initiation rituals for the occasion wherein the young girl is declared dead for the period and secluded till it's over, afterwards to be resurrected from the dead with cheerful festivities that welcome her back to life as a new adult and ready to be wed out. In fact very traumatising for a 12 year old as it happens. The story of Mark is very realistic in that respect, because he describes the pseudo-death and the ritual mourners and how they ridicule Jesus, because they are in the know that it's all make belief for the sake of ritual. The 12 year irregular flow of the older woman is of course somewhat less realistic, but it's only there as literary device connecting the two stories.
Now to complete this exercise in realism, the famous part of power leaving Jesus. The story tells us the woman touched his clothes, but the word for touching, used several times is ἅπτομαι and that means in fact take hold of something, so she grabbed his mantle and as a consequence he felt the drag as he tried to make his way. The disciples are saying the crowd is pushing, but Jesus felt just the opposite, so it was like he lost power to move forward. There is no need to look for some magical transfer of power. The woman was just pulling him back. Realism.
Last edited by Martin Klatt on Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:06 pm, edited 4 times in total.
What I have written, I have written........., but it ain't necessarily so.

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