Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat May 07, 2016 10:02 am

JoeWallack wrote:JW:
When betting on Womens' Tennis I always bet against the heterosexual and when commenting on GMark I always consult with the Legendary Vorkosigan:

Historical Commentary on the Gospel of Mark Chapter 15
v21: Simon of Cyrene. There are a number of proposals for who he was. Brown (1994, p913-916) reviews some of the points. Simon is absent from the Gospel of Peter and from the Gospel of John. Roman practice, as described by ancient sources, was to force the prisoner to carry his own cross. Further, the writer presents Simon as "compelled" but it is unlikely, given Roman policy for respecting local law, that the Roman soldiers would have forced a Jew to work on a major holiday like Passover. Yet we are never told Simon was Jew. Simon is a Greek name, along with Alexander, while Rufus is a Roman one. Nor would the soldiers have ordered Simon to help out of pity, since they had just abused and mocked Jesus. Brown's position is that perhaps Simon was ordered to help because Jesus was so weak the soldiers feared he might die before he arrived at the execution site. This position is viable whether one views the narrative as history or fiction.
I have consulted Turton's commentary on this pericope numerous times in my efforts to fully understand it. I agree with Brown here, and have made the case for the plausibility of Roman soldiers forcing a passerby to carry the stake if the prisoner himself can no longer do so. And I agree that this plausibility works equally well with an historical narrative and a fictional narrative that has been given touches of verisimilitude.
For me the most interesting part is:
Helms also observes that 8:34 follows on 8:33, in which Jesus famously calls Simon Peter "Satan." Donald Senior (1987,p116) points out that the phrase "take up the cross" is the same in both passages. Is Simon of Cyrene a double for Simon Peter? Jesus says that whoever would follow him must first deny himself; Peter instead denies Jesus. Has the writer of Mark piled up irony here, showing a Simon denying himself to take up his cross, even as another Simon denies Jesus? Has he injected a historical figure into the passage? Or did these events occur as written? There's no way to know. One connection between 8:34 and 15:21 is that the mention of "cross" in 15:21 is the first time in the Gospel since 8:34. Jesus has managed to make 3 Passion predictions without mentioning the term even once.
The painfully rare invocation of "stake" here for a religion that is largely created in its image connects with my observation that one of "Mark's" (author) literary techniques is to use key words sparingly so as to increase the connection between their areas of use.
Good point. I recall making a similar one much earlier on this very thread; I believe I was defending a neutral or negative reading of Simon's actions against Peter Kirby's positive reading. There may well be something to the correspondence of Simon Peter fleeing (and therefore not taking up the cross) and Simon, some random Cyrenian, therefore being forced to take it up instead.

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Adam
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Re: Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

Post by Adam » Sat May 07, 2016 10:39 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Peter Kirby wrote:Another suggestion for the omission by Matthew and Luke, perhaps, is that gMark is of a substantially different genre than our canonical gMatthew and gLuke (which are substantially different with their presentation of infancy narratives, expansive sayings material, etc.)....
I have been wondering whether Mark might be, as at least two of the patristic sources seem to claim, a first draft (so to speak, to use a modern term) that never got fleshed out in quite the way most readers and writers of the era were accustomed, and then Matthew and Luke each took separate pains to turn it into a more finished work (or, more accurately, to use it as a major basis of their own more finished work). In this case, perhaps Mark was leaning toward a genre, but not fully there, as it were. A lot of Marcan rough spots and mysteries seem to get ironed out in Matthew and Luke, some of which you identify here. (I leave open whether Matthew and Luke correctly identified the most fitting Marcan genre.)

Ben.
Great thinking here, guys,
Almost enough for me to consider accepting the Consensus that Mark was used by Matthew and Luke.
But not quite.

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Re: Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

Post by Giuseppe » Sat May 07, 2016 11:36 am

If Simon of Cyrene is a double for Simon Peter, then the natural corollary is that Cyrene is a double for the location in Mark 1:16 (on the "Sea" of Galilee, already known to be allegory of the Mediterranean Sea in Mark). Therefore Mark would be saying that to "take the cross" will be the gentiles around the Mediterranean Sea (whose Simon is father).
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

Post by neilgodfrey » Sat May 07, 2016 4:31 pm

Perhaps the "Cyrenian" identifier needs to be explained in context of Simon being said to have been coming in from the countryside.

Returning to Michael Turton's commentary where he writes:
T.E. Schmidt (1995) argues that Simon represents the person who accompanied the sacrificial bull in the processions, carrying an enormous double-bladed ax, the instrument of the victim's death.


. . . . there is a little support for this hypothesis in a description a century later of a triumphal procession in a novella by Heliodorius. Those chosen to lead the procession with the weapon of execution and the sacrificial victim were typically "from the countryside".
At the head of the procession came the sacrificial animals, led on the halter by the men who were to perform the holy rites, countryfolk in country costume. Each wore a white tunic, caught up to knee length by a belt. Their right arms were bare to the shoulder and breast, and in their right hands they each brandished a double-headed axe. -- An Ethiopian Story 3.1 by Heliodorus
Presumably the countryside provenance indicates one practiced in the craft of butchery.

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Re: Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

Post by Giuseppe » Sat May 07, 2016 9:49 pm

I may show some similarities between the different ways to follow Jesus by the two Simons:

Jesus calls PeterThe Cyrenaic is not called by Jesus
The son leaves his mother and father to follow JesusThe father leaves his sons (Alexander and Rufus) to follow Jesus
Peter denies JesusThe Cyrenaic denies himself
Peter is on the sea of GalileeThe Cyrenaic is on the Mediterranean sea
Peter is a fisherman (coming from sea)The Cyrenaic is someone coming in from the countryside

Now, maybe this is an attempt by 'Mark' to communicate that Jesus continues to divide the father from the son and the children from their fathers.

Note that in a case it is the son (Simon Peter) who ''gentilizes'' himself to follow Jesus (by abandoning his Jewish fathers). While in the other case it is the father (Simon of Cyrene) who ''judaizes'' himself to follow Jesus (by abandoning his gentile sons).
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

Post by neilgodfrey » Sat May 07, 2016 11:03 pm

Giuseppe wrote:
Peter is a fisherman (coming from sea)The Cyrenaic is someone coming in from the countryside

Peter is called/commanded, destined to be a fisher of men -- recalling the divine executions of Jeremiah 16:16. Peter responds immediately, (as if compelled?).

Simon is not called but dragooned, "pressed into service" -- to assist with the execution?

Of course we cannot overlook the obvious relationship to Jesus commanding each would-be follower to take up his own cross and follow him.

As for Cyrene, Simon is not said to be from Cyrene but rather to be a Cyrenian, Κυρηναῖον --- And he is leading [? not following] Jesus to a Κρανίου place, a skull place.

. . . all background information to be considered in any analysis? . . .

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Re: Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

Post by Giuseppe » Sat May 07, 2016 11:53 pm

About the point behind Κυρηναῖον I like this:
According to Strong’s Concordance ‘Cyrene’ means ‘supremacy of the bridle.”
http://vridar.org/2012/09/10/how-might- ... ment-16849

Who puts a bridle is an active agent. But maybe the irony of ''Mark'' here is that just ''who puts the bridle'' is really the bridled, i.e. compelled to bear passively the cross instead of Jesus (the apparent bridled).

Is this an allusion that de facto to suffer really the 'crucifixion' are all the followers of Jesus (all Israel)?
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun May 08, 2016 5:34 am

neilgodfrey wrote:Peter is called/commanded, destined to be a fisher of men -- recalling the divine executions of Jeremiah 16:16. Peter responds immediately, (as if compelled?).
Jeremiah 16.14-16:

14 “Therefore behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ 15 but, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them.’ For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers. 16 “Behold, I am going to send for many fishermen,” declares the Lord, “and they will fish for them; and afterwards I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them from every mountain and every hill and from the clefts of the rocks.”

I am curious as to what Bernard thinks of this passage. Bernard, do you think there is a connection between Jeremiah 16.16 and the disciples being called "fishers of men"?

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Bernard Muller
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Re: Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

Post by Bernard Muller » Sun May 08, 2016 8:19 am

to Ben,
I am curious as to what Bernard thinks of this passage. Bernard, do you think there is a connection between Jeremiah 16.16 and the disciples being called "fishers of men"?
It is probable. I understand in Jeremiah, it is about getting former Jews back into Israel. In gMark, it is about the disciples gathering converts for the (Christian) kingdom of God. There are close parallels, not only into the wording but also the two contexts. Of course, the words of Jesus in gMark are not authentic and come from "Mark" himself.
That's my opinion at this time but I am not too interested by that kind of thing, which I consider very peripheral.

Cordially, Bernard
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Re: Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

Post by Giuseppe » Sun May 08, 2016 9:04 am

So Adamczweski:
The particular name of Rufus ... apparently known as a member of the Roman Christian community (Rom 16:13), conveys the idea that Simon in effect joined Jesus not only in a physical way, but also in a spiritual one, namely by somehow coming to faith in Jesus and bringing his sons up in this faith. Moreover, the image of Simon the Cyrenian as Rufus' father (Mk 15:21d) reflects Paul's idea that he was somehow related to Rufus' mother (Rom 16:13).
(The Gospel of Mark, p. 185)

It seems that Simon of Cyrene is a more positive figure than Simon Peter in virtue of the fact that his ''conversion''/joining is complete, differently from Simon Peter. The logic would be something as:

1) Paul had already a Rufus and a mother of Rufus (Rom 16:13) as his historical followers.
2) Simon of Cyrene, their father in the fiction, joins Jesus and becomes his follower (by bearing the cross).
3) therefore: we have a complete Christian family.

This contrasts with the Pillars James and John, who are followers of Jesus but lacking of their father Zebedee (left behind as not-Christian and even with a negative clue behind the name 'Zebedee').

This contrasts with Simon Peter and his brother Andrew. They also, have left their father and mother behind. The Jewish Christians are not perfect insofar they lack their relatives. While the pauline Christians have no relative who is not-Christian.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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