Bethphage.

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Ben C. Smith
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Bethphage.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Nov 21, 2017 9:38 am

Subject: The list of 17 anti-marcionite things in Mark
Stuart wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 11:58 am
The name Ἁριμαθαία is simply symbolic, can be said to be a pun on "the best disciple". Best explanation I could find in 2 minutes

http://www.tektonics.org/af/arimfake.php
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 12:49 pm
Why settle on mere puns when there is an easy, obvious derivation from a known town name? Joseph of Arimathea is Ἰωσὴφ ὁ ἀπὸ Ἁριμαθαίας in Mark 15.43; this is simple to interpret as a town called Ramah (height) or Ramoth (heights), of which there were apparently several in the region. This name gets rendered as Ramathaim-Zophim (הָרָמָתַ֛יִם צוֹפִ֖ים) in 1 Samuel 1.1 (1 Kingdoms 1.1 LXX: Αρμαθαιμ Σιφα), or as just plain Αρμαθαιμ in 1 Kingdoms 1.3, 19 LXX. In Joshua 20.8 LXX it comes out as Αρημωθ. Joshua 19.36 in Vaticanus has Αρμαιθ where in Alexandrinus we find Ραμα. Also possibly related is the epistle of Demetrius to Lasthenes (1 Maccabees 11.32-37 = Josephus, Antiquities 13.4.9 §127-129a), which mentions the taking possession of the three districts of Aphairema, Lydda, and Rathamin/Ramathain (Ραθαμιν in 1 Maccabees 11.34, but Ραμαθαιν in Antiquities 13.4.9 §127).

(The names with an initial R are simply anarthrous, whereas those with an initial A are including the Hebrew definite article in the name.)

This seems a straightforward derivation, so far as names go from Hebrew into Greek. Arimathea is simply a Greek rendering of one of the towns called Ramah or Ramoth. This obviously does not rule out the pun as a reason for selecting this town, but to start with the pun seems unnecessary.

Also, if it is a pun, why ἄρι[στος] μαθη[τής]? Why not ἀρί[στη] μάθη? That is a closer fit, right? No pesky disappearing tau to worry about.
Stuart wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 1:08 pm
Giuseppe is playing on the symbolism. And in this respect I sort of agree with him, as most of the names are double meaning, as you'd expect from characters in a play or literature. Thus the actual town is irrelevant, an invention to fit the moment. So pick a town that is also a pun. "A disciple from (being) 'the best disciple'"

It's a rather tangential point. What I tried to show is how one can see the development from one small element and then snowballing into a full story line. He is named Joe --> Joe is rich, a disciple from Arimathea (best disciple) --> Joe of Arimathea, as he was rich, was a member of the council, and he was looking for God's kingdom --> Joe from the Jewish town of Arimathea (lost the pun) may have been on the council, but he was a good guy not one of those who consented to killing the lord, as he was looking for God's kingdom. This is simply classic case of filling in the back story.
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 1:10 pm
Does this work, say, for Bethphage?
Stuart wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 1:56 pm
Why does it need to? One case does not mean it applies in all others. I suggest you go investigate yourself (I'm not your research assistant) and start a new thread topic on that, since it's not part of Giuseppe's list, and therefore off topic.
Taking Stuart's advice and starting a new thread for this, I mull over the question, "Why does it need to?" Why, in other words, should Bethphage be expected to follow the pattern laid out for Arimathea above, whereby means "best disciple" (in a punning way) before it ever gets attached to "the Jewish town" of Arimathea? And the answer, of course, is because I was responding to this statement:
Stuart wrote:And in this respect I sort of agree with [Giuseppe], as most of the names are double meaning, as you'd expect from characters in a play or literature.
Naturally, if we are to expect place names in Mark to bear a double meaning, then of course that is why I was expecting the same principles to apply to Bethphage as apply to Arimathea. The name Bethphage means something like "house of unripe figs," so I can think of lots of potential for a double meaning here (figs being symbolic of the land of Israel, its inhabitants, and its peace in the scriptures), and if that were all that had been claimed, I would be content to speculate along with someone that perhaps the name Bethphage made its way into Mark because of its etymology. But more is being claimed here than that the name of a locale was chosen for its name value. In the case of Arimathea:
He is named Joe --> Joe is rich, a disciple from Arimathea (best disciple) --> Joe of Arimathea, as he was rich, was a member of the council, and he was looking for God's kingdom --> Joe from the Jewish town of Arimathea (lost the pun) may have been on the council, but he was a good guy not one of those who consented to killing the lord, as he was looking for God's kingdom. This is simply classic case of filling in the back story.
In this scenario, the name Arimathea precedes its recognition as a Jewish town. In other words, the name was an invented pun which later got attached to a real Jewish locale, presumably based on phonetic similarity, as part of "filling in the back story" for Joseph. But I think this is profoundly wrong, and it does not work for Bethphage (which is why I brought it up as an example) or other place names in Mark (the Jordan river, Jerusalem, Capernaum, and so on), so why should we expect it to work for Arimathea? In other words, Mark rarely if ever invents place names (there are a couple of puzzles, like Dalmanutha, but the overwhelming majority of place names in Mark are easy to identify with real and known locations). He may well choose existing place names for their symbolic value or their capacity as puns (an argument which would have to be mounted separately in each and every case), but he does not tend to invent them. Yet for some reason a lot of people seem to lapse extremely easily into thinking that Arimathea was just a made up place. In reality, its derivation from Ramoth is just as easy as the derivation of the names of other locales (like Jerusalem and Bethphage) in Mark from Hebrew place names. Is it perhaps the initial A in Arimathea that throws people off? Not sure. At any rate, to suggest that the connection of Arimathea with a real place name in Palestine is completely artificial is misguided. There is no reason to treat Arimathea differently than we treat, say, Jericho, whom nobody thinks Mark invented as a place name.

I intend to aim for getting a double value out of Bethphage here, while I am on the topic. It is interesting that Bethphage does not seem to be mentioned outside the New Testament until Eusebius lists it in his Onomasticon and the Talmud speaks of it a few times as a place which existed before the fall of Jerusalem. I have noticed a tendency among some people to reject the Talmudic evidence (not to mention Eusebius) for New Testament people, places, and events because it postdates the New Testament by so much. If a text (like Mark) was written in century I or II, and the Talmud was completed in century V or so, then it is often assumed that the contents of Mark must predate the contents of the Talmud, as well. That is, the Talmud can be of no use in deciphering customs or whatnot in Mark, because Mark could not have known the Talmud. The latter supposition (that Mark could not have known the Talmud) is completely true; but the former (that the Talmud can be of no use in deciphering Mark) I hold to be false. Great care must be taken, of course; when the internal indicators, however, point in the direction of Talmud -> Mark, I think it is perfectly valid to use the Talmud to help interpret Mark. And such is the case with Bethphage. The internal indicators are unidirectional, Talmud -> Mark, by which I mean that it is highly unlikely that Mark invented this place name, located it on or near the Mount of Olives, and then later a locale by that name sprang up on that spot, in time for Eusebius and the Talmud to know about it. The more obvious chain of events here is that Bethphage actually did exist when Mark wrote (century I or II), and nobody besides Mark and those dependent upon him happened to mention it (in texts which are still extant) for two or three hundred years. But this means that the silence of Jewish texts before the Talmud on a topic does not necessarily mean that the topic was not a "thing" for the Jews before the Talmud was completed.

Just my two cents.

Ben.
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A Page of Fishing Bet

Post by JoeWallack » Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:06 am

Ben wrote: Naturally, if we are to expect place names in Mark to bear a double meaning, then of course that is why I was expecting the same principles to apply to Bethphage as apply to Arimathea. The name Bethphage means something like "house of unripe figs," so I can think of lots of potential for a double meaning here (figs being symbolic of the land of Israel, its inhabitants, and its peace in the scriptures), and if that were all that had been claimed, I would be content to speculate along with someone that perhaps the name Bethphage made its way into Mark because of its etymology. But more is being claimed here than that the name of a locale was chosen for its name value.
JW:
Whaaa? You messin with us Ben? You don't see a direct connection to literal unripe figs in the immediate literary context? The other Marker for fiction is why else mention Bethany and Bethpage as location Markers? (I see "Mark" apologizing and saying, "I'm sorry I just couldn't fig ure out a way to make the figurative clear short of adding another "Let the reader understand"").


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Re: A Page of Fishing Bet

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:38 am

JoeWallack wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:06 am
Whaaa? You messin with us Ben? You don't see a direct connection to literal unripe figs in the immediate literary context?
Had to go back and make sure I did not mistype something, but no, here it is (underlining added):
The name Bethphage means something like "house of unripe figs," so I can think of lots of potential for a double meaning here....
Can.

My only point is that this symbolic meaning does not mean that Mark invented the place name Bethphage itself. He used it; he did not create it. (I am saying nothing about whether he invented the incident involving Bethphage.)
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Re: Bethphage.

Post by Giuseppe » Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:34 am


My only point is that this symbolic meaning does not mean that Mark invented the place name Bethphage itself. He used it; he did not create it.
this works also for people: Mark used Jesus Ben Ananias; he did not create him.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Bethphage.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:42 am

Giuseppe wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:34 am

My only point is that this symbolic meaning does not mean that Mark invented the place name Bethphage itself. He used it; he did not create it.
this works also for people: Mark used Jesus Ben Ananias; he did not create him.
True, but this is a different phenomenon. Jesus ben Ananias does not appear as a character in the text. An example would be Pilate. He was a real person, and Mark used him (and named him as such in the narrative).
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Re: A Page of Fishing Bet

Post by JoeWallack » Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:47 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:38 am
JoeWallack wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:06 am
Whaaa? You messin with us Ben? You don't see a direct connection to literal unripe figs in the immediate literary context?
Had to go back and make sure I did not mistype something, but no, here it is (underlining added):
The name Bethphage means something like "house of unripe figs," so I can think of lots of potential for a double meaning here....
Can.

My only point is that this symbolic meaning does not mean that Mark invented the place name Bethphage itself. He used it; he did not create it. (I am saying nothing about whether he invented the incident involving Bethphage.)
11
1 And when they draw nigh unto Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth two of his disciples,

2 and saith unto them, Go your way into the village that is over against you: and straightway as ye enter into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon no man ever yet sat; loose him, and bring him.

3 And if any one say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye, The Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him back hither.

4 And they went away, and found a colt tied at the door without in the open street; and they loose him.

5 And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt?

6 And they said unto them even as Jesus had said: and they let them go.

7 And they bring the colt unto Jesus, and cast on him their garments; and he sat upon him.

8 And many spread their garments upon the way; and others branches, which they had cut from the fields.

9 And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, Hosanna; Blessed [is] he that cometh in the name of the Lord:

10 Blessed [is] the kingdom that cometh, [the kingdom] of our father David: Hosanna in the highest.

11 And he entered into Jerusalem, into the temple; and when he had looked round about upon all things, it being now eventide, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.

12 And on the morrow, when they were come out from Bethany, he hungered.

13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find anything thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for it was not the season of figs.
JW:
What does "Bethpage" (unripe figs) add to the narrative besides Marking the beginning and ending of the pericope?


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Re: Bethphage.

Post by Giuseppe » Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:48 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:42 am
Giuseppe wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:34 am

My only point is that this symbolic meaning does not mean that Mark invented the place name Bethphage itself. He used it; he did not create it.
this works also for people: Mark used Jesus Ben Ananias; he did not create him.
True, but this is a different phenomenon. Jesus ben Ananias does not appear as a character in the text. An example would be Pilate. He was a real person, and Mark used him (and named him as such in the narrative).
Insofar he is named "Jesus", he appears in the text too. :)
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Bethphage.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Nov 21, 2017 12:34 pm

Giuseppe wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:48 am
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:42 am
Giuseppe wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:34 am

My only point is that this symbolic meaning does not mean that Mark invented the place name Bethphage itself. He used it; he did not create it.
this works also for people: Mark used Jesus Ben Ananias; he did not create him.
True, but this is a different phenomenon. Jesus ben Ananias does not appear as a character in the text. An example would be Pilate. He was a real person, and Mark used him (and named him as such in the narrative).
Insofar he is named "Jesus", he appears in the text too. :)
Well, okay, but still: not quite the same thing as what I was talking about, right?
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Re: Bethphage.

Post by Giuseppe » Tue Nov 21, 2017 12:36 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 12:34 pm
Giuseppe wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:48 am
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:42 am
Giuseppe wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:34 am

My only point is that this symbolic meaning does not mean that Mark invented the place name Bethphage itself. He used it; he did not create it.
this works also for people: Mark used Jesus Ben Ananias; he did not create him.
True, but this is a different phenomenon. Jesus ben Ananias does not appear as a character in the text. An example would be Pilate. He was a real person, and Mark used him (and named him as such in the narrative).
Insofar he is named "Jesus", he appears in the text too. :)
Well, okay, but still: not quite the same thing as what I was talking about, right?
right. Nothing in contrary.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: A Page of Fishing Bet

Post by Ulan » Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:00 pm

JoeWallack wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:47 am
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:38 am
JoeWallack wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:06 am
Whaaa? You messin with us Ben? You don't see a direct connection to literal unripe figs in the immediate literary context?
Had to go back and make sure I did not mistype something, but no, here it is (underlining added):
The name Bethphage means something like "house of unripe figs," so I can think of lots of potential for a double meaning here....
Can.

My only point is that this symbolic meaning does not mean that Mark invented the place name Bethphage itself. He used it; he did not create it. (I am saying nothing about whether he invented the incident involving Bethphage.)
11
1 And when they draw nigh unto Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth two of his disciples,

2 and saith unto them, Go your way into the village that is over against you: and straightway as ye enter into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon no man ever yet sat; loose him, and bring him.

3 And if any one say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye, The Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him back hither.

4 And they went away, and found a colt tied at the door without in the open street; and they loose him.

5 And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt?

6 And they said unto them even as Jesus had said: and they let them go.

7 And they bring the colt unto Jesus, and cast on him their garments; and he sat upon him.

8 And many spread their garments upon the way; and others branches, which they had cut from the fields.

9 And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, Hosanna; Blessed [is] he that cometh in the name of the Lord:

10 Blessed [is] the kingdom that cometh, [the kingdom] of our father David: Hosanna in the highest.

11 And he entered into Jerusalem, into the temple; and when he had looked round about upon all things, it being now eventide, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.

12 And on the morrow, when they were come out from Bethany, he hungered.

13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find anything thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for it was not the season of figs.
JW:
What does "Bethpage" (unripe figs) add to the narrative besides Marking the beginning and ending of the pericope?


Joseph
gMark is the gospel where God visits his people, and nobody recognizes him. In this chapter, he even rides in like a king, but there is absolutely no follow-up. The show fell on deaf ears and blind eyes. Unripe figs. They don't give anything back.

In fact, this pericope always startled me, because it's so isolated. Yes, it fulfills a prophecy. However, nobody ever reacts to it after the fact.

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