How late might the gospels be?

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
neilgodfrey
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Re: How late might the gospels be?

Post by neilgodfrey » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:35 am

The Elder also said this, “Mark, being the interpreter of Peter, whatsoever he remembered he wrote accurately, but not however in the order that these things were spoken or done by our Lord. For he neither heard the Lord, nor followed him, but afterwards, as I said, he was with Peter, who did not make a complete [or ordered] account of the Lord’s logia, but constructed his teachings according to chreiai [concise self-contained teachings]. So Mark did nothing wrong in writing down single matters as he remembered them, for he gave special attention to one thing, of not passing by anything he heard, and not falsifying anything in these matters.”
The question arising is whether this account by Papias really describes what we know as the Gospel of Mark.

A prior question is what was Eusebius's source for this Papias account? Who or what was Papias? When? Basic questions like nature and provenance of the reported source.

neilgodfrey
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Re: How late might the gospels be?

Post by neilgodfrey » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:40 am

Another question that arises is how we interpret Justin's discussions of what he knew of the "gospel narrative". And also how authentic are the passages described as "memoirs of the apostles" in his writings. Even with authenticity of those passages, there is no real certainty that Justin knew our version of the Gospel of Mark. But we do have to factor in Matthew's popularity -- being the most popular gospel from (I think) the mid second century -- and Luke-Acts being associated with the Marcionite controversy in the mid second century, certainly by 170s.

Matthew and Luke, of course, we have to treat as derivative from Mark.

andrewcriddle
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Re: How late might the gospels be?

Post by andrewcriddle » Sat Jan 13, 2018 3:05 am

neilgodfrey wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:35 am
The Elder also said this, “Mark, being the interpreter of Peter, whatsoever he remembered he wrote accurately, but not however in the order that these things were spoken or done by our Lord. For he neither heard the Lord, nor followed him, but afterwards, as I said, he was with Peter, who did not make a complete [or ordered] account of the Lord’s logia, but constructed his teachings according to chreiai [concise self-contained teachings]. So Mark did nothing wrong in writing down single matters as he remembered them, for he gave special attention to one thing, of not passing by anything he heard, and not falsifying anything in these matters.”
The question arising is whether this account by Papias really describes what we know as the Gospel of Mark.

A prior question is what was Eusebius's source for this Papias account? Who or what was Papias? When? Basic questions like nature and provenance of the reported source.
We have a whole list of 2nd century sources mostly independent of Eusebius saying similar things about Mark.
http://ntresources.com/blog/?p=300
Anti-Marcionite prologue
Mark … who is called ‘stump-fingered,’ because he had rather small fingers in comparison with the stature of the rest of his body, was the interpreter of Peter…, he [i.e., Mark] wrote down this gospel in various parts of Italy
Irenaeus
After their departure (ἔξοδον), Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, also delivered to us in writing the things that were then being preached (κηρυσσόμενα) by Peter.
Clement of Alexandria (quoted by Eusebius]
When Peter had publicly preached the word at Rome, and by the Spirit had proclaimed the Gospel, that those present, who were many, exhorted Mark, as one who had followed him for a long time and remembered what had been spoken, to make a record of what was said; and that he did this, and distributed the Gospel among those that asked him. And that when the matter came to Peter’s knowledge he neither strongly forbade it nor urged it forward
Clement of Alexandria (quoted by Cassiodorus)
Mark, the follower of Peter, while Peter publicly preached the Gospel at Rome before some of Caesar's equites, and adduced many testimonies to Christ, in order that thereby they might be able to commit to memory what was spoken, of what was spoken by Peter wrote entirely what is called the Gospel according to Mark.
Papias as quoted by Eusebius probably represents the early form of this tradition because it implies that Mark wrote after Peter was no longer available.

Andrew Criddle

Paul the Uncertain
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Re: How late might the gospels be?

Post by Paul the Uncertain » Sat Jan 13, 2018 4:42 am

andrew
... or the real origins of Mark had been lost before Papias wrote. This is unlikely if Mark had originated relatively recently before Papias wrote.

Why unlikely? How long does it usually take for the real origins of an anonymously authored work to be lost?

andrewcriddle
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Re: How late might the gospels be?

Post by andrewcriddle » Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:22 am

Paul the Uncertain wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 4:42 am
andrew
... or the real origins of Mark had been lost before Papias wrote. This is unlikely if Mark had originated relatively recently before Papias wrote.

Why unlikely? How long does it usually take for the real origins of an anonymously authored work to be lost?
Papias is quoting what 'the elder' told him. This implies that this tradition goes back a number of years before Papias. At least to the time of Trajan (If Papias is writing during the time of Hadrian.) It would probably take over 20 years for the true origin of Mark to be lost and an erroneous tradition to replace it. This takes us back to the end of the 1st century at the latest for the origin of Mark.

Andrew Criddle

Giuseppe
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Re: How late might the gospels be?

Post by Giuseppe » Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:42 am

Matthew 5:33-35 :
“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King
It is strange the reason of the prohibition to swear an oath "by Jerusalem", if the "king" who is intended is David. I can understand the reason of the prohibition to do an oath "by heaven": it is not our but of God.
Idem for the earth: it is of God, so we can't promise it in an oath.
But if Jerusalem is of David, why can't the man do an oath on it? What escapes me is the reason why David would be not "our" (of the Christians) like the earth or the heaven.

Unless the "great king" is Hadrian, and so the Christians can't do an oath on a Pagan city: it is not their city.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

archibald
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Re: How late might the gospels be?

Post by archibald » Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:45 am

neilgodfrey wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:46 pm
What I find problematic about the usual arguments suggesting that authors would hardly put a demonstrably false prophecy into Jesus' mouth is that the original prophecy was surely a borrowing of standard metaphorical images for apocalyptic scenarios from the OT. Isaiah and other books evidently speak of heavens collapsing etc as metaphors for political demise of kingdoms/nations. Nowhere are they literal, as far as I am aware -- except in readers' minds when reading the gospels.

Daniel (and Mark was heavily influenced by Daniel) speaks of the establishment of an independent Maccabean kingdom as effectively a coming of the Son of Man to set up his kingdom on earth.

The destruction of Jerusalem was indeed the end of the old cosmos, apocalyptically/metaphorically speaking.

It was within a generation of the death of Jesus, so yes, it happened at the right time -- according to the setting of the gospel narrative.

One can understand how the author of Mark also linked the fall of Jerusalem with its spiritual replacement by the "church" or "people of Christ". They were now the sole surviving spiritual temple of God, as per the epistles, etc.

The Gospel of Mark strikes me as bending over backwards to hint-hint, nudge-nudge, biff-biff to readers that its message, especially its miracles and parables are all symbolic. Yet for some reason the Olivet Prophecy is universally taken as literal -- despite several other hints/nudges/biffs that part of it was symbolic of the Passion. And from that literal reading arises so many other sins and problems and questions and controversies.
Sorry, but if I had to choose, I'd say getting egg on your face (about people living to see the Kingdom of God or whatever) and what appear to be later writers having to correct and adjust for that (because it hasn't happened) makes a lot more sense than essentially making the whole shebang supposedly so 'symbolic' in retrospect that it 'sort of doesn't matter actually because we were only being metaphorical when we said the Kingdom of God would arrive before you died' and having the authors backwrite in a goof and a shift/postponement.

So I think yours is the more problematic. Especially bearing in mind that the goof prediction involved someone coming in on clouds accompanied by a bunch of angels.

Paul the Uncertain
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Re: How late might the gospels be?

Post by Paul the Uncertain » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:40 am

andrew

Personally, I am comfortable with dating Mark early (a 65 "basement" is fine with me). However, even putting aside the difficulties with relying on Papias as an authority on the matter,
It would probably take over 20 years for the true origin of Mark to be lost and an erroneous tradition to replace it.
Why would the true origin of an anonymous work need to be lost and then replaced?

It takes at worst some hours to notice that apart from Jesus, Mark's most memorable (and influential on Christian writers) character among the 60 or so speaking parts is Peter. Plus, except for the John the Baptist scenes, the desert retreat, everything that happens to the natural Jesus after he is arrested, and the empty tomb scene, Peter is either explicitly present or arguably could be nearby.

In the absence of a competing authorship claim, might not any reader promptly conjecture that if the author had a principal source then this source was Peter? I doubt it'd take more than two decades for such an accessible, defensible and uncontested hypothesis to develop into a "tradition."

Maybe so; just saying how "probably" looks from here.

Irish1975
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Re: How late might the gospels be?

Post by Irish1975 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 8:13 am

neilgodfrey wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:35 am

The question arising is whether this account by Papias really describes what we know as the Gospel of Mark.

A prior question is what was Eusebius's source for this Papias account? Who or what was Papias? When? Basic questions like nature and provenance of the reported source.
Quite so. Papias is not describing a narrative, but a disordered collection of logia. We can't just rely on this occurrence of the name 'Mark.'

lsayre
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Re: How late might the gospels be?

Post by lsayre » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:04 am

Unless I'm misunderstanding him, Stuart Waugh makes the case that they are all post the Bar Kochba revolt. Hopefully he will chime in and elaborate.

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