Irish1975 wrote: ↑
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.'
I think that Papias means something different when he says that Mark was "not in order." Papias is referring to the ancient concept of literary order:
Lucian, How to Write History 47-48: 47 As to the facts themselves, [the historian] should not assemble them at random, but only after much laborious and painstaking investigation. He should for preference be an eyewitness, but, if not, listen to those who tell the more impartial story, those whom one would suppose least likely to subtract from the facts or add to them out of favor or malice. When this happens let him show shrewdness and skill in putting together the more credible story. 48 When he has collected all or most of the facts, let him first make them into a series of notes [ὑπόμνημά], a body of material as yet with no beauty or continuity. Then, after arranging them into order [τάξιν], let him give it beauty and enhance it with the charms of expression, figure, and rhythm.
The ancient process of book publication seems to have had (at least) two distinct stages: first there were notes; then there was a published book, polished and ready to go. Here is Galen on such notes, from the prologue of Concerning His Own Books
Why the many read my [books] as their own, you yourself know the reason, most excellent Bassus. For they were given to friends and disciples without inscription, as nothing was for publication, but were made for those who requested to have notes [ὑπομνήματα] of what they heard.
Often Greco-Roman figures would write their own memoirs (Latin commentarii
), which would actually be thought of as belonging to the "notes" stage of the process, ready for an historian to take up and turn into something more polished. Amusingly, Julius Caesar's memoirs caused problems for those who would wish to turn them into histories, as Suetonius relates:
Suetonius, Life of Julius Caesar 56: 56 [Cicero writes:] He wrote memoirs [commentarios] to be strongly commended indeed. They are naked, straightforward and lovely, stripped of the vesture of every adornment of oration; but while he wished others to have these things prepared, whence those who wished to write a history might assume, he ended up gratifying the inept, who wish to use the curling-irons on them. Sane men, in fact, he deters from writing. [Hirtius writes:] They are so approved in the judgment of all men as to have taken opportunity away from writers, rather than to have offered them one. Our admiration for his accomplishment, nevertheless, is greater than that of the rest; for they know how well and faultlessly, and we also how easily and quickly he wrote them out.
So Caesar made the "mistake" of writing his memoirs in too polished a manner, deterring those who would turn them into a truly literary work.
Papias is excusing Mark's actions ("he did not err") on the grounds that his text was supposed to be a first step, not a published work. This idea is what leads, I think, to Clement's story about Mark being requested (like Galen was) to write something up from Peter's oral preaching (like Galen's notes were written up from his oral lectures). (How far this early Christian impression of the gospel of Mark reflects the author's intentions is open for discussion, obviously.)
But what kind of order would "literary order" actually be
for a narrative work such as the gospel of Mark? The expected order for narrative text seems to have either been or at least included chronological order:
Dionysius of Halicarnassus, On Thucydides 9 (Loeb translation): What need I say further? The whole of the book is broken up in this way, and continuity of narrative is destroyed. Predictably, we wander here and there, and have difficulty in following the sequence of events described, because our mind is confused by their separation and cannot easily or accurately recall the half-completed references which it has heard. But history should be presented as an uninterrupted sequence of events [χρὴ δὲ τὴν ἱστορικὴν πραγματείαν εἰρομένην εἶναι καὶ ἀπερίσπαστον], particularly when it is concerned with a large number of them which are difficult to comprehend. It is clear that Thucydides’ principle is wrong and ill-suited to history: for no subsequent historian divided up his narrative by summers and winters, but all followed the well-worn roads which lead to clarity.
Dionysius seems to think that the literary
order of a book of history ought to be chronological
. In this case, since Papias seems to be treating the gospel texts as history in some way (note his emphasis on drawing upon eyewitnesses, for example), then the answer to the question of whether the "order" he has in mind is literary or chronological is probably both
Luke appears to agree with this:
Luke 1.1-4: 1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word have handed them down to us, 3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in orderly sequence [καθεξῆς], most excellent Theophilus; 4 so that you might know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.
Acts 11.4: 4 But Peter began speaking and proceeded to explain to them in orderly sequence [καθεξῆς], saying....
Peter's speech in Acts 11.5-17 proceeds in a naturally chronological order, with one remembered flashback in verse 16. Therefore καθεξῆς in the context of a narrative account, at least, can imply a chronological order. That is, although terms like καθεξῆς are capable of implying a literary order other than strict chronology, they may still imply a chronological order as the most appropriate kind
of literary order for narratives.
So the question arises: why would Papias have thought of the gospel of Mark as out of chronological order? I think the best answer is that Asia Minor had its own narrative order for the story of Jesus, an order which could be and was borne in mind even outside of strictly gospel contexts; for example, the difference in chronology suggested by the two different days for Jesus' death (on the Passover or on the day before it) was commemorated in liturgy and ritual, and was part of the background to the Quartodeciman debate.
It is this Asian order which the gospel of John reflects, over and against the synoptics. The differences are thoroughgoing and disparate enough that they arrested the notice of many church fathers from the second century onward: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3227
Notice that I am not claiming that Papias thought Mark was out of order with respect to John; I am not sure John had been written yet, or at least completed yet. I think Papias, like many others in Asia Minor, would have thought of Mark as out of order with respect to Asian liturgical tradition, as evidenced by Asiatics such as Polycrates of Ephesus, Apollinaris of Hierapolis, and Melito of Sardis.
At any rate, the word that Papias uses for "order" has a particular meaning in ancient literary contexts; it does not (necessarily) mean what we
would mean if we were to call a piece of writing "out of order."