How late might the gospels be?

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Bernard Muller
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Re: How late might the gospels be?

Post by Bernard Muller » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:23 am

A major factor in the dating of the gospels is the consideration of oral tradition being a key source for their narratives. The later the gospels the less credible they are as historical biographies. With the Gospel of Mark there is frequently some weight given to the existence of the "rumour" that Peter himself was somehow behind it. For them to maintain some generational link (supported further by Ben Smith's point above) to hold historical validity they need to be dated as close to 70 as possible/reasonable.
My dating of gMark has nothing to do about the consideration of oral tradition being a key source.
http://historical-jesus.info/41.html
The same goes for the other gospels.

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Re: How late might the gospels be?

Post by Bernard Muller » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:33 am

GLuke and Acts as a reaction to Marcion?
I do not see why Marcion cannot be seen as well as a reaction to gLuke & Acts (and also gMark, gMatthew & gJohn).
That is Marcion reacting to the strong Jewishness of these writings, and that the God of the Jews being the Father of Jesus and Jesus having been a human on earth since birth from a woman.

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Irish1975
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Re: How late might the gospels be?

Post by Irish1975 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:47 am

Paul the Uncertain wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:40 am
Irish1975
... [with] the increased recognition of Mark's literary inventiveness over the whole structure of his narrative, there seems to be less reason to date him early.
Sorry. I didn't follow that. I am a full-bore fan of Mark's literary inventiveness. I don't see how his being a good writer argues for him being earlier or later.

Conversely, I don't see how a former perception that Mark was a poor writer would have made him seem earlier. If I recall correctly, Augustine thought that Mark was a mere derivative summary of the other Gospels, which would tend to place Mark later, not earlier. But other people who presumably still thought little of Mark's skill reordered their estimated composition dates, and placed Mark earliest among the Gospels. That's as opposed to his second-place, and so middling, "canonical order," also presumably estimated by people who were unimpressed with his skill.

Off-hand, then, appreciation of skill level and estimation of temporal priority seem to be more-or-less independent of one another. It might be helpful, then, to flesh out that argument a bit?
By "literary inventiveness" I did not mean "being a good writer." I'm talking about the (now widely recognized) perception that Mark's gospel is laced with allegory, chiastic narrative structures, allusions to Homer, etc. All of which undermines the dominant 20th century assumption of form criticism that Mark's gospel is largely a redaction of atomic pericopae, i.e., oral traditions about historical encounters with Jesus. I've been reading Tom Dykstra's book Mark: Canonizer of Paul, which has much to say on this topic.

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Re: How late might the gospels be?

Post by Giuseppe » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:55 am

Papias is post-Marcion.
While Papias shows the historical distance between himself and the Lord, he highlights the authority of elders from whom he claimed to have received his information about the disciples of the Lord, with Peter foremost among them. Tellingly, Papias does not include Paul amongst these authorities. He reports that the Twelwe had 'to make up for the traitor Judas', a story known from Acts which indirectly excludes Paul from being an Apostle.
Papias' not mentioning Paul, who is to Marcion the authority and the sole Apostle, his insistence upon a distance between the Lord and any author of written accounts, and his avoidance of using Marcion's newly created catchwords (Gospel, Old and New Testament), all contribute to an anti-Marcionite profile.
(Markus Vinzent, Marcion and the dating, p. 13)
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: How late might the gospels be?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Jan 13, 2018 11:22 am

Bernard Muller wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:23 am
My dating of gMark has nothing to do about the consideration of oral tradition being a key source.
I personally am not sure how any realistic dating of Mark would depend upon oral tradition; Papias apparently can still glean stories from "the living voice," and I would date Papias after Mark, as do most. So why would a date near 70 work any better on an assumption of oral tradition than a date, say, near 100 or even later? Probably because, when some scholars speak of "oral tradition," what they really mean is stories straight from Peter's mouth into Mark's ears. While this is not an impossible scenario, it is also not the same as a broad appeal to oral tradition.
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: How late might the gospels be?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Jan 13, 2018 11:24 am

Giuseppe wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:55 am
Papias is post-Marcion.
While Papias shows the historical distance between himself and the Lord, he highlights the authority of elders from whom he claimed to have received his information about the disciples of the Lord, with Peter foremost among them. Tellingly, Papias does not include Paul amongst these authorities. He reports that the Twelwe had 'to make up for the traitor Judas', a story known from Acts which indirectly excludes Paul from being an Apostle.
Papias' not mentioning Paul, who is to Marcion the authority and the sole Apostle, his insistence upon a distance between the Lord and any author of written accounts, and his avoidance of using Marcion's newly created catchwords (Gospel, Old and New Testament), all contribute to an anti-Marcionite profile.
(Markus Vinzent, Marcion and the dating, p. 13)
Marcion is not the only reason for Christians to avoid Paul.
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Paul the Uncertain
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Re: How late might the gospels be?

Post by Paul the Uncertain » Sat Jan 13, 2018 11:45 am

Irish1975
By "literary inventiveness" I did not mean "being a good writer." I'm talking about the (now widely recognized) perception that Mark's gospel is laced with allegory, chiastic narrative structures, allusions to Homer, etc. All of which undermines the dominant 20th century assumption of form criticism that Mark's gospel is largely a redaction of atomic pericopae, i.e., oral traditions about historical encounters with Jesus. I've been reading Tom Dykstra's book Mark: Canonizer of Paul, which has much to say on this topic.
Thanks for the reply.

If your only concern in the remark I asked about was the fate of the one specific theory which sees an early Mark, rather than something about the bearing of inventiveness per se on dating estimates generally, then all is now understood.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: How late might the gospels be?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Jan 13, 2018 11:50 am

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."
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neilgodfrey
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Re: How late might the gospels be?

Post by neilgodfrey » Sat Jan 13, 2018 1:10 pm

andrewcriddle wrote:
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
Yes, and I believe I mentioned the traditions associating Mark with Peter in my first comment. None of these clarify the question that arises from the apparent conflict between the way Papias is said to characterize GMark and the version we read today.

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Re: How late might the gospels be?

Post by neilgodfrey » Sat Jan 13, 2018 1:15 pm

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Last edited by neilgodfrey on Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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