Mark 16 and the silence of the women: The disciples redeemed?

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Paul the Uncertain
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Re: Mark 16 and the silence of the women: The disciples redeemed?

Post by Paul the Uncertain » Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:52 pm

gmx wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 3:24 pm
I attempted to find a thread about what the women were a afraid of, but didn't locate it. I'm sure it's been asked before. If they never understood that Jesus foretold his resurrection, and find the stone rolled away and a young man saying he is risen, go tell Pete and the homies to hightail it up to Galilee, why were they so afraid, and secondly, why would being so afraid be a reason not to tell the inner circle?
The word used seems versatile, possibly referring to any of several specific emotional states, often accompanied by physical signs of intensity. That is clearly the case at 16:8.

http://biblehub.com/greek/5399.htm

There doesn't seem to be any need of a "something" to be afraid "of." The Sunday morning events as narrated are emotionally enervating. The context is that the women spent all day Friday watching somebody being slowly suffocated after having been partially flayed alive.

There is also nothing in the word chosen that connotes permanent disability. I do not see any issue of whether Mark meant what he wrote. What he wrote carries no commitment to the women keeping anything secret forever and ever thereafter.

Maybe they did, maybe they didn't. The only way Mark would be committed one way or the other is if his story continued onward from 16:8.

Example: On one Sunday morning thirty or forty years ago, John asked me to take his son to the the zoo. I declined. I was having the most emotionally draining weekend of my life, and I found myself unable to drive, not anywhere.

In the example, we aren't told that I never, ever accompanied John's son to the zoo. We are told only why I did not promptly comply with John's request. While it is possible that I never did go to the zoo with John's son, just as it is possible that I never drove anywhere else ever again, those cannot be inferred from the example.

Example continued: On one Sunday morning thirty or forty years ago, John asked me to take his son to the zoo. I declined. I was allergic to birds and mammals, and I was frightened of reptiles.

In this case, because my stated reasons for declining John's request are chronic and their salience to the request is essential, we may infer that I didn't comply for a long time.

If apart from the text, the reader has reasons to expect that John's son had visited the zoo sometime early on during those decades that elapsed, then we still know nothing about how that happened. It may be that John made other arrangements, or maybe I took his son to the zoo after all.

In the first example, perhaps I felt better that afternoon, or the next weekend. In the second case, maybe I consulted an allergist and a psychiatrist, and John's request became a turning point in my life and in the lives of those around me.

Reason enough to think there was more to this story, IMO.

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Re: Mark 16 and the silence of the women: The disciples redeemed?

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Thu Jun 07, 2018 11:05 pm

Ulan wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 3:41 pm
You see, and I don't understand how any of this qualifies as witness. An anonymous mob that has no relation to the dying is as good as nonexistent. They will forget about this unimportant - to them - episode. A witness is someone who you can ask. As Mark was probably written during or after the Jewish War, those anonymous people were most probably dead, either through natural reasons or killed in the war. Of course, we have Simon of Cyrene, although we don't get told whether he stayed and actually witnessed anything past the carrying of the cross. We have priests etc., all anonymous and dead men walking. We have an anonymous centurion who witnessed the death, but he only serves as a foil. Pilate plays a big role in the story, but how would he be a witness? He is informed by the same anonymous centurion. Explicitly mentioned as witnesses of the death itself are only that anonymous centurion and three named women. In addition, Joseph of Arimathaea handled the dead body, and it's anyone's guess where this guy came from, what he actually saw, and where he went to. Mark does not tell us. What Mark does tell us in very specific words is that Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were the witnesses of this. Pointing out that these two women are the witnesses is exactly how chapter 15 ends. It is kind of funny that Joseph of Arimathea is not a witness, even if he did all the work. There seemed to have been no communication between Joseph and the women.
My impression is that you avoid my question as far as possible. I did not ask if the other people are real witnesses, but for whatever reason a witness should be needed. A witness is needed when something is doubtful. That does not seem to me to be the case in Mark's story, as far as the death of Jesus is concerned. I also think that you do not test your assumption on the portrayal of Mark, meaning: Does the portrayal of Mark correspond to the hypothetical intention that he wanted to shape characters as real witnesses? Why should he position the women "in the distance", if he wanted to have good witnesses of what happened? Do you think that impressions "from afar" can form the basis of a good testimony and that such a narration corresponds to the assumed intention of the author?

Beyond our discussion: So far I had not the impression of you that you could ever argue that a reader of Mark was able to ask a character from Mark's story in the historical reality, for example, that a reader of Mark could know where Mary Magdalene lives (probably in Magdala?) and could really asks her questions. Is it only because of our discussion or have you changed your views in the meantime (from my point of view) completely or was just my impression wrong?

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Re: Mark 16 and the silence of the women: The disciples redeemed?

Post by Stefan Kristensen » Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:22 am

DCHindley wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 6:14 pm
Why do I feel we are judging the women in a way analogous to what we expect every time we see a film featuring a woman who is running, she trips. This has to be such an unbreakable rule among film directors that I think it has happened in every single movie I have ever seen in which a woman runs. The movie can be about a marathon runner, but she'll trip.

So, the woman who are told of Jesus' resurrection but say nothing are scared or weak. Just like the running woman in a film is always scared and weak.

Since we all know from real life that women are not always scared and weak, but strong people who have a mission that they will not let be compromised by telling the encounter to a bunch of bumbling disciples/apostles so they can bumble their own explanations for what they (tought) they saw.

No, they kept it to themselves to secretly formulate the "real" explanation/rationalization and passed it around to their womenfolk friends while winnowing, spinning or baking bread, who in turn told their husbands while in the sack with their husbands, and they said "Yeah, That makes sense!" Unfortunately, the men did manage to garble it a good bit. At least men are consistently strong and unafraid to mess up a good story.

This fantasy has been brought to you by ...

DCH
Pillow talk as a ‘witnessing’ to the Word? Sure, the Lord works in mysterious ways.

If I’m not mistaken women were by nature regarded as fearful. That’s probably the reason that the word for “courageous” is “ἀνδρεῖος”, “manly”...

There’s also the understanding that the cowardly disciples that fled are contrasted with the courageous women who hang around Jesus to the end, because they are not afraid of the authorities. But should we expect the authorities to care about the women, i.e. to regard them as a threat?

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Re: Mark 16 and the silence of the women: The disciples redeemed?

Post by Ulan » Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:47 am

Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 11:05 pm
My impression is that you avoid my question as far as possible. I did not ask if the other people are real witnesses, but for whatever reason a witness should be needed. A witness is needed when something is doubtful. That does not seem to me to be the case in Mark's story, as far as the death of Jesus is concerned. I also think that you do not test your assumption on the portrayal of Mark, meaning: Does the portrayal of Mark correspond to the hypothetical intention that he wanted to shape characters as real witnesses?
This is a legitimate question. However, I see a difference between the approaches that, on one hand, an author inserts face- and nameless masses or historical figures into a story, which all more or less look like vehicles to further the story, or, on the other hand, identifies figures that are more or less unique to his story. Those women in the distance are not all anonymous, but some of them get names. They play a role here, and for some reason, the author felt it important to mention their role as witnesses. We can argue as to what the purpose of this is, but this is a basic observation. Why are these three women the only named people from Jesus' environment who witness his death?
Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 11:05 pm
Why should he position the women "in the distance", if he wanted to have good witnesses of what happened? Do you think that impressions "from afar" can form the basis of a good testimony and that such a narration corresponds to the assumed intention of the author?
This, indeed, is an excellent question. I have always maintained that this somehow stresses that Mark is telling us an invented story. I also agree that this makes all witnesses to Jesus' death unreliable. I also see your point that just seeing an empty tomb and some guy telling stories is a rather unreliable witness. And yet, at the basic level, Mark establishes "witnesses" here, and he keeps up the same named witnesses for the death of Jesus, his burial, and for the empty tomb. I'm not even sure why we would have to argue over this point. It doesn't even touch your interpretation.
Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 11:05 pm
Beyond our discussion: So far I had not the impression of you that you could ever argue that a reader of Mark was able to ask a character from Mark's story in the historical reality, for example, that a reader of Mark could know where Mary Magdalene lives (probably in Magdala?) and could really asks her questions. Is it only because of our discussion or have you changed your views in the meantime (from my point of view) completely or was just my impression wrong?
It may just be that we, in part, talk past each other. If you look at my argument about the quality of those witnesses you (and admittedly most commenters on the NT) see as completely sufficient (public event, Pilate), you may see that I, indeed, have doubt as to the historicity of anything we look at here. From the perspective of someone writing in the aftermath of the Jewish War, the city of Jerusalem, where no stone is left on the other and much of the population annihilated, is the perfect canvas to paint an invented story on and still make use of a huge public space with many people. Neither that place nor those people exist anymore. You can make them say and see whatever you want. However, for whatever reason, Mark introduces very few named figures in here, where he stresses that they performed some acts (carry the cross, bury Jesus) or are explicitly named as witnesses (death of Jesus, his burial, the empty tomb). Why he chose to use these named people for these specific purposes, I don't know.

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Re: Mark 16 and the silence of the women: The disciples redeemed?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Jun 08, 2018 5:02 am

Ulan wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:47 am
Why should he position the women "in the distance", if he wanted to have good witnesses of what happened? Do you think that impressions "from afar" can form the basis of a good testimony and that such a narration corresponds to the assumed intention of the author?
This, indeed, is an excellent question. I have always maintained that this somehow stresses that Mark is telling us an invented story. I also agree that this makes all witnesses to Jesus' death unreliable. I also see your point that just seeing an empty tomb and some guy telling stories is a rather unreliable witness.
The women looking on from afar seems to me to be one of those details constructed from or inspired by the scriptures:

Psalm 38.11 (37.12 OG): My friends and my neighbors stand aloof from my plague; and those near me [οἱ ἔγγιστά μου] stand afar off [ἀπὸ μακρόθεν].

Mark 15.40: 40 There were also some women looking on from afar [ἀπὸ μακρόθεν], among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome. 41 When He was in Galilee, they used to follow Him [ἠκολούθουν αὐτῷ] and minister to Him; and there were many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.

But of course the element of witnessing the death, the burial, and the empty tomb does not figure in to this parallel; something else is going on there, and I am inclined to agree with Ken that the matching up of these elements with 1 Corinthians 15.3-4 is not a coincidence.
And yet, at the basic level, Mark establishes "witnesses" here, and he keeps up the same named witnesses for the death of Jesus, his burial, and for the empty tomb. I'm not even sure why we would have to argue over this point. It doesn't even touch your interpretation.
Maybe Bauckham has colored any conversation using the word "witness" to the point that people are afraid that their debating partners are pouring too much meaning into it.
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Re: Mark 16 and the silence of the women: The disciples redeemed?

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Jun 08, 2018 5:12 am

I've always found it curious that the author of Book 4 Against Marcion agrees with this. This is his point in writing the book - ie the Scriptures essentially are the DNA for the gospel. At times his arguments anticipate what later appear in Luke. The implication of his argument is that his opponents had a "Scripture-free" gospel. But did they really claim this? Was this really true.
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Re: Mark 16 and the silence of the women: The disciples redeemed?

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Fri Jun 08, 2018 6:58 am

JoeWallack wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 3:42 pm
Getting back to 1) and 2) above, my question for you is if "Mark's" Jesus was aware of the irony above. I don't think he was ...
Agreed.

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Re: Mark 16 and the silence of the women: The disciples redeemed?

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Fri Jun 08, 2018 7:09 am

Ulan wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:47 am
I'm not even sure why we would have to argue over this point. It doesn't even touch your interpretation.
Probably I'm discussing here because I believe that someone misunderstands Paul and Mark when he assumes that one of them may have been interested in historical evidence. My view is that both would invent a lot to prove that Jesus died according to the scriptures or because of our sins, but not the simple historical fact that he died.

Ulan wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:47 am
They play a role here, and for some reason, the author felt it important to mention their role as witnesses. We can argue as to what the purpose of this is, but this is a basic observation. Why are these three women the only named people from Jesus' environment who witness his death?
I would say that the basic oberservation is that in Mark 15 they play the role of "watchers". Attributing to them the function of witnesses is already interpretation.

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Re: Mark 16 and the silence of the women: The disciples redeemed?

Post by Ulan » Fri Jun 08, 2018 8:05 am

Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 7:09 am
Ulan wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:47 am
I'm not even sure why we would have to argue over this point. It doesn't even touch your interpretation.
Probably I'm discussing here because I believe that someone misunderstands Paul and Mark when he assumes that one of them may have been interested in historical evidence. My view is that both would invent a lot to prove that Jesus died according to the scriptures or because of our sins, but not the simple historical fact that he died.
And this distinction is completely irrelevant to what I say. Mark introduces named figures into his story. I myself said that I don't think the story is historical, but this doesn't matter regarding this simple, factual observation. Whether the witnesses are just witnesses within a story or in a historical context is a completely separate question. I have always maintained the view that it makes no difference at all to the stories we have if they describe fictional or historical processes. We cannot really decide this from the stories, and definitely not from Mark.

Which would actually mean that I have the feeling that it's actually you who puts in her interpretations into the plain reading of the text, if you really are sure I make an error here. Or, as Ben said, you put too much weight into the word "witness". For example, detective stories are full of witnesses, even if they never existed.
Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 7:09 am
Ulan wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:47 am
They play a role here, and for some reason, the author felt it important to mention their role as witnesses. We can argue as to what the purpose of this is, but this is a basic observation. Why are these three women the only named people from Jesus' environment who witness his death?
I would say that the basic oberservation is that in Mark 15 they play the role of "watchers". Attributing to them the function of witnesses is already interpretation.
There's no difference between these roles. Someone who watches is a witness. You see that this is important to Mark, because, unlike all other named figures in chapter 15, these women are only mentioned and named in their role of witnessing the death and the burial, and they seem to be the only ones to know where the tomb was. They then act in chapter 16.

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Re: Mark 16 and the silence of the women: The disciples redeemed?

Post by Martin Klatt » Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:11 am

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Last edited by Martin Klatt on Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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