Mark 16: why women and not men?

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Giuseppe
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Mark 16: why women and not men?

Post by Giuseppe » Wed Jun 06, 2018 7:34 am

If I take the apologists in their own words:
The Christians were the first people in Antiquity to value the witness of the women
...then this may be true but under a particular condition: they did value the witness of the women because they were moved to do so, because the alternative was too much absurd for them to accept: that the women were introduced at the tomb only in order to prove the extreme weakness of their claims, and by extension of Peter and company.

The clues seem to be put there not to make believe more, but to provoke more doubt:

1) women and not men,

2) women who can't move the stone (equally, they can't move the human "rock", Peter, to Galilee, differently from Jesus who is able to move Peter in Galilee by only a word)

3) women who fear even a young man in the tomb.

4) women who continue to have fear (out of the tomb) even after the command by the young to have not fear.

5) the young man is not even an angel, so where is his authority from? The last one who has been with and who then abandons Jesus, is also the first one to announce his resurrection, but he fails to announce his resurrection, since even the women who fleed him are remembered (by name) while his name is not remembered. So if he had a merit, even so the his role is entirely vain to explain the origin of the belief in Jerusalem. The reader knows only that in Galilee is happening the "real origin" of the Christianity.

Hence the question: why was the Galilee so important? What was happening really there? The reader is left with the secret hope that at least in Galilee, if not in Jerusalem, there are less idiots à la Peter and the women. But was it really so? Or even in Galilee did they fail to see the Risen?

(In addition: Celsus despised the Christianity as a religion of women and slaves. Could the young man be only a slave? )
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

John2
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Re: Mark 16: why women and not men?

Post by John2 » Wed Jun 06, 2018 8:06 am

I like MacDonald's idea that the women at the tomb are based on Hecuba, Andromache and Helen. As he sums it up on page 145 of The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark:
... Mark's account retains distinctive traits from Homer, such as the abandonment of the hero by his protecting deity, the summoning and non-appearance of a mortal ally, the linkage between the death of the hero and the destruction of a city "from top to bottom," and the laments of women watching from a distance.

https://books.google.com/books?id=8JkFq ... en&f=false
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Re: Mark 16: why women and not men?

Post by John2 » Wed Jun 06, 2018 8:17 am

Hence the question: why was the Galilee so important? What was happening really there?
Because that is where Jesus is said to have come from, like (other) Fourth Philosophers. Take Josephus' account of the conversion of Izates in Ant. 20, for example. He too, like Gentile Christians, contended with the issue of circumcision vs. non-circumcision, with the latter being promoted by someone with the same name as the person who is said to have converted Paul (Ananias), and the former by someone from Galilee (Eleazar). I figure that since Galilee was the origin of the Fourth Philosophy, which was pro-Torah and anti-oral Torah like Jesus, it must have been an important place, perhaps even a sanctuary, for people who were like that (i.e., it was a hotbed of "zealotism" and further away from the reach of the Pharisees in Jerusalem, which would be handy if you were pro-Torah and anti-oral Torah like Jesus was).
Last edited by John2 on Wed Jun 06, 2018 10:02 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Giuseppe
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Re: Mark 16: why women and not men?

Post by Giuseppe » Wed Jun 06, 2018 8:22 am

There is something that makes me remember the Exodus episode, also.

The women see Jesus from a distant position just as the Pharao and the Egyptians see Moses from a distant position. Just as the Egyptians wanted to follow Moses even in the passage of the Red Sea, so the women are so obstinate to go to the tomb. Only a surprising event could make flee them in both the cases.

Curiously, the Exodus was an allegory of the death and resurrection, according to the Gnostic Peratai and Naasseni.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

Giuseppe
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Re: Mark 16: why women and not men?

Post by Giuseppe » Wed Jun 06, 2018 8:26 am

So, if I am correct to compare Mark 16 with the Exodus motive, the "empty tomb" would be the Red Sea, "Jerusalem" would be the land of Egypt (as per the Book of Revelation) while the "Galilee" would be the Promised Land.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

Ken Olson
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Re: Mark 16: why women and not men?

Post by Ken Olson » Wed Jun 06, 2018 8:29 am

The last verse of Mark may be a kind of find story designed to explain why this information about the women discovering the empty tomb was not known before. The angel’s command to Daniel, near the end of the book, to “keep the words secret and the book sealed until the time of the end” (Daniel 12.4) has a similar function. It’s meant to explain to the original audience of the book (c. 167-164 BCE) why they are only now hearing the prophecies of Daniel, which purport to have been made some four centuries earlier.

This is not a new theory. In his discussion of the of Mark at 16.8 in his Moffat Commentary on Mark (1937), B.H. Branscomb writes:
That Paul does not mention the discovery of the empty tomb in his citation of the Christian proofs of the resurrection has already been referred to. In other words, the experiences of the women at the tomb were either unknown or disregarded until after a belief in His resurrection had been established on other grounds. If the early Church was aware that this story played no part in the earlier stages of the movement, and was only brought to light later, some explanation would be necessary. Mark’s final sentence gives the explanation—at first the women said nothing of these matters because they were afraid. After the disciples declared that Jesus had appeared to them, they came forward with their story. In time we can see this part of the account developing. Not only do the women discover the empty tomb, but Jesus appears to them (Matt. 28.8 and John 20.14), and they become the first witnesses to the resurrection. But this development was after Paul’s day. (Branscomb, Mark, 309).
Branscomb’s proposes that the experiences of the women at the tomb were either unknown or disregarded in Paul’s time. He ends up adopting the more conservative conclusion:
He quite possibly knew of the women’s story in the form in which Mark records it, and dated the resurrection on the third day because of it. But to Paul’s mind an empty tomb was not proof of the resurrection, and he rests his case on firmer ground.
The more radical form of this thesis about the story of the women at the tomb has been restated (relatively) more recently by Ross Shepard Kraemer, responding to F.W. Beare’s thesis that the empty tomb stories arose in response to beliefs about the bodily resurrection (Beare, The Earliest Records of Jesus, 1962, 241):
When Christians eventually crystallized beliefs about the bodily resurrection of Jesus, they told stories about the empty tomb designed to confirm the physical resurrection, even though, as Beare points out, the absence of the body most readily suggests that someone has removed it, not that the person had risen from the dead. Beare did not consider the significance of the fact that women are “credited” with the discovery of the empty tomb. But why? Positing women as the original parties at the empty tomb would have provided an adequate answer to the question of why this information had not surfaced earlier, by claiming unofficial and secret witnesses and by blaming women, indirectly at least, for a failure of nerve that led to the suppression of this information. To those who might have asked, “Why doesn’t the Apostle Paul mention these stories?” or “Why haven’t we heard them before?” the answer would have been: because women discovered the vacant tomb and either they did not tell anyone (Mark 16:8) or they did, but no one believed them (Luke 24:11), and no one then retold the story until now. (Kraemer, Her Share of the Blessings, 1994, 130).
On the previous page from that quoted above, Branscomb observed:
The fact that Paul’s list in 1 Cor.15.3 ff. contains appearances to Peter and the disciples as a group—all the more probably in Galilee—but knows of no appearances to the women, strongly supports this view of Mark’s conclusion. For clearly the Marcan tradition and the Pauline one are related to each other.
How closely related are they? First, let’s look at 1 Cor.15.3-5, the sections that is commonly held to represent a pre-Pauline creed:
1 Cor. 15: 3For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
So the creed tells that the Jesus appeared after his resurrection to Cephas and the twelve, but who were the witnesses to the earlier parts? What witnesses establish that (1) he died, (2) he was buried, and (3), that he was raised on the third day?

Mark tells us:
Mark 15: 39 Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” 40 There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.
Mark 15: 46 Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.
Mark 16: When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 4 When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
(Ben Smith posted these passages from mark in the Silence of the Women thread last night as I was writing this): viewtopic.php?f=3&t=4235&p=87919&hilit=salome#p87919

I do not think the the correlation between the three events for which the creed names no witnesses and the things seen by the named women who show up abruptly in Mark’s gospel is coincidental. Conservative apologists often suggest that the testimony of the women has to be accepted since, in first century Judaism, women’s testimony was not valued, so no one would invent it. On that theory, the pre-Pauline creed knew of the women’s testimony, but suppressed their names. But it seems to me that the thesis that a writer might invent the testimony of women who told no one in order to explain to his readers why they have never heard this story before is the better explanation. No doubt other explanations are possible.

Best,

Ken

Giuseppe
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Re: Mark 16: why women and not men?

Post by Giuseppe » Wed Jun 06, 2018 8:51 am

But it seems to me that the thesis that a writer might invent the testimony of women who told no one in order to explain to his readers why they have never heard this story before is the better explanation.
I see that too much often the "women" are seen as "true" Christian female disciples (and your interpretation doesn't exception). But I have serious doubts about it. A writer might invent the testimony of women who told no one in order to explain to his readers why the Pillars had not a Paul as their disciple: not even a Paul could base his Gospel on the mere testimony of women.

But beyond these "euhemerizing" interpretations (since I see that Ken and John2 interpret the episode as a mere effort by "Mark" to "explain" the origin of the cult or something of similar, very much similar to à la author of Acts), I am saying here that the women in Mark 16 are negative people: their names remember the 12 or the brothers of Jesus kata sarka. They are persecutors insofar they want to follow obstinately the physical (apparent) body of Jesus but they are really indifferent about the fate of the spiritual Christ.

So they are really similar to the Egyptian army of the Pharaon who perished in the Red Sea while they were pursuing Moses.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Mark 16: why women and not men?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Jun 06, 2018 9:10 am

Ken Olson wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 8:29 am
But it seems to me that the thesis that a writer might invent the testimony of women who told no one in order to explain to his readers why they have never heard this story before is the better explanation.
Very much agreed!
No doubt other explanations are possible.
Also agreed, albeit with noticeably less enthusiasm. ;)
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Giuseppe
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Re: Mark 16: why women and not men?

Post by Giuseppe » Wed Jun 06, 2018 9:54 am

I don't see so much difference between the women and the parents searching for Jesus in Mark 3:31-34 : in both the cases they were pursuing the mere physical appearance of Jesus, his ''body''.

The unique difference is that in the case of the women, a surprise is expecting them. Just as a surprise expected the Egyptians.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

Giuseppe
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Re: Mark 16: why women and not men?

Post by Giuseppe » Wed Jun 06, 2018 9:57 am

The same stone that is removed may very well allegorize the Red Sea waters that retract before Moses.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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