Mark 9:1 "seeing the kingdom having come in power"

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Mark 9:1 "seeing the kingdom having come in power"

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Oct 09, 2018 10:26 am

Stefan Kristensen wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:52 am
Ben, does the time frame set in Mark 9:1 indicate that this verse has to be earlier than AD 70 in your opinion? In my opinion not, I think it could’ve been written after the destruction of the temple and still refer to contemporsries of Jesus as still being alive. I think it’s the same as Mark 13:30.
Mark 9.1 itself I am not sure of in that regard. But I take Mark 13.30 as deriving from before 70, not because of the generational prophecy per se (which can easily spill over 70 in the forward chronological direction on its own merits as a generational statement), but rather because I take 13.30 as going together with the prediction of the abomination of desolation in 13.14 (which has to be part of "all these things"), which I take to be a mostly incorrect prediction that the temple was going to be desecrated (but still standing), and which therefore must have been made while the temple was still standing. Later, this early heart of Mark 13 was incorporated into the chapter as if the abomination of desolation actually predicted the destruction of the temple (13.1-4), and with extra material (13.32-37) designed specifically to blunt the force of the generational prediction.
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Re: Mark 9:1 "seeing the kingdom having come in power"

Post by Stefan Kristensen » Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:11 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 10:26 am
Stefan Kristensen wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:52 am
Ben, does the time frame set in Mark 9:1 indicate that this verse has to be earlier than AD 70 in your opinion? In my opinion not, I think it could’ve been written after the destruction of the temple and still refer to contemporsries of Jesus as still being alive. I think it’s the same as Mark 13:30.
Mark 9.1 itself I am not sure of in that regard. But I take Mark 13.30 as deriving from before 70, not because of the generational prophecy per se (which can easily spill over 70 in the forward chronological direction on its own merits as a generational statement), but rather because I take 13.30 as going together with the prediction of the abomination of desolation in 13.14 (which has to be part of "all these things"), which I take to be a mostly incorrect prediction that the temple was going to be desecrated (but still standing), and which therefore must have been made while the temple was still standing. Later, this early heart of Mark 13 was incorporated into the chapter as if the abomination of desolation actually predicted the destruction of the temple (13.1-4), and with extra material (13.32-37) designed specifically to blunt the force of the generational prediction.
Thanks. A question: why blunt the force of the generational prediction when it could just be removed?
Mark 9.1 itself I am not sure of in that regard.
Then I don't think I understood your response to my suggested interpretation in the original post. I am always grateful for your critical responses!

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Re: Mark 9:1 "seeing the kingdom having come in power"

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Oct 09, 2018 12:04 pm

Stefan Kristensen wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:11 am
Then I don't think I understood your response to my suggested interpretation in the original post.
No, it is I who misunderstood you at first. You emphasized Peter in a way that initially made me think that you thought he was the main target of the words "some standing here," but I see now that you were merely suggesting Peter as the kind of person being targeted. I read too hastily the first time.
A question: why blunt the force of the generational prediction when it could just be removed?
I do not think it could be removed, not overall: not effectively. The expectation that the generation in question was to be the last is found both at Qumran and in the form of the "ambiguous oracle" described by Josephus, Tacitus, and Suetonius; and of course it is also found all across the early Christian texts (Matthew 16.28 = Mark 9.1 = Luke 9.27; Matthew 24.34-35 = Mark 13.30-31 = Luke 21.32-33; John 21.21-23; 1 Corinthians 15.51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4.16-17; many others). The expectation that the apostolic generation was supposed to be the last was well remembered (2 Peter 3.3-4) and could not be ignored, any more than the docetists could ignore Jesus' crucifixion (another early and very well established tradition) and had to find other ways (besides simply removing it) to avoid supposing that the son of God really suffered in the flesh.
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Re: Mark 9:1 "seeing the kingdom having come in power"

Post by Stefan Kristensen » Tue Oct 09, 2018 1:44 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 12:04 pm
A question: why blunt the force of the generational prediction when it could just be removed?
I do not think it could be removed, not overall: not effectively. The expectation that the generation in question was to be the last is found both at Qumran and in the form of the "ambiguous oracle" described by Josephus, Tacitus, and Suetonius; and of course it is also found all across the early Christian texts (Matthew 16.28 = Mark 9.1 = Luke 9.27; Matthew 24.34-35 = Mark 13.30-31 = Luke 21.32-33; John 21.21-23; 1 Corinthians 15.51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4.16-17; many others). The expectation that the apostolic generation was supposed to be the last was well remembered (2 Peter 3.3-4) and could not be ignored, any more than the docetists could ignore Jesus' crucifixion (another early and very well established tradition) and had to find other ways (besides simply removing it) to avoid supposing that the son of God really suffered in the flesh.
Ah, I understand.
Stefan Kristensen wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:11 am
Then I don't think I understood your response to my suggested interpretation in the original post.
No, it is I who misunderstood you at first. You emphasized Peter in a way that initially made me think that you thought he was the main target of the words "some standing here," but I see now that you were merely suggesting Peter as the kind of person being targeted. I read too hastily the first time.
Exactly, Peter functions in 8:33 merely as an example for what Jesus is talking about in the next verses (8:34-9:1), I think. At the time of this event, according to Mark, the opportunity for humans to either reject or accept the Christian truth and become a "follower" of Jesus was not even extant, because there was no Christian truth before Jesus had died and been raised. Only from that point on in history do all the teachings of Jesus come into in force, only then is it possible to "follow" Jesus in the real sense. Until then it is just Jesus who has to walk the "way". So even though Peter and the other disciples act out roles at this point in history, they go on to become actual followers of Jesus the moment when that becomes a possibility, i.e. after Jesus' resurrection into a spiritual being. With Peter as the new shepherd taking over from Jesus, as he apparantly graduates from his education for "fisher of men" by the end of the story, cf. "the disciples and Peter". Anyway, I would still very much appreciate any kind of critical response from you to my suggestion or any specific aspect of it, if you can. I feel pretty sure you have a different view of the verses, 8:38-9:1.

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Re: Mark 9:1 "seeing the kingdom having come in power"

Post by Martin Klatt » Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:03 am

_-_
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Re: Mark 9:1 "seeing the kingdom having come in power"

Post by Stefan Kristensen » Wed Oct 10, 2018 2:53 am

Martin Klatt wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:03 am
I think that most of the questions that arose here might be answered by the following title by Steffen Jöris:

The Use and Function of genea in the Gospel of Mark: New Light on Mk 13:30.

It is published and available on Amazon, but I read the original doctoral dissertation. Just to give you the gist of it, Jöris asserts compellingly that the word γενεά must be understood as denoting the people that oppose Jesus' λόγος. Following that contention he concludes that there is no prediction/promise of survival but instead one of demise of the γενεά when the kingdom comes.
Yes, this an interesting proposition. I don't know how Jöris' work relates to the original post, though, how he then interprets 9:1. If you can remember, I would be grateful. I'm not familiar with the work of Jöris, but havn't his argument, as you present it here, been proposed before? I know of this proposition (I think) and personally I think it makes good sense. Like so many other words I think that this might also be intended to be another cryptic terminus technicus in Mark's cryptic account, i.e. carrying the same deeper meaning in most/all of the places it occurs. If I'm not mistaken, the standard modern apologetic way to explain the supposed 'mis-prediction' of Jesus in 9:1 and 13:30 is exactly this, that the word γενεα refers not to Jesus' comtemporaries but to the Jewish race?

I've often entertained the idea that the word γενεα in gMark is used in order to relate the Jewish people in general, i.e. the Jewish 'race', or rather in their capacity of the theological concept of 'Israel' the chosen people (cf. world history as a narrative with certain 'characters'), relating them to the concrete desert generation of Israelites who had to die in the desert and not enter the promised land because of their idolatry and unfaithfulness. We can see in the Jewish apocalyptic literature there is a concept of the 'last generation', i.e. that generation of Jews who live just before the great visitation of God, the end.

And this last generation is characterized in the same way as humanity before the Flood, as the pinnacle of human corruption. But it is also described using terms and concepts imported from the Exodus story concerning that disobediant desert generation. It seems like the desert generation, which holds such a big role in the founding narrative of the Jewish people, the Exodus story, became a stencil for the whole 'race' of the disobediant Jews, or 'Israelites'.

And so when Mark (and the other gospel writers) has Jesus speak about his fellow Jews as a "generation" he likewise often uses the words used in Exodus story for the disobediant Israelites. Also Steven's speech in Acts is prime example of this, relating the Jewish people that refuses to accept the gospel (or λογος) to the specific generation of the disobediant Israelites of the Exodus narrative.

So I agree that maybe the word γενεα is (also) meant as a 'race', like γενος, which is how I guess Jöris takes it? But I think it's hard to disregard that the immediate sense of both 13:30 and 8:38-9:1 is very clearly the temporal sense. At least that's how I see it, that any reader/audience to this text would immediately understand γενεα in the frame of a simple temporal reference.


On an aside note, I've wondered about the peculiar "γενος" at the exorcism in Mark 9:29, "this kind (γενος) can not come out except by prayer". That this could have something to do with the "faithless generation" mentioned just before, in 9:19. Mark uses this word, γενος, in the sense of "race", when in 7:26 describing the heathen woman, "Syrophenician of race". In any case, Mark doesn't come across to me as somebody who is concerned with the finer details of demonology, so if you ask me, there has to be some more sensible meaning to the reference to "this kind" of spirit, which is connected with the deeper meaning of the context (whatever that is).

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Re: Mark 9:1 "seeing the kingdom having come in power"

Post by Martin Klatt » Wed Oct 10, 2018 6:05 am

-_-
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Re: Mark 9:1 "seeing the kingdom having come in power"

Post by Stefan Kristensen » Fri Oct 12, 2018 4:02 am

Martin Klatt wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 6:05 am
If I remember correctly Jöris indeed took the same track you sketched. He too looked at the sources in Exodus especially and the rest of scripture and other non-biblical Jewish writings and even relevant Greek literature establishing the base meanings, to build his case. For every instance of γενεα in Mark he did a structure and form analysis of the pericope, but you have to read it yourself as I don't remember all details.

The strange case of the γενος in Mark 9:29 has my attention also. It feels out of place and incoherent as it is translated now. I entertain the possibility that the pericope got corrupted somehow and it originally also read γενεα and was meant to convey the meaning that the scribes who were mentioned as disputing with the disciples were the reason for their failure. In that case the disciples were unable because the scribes interfered. The scribes, as know it alls of scripture would have competed in exorcisms, the official Jewish procedure being reciting prayers and psalms.
I've given alot of thought to the idea that the interconnection between the concepts of faith and prayer is one fundamental background to understand 9:29 in its context. Because the context, as I see it, is not just the Epileptic Boy, the context embraces the whole section from Peter's confession and the first 'passion prediction' right through to 9:29, and one unifying theme in this section is that of the hardships of the "way" and of mission and the reward.

Explaining fully how on earth I can find this particular theme within the story of "the Epileptic Boy" takes too long for the time I have right now. But let me explain it anyway, unstructured as it comes off the top of my head.

First, I would not call this pericope the story of "the Epileptic Boy" as much as the story of "the Resuscitation of the Tormented Mute Son". This is a desciption of the incident that can better bring out the symbolism that I suggest is in there. As such there runs a thread from Jesus' first passion predicton where he is "speaking the Word openly (παρρησια)" in 8:32, through 8:34-9:1 with "me and the gospel" and eternal life, through the Transfiguration with "this is my son, hear him", through 9:9-14 with the disciples not speaking until the resurrection, to this incident with the mute son that no one hears who "is like dead", but "rises" as he is healed by Jesus. The accompanying motif all along, except specifically the Transfiguration scene in 9:2-8, is suffering and resurrection: the hardships of being a Christian and a missionary, the same hardship Jesus overcomes as the first proto-missionary to walk "the way" to the end and receive the reward, to enter the kingdom of God in the resurrection to eternal life.

To me, these observations tell us something fundamental about the context of 9:29. In my suggested reading, the dramatic imaging of the epileptic seizures of the poor mute boy are symbolic of the hardship of the missionaries post-easter, which is most explicitly spoken of in 13:9-14, but also dramatized as the danger at sea, the missionaries being "fishers of men" (cf. the Stilling of the Storm and Walking on the Lake). And in this hardship the human, fleshly inclination towards fear that opposes the gospel being preached "openly/without fear" (παρρησια, 8:32) is dramatized explicitly with Jesus in Gethsemane. But here Jesus shows his "faith/confidence in God" (Mark 11:22) with his prayer which he prays in order to get the strength to go through his own "witnessing", i.e. his martyrdom 'on account of the gospel message' (8:35; 14:62). He then goes on to "witness" the Word "openly/without fear" (παρρησια). His prayer in Gethsemane, then, is fully a part of the same idea as the prayer spoken of in 9:29, I suggest. It is a prayer that shows and even causes confidence (i.e. πιστις) that God can and will come through even though I am now suffering in the flesh. A confidence (or faith, "πιστις") that the father of the epileptic boy does not show (at first).

So, I suggest that "this kind" of spirit is: the kind that tries to shut up the missionary by somehow 'triggering' (or what it is Satan does) his fleshly inclinations towards fear and anxiety about having to "witness" to the gospel message in the face of hatred, shame and even persecution, i.e. martyrdom. Maybe Mark is thinking specifically about a concrete form of spiritual being, one of Satan's minions, Satan's way to try and derail martyrdom and God's plan (cf. 8:33). Maybe Mark is just using this spiritual being in this incident with the epileptic boy as a didactic symbol for this general human anxiety.

In any case, I think it should be clear to all that for Mark the theme of the hardship that comes with being a faithful Christian and missionary is an extremely central one. It pops up everwhere, even as Mark imports Jonah's fear of preaching God's word which the poor prophet then does only after "three days and three nights" in "sheol" (Jon 1:17; 2:2), cf. the Stilling of the Storm where the disciples' fear of the dangerous stormy sea is a parallel to Peter's reaction to the passion prediction, and Jesus' rebuke in both places as the remedy. And it is this theme he narrates even also in the incident with "the Epileptic Boy", I suggest. The epileptic seizures, like the roary sea, being another symbol of the dreadful conditions of the Christians and the missionaries. "Fear not, only have faith!" (5:36)

That's also the explicit reason given on the surface level narrative in Mark 16 for the women's failure to tell of the resurrection: "because they feared". So did Jesus, but then he prayed to God, so that his anxieties could come out by his faith in God's abilities. Because "this kind can only come out by prayer". And it does, the moment the father of the epileptic boy believes in Jesus' abilities and prays: "Help my faithlessness!" At fist he didn't have faith, and neither did the "faithless" disciples (9:19). For their anxieties to come out, so that they can speak "after the son of man has risen from the dead" (9:9), it takes prayer and faith. It takes prayer to overcome this fear, so that the gospel can be spread, and the prayer is confidence in God's (and Jesus') willingness and ablitiy.

I need to stress that I'm aware that much of this is probably ridiculous speculation, but it's a suggestion based on many observations, not just these in gMark but also in the whole of NT, where, imo, a term such as "παρρησια" helps to show how there are deep themes running through all of NT theology, helping to construct greater complexes of ideas among all these ancient theologians, which then also are the fundamental building blocks for Mark's theology which expressses itself through his peculiar narration of it. And atm I feel confident that this is at least the right avenue of interpretion.

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Re: Mark 9:1 "seeing the kingdom having come in power"

Post by Stefan Kristensen » Thu Oct 18, 2018 5:57 am

With regards to the question of "this generation", I was reading in Acts and saw this interesting bit in connection with the incident with the first conversions to faith ever, where Luke says something about conversion meaning "saved from this crooked generation".

It's Pentecost and the apostles receive the spirit and preaches about God's mighty deeds (2:11) in all kinds of languages. Beause of that a large crowd gathers of diaspora Jews who have travelled to Jerusalem to lodge for the Pentecost (apparantly). They are confounded and wonder about how these Galileans are able to do this all of a sudden, speaking in all the various native languages of these diaspora Jews.

Peter then addresses them in preaching, the very first preaching of the gospel in history, as it were, explaining from Scripture what is going on, i.e. the gift of the holy spirit given by Jesus as he has been resurreced and has taken his seat with God as Lord and messiah.

Throughout the speech Peter addresses these Jews first as "Judeans and all you who lodge in Jerusalem" (2:14), then "Israelites" (2:22), and then "brothers" (2:29), and then indirectly "the whole house of Israel" (2:36). At the end, these Jews are then "cut to the heart" and ask Peter and the rest of the apostles: "What shall we do, Brothers!" Peter answers them:
Acts 2,38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2,39 For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.”
Acts 2,40 And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”
Acts 2,41 So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.
Acts 2,42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

This must mean that when you convert, you are no longer part of the "crooked generation". If so, then generation (γενεα) here means ethnic lineage, i.e. the Jewish 'race'. When you convert you are not of the Jewish race, or people. So what is your 'new' race then? Good question, but as Peter in the end addresses them as "brothers" and they address Peter and the apostles as "brothers", that may indicate that they now all go on to belong to the same, new race of humans. Not Israeliets descended from Abraham, not Gentiles descended from other forefathers. A new race with a new descent. From God and Christ, I guess. If one can be "saved from" one's "generation", that means that 'one' no longer takes part in one's fleshly descent?

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Re: Mark 9:1 "seeing the kingdom having come in power"

Post by DCHindley » Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:14 pm

Stefan Kristensen wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 5:57 am
With regards to the question of "this generation", I was reading in Acts and saw this interesting bit in connection with the incident with the first conversions to faith ever, where Luke says something about conversion meaning "saved from this crooked generation".

It's Pentecost and the apostles receive the spirit and preaches about God's mighty deeds (2:11) in all kinds of languages. Beause of that a large crowd gathers of diaspora Jews who have travelled to Jerusalem to lodge for the Pentecost (apparantly). They are confounded and wonder about how these Galileans are able to do this all of a sudden, speaking in all the various native languages of these diaspora Jews.

Peter then addresses them in preaching, the very first preaching of the gospel in history, as it were, explaining from Scripture what is going on, i.e. the gift of the holy spirit given by Jesus as he has been resurreced and has taken his seat with God as Lord and messiah.

Throughout the speech Peter addresses these Jews first as "Judeans and all you who lodge in Jerusalem" (2:14), then "Israelites" (2:22), and then "brothers" (2:29), and then indirectly "the whole house of Israel" (2:36). At the end, these Jews are then "cut to the heart" and ask Peter and the rest of the apostles: "What shall we do, Brothers!" Peter answers them:
Acts 2,38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2,39 For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.”
Acts 2,40 And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”
Acts 2,41 So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.
Acts 2,42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

This must mean that when you convert, you are no longer part of the "crooked generation". If so, then generation (γενεα) here means ethnic lineage, i.e. the Jewish 'race'. When you convert you are not of the Jewish race, or people. So what is your 'new' race then? Good question, but as Peter in the end addresses them as "brothers" and they address Peter and the apostles as "brothers", that may indicate that they now all go on to belong to the same, new race of humans. Not Israeliets descended from Abraham, not Gentiles descended from other forefathers. A new race with a new descent. From God and Christ, I guess. If one can be "saved from" one's "generation", that means that 'one' no longer takes part in one's fleshly descent?
You have a pretty good grasp if the circumstances.

Are you familiar with Denise Kimber Buell's 'Rethinking the Relevance of Race for Early Christian Self-Definition' (HTR 944, 2001, 449–476)? She reaches very similar conclusions.

DCH

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