Mark’s ménage a trois with Miriam and Paul

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robert j
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Mark’s ménage a trois with Miriam and Paul

Post by robert j » Wed Apr 08, 2015 9:10 am

Mark’s leper --- through the shared Miriam --- is Paul. Or so it seems.

More specifically, I'm suggesting that Paul served as the inspiration, as the model for the fictive figure of Mark's leper.

I'm convinced that the author of GMark used Paul's letters in crafting his tale, and there is a significant amount of scholarship in support of that concept. I would even take it a bit further, that the author of GMark was a Paulinist insider.

But why would a follower of Paul present Paul as a leper of all things? Well, first of all in 1 Corinthians 15:8-9, Paul himself self-identified with the leprous ektroma from the story in Numbers 12 because he persecuted the assembly of God, as I have characterized here --- viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2396. And like the leprous Miriam in Numbers 12, Paul was cleansed by the grace of God --- as was Mark's leper cleansed by the grace of Jesus.

One might wonder how Paul could claim to have been chosen from the womb (Gal. 1:15) and also self-identify as an ektroma, as a miscarriage, as an abortion? Paul derived his story of having been chosen from the womb from Jeremiah 1:4-5 (LXX). And just like Jeremiah, it was later in life when Paul was called by the grace of God to work among the Gentiles (Jeremiah 1:6-10, LXX; Gal. 1:15-16). More on this following the table below.

Casual readers of Mark's story in verses 1:40-45 would be very unlikely to make the connection of Mark's leper with Paul. So again, why do it? Mark was an exceedingly clever writer with a sly sense of humor. I think it was a respectful inside joke that Mark found amusing. It would not be the only instance of sly characterizations in Mark's tale.

One very significant implication of this solution for Mark's leper is that 1 Corinthians 15:8-9 --- in which Paul self-identifies as the ektorma --- as well as the wider passage of 15:3-9, was part of the letter when Mark wrote his tale. This would stand as evidence for 1 Corinthians 15:3-9 as original to the letter, as opposed to a later interpolation as suggested by a few.

The three-way table below may be easier to grasp if the process is briefly described. Paul first used Numbers 12 and Jeremiah to help craft his backstory as described in the link above. Then, the author of GMark --- as an insider knowing that Paul used Numbers 12 and Jeremiah --- used Paul's backstory and Numbers 12 and Jeremiah to craft his tale of the healing of the leper, with Paul as the model for the leper.

Paul saw himself (1 Cor 15:8-9) as Miriam the leprous ektroma in Numbers 12 who was ignorant and sinned, because Paul was ignorant and sinned when he persecuted the assembly of God (Gal. 1:13-14). But then God revealed his son to Paul and called him by His grace to preach Jesus among the Gentiles. Paul did not consult with anyone, but went to Arabia (the land of Moses), and like Miriam Paul returned cleansed. (Gal. 1:15-17).

Note: color highlights are intended to be applicable only within each row ---

Mark 1:40-45Numbers 12 (LXX)Paul
“And Mariam and Aaron spoke against Moses” (12:1)

“And Aaron said to Moses, ‘I beg you, sir, do not lay extra sin upon us, because we were ignorant in that we sinned” (12:11)
“I persecuted the assembly of God to an extreme degree and tried to destroy it.” (Gal 1:13)


[Like Miriam, Paul was ignorant and he sinned]
“And a leper came to him [Jesus], calling out to him and kneeling down and saying to him, ‘if you are willing, you are able to cleanse me.’ And having been moved with anger ** , having stretched out his hand” (1:40-41)“The anger of the Lord’s wrath was against them, and … Mariam was leprous like snow” (12:9-10)

“And Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, ‘O God, I beg you, heal her!” (12:13)
“Do not let her be like unto death, like an ektroma (έκτρωμα) coming out of a mother’s womb” (12:12)“Last of all, as the ektroma (ἐκτρώματι) he was seen by me also ... because I persecuted the Assembly of God ” (1 Cor 15:8-9)
“he touched him and … immediately the leprosy departed from him and he was cleansed. And having admonished him, he immediately sent him away” (1:41-43)“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Let her be separated for seven days outside the camp, and afterwards she shall enter.’ And Mariam was kept apart outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not set out until Mariam was cleansed” (12:14-15)“But when God ... having called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles” (Gal 1:15-16)

I went away into Arabia and returned again” (Gal 1:17)

[Paul seperated himself in the land of Moses, and returned cleansed]
“And he said to him, ‘See that you speak nothing to anyone’ (1:44)
I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood” (Gal 1:16)
“but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded^^^, for a testimony (μαρτύριον) to them.” (1:44)I went up again to Jerusalem and set before them the gospel that I proclaim ... before those of reputation” (Gal 2:1-2)
having gone out, he began to proclaim freely and to spread the word.” (1:45)Sound like Paul after his calling and cleansing by the garce of God?

There is more to the story. As demonstrated in the link and in the text above the table, Paul's backstory of his having been chosen from the womb and his later calling by God to work among the Gentiles was derived from Jeremiah 1:4-10 (along with Isaiah 49:4-6). Paul was chosen from the womb, but became like the leprous ektroma in Numbers 12 because, like Miriam, Paul was also ignorant and he sinned when he persecuted the assembly of God. And Paul, like Jeremiah, was chosen by God from the womb, but only later in life was called by God to work among the Gentiles. The author of GMark, well aware of these connections, also incorporated Jeremiah into his tale of the cleansing of the leper.

Paul was "cleansed" from his self-imposed leprous state as the ektroma when he was called by the grace of God to work among the Gentiles (Gal. 1:15-16) ---

I persecuted the assembly of God to an extreme degree and tried to destroy it ... But when God, the One having selected me from my mother's womb and having called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles ... (Gal 1:13-16)

In GMark, the leper (as a parody on Paul) was cleansed when Jesus reached out his hand and touched him ---

...… having stretched out His hand, He touched him (ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ ἥψατο) and says to him, "I am willing, be cleansed." (Mark 1:41)

In similar fashion, and as source material for both Paul and Mark, when Jeremiah was called by the grace of God to work among the Gentiles, God reached out his hand and touched him ---

And the LORD stretched his hand to me, and touched my mouth (και εξέτεινε κύριος την χείρα αυτού προς με, και ήψατο του στόματός μου). And the LORD said to me, Behold, I have placed my words in your mouth. Behold, I have ordained you today over the nations. (Jeremiah 1:9-10, LXX)

I think it's a serious mistake to underestimate Paul's creative and generative use of the scriptures, and Mark's use and knowledge of Paul, and Mark's use of the scriptures, and Mark's cleverness.

Are all these inter-connections just coincidences? Not likely.


robert j.


Note: I believe that Mark had an additional, theological agenda related to authority in this passage about the leper.



** The majority of MSS have the term “with compassion” rather than “with anger”. But a few important MSS have “with anger” and I favor that reading as original based primarily on this analysis with Numbers 12:9 as part of Mark's source material.

^^^ Leviticus 13 and 14

ETA: I have done some significant editing and additions to this OP in January 2020.
Last edited by robert j on Wed Jan 08, 2020 2:17 pm, edited 21 times in total.

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Re: Mark’s ménage a trois with Miriam and Paul

Post by robert j » Wed Apr 08, 2015 1:09 pm

left out an important line in Paul's column (now corrected) --

“Last of all, as the ektroma he was seen by me also ... because I persecuted the assembly of god ” (1 Cor 15:8-9)

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Re: Mark’s ménage a trois with Miriam and Paul

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Thu Apr 09, 2015 11:21 am

robert j wrote:Note: I believe, as do many others, that Mark had an additional, theological agenda related to authority in his passage about the leper (Mark 1:40-45).
One of his theological agendas could be a comparison between the unclean spirits and the cleansed leper.

unclean spritis and demons
πνεύματα τὰ ἀκάθαρτα
the cleansed leper
ἐκαθερίσθη - λεπρὸς
Mark 1:34 and many demons he cast out
καὶ δαιμόνια πολλὰ ἐξέβαλεν
Mark 1:43 immediately he sent away him
εὐθὺς ἐξέβαλεν αὐτόν
Mark 1:34 and not he allowed to speak the demons Mark 1:44 See that you say nothing to anyone
Mark 1:27 With authority even the spirits unclean he commands and they obey him! Mark 1:45 But he, having gone out, began to proclaim much and to spread abroad the matter, ...

Markan irony: The unclean spirits obey, the cleansed leper does not.

I think an allegorical interpretation should fit a bit to that agenda ;)

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Re: Mark’s ménage a trois with Miriam and Paul

Post by robert j » Fri Apr 10, 2015 7:52 am

Mark’s Jesus is saying to the priests --- as literary stand-ins for slavish adherence to the Mosaic laws --- “In yo’ face, Doobie!” ***

This flows from Mark’s angry Jesus. One of the most discussed issues with Mark’s story of the leper (Mark 1:40-45) is whether Jesus was moved with compassion, or was moved with anger. The manuscripts evidence both readings.

I agree with those scholars that prefer ”with anger” as the best reading, and those scholars generally find significant agreement on the textual evidence and arguments for their positions. However, scholars are less successful at explaining the reason for Jesus’ anger. Proposed solutions include the anger of Jesus directed at the disease itself, at forces of evil, at the established purity system, or as the result of Mark’s use of multiple source-materials.

Assuming the solution suggested in my opening post, Mark’s presentation of an angry Jesus has a clear, text-based solution. If Mark used Numbers 12 as source material for this passage, Jesus’ anger would be a direct use of the relevant passage in Numbers where the leprosy is directly related with “The anger of the Lord’s wrath” (Numbers 12:9-10).

I do agree with scholars that see Mark’s use of the anger of Jesus as directed at the established purity system --- and this fits well within the context of Mark’s passage.

As some have argued, Jesus had already cleansed the leper, so why were the rituals of the priest still required? They weren’t said Mark --- Mark sent the leper to the priest as a polemic. The Greek phrase εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς in Mark 1:44 can readily be seen as meaning in this context “for a witness or testimony against them”. This interpretation is supported by Mark’s use of the very same phrase in verse 6:11, where the connotation as a polemic is clearly implied. Mark used the leper as a witness to the superiority of Jesus over the old Mosaic system.

Mark was promoting the superior authority of Jesus --- with his ability to cleanse immediately (Mark 1:42) --- as opposed to the old, long, drawn-out, and detailed Mosaic quarantine and cleansing process at the hands of the priests. (Leviticus 13 and 14).

And Mark is echoing Paul from 2 Corinthians --- the veil of “the old covenant” is “removed in Christ”. (2 Cor 3:10-16).

robert j.

*** expression from, A Mile Above the Rim, C. Rosen, 1976
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Re: Mark’s ménage a trois with Miriam and Paul

Post by robert j » Sat Apr 11, 2015 7:37 am

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Re: Mark’s ménage a trois with Miriam and Paul

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Sun Apr 19, 2015 12:22 pm

My problem is here not, that I would disagree with you, but that to me the story is not explained. I think that the story with the leper is really dark, but in one sense also clear.

Let’s look whether we can agree. I think the following is the story how we can read it:

PART ONE The cleansing PART TWO The exorcism
section 1 Leper: asks for cleansing, he has faith, that Jesus is able to cleanse him, but he doubts, that Jesus is willing section 1 Jesus: he snarls at the cleansed man und threws him out, commands silence and offering
section 2 Jesus: declares, that he is willing und cleanses the leper section 2 The cleansed man: begins to preach much and to spread the “word”
section 3 Leper: the leprosy left him and the leper is cleansed section 3 Jesus: he is (now the “leper” and) not able to go into a town, but the crowds come to him

To me the big question here is not: Why is he angry ? or Why were the rituals of the priest still required? Or Who are “them”?

I think it is: What is the sense of the story about the leper and Jesus on the one side and Jesus and the cleansed man on the other side?

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Re: Mark’s ménage a trois with Miriam and Paul

Post by JoeWallack » Sun Apr 19, 2015 3:10 pm

Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
robert j wrote:Note: I believe, as do many others, that Mark had an additional, theological agenda related to authority in his passage about the leper (Mark 1:40-45).
One of his theological agendas could be a comparison between the unclean spirits and the cleansed leper.

unclean spritis and demons
πνεύματα τὰ ἀκάθαρτα
the cleansed leper
ἐκαθερίσθη - λεπρὸς
Mark 1:34 and many demons he cast out
καὶ δαιμόνια πολλὰ ἐξέβαλεν
Mark 1:43 immediately he sent away him
εὐθὺς ἐξέβαλεν αὐτόν
Mark 1:34 and not he allowed to speak the demons Mark 1:44 See that you say nothing to anyone
Mark 1:27 With authority even the spirits unclean he commands and they obey him! Mark 1:45 But he, having gone out, began to proclaim much and to spread abroad the matter, ...

Markan irony: The unclean spirits obey, the cleansed leper does not.

I think an allegorical interpretation should fit a bit to that agenda ;)
JW:
Oh ye of little faith. Try this model on for size:

It's bad enough that every Gospel has a different Jesus. The original Gospel ("Mark") had two. One is a spiritual Jesus St. Nicknamed "Christ" and the other is a fleshy Jesus just named "Jesus". I know this because "Mark" tells us so.

Spiritual Jesus has authority over spirits so he can command them (the spiritual King). Flesh can only be commanded by flesh (such as a fleshy King). Jesus is not a fleshy King so he can not command flesh. "Mark" (author) seems to equate sickness with evil spirits. Maybe that was what he/she/it believed or maybe it was just style. So Jesus, spirit KIng, commands evil spirit/leprosy and it obeys. Fleshy Jesus though is not a King and therefore can not command, he has to try and persuade. Fleshy Jesus could not command his fleshy disciples and he failed to persuade. The rest is, as they don't say, spiritual, not fleshy history.


Joseph

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Re: Mark’s ménage a trois with Miriam and Paul

Post by neilgodfrey » Sun Apr 19, 2015 4:24 pm

Can we have a Plan B comparison for those of us who doubt the original Paul made any reference to persecuting the church?
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Re: Mark’s ménage a trois with Miriam and Paul

Post by Peter Kirby » Mon Apr 20, 2015 12:43 pm

Secret Alias wrote:If you bothered to read what is written about this passage in Tertullian's Against Marcion you would discover even more clues about the identity of this leper and the special significance he had for the community.
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Re: Mark’s ménage a trois with Miriam and Paul

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Tue Apr 21, 2015 5:30 am

Secret Alias wrote:If you bothered to read what is written about this passage in Tertullian's Against Marcion you would discover even more clues about the identity of this leper and the special significance he had for the community.
In Against Marcion, book 4, chapter 9, Tertullian connects the story in the versions of Luke and Marcion with Elisha and the „cleansing“ of the leper Naaman the Syrian in the Jordan (2 Kgs 5). The problem is, that Luke or Marcion changed Mark's story and rejected all critical elements, especially in (what I have called) „PART TWO“. It´s now a story for pious children in their versions.


On the other hand: Tertullian's thoughts about the fulfulling of the law may be interesting and could be also relevant to Mark's story. Mark has

- 3 testimonies in the form of „μαρτύριον“ (marturion), all with the phrase „as a testimony to/against them“ („εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς“) - Mark 1:44, 6:11, 13:9

- 3 testimonies in the form of „μαρτυρία“ (marturia), all before the Sanhedrin in Mark 14:55, 14:56 and 14:59

- 3 false testimonies in the form of „ψευδομαρτυρέω“ (pseudomartureó), in Mark 10:19, 14:56 and 14:57

Maybe there are some figs on the tree.

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