Marcus Vinzent mentions in his book, Marcion and the Dating the Synoptic Gospels
, that Tertullian appears to admit in his opinion that Acts of the Apostles was in response against Marcion's Antitheses
. What do you think about that?
Yeah, un, that’s an area that I have not looked carefully at. I haven't done a close reading of the Antitheses
. I've done a close reading of Tertullian's book IV, Against Marcion
, and used brass work, but then went back myself and looked at all the citations, quotations, allusions to Marcion’s Gospel. But I didn't start by looking at the Antitheses
. I didn't. I didn't start by considering Marcion’s biography or his theology. I just started by looking at what I would say are the vocal signal data. That Marci- that Tertullian attests to for
So, I really, and I think this is a scientific point of view, I don't think it's a reasonable scientific position to start with the biography of a person that was later considered heretical. And to use all his detractors from forty to a hundred, two-hundred years later and, you know, especially when they're all depending on each other and they're just, they just, it's like a cascading, you know, array of insults that are being leveraged, you know, launched at Marcion.
I'm partly influenced here by our Joseph Hoffmann. So, in his book on Marcion which, you know, is before Vincent's work, he cast serious doubt on the whole idea that Marcion, you know, came to Rome in the in the, you know, 140s because to Hoffman it just sounds anachronistic. The idea that in the 140s you have Rome as, like, the centre of Christianity, the centre of Christendom; that just doesn't go together with all the other evidence we have about, kind of, the multi-polarity, you know, the multiple centres and urban centres for the spread of this movement and it's texts.
So, you know, I think it fits sort of Catholic historiography, but it doesn't fit Orthodox historiography, ah, necessarily. And it doesn't fit, you know, just the patterns were seeing from, from other texts: the idea that everything is in Rome; it's everything centred out of Rome; Rome is the centre of authority. I mean, yeah, it was the capital but, you know, [of] the empire; but I don't think that meant that this marginal movement, that had many faces in many locations, that they felt any need to visit Rome and travel and, you know, come to account there or something like that. That to me has the the feel of later legend. You know, like the stories about Peter being killed. And Peter's tomb, ah, you know, his martyrarium in Rome. Those date from the late 2nd century. So, a lot of the stuff, works like it's Peter and Rome and Rome is the centre of everything - like Rome’s a beautiful city, I've been there, it's an amazing place - but, you know, the traditions are late 2nd century traditions.
They're not mid-2nd century traditions about an established universal [Petrine(?)] authority that's based in the location of Rome.
How different do you think Mark's Gospel was at the time that Marcion was writing his gospel? Like the version of Mark he used?
Yeah. How different was it? I think it was substantially different. So it's hard to go through every example, you know, with the time that we have. But what I'm seeing, and I think this aligns a lot with what Vincent has seen in the text, is that that what we call Mark underwent a substantive redaction in the middle of the 2nd century. And that is probably partly what gives us the so-called longer ending, even though there are actually multiple longer endings of marks gospel.
There was a Mark 16 Conference
just in this last year that Clare Clivaz and Mina Monier put together [w/ Dan Batovici], looking at all the manuscripts of Mark and showing that there actually not just two end things, the shorter in the longer; there's a middle ending, like a medium-sized ending as well, and then just lots of different versions of the shorter ending and the longer ending. So, it's way more diverse and eclectic than scholars usually let on. But there's a lot of other stuff in Marks-.
And then that later ending, you know, I think you have a distillation, of course, of other earlier traditions like, you know, ah, drinking poison and handling snakes and all this kind of stuff.
That's probably partly indebted to canonical Luke and Acts, um, for that tradition.
Ah, but there are lots of other things that were significantly expansive, like the story of the Gerasene demoniac [Mark 5.1-20; Luke 8.26-39; Matthew 8.28-34]
. The way I read it is: that was massively expanded. The Parable of the Sower, the, sort of, the longer explanation of that, um, where it's just kind of an in-depth explanation of the parable and, you know, that The Word is the seed, and all this. That's probably a later expansion, to Mark.
When I read that, it sounds a lot like Justin Martyr, who is writing in the 140 or 150s, right(?) He has this theology of the logos spermatikoi; this grammatic/dramatic word. The, you know, and it's sort of middle Platonic, the word that goes out and inspires and illuminates people all over the place.
The Markan explanation of the Parable of the Sower sounds a lot like that; where I think the earliest version of Parable Sower is probably referring back to things like dynastic succession. Seeing Jesus as actually a royal figure and possibly married or, or at least partnered with Miriam and having children and then hiding that child. Quite possibly. I think the early version of Mark is more interested in things like dynastic succession in the line of Jesus and James. With the Parable of the Sower. And I think Revelation actually is recounting some of this: about the woman going out to the desert to hide the child.
So yeah, I think early Mark is more concrete. And it's more interested in like, revolutionary politics around 70. But the expanded version of the Parable of the Sower is concerned with middle Platonic philosophy in the in the 140s.
The story of Jairus’s daughter, same thing. It's an inclusio. It's built around the story of the haemorrhaging woman. Marcion’s Gospel has hardly any of that. But, and, the early version of Mark probably had a minimal story about the woman haemorrhaging, the problem of haemorrhaging.
And then the story of Jairus’s daughter is sort of put around that as a, like, a doubling of the story and all these parallels in terms of the ages and gematria and so on.
That's probably all mid-2nd century stuff.
And I don't want to be out of turn, but I showed Austin Bush who’d written a chapter on the Gerasene demoniac and its imitation of Cyclops legends. And he said, ‘yeah, I'm, you know, I'm fairly convinced by your redactional, you know, construction of that.’ So that was nice to hear.
Do you think that the Gospel of Mark used the Q document as a source, as the three-document hypothesis suggests?
Yeah, I think the early version of Mark is responding to some of these. Actually many, many. The way I'm reconstructing it, it's not just things like the deals about controversy where early Mark is responding to Q or, you know: everything hidden will be disclosed. Various logia. It’s more than that.
If, if Q, is is a passion narrative. That early Mark actually was taking its cues. It's not just its logia cues, but it's agatic cues; from, from this earlier story about Jesus. But I think also responding to it, right(?), and actually radically revising it.
I was listening to James Tabor’s interview with you - just the other day - and he was talking about, you know, how Mark is like this radical, you know, sort of anti- anti-logia, maybe, tradition.
And I think there's actually a lot of validity in that. So, if Q, for instance, has women followers as the very first followers of Jesus, and women as the first witnesses of the resurrection; what does Mark do with that? He erases them completely, right? And he takes the story of, you know, um, the story of the woman anointing Jesus, which I think is really, like, making him the Messiah, right(?) Anointing him.
It's a woman who makes Jesus in the Messiah in Q. It's not, it's not John the Baptist at a river. It's Miriam. Right?
And the very first anointing story that's in Q as I've reconstructed it. So, it's a woman who makes him the Messiah.
Mark flips the script completely, and Jesus is made the Messiah by John, essentially by God the Father as a male figure through John the Baptist, a male figure. So, I see Mark as a, like, a radical rewriting and challenge, actually, to Q, as,
as evidence of the earliest women followers of Jesus.