To my knowledge, the only way to save the Markan priority is along the lines well described by Robert M. Price:
- 1) the secrecy is in Mark more than in *Ev, more than in other gospels, etc;
- 2) even so, the secrecy is broken in Mark, even where in *Ev it is not broken (see here)
- 3) therefore: if a proto-Mark has to be the Earliest Gospel, then the secrecy was totally found, and totally understood, in proto-Mark, while it was partially found, and not more understood, in Mark.
Mark was not the first evangelist who euhemerized Jesus. A some form of Proto-Mark was the First Euhemerizer.
Wrede noted certain inconsistencies in Mark’s presentation implying that, while he preserved the Secret motif largely intact, he no longer understood it. The post-Markan evangelists were even more distant from the Secret and the disputes that had occasioned it. Hence their portrayals of Jesus allow the messiahship of Jesus to appear onstage more and more openly during the public ministry.
In a similar manner, I propose a model whereby Mark presupposes the historicization of a heavenly, never-incarnated Christ. By the time he writes, the historicization is far enough behind him that he is not aware it happened. He presents a human Jesus, and we can recognize only inadvertent glimpses of the original Christ-concept that is more clearly manifest in the Pauline epistles. And just as the evangelists following Mark, oblivious of the Messianic Secret, portray Jesus in increasingly messianic, even divine, glory, so, on my proposed schema, post-Markan evangelists gradually undid the humanization of Jesus, redivinizing him until docetism very nearly reversed the original historicization with the doctrine that, though the Christ did seem to come to earth, he never really did. And all this time, the original Christology survived in Gnosticism and Paulinism alongside the gospel evolution. As Wrede envisioned a manifest messiahship fictively suppressed in secrecy, a secrecy gradually dispelled in subsequent gospels, so I propose an original belief in a heavenly Christ-aion, reconceived as a historical mortal, a “demotion” did not last either, being gradually reversed in a deification, then docetization of Christ, pretty much restoring the original notion. One might say that New Testament Christological evolution goes from Paul down to Mark, then ascends though Matthew and Luke to John, who reconnects with Paul.
So I am taking Wrede a step farther: instead of saying retroactively that the historical advent of Jesus was (reinterpreted as) messianic in light of the delay of his second (but first messianic) advent, I would suggest that Jews avidly hoping for the coming of the messiah (a la the Sacred King myth) eventually decided he had come already without being recognized, then “discovered” what he had done by sniffing out “prophecies” of that coming.
(Bart Ehrman Interpreted, How One Radical New Testament Scholar Understands Another
, p. 215-216)