My recreation of the opening of the First Gospel

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rgprice
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My recreation of the opening of the First Gospel

Post by rgprice »

I've put together this hypothetical reconstruction of how the opening of the first Gospel may have read, based primarily on the Gospel of Mark. Some of this may be shocking, but I will provide the justifications.

2 As it is written in the prophets:
“Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You,
Who will prepare Your way;
3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight.’”

4 John appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. 6 John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. 7 And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. 8 I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

And the Word of God came to John in the wilderness. 10 Immediately he saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit as a man coming down upon him; 11 and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”

12 Immediately the Spirit impelled him to go out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to him. At last, John was taken up to heaven.

14 Now after John had been taken up to heaven, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the good news.”

This reconstruction is based upon the narrative from Kings as well as harmonization of the Gospel of Mark with the Gospels of Luke and John.

First let's begin with the Gospel of Mark:

2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You,
Who will prepare Your way;
3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight.’”

4 John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. 6 John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. 7 And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. 8 I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; 11 and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”

12 Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. 13 And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him.

14 Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

We can see from this opening that John is identified with Elijah. The identification of John as Elijah is done through a reference to 2 Kings 1:8.

2 Kings 2:7 The king asked them, “What kind of man was it who came to meet you and told you this?”

8 They replied, “He had a garment of hair and had a leather belt around his waist.”

The king said, “That was Elijah the Tishbite.”

From this we can see that the writer of the Gospel is using the Elijah/Elisha narrative as his template.

Shortly prior to 2 Kings 1, we read in 1 Kings 19 that the Lord came to Elijah in the wilderness.

1 Kings 19:
And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

In the opening of Luke 3 we read:
3 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, 2 in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. 3 And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins; 4 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,

The statement that the "word of the God" came to John is expected in the source based on the source's use of the Elijah narrative from Kings.

Likewise in John we read:

6 There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.

9 There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’”

So gLuke tells us that "the word came to John in the wilderness" and gJohn tells us that John witnessed "the word become flesh".

What else does the story of Elijah tell us?

1 Kings 19:3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

In the Kings story, this happens right before the word of the Lord comes to Elijah. Here is it dislocated to after.

What is Elijah's fate?

2 Kings 2:
6 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.”

And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them walked on.

7 Fifty men from the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. 8 Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.

9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”

“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.

10 “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.”

11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.

Elijah is taken to heaven, not to prison.

This reading is confirmed by the Parable of the Sower:
Mark 4:
13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14 The farmer sows the word. 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

John was on the path where the word was sown, and Satan took away the word from him.

This reconstruction, speculative as it is, and surely lacking in accurate details, conveys the concept of how the first Gospel would likely have opened. And we can see from this why readers of such a story would think that Jesus was a Spirit from heaven. There are several details here that I have not resolved. What does the voice from heaven really say? Does the voice talk to John or the Spirit? Based on Kings I would think the voice talks to John, but then the voice wouldn't say “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” It would say something different to John.

Where is Jesus first introduced? Perhaps he isn't. Perhaps the connection between the Spirit and Jesus is supposed to be mysterious, i.e. only implied.

I know that many will see this as baseless speculation, but I think that this solves many problems in understanding Christian origins and where the Gnostic readings came from. It also results in more thematic consistency within the narrative.

This of course also indicates that Mark 6, the account of Herod killing John, is a later addition, as well as the application of the title John "the Baptist". If the identification of John as "the Baptist" is later, and the killing of John by Herod is also later, then perhaps the mention of Pilate is also late, meaning that the original narrative may not have been set in a specific time.
rgprice
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Re: My recreation of the opening of the First Gospel

Post by rgprice »

Note the statement of Jesus in v1:15: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the good news."

This refers to the quoted passage from Malachi in v2:
Malachi 3:1 See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?
Malachi 4:
5 Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.

The break between John and Jesus was decisive:
Luke 16:16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it.

John's existence ended before the "good news of the kingdom of God" was preached. John didn't hang around in prison, John was removed immediately.
rgprice
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Re: My recreation of the opening of the First Gospel

Post by rgprice »

Clearly John was killed. Somewhere along the line, some revisor of the narrative modified who killed John.

Mark 6:14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’s name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead, and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.

So in the original narrative John is taken up to heaven after witnessing the descent of Jesus. But this was perhaps a bit too radical. So Herod was introduced as his executioner.

But why would people think that Jesus was John? Well of course because John was taken away when Jesus came. Thus, it appears that Jesus took the place of John, which is why there was confusion over whether Jesus was John.
rgprice
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Re: My recreation of the opening of the First Gospel

Post by rgprice »

Also keep in mind that in the story of Elijah and Elisha, it is after Elijah is taken up to heaven that Elisha begins his ministry, preforming miracles and such:

2 Kings 2:
And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven. 12 Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw Elijah no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. 13 He also took up the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and returned and stood by the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and struck the waters and said, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the waters, they were divided here and there; and Elisha crossed over.

15 Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho opposite him saw him, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” And they came to meet him and bowed themselves to the ground before him. 16 They said to him, “Behold now, there are with your servants fifty strong men, please let them go and search for your master; perhaps the Spirit of the Lord has taken him up and cast him on some mountain or into some valley.” And he said, “You shall not send.” 17 But when they urged him until he was ashamed, he said, “Send.” They sent therefore fifty men; and they searched three days but did not find him. 18 They returned to him while he was staying at Jericho; and he said to them, “Did I not say to you, ‘Do not go’?”

19 Then the men of the city said to Elisha, “Behold now, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad and the land is unfruitful.” 20 He said, “Bring me a new jar, and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him. 21 He went out to the spring of water and threw salt in it and said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘I have purified these waters; there shall not be from there death or unfruitfulness any longer.’” 22 So the waters have been purified to this day, according to the word of Elisha which he spoke.

So we see here that in the Elijah/Elisha story, Elijah is taken up to heaven, and then Elisha leaves the Jordan and enters a town, where he proceeds to perform a miracle.

In Mark we are told that Jesus is baptized and driven into the wilderness where he is tempted and then John is taken away and imprisoned. And then Jesus goes to town, begins his ministry, meets the first disciples and performs a miracle.

A narrative like the one I have proposed does a better job of following the story of Elijah and Elisha. John is taken to heaven, and then Jesus begins his ministry, going into town and performing a miracle.

So the immediate death of John really fits the narrative much better, as opposed to the imprisonment of John. And this also explains why the transition from the "tempting of Jesus" to the "imprisonment of John" is so clunky and poorly explain in Mark. Because that's not how it was originally written, this is just a crude re-working trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
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MrMacSon
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Re: My recreation of the opening of the First Gospel

Post by MrMacSon »

rgprice wrote: Wed Feb 21, 2024 9:03 am
Clearly John was killed.1 Somewhere along the line, some revisor of the narrative modified who killed John.

Mark 6:14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’s name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead, and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.

So in the original narrative John is taken up to heaven after witnessing the descent of Jesus. But this was perhaps a bit too radical. So Herod was introduced as his executioner.

But why would people think that Jesus was John? Well of course because John was taken away when Jesus came. Thus, it appears that Jesus took the place of John, which is why there was confusion over whether Jesus was John.

1 John was said to have been killed. The key is the first underlined statement:

.Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead, and for this reason these 'powers' are at work in him.”

ie. it implies elevation of a narrative.

Another key statement is the preceding one, ie.,

."for Jesus’s name had become known."

Furthermore, weight is given to these mini-narratives by the prior

."King Herod heard of it"

ie., "mak[ing] ready the way" (as in Mark 1:3b)

But, the key statements follow these, ie.,

.others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.”

"History" is being rewritten, even though none of this is likely to be history per se, other than being a history of narrative development

You nailed it with the following:
rgprice wrote: Wed Feb 21, 2024 9:51 am
Also keep in mind that in the story of Elijah and Elisha, it is after Elijah is taken up to heaven that Elisha begins his ministry, preforming miracles and such:

2 Kings 2:
And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven. 12 Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw Elijah no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. 13 He also took up the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and returned and stood by the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and struck the waters and said, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the waters, they were divided here and there; and Elisha crossed over.

15 Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho opposite him saw him, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” And they came to meet him and bowed themselves to the ground before him. 16 They said to him, “Behold now, there are with your servants fifty strong men, please let them go and search for your master; perhaps the Spirit of the Lord has taken him up and cast him on some mountain or into some valley.” And he said, “You shall not send.” 17 But when they urged him until he was ashamed, he said, “Send.” They sent therefore fifty men; and they searched three days but did not find him. 18 They returned to him while he was staying at Jericho; and he said to them, “Did I not say to you, ‘Do not go’?”

19 Then the men of the city said to Elisha, “Behold now, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad and the land is unfruitful.” 20 He said, “Bring me a new jar, and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him. 21 He went out to the spring of water and threw salt in it and said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘I have purified these waters; there shall not be from there death or unfruitfulness any longer.’” 22 So the waters have been purified to this day, according to the word of Elisha which he spoke.

So we see here that in the Elijah/Elisha story, Elijah is taken up to heaven, and then Elisha leaves the Jordan and enters a town, where he proceeds to perform a miracle.

In Mark we are told that Jesus is baptized and driven into the wilderness where he is tempted and then John is taken away and imprisoned. And then Jesus goes to town, begins his ministry, meets the first disciples and performs a miracle.

A narrative like the one I have proposed does a better job of following the story of Elijah and Elisha. John is taken to heaven, and then Jesus begins his ministry, going into town and performing a miracle.

So the immediate death [and thus demise] of John [thus clearing the way] really fits the narrative much better, as opposed to the imprisonment of John. And this also explains why the transition from the "tempting of Jesus" to the "imprisonment of John" is so clunky and poorly explain in Mark. Because that's not how it was originally written, this is just a crude re-working trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
nb. my additions to emphasis [+/- nuance] your point
rgprice
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Re: My recreation of the opening of the First Gospel

Post by rgprice »

The opening indicates that the narrative about John being taken to prison and killed by Herod is a late addition and not a part of the original narrative. Indeed when we look at the account of Herod in Mark is appears totally inserted.

From Mark 6:
Then he went about among the villages teaching. 7 He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff: no bread, no bag, no money in their belts, 9 but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. 10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 11 If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 13 They cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’s name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead, and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”

17 For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. 18 For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he liked to listen to him. 21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. 22 When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests, and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” 23 And he swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” 24 She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” 25 Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 The king was deeply grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.

Clearly, this reads more fluidly if we take out the digression about John the Baptist and Herod.

Then he went about among the villages teaching. 7 He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff: no bread, no bag, no money in their belts, 9 but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. 10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 11 If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 13 They cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.

Or possibly:
Then he went about among the villages teaching. 7 He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff: no bread, no bag, no money in their belts, 9 but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. 10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 11 If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 13 They cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Some were saying, “John has been raised from the dead, and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.”

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.

The interesting thing about this is that John the Baptist and the details about Herod are two of the main elements of Mark that seem to rely on the works of Josephus. so it could well be that the original narrative was written earlier, without influence from the works of Josephus, but the revisor used the works of Josephus to "historicize" the account.
rgprice
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Re: My recreation of the opening of the First Gospel

Post by rgprice »

what are thoughts on the plausibility of the proposed reconstruction or potential problems with it?

Firstly, why might we think that the opening of the Gospel of Mark is not original, i.e. that it has been altered from an earlier narrative that looked different than Mark looks now. Why might we think that the narrative as we know it is the original narrative and that there never was a significantly different earlier layer of the narrative?

I think there are good reasons to think there was an earlier narrative in which John was not arrested and in which there was no description of John being killed by Herod.
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Re: My recreation of the opening of the First Gospel

Post by rgprice »

I've long thought that there is something strange about the Transfiguration scene in Mark. It sort of comes out of nowhere and doesn't fit with the rest of the elements of the Gospel.

Looking at the Kings narrative may shed some light on this:

2 Kings 2:
11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 12 Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two.

13 Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.

15 The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, “The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha.” And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. 16 “Look,” they said, “we your servants have fifty able men. Let them go and look for your master. Perhaps the Spirit of the Lord has picked him up and set him down on some mountain or in some valley.”

“No,” Elisha replied, “do not send them.”

17 But they persisted until he was too embarrassed to refuse. So he said, “Send them.” And they sent fifty men, who searched for three days but did not find him. 18 When they returned to Elisha, who was staying in Jericho, he said to them, “Didn’t I tell you not to go?”

So, in the Kings narrative Elijah is taken up to heaven and then they go looking for him on a mountain or in a valley. After that Elisha goes into town and starts performing miracles.

Here is the transfiguration scene in Mark:
Mark 9:2 Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; 3 and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them. 4 Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. 5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified. 7 Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!” 8 All at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Jesus alone.

9 As they were coming down from the mountain, He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man rose from the dead. 10 They seized upon that statement, discussing with one another what rising from the dead meant. 11 They asked Him, saying, “Why is it that the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” 12 And He said to them, “Elijah does first come and restore all things. And yet how is it written of the Son of Man that He will suffer many things and be treated with contempt? 13 But I say to you that Elijah has indeed come, and they did to him whatever they wished, just as it is written of him.”

This makes me think that this scene has been altered from an original scene in which they went up the mountain and had a vision of Elijah alone - no Moses. And the purpose of the scene was to make the connection between John the Baptist and Elijah. After JtB was taken up to heaven, then Jesus brings the disciples and they see that Elijah - who is John, is in heaven and then they ask about the coming of Elijah, etc.

Moses really has no point in this scene and doesn't relate to the rest of the themes in the narrative. So Moses to me looks like a later orthodox addition to a scene that originally served a different narrative purpose and may have been located as a different place in the original narrative.
Last edited by rgprice on Fri Mar 01, 2024 3:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My recreation of the opening of the First Gospel

Post by MrMacSon »

rgprice wrote: Thu Feb 29, 2024 2:50 pm
I've long thought that there is something strange about the Transfiguration scene in Mark. It sort of comes out of nowhere and doesn't fit with the rest of the elements of the Gospel.

Looking at the Kings narrative may shed some light on this:

2 Kings 2:
11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 12 Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two.

13 Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.

15 The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, “The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha.” And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. 16 “Look,” they said, “we your servants have fifty able men. Let them go and look for your master. Perhaps the Spirit of the Lord has picked him up and set him down on some mountain or in some valley.”


So, in the Kings narrative Elijah is taken up to heaven and then they go looking for him on a mountain or in a valley. After they Elisha goes into town and starts performing miracles.

Here is the transfiguration scene in Mark:
Mark 9:
2 Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain1 by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; 3 and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them. 4 Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. 5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified. 7 Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!” 8 All at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Jesus alone.

9 As they were coming down from the mountain, He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man rose from the dead. 10 They seized upon that statement, discussing with one another what rising from the dead meant. 11 They asked Him, saying, “Why is it that the scribes2 say that Elijah must come first?” 12 And He said to them, “Elijah does first come and restore all things. And yet how is it written of the Son of Man that He will suffer many things and be treated with contempt? 13 But I say to you that Elijah has indeed come, and they did to him whatever they wished, just as it is written of him.”


This makes me think that this scene has been altered from an original scene in which they went up the mountain and had a vision of Elijah alone3 - no Moses. And the purpose of the scene was to make the connection between John the Baptist and Elijah. After JtB was taken up to heaven, then Jesus brings the disciples and they see that Elijah - who is John, is in heaven and then they ask about the coming of Elijah, etc.

Moses really has no point in this scene and doesn't relate to the rest of the themes in the narrative. So Moses to me looks like a later orthodox addition to a scene that originally served a different narrative purpose and may have been located as a different place in the original narrative.
1 what's the bet that "a high mountain" was originally (before Jesus was anthropomorphised and personified) a 'level of heaven', like the third heaven Paul went to?

2 the reference to the scribes is a clue that concepts in this passage in Mark are likely 'borrowed' from somewhere

3 One might wonder if 8 "they looked around and saw no one...except Jesus" had previously been, 'they looked around and saw no one...except Elisha (or, perhaps, Elijah)', ie. this is indeed a co-opted story about Elijah [coming on Elisha]

(I'm not sure there needs to be reference to John the Baptist wrt this passage)


What does

6 "For he did not know what to answer"

mean? ie., who is 'he' therein? Jesus? or Peter?


As for

.13 "But I say to you that Elijah has indeed come; and they did to him whatever they wished, just as it is written of him”

There's two 'him's there. The first would be Elijah (or perhaps Elisha). The second is Him, ie., Jesus.


the Lord, the God of Elijah, implies an entity other than and lesser than YHWH
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GakuseiDon
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Re: My recreation of the opening of the First Gospel

Post by GakuseiDon »

This is probably how Marcion went about things.
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