With all the excitement about the Mark fragment, I missed calling attention to other interesting Mark-related posts. Peter Williams posts on his recent article where he argues that, in the story where Jesus heals the leper, σπλαγχνισθείς (having been moved with compassion) was the original reading at Mk 1:41 and explains how it was altered to ὀργισθείς (having been moved with anger) (see the comments on the post). This is a tricky issue because this is unquestionably the majority reading, but other scholars argue “anger” is the more difficult reading (i.e. why was Jesus angry?) which explains why a scribe might have changed it and why Mattew/Luke (independently or Luke influenced by Matthew?) omit Jesus’ emotions altogether. A good discussion of the text critical issues is here and Joel Watts provides one explanation for the anger (others propose Jesus’ anger is at the demon causing the disease as there may be remnants of an exorcist account when Jesus sternly charges the man or drives him out [ἐξέβαλεν] or alternatively M. Casey’s aramaic solution here). Tim Henderson has a series on the authorship of Mark here, here and here and hints at a future post on the gospel titles that I anticipate will be similar to the views of the late Martin Hengel and is a good counterpoint to my series on authorship. Amanda MacInnis has a good summary of NT Wright’s view of the “coming of the Son of Man in Mark” though I explain why I am not persuaded by Wright here. Matthew Montonini compares a healing story in Mark to Elisha and I agree that traditions about the northern prophets Elijah & Elisha influenced Mark’s portrayal. Anyways, those were some of the posts that jumped out at me this month and I would like to more regularly highlight the contributions of bloggers on Mark, so if I have missed your post let me know in the comments or if you ever want to do a guest post at this blog email me your post along with who you are and where you study.
Over this last month or so I have looked at Mark’s reception in Matthew, Luke, John, Thomas or Augustine (also note this recent post at Ex Libris on Papias’s apologetic tendencies). The thread in all is that Mark was accepted as a reliable but flawed account in comparison to another written Gospel(s) and it was not until the modern hypothesis of Markan priority that reversed this judgment. There are many resources available to do a study of the early reception of NT Gospels: the Biblia Patristica online (keeps track of all potential citations/allusions of NT writings in the patristic period), Edouard Massaux’ The Influence of the Gospel of Saint Matthew on Christian Literature Before Irenaeus (Koester’s response), Helmut Koester’s works (Synoptische Überlieferung bei den Apostolischen Vätern, 1957; Ancient Christian Gospels, 1995; From Jesus to the Gospels, 2007), Andrew Gregory & Christopher Tuckett, The Reception of the New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers (cf. 1905 edition, part II Trajectories through the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers), Brenda Schildgen’s Power and Prejudice: The Reception of the Gospel of Mark, Andrew Gregory’s The Reception of Luke and Acts in the Period Before Irenaeus, Charles Hill’s The Johannine Corpus in the Early Church and in commentaries or books on the formation of the NT canon. But I want to ask those of you in the blogosphere or readers here with academic expertise or general interest in the Nag Hammadi Library or other writings classified as ”Gnostic” (I recognize the problems with the category “Gnosticism” but bear with me), are there any good resources for the reception of the NT Gospels in these texts? Koester makes a few points in some of the above and I can think of Tuckett Nag Hammadi and the Gospel Tradition, but if anyone knows other resources covering all their citations/allusions to NT Gospels (especially the Synoptics) it would be much appreciated if you let me know in the comments.
Update: For any out there who may be unfamiliar with what I mean about the Nag Hammadi Library, here are a few older video on youtube about the origins and some of the scholars involved:
I have a busy semester teaching second semester Greek and tutoring undergrads for a intro NT course, but conveniently the lesson coming up is on similarities and differences between John and the Synoptics and I was provided a few links that helpfully introduce this topic here and here. A few posts ago I noted the patristic view that John wrote to supplement the Synoptic Gospel, but modern critical scholarship goes back and forth between John’s dependence or independence on them. If independent, the similarities in the general outline and in several individual stories may perhaps be accounted for by some shared oral or written sources, including what many form critics believed was a pre-Markan passion narrative (note how many of Mark’s individual units seem like they could have been passed down independently but the Passion narrative is a smooth, interconnected narrative) that may explain why the narratives of Mark and John converge more here. Recently, I have the impression that scholarship seems to be swinging back to the view that John knew and was dependent on at least Mark with some specialized studies trying to demonstrate an intertextual connection such as agreement in literary order/unique vocabulary or other alleged Markan redactional features showing up in John (thanks to Ed Babinski for emailing some of these sources to me). What do you think is the solution?
Barrett, C.K. The Gospel According to St John. Second Edition; London: SPCK, 1978.
Bauckham, Richard. “John for Readers of Mark.” Pages 147-71 in The Gospels for All Christians. Edited by Richard Bauckham. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998.
Kurek-Chomycz, Dominika A.. “The Fragrance of Her Perfume: The Significance of Sense Imagery in John’s Account of the Anointing in Bethany.” Novum Testamentum 52 (2010): 334-354.
Dvorak, James D. “The Relationship between John and the Synoptic Gospels.” JETS 41 (1998): 201-213.
- Goodacre, Mark. “Dating the crucial sources in early Christianity.” Paper presented at Cross, Resurrection and Diversity in Earliest Christianity Consultation, SBL Annual Meeting, Boston, November 21-24, 2008.
- Hunt, Stephen A. Rewriting the Feeding of Five Thousand: John 6.1-15 as a test case for Johannine dependence on the Synoptic Gospels. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2011.
Neirynck, F. “John and the Synoptics.” Pages 73-106 in L’évangile de Jean. Edited by M. de Jonge. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1977.
Sim, David C. “Matthew’s Use of Mark: Did Matthew Intend to Supplement or to Replace His Primary Source?” New Testament Studies 57 (2011): 176 – 192.
Smith, D.M. John Among the Gospels: The Relationship in the Twentieth Century. Second Edition. Columbia: University of South Carolina, D. M. Smith, 2001.
Ben Witherington has viewed the manuscripts and comments on the contents of the Green Collection (which includes the fragment of Mark). Andreas Köstenberger also weighs in on what the discovery might mean (though perhaps a tad too apologetical and makes too sweeping a statement about Secret Mark as a forgery when the issue remains widely debated) (HT Jim West). An alleged photograph of the fragment appears to have been debunked by Mark Goodacre, Brian Leport, Jim Davila, James McGrath, Tim Henderson, Jim West, Thomas Verenna, etc.
Other bloggers were quicker to note that Dan Wallace has expanded on his claim of a first century fragment of Mark here and responses here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here (please if I have missed your link add it to the comments as I would like to track all the various posts). I look forward to future updates on this and, whether it turns out to be first or second century, it seems like it could be an important find nonetheless!
I cannot make up my mind on the issue of whether John was dependent on the Synoptic tradition (or at least Mark) or independent. In the next post I will look at some modern scholarly judgments, but lets look first at the church tradition. John is consistently listed last of the four gospels in the patristic tradition and in the standard canonical order of the gospels (though in old Western codices there is the order Matthew, John, Mark, Luke which likely is based on placing the two apostles before the two apostolic assistants) and a few testimonies below imply John intended to supplement the Synoptics. What do you think?
“…Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.1.1)
“But, last of all, John, perceiving that the external facts had been made plain in the Gospel, being urged by his friends, and inspired by the Spirit, composed a spiritual Gospel.<!––> This is the account of Clement [of Alexandria].” (Eusebius, H.E. 6.14.7)
“he [Origen] testifies that he knows only four Gospels, writing as follows… Last of all that by John (H.E. 6.25.3, 6)
“The fourth of the Gospels is that of John, [one] of the disciples. To his fellow disciples and bishops, who had been urging him [to write], he said, ‘Fast with me from today to three days, and what will be revealed to each one let us tell it to one another.’ In the same night it was revealed to Andrew, [one] of the apostles, that John should write down all things in his own name while all of them should review it. And so, though various elements may be taught in the individual books of the Gospels, nevertheless this makes no difference to the faith of believers, since by the one sovereign Spirit all things have been declared in all [the Gospels]: concerning the nativity, concerning the passion, concerning the resurrection, concerning life with his disciples, and concerning his twofold coming; the first in lowliness when he was despised, which has taken place, the second glorious in royal power, which is still in the future. What marvel is it then, if John so consistently mentions these particular points also in his Epistles, saying about himself, ‘What we have seen with our eyes and heard with our ears and our hands have handled, these things we have written to you? For in this way he professes [himself] to be not only an eye-witness and hearer, but also a writer of all the marvelous deeds of the Lord, in their order. (Muratorian Canon)
“John the apostle, whom the Lord Jesus loved very much, last of all wrote this gospel, the bishops of Asia having entreated him, against Cerinthus and other heretics, and especially standing against the dogma of the Ebionites there who asserted by the depravity of their stupidity, for thus they have the appellation Ebionites, that Christ, before he was born from Mary, neither existed nor was born before the ages from God the father. Whence also he was compelled to tell of his divine nativity from the father. But they also bear another cause for his writing the gospel, because, when he had collected the volumes from the gospel of Matthew, of Mark, and of Luke, he indeed approved the text of the history and affirmed that they had said true things, but that they had woven the history of only one year, in which he also suffered after the imprisonment of John. The year, then, having been omitted in which the acts of the tribes were expounded, he narrated the events of the time prior, before John was shut up in prison, just as it can be made manifest to those who diligently read the four volumes of the gospels. This gospel, then, after the apocalypse was written was made manifest and given to the churches in Asia by John, as yet constituted in the body, as the Hieropolitan, Papias by name, disciple of John and dear [to him], transmitted in his Exoteric, that is, the outside five books. He wrote down this gospel while John dictated. Truly Marcion the heretic, when he had been disapproved by him because he supposed contrary things, was thrown out by John. He in truth carried writings or epistles sent to him from the brothers who were in Pontus, faithful in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Anti-Marcionite Prologue)
The chance that we might have a first century fragment of the gospel of Mark has recently caught alot of attention (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, add your link in the comments if I missed you). First, I agree with Jim West that caution is the order of the day until more scholars are able to independently examine the manuscript, though from the initial report at least it does not appear to be just a repeat of some apologetic claim such as the one that still circulates around sometimes about the discovery of Mark among the Dead Sea Scrolls (see my post here). Second, against all the hype, lets consider the possibility of what a discovery of a first century fragment would mean for the guild: 1) although there is the occasional scholarship on the fringe that wants to date the gospel of Mark well into the second century or even after Bar Kochba (H. Detering, R. Price), there is good reason already on the external and internal evidence to date Mark to the first century with the consensus dating from the mid-late 60s or early 70s (though for earlier dating, cf. E.E. Ellis, R. Gundry, M. Casey, J. Crossley); 2) Mark is pretty weakly attested with the oldest manuscript evidence is the third century Chester Beatty papyri (p45) so I would be interested in knowing about the provenance of the manuscript as maybe a clue on who was actually reading Mark whether in the late first or in the second century. Lets wait and see how this one turns out.
Augustine’s view on the Synoptic Problem and his ambivalent reception of Mark can be found in De Consensu Evangelistarum 1.2.4:
Mark seems to have followed closely after him [Matthew] like someone following on his footsteps and abbreviating him. For in fact, he has said nothing with John alone, very little by himself, a few with just Luke, but much more indeed with Matthew, and just as almost many things too in the same words, agreeing either with him alone or with the others. [translation from Stephen Carlson with original Latin text here, for other translations see also here, here, here, here, etc.]
For the great theologian looking to harmonize the One Gospel in the fourfold gospels, Mark seemed to have little distinctive to contribute as Matthew’s abbreviator. His solution to the Synoptic Problem does have a few modern advocates (B.C. Butler, John Wenham), but most modern advocates of the priority of Matthew argue for a version of the Griesbach Hypothesis (Matthew and Luke were conflated by Mark) (e.g. William Farmer, David Peabody, etc.). Mark remained largely neglected through most of Christian history until the emerging near academic consensus that Mark was the first narrative gospel practically raised it from the dead!