Unfortunately I am unable to attend SBL this year, so I have to miss the fun of eating and drinking with other bloggers (see here) Since I am only at Leipzig for a 3 month exchange period, I found it too difficult to squeeze in a trip to Chicago as well, so I guess I will have to wait to the international conference at St Andrews. On the plus side, a PhD friend here is letting me teach one of her undergraduate classes (in English) on the Apocrypha course. Anyways, if I was attending SBL this year, this is the one Mark session I would definitely attend:
Mark 11/18/2012 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM Room:N135 – McCormick Place
Theme: The Provenance of Mark
Larry Hurtado, University of Edinburgh, Presiding
Steven Richard Scott, Concordia University – Université Concordia, Structure and Provenance (10 min), Discussion (30 min)
The question of the provenance of Mark is compounded by the three levels of the tradition found within the gospel: the level of the words and deeds of Jesus, the level of transmission, and the level of the final author. One should thus have evidence of at least three provenances: the Palestine of Jesus and the earliest followers, the Greco-Roman world of the mixed Jewish and non-Jewish Christian communities, and the location of the final author. This paper will focus on the provenance of the final author. One way to discover the provenance of the gospel author is by studying his arrangement of the Jesus tradition. This paper will analyse the arrangement of the material of Jesus at the temple mount, which is arranged in two sections: Jesus answering questions at the temple and the mini-apocalypse. In both there are clear chiastic arrangements which provide evidence for the provenance of the author. The first section indicates a time after the destruction of the temple, and the second the location of Rome. The advantage of this methodology is that it places the focus solely on the provenance of the final author and not on the provenance of early stages of the transmission and origin of the tradition. It will be shown to be most useful in determining the date of composition, namely, the early 70s. It is possible that the material was arranged outside of Rome, but the author seems to have close ties to the Roman community. This analysis thus gives weight to interpretative analyses, such as that of Incigneri, that argue that many passages reflect the situation in Rome.
Brian Incigneri, Victoria, Australia, The Difference Rome Makes – Reading Mark in Its Very Particular Historical Context (10 min), Discussion (30 min)
Provenance matters a great deal when reading Mark’s Gospel because it was crafted to address the dire situation of Christians in a very specific, short-lived, historical moment, and its rhetoric will not be understood unless its context is appreciated. I have previously argued that this Gospel very well matches the situation in Rome in late 71 when Christians faced a new crisis: the return to Rome of Titus, destroyer of the Jerusalem Temple, who was said to be “another Nero.” They had watched the triumph of Vespasian and Titus processing through the city, proclaiming the victory of Jupiter over the God of Israel and displaying the spoils from his Temple. After having suffered terrible losses under Nero, they now feared the prospect of further martyrdoms, so Mark wrote for them a Gospel which is essentially the story of a martyr who leads the way. This was an emotional time: they held painful memories of lost loved ones, friends and leaders, and bitter memories of their betrayal by fellow Christians who had denied Christ under pressure. Matching the mood, Mark wrote an emotional Gospel, which has not been fully recognized. Insufficient attention has been paid to the emotions of the recipients (not just the characters) because that prime tool of ancient rhetoric—the appeals to the emotions—has been almost entirely ignored. Mark, writing according to the expectations of his rhetorical culture, triggered his readers’ memories by allusion to a number of recent events and experiences, expecting to stir their emotions and hoping to thus build a new resolve to trust in God rather than surrender to fear. Therefore, awareness of what the original hearers already knew is critical to interpretation; one example is their keen awareness of Peter’s martyrdom—the key to understanding Mark’s treatment of the disciples. A number of examples will be provided that show how reading Mark in that situation produces a very different understanding of major features of the Gospel. Indeed, appreciating Mark in this way, it will be argued, resolves many long-standing debates about puzzling aspects of his composition.
Tim Wardle, Furman University, Mark, the Jerusalem Temple, and Jewish Sectarianism: Why Geographical Proximity Matters in Determining the Provenance of Mark (10 min) Discussion (30 min)
In this paper I investigate a hitherto unexplored line of reasoning that bears directly on the question of the provenance of Mark’s gospel; that of the sectarian nature of Mark’s presentation of his gospel. It is my contention that the Gospel of Mark displays remarkable similarities to Jewish sectarian documents of Mark’s day, and that that this shared sectarian outlook necessitates that the composition of this gospel occurred in close geographical proximity to Jerusalem and its temple. In the latter half of the Second Temple period, sectarian momentum generally coalesced around dissent against the current overseers of the Jerusalem temple, specific interpretations of the Jewish law, and the authority by which one undertakes this interpretation. Mark has these three elements in spades. In his gospel Mark presents a sustained argument against the temple and its priests; in his first mention of the temple, Jesus briefly shuts down all activity in it (11:16), and in his final remark on the Jerusalem sanctuary the temple veil is torn in two (15:38). Significantly, critical assessment of the temple and priesthood in the Second Temple period appears to have arisen almost exclusively in circles geographically and socially contiguous to these two institutions, with virtually all of the condemnation originating in Judea and its environs. Moreover, the legal issues which are of concern to Mark (e.g. marriage, Sabbath observance, purity issues), and the authority by which one makes these interpretations, are precisely those which were of great concern to Mark’s sectarian contemporaries in and around Jerusalem. Building upon the insights of those like Marcus and Theissen who argue for a Syrian provenance, this paper argues that placing Mark and his community in close geographical proximity to Jerusalem helps not only to make sense of the sectarian tendencies exhibited in the Gospel of Mark, but also provides a rationale as to why Mark takes such a strong stance on the Jerusalem temple and Jesus’ interactions with his contemporaries on specific legal issues.
General Discussion Discussion (30 min)