2010-08-31

The Elijah-Elisha narrative as a model for the Gospel of Mark

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by Neil Godfrey

The Crucial BridgeThomas L. Brodie presents an argument that the Gospel of Mark was in its basic outline, plot and structure based on the Elijah-Elisha narrative in the Old Testament. I am not quite sure what to make of his case at times, but cannot deny its interest. I have no problem accepting that Mark used some of the miracle stories from Elijah and Elisha as templates for his Jesus miracles, but Brodie goes much further than this. His book is The Crucial Bridge: The Elijah-Elisha Narrative as an Interpretative Synthesis of Genesis-Kings and a Literary Model for the Gospels. It is published by the Order of St Benedict, Minnesota, 2000.

His discussion of the Elijah-Elisha narrative’s link with the Gospel of Mark consists only of ten of the last dozen pages of a 114 page book. The earlier section explains the reasons to see the Elijah-Elisha section of 1 and 2 Kings as a cohesive single narrative unit within the Primary History of Israel (Genesis-2 Kings), and also to argue that this section is a synthesis of the entire Primary History itself. I’m have a few questions about his overall thesis but need time to explore these. There are good reasons to opt for other models for Mark, too, and Brodie does not seem to deny this. There appear to have been a range of sources available to Mark and that potentially influenced the final mix that became his Gospel.

What I particularly like about Brodie’s discussion is that he addresses the verifiable evidence — the texts and the observable relationships between them. This stands in contrast to “historical” methods of many New Testament “historians” who work such hypothetical evidence as “oral traditions” and hypothetical redactions in order to “discover” some historical event “beneath the narrative”. Brodie is no Christ mythicist (he is a Dominican priest – an OP). My question, however, is this: Do we have logical and evidential grounds for treating the narrative of the Gospels as an attempt to write some form of history, or as originating in historical events, and if so, what are they? I can see such grounds for reading references to Cicero’s slave or Seneca’s philosopher colleagues as historical, but have yet to find in the scholarly literature any comparable grounds for reading the Gospel narrative as history.

Brodie’s demonstration of the Gospel of Mark’s indebtedness to the Elijah-Elisha narrative in 1 and 2 Kings:

Genre

Brodie sees the genre of Mark as “mystery-filled history expressed through biography” (p. 87) (compare my related comment on another post) and these features “set the scene for comparison with the Elijah-Elisha narrative.”

Brodie has earlier argued that the E-E narrative functions “as an interpretive interlude within a narrative that runs from creation to the fall of Jerusalem, [so that] it mirrors and synthesizes history in a way that emphasizes the presence not just of bare facts but of a deeper, divine dimension, God’s word, a word which effects everything from creation (1 Kings 17, rain and ravens) to death (2 Kings 13, bones and new life).”

My own interjection here: I have long wondered about what seem at times to be little signs that the Gospel of Mark was conceived as an attempt to write a new Primary History (Genesis to 2 Kings) for a “new Israel”. The baptism scene with rending of heavens and wilderness at the beginning, and the conclusion with literal and midrashic allusions to the destruction of the Temple and failure of the 12 disciples, has sometimes brought to mind the story that begins with creation out of chaos through dividing of waters and a renewed creation from a great flood involving a dove, and concluding with the destruction of the Temple and failure of the 12 tribes of Israel. In both, there is also a final hint of hope, with the message that Jesus will be found in Galilee, and with the lifting of the king of Judah from the dungeon to sit beside his captors.

Brodie sees this as a similar type of “history” as we find in the Gospels. It is about God’s intervention into and controlling guidance of history.

Brodie also sees the E-E narrative as biographical, and its “history” is told through the lives of the prophets, although the biography “never dominates.”

Whether one uses the words “history” and “biography” or not, the main point is that the E-E narrative is seen as a similar genre to that of the Gospel of Mark.

Overall Length

Brodie remarks on the brevity of the Gospel of Mark. In this it is unlike other histories and many other biographies from the ancient world. Herodotus and Thucydides wrote the equivalent of 400 or more pages. Xenophon’s “biography” of Socrates and Philo’s of Moses are over 100 pages each. There are a few biographies that are short, there is no standard length.

Brodie’s point is that Mark chose to write a short account rather than an extended one, and notes the “striking” fact that Mark’s 16 chapters is close to the size of the 19 chapters of the E-E narrative. It is even more comparable if the formulaic reigns of kings in 2 Kings 8:16-29; 13:1-13 are seen as padding.

My own comment, departing from Brodie here: Some scholars attempt to attribute the brevity of the gospels, Mark in particular, to the shortage and expense of writing materials among the early Christian communities. Some narratives are even said to have been “pre-recorded” on small pieces and later collated for the Gospel. This creative explanation falls down at the point of the lengthy rambling tale of the martyrdom of John the Baptist at Herod’s birthday party. Extended tales could be written when desired. So Brodie’s argument for the E-E narrative being a synthesis and interpretive narrative for the same Primary History is one I find interesting.

Length of Episodes: The Spiraling Expansion of the Narrative

Mark’s gospel is in large part, especially at the beginning, episodic. Especially Mark 1:1-20 — these few verses contain very brief episodes:

  • the preaching of John the Baptist,
  • the baptism of Jesus,
  • the wilderness scene,
  • and the calling of the first 4 disciples.

“But gradually, most noticeably in chapters 4-5, the episodes or materials seem to connect more clearly and to expand. Eventually, once Jesus reaches Jerusalem and cleanses the Temple (ch. 11), the narrative becomes an essentially unbroken sequence.” (p. 89)

Brodie sees a similar pattern in the E-E narrative.

Thus 1 Kings 17:

  • God’s prophetic word comes to Elijah
  • Elijah goes to brook Cherith, fed by ravens
  • Then goes to Zarephath
  • Encounter and miracle with the woman of Zarephath
  • Elijah raises the child from the dead

But by 1 Kings 18 there is greater length and continuity. The E-E narrative then concludes with an unbroken block of 5 chapters (2 Kings 9-13).

In both narratives — Elijah-Elisha and Mark — the overall progression is not linear but spiraling. The progression from very short episodes to longer ones is followed later by a partial return to episodes that are quite short (for example, 2 Kgs 2:19-22, 23-25; 4:1-7, 38-41, 42-44; Mark 6:45-52, 53-56; 7:24-30, 31-37; 8:1-10). But this contraction makes way for further, greater expansion, and eventually for the long sequence of the conclusion (2 Kings 9-13; Mark 11-16).

Again my own comment to interrupt Brodie’s argument: One finds a similar pattern of episodic narratives (often involving traveling expeditions) preceding a longer more cohesive denouement in the final “chapters” in nonbiblical epic literature, too, and in popular novels of the era.

Clear Connections at Key Points: Beginning, Middle, and End

The beginning, middle and end of literary works marked “key carriers for the larger momentum of the narrative”, and Brodie sees a “clear connection” at these pivotal points between E-E and Mark.

Beginning

The opening Malachi-based messenger in Mark 1:2  is effectively identified as Elijah (Mal. 3:1, 23)

Mark 1:1-20 recalls Elijah at several points:

  1. the abrupt beginning
  2. the wilderness
  3. the Jordan
  4. the prophetic speaker’s external appearance
  5. the animals/ravens
  6. the angels
  7. the abrupt call to discipleship

(1 Kgs 17:3, 6; 19:4-8, 19-21; 2 Kgs 1:8)

Middle

At the dramatic centre of the E-E narrative:

  • heavenly fire comes down on the mountain-top (2 Kings 1)
  • fire carries Elijah to heaven (2 Kings 2)

At the dramatic centre of Mark:

  • the mountain-top drama of the Transfiguration (unearthly light)

This Transfiguration is followed by a discussion that invokes Elijah’s name 5 times.

End

Again Elijah’s name is introduced in Mark when Jesus cries out on the cross. Onlookers ask if he is calling for Elijah.

Marks ending (16:8) is abrupt and enigmatic with the women fleeing in fear.

Brodie suggests that this corresponds in part to “the abrupt and enigmatic account of Elisha’s death and burial, including the dead man’s rising to life (2 Kgs 13:21). (Is it coincidence that Mark’s picture of the women fleeing frightened from the tomb is partly matched by the apparent fright of the pall-bearers and by their implied flight from the tomb of Elisha?)” (p. 90)

Further Connections, Especially Near the Three Key Points

  • The Beginning (Mark 1)

Call of the Disciple(s) — 1 Kings 19:19-21; Mark 1:16-20

Mark’s account of Jesus calling the disciples is modeled partly on Elijah’s call of Elisha. “Mark both simplifies and doubles the older account”:

  • the action begins with the caller (Elijah/Jesus) and with motion towards those to be called;
  • those called are working (plowing/fishing);
  • the call, whether by gesture (Elijah) or word (Jesus), is brief;
  • those called are to leave their means of livelihood (plow/nets);
  • later, the means of livelihood are variously destroyed or mended: the plow is destroyed, but the nets are mended — a typical inversion of images (showing the other side of the coin);
  • after further movement, there is a leave-taking of home;
  • there is also a leave-taking of other workers;
  • finally, those called follow the caller.

The healing of the leper — 2 Kings 5; Mark 1:40-45

“Within the respective testaments the two healings are unique.” (p.92)

Despite the differences in length and complexity, distinctive similarities between the two accounts:

  • the action begins with the leper, and with motion towards Elisha/Jesus;
  • the healer should/does extend his hand;
  • the leprosy is cleansed immediately;
  • there is aftermath concerning worship (a Temple, the priest).
  • The Middle (Mark 6 and 8)

The multiplication of loaves

Mark’s two accounts of the multiplication of loaves (6:30-44; 8:1-10) dominate these chapters. The Gospel’s account blends several influences and factors, but its single closest OT precedent is, of course, the multiplication of the loaves by Elisha: 2 Kings 4:42-44

And there came a man from Baalshalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk thereof. And he said, Give unto the people, that they may eat.

And his servitor said, What, should I set this before an hundred men? He said again, Give the people, that they may eat: for thus saith the LORD, They shall eat, and shall leave thereof.

So he set it before them, and they did eat, and left thereof, according to the word of the LORD.

Brodie remarks that “to some degree, the figure of Elijah — and the seven-fold use of his name — runs through the entire central section of Mark (6:14-9:13). Three elements stand out:”

  1. Herod and the opinion that John is Elijah (6:15);
  2. the miracles of the loaves (6:30-44); 8:1-10);
  3. the opinion that Jesus is Elijah and the five references during and after the Transfiguration (9:4-5, 12-13)

A point on methodology that Brodie also addressed elsewhere (and as I posted earlier) is made again:

Gerhard Dautzenberg does well in highlighting the role of Elijah in this central section and in connecting it with Jesus’ cry at his death, but before attempting to distinguish hypothetical tradition from hypothetical redaction (as Dautzenberg does), it is better to work with what is verifiable: the narrative of 1 and 2 Kings. (p. 92)

Again my own comment: It is here that I believe Brodie has the more justifiable methodology. So called “historians” of the NT are working with hypothetical “evidence” to explain something they think is beyond the narrative; Brodie is working with verifiable evidence to explain the narrative.

  • The End (Mark 11-15)

As noted above, both E-E and Mark “conclude with long sequences of virtually unbroken narrative (2 Kings 9-13; Mark 11-16).” (p.93) But the content is also distinctively connecting the two narratives, not just their form or shape.

The Purging/Cleansing of the Temple

Both the Elijah-Elisha and Mark narratives focus especially on the Temple(s) at their ends.

  • Jehu’s actions climax when he purges and destroys the temple of Baal (2 Kgs 10:18-27)
  • The aftermath in Judah centres on the takeover and renewal of the Temple in Jerusalem (2 Kings 11-12)

Compare the centrality of the Temple in Mark in the concluding narrative:

  • Jesus’ first act on reaching Jerusalem is to cleanse the Temple (Mark 11)
  • Jesus preaches in the Temple (Mark 12:35-40)
  • Jesus predicts the Temple’s destruction (Mark 13:1-4)
  • The Temple is an issue at his trial (Mark 14:57-58)
  • The first effect of his death is the tearing of the Temple veil (Mrk 15:38)

Hurtado has also noted the “midrashic” allusion to the destruction of the Temple in the tomb carved out of the rock for Jesus — cf. Isaiah 22:16.

Further broad similarities

  1. Anointing and conspiracy (2 Kgs 9:1-11; Mark 14:1-14)
  2. Accession — with cheering, cloaks on ground (2 Kgs 9:12-13; Mark 11:7-10)
  3. An apparent wait before taking over (2 Kgs 9:14-21; Mark 11:11)
  4. Challenging the authorities (2 Kgs 9:22-10:27; Mark 11:12-12:12)
  5. Giving money for the Temple (2 Kgs 12:5-17; Mark 12:41-44)

Brodie concludes this section with:

Whatever the full outline and final details, the basic point is clear: Mark’s long passion narrative, while using distinctive Christian sources, coincides significantly both in form and content with the long Temple-centered sequence at the end of the Elijah-Elisha narrative. The Old Testament text does not account for Mark’s narrative, but it has made an inextricable contribution. The shadow of Jehu’s accession to power, especially his purging of the Baalite temple, cannot be removed from Mark’s account of the cleansing of the Temple. Yet the final effect in Mark is radically different. The military and political aspects of the Old Testament account . . . have been transformed. (p. 93)

Location and Geographic Structure

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus begins in Galilee and eventually moves south to Jerusalem. (Mark 11)

In the E-E narrative, Elijah and Elisha work in northern Israel, but near the end, in the events concerning the Temple, the focus turns to Jerusalem. (2 Kings 11-12)

But there are complications to this overall simple structure:

In Mark, Jesus sometimes goes elsewhere —

  1. at beginning, he is in the wilderness and the Jordan (1:9)
  2. near centre, he goes to Tyre and Sidon (7:24, 31)
  3. at end, he goes ahead to Galilee (16:7)

In the Elijah-Elisha narrative there are also complications —

  1. at beginning, Elijah is east of Jordan and in Sidon (1 Kgs 17:2-10)
  2. at centre, Elijah is at the Jordan (2 Kgs 2)
  3. at end, Elisha faces east and Damascus (2 Kgs 13:17)

The details of these complications are debatbable. What is essential is that, even in the complications, there is some affinity. Overall, therefore, both in its basic north-south pattern and in its key variations, the geographic pattern of the Elijah-Elisha narrative provides an approximate precedent for Mark. (p. 94)

Conclusion

The affinities between the Elijah-Elisha narrative and Mark are multiple: genre (blending history and biography), overall length, length and shape of many episodes, the content of the three key points, and the geographic pattern. These affinities do not take away from what is distinctive in Mark . . . .

While there is no doubt but that Mark had his own specifically Christian sources and that he incorporated a wealth of Greco-Roman features, literary and oral, there can also be little doubt but that, in shaping these sources, he drew on the Elijah-Elisha narrative — the succinct interpretive synthesis which culminates the Scriptures’ greatest history. No other explanation accounts so well for the data. (p. 95)

Brodie additionally discusses the Elijah-Elisha narrative in relationship to the other Gospels. An important focus of his book is explaining how this central narrative explains and synthesizes the broader history from Genesis to 2 Kings in which it is found. What I have outlined here needs to be understood within that context.


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16 Comments

  • 2010-08-31 22:01:23 UTC - 22:01 | Permalink

    Thanks for quoting that 2 Kings 2 passage here. I would like to compare the Septuagint of that with Mark’s baptism scene. A question about possibility of several intentional inversions arise there:

    — all those splitting and tearing asunders, c.f. sky tearing asunder in Mark;
    — the going over the divided waters, c.f. the emergence from beneath the waters;
    — Elijah going up into heaven in a horse drawn chariot, c.f. the spirit coming down from heaven in a dove;
    — the cry of “my father”, c.f. the call of “my son”.

    Does the double portion of the spirit suggest Elisha is to be doubly greater than Elijah? He does do lots more miracles. (I know it is said the “double portion” refers to a first-born’s inheritance, but. . . )

    I need such ideas as these to sit on the shelf for a while and then have a more objective look at them after a few months.

  • 2010-08-31 22:10:58 UTC - 22:10 | Permalink

    And daydreamer has raises some interesting questions that coincidentally relate to this post, too:

    http://headintheclouds.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/loved-these-questions-about-the-jesus-stories/

    Wish I’d thought of them at the time I posted this 😉

    • 2010-08-31 23:14:36 UTC - 23:14 | Permalink

      The HJ scholars in the Apocalyptic Prophet camp think they have good answers for the lack of written evidence before Paul or Mark. Apparently, the Jesus-movement followers were so sure that the end of the age was upon them that they had no time to write anything down. They all just hit the road, trying to convert as many people as possible before the Son of Man came jetting down out of the clouds to judge the earth.

      Is that actually a good argument? It never dawned on anyone to write up a mini-Didache for new converts? “Here’s what you need to believe. Here’s how you baptize. Here’s how you confess Jesus is Lord.” It could have fit on a single sheet. No one before Paul ever thought to write letters to friends and relatives in Rome or Ephesus about this great guy they’d been following?

      Of course the scholars protest that the Twelve were illiterate fisherman and peasants. But what about the rest of the followers? What about rich, high-class guys like Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus? Surely in that small band of followers somebody knew how to write. Paul writes to an extant church in Rome that somebody else had founded. They apparently knew how to read. But nobody there ever wrote anything down?

      Or are we to assume that none of the parchment survived?

      • 2010-09-01 08:25:19 UTC - 08:25 | Permalink

        I suppose there are two ways of explaining lack of evidence. One can add hypothetical scenarios to one’s model of Christian origins, or one can revise one’s model so that there are no such absences of evidence in the picture at all.

  • 2010-08-31 21:12:25 UTC - 21:12 | Permalink

    JW:
    http://www.errancywiki.com/index.php?title=2_Kings_2

    2 Kings 2:9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I am taken from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.

    2 Kings 2:10 And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: [nevertheless], if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.

    2 Kings 2:11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, [there appeared] a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, which parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

    “2 Kings 2:12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof! And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.

    2 Kings 2:13 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of the Jordan.

    2 Kings 2:14 And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is Jehovah, the God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they were divided hither and thither; and Elisha went over.

    2 Kings 2:15 And when the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho over against him saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.”

    Yes, at long last, the source for McGrath’s baptism. Another great post Neil. As has been noted, to the extent there are parallels with a non-historical source, this is evidence for Fiction. Motivation multiplies the evidence for fiction like a mustard seed being watered down. Paul and Fake Paul are the only known significant Christian authors before “Mark”. Per Paul, the history of Jesus was in the Jewish Bible. So “Mark” has used the Jewish Bible to present Jesus’ history. This is why the Prologue of “Mark” which is normally used in Greek Tragedy to give a brief history or background of a story, refers to the Jewish Bible. If we already have the source here for “Mark” from writings that exist why search for a source for “Mark” that does not exist?

    What “Mark’s” intent was is still an open question for me, Theology vs. Literature. The great authors of the time wrote literature and not theology and “Mark” is definitely great literature. Case in point is the above. We agree that “Mark” has a central theme of Irony/Recognition issue. Your post here shows how the Elijah/Elisha story forms the spine of “Mark’s” book. Yet “Mark” continuously has characters at the Text level mistake Jesus/John for Elijah and negativize them for doing so. But all the background is Elijah so how can the characters being criticized? (I suppose though when the 3 pillars saw Jesus WITH Elijah they should have known better).

    This Type of ironic contrast fits better as literature than theology.

    Joseph

  • 2010-08-31 23:05:06 UTC - 23:05 | Permalink

    JW:
    Well I Am just getting started. See how many other Markan themes you can find in Samuel/Kings?:

    Where’s ElJoe?:

    http://www.errancywiki.com/index.php?title=1_Samuel_16

    “1 Samuel 16:13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of Jehovah came mightily upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.

    1 Samuel 16:14 Now the Spirit of Jehovah departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from Jehovah troubled him.

    1 Samuel 16:15 And Saul`s servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.

    1 Samuel 16:16 Let our lord now command thy servants, that are before thee, to seek out a man who is a skilful player on the harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well.

    1 Samuel 16:17 And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me.

    1 Samuel 16:18 Then answered one of the young men, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Beth-lehemite, that is skilful in playing, and a mighty man of valor, and a man of war, and prudent in speech, and a comely person; and Jehovah is with him.

    1 Samuel 16:19 Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, who is with the sheep.

    1 Samuel 16:20 And Jesse took an ass [laden] with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them by David his son unto Saul.

    1 Samuel 16:21 And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armorbearer.

    1 Samuel 16:22 And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David, I pray thee, stand before me; for he hath found favor in my sight.

    1 Samuel 16:23 And it came to pass, when the [evil] spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took the harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.”

    So the Good Spirit comes into David and departs Paul, er, Saul, and the Bad Spirit than comes into David. Than only David, who has Saul’s old Good Spirit, can make the Bad Spirit depart Saul. That’s ironic.

    Joseph

  • mikelioso
    2010-09-01 12:26:37 UTC - 12:26 | Permalink

    Tim are you arguing then that Paul was the only Christian? If not, then yeah they either weren’t writing or we what they wrote didn’t survive.

    • 2010-09-01 13:33:08 UTC - 13:33 | Permalink

      Mike, I’m arguing that we have no idea why we haven’t any written documents from the pre-Pauline era. If nobody wrote down anything, then it’s worth exploring all the reasons why they didn’t. Perhaps there really was an oral tradition in which people kept the sayings alive by memorizing them faithfully. On the other hand, it’s possible there was no tradition at all. But NT studies permits only this answer: “Historical Jesus –> Oral Tradition –> Q? –> Paul –> Mark”.

      Because they start with these things that they “know,” they can also claim to know other things about Jesus. We “know” he spoke Aramaic, because we “know” he was from Galilee, and we “know” that because the gospels say so, and (say it along with me, everybody) “Why would anybody make that up?”

      What bothers me are the unexamined postulates, the received truths about Jesus, along with the naive trust in the gospels.

    • imarriedaxtian
      2010-09-01 13:38:58 UTC - 13:38 | Permalink

      I don’t think that anybody would bother re-copying documents with failed end-times prophecies, considering the expenses, would you? Unless there were other teachings in them that were worth keeping.

      • 2010-09-01 13:57:56 UTC - 13:57 | Permalink

        Well, later Christians kept copying the Olivet Discourse and John’s Apocalypse. Those failed prophesies get reinterpreted every generation, and will continue to fail for centuries to come. Their record of failure rivals the Washington Generals’ losing streak.

        • imarriedaxtian
          2010-09-01 23:34:03 UTC - 23:34 | Permalink

          I was actually responding to an earlier comment of yours on why documents like a “mini-didache” are not extant anymore (if any were ever written in the first place).

  • mikelioso
    2010-09-02 11:48:16 UTC - 11:48 | Permalink

    Tim, no idea might be a strong way to put it. We don’t have the vast majority of documents that should have been produced in that period. No one is theorizing on book stealing aliens, though I think I might propose that the all the books of the bible were written in 4010 AD by aliens and sent back in time to cripple the human imagination, I think Neil might go for that. But seriously there are questions raised by the nature of what has survived vs what hasn’t and certainly there is a lot more assurance expressed in this field than is justified. It is the nature of the game, as this site so often demonstrates, religion is an emotional subject and zealots of all stripes are attracted to push doctrine over reason.

  • 2010-09-02 23:59:43 UTC - 23:59 | Permalink

    JW:
    There are many good parallels here:

    http://www.errancywiki.com/index.php?title=2_Kings_2

    “2 Kings 2:3 And the sons of the prophets that were at Beth-el came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that Jehovah will take away thy master from thy head to-day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.

    2 Kings 2:4 And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for Jehovah hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As Jehovah liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho.

    2 Kings 2:5 And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came near to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that Jehovah will take away thy master from thy head to-day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.”

    Repetition of the silence command.

    “2 Kings 2:6 And Elijah said unto him, Tarry here, I pray thee; for Jehovah hath sent me to the Jordan. And he said, As Jehovah liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on.”

    Verses:

    “Mark 14:30 And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, that thou to-day, [even] this night, before the cock crow twice, shalt deny me thrice.

    Mark 14:31 But he spake exceedingly vehemently, If I must die with thee, I will not deny thee. And in like manner also said they all.”

    and

    “2 Kings 1:9 Then [the king] sent unto him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him: and, behold, he was sitting on the top of the hill. And he spake unto him, O man of God, the king hath said, Come down.”

    Verses

    “Mark 14:43 And straightway, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.”

    Okay, as the KGB said to Clint Eastwood in the classic “Firefox”, “I’m sorry, your papers, they are not in order.” But even “Mark’s” Jesus would be sore amazed at the quality of the parallels here in a short space. The only known Christian source tradition here is that “Mark” was an interpreter for Peter and the source of his Gospel is what he remembered from Peter’s preaching. This sophisticated narrative is not based on remembering someone else’s preaching. It is a polished, stylish and original composition. We can than eliminate the only claimed traditional source by Christianity as a viable explanation. The only known explanation with an existing source than are known literature, The Jewish Bible, Paul, Fake Paul and Josephus. This must be our best existing explanation than since it is the only one we have with extant support. It’s not proof though or even necessarily probable become of the uncertainty created by Age and lack of quality Sources. It is only this overall uncertainty which even makes an explanation of a source for historical witness possible. You can not use this uncertainty to deny literature as a possible source for “Mark” and turn around and deny the uncertainty itself as a reason to doubt historical witness as a source and that is exactly what McGrath El-all are doing.

    Joseph

  • 2010-09-27 06:05:09 UTC - 06:05 | Permalink

    FWIW Michael Turton highlighted this several years ago in his Historical Commentary on Mark:

    http://www.michaelturton.com/Mark/GMark_index.html

    • 2010-09-27 22:34:46 UTC - 22:34 | Permalink

      It was Michael Turton who introduced me to Brodie’s book some years ago. His commentary on Mark is an excellent resource.

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