And while we’re talking about interesting posts elsewhere I must add one by Paul Davidson on his Is That in the Bible? (Exploring the Judeo-Christian Scriptures) blog. His recent post is Did Mark Invent the Sea of Galilee? It’s an interesting discussion on why the author of the second gospel decided to call that lake a sea. Paul Davidson brings in a range of sources into the discussion. About the only one he doesn’t reference is the possibility (according to some) that the theological or parabolic adventures on that “sea” were based on Paul’s career.
One message is clear (at least to me): the author is writing a creative narrative rich in theological symbolism.
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31 thoughts on “Did Mark Invent the Sea of Galilee?”
Interesting stuff. I find Davidson’s final explanation the most convincing: Mark is referring to the OT (as Mark usually does), in this case Isaiah 9:1. Mark reads Isaiah as the prophecy that the Messiah will restore northern Israel (Galilee) — Gentile territory ever since the Assyrian conquest — to the Jews. This may well have been a popular reading at the time, also amongst Jews. The LXX appears to lean that way too.
This raises some other points:
– it explains why the focus of Mark’s gospel is on Galilee, and not on Judea. Even why Jesus was born there. Matthew follows Mark, and even explains the OT references (as Matthew often does) which are implicit in Mark.
– Luke focuses his gospel on Jerusalem (in Judea). Hence, Luke doesn’t like this prophesy, Luke speaks consistently of the Lake of Gennesar instead. Luke also sees the Messiah’s mission much boarder than ‘just’ Judaizing Galilee.
– John’s gospel doesn’t have the focus on Judaizing Galilee either; but still naming the sea of Galilee (John 6.1), looks to me as if John was aware of Mark’s or Matthew’s gospel. There are no other texts known from that time that use that name.
– the focus on the sea in Mark isn’t necessarily derived from Paul’s career. Both Paul and Mark could have been inspired by Isaiah 9.1
Another point about Luke’s label is that when we look at our canonical Luke-Acts, we see a narrative progression from Jerusalem to Rome, with the period of Jesus confined to the Palestine area and the sea voyages related to the expansion of the gospel beyond. If that makes sense then we have a thematic reason for Luke to keep Jesus acting around a lake and saving up the sea for Paul’s expansion of the faith.
I think Mark’s use of parable is extensive. In Mark the “Pharisees and scribes [of the Law]” are a parable for those sent by James [the chief priest of the Jerusalem Church] to Antioch in Galatians 2:12-13. That fact that Peter and the other Jews acted with “hypocrisy” and “separated” themselves accounts for the Gospel “hypocritical Pharisees”, since Pharisee is derived from “peras/to separate”. The “chief priests” in Mark’s Gospel are unnamed and are conflated with and a parable for the “chief priests” of the Jerusalem Church. Barabbas is a parable for the “other Jesus” in 2Cor 11:4 and another Gospel than Paul’s, that is the Jesus and Gospel of the Jerusalem Church. That is why in Mark both the “chief priests” and the “thieves/lestes/insurrectionists” both mock Jesus. Judas Iscariot is a parable for the forty assassins (Sicariots) Acts 23:12-14 who bound themselves with an oath to the “chief priests” of the Jerusalem Church to kill Paul for teaching against the customs and the Law.
I think that the two lestes are just the sons of Zebedee (a fact that explains why there is ‘Salome’ before them: the same ”Peace” (”salem”) rejected by them – when they did desire the first places -, just as Jesus rejected his mother, and as Herod rejected his wife Mariamne.)
Jesus Barabbas is the First Adam, a sinner freed by the Second Adam who is Christ, per 1 Cor 15:45.
While the ”another Jesus” of 2 Cor 11:4 becomes in Mark the same ”Son of Man” (symbol of earthly Israel) totally absent in the epistles: the apparent Christ ”of Cephas”, a ”divided Christ” for Paul at the origin of a Separationist Christology in Mark.
Note that, in reaction to claims (by Peter’s followers) of ”possessing” Christ, Paul himself compared a ”Christ divided” with a ”Paul crucified”:
Now this I mean, that each one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you?
(1 Corinthians 11:15)
The Mark’s Jesus is very much paulinized because only in that way the pauline ‘Mark’ could introduce ”another Jesus”, precisely the Christ ”of Cephas”, as a Christ condemning the Pillars themselves.
Yes, the two lestes are not literally James and John, but as others have pointed out Mark certainly seems to want to associate the two lestes with James’ and John’s worldly request to be at Jesus’ left hand and right hand. So the two lestes certainly could be a parable for James the brother of Jesus and the other pillar of the Church John, who both were teaching sedition (like Jesus and John the Baptizer) by proclaiming the imminent coming of the kingdom of God here on earth. But it seems probable to me that Mark’s Gospel is really a parabolic polemic against the Ebiontie “heresy” of the Jerusalem Church, and that Mark’s Jesus is for the most part a parable for Paul which has been overlaid onto the real Jesus. That being the case, Jesus Barabbas would be a parable for the Jesus taught by the Jerusalem Church, actually the “real” Jesus. Paul’s innocent tax paying Christ is crucified, while the insurrectionist Barabbas is let go. From Mark’s perspective the story of Barabbas is a commentary on the Jerusalem Church “chief priests” and the Jews in general for rejecting Paul and Paul’s Jesus and instead choosing the sedition of Barabbas to their own destruction in the war with Rome.
Your view is not so different from my view, since I don’t mean that ”the two lestes certainly could be a parable for James the brother of Jesus and the other pillar of the Church John” as reflecting a possible historical core of a hypothetical seditious HJ. My point rather is that while Jesus Barabbas is better identified as the ”Second Adam” (whoose sins are expiated by the ”Second Adam” Jesus called Crist), the ”Son of Adam” (better known as ”Son of Man”) is the same earthly Israel, whoose sins are expiated only partially by the baptism of John the Baptist (symbol of all the ancient prophets) but entirely on the Roman cross (the destruction of Jerusalem of 70 CE is in view here). The son of man is ”another Jesus” because who follows him without knowing him (as a mere son of man possessed by the true Son of God and distinct from it) – in the allegory: the Pillars Peter, James and John, but also all the people who is healed by him – will receive
fatally ”anathema” (Gal 1:8) and will be destined to final destruction (hence the crucifixion of the two lestes James and John together with the son of man ”Jesus Nazarene” abandoned rightly by the true pauline Son of God just before the death on the cross).
The esoteric meaning is that the pauline Son of God doesn’t die in Mark as he is already risen in past (in a sub-lunar realm). Who dies and rises in Mark is really solely and exclusively the ”son of man”, the earthly Israel who becomes the spiritual Israel into the ”Galilee of gentiles”, that is the Pauline sect. The Pillars are stripped of their primacy over to Paul, because they didn’t see the real Jesus of Paul, but only the earthly Israel (i.e.: including themselves) destined to perish in 70 CE.
The son of man comes from Nazaret, an artificial name (from Netser, davidic root) but an indefinite place of Galilee (in the allegory) to mean that the mere earthly davidic Messiah (note: not the same Son of God) could be whoever in Galilee (everyone and no one), since he is a symbol of the earthly Israel willing to atone for their sins. And the point of Mark is that he will expiate his sins. In 70 CE.
In short, I think that Mark is the necessary link between the celestial Son of God preached by Paul and the original (even if only outsider) readers of Mark witnessed by Irenaeus, when he wrote:
Those, again, who separate Jesus from Christ, alleging that Christ remained impassible, but that it was Jesus who suffered, preferring the Gospel by Mark, if they read it with a love of truth, may have their errors rectified.
(Against Heresies III,11,7)
The insider knew the truth: ”Christ” remained impassible, while it was ”Jesus” who suffered, because ”Christ” was crucified by demons below the moon, while ”Jesus Nazarene”, the earthly Israel, was crucified en masse in 70 CE by Romans of Titus.
Yes, thanks for explaining, I see your point now. But I don’t think Mark is a Gnostic, even though Paul may be proto-Gnotic. Nor does Mark seem to be making an argument for the resurrection of the dead as Paul is in 1Cor 15. Mark instead seems to be more focused on belittling or rejecting those who have rejected Paul and Paul’s Gentile friendly teaching about Jesus. For example in Mark 9:10 the disciples are portrayed as not even understanding what the resurrection of the dead means. And that is hardly conceivable in first century Judea. But that is just another way for Mark to belittle the Jewish disciples and the Jerusalem Church. And it is this consistent focus on the part of Mark that leads me to think that Mark’s Barabbas is the other Jesus taught by the Jerusalem Church, and not a 1st Adam or 2nd Adam, even though Paul himself might have said so had he still been alive.
I agree entirely with the idea that Mark is strongly indebted to Paul and the question about who is (allegorically) Jesus Barabbas is of minor importance: I may even accept your point about him as ”another Jesus”.
I don’t mean that Mark is Gnostic, because for me ”Gnostic” is whoever hates the god of the Jews (For example, Gnostic clues in that sense are found in the novels of Cormac McCarthy.) and clearly Mark doens’t fit that definition.
Maybe the essential difference between my view and your view is that I mean that Mark is not a failed apocalyptic prophet (differently from Paul): when his Jesus preaches the coming ”Kingdom of God”, that Kingdom is already realized entirely at the end of the Gospel (with the titulum crucis) therefore there is no failed apocalypticism in Mark.
But just in virtue of his being strongly pauline, I wonder how could Mark introduce a Jesus ”son of man” when there is not a such figure in all the epistles of Paul and when the apostle himself didn’t like probably the idea of calling his Christ as ‘Son of Adam” (being the first Adam a sinner in comparison with the Second Adam, in his view). Therefore there are only three options:
1) the first to introduce a ”son of man” in more or less implicit reference to Jesus is Mark himself, against the will of Paul (impossible, because ‘Mark’ is a sincere pauline).
2) the Pillars did call already Jesus as ”the son of man” (historicist conclusion I don’t like).
3) Mark did introduce a ”son of man” to make him subordinate to his pauline Son of God. The desire/prophecy of Paul was the coming conversion of all Israel to paulinism. But there wasn’t a conversion of Israel, only his destruction by Romans. Therefore, by inventing a ”son of man” as symbol of earthly sinner Israel, Mark could identify the conversion of Israel with the destruction of Israel and he could do so only by the paradox of a son of man who is lead by the Son of God on the cross.
In short something as the following:
1) the ”son of man (or son of Adam) coming from Nazareth” (the entire Jewish humanity = the messianic earthly Israel) has need of forgiveness for his sins.
2) but John (and with him all the old prophets) can baptize only with water and not with fire…
3) therefore a complete expiation of the sins of Israel is possible only on a Roman cross.
In view of that goal, the son of man has to be accused rightly for blasphemy by the scribes and pharisees, by posing apparently as God. The sentence of death is just according to Jewish Law (the son of man is accused, not the Son of God possessing him). Only, by condemning the son of man on the Roman cross, the scribes and pharisees really are condemning themselves and all Israel. And so the desire of Paul is satisfied: the son of man will rise in Galilee of Gentiles, as the mystical ”body of Christ”, the pauline sect.
This cooptation by ‘Mark’ of the ”son of man” figure (one absent totally in Paul) as symbol of a ”sinner and redeemed Israel” means that Mark is already prepared to accept the delay of the parousia, therefore his entire attention is addressed now to explain how it is possible that the earthly Israel isn’t still converted to Paulinism despite being destroyed by the Romans.
Mark didn’t euhemerize the pauline Son of God. Mark did euhemerize the symbol of the Jewish humanity: the Son of Man. Later authors (Matthew, Luke and JOhn) did euhemerize the Son of God by making him totally identical (and not separated) with the son of man figure.
When I interpret the Gospel of Mark as a parable for Paul and Paul’s Jesus, then Mark definitely appears to make his Jesus in the image of Paul, and that is why Mark’s Jesus eats with sinners and tax collectors, because that is what Paul did, and that is exactly what the scribes [of the Law] sent by James and the separatist “Pharisees” did NOT do in Antioch (Gal 2:12-14). As others have pointed out, if Peter knew that Jesus had sanctioned the mission to the Gentiles, why then did Peter obey James and separate himself? Some might argue that James overruled Jesus on this and reverted to Judaism. I suspect that James never overruled Jesus and simply carried on in the tradition of his brother the original Jesus Barabbas.
The Book of Revelation seems to be Jewish Christian, and quite opposed to Paul, and yet it too uses “son of man” occasionally, although not as a title. Perhaps Mark is simply associating Jesus with Daniel’s “one like the son of man”. I don’t think Mark is a slavish imitator of Paul, and in fact may differ on some things like “the son of man”. But in spite of his independence, Mark does seem to be using Paul as a model for his Jesus.
I am not so sure about the utility of Revelation to know about an hypothetical ”Gospel of the Pillars” (in your view considered so different from the pauline Gospel), since Thomas Witulski recently postdates the Book of Revelation after Bar-Kochba.
But I think that Mark himself reveals criptycally the identity of the ”son of man” figure in 3:28-29 :
Truly I tell you, ”the sons of men” [tois huiois tōn anthrōpōn] can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”
The ”son of man” at plural is all Israel. The singular ”son of man” has very blasphemed while posing as God in 2:10. Therefore he is symbol of a corrupted Israel in need of an expiation on a Roman cross (in 70 CE). While the ”Holy Spirit” is the Son of God possessing the ”son of man” in that moment and his enemies are the Jewish-Christian Pillars: never forgiven by Paul/”Jesus”.
About Jesus Barabbas as ”another Jesus”, he is already revealed as such by the subtle anticipatory clue of ”Abba” in 14:36 :
“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup of suffering away from me. But let what you want be done, not what I want.”
The true Jesus will drink the cup of suffering, as promised in Mark 10:38. While the false Jesus bar-Abbas will not drink that cup.
That is a simbolic way by Mark to tell that the Pillars, by wanting free Jesus Barabbas, reject de facto a Jesus atoning for their sins (”the cup of suffering”) and therefore they condemn themselves to destruction without forgiveness. Only the remaining Israel (i.e., the ”son of man” himself crucified on the cross) will be forgiven.
Therefore I don’t see here ”another Jesus” as a historical seditious Jesus leader of the Pillars, but rather ”another Jesus” who is ineffective for the purpose to purify and save Israel.
Paul would say:
I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!
‘‘Another Jesus” preacher of the Torah is as useless (as purifier of the sins) as a Jesus escaping the cross. Just as Jesus Barabbas.
But this doesn’t say us that Jesus Barabbas existed.
Yes, I see your point, but I think your interpretation is consistent with our Pauline understanding of Christ’s redeeming sacrifice, but it says nothing about the problem that Mark was dealing with, which was the Ebionite “heresy” . Mark is really not focused on Christ’s redeeming sacrifice, that is a given for his Church. And Mark is certainly not interested in the redemption of the Jews or the Jerusalem Church. Mark understands that the Jews and the Jerusalem Church are worldly and do not understand Christ’s redeeming sacrifice for all men including the Gentiles, but it is not redemption that Mark is focused on but the REJECTION by the Jews and the Jerusalem Church of Paul’s redemption by faith for the Gentiles. And because of that REJECTION Mark and Mark’s Jesus is consistently focused on rejecting those Jews who reject Paul. It is only the Roman Gentile at the end that recognize Paul’s Jesus as the son of God, the only human in Mark’s Gospel to do so. And that is a sad thing (for Mark) to say about the Jews and the Jerusalem Church. In fact the rejection by the Jews of Paul and Paul’s Gospel and Paul’s Jesus is predestined by God and by Jesus. Consider Dominic Crossan’s take on on Mark 4:11-12
Mark 4:11….but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.
Those are surely some of the most stunning words ever uttered by Jesus. You could take them in two ways— one malign, one benign, but both bad…Mark, however, does not seem to want any such benign reading. He is not saying that the unintended result of Jesus’s parables was incomprehension. He is saying that incomprehension was already there in response to Jesus’s message and Jesus therefore used riddle parables to increase and punish that incomprehension. According to Mark, prior rejection of Jesus by his listeners begets counterrejection by Jesus of those listeners
So Mark’s Gospel is not about “redemption” nor even unconditional “good news”. It is about “good news” for the Gentiles, and bad news for the Jews who rejected Paul, including the Jerusalem Church and the James the brother of Jesus [Barabbas].
“That is a symbolic way by Mark to tell that the Pillars, by wanting free Jesus Barabbas, reject de facto a Jesus atoning for their sins (”the cup of suffering”) and therefore they condemn themselves to destruction without forgiveness. Only the remaining Israel (i.e., the ”son of man” himself crucified on the cross) will be forgiven.”
That is close. But I don’t think Mark ever associated the “religious leaders” with atoning sacrifice, because Mark says :
Mar_2:17 When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
So Mark is saying that Jesus was going to the sinners [of the Gentiles, because Mark’s “sinners” are a parable for the Gentiles] because the self righteous religious leaders had no need of atonement, they were already righteous, but a self-righteousness that comes from works of the Law and not from Paul’s faith. And it was the opposition by these religious leaders to Paul [or Paul’s Jesus] eating with sinners [of the Gentiles] that provokes Mark’s polemic against them, not that they were rejecting atonement for themselves. Mark could care less if these religious leaders accepted atonement and he would not have spent the energy on creating a parable about them rejecting it, since it was never even a possiblity. Mark is only interested in showing that they chose an insurrectionist instead of Paul’s innocent pacifist tax paying Christ, and therefore they were seditious. And that has the added advantage of showing that Mark’s church is not seditious.
Now, whether Barabbas is based on a historical seditious Jesus, or just a symbol or parable I can’t say for certain. But it is almost certain that Jesus was crucified for sedition against Rome, and even if Jesus was not Barabbas, he might as well have been because they both were guilty of sedition. You couldn’t go around saying Daniel’s kingdom of God was coming soon, near at hand, and by implication would overthrow all the Gentile nations without being seditious. Even the Lord’s prayer says: “Thy kingdom come they will be done here on EARTH as in heaven.” That was sedition. It is only NOT sedition to a Christian. But the Romans were not Christians.
But I see that you agree with me on many points. But still, I don’t think Mark had 1Cor 15 in mind, i.e. first Adam and last Adam. For Mark, Barabbas epitomized what was wrong with the Jerusalem Church and with the Jews. They chose Barabbas over Paul’s Christ. Mark’s view is very down to earth and very political. Mark is making a “blood libel” as Acts points out.
Act_3:14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;
The meaning of Mark’s Gospel depends on one’s interpretive framework. Neil started this off by referring to the meaning of the “Sea of Galilee” in Mark, and some scholars (like Tom Dykstra) have suggested that the Sea of Galilee is a parable or allegory for Paul’s journeys around the Mediterranean Sea, just as Galilee is a parable for the Gentile world of Paul. So when Mark 16:7-8 has Jesus command the women to go and tell his disciples he goes before them to Galilee, then the women are afraid like the disciples, and they tell no one. So the Jewish disciples never learn of Paul’s mission to the Gentiles and that is why Peter draws back and separates himself from Paul’s Gentile mission in Antioch, because Peter never heard. And throughout Mark’s Gospel the disciples are portrayed as not hearing and not seeing and not understanding like the other Jews. Their hearts have been hardened to Paul’s Gospel, and like Pharaoh they will be destroyed.
Mar 4:11 He told them, The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that seeing they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven! Then Jesus said to them, Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?… Mar 8:17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?
Isa 6:9 He said, Go and tell this people: ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving. Make the heart of this people calloused (hardened); make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed. (or saved)
While Mark leaves the last part of Isaiah 6:9-19 unspoken, he still intends it to be understood.
Isa 6:11 Then I said, For how long, O Lord? And he answered: Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, until the LORD has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken.
And it was the opposition by these religious leaders to Paul [or Paul’s Jesus] eating with sinners [of the Gentiles] that provokes Mark’s polemic against them, not that they were rejecting atonement for themselves
I hope you realize that these two things are equivalent, from a pauline point of view.
I think that, according to Paul, rejecting the Torah-free Christ is equivalent to rejecting atonement for themselves: the complete case for this is found in this interesting post of Vridar: in short, Paul was hated by Pillars because he did preach the equation ‘crucified Christ = end (de facto) of the Law”, not because he did preach the equation ”crucified Christ = depoliticized Christ”.
In my view, the Pillars did preach the expiatory sacrifice of a celestial Jesus, but this couldn’t imply, for them, the end of the Law. They didn’t see a contradiction between crucifixion and Torah’s observance. At contrary of Paul.
Therefore the polemical irony of Mark is the following:
1) crucifixion = end of the Law
2) the Christian who follows still the Law makes vain the death of Christ
3) therefore: who follows the Law should accept, coherently, a not-crucified Jesus (i.e. Barabbas)
The implicit corollary (of that irony) is that the Pillars find themselves (at the end) in the company of Zealots (as you have pointed out very well in a previous post), as the Zealots have certainly not need of a crucified Messiah: at contrary, they want only a victorious Messiah. The apparent Zealotism of Pillars (see the violently anti-Roman book of Revelation) is an effect of their opposition to Paul, not the cause.
And the centurion is wrong when he says ”very this man is the son of God!”, because only a second before, the son of man on the cross was abandoned by the Son of God (who had possessed him until that moment). The words ”my God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” are evidence of this separationism, as also the reference to ”Elijah” by the people: the baptism ”by water” by John the Baptist of the son of man is finally replaced with the full baptism ”by fire” by the Son of God. The destruction of Israel in 70 CE. To get out ”of waters” is an action less effective than getting out ”of body” (and to assume the mystical ‘body of Christ’ that is the Church).
Thanks, yes I understand, but I did want to make the point that “atonement”, whether accepted or rejected with respect to the Pillars, was not Mark’s emphasis. And I agree with your point that the Pillars hated Paul because Paul equated the crucified Christ with the end of the Law (at the very least for the Gentiles). And you could be quite right that the Pillars did see Jesus’ death as an atonement in the same sense as that of Eleazar in the 4th Book of Maccabees. In that Greek Orthodox Deuterocanon book the Jewish saints and martyrs by their sacrificial death make atonement for the sins of Israel in not being zealous enough for the Law. And in fact the Dead Sea scrolls see it the same way. But that is quite different from Paul’s atonement by grace and faith for those Gentile sinners who did not even accept the Jewish Law. And I think you are possibly correct to understand that the Pillars saw Jesus as a “celestial” Jesus sat down at the right hand of God and coming soon in the clouds of heaven to deliver his people Israel from the Romans, as in Revelation. ( As an aside, I subscribe to the view that Revelation was written by a Jewish Christian shortly after the death of Nero in about 68AD, and as such was a false prophecy predicting the return of Jesus to save the Jews in the Roman war, but which of course did not happen. I know this view has some difficulties because the Christology of Revelation is very high, and it is hard to understand how that could have happened so soon after the death of Jesus)
But again, I simply see Barabbas as a symbol of a “other” politically seditious Jesus as opposed to Paul’s Jesus. The Pillars (parable = “chief priests”) incited the Jews to choose Barabbas and political sedition over Paul’s innocent tax paying Jesus. So Mark and his Pauline Gentile church are conveniently off the hook for worshiping a man who was “wrongly” crucified for sedition by the Romans due the malicious and seditious incitement of the Jewish religious leaders (the Pillars). Mark’s goal is practical and political: fighting the Ebionite heresy, and getting his Pauline church off the hook with the Romans. At least that is my opinion.
“And the centurion is wrong when he says ”very this man is the son of God!”, because only a second before, the son of man on the cross was abandoned by the Son of God (who had possessed him until that moment).”
But that is a Gnostic or Docetic point of view, right? Did Mark have such a view? Mark is very clear that Jesus said he was going to suffer in the flesh. If Jesus suffering was only apparent, why even bother to pray that “this cup” be taken away? It seems to me that Mark’s view of the living Jesus is very human, and Jesus suffers like any other man, even in death on the cross. And so Mark’s view is what we would call “orthodox”. The fact that Mark has Jesus quote Psalm 22 is simply to emphasize that this Psalm was fulfilled in Jesus. The Psalm still ends on the hope of salvation for those who, even if they question God, still have faith in him.
Mar 14:36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.
Psa 22:4 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
Psa 22:4 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
Of course Mark’s church knows that God did deliver Jesus by raising him from the dead. But what Mark’s church was probably not aware of is that the Jews invented the promise of the resurrection to encourage Jews to resist first the Seleucid Greek occupation of their country, and then later the Roman occupation of their country. Resurrection was political nationalistic propaganda. So one can easily infer that the Pillars believed that Jesus was resurrected because of his opposition to Roman rule. And since this was the end of days, and the Jewish wordly kingdom of God was near, then Jesus was the first fruits of the coming resurrection of the Jewish saints and martyrs who resisted foreign Roman occupation of their country.
“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup of suffering away from me. But let what you want be done, not what I want.” The true Jesus will drink the cup of suffering, as promised in Mark 10:38. While the false Jesus bar-Abbas will not drink that cup.
That is interesting bit of irony as you say, and I had not noticed that before. Thanks very much for pointing it out. But I think the evidence is that, like Revelation, Mark did not separate the “Son of Man” from the “celestial Christ”, for example Mark 8:38.
Mar_8:38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.
And based on this verse and others, I don’t think Mark believed in a fully realized eschatology. For Mark the end of days was very near but still pending. In this regard Mark was like Paul and like John of Patmos. I don’t think that Mark even saw the destruction of Jerusalem as the end of days but only as an event signaling that the end of days was very near.
In addition to Daniel’s “one like the son of man” Mark may have had Eze 2 in mind when he called Jesus “the Son of Man”. Note the presence of the [holy] Spirit here also as in Mark 1. Here, as in Paul Rom 15:8, Jesus is a minister to the Jews. But Mark’s Jesus is much less benign.
Eze 2:1 And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee. And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me. And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day. For they are impudent children and hardhearted. I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD. And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them. And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.
But again, I simply see Barabbas as a symbol of a “other” politically seditious Jesus as opposed to Paul’s Jesus.
I see which your opinion but I thank you a lot because in this discussion I have learned which is the function of the subtle anticipatory clue (”Abba”) of Mark 14:26 : to emphasize in advance (for the pauline insider) that a Christ escaping the cross (”the cup of suffering”) is by definition a Christ who cannot expiate the sins (therefore resulting in a genuine ”anathema” – see here the important Galatians 1:8 – on the same people following him: the ”scribes and pharisees” alias the Pillars). In this sense Mark is more anti-Pillars than Matthew 27:25 whoose meaning is that the blood of Jesus paradoxically will purify just the ”scribes and pharisees” wanting it on themselves. Therefore in Mark the ”scribes and pharisees” are condemned, while in Matthew they are forgiven in a very implicit way. From this analysis, it’s clear, at least in my opinion, that the apparent seditionism by which the Pillars are described (by introducing Barabbas, the two lestes=Pillars, the Zealot clues, etc) is a collateral effect of the Mark’s polemic, and not his cause:
who has no need of a crucified Christ will be not forgiven = will be condemned = will join the Zealots in their fate of final destruction: the 70 CE is in view here.
But that is a Gnostic or Docetic point of view, right? Did Mark have such a view?
It is not gnosticism to think that the son of man is allegory of Israel. Read what Vridar says here (and relative posts about Clark W. Owens).
About separationism in Mark read here.
But when on trial Jesus was asked, Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? (14:61) Son of Blessed is a Jewish circumlocution for Son of God. Jesus replied, I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power . . .”
This surely is a scene where the Son of God inhabiting Jesus is talking to the high priest just as formerly this Son spoke to demons. “I am the Son of the Blessed”, he says. “And you will see the Son of Man” — third person — he says.
The smoking gun that ‘son of man’ = Israel is found in Mark 3:28-29 :
Truly I tell you, the sons of men can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”
The sons of men can be forgiven: the Son of Man is forgiven when in Mark 2:10 (or in Mark 2:27) is posing as God himself (given that he is accused rightly of blasphemy by the Pillars/pharisees).
but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven : the Pillars will be never forgiven because they deny that Paul (or the son of man, or the true Israel) is possessed by Jesus Christ (the Holy Spirit).
For Mark the end of days was very near but still pending.
Please realize the irony:
1:14-15 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
15:26 The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.
After John was put in prison : after that all the previous attempts (all the prophets + JtB) of purification of the sins of Israel (=the son of man) are failed.
Mar_8:38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.
Where is the problem there? Mark’s Jesus is saying that the Pillars (and the carnal Israel) will be despised in the pauline sect (the purified Son of Man coming ”in his Father glory” and preceding already in ”Galilee of gentiles”). It is not a coincidence that the Christians are embarassed when they see that Peter is described as an idiot (and so also the disciples). The prophecy is already realized with the same Gospel of Mark: the pauline readers of Mark are really ashamed of the idiot Pillars.
Thanks, yes I understand, but I did want to make the point that “atonement”, whether accepted or rejected with respect to the Pillars, was not Mark’s emphasis.
I disagree strongly with this point: a Gospel who starts with the baptism of John the Baptist, a not-effective baptism for the forgiveness of sins (going against Josephus himself where the baptism of John is a mere corollary of the already happened spiritual purification) is very emphasizing the problem of the collective atonement, whether accepted or rejected with respect to (not only) the Pillars, (but also to) the entire Israel (=”Jesus Nazarene” the mere son of man).
Resurrection was political nationalistic propaganda. So one can easily infer that the Pillars believed that Jesus was resurrected because of his opposition to Roman rule.
Richard Carrier does the same point when he says somewhere that a dying-and-rising Messiah is still a military victorious Messiah. But this is not evidence of a historical Jesus.
In my opinion, the son of man, the earthly Israel, ”Jesus Nazarene”, is sinner as well as the Pillars.
Surely when he is possessed by the true Jesus Christ of Paul – and ONLY then – he is acting as Paul the apostle (hence the midrash from Paul’s life as the best mirror of the Son of God, etc).
But note the difference:
the son of man is purified by his death alone (abandoned by the Son of God) on the cross. He is adopted by God (and not merely possessed by the Son of God) only after the resurrection, in the Galilee of Gentiles: only then he will become one and the same with the Son of God.
the Pillars ”sons of Zebedee” are only destroyed on the cross (the two lestes rejecting the ‘Peace’ – Mark 10:41-42 – just as Jesus rejecting his mother: both ”Salome” and Mary of Nazaret seeing the three crucified, while a spared Tower Mariamne – ”Mary Magdalene” – sees the destruction of Jerusalem) and never forgiven. Only the Pillar Peter is left with a compromise: he will be forgiven insofar he will follow the Son of Man in Galilee of the Gentiles, only if he becomes pauline.
Mar 2:7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?
But that is Mark’s irony again. Mark is having the “scribes” inadvertently bear witness to Jesus as God or Son of God. Mark and Mark’s church had no doubt that Paul’s Jesus could forgive sins, in fact had died on the cross to forgive sins. To the best of my knowledge, Jesus forgiving sins was not a blasphemy to Mark, nor would Mark have used it as a an allegory. I think that would be projecting onto Mark something which he did not intend.
However, I think we are agreed on many things, it is just my interpretation is more towards seeing Mark as not quite as deep as you see him. By the way, some scholars (Weeden, Traditions in Conflict) never see Peter as forgiven. Mark is writing in ~70AD, and for Mark the last we here of Peter is that he denied Jesus, then wept. But for Mark, Peter never sees the risen lord, and never has forgiveness. The idea that Peter was later redeemed comes from the the later Gospels and Acts. When Peter denied Paul’s Jesus in Antioch, that was the end for Peter. In spite of his protests, Peter was offended by Paul’s Jesus.
Mar_14:29 But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.
As I see it, the irony is that the scribes (the Pillars), while they condemn rightly the son of man for blasphemy, are really condeming themselves, in virtue of the identity son of man = earthly Israel. The goal of Mark, for his outsider readers, is to give a theodicy for the destruction of Israel in 70 CE: Israel is victim of himself. Only the insiders would have recognized Paul behind his Jesus.
However, I think we are agreed on many things
Still thanks for your suggestive observations about Barabbas as ”another Jesus”, Steve.
Hi Giuseppe, having thought about what you pointed out, my mind then wandered off in the below direction (a bad habit I must admit):
Mar 14:36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.
Some have pointed out that this verse seems to be anticipatory to the introduction of Barabbas in Mark 15:15, in that both are Bar Abba, but one Jesus drinks the cup but the other Jesus does not.
Mar_14:36 Anticipatory to Barabbas (Mar_15:15) who is released and will not drink the cup of suffering. Jesus is in conflict with himself and like Barabbas he does not wish to drink the cup but does so to fulfill God’s will for the salvation of all men. Given that Mark seems here to be paralleling Jesus with Barabbas, then one can be reasonably confident that Mark also knew that Barabbas was called Jesus Barabbas as in Mat_27:16-17 and that Matthew retains the original reading, just as Mat_4:1-10 and Luke seem to retain the original temptation story , which Mar_1:13 abbreviates, even though Mark clarifies and at the same time obfuscates the temptation by adding the [Josephus] part about the [Jewish rebels being like] “wild beasts” . This passage again is also similar to the temptation story in showing Jesus accepting his role as a suffering servant instead of a worldly Messiah, and also parallels Jesus rejection of Peter’s understanding of him being a worldly Messiah Mar_8:29-33, at which point Jesus then explains that he must suffer, be rejected, crucified, and then rise again. Therefore, indirectly and quite subtly, this verse has identified Barabbas’ rejection of suffering (drinking the cup) with Peter’ rejection of Jesus’ suffering. This verse therefore seems to tie Barabbas in with the “other” Jesus taught by Peter and the Jerusalem Church
And yes, thank you for your unusual and provoking point of view. It has certainly challenged my own thinking on this, and that is good. Best regards also.