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by Neil Godfrey

Hi all. I have neglected checking the comments for a few days and am trying to catch up now. If there is anything I have missed that you might have wanted me to respond to, and I haven’t done that, just let me know here. Thanks.



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14 thoughts on “Comments”

  1. • Neil, have you previously blogged on dating Mark—post Antiquities and as a source?

    Comment by Gregory Doudna—20 January 2019:

    [db wrote:] So what date range do you find likely for the composition of Gospel of Mark?

    Post-date of Antiquities, mid-90s CE terminus a quo.

    I know it is not common to see Antiquities as a source used in the composition of GMark, but Brad McAdon outlines an argument for this in Alpha 1 (2017): 92-93 (“Josephus and Mark”). McAdon’s summary: “The number of specific details within these similarities [between themes of Antiquities’s Antipas/JohnB and GMark] are striking, and suggest dependence. Moreover, the fact that Josephus’s Antiquities 18 is the only extant source that includes narrative material on the Herodian family, a Philip, Herod Antipas, Herod Antipas and Herodias’s relationship, John’s criticism of this relationship, John’s baptism, arrest, imprisonment, and death strongly suggest dependence one way or the other. If, for example, Mark did not know and use Antiquities 18, this would mean that he must have had access to and used some other source material for these narrative components of John’s baptism and death including specific details about the Herodian family–including ambiguity about a Philip–and John’s baptism, arrest, and death that is extremely similar in content to, if not identical to, Antiquities 18. So far, we know of no such source.”

    1. Yes, I saw that comment exchange, thanks. I have posted before on dating GMark in the second century and I have at times wondered about a post Josephan Antiquities date. There are some things here and there that make me wonder, but the ideas are too insubstantial for me to post further about them or to comment.

      My understanding of the McAdon’s statement was that it was more of a discussion starter than a settled argument as such.

      Is it not likely that the event of the John the Baptist arrest and execution was known more widely than merely from Josephus? I suspect such an event would be more widely known. But then we have Ted Weeden’s observation of the similarities between the Jesus son of Ananias and the gospel Jesus; and other overlaps here and there (someone mentioned Banus as another instance) . . . . and the focus on crucifixions…. lots of questions.

      I’m also in two minds over the historicity of John the Baptist (or was it Hyrcanus — I will wait to read Greg’s article).

      I simply don’t know enough about the evidence — I’d want to do a very detailed analysis of the various texts (not only Josephus and Mark) but even then I suspect I would be as unsure as when I started.

      — And how confident can we be that the death of John the Baptist story in Mark was part of the original composition of the gospel anyway? (& despite my posts on Noam’s book I would need to do my study before I am really confident that the passage was a Josephan interpolation.)

        1. In favour of a later date for the Gospel of Mark is the gospel’s theme of persecution. If Domitian (81 to 96) was responsible for restoring and enforcing the imperial cult (emperor worship) then we also have some background support for Haenchen’s view that this was the “abomination that makes desolate” that was a constant worry for Christians: https://vridar.org/2018/03/10/the-abomination-of-desolation-in-mark-13-what-did-the-reader-need-to-understand/

          1. I’m not sure if by “If Domitian (81 to 96) was responsible for restoring and enforcing the imperial cult” you’re referring to the supposed Domitian persecution, but –

            Domitian and the Persecution That Didn’t Happen, by Catholic author Jimmy Akin, about –

            ‘Was Roman emperor Domitian really the great persecutor of Christians?’ by Mark Wilson, in turn based on Brian W. Jones’ The Emperor Domitian (New York: Routledge, 1992) –

            “No convincing evidence exists for a Domitianic persecution of the Christians.” (p. 117)

            And Mark Wilson notes –

            Leonard Thompson [also] note[d] that a more critical reading of Eusebius raises doubts about a widespread persecution of Christians under Domitian. He conclude[d] that “most modern commentators no longer accept a Domitianic persecution of Christians.”

            Leonard L. Thompson, The Book of Revelation: Apocalypse and Empire (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1990), p. 16.

            1. No, no. I’m not talking about persecution of Christians per se. I accept that the Eusebian account is fiction there. I am talking about the enforcing of the imperial cult. Check the post I linked to re Haenchen’s argument. That’s where I’m coming from.

          2. Neil Godfrey (10 February 2007). “Little Apocalypse and the Bar Kochba Revolt”. Vridar.

            If one reads the Little Apocalypse against the background of the Bar Kochba rebellion “not a single element needs to be excluded from the entire text” as a later interpolation.

            Cf. Theissen, Gerd. Lokalkolorit und Zeitgeschichte in den Evangelien. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der synoptischen Tradition. 2. Aufl. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1992, ISBN 3-525-53522-8.

            The fewer the number of textual fragments that under no circumstances can be fitted intot the presumed context and, as such, must be excluded as later interpolations, the better the final result.

            1. Yes and no. I think we tend to have a bias for simple solutions and that is not on the whole a bad thing. But we do see some works that attempt to explain a text as we have it as being created just so by a single author from the start, yet such a simple explanation does sometimes require a little more imagination to make it work than a hypothesis that accepts a document has come to us through various stages of redaction.

              The best approach all round is humility, always being prepared to revise one’s opinion or judgement and being open to discussing and addressing new and old evidence and arguments and requiring them to justify themselves.

  2. There are two very important utube presentations on Mark’s Gospel by Willi Braun which date Mark to the second century. Excellent presentations as I recall. Don’t recall the url exactly but these are worth watching. You might also want to check out the work of William Arnal. Both of these scholars are Canadians.

    Cheers my fellow bloggers


    1. Kok, Michael J. (2015). The Gospel on the Margins: The Reception of Mark in the Second Century. Augsburg Fortress Publishers. p. 13. ISBN 9781451490220.

      Braun conjectures that the patristic ambivalence over Mark may be a clue that it initially gained a receptive audience on the wrong side in the rivalry between Christian factions. By the means of scribal redactions and patristic traditions superimposed on Mark, the text was taken back by the eventual winners of the contest. Braun reckons that Mark was amenable to radical Paulinists yet stamped with a Petrine imprimatur to make it safe for the canon. To wrest Mark from the control of their adversaries, the patristic authorities credited the text to Peter as the symbolic figurehead of their communities, irrespective of what little regard they had for Mark’s literary merits on its own terms. Braun does not back up his hypothesis that Mark received a more favorable reception among rival Christian groups with much textual evidence, though he flags up the interest in mystic Mark by an “Alexandrian secrecy group” and the so-called “anti-Marcionite” prologues in some Gospel manuscripts as potentially fruitful lines of inquiry.

      Cf. Braun, Willi (2010). “The First Shall be Last: The Gospel of Mark after the First Century”. In Pachis, Panayotis; Wiebe, Donald. Chasing Down Religion: In the Sights of History and the Cognitive Sciences : Essays in Honor of Luther H. Martin. Barbounakis Publications. pp. 41–57. ISBN 9789602671535.

      See: “Prof. Dr. Willi Braun: When and Why Did the Gospel of Mark Become a Christian Text?“. YouTube. RelWis Hannover. 4 July 2013.

      • Braun asserts that gMark has no value as a 1st century historical source.

      1. Braun, Willi (2017). “Christian Origins and the Gospel of Mark”. In Führding, Steffen. Method and Theory in the Study of Religion: Working Papers from Hannover. BRILL. pp. 153–175. ISBN 9789004347878.

        What follows is an expansion and revision of parts of my essay “The First Shall Be Last: The Gospel of Mark after the First Century” (Braun 2010). —(p. 154, n. 4)
        It is of considerable interest to me to see, as others are seeing, an appreciate, even rehabilitating, reconsideration of the once ‘heretical’ argument made by F.C. Baur long ago that Paul, and his theology of ‘Christ crucified’ and his view that the Law was passé in the new Christos-era, represented not a wide-spread, much less central view among the earliest Christian groups, but a sectoral, and embattled view… —(p. 165)

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