OT Sources for the Gospel of Mark, chapters 2 and 3

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by Neil Godfrey

Okay, I give in. Here’s one more. Feel free to remind or alert me to any that I have forgotten or overlooked.

Intertextuality Table for Mark chapters 2 and 3:

Mark 2-3

Jewish Scripture Sources



A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

2 Kings 1:2-17

Now Ahaziah had fallen through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria and injured himself. So he sent messengers, saying to them, “Go and consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, to see if I will recover from this injury.”

But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, “. . . Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘You will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!’” . . .

He told the king, “This is what the Lord says: Is it because there is no God in Israel for you to consult that you have sent messengers to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron? Because you have done this, you will never leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!” So he died, according to the word of the Lord that Elijah had spoken.

Isaiah 33:24; 43:25; 44:22

No one living in Zion will say, “I am ill”; and the sins of those who dwell there will be forgiven. . . .

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. . . .

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist.

Psalm 59:3

See how they lie in wait for me! Fierce men conspire against me for no offense or sin of mine, Lord.

Psalm 7:9

you, the righteous God who probes minds and hearts.

Daniel 7:13

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.

Psalm 103:3

who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,

Isaiah 35: 6

Then will the lame leap like a deer

It is tempting to see a source here but I am not entirely comfortable with it because I can’t see a meaning behind any connection. In other likely allusions or quotations one  can see some point: a spiritualization of a physical reference; a reversal of a code of death to one of life; a higher spiritual plane for Jesus over a literary counterpart. Perhaps I’m too spiritually blind to see something like that here.

What does come my notice, though, is a link between a Pauline message of dying with Christ and the burial of Jesus in Mark 15. I wrote in The post 70 construction of Jesus’ tomb:

The gospel author, it should further be noted, had this tomb scene in mind when he wrote his earlier narrative of the paralytic being lowered by four friends through the roof of the house to be healed by Jesus (Mark 2:1-12). There the place where Jesus was staying could not be accessed through the normal entrance because of the enormous crowd, and entry had to be gained by digging out the roof. Similarly with Jesus’ burial, the normal entrance to this place that had been dug out of the rock was blocked by a massive bolder. In both cases the one placed in this place rose up and miraculously walked through the main doorway.

So the gospel’s reference to the tomb being “hewn out of rock” is not an incidental aside, but an integral part of the image in the author’s mind.

I have compared in much more granular detail the two scenes at Mark’s flags for interpreting Mark? (at vridar.info)


Mark 15:46; 16:8

and laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of a rock; and he rolled a stone against the door of the tomb . . . .

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.


Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.

While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Isaiah 9:1

but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan

Isaiah 33:18

where is he that weighed the tribute?

1 Kings 19:19-21

So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. . . .

He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.

Deuteronomy 18:1; 26:12

The priests the Levites, even all the tribe of Levi, shall have no portion nor inheritance with Israel: they shall eat the offerings of Jehovah made by fire, and his inheritance. . . .

When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithe of thine increase in the third year, which is the year of tithing, then thou shalt give it unto the Levite, to the sojourner, to the fatherless, and to the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled.

Levi is called in a similar manner to the other disciples but “has no inheritance” with the twelve disciples. See The Call of Levi not to be one of the Twelve

In Deuteronomy the Levite ate with the lowly and outcasts of society; in Mark Levi’s eating with the outcasts takes an ironic twist, as does his right to revenue of others (c.f. tithes and taxes).


Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?”

Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”

Isaiah 61:10; 62:5

I will greatly rejoice in Jehovah, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with a garland, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. . . .

For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee; and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.

Jeremiah 7:34; 16:9; 25:10

Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride; for the land shall become a waste. . . .

For thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will cause to cease out of this place, before your eyes and in your days, the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride. . . .

Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the lamp.

Joshua 9:13

and these wine-skins, which we filled, were new; and, behold, they are rent: and these our garments and our shoes are become old by reason of the very long journey.

Job 32:19

Behold, my breast is as wine which hath no vent; Like new wine-skins it is ready to burst.


One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Deuteronomy 23:25

If you enter your neighbor’s grainfield, you may pick kernels with your hands, but you must not put a sickle to their standing grain.

1 Samuel 21:1-6

Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest: and Ahimelech came to meet David trembling, and said unto him, Why art thou alone, and no man with thee? And David said unto Ahimelech the priest, The king hath commanded me a business. . . . Now therefore what is under thy hand? give me five loaves of bread in my hand, or whatsoever there is present. And the priest answered David, and said, There is no common bread under my hand, but there is holy bread . . . . And David answered the priest, and said unto him, Of a truth women have been kept from us about these three days; when I came out, the vessels of the young men were holy, though it was but a common journey; how much more then to-day shall their vessels be holy? So the priest gave him holy bread; for there was no bread there but the showbread, that was taken from before Jehovah, to put hot bread in the day when it was taken away.

Daniel 7:13

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.

Deuteronomy 5:12-15

Observe the sabbath day, to keep it holy, as Jehovah thy God commanded thee. . . . And thou shalt remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and Jehovah thy God brought thee out thence by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm: therefore Jehovah thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.


Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

1 Kings 13:4-6

When King Jeroboam heard what the man of God cried out against the altar at Bethel, he stretched out his hand from the altar and said, “Seize him!” But the hand he stretched out toward the man shriveled up, so that he could not pull it back. Also, the altar was split apart and its ashes poured out according to the sign given by the man of God by the word of the Lord.

Then the king said to the man of God, “Intercede with the Lord your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored.” So the man of God interceded with the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored and became as it was before.

Isaiah 10:1-4

Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights . . . Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away

Psalms 2:2

The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed


Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. When they heard about all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. For he had healed many . . . .

Exodus 12:37-38; 15:22-26
The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds. . . . Then Moses led Israel . . . He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”

Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Exodus 19:1-2, 17

On the first day of the third month after the Israelites left Egypt . . . and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain. . . .

Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.

Exodus 24:1, 4, 8-10

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. . . .

He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. . . .

Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel.


Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”

So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. Truly I tell you, people 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.”

He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.”

Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”

“Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.

Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

Psalm 27:10

Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.

1 Samuel 17:28

When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”

Jeremiah 12:6

Your relatives, members of your own family – even they have betrayed you; they have raised a loud cry against you.

Isaiah 49: 24-25

Can plunder be taken from warriors, or captives be rescued from the fierce?

But this is what the Lord says:

Yes, captives will be taken from warriors, and plunder retrieved from the fierce;
I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save.



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Neil Godfrey

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29 thoughts on “OT Sources for the Gospel of Mark, chapters 2 and 3”

  1. Excellent work as always, Neil. However, I feel that I must act as a devil’s advocate and enter a caveat. Some on this site seem rather over-excited by your methodological sleight of hand in the term ‘OT sources’. The implication is that Mark used a random dot-to-dot search through ‘scripture’ to invent an original narrative. While not entirely impossible in theory, it is inherently unlikely as the narrative is not outlined by the sources : a pre-existing template of some sort is ‘surely’ needed to organise the scriptural themes and vocabulary into a narrative.

    Methodologically, there is a parallel to the ways NT scholars extract fragments of ‘fact’ from the texts, practices you rightly and frequently deplore, quoting Moses Finley : “For the great bulk of the narrative we are faced with the ‘kernel of truth’ possibility, and I am unaware of any stigmata that automatically distinguish fiction from fact”. Likewise, there is no method, no external control, to prove that an OT allusion is the imaginative source of a Markan episode, rather than the expected way of telling a story (origin/historicity unknown).

    Consciously allusive writing is alien to us. The point of it was well put by D.A. Russell regarding Plutarch : “His linguistic position indeed reflects his thought : the Greek past was alive for him, and its language a living instrument, through every phrase of which the past might be evoked and seen to be continuous with the present”.

    1. One position is that Paul has already pre-determined much of the scripture that Mark is using.

      r.g.price, in agreement with Tom Dykstra, holds that Mark is allegorizing the teachings of Paul.

    2. The implication is that Mark used a random dot-to-dot search through ‘scripture’ to invent an original narrative.

      That is a most unlikely method. More plausible is that the passages referenced were part of thinking and discussion about the place of the “new Israel” or “people of God” who felt themselves apart from the traditional cultic practices. I don’t mean to suggest that our author somehow went looking for verses to somehow build in to a narrative. You see what happens when an author so patently is doing just that in the Gospel of Peter. The Gospel of Mark is most unlike such a forced effort to make verses fit into a story.

      We see the same process in the classics. Greek and Latin poets and authors regularly drew upon phrases and words and images that they knew well from Homer, for example, and it was the most natural thing in the world to weave those phrases and words and images into a story theme that was even in some ways a rewrite of the Homeric epics (e.g. Aeneid).

      In our culture today more of us may be familiar with a comparable process in films and music.

    3. To further what db said, I actually hadn’t read David Oliver Smith’s book, Matthew, Mark, Luke and Paul before writing my book, and I now think that indeed the writer of Mark was far more heavily influenced by Paul than I had realized. It does appear that much of Mark’s scriptural focus was guided by Paul.

      But we also need to understand the broader background, because the works most often referenced by Mark, and also by Paul, are works that are also widely references in the DSS. When we look at the material from Qumran we see that the main scriptures they commented on were the works of the prophets (mainly Isaiah), the psalms, and the book of Daniel. They also did some commentary on Exodus. But they treated the psalms as prophecies certainly as we see the psalms being used in that way by Mark as well. Also, Daniel doesn’t feature strongly in Paul’s works, but Daniel was the most commented on work at Qumran and also features in Mark (one theory is that Daniel was actually written at Qumran).

      Basically, when we look at the works referenced in Mark what we find is that Mark makes very heavy use of 1 & 2 Kings in a somewhat unique way, but in terms of everything else that’s used, it fits very closely to the works that received the most attention from Paul and the Qumran writers. So this certainly shows knowledge of a common understanding of these scriptures and that Mark is working with some existing framework of exegesis.

      And the references certainly aren’t random. When we look at the content of the works being referenced they all tie together with common themes and related back to the story. In other words, this isn’t a matter of simply cutting and pasting random parts of the OT together to form new narratives. The works being referenced have relevant meaning to the story. The story is clearly being formed around the scripture.

      The references to 1 & 2 Kings often parallel the Gospel narrative, but references to the prophets typically all refer to passages about God’s punishment of, or displeasure with, the Jewish people. It’s more complicated than just that, but I think that to really understand Mark you have to not only read it at a superficial level, but also explore each passage that is referenced by the author and understand how the referenced passage extends and illuminates the superficial narrative.

      1. but references to the prophets typically all refer to passages about God’s punishment of, or displeasure with, the Jewish people.

        Have you read: Watts, Rikki E. 2001. Isaiah’s New Exodus in Mark. Rev Upd Su edition. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic.

        Watts argues for Mark being a narrative fleshing out of Isaiah’s theme of the new exodus God promised Israel after the Babylonian captivity.

    4. Crack open the DSS. The authors tell you they are taking bits of bible and jamming them together with other bits of bible and interperating the texts in a particular manner. The results are usually far more tortured than anything in the gospels. Crack open modern “scholarship”; you are soon swimming about in daft. “Inherently unlikely” is terminology you can chuck: the MORE unlikely the methodology; the MORE likely you will find it in play might be the better rubric. Ancient or modern, these folk haven’t met a daft they didn’t want to automatically like, or a sensible they didn’t want to automatically reject.

    5. Comment by Richard Carrier—27 October 2019—per Mark’s Use of Paul’s Epistles”. Richard Carrier Blogs. 25 October 2019.

      …is there any identifiable method to Mark’s selections from the Jewish Septuagint…?

      Yes. In fact, not only has that research been done, it’s mainstream now. Pretty much every scholar admits to it in some degree.

      To see how Mark riffed on the OT, what his purpose was and his techniques, see Randel Helms’ short introduction and Crossan’s Power of Parable, which I had already cited here. For more detailed scholarship, see MacDonald’s Two Shipwrecked Gospels and Brodie’s Birthing of the New Testament.

      I of course survey and discuss all of this and more (finding examples in such mainstream scholars as Allison, Evans, Crossley, et al.) in Ch. 10 of On the Historicity of the Gospels [Jesus].

  2. I agree Mark is a patchwork novel. I feel however that the focus on phraseology will lead us to looking at the seams and thread work rather than the patches themselves.

    In fact – I’m going to use this method to justify a theory I have about Mark. I’m beginning to agree more and more that the Jesus according to the Canon is ahistorical. However, I’m in hot pursuit of the real Jesus, who I believe is there somewhere.

  3. The only “method” used here is the same in any comparative literature studies. Read the sorts of works an author was known or likely to be familiar with and identify the evident influences. A few may just be coincidental but when there are so many then influences become the simplest explanation. We have numerous other texts from the Second Temple era and shortly afterwards that demonstrate the same sorts of borrowing.

    (By the way, I think the only set of allusions in the table above that I think are my own observation are the ones on Levi. But I would not be surprised to find some day that I once read of those somewhere else, too.

    For comparison’s sake, here is how crude a narrative looks when it is very evident that an author really is trying to force dots to come together to create a new story. It just doesn’t work very well, certainly not as well as we read in our canonical gospels. It’s from the Gospel of Peter:

    [10] And they brought two wrongdoers and crucified the Lord in the middle of them. But he was silent as having no pain.

    [11] And when they had set the cross upright, they inscribed that THIS IS THE KING OF ISRAEL.

    [12] And having put his garments before him, they divided them up and threw as a gamble for them.

    [13] But a certain one of those wrongdoers reviled them, saying: ‘We have been made suffer thus because of the wrong that we have done; but this one, having become Savior of men, what injustice had he done to you?’

    [14] And having become irritated at him, they ordered that there be no leg-breaking, so that he might die tormented.

    [15] But is was midday, and darkness held fast all Judea; and they were distressed and anxious lest the sun had set, since he was still living. [For] it is written for them: Let not the sun set on one put to death.

    [16] And someone of them said: ‘Give him to drink gall with vinegary wine.’ And having made a mixture, they gave to drink.

    [17] And they fulfilled all things and completed the sins on their own head.

    [18] But many went around with lamps, thinking that it was night, and they fell.

    [19] And the Lord screamed out, saying: ‘My power, O power, you have forsaken me.’ And having said this, he was taken up.

    [20] And at the same hour the veil of the Jerusalem sanctuary was torn into two.

    [21] And they drew out the nails from the hands of the Lord and placed him on the earth; and all the earth was shaken, and a great fear came about.

    I used to toy with the idea that the Gospel of Peter preceded the canonical gospels but no longer. The author is aware of what has been done with what became the canonical gospels and is trying to create his own gospel by “joining as many dots” as he can. As we can see, it is a rather unsophisticated result.

  4. Paul in Acts claims to be a Roman citizen. If Mark is reassembling patches of the Old Testament, to fill in, match Paul’s skeletal narrative? Then the Markian Pauline skeletal stitching is probably Greco Roman. Say, Homeric.

  5. Wasn’t the thesis of R.G. Price’s book “Deciphering the Gospels” that all of Mark was allusions to OT tropes, plus a bit of connective tissue added?

    He added that since so much of Mark was incorporated into the other gospels and Acts, that the authors of those books couldn’t tell the difference between fact and fiction, hence shouldn’t be considered factual, either. (I know this is a bit of an oversimplification.)

    I guess what I am asking is is there anything substantial in Mark that is not a reference to OT scripture?

          1. • The Thinker. “Jesus, Where Are You? The Missing Extrabiblical Evidence”. Atheism and the City.

            • Hickling, Stewart Ross (2017). “An evidentiary analysis of doctor Richard Carrier’s objections to the resurrection of Jesus Christ”. North-West University (South Africa), Potchefstroom Campus.

            3.2.4 Parallels between the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the myth of Romulus

            Not only does Carrier(2014:302) observe parallels between Osiris, Inanna, and Jesus Christ, but he also observes manyparallels with the resurrection account of Jesus Christ and the Romulan legend of ancient Rome. In his exposition of these parallels, Carrier writes:

            The Christian conception of Jesus’ death and resurrection appears to have been significantly influenced by the Roman conception of Romulus’s death and resurrection. Even if we discounted that for any reason, the Romulus parallels definitely establish that all these components were already part of a recognized hero-type, and are therefore not surprising or unusual or unexpected. The story of Jesus would have looked familiar, not only in the same way all translation stories looked familiar even when different in many and profound ways, but also in the very specific way that among such tales it looked the most like the story of Romulus, which was publicly acted out in passion plays every year. And this was the national founding hero of the Roman Empire. What better god’s tale to emulate or co-opt?

            —(pp. 88–89)

              1. • No specific cite is given for passion play claim.

                Carrier, Richard (2009). Not the Impossible Faith. Lulu. pp. 48, n. 27. ISBN 978-0-557-04464-1. “Plutarch, Romulus 27-28 (late 1st century) and the pre-Christian author Livy, From the Founding of the City 1.16.2-7 (written c. 15 B.C.); also Cicero, Laws 1.3, Republic 2.10 (c. 40 B.C.), Ovid, Fasti 2.491-512 (c. 10 A.D.),; Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 2.63.3 (c. 10 B.C.), Tertullian, Apology 21 (c. 200 A.D.).”

              2. I can see no evidence for such a play in the ancient sources. None of your citations points me to a source that verifies there was such a play. Have I missed one? I don’t see it in Livy nor in Ovid. I do read some comments saying that the surviving evidence breaks off before we would have expected to see an account of the play. That’s only an apology for why there is no evidence. It is not evidence. Have you actually consulted the sources you have cited? Do any of them actually testify to such a play?

              3. Plutarch (Life of Romulus 27-28):

                [27] 3 . . . He disappeared on the Nones of July, as they now call the month, then Quintilis, leaving no certain account nor even any generally accepted tradition of his death, aside from the date of it, which I have just given. For on that day many ceremonies are still performed which bear a likeness to what then came to pass.
                [28] 1 . . . Julius Proculus by name, went into the forum and solemnly swore by the most sacred emblems before all the people that, as he was travelling on the road, he had seen Romulus coming to meet him, fair and stately to the eye as never before, and arrayed in bright and shining armour. 2 He himself, then, affrighted at the sight, had said: “O King, what possessed thee, or what purpose hadst thou, that thou hast left us patricians a prey to unjust and wicked accusations, and the whole city sorrowing without end at the loss of its father?” Whereupon Romulus had replied: “It was the pleasure of the gods, O Proculus, from whom I came, that I should be with mankind only a short time, and that after founding a city destined to be the greatest on earth for empire and glory, I should dwell again in heaven. So farewell, and tell the Romans that if they practise self-restraint, and add to it valour, they will reach the utmost heights of human power.

              4. There’s some more interesting stuff in Life of Romulus 27, –

                [1] …[Romulus] taught the influential men at Rome also to seek after a form of government which was independent and without a king, where all in turn were subjects and rulers …

                [3] Wherefore suspicion and calumny fell upon that body [the Senate] when he disappeared unaccountably a short time after. He disappeared on the Nones of July … [as above^^]

                [4] … Romulus disappeared suddenly, and no portion of his body or fragment of his clothing remained to be seen … some conjectured that the senators, convened in the temple of Vulcan, fell upon him and slew him …

                [6] Others think that it was neither in the temple of Vulcan nor when the senators alone were present that he disappeared, but that he was holding an assembly of the people outside the city near the so-called Goat’s Marsh, when suddenly strange and unaccountable disorders with incredible changes filled the air; the light of the sun failed, and night came down upon them, not with peace and quiet, but with awful peals of thunder and furious blasts driving rain from every quarter, [7] during which the multitude dispersed and fled, but the nobles gathered closely together; and when the storm had ceased, and the sun shone out, and the multitude, now gathered together again in the same place as before, anxiously sought for their king, the nobles would not suffer them to inquire into his disappearance nor busy themselves about it, but exhorted them all to honour and revere Romulus, since he had been caught up into heaven, and was to be a benevolent god for them instead of a good king. [8] The multitude, accordingly, believing this and rejoicing in it, went away to worship him with good hopes of his favour; but there were some, it is said, who tested the matter in a bitter and hostile spirit, and confounded the patricians with the accusation of imposing a silly tale upon the people, and of being themselves the murderers of the king.

              5. Lowen Gartner, perhaps everything material, however small, has an element of individual consciousness.

                Per Carrier (29 September 2019). “Will AI Be Our Moses?”. Richard Carrier Blogs.

                The only thing AI can usefully do for us—and I mean the kind of AI DiCarlo imagines, which is an incredible technology we are nowhere near to achieving—is “find” the evidence that a conclusion is true and present it to us so we can independently verify it.

    1. I guess what I am asking is is there anything substantial in Mark that is not a reference to OT scripture?

      The casting out of Legion into the pigs? Though of course couched in motifs of the OT, such as the drowning of Pharaoh’s forces in the Red Sea.

      Though the procession of Jesus to the cross is a pastiche of OT allusions (160 such scriptures in chapters 11-16) they are all woven around a “parody” of a Roman Triumph:

    2. Per MacDonald, Dennis R. (2000). “Mark and Mimesis”. The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark. Yale University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-300-08012-4.

      I have come to conclude that Mark wanted his readers to detect his transvaluation of Homer.

      Per MacDonald, Dennis R. (2014). The Gospels and Homer: Imitations of Greek Epic in Mark and Luke-Acts. 1. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 2f. ISBN 978-1-4422-3053-8.

      In 2000, I published ”The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark” with Yale University Press. Since that time I have argued for imitations of classical Greek literature in several other Hellenistic Jewish and early Christian texts (see the Bibliography). Mark’s imitations of Homer can account for much of the information about Jesus in Mark that outstrips anything found in Paul or the lost Gospel. […] Mark’s authorial voice is different from that of Q/Q+ in large measure because he imitated or, better, emulated Homeric epic. One must not confuse these imitations with plagiarism insofar as the author advertised his literary debt and presented Jesus as superior to the likes of Achilles, Hector, and Odysseus.

      1. MacDonald’s thesis does not contradict the point about Jewish Scripture allusions and inspirations. MacDonald argues for both and, not either or. He explains:

        Such eclecticism also disguised reliance on the primary target of imitation. Skilled authors were bees that took the best nectar from many blossoms to produce textual honey. According to Seneca, such apian authors should “blend those several flavours into one delicious compound that, even though it betrays its origin, yet it nevertheless is clearly a different thing from that whence it came.” One achieves the height of imitation, however, when “the true copy stamps its own form upon all the features which it has drawn from what we may call the original” so that “it is impossible for it to be seen who is being imitated.” (p. 6)

        Like the proverbial bee of ancient rhetoric, Mark harvested nectar from several blossoms — some Jewish and some Greek — and transformed them into gospel honey. (p. 96)

        1. MacDonald argues for both and, not either or

          Carrier (25 October 2019). “Mark’s Use of Paul’s Epistles”. Richard Carrier Blogs:

          MacDonald has produced an entire book demonstrating that Mark built principally on transvaluing stories in the Jewish Septuagint, merely merging this with his employment of Homer to create a new, syncretized story that spoke to the wider world that was Mark’s actual market (hence why he wrote in Greek).

    1. I suspect not. He was most likely long dead by the time that became a widespread issue. We don’t find meaningful examples of people thinking the Gospels narrative was true until around 140 at the earliest.

      If we assume he wrote before 95 CE, then most likely he was dead by then. If he wrote later then maybe, but I personally don’t think he wrote later than 95 CE, though its possible, I view it more like 90% that he wrote before 95.

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