Friday, July 2, 2010

I Have Decided to Edit My Second Article on the Throne of St. Mark Online [Part Nine]

(one more to go)

The upshot of all this research is that there is more than enough reason to suppose that the throne of St. Mark needn't necessarily be viewed as a historical relic of a visit by the Evangelist to Alexandria. Instead the chair may well be a reflection of a well known incident which concluded the early gospels of Christianity and subsequently connected with St. Mark as a sign that he indeed eventually attained the seat his mother requested for him in the narrative. This in turn would reflect positively on the Alexandrian community. It would testify to their continued 'communion' with their alleged founder and the apostolic roots of their community even if such a lineage had no basis in historical fact.

It is worth noting that Origen's explanation of the idea that Moses and Elijah had no understanding of the 'fullness of time' seems to be connected with Irenaeus' rejection of an unidentified heretical position associated with the longer ending of Mark. For just as Hanson has noted that Origen believed that the prophets of the Old Testament did not have perfect knowledge of future events that occurred in the year of Jesus's ministry, Irenaeus is equally adamantly argues the exact opposite position. In a rather short discussion of the Gospel of Mark that appears in Book Three of Against All Heresies Irenaeus attempts to demonstrate that both the beginning and end of the Gospel of Mark were known to the prophets.

In the first case Irenaeus sees the words "as it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make the paths straight before our God" as proof quite plainly that:

the commencement of the Gospel quote the words of the holy prophets, and point out Him at once, whom they confessed as God and Lord; Him, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who had also made promise to Him, that He would send His messenger before His face, who was John, crying in the wilderness, in "the spirit and power of Elias," "Prepare ye the way of me Lord, make straight paths before our God." For the prophets did not announce one and another God, but one and the same; under rations aspects, however, and many titles. (AH 3.10.5)

In the exact same manner, Irenaeus turns to the end of the canonical gospel of Mark promoted by his Church in order to prove the exact same thing - namely that the prophets were well aware that Jesus would eventually get enthroned beside his Father:

Also, towards the conclusion of his Gospel, Mark says: "So then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God; " confirming what had been spoken by the prophet: "The LORD said to my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thy foes Thy footstool." Thus God and the Father are truly one and the same; He who was announced by the prophets, and handed down by the true Gospel; whom we Christians worship and love with the whole heart, as the Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things therein.(ibid)

Yet it should be noted that there was a great deal of debate in antiquity as to what the proper ending of Mark. We have just demonstrated that there certainly are Egyptian and Syrian testimonies that demonstrate that there were prominent gospel traditions which concluded with the Transfiguration. Teeple argues that the transfiguration was originally an account of Jesus enthroned which took place after the resurrection and only later moved by 'Mark' (or a later editor) to earlier part in the narrative to reflect now a 'preview' of the Parousia. He also cites Reisenfeld's identification of the enthronement narrative taking place during the Feast of Tabernacles (though he ultimately argues for the week after the Resurrection).

It is difficult to argue against the reference to 'booths' as being decisive here. Wilker argues for a Yom Kippur dating because Jesus's white robes indicate he is carrying out the duties of the high priest on that day.[1] The Diatessaron seems to argue for the correct context for the event, in its placement of narrative just before the Feast of the Tabernacles. No less an authority than Joseph Ratzinger, relying on Hartmut Gese, Jean-Marie Van Cangh, and Michel-Jean van Esbroeck, develops a similar idea of Sukkot as an enthronement festival of Yahweh in his temple albeit getting distracted by the 'after six day' reference (i.e. 10 Tishrei to 15 Tishrei) to argue that Peter's inquiry took place on Yom Kippur and the Transfiguration at the beginning of Sukkot. Yet Origen contradicts this assumption by arguing that Luke's 'after eight days' and Mark's 'after six days' are the same because Mark "counts neither the day that [Peter's] words were spoken nor the day Jesus was transfigured." (Hom Luk 9:28) Origen also emphasizes Jesus appearance as the 'high priest' suggesting perhaps he was aware (but ultimately silent) about a connection to Yom Kippur.

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