Wednesday, April 27, 2011

More on the Idea that the Question of the Rich Youth (Mark 10:17 - 31) Occurred on the First Day of the Jewish New Year

Let's continue our previous discussion because I think it is so fundamental to any meaningful discussion about whether the 'additional narrative' in Secret Mark referenced in the Letter to Theodore is authentic.

I can't find a single historical marker in the latter sections of the Gospel of Mark aside from the fact that 'Passover' is understood to be approaching. This is very strange. Much stranger than the questions surrounding the Mar Saba document. Once again we have a document supposedly written by people attached to the principle witnesses of Jesus with no historical markers which help sort out when events occurred during the calendar year.

The 'primitive Church' argument - i.e. that these people were so simple and stupid that they couldn't remember or record the dates associated with events seems like utter bullshit to me. The dates were obviously stripped from the narrative in order to (a) avoid certain theological conclusions derived from the liturgical context of says and acts and (b) to help the four gospels 'mesh' properly.

We will examine the Diatessaron of Ephrem shortly but for the moment it is worth noting that the surviving Arabic Diatessaron always derives its historical markers from the Gospel of John. As such John is the only canonical gospel which actually records when events took place relative to principal Jewish holidays. Coincidence? I think not. John also argues that the events in question took place over many years. Irenaeus thinks for some reason that the events are spread out over almost twenty years. Yet the Gospel of Mark and the synoptics as such clearly tell of a one year ministry. This is what Clement of Alexandria thinks as well as the heretics of Mark (Irenaeus AH 2.22) and this is all that matters for a discussion regarding Secret Mark.

My point then is that the editors of what now passes for 'the Diatessaron' clearly had to make John's many year ministry mesh with the Gospel of Mark's single year ministry. Some may want to believe that the reason Mark has no historical markers is because the evangelist was too stupid to remember them. I think they were stripped from the text in order to allow John and the synoptics to square.

The Arabic Diatessaron's attempt to square John and the synoptics is interesting not only for its utter implausibility but the fact that in the Vatican manuscript it still seems to think - despite these synthesizing efforts - that Question of the Rich Youth (Mark 10:17 - 31) marks a 'second part' to the original narrative. In other words, there is a break here which I think reflects knowledge of an original understanding that a new year commenced with this question. Here is the chronology of 'part two' of the Vatican manuscript which begins:
  1. “This is the beginning of the second part of Diatessaron, which means The Four.” '[Diat.28.1]
  2. Historical Marker - Feast of the Tabernacles [Diat 28.2 - 32] John 7
  3. Parable of the Rich Fool [Diat.28.33 - 41] Luke 12
  4. Question of the Rich Youth [Diat. 28.42 -29.11] Mark 10
  5. Rich Man and Lazarus [Diat 29.12 - 26] Luke 16
  6. Parable of the Vineyard [Diat 29.26 - 42]  Luke 16/Matt 20
  7. Jesus Saying Sheep in the Ditch [Diat 29.43 - 48] Luke 14
  8. Saying about Inviting to Feast [Diat 30.1 - 25] Luke 14
  9. Continuation of (8) with more material from Matthew [Diat 30.26 - 30] Matthew 22
  10. Historical Marker - "And after that, the time of the feast of unleavened bread of the Jews arrived, and Jesus went out to go to Jerusalem. And as he went in the way, there met him ten persons who were lepers, and stood afar off" [Diat. 30.31] John 5.1
  11. Healing of the Samaritan leper [Diat 30.32 - 39] Luke 17
  12. Foretelling of Passion [Diat 30.40 - 45] Mark 10:32 - 34
  13. Question About Enthronement [Diat 30.46 - 31.6] Mark 10:35 - 45
  14. Going about the villages of Jerusalem [Diat 30.6 - 14] Luke 13
  15. Zacchaeus at Jericho [Diat 31.15 - 24] Luke 19:1 - 10
  16. Sees blind man coming out of Jericho [Diat. 31.25 - 35] Mark 10
  17. Nearing Jerusalem Parable [Diat 31 36 - 52] Luke 19
  18. Jesus enters Jerusalem [Diat 32]
The point here is that clearly the editors of the Diatessaron attempting to make John's multi-year ministry of Jesus square with the one year ministry of the synoptics has ridiculously suggested that the year before the Passion Jesus had almost no activities (almost everything here represents 'sayings' of Jesus).  

Of course if we look carefully it is easy to see through the attempt.  The Question of the Rich Youth is still followed by Passover (although now in the Diatessaron not the Passover in which the Passion occurred).  the editor has clearly attempted to separate Mark 10:17 - 31 from Mark 10:32 - 45 by putting another Passover between them.  

I'll give you three guess why I think that is ...

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Stephan Huller's Observations by Stephan Huller
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