Saturday, August 20, 2011

Let's Show Exactly What Craig Evans Thinks 'Proves' that Smith Forged the Letter to Theodore

Allan Pantuck wrote a paper for BAR which unfortunately really didn't spend a lot of time explaining to readers what Watson (and Carlson before him and Evans were so upset about). I am going to have to watch a terrible movie with my wife tonight but before I go see it I thought I would cite the whole section so the readers can see how silly this whole thing is. Being rushed for time let me start by saying that it all comes down to Morton Smith in his 1958 critique of Vincent Taylor's study of the Gospel of Mark 'strangely' alludes to parallels between Mark 2:5 and John 5:14, 8:11, 9:1 - 3 where sins and suffering are connected. This supposedly is supposed to 'prove' or 'strongly hint' that Smith must have been already forging the idea of Secret Mark which can be understood to be a source behind canonical Mark which resembles John.

Here is exactly what Smith wrote in his original paper about Mark 2:5 "When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.'":

2.5: The introduction to the section supposes that two stories have been combined, but the commentary says, "The reference to forgiveness at a point where one expects the word of healing
is abrupt. The inference seems justified that Jesus traced the man's plight to sin and believed that his spiritual restoration was a primary and indispensable condition to recovery." Such
a contradiction in an ancient document would lead one to suspect composite authorship and to designate the first author as 'the critic,' the second as 'the moralist.' This is not to say that the critic must be right. Both may be wrong. That they are is suggested by the peculiarities of the Streitgespriiche in which this story occurs. They have many points of contact with Jn. For instance, they contain the only passages in Mk. (2.10 & 28) in which Jesus prior to his trial is represented as using 'the Son of Man' publicly with apparent reference to himself. (Jn 8.38 the phrasing is such as to make the hearers think he is speaking of someone else.) In Jn. Jesus uses the term of himself publicly and frequently (v. esp. chs. 5 & 6 and 12.23-34). Other points of contact are Jesus' supernatural knowledge of men's hearts (Mk. 2.8 // Jn. 2.24 f.), his command to the paralytic (Mk. 2.11 // Jn. 5.8), the bridegroom metaphor (Mk. 2.19 // Jn. 3.29) and above all the use of miracles as a proof of his divine commission
(Mk. 2.10, cf. Jn. 5.36 &c.") and the early plot against Jesus' life motivated by his healing on the Sabbath (Mk. 3.6 // Jn. 5.16 ff.). Now two characteristics of Jn.'s style are sudden change of subject and use of apparent non sequitur. Using a miracle to break off an argument is just what one would expect of a source with other Johannine traits. Therefore its occurrence here need not be explained by the hypothesis that two stories have been combined. But if it is a Johannine trait, what lies behind it is probably allegory or deliberate Johannine obfuscation,
not psychological diagnosis. John's Jesus did not trace all afflictions to sin (Jn. 9-3).

My wife's prodding me to go but more analysis will follow ...

Email with comments or questions.

Stephan Huller's Observations by Stephan Huller
is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.