Saturday, December 3, 2011

Is This Getting Repetitive? The Narrative in Secret Mark Referenced in the Mar Saba Letter is More Jewish Than Anything in the Catholic Tradition

I think I know what many of these people who deny the authenticity of Mar Saba 65 are all about - they want to maintain the status quo.  You know the religion of mommy and daddy.  On those occasions I have found myself in a church, I am always drawn to looking at the crucifix. You know what goes through my mind?  What is this a symbol of?  I mean really.  The ancient world must have thought this very similar to the Death Row record label in the 1990s (see left).

God sitting on the electric chair?  No, not exactly.  There is a twist here which I will try and explain in due course.  But first let's go over the material again.

The fact that Aramaic and Greek have ambiguous terminology for the 'cross' or 'crucifying someone' might mean that there is some symbolic significance here that no one has figured out yet (akin to 'fry' in electric chair parlance).  I think Celsus already made reference to this.  In any event, let's go back to the scene that Clement references in his letter to Theodore (= Gregory Thaumaturgus?).  I am beginning to suspect that this scene is the moment when the disciple Jesus loved (= Mark) took on the divine countenance.

Now I know that Secret Mark doesn't go in to explicit detail about what went on in the darkness with Jesus but it should have been obvious to these scholars.  But they don't want to let the text do the talking.  They want to foist their inherited presuppositions on the page and when they can't they declare the text a fake.

And going near, Jesus rolled away the stone from the door of the tomb. And straightaway, going in where the youth was, he stretched forth his hand and raised him, seizing his hand. But the youth, looking upon him, loved him and began to beseech him that he might be with him. And going out of the tomb, they came into the house of the youth, for he was rich. And after six days Jesus told him what to do, and in the evening the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the Kingdom of God. And thence, arising, he returned to the other side of the Jordan."
How do you know we know that the material parallels Exodus chapter 24?  Well let's start with with the received text of Exodus 24:

Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire stone, and like the heaven for clearness.  But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.   The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.”  Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. He said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur are with you, and anyone involved in a dispute can go to them.” When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered it/him, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud.  To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.

It should be obvious to anyone who cares to look at this with an open mind that there is a parallel here.  Yet you can't understand the passage in Exodus without traditional exegesis of the material.  White people like to 'go it alone' but it's stupid.  For the text was designed to be understood with the viva voce of oral tradition.

Here's how Mark preserves the same idea in the Samaritan tradition:

When God made His voice heard at Mount Sinai, all of Israel were listening and fearful. They said to Moses, “Draw near and listen, for we are afraid to do so." So Moses drew near to the holy deep darkness where the Divine One was, and he saw the wonders of the unseen, a sight no one else could see. God's image dwelt on him, the very face of God. How terrifying to anyone who beholds it, for no one is able to stand before it. With his hands Moses received the signature of God, and it was a treasure-house of all knowledge. His body mingled with the angels above and he dwelt with them, being worthy of doing so. His speech was like the speech of the Lord. His voice mingled with the voice of the Lord, and he was magnified above all the human race. [Mimar Marqe 5.3]

The Samaritans are very aware that the letters of Moses's name in Hebrew jumbled up spell 'the (divine) Name.'  This is how Moses became God - he stepped into God.  Now the detractors of 'Secret Mark' say there is a 'sexual undercurrent.'  Isn't the same thing true with the Song of Songs?

In any event, the idea that at the end of divine mysteries Christians became divine man-gods is a central point made over and over again in the writings of Clement of Alexandria.  Of course Clement isn't going to tell us how this takes place.  It is a holy mystery.  But Exodus 24 is certainly a great place to start looking.

The point now is - as I have noticed many times - that we have to pay careful attention to the line which follows the seventh day transformation in Secret Mark:

And thence, arising, he returned to the other side of the Jordan

This is the eighth day and the 'he' here is clearly meant to be the disciple-who-is-now-Jesus crossing the Jordan river.  This is the point at which Jesus and his disciple trade places before the scene later in the Alexandrian text of Mark referenced by Irenaeus, takes place:

Those, again, who separate Jesus from Christ, alleging that Christ remained impassible, but that it was Jesus who suffered, preferring the Gospel by Mark, if they read it with a love of truth, may have their errors rectified. [Irenaeus AH 3.11.7]

At the very point of the seventh day of the divine mysteries there are suddenly two figures in the gospel narrative - Jesus and Christ.  When the disciple ends up looking at the Cross - as we all end up looking at the Cross in our churches - we see our old dead self crucified there in Jesus's place.

And how do we know that "... and after six days Jesus told him what to do" are developed from Exodus 24:16?  Rashi derives the same idea from the text as must have been held by the Alexandrian community noting that while some read

and the cloud covered it (i.e. the mountain) saying that "these are the six days from the first of the month (until Shabu'ot, the day of the giving of the Torah) ...and others say "and the cloud covered him," (i.e.) Moses "for six days" after the Ten Commandments were given and these (six days) were at the beginning of the forty days when Moses went up to receive the tablets.  And (this verse) teaches you that whoever wants to enter the camp of the Divine Presence requires separation (for) six days (Yoma 4). 

Is there any thing to add here?  Is there anything that will ever convince these people to take a second look at this?  Of course Morton Smith knew about the interest in six days, but the idea that Moses took on the image of God on the seventh day is wholly derived from Mark's writings in the Samaritan tradition - the Mimar Marqe certainly being a text he could not have read in 1958, not merely because John MacDonald hadn't yet translated the originals into English.  Smith could not read Arabic nor Samaritan Aramaic (MacDonald couldn't read Aramaic period).  The Hebrew text only came out with Ben Hayyim years later.

The ideas all come together but you need to know the Samaritan writings of Mark.

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