Markus Vinzent's Blog

Friday, 18 November 2011

How to date Mark? And what Marcion has to contribute

What are the ‘inconclusive … few hints’ that have been advanced 'that Mark's Gospel is earlier than Matthew's and Luke's'? According to Mark Goodacre and many others before (and after) him:

The most decisive pointer is the question of whether or not the Gospels refer, however obliquely, to the key events of 70 CE, when Jerusalem was overrun by the Roman army after the Jewish War beginning in 66 CE. Matthew and Luke both seem to provide hints that they know of the events of 70.[1]
The first hint has been found in Matth. 23:37-9 par. Luke 13:34-5, especially of interest to us, as these Lukan verses are explicitly mentioned as being absent from Marcion’s Gospel:[2]

Luke 13:34-5
Matth. 23:37-9
13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it! 13:35 Look, your house is forsaken!                         And I tell you, you will
not see me                until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Ps. 118:26)
23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it! 23:38 Look, your house is left to you desolate! 23:39 For I tell you, you will not see me from now until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Ps. 118:26)


This is a passage from the Double Tradition that is missing in Mark. Almost literally identical in Luke and Matthew, Jesus prophetically announces ‘dramatic events to take place in Jerusalem’, ‘words that would have much more poignancy in a post-70 situation. “Your house”, Jerusalem’s house, clearly refers to the Temple, which in the post-70 period indeed lay “forsaken” and in ruins.’[3] Similarly, Matth. 22:4-8 has been taken as a reference to the destruction of the Temple:

Matth. 22:4-8
Luke 13:17-24
22:4 Again he sent other slaves, saying,
‘Tell those who have been invited,
“Look! The feast I have prepared for you is ready. My oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.”’
22:5 But they were indifferent and went away, one to his farm,

another to his business.


22:6 The rest seized his slaves, insolently mistreated them, and killed them. 22:7 The king was furious! He sent his soldiers, and they put those murderers to death and set their city on fire.









22:8
Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but the ones who had been invited were not worthy.
14:17 At the time for the banquet he sent his slave to tell those who had been invited,
‘Come, because everything is now ready.’ 14:18



But one after another they all began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please excuse me.’ 14:19 Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going out to examine them. Please excuse me.’ 14:20 Another said, ‘I just got married, and I cannot come.’


14:21 So the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the master of the household was furious and said to his slave, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and alleys of the city, and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 14:22 Then the slave said, ‘Sir, what you instructed has been done, and there is still room.’ 14:23 So the master said to his slave, ‘Go out to the highways and country roads and urge people to come in, so that my house will be filled. 14:24 For I tell you, not one of those individuals who were invited will taste my banquet!’”



Goodacre comments: ‘The thing that is so striking here is the extent to which this element [of the furious king who sends his soldiers and burns the city] intrudes into a story that can be told quite adequately without it (as in Luke and Thomas). It may be that Matthew is thinking here of the fall of Jerusalem.’[4] In other places Matthew and Luke are more detailed than Mark, from which the conclusion is drawn that they have redacted Mark in the light of the tragic events in Jerusalem, although, it is again admitted, that the evidence ‘is not decisive’ as with Matth. 24:15.21-2 // Mark 13:14.19-20 // Luke 21:20-4,[5] another important passage, as we are told again that Marcion’s Gospel does not display the verses Luke 21:21-2:[6]

Luke 21:20-4
Mark 13:14-20
Matth. 24:15-22
21:20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near.


21:21 Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. Those who are inside the city must depart. Those who are out in the country must not enter it,


21:22 because these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.
21:23 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days!


For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people.



21:24
They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led away as captives among all nations. Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
13:14 “But when you see

the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be

(let the reader understand),
then those                          in Judea must flee to the mountains. 13:15 The one on the roof must not come down or go inside to take anything out of his house. 13:16 The one in the field     must not turn back to get his cloak.


13:17
Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! 13:18 Pray that it may not be in winter.

13:19
For in those days there will be suffering unlike anything
that has happened from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, or ever will happen.






13:20
And if the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would be saved. But because of the elect, whom he chose, he has cut them short.
13:21 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe him. 13:22 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, the elect. 13:23 Be careful! I have told you everything ahead of time.
24:15 “So when you see

the abomination of desolation – spoken about by Daniel the prophet – standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 24:16 then those                    in Judea must flee to the mountains. 24:17 The one on the roof must not come down                     to take anything out of his house, 24:18 and the one in the field must not turn back to get his cloak.


24:19 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! 24:20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath.
24:21 For then there will be  great suffering unlike anything that has happened from the beginning of the world until now, or ever will happen.







24:22
And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.


W. Marxsen sees the ‘sings’ of Mark 13:5-14 ‘that are thought of as taking place in the present (wars, rumours of wars, etc.)’[7] pointing ‘to the period of the Jewish War (A.D. 66-70) before the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70)’[8] and Goodacre claims that ‘it is clear that Luke in particular is more specific than Mark’, but this is only partly true. Yes, Luke (like Marcion) speaks openly about Jesus’ announcement of a ‘Jerusalem surrounded by armies’ and ‘trampled down by the Gentiles’, but if one believes that Mark is not specific, this would also account for Matthew who is closely parallel to Mark, not Luke here.[9] Luke (and Marcion) give historical details, and yet, if we read Mark like Matthew attentively, it does not sound as if Jesus spoke ‘obliquely’[10] about the ‘desolation’, because the reference to Dan. 9:27, made explicit in Matthew, was a clear pointer for everyone who knew the Scriptures, a prophetic saying that was not only as drastic and detailed as Luke, but that also provided a theological explanation of the historical events:
9:25 So know and understand:
From the issuing of the command to restore and rebuild
Jerusalem until an anointed one, a prince arrives,
there will be a period of seven weeks and sixty-two weeks.
It will again be built, with plaza and moat,
but in distressful times.
9:26 Now after the sixty-two weeks,
an anointed one will be cut off and have nothing.
As for the city and the sanctuary,
the people of the coming prince will destroy them.
But his end will come speedily like a flood.
Until the end of the war that has been decreed
there will be destruction.
9:27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one week.
But in the middle of that week
he will bring sacrifices and offerings to a halt.
On the wing of abominations will come one who destroys,
until the decreed end is poured out on the one who destroys.”
Whereas in Luke (and Marcion), Jesus is the one who prophecies in his own words, Mark and Matthew make him use Daniel’s prophecy to express the similar message: Jerusalem will be restored and rebuild, but it will be the task of the Messiah. Prior to this reconstruction (the hope of which was a lively one around the times of the Bar Kochba revolt in 132-6 AD), there will be distressful times. Even the Messiah ‘will be cut off and have nothing’. Against Luke’s (and Marcion’s) blaming of the Gentiles, by using Daniel Mark and Matthew make the destruction the work of ‘the people of the coming prince’ and the Messiah, who by destroying the Temple and the city, by halting ‘sacrifices and offerings’ is ‘the one who destroys’. Hence, it seems that all three, Matthew, Mark and Luke (and also Marcion) knew of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, supported in Mark by Mark 15:29 and 15:38 (‘Those who passed by defamed him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days” … 15:38 And the temple curtain was torn in two, from top to bottom’),[11] and also by the parable of the tenants (Mark 12:1-12), where in v. 9 ‘the catastrophe of the year 20 is indicated’.[12]
Let us compare Marcion’s gospel with the ‘missing verses’ of Luke 21:21-2 and Luke to see what drastic difference these ‘missing’ or ‘added’ verses make. Like Mark and Matthew also Luke sees the destruction of Jerusalem as a prophetic fulfilment of ‘all that is written’, although he does not detail which scriptural reference he has got in mind, and yet he hinted at Daniel having used the term ‘desolation’ in Luke 21:20. Of course, as we have seen from Mark and Matthew, Luke’s account, as it stands, is inconsistent. While Daniel mentions the Messiah and his people as causes for the destruction of Jerusalem, in Luke this prophecy is fulfilled by Gentiles. Only Marcion’s version without the verses Luke 21:21-2 is consistent, as here, the Daniel-hint of the desolation receives an interpretation which is not a fulfilment of this prophecy, but its correction: Against Daniel, the city and the temple will not and has not been destroyed by the Messiah and his people, but by the Gentiles. There were not ‘days of vengeance’ of the Lord, but days where ‘the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled’. Those who bring the sword and lead away captives will see that such times become fulfilled – overcome, as we will see by an all-loving God. This first comparison may give us a taste of what will be encountered later in the commentary.
Hence, it does not ‘seem that of all the evangelists, Mark is the least explicit about the events of 70’, and that this text provides ‘a potential indicator of Markan Priority’, even not a non ‘decisive’ one,[13] on the contrary, it seems that Marcion’s message has been altered by all three Synoptics in their respective ways.[14]


[1] M. Goodacre, The Synoptic Problem (2001), 68.
[2] See Epiph., Pan. XLII 11.6(41), while Tert., Adv. Marc. IV 31,1 is silent about the passage which harmonizes with Epiphanius’ statement.
[3] M. Goodacre, The Synoptic Problem (2001), 68.
[4] M. Goodacre, The Synoptic Problem (2001), 69.
[5] M. Goodacre, The Synoptic Problem (2001), 69-70.
[6] Epiph., Pan. XLII 11.6(59), again harmonizing with the silence in Tert., Adv. Marc. IV 39,9.
[7] W. Marxsen, Introduction (1968), 143.
[8] W. Marxsen, Introduction (1968), 143; G. Stanton, The Gospels and Jesus (22002), 54.
[9] See already Ph. Vielhauer, Geschichte (2nd corr. 1978), 34731.
[10] M. Goodacre, The Synoptic Problem (2001), 70.
[11] See A. Jülicher, Einleitung (1894), 304.
[12] Ph. Vielhauer, Geschichte (2nd corr. 1978), 347.
[13] M. Goodacre, The Synoptic Problem (2001), 70.
[14] More on this passage in the commentary.

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