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Old 03-31-2001, 02:59 AM   #1
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Post Mark's Gospel and the disciples

I thought I'd ask this question here, because I'm not getting any answer out of my teacher at school.

For my Religious Studies course, the class is looking at Mark's Gospel. This is fine by me, but the teacher insists on looking at the gospel as a way of finding out what Jesus and co. actually did, rather than looking at it as a religious text through the eyes of its author.

This showed itself very plainly in the last lesson we had, when we got into a miniature discussion on the reasons why Jesus chose every-day Joes, not intellectuals, to start to create his new world order. I suggested that Mark uses the disciples as symbolic structures; a fisherman, for example, has all sorts of religious connotations (the 'fishers of men' reference in the gospel), and a tax collector could have been used by Mark to show something of the nature of the cleansing effect of the belief. Of course, this didn't go down too well with the teacher, who preferred to look at the gospel as simply reporting what Jesus did, rather than as the religious, devotional text that it most certainly is.

So what I want to ask you is this: looking at Mark's gospel (and the others too, if you want), is there any justification for regarding the characters more as literary devices for teaching elements of Christian thought rather than historical characters? Could the entire gospel be far more allegorical, taking a mythical messiah and constructing an 'historical' account to explain the beliefs of his religion?

(For example, could Simon the Zealot have been used to show that the Kingdom of God was not, as the Zealots believed, the kingdom that God wold construct on Earth at the defeat of the Romans, but something else entirely? Could the paralytic man be a literary device to show that sins, and their effects, could be washed away by belief in Jesus?)
 
Old 03-31-2001, 07:58 AM   #2
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Check the II library for a book thats right on target for what you want, it compares Mark to Homer, can't remember the name but there was a long thread on this a month back or so. Douherty's book the 'Jesus Puzzel' goes into this as well, Paul's 'Son of God' cult, (of which there were many, also in the II archives, 1st cent. kooks) was all spiritual, no human Jesus at all, Mark was a Hebrew 'Midrash' a story written from and with scripture to express a point, allegory.
 
Old 03-31-2001, 08:49 AM   #3
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Hmm... Let's add up the score now as I've heard it around here lately...
  • Jesus never existed.
  • The disciples never existed.
  • Since Jesus and the disciples never existed, the people they healed didn't exist.
  • Pilate never existed.
  • Barabbas never existed.
  • Caiaphas never exited.
  • Paul never existed.

Hey, this is fun! I bet we can do this for others!
  • Julius Caesar never existed.
  • Hannibal never existed.
  • Augustus Caesar never existed.
  • Herodotus never existed.
  • Thyucidides never existed.
  • Homer never existed.
  • The city of Troy never existed (oh wait, they found it...ooops)

I guess the Jesus Myth myth will never cease...

Ish
 
Old 03-31-2001, 10:37 AM   #4
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Mendeh:
So what I want to ask you is this: looking at Mark's gospel (and the others too, if you want), is there any justification for regarding the characters more as literary devices for teaching elements of Christian thought rather than historical characters? Could the entire gospel be far more allegorical, taking a mythical messiah and constructing an 'historical' account to explain the beliefs of his religion?
Quote:
</font>
No, I don’t think the disciples could possibly be SOLELY literary devices. Paul makes reference to “the Twelve” in 1 Corinthians 15:5. Paul also personally met some of the disciples (Galatians 1 & 2). Paul’s letters were written well before Mark wrote his gospel. Therefore, we are confident in knowing that Jesus had disciples, in particular an inner circle of twelve.

Peace,

Polycarp
 
Old 03-31-2001, 02:20 PM   #5
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The disciples were literary devices???

That's even more pathetic than the Jesus myth! Mendeh, please tell me this is a joke!
 
Old 03-31-2001, 03:28 PM   #6
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You know, it's possible that they existed and still were written in such a way to provide some literary service.
 
Old 03-31-2001, 04:19 PM   #7
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I find it's also possible that they existed and were written in such a way as to convey truth of what they knew.
 
Old 03-31-2001, 05:25 PM   #8
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Mendeh -

The book referred to above is "The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark" by Dennis MacDonald. MacDonald is a Professor of Theology and a Christian who believes in Jesus, not a "Jesus-myther."

There is nothing inconsistant in thinking that Jesus had 12 disciples, and that Mark's portrayal of them is a literary device. You will also notice that Mark and Matthew give different portrayals of the disciples - in Mark, they are pretty much a bunch of fools, while in Matthew they act a bit more intelligently.

The book is reviewed here: http://www.infidels.org/library/mode...erandmark.html

Someone who teaches Mark as straight history, with no added symbolism, literary devices, or myth is definitely not in the mainstream of theology or history. Read anything on the historical Jesus from the Jesus Seminar or other scholars.

You can read most of the Jesus Puzzle on-line at www.jesuspuzzle.com .

But don't get into trouble with your teacher. Some people are like Ish and Tercel - unable to handle any challenge to their belief system.
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Old 03-31-2001, 06:01 PM   #9
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Toto:
There is nothing inconsistant in thinking that Jesus had 12 disciples, and that Mark's portrayal of them is a literary device.</font>
Of course, but what Mendeh seems to be suggesting is that the disciples never existed and were only a literary device. I also note that you don't seem to be taking Mendeh's suggestion seriously.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Someone who teaches Mark as straight history, with no added symbolism, literary devices, or myth is definitely not in the mainstream of theology or history. Read anything on the historical Jesus from the Jesus Seminar or other scholars.</font>
I'm not sure I'd call the Jesus Seminar 'mainstream'. I think 'liberal' would better describe them.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">But don't get into trouble with your teacher. Some people are like Ish and Tercel - unable to handle any challenge to their belief system.</font>
You have to just casually tack the insult on the end, don't you?
 
Old 03-31-2001, 08:56 PM   #10
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Ish:
Hmm... Let's add up the score now as I've heard it around here lately...
  • Jesus never existed.
  • The disciples never existed.
  • Since Jesus and the disciples never existed, the people they healed didn't exist.
  • Pilate never existed.
  • Barabbas never existed.
  • Caiaphas never exited.
  • Paul never existed.

Hey, this is fun! I bet we can do this for others!
  • Julius Caesar never existed.
  • Hannibal never existed.
  • Augustus Caesar never existed.
  • Herodotus never existed.
  • Thyucidides never existed.
  • Homer never existed.
  • The city of Troy never existed (oh wait, they found it...ooops)

I guess the Jesus Myth myth will never cease...

Ish
</font>
Indeed it is at least possible the other figures never existed either. But at least one crucial difference is that no one asks people to hang their very lives on the existence of those people.

If I found out tomorrow that Hannibal or Julius Ceasar were not actual historical figures it would be an interesting historical development, but it would have little impact on my life. I would adjust to the new evidence and move on. I'm not required to believe it with all my "heart, body and soul".



[This message has been edited by madmax2976 (edited March 31, 2001).]
 
 

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