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Old 08-19-2001, 06:23 PM   #31
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But I've suggested a third possiblity. That is the Mark left the door ajar deliberately. This could be because he was steering a course between conflicting views within his sect. I don't know how we could verify something like that.
I would like to examine your claim that Mark (up to 16:8) leaves the door 'ajar' in terms of interpretation.

The only aspect of the narrative which seems to lend any ambiguity to the text is the comment made by the young man alegedly sitting in the tomb:

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"But he said to them, 'Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.'"
Now, there is a need to ask a rather simple question here. What is the mose obvious and straightforward reading of this text?

The whole context of the passage surrounds the corpse of Jesus of Nazareth and Mark builds up to it in some detail, particularly that the women approaching the tomb are coming to anoint his body.

Mark details the women's concern that the stone in front of the tomb is large and that they will have difficulty in moving it.

In short, we are left in no doubt at all that a group of women are approaching what they believe to be a sealed tomb in order to anoint a body.

The narrative then twists as the women find the stone to the tomb moved and a young man sitting in the tomb who addresses them as outlined above.

Now presumably the young man would have had an indication of the women's intent. Why would a group of people travel to the tomb of a person?

He makes three definite statements:

'You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.' - Just in case we've all forgotten what this was about!! Seriously though, the writer is actually making clear that the person whom the women were seeking is the same Jesus who had died on the cross previously mentioned in the narrative.

'He is risen' - This is where ambiguity could sneak in. Risen, but in what sense? What does 'risen' mean?

But here comes the crunch. The young man tells the women that 'He is not here' and 'See the place where they laid him'.

Now we could argue that the passage doesn't actually mention Jesus being physically absent from the tomb, which it doesn't in any direct sense. But what reaction would the writer have expected from his hearers if the young man sitting in the tomb was claiming that Christ was not there and at the same time pointing to a body? Indication that Jesus was absent in some spiritual sense maybe? But what is the most obvious interpretation?

Also, the fact that the writer has put, 'He is risen. He is not here.' side by side in the same passage seems to blow trumpets that he is making a link between the resurrection of Jesus and the disappearance of his body in a very striking way which would lead anyone reading the text for the first time away from a purely non-physical resurrection.

How is 'He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.' leaving the door ajar? Why does the writer take the effort to link the disappearance of the body with the resurrection if the two are so unimportant, even if it is through the young man in the narrative?

Couldn't it be that the post resurrection appearances of Christ from 16:9 onwards were later added when it became apparent that that the Docetist's were using Mark's gospel to support their own doctrine of a non physical resurrection and therefore leading people away from the straightforward claims of the text?

I should imagine that Docetism is a form of earlier gnosticism which claimed special knowledge over spiritual matters. The gnostics had severe problems rationalising the idea that Jesus could be both fully human and fully God and therefore tended to emphasise one aspect of his personhood. They either said that he wasn't fully God (physical Jesus possessed by Christ Spirit, which left before physical Jesus died - found in Islamic thought), or that he wasn't fully human - a spirit being.

Because of this, post resurrection appearances then become a major feature of later Gospels.

How does this arguement stand up to scrutiny?
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Old 08-19-2001, 06:49 PM   #32
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Hi E-Muse! Haven't seen you around in a while.

Let me reply with a thought experiment. In an alternate universe in the year 2001, there are no proto-orthodox Christians, no Ignatius, no Gospels by Matthew, Luke and John. In that universe, Marcionites remain a minority, and the Adoptionists got swallowed by the Gnostics. Nobody believes that Jesus rose in the flesh, nor has for 2000 years.

Now, in that universe, without any anti-Docetic theology, is it possible to read Mark and conclude that he is claiming Jesus actually rose in the flesh?

Michael
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Old 08-19-2001, 09:01 PM   #33
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Originally posted by turtonm:
What an interesting suggestion! You mean Mark does not go on past the empty tomb because then he would have had to specify what kind of resurrection it was spiritual or physical?
Wouldn't that imply a later date for Mark, perhaps late in the first/very early second century, when the Docetist controversy was really blowing strong?

Michael


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I don't know about that. Some suggest that the idea of a spiritual resurrection of Jesus was present as early as Paul.

best,
Peter Kirby
I'm inclined to side with Kirby on this, although I can't claim much authority on the subject. I'm starting with Doherty's take on Paul which would mean that Paul believes only in a spiritual resurrection.

It could be that Mark is working out a compromise among factions, but what seems more elegant to me is that he is reconstructing events on the basis of the evidence and on Talmudic method. In Talmudic method there can be no contradiction with, or within, scripture.

This means that some statements might have to be very carefully worded. If Mark is writing from what I call the "Pauline tradition," I assume that he would have had available the slogans and hymns that Paul appears to be quoting in his letters even though Mark may not have been familiar with Paul's theology as a whole. If he regards these liturgical devices as scripture equal to the septuagint, and he has an oral tradition that he as to reconcile them with, he might have to finesse the issue of the resurrection. If you re-read my initial post and then read my rather lengthy reply to Polycarp where I re-state the thesis in a different way maybe you will see what I'm getting at. As far as I can see, it isn't inconsistent with a fairly early dating of Mark.

Of course, there's so much I don't know about these issues that a lot of this is conjecture, but so far no one but Polycarp has even addressed the proposal. On a simple reading I agree with him. I don't think there would be a great deal of reason to examine Mark's wording all that closely if we didn't have other issues to deal with. But we do have those issues. So maybe Mark's wording was very careful and deliberate, not sloppy and offhand.

But let emphasize another point. I raised the question: If Mark regards this "Pauline tradtion" as equal to Old Testament scripture and he is reconstructing the history of Christ and he also has an oral tradition, wouldn't the Pauline tradition impose itself on the oral tradition if Mark were using Talmudic method? In other words, if O.T. scripture says his legs weren't broken they must not have been broken. A reconstructed story must then explain why they weren't. By the same token, if Pauline tradition says he was crucified, then he must have been crucified even though the oral tradition may only say he was martyred. But if oral tradition says he was from Galilee, he must have been from Galilee because neither Pauline tradition nor scripture prevents that.

If that's the case, then we could remove everything from Mark's gospel that is in the O.T. and everything that is in Paul and what's left would be the oral tradition. And I asked in my first post for comments on that approach, but so far no one has commented on it. I would really like to know, and I'd like to know what someone more knowledgeable than I am on the Bible and Talmudic method would come up using this method. From what I can see, it solves all the problems I raised against Doherty's thesis. (See "What about Doherty's thesis?" - first post.) But I am sure there are other problems, and I'm curious as to how far this idea would go in solving them.

[ August 19, 2001: Message edited by: boneyard bill ]
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Old 08-19-2001, 09:17 PM   #34
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E_Muse asks:

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How is 'He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.' leaving the door ajar? Why does the writer take the effort to link the disappearance of the body with the resurrection if the two are so unimportant, even if it is through the young man in the narrative?
I think it leaves the door ajar in the way that his successors did not. They felt the need to depict Jesus as physically resurrected while Mark omitted this. On the face of it that would seem to be an unimportant matter. If we had no other problems we wouldn't be asking why Mark stopped at the empty tomb and didn't depict the resurrection itself. But as I've stated before, there are other problems with scripture and that leads us back to Mark and then we have to ask why he stopped where he did. If you are a believer and don't feel that there are any other problems with the scripture or if you are satisfied that those problems can easily be explain, then I suppose Mark's report seems straightforward enough. Personally I don't see the scripture as comprehensible from a literal standpoint even if I were willing to accept a belief in miracles which it describes.
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Old 08-19-2001, 11:11 PM   #35
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Turtonm writes:

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What an interesting suggestion! You mean Mark does not go on past the empty tomb because then he would have had to specify what kind of resurrection it was spiritual or physical?
One more point of clarification. My preferred explanation is that Mark does not go into the resurrection question because Talmudic method might not allow him to. If oral tradition says there is an empty tomb then he must reconstruct the story that far but there may have been no controversy over the resurrection. In that case, Mark's wording would have been consistent with a situation in which neither the Pauline or the oral tradition beleived in a physical resurrection.

In that case, my suggestion is just a particular spin on James Still's suggestion that Mark knew his readers would understand what he was talking about.
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Old 08-20-2001, 03:52 AM   #36
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I think it leaves the door ajar in the way that his successors did not. They felt the need to depict Jesus as physically resurrected while Mark omitted this.
Well, I'm not sure that he does. In explaining that Jesus is raised, the young man which Mark places in the tomb points to the absence of a body as evidence. See he is not here.... and so on.

The statement also suggests that, in his view, the same Jesus who was now risen was the same Jesus who was once dead and now physically absent from the tomb.

At no point does Mark distinguish the resurrected Jesus from his deceased body and I think a straightfoward reading of the text would lead anyone to conclude that the physically absent Jesus was the same who was now raised.

There seems little point in 'reading between the lines' and arguing from silence if the conclusions conflict with what is written in the lines themselves!

It seems a pointless arguement as a spiritually raised Christ is as unbelievable and unsubstancial as a physically raised one to the secular humanist or skeptic.

Why would Mark bother to mention the absent body with its obvious inferences in connection with the resurrection?

This leads me back to a possible scenario in which the post resurrection appearances were added to the text because of the oblique interpretation which was being adopted by the Docetists.

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On the face of it that would seem to be an unimportant matter.
To us maybe, but not to the early church.

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If we had no other problems we wouldn't be asking why Mark stopped at the empty tomb and didn't depict the resurrection itself.
We can ask this, but any 'conclusions' must remain speculative as we can never really place ourselves in the mind of the writer.

The fact that there might be problems in other areas of scripture doesn't necessarily mean that there must be a problem here.

It could simply be that Mark did not elaborate because he felt no need to do so, especially if his gospel stood alongside a well guarded oral tradition.

As I understand it, the main threat to early Christian orthodoxy was from various forms of gnosticism.

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But as I've stated before, there are other problems with scripture and that leads us back to Mark and then we have to ask why he stopped where he did. If you are a believer and don't feel that there are any other problems with the scripture or if you are satisfied that those problems can easily be explain, then I suppose Mark's report seems straightforward enough. Personally I don't see the scripture as comprehensible from a literal standpoint even if I were willing to accept a belief in miracles which it describes.
If the early writers, such as Mark, completely invented the resurrection of Jesus, then how can their testimony be used in any arguement for anything? How can any of it be held onto as reliable in forming any basis for arguement.

What concerns me most is that most 'alternative' views of what took place in the Bible are often less substancial that the views which are being challenged and require a more oblique reading of text.
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Old 08-20-2001, 04:38 AM   #37
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There seems little point in 'reading between the lines' and arguing from silence if the conclusions conflict with what is written in the lines themselves!

E_muse, there is no conflict. Irenaeus says Docetics prized the Gospel of Mark. It seems that this would not have been possible if Mark was as clear as you think it is.

It seems a pointless arguement as a spiritually raised Christ is as unbelievable and unsubstancial as a physically raised one to the secular humanist or skeptic.

We're not arguing about whether Jesus was raised. What we're arguing about is whether Mark gives us enough clues to determine how he thought Jesus was raised.

Why would Mark bother to mention the absent body with its obvious inferences in connection with the resurrection?

Such inferences are obvious only if you have already concluded that the body was raised as well. If you have concluded that only the spirit was raised, the fate of the body is not important. If I were a Docetist, I'd simply argue that the body has disappeared, since it is no longer needed as a shell for the spirit of Christ. That argument is unassailable given the evidence from Mark and Mark only. If you stop looking at it through anti-Docetic glasses, then you'd see that there is no clear evidence for your position in the ending of Mark. It is all ambiguous, and could be interpreted either way.

What concerns me most is that most 'alternative' views of what took place in the Bible are often less substancial that the views which are being challenged and require a more oblique reading of text.

First off, this isn't an "alternative" view, but an ancient and popular one, indeed, the most ancient view of Christianity according to some. The Anti-Docetic view won out because the Church suppressed the Gnostics, not because everyone had a big party and decided to all become Anti-Docetics, or because the "evidence" favored it.

Second, your position is pure theology and hence not subject to evidentiary demands. There is no way, looking at Mark, to determine the fate of the body. All we're told is that it is gone. Period.

Michael
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Old 08-20-2001, 10:43 AM   #38
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Such inferences are obvious only if you have already concluded that the body was raised as well.
O.K, let's look at that phrase again in Mark 16:6:

You seek Jesus Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified - Obviously refering to Christ, the human who worked and ministered for thirty three years.

His is risen - Still refering to the same person.

He is not here. - Obviously referring to the absent corpse. In other words, the body being absent and Jesus as a person being absent are one and the same thing.

What makes the Docetist's position more credible as an interpretation of this text than the one I am presenting? I think if you are seeking to defend it as another point of view (and equally theological) regarding the nature of Christ's resurrection then some reason for this must be given.

The writer of 1 Corinthians actually tackles this in chapter 15 of the letter:

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"But someone will say, 'How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?'"
This seems pertinent to the discussion.

I think we must conclude that the teachings of 1 Corinthians 15 are based on the writer's understanding of Christ's resurrection - unless you can demonstrate otherwise.

Of the nature of the resurrection body, he writes:

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"So also is the resurrection of the dead. The Body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption."
Here, the writer, for the sake of arguement Paul, is clearly stating that at resurrection a person's body changes, but is still the same body. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.

He goes on:

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"It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.
It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
And so it is written, 'The first man Adam became a living being.' The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.
The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.
As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly.
Later he says:

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Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.
And so it goes on.

Bodily transformation seems to be the most obvious conclusion from these passages. The corruptible putting on incorruptible.
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Old 08-20-2001, 12:01 PM   #39
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We're not talking about 1 Corinthians. We are only talking about Mark. We read Mark only in the light of Mark.

I agree that the corpse isn't there. Guess what! That doesn't tell us where it is.

I agree: Let's look at what it says:
You seek Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified - Obviously refering to Christ, the human who worked and ministered for thirty three years.

Unless, of course, you mean the shell that housed the Divine Christ. Or the human adopted as the Son of God. Those interpretations are also compatible with this statement. So are about 90 other interpetations. You can't read your anti-Docetic theological assumptions back into the passage. It just isn't there.

He has risen - Still refering to the same person.

Or shell. Or adopted son of god.

He is not here. - Obviously referring to the absent corpse. In other words, the body being absent and Jesus as a person being absent are one and the same thing.

In your anti-Docetic theology, certainly. In my Docetic theology, the corpse is gone and Jesus spirit has risen. "He has risen" could mean anything. Your interpretation is evidence of nothing except a continuing refusal to a see a truth obvious to others with a different theology.

Unless you can specify where Mark is saying the corpse is....but we both no there is no positive statement in Mark about the disposition of Jesus' body. All we know is that it is gone. Anything beyond that is theology (fantasy dressed up in philosophical jargon).

Note that I am not saying Mark supports a Docetic theology, or an anti-Docetic one. I am saying that the ending of Mark is sufficiently ambiguous that it can be used as evidence for either side. After all, Docetists revered it, and they could hardly have done that, if it had been obviously anti-Docetic.

Michael

[ August 20, 2001: Message edited by: turtonm ]
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Old 08-20-2001, 12:32 PM   #40
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We're not talking about 1 Corinthians. We are only talking about Mark. We read Mark only in the light of Mark.
I refer back to the original post by boneyard bill:

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I propose to portray Mark as a believing Christian schooled in a Pauline Christian tradition. This tradition is based on a mythological Christ figure as Doherty suggests or a figure from the remote past as Wells claims. In any case, it believes in a spiritual, not a physical, resurrection. If Mark doesn't have Paul's writings, he is at least familiar with the major factual claims of the tradition i.e. that Jesus was handed over, crucified, buried, and resurrected and that all of this happened in accordance with scripture.
The original poster doesn't seem to be arguing from the same basic assumption as yourself.
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