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Old 08-17-2001, 02:02 PM   #21
James Still
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Quote:
Originally posted by Polycarp:
Last question... Where is Irenaeus' reference to Docetic use of Mark?
Adv. Haer. I.23, 24, and 26 but no specific mention of the Gospel of Mark.

[ August 17, 2001: Message edited by: James Still ]
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Old 08-17-2001, 02:16 PM   #22
Vorkosigan
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Originally posted by Polycarp:
Do you think John's gospel is ambiguous on the issue of the physicality of the resurrection? If not, then your argument gets flushed right down the toilet because Docetists used John frequently.

No, I don't think John's Gospel in the form we have it is ambiguous, but obviously we may not have it in the form used by the Gnostics. In any case, our interpretations are not theirs.

If you think John's gospel is ambiguous, then when do you think we have the first clear explanation of the physicality of the resurrection in Christian writings?

I don't think it is ambiguous. I don't know when the first clear reference is; that would depend in part on how you interpret what the writings say and when you date them. It is not a cut-and-dried question.

Last question... Where is Irenaeus' reference to Docetic use of Mark? I honestly can't recall such a reference, but I'm willing to check it out if you'll refer me to the passage.

Can't find it, must have confused something. I'll backtrack through what I was looking over when I wrote that.

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Old 08-17-2001, 04:34 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by turtonm:
Polycarp said: Last question... Where is Irenaeus' reference to Docetic use of Mark? I honestly can't recall such a reference, but I'm willing to check it out if you'll refer me to the passage.

Turtonm said: Can't find it, must have confused something. I'll backtrack through what I was looking over when I wrote that.
OK. I'm finally at home, so I pulled out my collection of the Ante-Nicene Fathers and found the Irenaeus reference. You weren't hallucinating. It's in "Against Heresies", Book 3, Chapter 11, section 7. You were correct in claiming that Irenaues says that Docetists were fond of Mark.

He also names other "heretical" sects and the gospels they preferred. The case with each heretical sect is that they must omit some portion of their favorite gospel in order for their beliefs to be validated. This is most blatant in Marcion's literal re-writing of Luke's gospel. We still have no idea what the reason was for Docetic preference of Mark. You're assuming it's related to the empty tomb. Docetism focused on the (lack of) suffering of Christ. I don't see how the empty tomb story in Mark helps their cause any more than the other gospels. What evidence do you have to support the claim that the empty tomb story is the reason they preferred Mark?

Peace,

Polycarp

[ August 17, 2001: Message edited by: Polycarp ]
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Old 08-17-2001, 09:16 PM   #24
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We still have no idea what the reason was for Docetic preference of Mark. You're assuming it's related to the empty tomb.

No, I am not assuming that, the empty tomb came up as an example that could be read any one of several ways. I have no idea why they liked Mark; maybe because of the postive portrayal of John the Baptist relative to Jesus?

Docetism focused on the (lack of) suffering of Christ. I don't see how the empty tomb story in Mark helps their cause any more than the other gospels. What evidence do you have to support the claim that the empty tomb story is the reason they preferred Mark?

None, I never made that claim.

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Old 08-18-2001, 06:54 AM   #25
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Polycarp said: We still have no idea what the reason was for Docetic preference of Mark. You're assuming it's related to the empty tomb.

Turtonm said: No, I am not assuming that, the empty tomb came up as an example that could be read any one of several ways. I have no idea why they liked Mark; maybe because of the postive portrayal of John the Baptist relative to Jesus?

Polycarp said: Docetism focused on the (lack of) suffering of Christ. I don't see how the empty tomb story in Mark helps their cause any more than the other gospels. What evidence do you have to support the claim that the empty tomb story is the reason they preferred Mark?

Turton said: None, I never made that claim.



I’m trying to be as patient as I can, but it really seems to me like your back-pedaling from your original post. I’ll summarize…

I started by claiming that Mark’s gospel portrayed a bodily resurrection. You then joined the fray by chastising Boneyard Bill for blindly accepting the words of an apologist without checking their claims, and you claimed that Mark was ambiguous on the issue of the physicality of the resurrection. Here’s a portion of what you said in your first post:

Note that neither of these verses provides support for either a physical or "spiritual" resurrection. The empty tomb means that the body is gone, only, not that it has been physically resurrected. Interpreting it as saying that the body has been physically resurrected is a post hoc interpretation by the Church, in response to Docetism.

Further support for Mark's compatibility with either position is the assertion of the patristic father Irenaeus, writing c. 180, who (as I recalled) pointed out that the Docetics had a special affinity for Mark's gospel.


So it seems clear that you did “make the claim” that Docetists preferred Mark, at least in part, because of the empty tomb story in Mark, otherwise why would you have brought up the docetic issue in the context of debating Mark’s views on the physicality of the resurrection? I’m failing to follow your argument here. If you have no idea why Docetists preferred Mark, then why did you bring it up in the context of Mark’s portrayal of the resurrection?

It now appears that the docetic issue is irrelevant to the issue of whether Mark portrayed a bodily resurrection. You’ve also said there is “not a bit” of evidence in Mark to support a non-physical resurrection. How you can still say Mark is ambiguous on the issue is difficult for me to grasp.

I’ve given clear reasons for believing Mark portrayed a physical resurrection, and you’ve given “not a bit” of evidence and some claim about Docetists preferring Mark for some unknown reason. If you’ll very briefly summarize the reasons why Mark could be portraying a non-physical resurrection I will try to see your point more clearly.


Peace,

Polycarp

[ August 18, 2001: Message edited by: Polycarp ]
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Old 08-18-2001, 07:59 AM   #26
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I’m trying to be as patient as I can, but it really seems to me like your back-pedaling from your original post. I’ll summarize…

I'm not "backpedaling!" You've totally misunderstood what I was doing. All I have ever claimed is that Mark is ambiguous and can be read either way.

I started by claiming that Mark’s gospel portrayed a bodily resurrection. You then joined the fray by chastising Boneyard Bill for blindly accepting the words of an apologist without checking their claims, and you claimed that Mark was ambiguous on the issue of the physicality of the resurrection.

Correct.

Note that neither of these verses provides support for either a physical or "spiritual" resurrection. The empty tomb means that the body is gone, only, not that it has been physically resurrected. Interpreting it as saying that the body has been physically resurrected is a post hoc interpretation by the Church, in response to Docetism.

Further support for Mark's compatibility with either position is the assertion of the patristic father Irenaeus, writing c. 180, who (as I recalled) pointed out that the Docetics had a special affinity for Mark's gospel.


Polycarp: So it seems clear that you did “make the claim” that Docetists preferred Mark, at least in part, because of the empty tomb story in Mark, otherwise why would you have brought up the docetic issue in the context of debating Mark’s views on the physicality of the resurrection?

I'm afraid you've read way too much into my short paragraph there. What I clearly meant was that Mark could be interpreted either way. This is shown by the fact that Mark was used by both Orthodox and Docetic groups. That's all the second paragraph meant when it brought up Irenaeus. It has nothing to do with the empty tomb.

I’m failing to follow your argument here. If you have no idea why Docetists preferred Mark, then why did you bring it up in the context of Mark’s portrayal of the resurrection?

The context is in your mind; I brought it up to show that competing groups could both be comfortable with Mark.

It now appears that the docetic issue is irrelevant to the issue of whether Mark portrayed a bodily resurrection.

It's better the other way around; apparently whether Mark was attempting to portray a physical resurrection is irrelevant to the fact that either side could use him. Whatever he was trying to say, it is not irrevocably clear, as in Matthew, where the women grasp his feet, or in John, where Thomas sticks his hand in Jesus, or in Luke, where Jesus denies he is a ghost. These are all objective facts and count as "evidence" because their meaning cannot shift based on interpretation. In Mark, there is nothing so clear.

You’ve also said there is “not a bit” of evidence in Mark to support a non-physical resurrection. How you can still say Mark is ambiguous on the issue is difficult for me to grasp.

That's because you are failing to distinguish between evidence and interpretation....

I’ve given clear reasons for believing Mark portrayed a physical resurrection, and you’ve given “not a bit” of evidence and some claim about Docetists preferring Mark for some unknown reason. If you’ll very briefly summarize the reasons why Mark could be portraying a non-physical resurrection I will try to see your point more clearly.

Thanks.

The issue is that Mark does not clearly portray either kind of Resurrection -- what you think of as "evidence" I see as "interpretation." You interpret the empty tomb in the light of your anti-Docetic theology, and assume that it is evidence for your side. A Docetist could argue based on her interpretation that it is evidence for her beliefs. In both cases, the observation is "theology-laden." That is why there is no "evidence" either way, just interpretations of existing facts. It is a fact that in Mark, the tomb was found empty. The meaning of that fact, however, resides in theology, and hence is not subject to evidentiary demands. Consequently, I believe there is no "evidence" for either side as far as Mark is concerned, and thus, both sides can safely use Mark in support of their beliefs.

Is that clearer?

Michael
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Old 08-18-2001, 08:28 AM   #27
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The issue is that Mark does not clearly portray either kind of Resurrection -- what you think of as "evidence" I see as "interpretation." You interpret the empty tomb in the light of your anti-Docetic theology, and assume that it is evidence for your side. A Docetist could argue based on her interpretation that it is evidence for her beliefs. In both cases, the observation is "theology-laden." That is why there is no "evidence" either way, just interpretations of existing facts. It is a fact that in Mark, the tomb was found empty. The meaning of that fact, however, resides in theology, and hence is not subject to evidentiary demands. Consequently, I believe there is no "evidence" for either side as far as Mark is concerned, and thus, both sides can safely use Mark in support of their beliefs.
I think this is very well put. We're so used to harmonizing Mark through the the later Synoptists that we have forgotten how to read him standing alone.

Having said that it seems clear to me that Mark and his audience know about the suffering, dying, and rising son of man (and further that Jesus is the son of man who must suffer, die, and rise again). But Mark's portrait of this liturgy is so ill-defined that I can only see two possible solutions: (1) either Mark has not given it much thought; or (2) he and his audience have given it so much thought that it needed no elaboration.

I've always (uncritically) leaned toward (2) because I find it incredible to believe that the resurrection would not be among those beliefs in Mark's community. But given that the early and provincial Q gospel makes no mention of the son of man, or Jesus' death and resurrection, perhaps it should not surprise us that Mark's theology is underdeveloped as well. I think we all agree that Mark is not familiar with Paul's cross theology. Perhaps it was left to Luke and Matthew to reconcile Mark with Paul?
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Old 08-18-2001, 12:55 PM   #28
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James Still writes:

But Mark's portrait of this liturgy is so ill-defined that I can only see two possible solutions: (1) either Mark has not given it much thought; or (2) he and his audience have given it so much thought that it needed no elaboration.

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. But it could also mean that he's using phraseology that is attempting to avoid contradiction with what he regards as scripture. Unfortunately, I don't know enough about Talmudic method or scripture to be more specific.

But it seems reasonable to me that if you have two traditions and one of them is regarded as scriptural while the other claims to be based on eye-witness accounts, and you reconciled them in Talmudic fashion, you would get a mix of accurate details and apparent inventions which is what we seem to get in the gospels, and that strategy could also be reflected in the wording of Mark's empty tomb account.

Is there something I'm overlooking or not aware of that would render this impossible?
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Old 08-18-2001, 02:13 PM   #29
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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?

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?

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Old 08-18-2001, 10:32 PM   #30
Peter Kirby
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Quote:
Originally posted by turtonm:
<STRONG>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</STRONG>
I don't know about that. Some suggest that the idea of a spiritual resurrection of Jesus was present as early as Paul.

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