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4 years ago  ::  Jun 23, 2010 - 12:44AM #1
Community.beliefnet.comstone
Posts: 180

[This may have been dealt with before, but since I've found everything to do with this forum since the makeover -- including the totally arbitrary deletion of all of my 20 months of posts as Walther, not to mention the deletion of my posting persona of Walther and of all my PMs, both received and sent -- utterly user-unfriendly, I therefore decline to waste my time with any so-called Search engine on a cruddy format like this.]


 


My question has to do with midrash and the Gospel of Mark.  The claim has been made that GMark is a form of midrash.  Well, something occurred to me: It may be that some on this board are reasonably familiar with this midrashic tradition and that several here may not find the concept of midrash that hard to define.  Now, I understand in a general way that midrash is an application in partly symbolic form of certain basic images and concepts found in Scripture, often as found in the Torah, but not exclusively so.  Later books in the OT can also be a launch point.


 


Consequently, can anyone here please point to parallel examples of midrash being turned into account narratives like the ones some claim we find in the Synoptics? If Synoptics-like midrash is as common as some claim, there should be no problem in coming up with parallels in the same vein outside the Jesus narratives. I'm not asking for a rehash of the argument that Mark is midrash, I'm asking that someone produce a couple of the evident account-narrative parallels outside of the Jesus nexus altogether but still within the nexus of ancient Palestinian traditions.


 


Thank you,


 


Stone

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4 years ago  ::  Jun 23, 2010 - 7:20AM #2
Dennis
Posts: 1,433

There is no doubt that over a quarter of Mark comes from the Hebrew scriptures. Thomas Thompson makes the case of Matthew being largely midrashic... An obvious example is chapter 5:17-48, where the author reinterprets the scripture with the views he sees Jesus as having. (Much in these views is considered historical.) There is quite a bit of midrash found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.


 


 


 


There are midrashic-like vignettes found in Mark. Mark 12:1-12, for instance, is a midrash of Psalms 118:22, Mark 11:1-15 of both Psalms 118:25-26 and Zechariah 9:9. The author is interpeting these scriptures in terms of Jesus.


 


Here is, from the DSS, a midrash of Psalms 37:21-22 (the Psalms midrashim are found in 1Q16, 4Q171 and 4Q173):


 


"The wicked borrows and does not repay, but the rightous is generous and gives. Truly, those whom He [blesses shall possess] the land, but those whom He curses [shall be cut off].  In terpreted, this concerns the congregation of the Poor, who [shall possess] the whole world as an inheritance. They shall possess the High Mountain of Israel [for ever], and shall enjoy [everlasting] delights in His Sanctuary. [But those who] whall be cut off, they are the violent [of the nations and ] the wicked of Israel; they shall be cut off and blotted out forever."


 


Sort of rings a bell with the Matthean, Lukan "Blessed are the poor, God's domain belongs to you," and the Lukan "Damn you rich! You already have your consolation," doesn't it? There are references to the "congregation of the Poor" found in the DSS.


 


 


 


It is an interesting way to look at Mark, a healthy way actually. Thanks for starting the thread.

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4 years ago  ::  Jun 23, 2010 - 10:24AM #3
teilhard
Posts: 51,872

There is indeed a BROAD "Red Thread" running through The Hebrew Scriptures directly into The Christian Tradition ...

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4 years ago  ::  Jun 23, 2010 - 1:09PM #4
Community.beliefnet.comstone
Posts: 180

I ask in the OP if there are parallel examples of narrative material fashioned as midrash _outside_ the Jesus material, both canonical and non-canonical: ==============>


Jun 23, 2010 -- 7:20AM, Dennis wrote:


There is no doubt that over a quarter of Mark comes from the Hebrew scriptures. Thomas Thompson makes the case of Matthew being largely midrashic... An obvious example is chapter 5:17-48, where the author reinterprets the scripture with the views he sees Jesus as having. (Much in these views is considered historical.) There is quite a bit of midrash found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.



==========> Only the Dead Sea Scrolls reference you provide here is pertinent to the query in the OP.  O.K., great: Let's see an example of midrash in the Dead Sea Scrolls that's structured as a narrative account the way Mark is.  Many thanks.  (Matthew and Mark are Jesus material and therefore not pertinent to the OP query.)


Jun 23, 2010 -- 7:20AM, Dennis wrote:

There are midrashic-like vignettes found in Mark. Mark 12:1-12, for instance, is a midrash of Psalms 118:22, Mark 11:1-15 of both Psalms 118:25-26 and Zechariah 9:9. The author is interpeting these scriptures in terms of Jesus.



(Again, Mark is not pertinent to my query here.)


Jun 23, 2010 -- 7:20AM, Dennis wrote:

Here is, from the DSS, a midrash of Psalms 37:21-22 (the Psalms midrashim are found in 1Q16, 4Q171 and 4Q173):


"The wicked borrows and does not repay, but the rightous is generous and gives. Truly, those whom He [blesses shall possess] the land, but those whom He curses [shall be cut off].  In terpreted, this concerns the congregation of the Poor, who [shall possess] the whole world as an inheritance. They shall possess the High Mountain of Israel [for ever], and shall enjoy [everlasting] delights in His Sanctuary. [But those who] whall be cut off, they are the violent [of the nations and ] the wicked of Israel; they shall be cut off and blotted out forever."



Terrific -- now we're getting somewhere!  Thank you.


What I see in this DSS quote here, though, is not a narrative account in the style of the Synoptics.  Please, where is there midrash in the DSS -- or elsewhere in the same general culture -- that is in the form of narrative material such as we see in the Synoptics?  Thanks.


Jun 23, 2010 -- 7:20AM, Dennis wrote:

Sort of rings a bell with the Matthean, Lukan "Blessed are the poor, God's domain belongs to you," and the Lukan "Damn you rich! You already have your consolation," doesn't it? There are references to the "congregation of the Poor" found in the DSS.



What you're citing here, though, is not narrative material in the Synoptics but disquisitional material instead.  I'm asking for non-Jesus narrative midrash that parallels the narrative account material in the Synoptics outside of the disquisitional material put into the mouth of its protagonist.  Thank you.


Walther/Stone

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4 years ago  ::  Jun 23, 2010 - 2:01PM #5
Dennis
Posts: 1,433

What you don't seem to realize, Walther or Stone, is that Mark is clearly A Greco-Roman writing, in form. It can be seen, as Dennis McDonald and others, as using the Homeric epic narrative form. Within that form we find midrash, parable, and the whole of the book can be seen as allegory. It's not exactly clear to me what you are looking for. There s plenty of narrative and midrashim found in The Damascus Document, which is an apocalyptic book defining what is to happen, using generally the Torah and the Prophets and interpreting them within that framework. One also finds this in The War Scroll and the Temple Scroll. Are there any book exactly like Mark? Probably not, but we can see where the author used literary sources. Mimesis played as important a part for the author as did midrash, probably more. That was a Greek tool. We call it "plagiarism" today, but it was, when done well, considered a great thing in antiquity. Mark, for instance, used the tale of Jesus ben Ananus to create the earliest fiction of the Passion.


Dennis


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4 years ago  ::  Jun 23, 2010 - 2:34PM #6
Community.beliefnet.comstone
Posts: 180

Jun 23, 2010 -- 2:01PM, Dennis wrote:


 


There s plenty of narrative and midrashim found in The Damascus Document, which is an apocalyptic book defining what is to happen, using generally the Torah and the Prophets and interpreting them within that framework. One also finds this in The War Scroll and the Temple Scroll.


 




 


Can we produce here any quoted examples, please, of combined narrative/midrashim from The Damascus Document, The War Scroll, or The Temple Scroll, to compare those with narrative parallels in the Synoptics?


 


Thank you,


 


Walther/Stone

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4 years ago  ::  Jun 23, 2010 - 4:51PM #7
Dennis
Posts: 1,433

Get a copy of the DSS (I use The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls, by Geza Vermes) and read the texts. You can probably find it online, too. The aforementioned selections I have mentioned aren't that long.  Some idiot on another thread was trying to argue that me quoting Josephus was not adequate, because I didn't use sources, though I was presenting common knowledge. I'm too irritated at idiots here to get into another argument today. Maybe tomorrow. Yell My hands are fairly arthritic today, so I see no reason to type snippets when the whole scrolls are out there for you to read the rather short documents, so you can get the whole picture. 


Are you trying to make a point or are you just interested? If you were interested, you would do a bit of the work yourself. I have already typed a few examples. It sounds like you just want to argue.


Now, if you are requesting this so you can just argue, which this is beginning to sound like, I really don't give a rat's butt one way or the other. There are plenty of parallels. In fact, Eisenman, in his latest book, sees some of the scrolls as the earliest evidence of proto-Christian writings, with the Essenes/Ebionites (the same group to him) being the original followers of Jesus. It's an interesting hypothesis, and there is evidence of that, especially linguistically, in the texts. Then, again, you have to do the legwork. The book (The New Testament Code) is over 1000 pages long.


 


Jun 23, 2010 -- 2:34PM, Community.beliefnet.comstone wrote:


Jun 23, 2010 -- 2:01PM, Dennis wrote:


 


 


 


There s plenty of narrative and midrashim found in The Damascus Document, which is an apocalyptic book defining what is to happen, using generally the Torah and the Prophets and interpreting them within that framework. One also finds this in The War Scroll and the Temple Scroll.


 


 


 




 


 


 


Can we produce here any quoted examples, please, of combined narrative/midrashim from The Damascus Document, The War Scroll, or The Temple Scroll, to compare those with narrative parallels in the Synoptics?


 


 


 


Thank you,


 


 


 


Walther/Stone





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4 years ago  ::  Jun 23, 2010 - 5:56PM #8
Dennis
Posts: 1,433

Walther, this doesn't address the original post, but I think, in looking at midrash, one also should look at how a first century Jew would have heard/read/seen (most would have heard/seen it presented in an oral culture) Mark. Midrash didn't exist in a vacuum. It was purposeful way to relate the scripture to the current situations in their lifes. It would have been in terms of their sacred scripture. I did this about a half a year ago, in a heated discussion with some Jesus Seminar friends on Facebook. I looked at just a couple of the chapters, in terms of what the recipients would have potentially related to... Hope it helps. (Don't have to type, just copy and paste!!!)


I would like to use the scenario of a first century Judean or Galilean knowledgeable about the content and themes of the Hebrew scriptures. In the wake of the first Jewish Roman War, when most scholars conclude the gospel we call “Mark” was written, what would this person be thinking  when he first heard or read the words? This would be my construction of it:


The good news of Jesus the anointed begins with Isaiah… “Here is my messenger whom I send to prepare the way before me…”


Thought: That was the message of Malachi. He spoke of how the people had lost their way, of how the priests had profaned the covenant, of how the whole nations was cursed. He sent the Romans to destroy our temple because of our wickedness. The messenger will come with fire and purge the people in the form of Elijah.


A voice of someone shouting in the wilderness.  Make ready the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.


Thought: Our ancestors were lost in the wilderness, but the Lord sent an angel to guard them and bring them out of our wilderness, (Ex. 23:20) making their path straight after forty years. We sing the song (Ps. 95) of how we were lost in the wilderness, put to the test and didn’t know God’s way, how He spoke in anger that they would never reach the resting place He prepared for us. And, now we are in the same wilderness, with even the home for God destroyed. Isaiah (40) spoke of the penalty for our sin and how the presence of the Lord will appear when we “make ready the way of the Lord, make straight the paths of our God.”


So John the Baptizer appeared in the wilderness calling for baptism and a change of heart that lead to forgiveness of sins.


Thought: We sing (Ps. 32) how we acknowledged our sins and confessed our transgressions, how God forgave, because God is our shelter, our deliverer.


And the residents of Jerusalem streamed out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan river, admitting their sins.


Thought: The Jordan river, where the Ark of the Covenant parted the river (Josh 3, 4), just as Moses had parted the sea and “all Israel crossed on dry land, until the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan.” This is where the stones were plucked out of the river and placed as a memorial to the twelve tribes of Israel. Indeed, this is a wonderful omen.


And John was dressed in camel hair (and wore a leather belt around his waist) and lived on locusts and raw honey. And he began his proclamation by saying


Thought: This is how Elijah (2 Kings 1) was dressed. The locusts were symbolic of a country devouring Israel (Joel 1), but the honey is figurative of God’s blessings (Ex, Ps). This is interesting imagery.


Someone more powerful than I will succeed me, whose sandal straps I am not fit to bend down and untie. I have been baptizing you with water, but he will baptize you with holy spirit.”


Thought: Now the imagery of the locust makes sense! God will repay us for years consumed by “locusts,” pouring out His spirit on all flesh, even male and female slaves (Joel 2, 3)… But before this wonderful “day of the Lord comes,” there will be “blood and fire and pillars of smoke; The sun shall turn into darkness and the moon into blood.” NOW, the destruction the Romans have wreaked is making sense… Let me hear some more.


During that same period Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John.


Thoughts: Where is this “Nazareth?” I’ve never heard of it. Could it refer to Nazarites? We hear about the Nazarites in the story of Samson (Judges 13, ff). His mother could not have children, but the angel came to her and opened her womb, giving her a son who became a Nazarite. He went on to deliver us from the Philistines. If it is a town, it is very small... Great things happen from humble beginnings, in the scriptures... youngest sons, thrown away children (Moses)...


And just as he got up out of the water, he saw the skies torn open and the spirit coming down toward him like a dove.


Thoughts: This happened to the exiled Ezekiel (1:1) when the vision of the Lord came to him. Isaiah spoke of the spirit giving people rest after he tore open the waters, giving them a glorious name. (Isaiah 63). And, there was a dove… After the days in the ark, God sent a dove to let Noah know that the bad times were over.


There was also a voice from the skies: “You are my favored son – I fully approve of you.”


Thoughts: God said this in Isaiah (42,44). More importantly, in Psalms 2, God adopted us when the nations of the world were plotting against his anointed. He will make these nations our domain, if we would only ask. But if we don’t pay homage, we are doomed.


And right away the spirit drives him out into the wilderness where he remained for forty days, being put to the test by Satan.


Thoughts: Just like we were put to the test for forty years in the wilderness during the exodus (Numbers 14:34). Just like Elijah (1 Kings 19:8), when the angel of the Lord sent him to the mountain of God., after the Israelites had forsaken the covenant, torn down the altars and killed the prophets. He was the only one left.. That, in fact, was where he ran into Elisha, who wanted only to go back and kiss his parents goodbye, which didn’t happen.


Act 2


After John was locked up, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming God’s good news. His message went: “The time is up. God’s imperial rule is closing in. Change your ways and put your trust in the good news.”


Thought:  This is the continuation of John.  “The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His sovereign rule is over all” (Ps. 103). Let all the ends of the earth pay heed and turn to the Lord, and the peoples of all nations prostrate themselves before You; for kingship is the Lord’s and he rules the nations” (Ps 22). “Your arrows, sharpened, pierce the breast of the king’s enemies; peoples fall at your feet. Your divine throne is everlasting; your royal scepter is a scepter of equity” (Ps 45). We need you now: “Pour out Your fury on the nations that do not know You, upon the nations that do not invoke Your name for they have devoured Jacob and desolated his home” (Ps79). “The kingdom shall be God’s” (Ob 21). The kingdom is coming! God is salvation! Yeshua! Rome did not comprehend the wrath of God. They have knocked us down but we will overcome!


As he was walking along by the Sea of Galilee, he spotted Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother casting their nets into the sea – since they were fishermen – and Jesus said to them: Become my followers and I’ll have you fishing for men!” When he had gone a little farther, he caught sight of James, son of Zebedee, and his brother John mending their nets in the boat. Right then and there he called out to them as well, and they left their father Zebedee behind in the boat with the hired hands and accompanied them.


Thought: This devastation is temporary. But, wait… We also read that the Lord sends for many fishermen that will hunt out the dispersion.  They have paid in full for their misdeeds but he will teach them that he is God indeed! (Jer. 16). There is hope.


Then they come to Capernaum, and on the Sabbath day he went right to the synagogue and started teaching. They were astonished at his teaching, since he would teach them on his own authority, unlike the scholars.


Thought: When Saul was to become king, Samuel taught us the Lord will never abandon us and that we must revere the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all our heart (1 Sam. 12). This is the heart of Torah, not the rules of the scholars.


(Without exact quotes… Save for later… Sloth and not wanting to infringe on copyrights.)


He exorcises a demon, who calls him a “Nazarene” and “God’s holy man.” He is said to have given orders with authority.


Thought: The Nazarites were “God’s holy men.” Samson was a deliverer (Judges 13 ff) from the Philistines (who ruled Israel at the time), chosen to be God’s holy man.  He “exorcised” 1000 Philistines singlehandedly with the authority of God. He also died destroying the Philistines, destroying their temple, even as he had been blinded and was being mocked.


Next, Simon’s mom-in-law had a fever. He took her hand, “raised her” and the fever left.


Thought: Hmmm. Hanina did that. Gamiliel’s son was sick with a horrible fever. Furthermore, he wasn’t even near the child when he prayed for him. 


They brought the sick and those with demons to him and he fixed them right up.


Thought: David exorcised the evil spirit from Saul (1 Sam 17). Daniel (Prayer of Nabonidus, DSS) exorcised the evil from Nebuchadnezzar. This feller is like David and Daniel.


Jesus left to pray.


Thought: Reminiscent, too, of David, going away by himself to pray.


Jesus heals a leper.


Thought: Elisha did this and immediately the skin “became like a little boy’s.” Ah, and this was by bathing in the Jordan… Do we have some symbolism here?


Act 3


In Capernaum a paralytic is lowered through a roof which has been dug out in order for Jesus to heal him. Jesus heals him. He is hassled because he tells the kid his sins are forgiven, for which he is hassled. The hassling stops when the paralytic gets up and walks, and the crowd is ecstatic.


Thought: Elijah took the dead boy up to the upper floor to heal him (1King 17). The boy is lowered in order for Jesus to heal him. He is hassled because he “forgave the sins” of the boy, which is very similar to Elisha saying to the leper Naaman, “Go and bathe seven times in the Jordan and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.” His “sin” of leprosy was “forgiven” (2 Kings 5), just as the “sin” of paralysis was “forgiven.” [Editor’s note: These illnesses were seen not in medical terms but as manifestations of god’s will, therefore the cures were, also.]


He went “by the sea.”


Thought: “The sea” is where we escaped from the Egyptians in the Exodus (14-15). “I will sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously; Horse and driver He has hurled into the sea. The LORD is my strength and might, He is become my deliverance.” Yeshua! God is salvation!


He ran into Levi supposedly collecting taxes and said, “Follow me.” Levi did.


Thought: The Levites cared for and were the enforcers of the Ark and the temple (Numbers 1). They were “adopted by God” (Numbers 3). Now, they had sunk to collaborators with Herodians and Romans? This is some symbolism!


Levi’s house is filled with tax collectors, “sinners,” and Jesus with his disciples. The scholars of the Pharisees saw them and asked why they were partying with them. Jesus said that he ate with those who needed him, not the “religious” folks.


Thought: These were not the “sinners” who caused the downfall of the temple. It was the so-called “religious folks,” those in charge. When Eleazar persuaded the temple priests not to accept any foreign gifts, even from Caesar, it put him over the top (War, 2).  


The Pharisees and John’s disciples asked why the disciples of Jesus didn’t fast. Jesus gives an image of not fasting at a wedding, but when the groom is taken away, then there will be fasting. He says that one doesn’t mismatch old and new cloth, or pour young wine into old wineskins.


Thought: This reminds “new and old” imagery reminds me of Sirach (9): “Forsake not an old friend; for the new is not comparable to him: a new friend is as new wine; when it is old, you shall drink it with pleasure.” A wedding signifies a “new beginning.”


Jesus is harassed about eating on the Sabbath. He mis-speaks about David, in saying that David ate the consecrated bread when Abiathar was high priest (1 Sam. 21) and that no one except the priests were allowed to do this (Lev. 24). He said that the Sabbath was made for Adam and Eve, not Adam and Eve for the Sabbath.


Thought: That was a different priest… Abiathar (Ahimelech’s son) was made high priest by David (after he became leader) and Abiathar actually shared the job with Zadok (who anointed Solomon). Ahimelech is the one who shared the loaves of bread with David, and perhaps more important, gave David the sword of Goliath (1 Sam. 22, 23). It is strange that Jesus’ disciples were criticized for plucking corn on the Sabbath, since the wellbeing of the human is more important than “rules.” [Editor’s note: This is well attested in rabbinical literature, suggesting that those second century attestations were passed down from an earlier time.]


End of Act 3


Whether they tied all the scriptural allusions together and were able to quote the exact individual scriptures is not the point of my exercise. My exercise is to show that ideas found littered throughout Mark are found in the scriptures and point toward the larger picture, namely what a Jewish reader/hearer might have seen in the story of Jesus, based on the destruction of the temple, of Jerusalem, and of Judaism as it was known, the smashed apocalyptic hopes, as seen through these scriptures. One would seem to have to acknowledge that these allusions exist. Perhaps the consensus has been that the author of Mark was using these passages to “prooftext” a story about his rather unique (to Judaism)  take on a messiah. That, however, doesn’t have to be the primary reason, since many of these passages are merely allusions, without any definite citing of sources by Mark. As Daryl Schmidt pointed out in the JS “Gospel of Mark,” some of the motifs found in Mark (the way, symbolic geography (like “by the sea,” wilderness, “to the mountain,”) God’s domain, obstinancy of the disciples, the opponents, and trust in God) are found in Jewish literature. When I get just a tad further along, I plan to show that the “miracle worker Jesus” also was a contemporary feature found in Galilee, some paralleled in the scripture, some found in the current.


Certainly, the scriptures were a purposeful part of the gospel, one which would have been for the audience. This to me suggests a Jewish audience, one which understood the imagery. One might furthermore suggest a Greek speaking audience, diasporan, from the explanation Mark gives of terms in his “asides.” He even addresses “the reader” in 13:14 as he alludes to Daniel. This has the effect of placing the whole “blazing apocalyptic” portion of the gospel in “real time,” current to the lives of the audience. In a flash, he has gone out of the past and has reminded his readers that his book isn’t necessarily about the collective past, but of the present and the future.


Dennis Carpenter, Mr. C.

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