An experiment: The original Gospel of Mark?—Chp. 5

The Gospel of Mark: Chp. 5 (Revised Standard Version) Color coding: Blue: Arguably authentic logia and parables (deriving from the founding prophet). Black: Possible/probable in UrMark (Marcionite/Pauline) Green: Uncertain in UrMark, or amended. Red : Not in UrMark, late, Catholic. Red underlined: Catholic and anti-Marcionite.   [The reconstructed UrMark, with notes, are at the bottom of this page. Criteria for color coding are found here.]           [Kai ηλθεν εiς τo περαν της θαλασσης, אcvid C L Δ Θ f13 28. 700. 892. 1241 al q sy bo; Epiph] [1] And he went to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. [2] And when he had come out of the boat, there met him out of the … Continue reading

An experiment: The original Gospel of Mark?—Chp. 4

The Gospel of Mark: Chp. 4 (Revised Standard Version) Color coding: Blue: Arguably authentic logia and parables (deriving from the founding prophet). Black: Possible/probable in UrMark (Marcionite/Pauline) Green: Uncertain in UrMark, or amended. Red : Not in UrMark, late, Catholic. Red underlined: Catholic and anti-Marcionite.   [Reconstructed UrMark, and criteria for color coding are found at the bottom of this page.] [1] Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. [2] And he taught them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: … Continue reading

An experiment: The original Gospel of Mark?—Chp. 3

New: The blue color code has been added beginning with this post.Blue alerts the reader to arguably the most authentic and vital part of the tradition:sayings (logia and parables) possibly of a founding prophet himself, whom I identify as Yeshu ha-Notsri. (A complete list of these ‘core’ sayings can be found in my book NazarethGate, p. 473, n. 143.) Criteria As noted in the Introduction, two texts of the relevant chapter in the Gospel of Mark are presented below. The first is a short, hypothetical “core”—the first draft of an UrMark reconstructed according to the following criteria:      (a) Jesus is a spirit who indwelled a human prophet (Stage 2 christology)      (b) The god expressed by the spirit Jesus (and by … Continue reading

An experiment: The original Gospel of Mark?—Chp. 2

As noted in the Introduction, two texts of the relevant chapter in the Gospel of Mark are presented here. The first is a short, hypothetical “core”—the first draft of an UrMark reconstructed according to the criteria below. At the bottom of this post is the entire Chapter 2 in the RSV English translation. Both the short and the longer forms of the chapter are color coded. In order to separate out later Catholic accretions from the earlier Pauline-Marcionite “core,” I have employed the following criteria:      (a) Jesus is a spirit who indwelled a human prophet (Stage 2 christology)      (b) The god expressed by the spirit Jesus (and by the prophet who was its mouthpiece) is entirely spiritual and ontologically distinct … Continue reading

An experiment: The original Gospel of Mark?—Chp. 1

As noted in the Introduction, I will be attempting a reconstruction of the earliest Gospel of Mark in this series of posts. Each post deals with a separate chapter, and two versions are given: (1) a short, hypothetical “core”—the first draft of an UrMark reconstructed according to several criteria (see next paragraph); and (2) the entire chapter in the English translation (RSV). Both the short and the received versions will be color coded. In order to separate out later Catholic accretions from the earlier pauline-marcionite “core,” I use six basic criteria:      (a) Jesus is a spirit who indwelled a human prophet (Stage 2 christology)      (b) The god expressed by the spirit Jesus (and by the prophet who was its mouthpiece) … Continue reading

An experiment: The original Gospel of Mark?—Introduction

In any very large endeavor—as is the exploration of Christian origins—from time to time an intellectual synthesis is required, one that attempts to pull together various lines of research. Without such a synthesis, the world of early Christian studies quickly becomes a bewildering quagmire, with myriad disparate elements and little overall unity. So, I’d like to provide my personal synthesis regarding a critical text: the Gospel of Mark. This will take the form of a series of posts—one post for each of the sixteen chapters of that gospel. Recognizing that I may well be quite wrong in this venture, I candidly call it an “experiment.” Some assumptions After many generations of dealing with the Synoptic Problem, the overwhelming conclusion of … Continue reading

Part 3—A revolution in the Synoptic Problem

[NOTE: This is a significant revision. The original post has been archived here. — R.S.] The so-called Synoptic Problem can be defined as the search for the literary and redactional relationship between the three (obviously) extensively related “synoptic” gospels—Mark, Matthew, and Luke. Majority opinion has long favored the “two source theory”: Matthew and Luke primarily drew on Mark, and they also drew on a saying source not available to Mark known as “Q” (German abbreviation for Quelle, “source”). However, ongoing disagreements among New Testament scholars show that the two source theory is not satisfactory to many. Perhaps the biggest sticking point is that the Q source is entirely hypothetical. Despite a veritable library that has now been written about it … Continue reading

Questioning the “Gospel of Marcion”—Pt. 6

It is possible to find isolated passages in Tertullian’s lengthy attack on Marcion that can be interpreted as if the Church Father is critiquing a text. One must be wary, however, of translation bias and equivocal words, such as “gospel/evangelium”—so frequent in Tertullian’s writing. That word has long since become synonymous with four well known Christian religious texts, and we have quite forgotten its older, more general meaning (“doctrine”)—prevalent when Tertullian was writing and before the canonical gospels had conquered the western world. Another problem is that modern translations of Tertullian’s writings have been carried out under the false conviction that a text of Marcion was indeed the subject of the Church Father’s attack. The translators themselves use words in … Continue reading

Questioning the “Gospel of Marcion”—Pt. 5

The prior posts in this series have alerted us to the dual meanings of “gospel” in antiquity, and also to the argument—apparently broached here for the first time—that Tertullian (the primary ancient witness to Marcion’s “gospel”) never had a text of the arch-heretic in mind at all. In support of this view one can point to the astonishing fact that in all of Tertullian’s five books Against Marcion (AM), one nowhere encounters a clear citation from a text that we could call the “Gospel of Marcion” (see below). This is damning, for it is impossible that the Church Father would critique a text while never offering a quotation from that text! Who critiques a text without repeatedly citing it? After … Continue reading

Questioning the “Gospel of Marcion”—Pt. 4

We have seen that the word “gospel” (euangelion/evangelium) had the principal meaning “good news, doctrine, teaching” in ancient times. This was certainly the case until the new Christian literary form of gospel as written narrative of Jesus’ sayings and doings became broadly known—that is, until the third century. The dialog furnished in the previous post showed that, still in the fifth century, the general meaning of evangelium far outweighed the textual meaning of the word. With our ability to carefully discriminate the two meanings of “gospel,” we now turn to the principal source used for the textual reconstruction of the alleged Gospel of Marcion. It is Tertullian’s massive opus, Against Marcion, in five books. Book Four is the main source … Continue reading