Friday, April 29, 2005

Mark, Q, and Beelzebub II: Markan Interreferences

This is the second in a series of posts on the Mark-Q overlaps.

Before we actually get into the problem of the Mark-Q overlaps it will first be necessary to identify yet another stylistic technique of the writer of Mark. The Gospel of Mark appears to have been created in part by using the stories from the Old Testament as a framework for the events of Jesus' ministry, passion, death, and resurrection. From time to time the author sends the reader a signal of this habitual creative pattern: he cites a passage he has paralleled, or will parallel, elsewhere in the Gospel. Since I was unable to find out what word scholars have given to this habit, I have dubbed them "interreferences" until someone comes along with some term more pleasing to the eye and ear. To date I have managed to locate about a dozen instances in which the author does this, including Mk 1:2, Mk 2:25, Mk 2:26, Mk 3:22, Mk 7:6-8, Mk 7:32, Mk 9:1-13, Mk 9:19, Mk 12:20, Mk 14:27, Mk 14:55, and Mk 16:5. Some of these are of course stronger than others.

Two of the easiest to see are located right in Mark 2, Mk 2:25, and Mk 2:26. In Mark 2:25 Jesus refers to the time that David ate the bread of the presence, demanding 5 loaves. Later on in the gospel, in the Feeding of the 5,000 in Mk 6:30-44, Jesus' disciples will have five loaves. In the next verse, Mark 2:26, Jesus makes a famous error, incorrectly referring to "Abiathar" as the High Priest when David had his magical snack. This is often written off as error, but it is a colossal boner, as Meier notes:
"After reviewing both the scriptural errors and flaws in Jesus' arguments, Meier (2004) concludes: "If this scene gives us a true picture of the biblical knowledge and teaching skill of the historical Jesus, then the natural and very effective response of the Pharisees would have been not fierce anger and concerted opposition but gleeful mockery. They would have laughed their heads off-and invited the populace to do the same-at this uneducated woodworker who insisted on making a fool of himself in public by displaying his abysmal ignorance of the very scriptural text on which he proposed to instruct the supposedly ignorant Pharisees."(p579)
In other words, this mistake is so comical that the writer must have intended it. In my own reading the writer is referring the reader ahead to the Gethsemane scene, which he will construct using 2 Sam 15-17 as a foundation. In 2 Sam 15-17 David sends Abiathar back to Jerusalem with the Ark of the Covenant. The back-to-back joining of David and Abiathar represent the writer quietly directing the reader to the passages to be paralleled. Homer may nod, but Mark never sleeps.

Similarly, in Mark 14:55, during the Sanhedrin Trial, the writer cites Daniel 6, right down to the Greek. Daniel 6 is the basis of the trial, death, and resurrection scene in Mark 15-16. Again, in Mark 3:22 the writer mentions Be-el'zebul, which occurs only once in the OT, in 2 Kings 1. That sequence was used to create the story of the paralytic in Mark 2:1-12. And that will take us shortly to the next post in this series......

Meier, John. 2004. The Historical Jesus and the Plucking of the Grain on the Sabbath. The Catholic Bible Quarterly. I, 66, 2004, p562-581

No comments: