Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Three More Chapters In Baukham

Chapters 7,8 and 9 deal almost exclusively with the Gospel of Mark, so they will be dealt with in one post.

Chapter 7: The Petrine Perspective in the Gospel of Mark: The earliest evidence that the Apostle Peter was the main source for Mark's Gospel has been under attack by modern scholarship for some time now. It seems that if one believes that Peter was indeed the source, then the reason for such a view is that one takes the testimony of Papius, that John the Apostle told him that Peter was the source, at face value. But are there any internal evidences within the Gospel itself that Mark relied mainly on Peter? Baukham believes there is. He cites the work of Cuthbert Turner who noticed in the Gospel Mark's use of what Turner called "The Plural to Singular Narrative Device." There are several passages introduced by Mark by a plural verb without an explicit subject followed by a singular verb or pronoun. The plural verb describes the movement of Jesus and His disciples from place to place (Baukham believes the disciples refer to just the twelve). The singular verb or pronoun describes the actions of Jesus once they arrive. (5:1-2, 8:22, 14:32) The effect the reader experiences is experiencing the action through eyewitness testimony, as opposed to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke who were not present to witness these events. (Remember that Baukham does not think that the Matthew the tax collector wrote the Gospel of Matthew.) Baukham maintains that an eye witnesses such as Peter would relate the events in the first person while when Mark wrote down what Peter said, Mark changed the narrative from first to third person. Peter is portrayed with more individuality than the other Apostles, yet he is never portrayed as having a relationship with Jesus apart from the rest of the group. Peter typifies the relationship between the entire group and Jesus: understanding-nonunderstanding, loyalty-apostacy. Yet Peter was more extreme in his behavior. It was Peter who first understood that Jesus was the Christ, but he did not understand Christ's mission and actually rebuked the Lord. It was Peter who most vociferously proclaimed his loyalty to Jesus at the Last Supper, yet he not only just ran away when Jesus was arrested but went a step further, publicly denying Christ. The Gospel of Mark is Peter's confession of self recognition leading to a life changing experience, the realization of the necessity of Jesus dying on the Cross. Only through failure could Peter realize his need of Jesus. Then he could disciple others concerning the twin themes of the nature of the identity of Jesus and the nature of discipleship. The Gospel of Mark does not contain Peter's private personal memories of Jesus because it was not his purpose to produce an autobiography. Peter was fulfilling his task of preaching the Gospel and discipling believers.

Chapter 8: Anonymous Persons in Mark's Passion Narrative: Who are these anonymous persons and why are they unnamed? Most of them are named in John's Gospel; some scholars maintain that they never existed in the first place and when the Gospel of John was written, after the Synoptics, the writers were just adding to the Church tradition, trying to make the Biblical story of Christ's ministry more plausible. If that is the case, Baukham asks, then why were the names not added to Mark's Gospel instead? Who are these anonymous persons? Christ's disciple who cut off the High Priest's servant's ear in the Garden when Christ was arrested; the High Priest's servant; the woman who anointed Jesus; the owner of the donkey Jesus rode into Jerusalem on; the owner of the house where Jesus and His disciples ate the Last Supper; the young man who fled naked after the arrest of Jesus. Three of these are named in John. Peter cut off the servant's ear, the servant's name was Malchus and the woman who anointed Jesus was Mary, sister of Lazarus. Why did they remain anonymous in Mark? As Baukham points out, Mark and the other Synoptics were written before the Church spread far from Jerusalem, before the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. These persons were probably still alive and residing in Jerusalem when the Synoptics were written. Publication of their names in connection with these events could have jeopardized their safety, perhaps their very lives. The family of Annas and Ciaphus remained in charge of the leadership and continued to persecute the Church. It was the son of Annas, Anunus II who had the brother of Jesus, James, executed in 62 A.D. When Jesus was arrested, the Garden of Gethsemane was dark, so Peter could not be readily identified as assaulting Malchus. To name Malchus would only draw attention to the event. The anointing of Jesus could have been seen by the Jewish leadership as a proclamation that Jesus was King, threatening the power of the religious elite. Lazarus was already threatened because Jesus raised him from the dead after Lazarus was dead four days. By the time John's Gospel was written, these persons were probably dead. The others might still have been alive when John wrote his Gospel. Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey was a statement proclaiming Him to be the Messiah; the donkey's owner could have been arrested. The owner of the house where the Last Supper was celebrated was kept secret so that the location could not be betrayed. The secret may have been kept by the few who knew the real names of the owners. As for the young man, it is not Mark, since Papius maintains that Mark never participated in Christ's earthly ministry or ever saw Christ in person. The youth might have been one of the crowd of disciples, or one of the pilgrims in Jerusalem there for the Passover who camped outside the city. Maybe he was only wearing his tunic because he heard the commotion of the arrest, slipped his tunic on and went to see what was going on. There is no real symbolic significance to the tunic; it slipped off while the youth escaped arrest. Baukham quotes H.M. Jackson on this point: "Ancient cloaks and mantles of the sort our youth's sindon is likely to have been...were merely...simple (i.e. shirtsleeves) rectangles of cloth, and they were regularly unwrapped or draped around the body without any belt or fasteners of any kind to hold them on; even in the best of circumstances,consequently, they were likely to slip off with the normal movements of the body. With any such violent action, particularly involving the arms and the legs, the garment was practically assured of being thrown off." The identity of one who escaped arrest was probably known to the early Church and so his identity needed to be protected. This theory is not original to Baukham. Other scholars have theorized in such manner. Baukham calls this theory "Protective Anonymity." He cites Gerd Theissen who was one of the originators of this theory.

Chapter 9: Papius on Mark and Matthew: The statement by Papius, quoting John the elder (John the Apostle), is the earliest record of attributing Peter's influence upon Mark's Gospel. Some scholars maintain that all the references to Mark in the New Testament refer to different persons with the same name. Yet Mark was such a common name that had there been more than one Mark in the New Testament, the writers would distinguish between them to avoid confusion, as we saw in the treatment of names in an earlier chapter. (See article on chapters 3 and 4.) Why is the tradition credible? Besides the testimony of Papius, we have the evidence of the use of the inclusio (see article on chapter 6), the evidence of the Petrine perspective (see chapter 7 above) and we have the quote of Papius on his standard for historical accuracy: "I did not think that information from books would profit me as much as information from a living and surviving voice." (see chapter 2 article) Papius knew John the Apostle, who was the source for Papius on this matter. John would certainly know Peter's speaking style and discern Peter's influence on Mark. If Papius was making this tradition up, why give credit to Mark, an largely unknown figure? Why not give full credit to Peter himself? Baukham cites the work of Joanna Dewey who asserts that the Gospel of Mark was written for the purpose of being read as an oral performance, written in Peter's own speaking style. It may be that Peter's Greek was not the best so Peter spoke in Aramaic and Mark translated Peter into Greek. Papius lamented that Mark's Gospel was not "in order." Papius,a professional historian was judging Mark's composition by the standards of classical histories.

Monday, August 3, 2009

"Our Lord's Use Of The Old Testament" by R.V.G. Tasker

Last night I read "Our Lord's Use of the Old Testament" by R.V.G. Tasker. This article is a transcript of a lecture given in 1953. Tasker's time was therefore limited and so he makes great generalizations instead of providing the detail required by a scholarly publication. I suspect that the audience for this lecture were mostly lay people, not his colleagues. Much of what he says is not new to me, although he provided helpful interpretations I had never heard before of a few scriptural passages. Tasker lists three principles that he considers axiomatic in any sound exegesis of the New Testament:

1. Jesus considered the Old Testament to foreshadow the role He was to play in the climax of the divine plan of salvation.
2. Christ's quotations from the Old Testament not only demonstrate His mastery of its content but shows His evaluation of it as eternal truth. John 10:34-36 quotes Jesus as declaring that "scripture cannot be broken." Tasker believes that the rendering of this verse in the R.V. is the most correct: "scripture cannot be disintegrated." In other words, scripture, and Jesus was at that time referring to the Old Testament, must be treated as a whole. Scripture must not be interpreted by selective treatment of texts.
3. The Old Testament was the final, absolute authority to which our Lord appealed in controversies with His adversaries to justify His claims, vindicate His authority and substantiate His judgements.

While these points may seem obvious to Evangelicals, it is important to remind ourselves of them since the Divine authorship of and inerrancy of the Old Testament is not only under attack by liberals but by some in the Evangelical world as well. I have two more articles to read on the subject of the Old/New Testament relationship before I move on to articles on inerrancy.

Beginning Oden's "Classical Pastoral Care" v. 3

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Running Time: 6 min./7 sec.

I have completed reading the first chapter of Thomas Oden's "Classical Pastoral Care, v. 3: "Pastoral Counsel." Thomas Oden's three volume systematic theology is the primary text for the two semester Systematic Theology class at Wesley Biblical Seminary. Oden was the professor of some of the WBS faculty.

The introduction makes the point that from the very beginnings of the Church, pastors have required wisdom to struggle for the health and life of the souls entrusted to their care. The methods employed in soul care throughout the centuries anticipated many of elements of contemporary psychotherapy. Oden quotes from Church leaders from the ancient Church to the Reformation to answer these nine questions:

1. How do sources of the classical pastoral tradition describe the necessary and sufficient conditions of the helping relationship, the essential elements of the therapeutic relationship and how do these descriptions correspond with recent accounts?
2. What constitutes counsel, what should one expect from it, and how is an apt counselor found?
3. How does God's own emphatic caring and providential guidance shape the process of human care-giving?
4. Why is the timing of seasonable wisdom such a crucial prudential element of pastoral counsel?
5. How did the classic Christian psychologists understand the language of the body, and its relation to the struggle for language in self-disclosure, as well as the significance of silence?
6. Why are admonition and discipline such distinctive features of constructive behavioral change?
7. Can responsible freedom be rightly nurtured without moral guidance?
8. How do classic therapeutic understandings and procedures anticipate contemporary psycotheraputic assumptions and procedures?
9. Finally, what patterns recur in classic analyses of the psychological dynamics of the will that have been rediscovered by modern behavioral science? (Oden, p. 5)

The title of chapter one is called "Necessary and Sufficient Conditions of a Helping Relationship." Oden lists five conditions and quotes from historical Church figures in expounding upon them. These five conditions are:
1. Accurate emphatic listening.
2. Congruent, open awareness of one's own experiencing process, trusting one's own soul, one's most inward experiencing, enabling full disclosure.
3. Unconditional accepting love.
4. Rigorous self-examination.
5. Narrative comic insight.

Oden explains that the Greek word for a helping, healing relationship is theripea. The Greek noun therapon describes one who helps, serves and heals others. The Latin word for therapon is ministerium, where we derive our English word minister. The pastoral office, Oden states, as been historically seen as a therapeutic one.

A sample of quotations from the book are included in the audio portion of this post above to give you a flavor of the wisdom available to the contemporary Church from the wisdom of Classical Pastoral Tradition.