Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mystery of Mark, Part One Non-Priority

Mark, Echternach c. 690CE
Mark's non Priority:
The Gospel of Mark poses a difficult problem for me, as there is very little unique material in the book that can be ascribed to Mark. Only a baker’s dozen verses are unique to Mark, and beyond that only a small number of phrases and some individual words. And some of this unique material is most likely part of a later Catholic layer that all books of the New Testament seem to have.

When I look at the Synoptic Problem, the one Gospel which presents a problem is Mark. This may sound surprising, as the bulk of scholarship is focused on the so-called double tradition of Matthew and Luke, trying to explain their common which is in Mark, and thus have determined that Mark has priority. But this assumption is wrong, and leads you to some very bizarre conclusions. [1] The truth is something entirely different and quite surprising.

I have come to reject Mark priority on both content and mechanical grounds. The content may sound surprising, as Mark lacks the expansion with theologically specific material the other Synoptic Gospels have, but the underlying ür-Gospel Mark uses betrays a later composition than Marcion and Matthew which I will explain later.

How One Becomes Many (Digression):  
I would like to demonstrate one example of the ür-Gospel concept and how a single verse within it can explain multiple verses in the model I use. 

Axiom 1: The Reading Which Best Explains the Others is to be Preferred

Following the principle with many versions or variants, which reading most likely lead to the others, which I used in my prior post on Matthew's dependence upon the Antithesis to Salt Saying of Matthew 5:13, I am going to examine Jesus' entry into Capernaum for Luke 4:31-32 to determine the sequence. So I place the three Canonical accounts

Matthew 7:28-29
And as was when Jesus had finished these words, 
the crowds were amazed at His teaching; 
for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.  
Καὶ ἐγένετο ὅτε ἐτέλεσεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοὺς λόγους τούτους
εχεπλησσοντο οἱ ὄχλοι ἐπὶ τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ· 
ἦν γὰρ διδάσκων αὐτοὺς ὡς εχουσιαν ἔχων καὶ οὐχ ὡς οἱ γραμματεῖς αὐτῶν.
Mark 1:21-22
And they went into Capernaum; 
and immediately on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.
And they were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.
Καὶ εἰσπορεύονται εἰς Καφαρναούμ 

Καὶ εὐθὺς τοῖς σάββασιν εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὴν συναγωγὴν ἐδίδασκεν.
καὶ ἐξεπλήσσοντο ἐπὶ τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ·
ἦν γὰρ διδάσκων αὐτοὺς ὡς ἐξουσίαν ἔχων καὶ οὐχ ὡς οἱ γραμματεῖς.
Luke 4:31-32 
And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee.
And he was teaching them on the sabbath;
and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word was with authority.
Καὶ κατῆλθεν εἰς Καφαρναοὺμ πόλιν τῆς Γαλιλαίας.
καὶ ἦν διδάσκων αὐτοὺς ἐν τοῖς σάββασιν·
καὶ ἐξεπλήσσοντο ἐπὶ τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ, ὅτι ἐν ἐξουσίᾳ ἦν ὁ λόγος αὐτοῦ.
Matthew's version is potentially the most primitive, as Capernaum is not present. First phrase, "and as it was when he finished these words" (Καὶ ἐγένετο ὅτε ἐτέλεσεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοὺς λόγους τούτους) appears to have been broken apart from Matthew 8:5 where Jesus enters Capernaum and is met by a Centurion paralleled in Luke 7:1 which in both books is at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount. This is typical of Matthew's arrangement, as here he wished to insert the leper story before the healing Centurion's slave for similar context. Here as elsewhere Matthew is very problematic with placement. But what is curious is that the entrance into Capernaum is after the healing of the leper. There is no reason to have done so, leading me to the conclusion that there was only one entrance into Capernaum in ür-Gospel Matthew built upon, not two as depicted in the Gospels Luke and Marcion.

The remainder of Matthew 7:28-29 match up exactly with Mark 1:22 except two items. The first "the crowds" οἱ ὄχλοι are explained as an addition to specify who it was, the crowds who listened to the Sermon on the Mount as opposed to the disciples in Marcion's account. The other is appending αὐτῶν to the scribes seems have been an unnecessary clarification.This leads to the conclusion that ür-Gospel Matthew worked from only had the equivalent of Mark 1:22, which is "M" in my model, reading  
ür-Gospel M text
καὶ ἐξεπλήσσοντο ἐπὶ τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ· 
ἦν γὰρ διδάσκων αὐτοὺς ὡς ἐξουσίαν ἔχων καὶ οὐχ ὡς οἱ γραμματεῖς.
Caerleon Roman Fortress and Bath (Whales); Life is Good!
But looking at Luke, it seems Marcion's underlying ür-Gospel, which is "L" in my model, started with the first phrase of the second line placed at the start of the verse(s) as καὶ ἦν διδάσκων αὐτοὺς and was missing reference to the scribes. But other elements were picked up before Marcion, such as coming into Capernaum on the Sabbath. It is less clear whether the description of Capernaum as a Roman Polis in Galilee (πόλιν τῆς Γαλιλαίας) was part of the ür-Gospel "L" or was added by Marcion; this is because Mark has τῆς Γαλιλαίας in verse 1:28 describing where Jesus' fame spread. But given Mark's tendency elsewhere to add description to places,  the placement in Mark at 1:28 is to be preferred over Luke's placement in verse 4:31. Marcion's designation of Capernaum as a Polis is far fetched, as it appears to have been little more that a sleepy fishing village in the first and second centuries. However it did for awhile host a Roman barracks complete with newly built bathes on it's eastern side during Hadrian's reign. [2] Therefore we must conclude that Mark's placement is the same as the underlying Gospel and so preferred.

To reconstruct the original "L" text which Mark saw and was in Marcion, we probably have a composite. Mark appears to have added details about a synagogue εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὴν συναγωγὴν which are not in Marcion, or more importantly it's underlying document "L." Mark does not have an independent source, but here as everywhere else is conflating two ür-Gospels, so he perhaps mentions the synagogue from verse 1:23 or Luke 4:33 to explain how he got there. But such a move violates a fundamental postulate I use in my reconstruction, which is Mark almost never changes sequence nor word order. In conflating two sources he was not arraigning order or sequence for any  larger theological purpose, it seems he was simply trying to put down a complete story taking the 'best' report (i.e., the more complete) from his sources.

Axiom 2: Mark's Order and Placement are Preferred, Until Demonstrated Impossible

This question becomes if Mark has entering the synagogue immediately (εὐθὺς) on the sabbath in the correct place, where did that that go in Marcion/Luke's account? It turns out the Marcion, whose Gospel has considerable reordering of sequence, has an additional story of Jesus going into Nazareth immediately after this opening story in Capernaum, which is preserved in Luke 4:16 (Luke moved it in his redaction of Marcion), per Tertullian's report in Adversus Marcionem 4.8.1. My best guess as to what it read [3]
And He came to Nazareth, He entered the synagogue on the day of the Sabbath, ...
Καὶ ἦλθεν εἰς Ναζαρά, καὶ εἰσῆλθεν ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῶν σαββάτων εἰς τὴν συναγωγήν, ...
So we can see Marcion took the element of entering the synagogue and moved it from Capernaum to the Nazareth story. The phrase "on the day" (ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ) might have been derived from "immediately" (εὐθὺς) in Mark's source. But this is uncertain, as it is exactly the sort of color word Mark adds here and there in his text. As a result the most likely text of "L" was a rearrangement of the "M" text with Capernaum and the sabbath elements incorporated as part of the unclean spirit story likely read
ür-Gospel L text
Καὶ εἰσῆλθεν εἰς Καφαρναοὺ 
καὶ [εὐθὺς] εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὴν συναγωγήν, 
καὶ ἦν διδάσκων αὐτοὺς ἐν τοῖς σάββασιν·
καὶ ἐξεπλήσσοντο ἐπὶ τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ,
ὡς ἐξουσίαν ἔχων
From this text we can see how Marcion adds his theological bits adding "his word" ὁ λόγος αὐτοῦ with phrase adjustments to make it work, and also elevates Capernaum to a Polis, showing that he has the Centurion's slave story in mind, indicating he is writing after Hadrian's grand tour and upgrade of the town to house a Roman military contingent. Marcion further moved the second phrase about entering the synagogue to the Nazareth story which follows the Capernaum one in his Gospel. Mark can be thus be seen conflating the two stories, resulting in an extra instance of teaching, once when entering the synagogue which necessitated a rewriting of the phrase.

While imprecise, being aware of the historical and theological context of the writing in conjunction with the addition of Marcion as a fourth Synoptic we will be much better able to unravel the interdependent relationship and reconstruct the ür-Gospels following the principle of which reading best explains the others.

Implicit in this reconstruction, is the assumption that accretion is always to be preferred over deletion in every step of the process. This is a rule in textual criticism, where replacement will often lead to conflation with both readings. This is something we see in Mark where
ἐδίδασκεν represents an addition teaching mention.

Axiom 3: Accretion is the More Probable Process for Redaction

For comparison Mark priority would immediately violate the Axiom 3 for at least Matthew, as he would have had to remove considerable material to arrive at his version.

Mark and ür-Gospels:
The reason I came to the opinion that there were two ür-gospels is that Mark’s stories have elements found in both Matthew and Marcion/Luke, with hardly a word present not found in one or the other accounts. But Marcion/Luke and Matthew are missing elements that the other has which can be found in Mark. In this situation Mark priority is almost infinitely improbable. It would have required Matthew (since his version is after Marcion) to have cross referenced Marcion’s version, even when out of sequence to Mark – something that would have required years of study to know where to look (ask any bible expert today) – and then taken Mark and deliberately removing specific words and phrases found in the Marcion version and built a new block excluding them. In addition Marcion would have redacted Mark by removing elements, then building his own story, which while more probable than the Matthew scenario violates the Axiom 3, where redaction is far more probably by way of accretion than deletion. (The situation is far more improbable if one assumes Luke is before Marcion – which is why Peter Head is dead wrong in his analysis.)

But Mark is clearly missing both the Marcionite elements in Marcion’s Gospel and also the neo-Ebionite elements in Matthew, and has no knowledge of the rearrangement of the underlying original “prototype) Synoptic Gospel(s). Axiom 2 is true, because Mark neither deleted material from his sources nor changed the order, excepting possible conflicts between the sources where he had to pick. It has also been observed that Mark is extremely close in wording to Matthew where only material is shared with Matthew (Mark 1:2-20, and 6:45-8:21), and is extremely close in wording to Luke/Marcion in sections that Matthew is lacking or spotty (Mark 1:21-28, especially 1:23-27; there is little evidence besides Nazareth mention in 1:24 of any Catholic additions).

The first twenty verses of Mark can be found almost word for word in Matthew, and those that aren’t seem to either be part of a later Catholic adjustment layer that clarified details. [4] These changes betray that they are post-Mark authorship and part of the Catholic layer because they speak of "preaching the Gospel of God," which is a later Catholic theme we see in Luke-Acts, and the Catholic layer of Paul (related I think to the addition of υἱοῦ θεοῦ in 1:1 by most witnesses). The addition of "the time is fulfilled" is a later enhancement, which gives immediacy not clearly present in Mark. The Nazareth element added to Jesus in this Gospel and Luke to give a home town to Jesus, making him physical, and is otherwise not a theme present in Mark, so makes no sense either in verse 1:7 or later in 1:24 without the context of the Gospel of Luke – something beyond the knowledge of Mark’s author. The baptism for the forgiveness of sins is also a theme not otherwise present and has no place in Mark. The result seems to be that every single unique word in the first twenty verses of Mark is part of a later Catholic layer, and not the original composition.

In addition to sections like 1:1-20 where Mark follows the common source "M" with Matthew almost verbatim, and Mark 1:23-27 where it follows the common source "L" with Marcion/Luke, there are many more sections where Mark conflates the two common sources. We can clearly see this in the story of rendering unto Caesar presented here in the Greek. (Note, the presentation below the words may not align correctly by column, due to browser presentation, but in the original Word document they did)

Color Code
Green:  common words between Luke (Marcion's Gosel) and Mark 
Light Blue: common words between Mark and Matthew
Red: common words between Matthew and Luke (Marcion's Gospel)
Blue: common words between all three Gospels
Black: words unique to the Gospel in which they appear
underlined: slight differences in form (or location) of the word (can result in multiple colors applied)

Paying Taxes to Caesar
Luke (Marcion's Gospel)

22:15 Τότε πορευθέντες οἱ Φαρισαῖοι συμβούλιον ἔλαβον ὅπως αὐτὸν παγιδεύσωσιν ἐν λόγῳ.
22:16 καὶ ἀποστέλλουσιν αὐτ τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτῶν μετὰ 

τῶν Ἡρῳδιανῶν λέγοντας,
Διδάσκαλε, οἴδαμεν ὅτι ἀληθὴς εἶ καὶ τὴν ὁδὸν τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν ἀληθείᾳ διδάσκεις 
καὶ ου μέλει σοι περὶ
οὐδενός· οὐ γὰρ βλέπεις εἰς πρόσωπον ἀνθρώπων,

22:17 εἰπὸν οὖν ἡμῖν τί σοι δοκεῖ·
δοῦναι κῆνσον Καίσαρι οὔ;

22:18 γνοὺς δὲ Ἰησοῦς τὴν πονηρίαν αὐτῶν εἶπεν,  
Τί με πειράζετε, ποκριταί;

22:19 ἐπιδείξατέ μοι τὸ νόμισμα τοῦ κήνσου. οἱ δὲ προσήνεγκαν αὐτῷ δηνάριον.
22:20 καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς, Τίνος
εἰκὼν αὕτη καὶ ἐπιγραφή;
22:21 λέγουσιν αὐτῷ, Καίσαρος, τότε λέγει αὐτοῖς, Ἀπόδοτε οὖν τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι καὶ τὰ τοῦ θεοῦ τῷ θεῷ.

22:22 καὶ ἀκούσαντες θαύμασαν,
καὶ ἀφέντες αὐτὸν ἀπῆλθαν.
11:53 Κἀκεῖθεν ἐξελθόντος αὐτοῦ ἤρξαντο οἱ γραμματεῖς καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι δεινῶς ἐνέχειν

καὶ ἀποστοματίζειν αὐτὸν περὶ πλειόνων.
20:21 καὶ ἐπηρώτησαν αὐτὸν
Διδάσκαλε, οἴδαμεν ὅτι ὀρθῶς λέγεις καὶ
καὶ οὐ λαμβάνεις
ἀλλ' ἐπ' ἀληθείας τὴν ὁδὸν τοῦ θεοῦ διδάσκεις·
20:22 ἔξεστιν ἡμᾶς
Καίσαρι φόρον δοῦναι ἢ οὔ;

20:23 κατανοήσας δὲ αὐτῶν τὴν πανουργίαν εἶπεν πρὸς ατούς,

20:24 Δείξατέ μοι δηνάριον·

τίνος ἔχει
εἰκόνα καὶ ἐπιγραφήν;
οἱ δὲ εἶπαν Καίσαρος.
20:25 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς, Τοίνυν ἀπόδοτε τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι καὶ τὰ τοῦ θεοῦ τῷ θεῷ.
20:26 καὶ οὐκ ἴσχυσαν ἐπιλαβέσθαι αὐτοῦ ῥήματος ἐναντίον τοῦ λαοῦ,
καὶ θαυμάσαντες ἐπ
τῇ ἀποκρίσει αὐτοῦ ἐσίγησαν.
12:13 Καὶ ἀποστέλλουσιν πρὸς αὐτόν τινας τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ τῶν Ἡρῳδιανῶν ἵνα αὐτὸν ἀγρεύσωσιν λόγῳ.

12:14 καὶ ἐλθόντες λέγουσιν αὐτῷ,   

Διδάσκαλε, οἴδαμεν ὅτι ἀληθὴς εἶ

καὶ οὐ μέλει σοι περὶ
οὐδενός, οὐ γὰρ βλέπεις εἰς πρόσωπον ἀνθρώπων,
ἀλλ' ἐπ' ἀληθείας τὴν ὁδὸν τοῦ θεοῦ διδάσκεις·
δοῦναι κῆνσον Καίσαρι ἢ οὔ;
δῶμεν ἢ μὴ δῶμεν;
12:15 δὲ εἰδὼς αὐτῶν τὴν ὑπόκρισιν εἶπεν ατοῖς,  
Τί με πειράζετε;

φέρετέ μοι δηνάριον ἵνα ἴδω.

12:16 οἱ δὲ ἤνεγκαν.
καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς, Τίνος
εἰκὼν αὕτη καὶ ἐπιγραφή;
οἱ δὲ εἶπαν αὐτῷ, Καίσαρος.
12:17 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Τὰ Καίσαρος ἀπόδοτε Καίσαρι καὶ τὰ τοῦ θεοῦ τῷ θεῷ.

καὶ ἐξεθαύμαζον ἐπ' αὐτ.

The color codes also correspond to sourcing. Green represents probable readings of "L" the common source of Mark and Luke/Marcion; Light Blue represents probable readings of "M" the common source of Matthew and Mark; Red represent possible changes in "L" by Marcion incorporated by Matthew; Blue represents probable agreements in "L" and "M."

What is remarkable is almost every word in Mark comes from either "L" or "M" and agreements between those sources. There is a clear conflation in 2:14 where Mark takes "M" 
Διδάσκαλε, οἴδαμεν ὅτι ἀληθὴς εἶ καὶ οὐ μέλει σοι περὶ οὐδενός
οὐ γὰρ βλέπεις εἰς πρόσωπον ἀνθρώπων
ἔξεστιν δοῦναι κῆνσον Καίσαρι ἢ οὔ;
Teacher, we know that you are truthful and do not give deference to anyone, 
for you give no preference to any men, 
is it permissible to give a pool tax to Caesar or not?
And inserts variant wording from "L" about not giving preference (οὐ γὰρ βλέπεις εἰς πρόσωπον ἀνθρώπων) So that both are present.
ἀλλ' ἐπ' ἀληθείας τὴν ὁδὸν τοῦ θεοῦ διδάσκεις·
"But on the basis of truth you teach the way of God."
This is a clear case of accretion, meeting the criteria laid out in Axiom 3 for redaction. There are only two possible Mark additions. One is clearly a clarification of who is speaking in verse 2:17 (Ἰησοῦς) so is probably something that crept in from the margin notes, likely post redaction. The second is a repeat of the question of paying the taxes but more forcefully, this time "should we give or not give" (δῶμεν ἢ μὴ δῶμεν), which I must confess looks to me like a possible addition by Mark to heighten the answer. This is unusual for Mark, as more often unique words are simply bridge words or minor adjustments to allow conflating two distinct sources. But in the main Mark appears to make no changes.

This observation that Mark did not expand in any of the three above examples beyond the sources in front of him (not withstanding the clearly later Catholic layer) demonstrates the fourth Axiom for Synoptic Redaction.

Axiom 4: Mark Did Not Expand on Sources

This Axiom is great news for anyone wishing to recover the underlying sources "L" and "M", and from them theoretically being able to recover the original proto-Synoptic Gospel and the four thousand loop source with some confidence from those two recovered sources. (Note, it would be exhausting work, and I am not at all convinced that Biblical Scholars are willing to work that hard on anything accept their agendas.) But it is a double edged sword as far as the objective of this paper, as I will address in the conclusion.

Model of the First Three Synoptic Gospels:
A simplified picture of the construction of the first three Gospels, as shown here below, is a static model. 

In reality each unit depicted was a living document, the accretion of material, changing readings, where "M" while adding the four thousand loop (and possibly Mark 8:22-26/John 9:1-8 base), "L" also changed and added material found in Mark and Luke but not Matthew. Also the "L" used by Mark likely had textual variants and differences from the version used by Marcion, and "M" had evolved and expanded slightly from the version Matthew used by the time Mark used a copy of it. While no copies of the "L" or "M" survived, they can largely be recovered by textual evaluation of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Marcion’s Gospel of the Lord, using the above diagram as a guide. 
Luke is more complex, as the author admits he used many sources, which appears to include the Ebionite Gospel, an infancy account of unknown origins (Matthew’s Protoevangelium seems to be shared with the Gospel of James, but Luke’s has no known parallels), as well as a unique genealogy, plus other elements built from the backbone of Marcion’s Gospel, and including elements like the Wicked Tenants conflated from Matthew and Mark accounts (only possible if Luke is after those two Gospels, which it is). While a fascinating product, and bringing in a late 2nd century theology of Adoption , [5] it falls well after the writing of Mark and like John, mostly falls out of consideration for discovering the authorship and reasoning behind Mark. I will examine Luke at a later date, but not today.

Summing Up:
The composition process, at least on the mechanical side, has now been presented. Over a decade ago I built up a almost the entire Synoptic Gospel parallel tables like the one I show above for Rendering Unto Caesar what is Caesar's. I choose that one to demonstrate an example of the use of sources. One case where Luke appears to conflate Matthew and Mark is the Wicked Tenants, which we learn from Epiphanius is not in Marcion's Gospel, which would explain it's conflation of the other two sources. (Useful information about the composition process of Luke, which also follows Axiom 3).

But Axiom 4, which tells us Mark did not extend his sources with theological additions, presents a significant challenge to understanding why Mark was written. There is no trace of a unique theology like in Luke-Act (Adoptionism as explained in footnote 5), or Matthew (Jewish Christian), or John (development from Marcionism with preexistence of Christ), or the Gospel of the Lord (Marcionite). So it is from that silence and the circumstantial evidence that the second part of this analysis must proceed.

[1] In order to preserve Markan priority some have even attempted to absurdly state that Marcion used Mark’s Gospel, pretending they Tertullian, Adamantius, and Epiphanius were quoting a form of Mark and not Luke. Stephen Huller is one such extremist.
[2] The designation of Capernaum is very much in doubt. The archeological evidence suggests it was a village of 600-1,500 in the 1st century, certainly not a city. (Jonathan L. Reed, Archaeology and the Galilean Jesus: A Re-examination of the Evidence, p 152, and see note 42 for methodology)
However in the early 2nd century a small Roman bath facility (8 x 20 meters) of high quality was built east of the town, and it looks typical of those built for Roman legions during Hadrian (ibid, p155). The Centurion story seems to relate to the Bar Kokhba revolt when Legions probably rotated out of the line to places like Capernaum as bases to rehabilitate, much like modern armies fighting insurgencies today.
[3] Luke elements would definitely include "where He had been brought up" οὗ ἦν τεθραμμένος, and "and as was His custom" κατὰ τὸ εἰωθὸς αὐτῷ, both of which are part of Luke's version of Jesus who had a home town and human origins, and who grew in his spirit until adoption by being pious and reading in the Synagogue.
[4] The details added are the Malachi 3:1 quote in 1:2, and phrases "the forgiveness of sin" ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν in 1:4, "and he preached" καὶ ἐκήρυσσεν in 1:7, "Nazareth" Ναζαρὲτ in 1:9, "the Gospel of God. The time is fulfilled"κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ ὅτι Πεπλήρωται καιρὸς in 1:14-15, "and believe in the gospel" in 1:15 καὶ πιστεύετε ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ, "Jesus" Ἰησοῦς in 1:17, and "with the hired servants …" μετὰ τῶν μισθωτῶν ἀπῆλθον ὀπίσω in 1:20.

Nazareth is a curious element in Mark. Two are in verses parallel to those found in the sections of Luke that were in Marcion (Mark 1:24 = Luke 4:34; Mark 10:47 = Luke 18:37), but in Marcion the reference to Nazareth is not present (see AM 4.7.9, DA 5.14). Only in verse 4:16, without explicit mention of it being him town, is Nazareth mentioned in Marcion (DA 4.8.1-3). So there is no context in the source for Mark to have known of Nazareth. Mark 1:9 therefore could not possibly be aware of Nazareth, so it is later, and same also with 1:24 and 10:47. Mark 16:6 also makes reference to Jesus of Nazareth, but this verse is drawn from Matthew 28:5-6 common source which lacks τὸν Ναζαρηνν. So this addition looks similar to the addition in 1:9 where knowledge of Luke-Acts placement of Jesus in Nazareth betrays a later date, and so it must be part of a later layer.

The one place the term appears to possibly be original to the source is 14:67 where Peter is said to have been with the Nazarene Jesus (καὶ σ μετὰ τοῦ Ναζαρηνοῦ σθα τοῦ Ἰησοῦ) finds parallel with Matthew 26:71 (οὗτος ἦν μετὰ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ Ναζωραίου). And in 14:67 the term is "the Nazarene", which we see explained in AM 4.8.1, et ipso nomine nos Iudaei Nazarenos appellant per eum, "The Jews call us Nazarenes, by the very name from him," is what Jews have come to call Christians. We see this same claim is made in Acts 24:5 where Paul is said to be the ring leader of the Christian heresy by Tertullus (note, Greek form of the Latin Tertius, which means "a third party" or "go between" which is clearly an allegorical and not a real name):
"For we have found this man a real pest and a fellow who stirs up insurrection among all the Jews throughout the Empire (οἰκουμένην), a ringleader of the heresy (αἱρέσεως) of the Nazarenes"
εὑρόντες γὰρ τὸν ἄνδρα τοῦτον λοιμὸν καὶ κινοῦντα στάσεις πᾶσιν τοῖς ουδαίοις τοῖς
κατὰ τὴν οἰκουμένην πρωτοστάτην τε τῆς τῶν Ναζωραίων αἱρέσεως,
This is exactly the sense that John 18:5-7 has the (Jewish) plotters refer to Jesus the Nazarene during the betrayal, and also when Pilate in 19:19 writes an inscription on the cross ησοῦς Ναζωραῖος βασιλεὺς τῶν ουδαίων which the Jews object to naturally since it says the Christian God is their ruler. In Acts 22:8 Jesus in a vision refers to himself as "the Nazarene" showing a self consciousness of the Christian faith separate from Judaism. Matthew 2:23 takes this name Nazarenes, which the Jews applied to Christians in the mid-2nd century onward, and placed his dwelling in the town of Nazareth, with a vague reference to OT source.
And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth,
that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, "He shall be called a Nazarene."          
καὶ ἐλθὼν κατῴκησεν εἰς πόλιν λεγομένην Ναζαρέτ,
ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν ὅτι Ναζωραῖος κληθήσεται.
Luke develops this into the concept of Jesus growing up Nazareth (1:26-27, 2:4 which seems derived from Matthew 2:23, 2:39, 2:51-52, 4:16) to give a physical placement to Jesus. In Acts the epitaph is turned and used by Christians as part of the self-naming of Christians through Jesus (Acts 3:6, 4:10, 26:9). Clearly the placement in the town of Nazareth developed after the sources Mark used were written. Mark may know of the Nazarene name, but not Nazareth.
[5] see Irenaeus AH 1.25.1, 1.26.1, 1:26.2 for movements of the later half of the 2nd century which map very closely to Luke-Acts author's theology, where Jesus grows in spirit from youth
1.25.1. Carpocrates "... They also hold that Jesus was the son of Joseph, and was just like other men, with the exception that he differed from them in this respect, that inasmuch as his soul was steadfast and pure, he perfectly remembered those things, which he had witnessed  within the sphere of the unbegotten God. On this account, a power descended upon him from the Father"
1.26.1 Cerinthius "... He represented Jesus as having not been born of a virgin, but as being the son of Joseph and Mary according to the ordinary course of human generation, while he nevertheless was more righteous, prudent, and wise than other men. Moreover, after his baptism, Christ descended upon him in the form of a dove from the Supreme Ruler, and that then he proclaimed the unknown Father, and performed miracles. But at last Christ departed from Jesus, and that then Jesus suffered and rose again, while Christ remained impassible, inasmuch as he was a spiritual being."
1.26.2 "Those who are called Ebionites agree the world was made by God; but their opinions with respect to the Lord are similar to those of Cerinthus and Carpocrates"


  1. "But Marcion/Luke and Matthew are missing elements that the other has which can be found in Mark. In this situation Mark priority is almost infinitely improbable."

    This appears just to be a heavy-handed application of the axiom, "Accretion is the More Probable Process for Redaction." Apparently each time the subsequent synoptic author omits something from the source (GMark), that source is less likely to have been the actual source, that actual source being an Ur-GMark that avoids any messy deletions and allows pure accretion.

    There is also some discussion about how one synoptic author would have to peek at the other to know what to omit. Short of further explanation, it doesn't make much sense to me. The primary reason that verses tend to be in either GMatthew or GLuke is the conservative treatment given to GMark by GMatthew, a literal-minded author that doesn't like to throw anything away.

    It seems that the axiom actually does help us understand the data but not in the way described. With emphasis on the word probable, there should be occasions when one author or the other had skipped some verses (or more). Any process of pure accretion for resolving the synoptic problem is somewhat improbable itself, even if it makes for a tidy diagram.

    1. Mr. Kirby,

      That nice picture I give is no different than any other nice picture in the Synoptic Problem group. It is an over simplification, meant mostly to give the reader a perspective of my solution. The objection you gave would apply equally easy to Q theories, Farrar, and any other. And when you say that I am "heavy handed" that is really a non-argument, as no explanation was given, nor was any process to arrest such a method's application suggested. So I have to regard it as simply a label, based on your personal prejudice against the results.

      When you say it is "improbable" that elements in Mark are missing from Marcion, just what are you basing this strange statement on? The Baptism of John, the temptation, the entry to Jerusalem, the Money Changers, and the Wicked Tenants stories are all attested missing in Marcion by primary witnesses Tertullian and Epiphanius. Also in the bigger picture the entire four thousand loop is missing not only from Marcion but Luke as well. That simply cannot be swept under the table in order to keep Mark in priority. In addition, starting with Knox in 1942 (his study has some flaws, such as he assumes entire verses are in Marcion which may not be), there have been three signifacant published analysis of vocabulary in Marcion which are and are not attested, and nearly every Lukan favorite word is missing - many with zero theological value. Summed up there is very strong eveidence for the primitiveness of Marcion's text and that it was missing many elements in Mark, both at the macro and mirco level.

      I wish to put the shoe on the other foot for defenders of the traditional view, and say that, if you wish to overthrow an axiom based on the canons of textual criticism, you must make strong individual cases on each example. Also if you will notice, the preference for accretion (to which you objected my "hevy handed" approach) is actually not the priority axiom borrowed from the textual criticism based canon, rather the reading which best explains the others takes priority; in fact accretion is only valid in conjunction with with that higher axiom of derivation explanation. As a rule it is never safe to assume that any reading in the Synoptic Gospels is original or closest to the original. No matter what viewpoint you have, the texts interacted with each other multiple times and the order is uncertain. And anyway there is almost certainly a catholic layer and undetected scribal corrections on top of every Gospel which clouds the picture some. So it behoves the critic to never assume a priority for any verse, but to compare all in a similar manner that textual witnesses are examined and weighted. Brevity, Accretion, Difficulty, and other axioms need to be applied to make progress.

      One problem that traditional view has, is a tendency to accept Harnack as correct, which is to say accept Tertullian's opinion as correct. But Harnack was human and in 1924 did not have the resources we have at our finger tips. Harnack was right in some respects, but wrong in many others concerning Marcion. We know he made only a cursory examination of the epistles of Paul excepting Romand and Galatians, declaring the others to essentially be the same as those we received. However the evidence is quite to the contrary, and it seems Tertullian was correct, that only Philemon was close to the same size and content as the received text.

      In general I have no confidence in those examining the Synoptic Study with traditional viewpoints. They have been in a swamp for generations, going nowhere, forced to resort to inventing 1st century "Jesus Communities" which have no evidence existed, in order to explain theology as naive doppelgangers of known 2nd century.

      The question I have for you, is will you take Dr. Detering's advice and reexamine your own acceptance of Harnack's view on Marcion?

    2. Stuart, I took you at face value when in your blog you asked for comment and criticism. Otherwise I would not have commented. I don't appreciate the ideological cast you've put over everything, as it makes it complicates what could otherwise be a straightforward discussion. Apparently you know me better than myself, as I am not sure what to make of Marcion. And there are other "strange statements" in your reply that I don't know how they came to be attributed to me.

  2. Stuart:
    Si con el verde has señalado las palabras comunes a los evangelios de Lucas (Marcion's Gos -p- el) y de Marcos, la frase que has marcado en verde (ἀλλ’ ἐπ’ ἀληθείας τὴν ὁδὸν τοῦ θεοῦ διδάσκεις) está también en Mateo, lo único que varía es la preposición de dativo (ἐν ἀληθείᾳ).

    1. Yes, part of 22:16 is in that phrase. I'll reexamine it. I did these side by side plates (the entire Synoptic) a decade or more ago, and haven't gone through them line by line, so maybe I should adjust the color for τὴν ὁδὸν τοῦ θεοῦ at the minimum. This section it does look like Matthew adjusted his source.

      The point of the colors was to show how Mark simply block copied, moving from one source to the other and back, without adding much in original content. Expanding the stories by conflating the two sources. Certainly nothing of a theological nature can be found in almost all the expansions. The perspective is from Mark as the redactor, not a true three balance Synoptic.

      But thanks for pointing it out.

  3. So if I am following correctly "The Great Omission" is caused because of the Markan priority assumption?

    I am unfamiliar with this "4000 loop source" and I haven't found but a few references to it on your site, is this what others have called "the Signs source"?

    I'm interested on your thoughts on "John", why is it so different?

    As always thanks for your time and effort.

    1. I forgot on my earlier reply to comment on the gospel of John. This gospel is a dialogue format, and is very much tendentious in its theological statements. It is unfortunately layered - I accept three at a minimum, suspect as many as five layers. The Turmel pages (see tabs above) discuss the possible Marcionite origins of the Gospel. Parvus thinks Apellean. The layering presents some challenge in reproducing the first published text.

      The reason for it's publication appears to have been to answer claims by the Jewish Christian/Orthodox camp from the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus was Jewish, born of Mary, descendent from David, and Jewish, and that the Jewish God was the father. Everyone of those claims is directed refuted in this gospel's dialogue. Even edited to Catholic form, the heretical elements in the dialogue are shockingly strong.

      Dialogue was chosen as it presents the case from Jesus' own mouth. There was no higher authority, there could be no claim that Paul was simply one of many interpreters. That Irenaeus supported the Gospel makes me suspect it might have came from the Valentinian sect to which he first belonged. Of course the heretics were really not separate churches anymore than the pagan cults were separate religions, rather schools within the same organization. So it could have come from anyone of the antinomen (that is anti Jewish God) Christian schools of the second century.

  4. Yes on the great omission.

    The 4000 loop is a "doublet" section of Matthew and Mark which is generally ascribed from Mark 6:43-8:21. John chapter 6 seems to know this form. I assign the 4000 loop to the "M" ür-Gospel. The reason I do this is because both Matthew and Mark show that the loop was fully incorporated by summary given. The stories are paralleled with other synoptic stories, especially the feeding and the blind man stories (Matthew's was displaced, Mark's stayed in the loop at 8:22-26). Matthew's source is later than Mark's in that there are two blind men in each story. There are some linguistic elements that also demonstrate the loop was incorporated already in the common source.

    I do not know why the loop, which is duplicate, got incorporated in Matthew and Mark.It looks more primitive than the rest of the Matthew/Mark M source. It shows that the Synoptic source is composite however, and that it must have absorbed other chunks.

    One additional point on the missing material in Luke/Marcion, concerning the first 11 verses of Mark. After I wrote this, the purpose of John the Baptist announcing Jesus was to counter the Marcionite claim that he was unknown before, unannounced, and appeared suddenly in Capernaum in the reign of Tiberius (Tertullian, AM 3.1.2, Hinc denique gradum consero, an debuerit tam subito venisse). Quoting Isaiah (and later adding Malachi) in 1:2-3 and having John declare that a greater one is to come fulfills that purpose. It changes John's role, from being the the greatest before the Law was overthrown, to a herald of Jesus to come. The scriptural call is is paralleled in Romans 1:2-5 where the prophets and holy scriptures predict Jesus.

    I believe the first verse of Mark was originally the prescript or title
    which maps very close to the Marcionite
    Essentially two forms of the same title. ΚΑΤΑ ΜΑΡΚΑΝ became the prescript to distinguish the it from the others in the collection (note, in many manuscripts the prescript is simply written above the text in the margin, or to the side, sometimes in a later hand). ΑΡΧΗ ΤΟΥ was the only editorial addition when the title morphed into the first verse. Note, this first the marginal notes type of additions we see here and there in Mark. I just never built a case to explain that, but have thought it so for a long time.

    1. A slight correction. I cannot find a reference to the "Gospel of the Lord" from the Patristic writers on Marcion. The title was probably simply ΕΥΑΓΓΕΛΙΟΝ as Tertullian states that Marcion ascribed it no author. Of course, the inscriptions like ΚΑΤΑ ΜΑΡΚΑΝ are clearly secondary (sometimes found in the margins) and only necessary because unlike Marcion there were than one Gospel. Paul refers in Marcion to the ΕΥΑΓΓΕΛΙΟΝ ΤΟΥ ΧΥ (Galatians 1:7) and as ΕΥΑΓΓΕΛΙΟΝ ΜΟΥ when contrasting to the others. Basically I am saying correct ΚΥ to ΧΥ for the Marcionite prescript.

      For what it's worth, I think Mark 1:9, Matthew 3:1 actually retain the proto-Gospel beginning shared by L and M, εν δε εκειναις ταις ημεραις "In those days." Marcion gave it a specific date (the 15th year of Tiberius). That Mark has this located in verse 1:9 indicates the John the Baptist's fore announcement of Jesus was likely prepended to the original text, underscoring it's anti-Marcionite purpose.