Let the reader understand... Again

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
neilgodfrey
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Re: Let the reader understand... Again

Post by neilgodfrey » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:48 am

The "abomination of desolation" in a chapter and book riddled with numerous allusions to Daniel is surely going to prompt "readers" to think of the Daniel prophecy once more. The phrase "abomination of desolation" is distinctively Danielic (or Maccabean, which amounts to the same matrix), so the question that arises is indeed the one asked by gmx: "Why did the author say 'Let the reader understand!'?

What is there to understand? It's the prophecy from Daniel. It doesn't require an obtrusive nudge to the reader to make him think of Daniel. Just saying "let the reader understand" in order to remind the "reader" that the passage comes from Daniel seems to me to be superfluous, unnecessary, pointless since the phrase itself is obviously from Daniel as anyone with a knowledge of the Jewish scriptures would have recognized immediately.

(The author presumably knew that everyone would recognize "Son of Man" coming in the clouds was from Daniel -- but he felt no need to wink with a "let the reader understand that one, too".)

Is it not more likely (I really don't know, but it might be worth asking as I'm doing now) that "let the reader understand" is an in-house wink that the phrase has a parabolic or allegorical or symbolic meaning and the Daniel reference needs to be "decoded" in the same way the parables needed to be "decoded"?

If so, then it would seem we are left without any way of knowing for sure what the reader was supposed to understand. Not unusual for Mark. Does anyone yet understand what the feeding of the 5000 and then the 4000 had to do with the "leaven of the Pharisees"? The author said the disciples were too stupid to understand even that -- and he left the "readers" who are outside his circle just as ignorant to this day.

Paul the Uncertain
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Re: Let the reader understand... Again

Post by Paul the Uncertain » Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:42 am

On a point arising,
Does anyone yet understand what the feeding of the 5000 and then the 4000 had to do with the "leaven of the Pharisees"?
In the story, the disciples have yet again failed to ask Jesus what he's talking about. In this case, on their very own, they have "worked out" that Jesus' warning about the leaven of the Pharisees was somehow a reference to their poor planning in not provisioning more bread for their trip. When Jesus hears their explanation-substitute, he notices that it is not only wrong, but not even a good guess. As if that point needed further laboring, he reminds them that they have recently witnessed compelling evidence that if need be, he can provision many with only a little bread.

The scene has emotional heft, because the more recent feeding of the four thousand was one of the few occasions where the disciples showed an ability to catch Jesus's drift. He needed only to remind them of the feeding of the 5000 for them to apply that lesson spontaneously to the similar problem they were then facing. It must have been somewhat depressing, then, for Jesus to realize that that tiny uptick in cognitive performance was not the start of a sustained rally. With Jerusalem in the offing, that cannot have been good news. Nevertheless, Jesus does stay with this roster.

Paying my dues to the OP, my own guesstimate about the topic quote:

It would be nice if we knew what Mark intended or foresaw as the circumstances under which his work would be read aloud, by whom and to whom. Assuming that the aside is his, and that it was addressed to somebody else reading the work before an audience:

The meaning is similar to "let him who has ears hear" and comparable formulae. But the speaking character isn't addressing a crowd (although the reader may be), and so incorporating a suggestion for how the line ought to be read into the spoken line itself won't work. That wouldn't be consistent with the relationships established among the five "onstage," and would jar against the nice echo of the original disciple gathering, when these four were recruited.

Still, the author may wish the performer to punch the phrase anyway, it being about the closest Prophet Jesus ever comes in the speech to answering the question he's actually been asked, and that's what stage directions are for.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Let the reader understand... Again

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:17 am

gmx wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:52 pm
It's a very clumsy insertion, if your "postulate" is correct. When is the verse first attested externally? If there is only a short period of elapsed time between the autograph and archetype, then I think an apologetic gloss is less likely, primarily because the author/compiler is more likely to still be alive, and I'm not sure that he/she/they would tolerate it. However, if the archetype is much later than the autograph, and glosses and interpolations are more permissible, then I think your explanation is more likely. But I don't know if there is enough data concerning the verse to constrain what that time interval was.
I have responded to this on the thread itself: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3834&p=83119#p83119.
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John T
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Re: Let the reader understand... Again

Post by John T » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:20 am

gmx wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:10 am
Can someone explain to me what the reader is supposed to do with their understanding in Mark 13:14-17? If it refers to the first Jewish war, then isn't it too late to be issuing warnings to flee? It sounds like the author knows what happened. The nod & wink to the reader doesn't seem to make sense in this context. I'm sure there is a simple explanation.
Jesus is warning the readers/followers not to return the temple upon hearing news that the messiah has arrived. Mark 13:21-23. The reader is being forewarned with enough details about the false messiah and future events, so as to not fall into a death trap.

It was written without the knowledge of the first Jewish war (70 CE). However, Christians read into this today knowing the temple was destroyed in 70 CE and interpret it to mean that the temple must be rebuilt so as to fulfill this prediction.

Sincerely,

John T
"It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into."...Jonathan Swift

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Re: Let the reader understand... Again

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:58 pm

gmx wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:10 am
Can someone explain to me what the reader is supposed to do with their understanding in Mark 13:14-17?
To muddy the waters further: One should also decide the question of who is speaking to whom in this side note.

So far I know the current predominant view is that the author "Mark" is speaking to the reader of GMark. An older opinion based on the Byzantine text tradition was that Jesus speaks to the reader of the book of Daniel. It was also thought that the phrase "Let the reader understand" is a later interpolation of a scribe or was part of Mark's source. Personally I tend to think that Jesus is speaking to the reader of GMark.

neilgodfrey
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Re: Let the reader understand... Again

Post by neilgodfrey » Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:04 am

The other authorial aside in the gospel is in Mark 7 where "Mark" explains to the reader(s) that Jesus words as he just quoted them meant to declare "all foods clean". That's significant because the author is telling us something that might be easily overlooked -- that Jesus is an authority above the Mosaic Law. Without that aside it would be natural for the law-abiding reader(s) to assume Jesus was only referring to kosher foods. But the aside drives home the point that Jesus is stretching reader understanding beyond "Judaism".

Again in Mark 13. The natural interpretation of the abomination of desolation and other imagery there leads the reader to think of Daniel without any special prompting. That the author (I'm assuming it is the author adding the words and that they are not being put in the mouth of Jesus) says "let the reader understand" does nothing to lead the reader to Daniel -- which would be an obvious association/recollection -- but suggests that, again, the author is hinting that Jesus' words point to something beyond Daniel or the OT texts.

gmx
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Re: Let the reader understand... Again

Post by gmx » Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:37 am

neilgodfrey wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:04 am
The other authorial aside in the gospel is in Mark 7 where "Mark" explains to the reader(s) that Jesus words as he just quoted them meant to declare "all foods clean". That's significant because the author is telling us something that might be easily overlooked -- that Jesus is an authority above the Mosaic Law.
That is an interesting interpretation. Given Mark's propensity for using Aramaic words while also providing translations of those words for his reader, my assumption is that Mark is writing for an audience that would not be intimately familiar with Mosaic Law.

hakeem
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Re: Let the reader understand... Again

Post by hakeem » Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:56 am

The Markan story is about the fulfilment of supposed prophecies found in the books of the prophets. It is the author of gMark who believes only he/she understands them.

4:11-12
11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:

12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

Mark 7:18-----“Don’t you understand?” Jesus asked. “Don’t you see? ...........’

Mark 8:17----Jesus knew what they were saying. So he asked them, “....... Why can’t you see or understand? Are you stubborn?

Mark 8:21----He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

Mark 9:32----But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.


The author of gMark simply placed the words of the supposed prophet Isaiah into the mouth of his Jesus.

Isaiah 6:9-10
And he said, Go, and tell this people,Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.

Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.
The Jews in the Markan story, even the disciples, could not understand his Jesus because the words of the Lord of the prophets must come to pass.

Paul the Uncertain
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Re: Let the reader understand... Again

Post by Paul the Uncertain » Wed Feb 14, 2018 3:18 am

neil

I am less persuaded than you that Mark 7:19 is an aside or direction. I agree that Mark's Jesus placing himself above Mosaic law is an important character trait (dramatized in the character's speech about divorce, where Jesus explains Moses' motives and then overrules him, 10:4-9, without obvious authorial underlining), of which this teaching on clean food is another example.

However, I make the grammatical antecedent of the masculine singular participle here to be "the man," and the material is naturalistically consistent with a speaking character summarizing his point before extending its application beyond the narrow question of food purity. It is also important to the plot that Jesus' listeners in the story hear him giving new law. The interpretation isn't novel or solecist. For example, the KJV and Douay-Rheims integrate the phrase into Jesus' sentence.

Of course, without modern punctuation and in the absence of explicit explanations in the text, it is impossible to decide irrebuttably whether some phrase is direct discourse quoted as part of the surrounding matter, direct discourse with two shifts in the speaking character (here, the narrator would interrupt Jesus' speech), or silent direction to the performer.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Let the reader understand... Again

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:56 am

Paul the Uncertain wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 3:18 am
However, I make the grammatical antecedent of the masculine singular participle here to be "the man," and the material is naturalistically consistent with a speaking character summarizing his point before extending its application beyond the narrow question of food purity.
Then you have to posit that the grammar is broken, if you are using the standard text (there are a few variants here). Participles are not pronouns; participles agree in case with their antecedents. "Man" (ἄνθρωπον) is in the accusative, "cleansing" (καθαρίζων) in the nominative. The nearest grammatically correct antecedent for "cleansing" is the implied "he" of the main verb.
Paul the Uncertain wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 3:18 am
The interpretation isn't novel or solecist. For example, the KJV and Douay-Rheims integrate the phrase into Jesus' sentence.
Your interpretation shares with the KJV the feature of integrating the phrase into Jesus' sentence, but for a very different reason than the KJV has. The KJV is following the Majority Text, in which the participle (καθαρίζον) is neuter, agreeing with "all"/"everything" (πᾶν).
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