Re: On the right and left of Jesus (fwd)

Mike Phillips (
Sun, 15 Sep 1996 04:21:44 -0700

> Stephen C. Carlson wrote:
> >
> > I would say that Matthew's (and Mark's) audience was surely familiar
> > with the Is53:12 prophetic proof-text ("and he was numbered with the
> > transgressors") as some MSS of Mark attest at 15:27. Thus, Jesus'
> > comments can be understood to mean that those places at his "right and
> > left" had been prepared at least as far back as Isaiah the prophet,
> > if not earlier.

Given the state of our own Church's education, I am beginning to
question the assumption that any given evangelist's audience was familiar with
any given scriptural assertion. One could possibly argue that Mark was
familiar with it, and I think the line of reasoning is sound given what there
is to work with (i.e., I believe it is just as sound to argue that Jesus was
speaking about his 'coming crucifixion' as it is sound to argue that Jesus was
refering to his 'coming glory' as Jack posits (again, with fair assumptions)

> From: Jack Kilmon <>, on 9/14/96 11:43 PM:
> >
> The two disciples who were seeking places of honor by Jesus side
> were his two cousins, Yaqub and Yohanon bar Zebediya. The issue should
> be perceived more from their own Jewish standpoint rather than the
> hellenized perspective. It is ironic that the one thing that gentile
> Christianity leaves out of its eschatology is the central and primary
> focus of Jesus' ministry...the coming of the "Kingdom of God." Messiahship
> dictated a messianic dynasty explaining the assumption of the leadership
> of the "kingdom movement" Yeshuine Jews by Jesus' brother Yaqub (James).

Of course, one could ask here, _which_ understanding of messiahship is
being referred to, as I don't believe we have a consensus view in 2nd Temple
Judaism(s) as to what a messiah might look like or should look like. Your
Gospel of Thomas citation is certainly a possible solution, or it might be a
reinterpretation and embellishment of an ambiguous inheritance, i.e., What did
Jesus mean / say? Well, here is what Jesus meant / said. It seems that
ambiguity demands an answer, and it is human nature to make one up when none
presents itself -- some things haven't changed a bit in 2000 years <grin>. I
for one tend to think we should retain a bit of the ambiguity, however, I want
to reiterate that I think both positions (which are interpretations) are valid.
There are also other (I presume) "valid" interpretations which have not been
put forward here. I would like to hear from Carlton regarding any classical /
Hellene literature parallels, since whether or not Mark was working with a
Semitic tradition, he was certainly preaching to a Hellenized world, and Jesus
comes out looking a bit more like a God/man in Mark than a messiah, in my own
opinion. A classical / Hellene parallel might present just as fair a reference
as GThomas, since Mark may have been interpreting things people really were
familiar with (a biography of a great philosopher, for example) as opposed to
citing (by allusion) an obscure (possibly not prophetic until after Christian
tradition needed it to be so via post-res midrash) verse / pericope in Isaiah.

Best wishes to all...

Mike Phillips

A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanging;
it is the skin of living thought and changes from day
to day as does the air around us. - Oliver Wendell Holmes