Larry and Ken have raised a number of issues in their postings, some
of which I would like to address.
1. Ken, you're right. I should be saying something like "Mark appears to
portray the family of Jesus in a decidedly negative light, not only by
demonstrating their inability to recognize who he is and their disbelief,
but even by showing that the mother of Jesus, upon viewing the tomb, is too
afraid to even tell the disciples." I stand corrected.
2. Unfortunately, Ken, Mary Magdelene is mentioned in 16:1. Who is the
_second_ Mary, the mother of James? This, IMO, acoording to Mark, is Jesus'
3. Ironically, if Mark ends the way our oldest and most reliable manuscripts
say it ends, then it even further supports Larry's assertion that Jesus'
journey on the "way" is meant to be a "template" for discipleship, because it
returns the reader to Galilee where it all started, the way of discipleship
having already been constructed by Jesus in his journey (i.e. Mark 1-15). See
Herman Waetjen's _Reordering of Power_ for a good literary analysis of this.
Meanwhile, you can believe with Metzger all you want about Mark losing a page,
but the gospel makes a lot of sense without one. Indeed, resurrection scenes
(I mean appearances) seem quite unnecessary in Mark. I prefer to assume,
therefore, that Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, sinaitic Syriac, some Sahidic mss,
Clement, Origen, etc. etc. preserve, not a version that represents the early
loss of an ending, but the way the gospel in fact ended. The disciples did
NOT get the word from the women at the tomb, and that is part of the negative
portrayal of the (IMHO) disciples in Mark, in particular Peter and the
other "pillars" of Jerusalem.
4. Is Mark about discipleship? Absolutely!!! Is Weeden's theory problematic?
Absolutely!!! However, there is no consensus in the 70's and 80's works on how
the theme of discipleship is played out. In fact, Vernon Robbin's book on Mark
, which is very much about the theme of discipleship, is an example of the
problems of interpreting this theme. He tries to show how Mark corresponds
to Xenophon's _Memorabilia_. In so doing, and using what he sees is the key
word kalew, or parakalew, he outlines a structure of Mark that shows a pro-
gression in Jesus' relationship to the disciples. When I look at the six
passages that Robbin's deals with, I, in fact, see a three-step progression,
and then a three-step regression in the relationship, ending with the Big
Three's inability to heed Mark 13 and "watch," or "stay awake." (they then
snooze in the garden in Mark 14). Is Robbin's right that Mark knew Xenophon?
That could very well be. However, he's turned the standard story of developing
discipleship on its head. Larry, you are absolutely right. Jesus IS presented
as the model for discipleship -- but the disciples are not!!! BTW, here's my
chance to plug my own work -- see the last issue of Forum -- you'll see a
little more of where I'm coming from.
5. Meanwhile, that Mark is about discipleship does not preclude Mark a)
from portraying the family of Jesus in a bad light; b) portraying the
disciples, esp. the Big Three, in a bad light; c) from rejecting the disciples
as a model for the reader to identify with, even if Christians have done so for
two thousand years; d) intending to set the Markan community over against
another community that identifies with the "pillars" of Jerusalem and/or the
family of Jesus. As to the third point, to me, that is part of the beauty of
the Markan narrative. The reader may want to identify with the disciples, and
even with the family when they try to protect the family honor in Mark 3, but
Mark calls the reader to focus on Jesus and his constructing of the "way" as
the model to be emulated.
6. As to Mark possibly setting the Markan community over against another which
is represented by the Twelve, there is an abundance of potential examples in
early Christianity of writers doing this. Greg Riley's new book from Fortress
Press provides an excellent example of John doing this to communities deriving
their authority from John the Baptist and Thomas. The Gospel of Thomas appears
to be doing the same with Matthew and Peter in Saying 13. Whole modes of
Christianity are so attacked (yes, attacked) in this way, another example being
the Kerygmata Petrou in the Pseudo-Clementines, and its setting the good Jewish
Chistians Peter and James against the evil Simon (read Paul). I myself am
intrigued by the presentation of TWO Philips in Acts, the so-called evangelist
having made the big mistake of converting Simon. Indeed, Peter has to go down
and try to straighten Simon out. Since the apostle Philip gets associated with
gnostic Christianity early on, and since Simon is protrayed as the originator
of gnosticism at least as early as the second century, could it be that Acts
already knows of these traditions and so separates the Philip of the Twelve
from the traditions of the gnostic Philip by creating another evangelist named
Philip? Interesting that John portrays Philip in a somewhat inconsistent
light, even grouping him among the questioning disciples who don't grasp who
Jesus is and what he is about. And so the coincidence of Peter-James-John/
Cephas-James-John appears to me to be not only NOT a coincidence, but indic-
ative of something going on in the writing of Mark that cannot be explained
simply by seeing Mark as a nice story about disciples struggling to understand
what Jesus is all about.
7. So, yes Ken, while you were correct in correcting my hyperbole, in fact, I
DO think Mark is setting the disciples up as a negative example. They are
not to be emulated, and they do not get redeemed in the end, unlike in Matthew,
Luke and John. And Larry, yes, Mark is about discipleship, and I even admit
to identifying with the bumbling incoherents on many an occasion, but that does
not preclude the Gospel of Mark reflecting some inter-christian or inter-Jesus
movement conflict between communities, with the Big Three and the family of
Jesus being used as representatives of another group. I think Weeden was wrong
about the twelve representing a group that focused on Jesus' wonder-working
powers over against his subservient example of following God. But I think that
he and Kelber were still on target that they represented a group, or the group,
of Jerusalem Christians. This, as far as I know, has not been effectively dis-
missed in scholarship. Quite to the contrary.