Wednesday, December 05, 2012

is Mark a pre-war document?

In yesterday's mail I received an examination copy of David A. deSilva's new book, The Jewish Teachers of Jesus, James, and Jude (Oxford University Press, 2012), which I am considering adopting for my graduate course, World of the New Testament. I started looking through the book, and so far I'm enjoying it. Much to disagree with, of course, but much more to learn from. This is what we enjoy about NT scholarship, right?

At any rate, in the light of yesterday's post about Mark Goodacre's suspicion of an potentially emerging consensus that Mark is a post-war document, I thought it interesting to read the following from deSilva, who affirms (along with nearly every other NT scholar) that Luke-Acts was written after the Roman-Jewish War:
. . . Occasionally the "apocalyptic discourse" has been used to argue that the Gospels of Mark and Matthew also postdate these events, but there is nothing in either account that could not have been uttered by a Jewish prophet in the first half of the first century—quite aside from the question of whether or not such prophetic utterance is "really" predictive. (2012:263, ftn. 5)

Goodacre, in the course of his discussion, will refer to three very recent monographs focused on the question of the date of Mark's Gospel (and an article by John Kloppenborg). deSilva, on the other hand,  is simply making a point about Luke's Gospel and contrasting that point, briefly and in a footnote, against the Gospels of Mark and Matthew. My point here is certainly not that deSilva has the better or more convincing argument. Rather, I just want to point out how easily one can encounter—even accidentally!!—exceptions to the potentially emerging consensus to which Goodacre made reference. Without question detailed and sophisticated arguments for a post-war date are current within the scholarly discussion, and clearly Goodacre has found them persuasive. But if anything, I suspect the consensus—if there be one—pushes Mark back into the immediately pre-war years. deSilva even pushes Matthew back before the destruction of Jerusalem and her Temple!


Rafael said...

PS I hope it's not too bold to say that deSilva's entire discussion of the critical investigation of the historical Jesus (see 2012:14–30; "Recovering the Voice of Jesus") is already outdated in light of the series of essays published by Chris Keith and Anthony Le Donne (Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity; T&T Clark International, 2012 [an electronic version is available here]).

Stephen Carlson said...

Goodacre on p.165 not only quotes DeSilva's similar point in an prior edition in 2004, but also argues against it. For this reason, I don't think that DeSilva is indicative of an emerging consensus but a restatement of a view he has held at least eight years ago.

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