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This looks like a bit of Markan narrative, but may also be viewed as a Christological claim based on the OT Donahue and Harrington , p If so, then it is patently unhistorical.
The argument is couched in typical Cynic terms, in which Jesus is challenged and responds with a witty question that puts the challengers in their place. But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" -- he said to the paralytic -- v The first appearance of the phrase in the Gospel, where it is used in three ways: The phrase appears in ancient Jewish literature that long predates Mark.
For example, Ezekiel refers to himself that way. In 1 Enoch, an apocryphal text popular around the time of Jesus, the Son of Man is a pre-existent heavenly figure with the power to judge both human and divine beings Donahue and Harrington , p Note, however, that all of these are hotly disputed and some scholars see the "Son of Man" in Daniel and 1 Enoch as a figure who stands for a human collective see Borsch for a review.
Further, many scholars interpret the phrase "But you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" as an authorial aside to the reader Donahue and Harrington , p96 since the Greek reads more smoothly that way. Discussing the fourteen Son of Man sayings, Boring writes: Texts such as Exodus Whether Jesus, or anyone else, ever referred to himself as "Son of Man" in some titular, messianic sense is controversial. Fowler , p argues that the phrase " But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" is a parenthetical aside to the reader, and not the words of Jesus.
And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!
Markan redaction, featuring the characteristic features of the writer, such as the amazed crowd, and the term "immediately. Since magical healings of paralytics do not occur, that cannot be historical.
Thus this incident cannot reflect a historical exchange between Jesus and his opponents. Instead it is the first of a collection of 5 such stories of conflicts between Jewish authorities and Jesus that culminate in their decision to kill him Donahue and Harrington , p Sanders , p writes: The sequence of stories, where one follows another with no intervening narrative or discussion, and where the level of attack is steadily escalated, is dramatic but artificial.
Jesus succeeds in confounding them at every turn, of course, but one sees that his logic and authority depend upon assumptions his opponents would not have shared. The author of Mark has inverted the story in illuminating ways, however.
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Ahaziah, by contrast, descends through a lattice, and is doomed by his lack of faith. The parallel is inverted. The saying section in v is an example of a Cynic chreia, common in the Gospel of Mark see below , in which the master shows off his wit by deflecting a rhetorical challenge from opponents. Nothing in it supports historicity. Fletcher-Louis argues persuasively that Mark presents Jesus as a High Priest, based on a priestly reading of Dan 7: Some scholars argue that the problem here is either that Jesus, a perceived human, has arrogated to himself powers that only God has, while other scholars argue that by forgiving sins, Jesus has challenged the Temple Establishment.
A detailed breakout of the chiastic structure reveals: B And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them.
C And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. D And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; E and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay.
F And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "My son, your sins are forgiven. Who can forgive sins but God alone?
D But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" -- he said to the paralytic -- "I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home. This structure is also followed by a chreia Mk 2: In a private communication, Neil Godfrey suggested that this sequence is a doublet of the Tomb Scene in Mk Just as the Tomb is blocked by a large stone, so the door is blocked by a large crowd.
The paralytic resembles a cadaver, while the digging out of the roof resembles the removal of rock to make the Tomb. Scribes sit watching Jesus just as a young man is sitting as the women enter. Jesus knows what is the hearts of the scribes, just as the young man knows what is the hearts of the women.
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It should be further noted that in both cases the rising is connected to forgiveness of sins. Such correspondences are loose, and often not direct. But the resemblence is there. The scenes in which the dead are raised in Mark often suggest or echo the Death, Resurrection, or Tomb scene later on. Given its origin in the OT, its supernatural aspects, its Markan literary structures, and its place in the larger plot of Mark, nothing in this pericope can be used to support historicity.
He went out again beside the sea; and all the crowd gathered about him, and he taught them. And as he passed on, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, "Follow me. And as he sat at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were sitting with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?
And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners. Markan redaction, containing typical Markan themes of the sea, crowds, and Jesus teaching.
Levi follows Jesus immediately, clearly implausible. In addition to its inherent implausibility, there is another problem: Levi has traditionally been identified with the evangelist Matthew because in Mt 9: Apart from the four, Simon Peter and Andrew, James and John, the lists of the disciples in the Synoptic gospels differ, not only among each other, but also in manuscripts of the same gospel.
A tax collector named "Levi"? Perhaps a bit of irony, or a polemic against the collaboration of the priestly castes with Roman imperialism. Levites were set off from the other tribes and only Levites could be priests see full story in Exodus And as he sat at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were sitting with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him v Ludemann , p16 identifies the appearance of "disciples" here as coming from the hand of a later redactor.
Seeing as how Jesus has already called five disciples at this point, perhaps this claim is not supportable. On the other hand, Jesus does not appoint disciples until Mark 3: Along with the Sadducees and the Essenes, the Pharisees were one of the three main religious groups of the time of Jesus.
According to Josephus, they appear to be a group of at least 6,, forming a powerful counterweight to Herodian authority. In the majority view, by contrast, they date back to Hasmonean times and survive the fall of the Temple to form the nucleus of rabbinical Judaism. Steve Mason Current , reviewing current scholarship on the Pharisees, observes: These are not minor differences of opinion but irreconcilable opposites.
Because of this, many scholars, including E.
Burton Mack notes; "Even conservative Christian scholars have begrudgingly had to admit that there is only the spottiest evidence for the presence of Pharisees in Galilee before the Roman-Jewish War, and nothing to suggest that they had any position of power there.
The Pharisees were active in Jerusalem and represented a form of Jewish thought and piety that took on an increased importance in the course of the first century, but scholars have not been able to identify an official function for them whether within Galilee or at Jerusalem.
Views of them have ranged from political party, scribal retainers of the temple bureaucracy, teachers in schools such as those of Hillel or Shammai, to members of a religious society or sect. No theory seems to satisfy. Is the writer of Mark aware of Galatians? Paul in Gal 2: Scholars often see the debate between Jesus and the Pharisees as one involving common presuppositions on both sides and argue that Jesus was closely connected to the Pharisaic movement Tuckett , p.
As they now stand, these stories reflect the lively imagination of storytellers within some Jesus movement. They probably reflect group practice and they surely take up topics of interest to the members of the movement. They cannot be viewed as historical reports, certainly not in order to theorize a religious "table fellowship" with Jesus, the last supper of which instituted the Christian Church.
The ritual meal story in the gospels is an etiological legend based upon tradition without disciples taken from the Christ cult. The other meal scenes are for the most part typical settings in the service of the pronouncement stories. The Cynics were mendicant philosophers famous for biting wit and clever riposte, which they also turned on themselves. Like many philosophers of their day, the Cynics deployed chreiai "useful" , anecdotes which show the teacher fielding questions that test his abilities and show him "emerging unscathed from a difficult, challenging situation" Mack , p Mack , p55 says that when Antisthenes was criticized for keeping bad company, he replied "Well, physicians attend their patients without catching the fever.
But some Cynics talked a lot about their founder, Diogenes. But we have two Cynic pieces that seem to allow that sort of possibility: Yet some Stoic-inclined Cynics in particular themselves believed the present phase was only temporary, and not a few other pagans considered things to be run down enough for the end to be near, 78, again.
One could point out in response that they are not meant to, either. In both Hellenistic and Jewish thought, the philosopher was seen as one who healed vice Donahue and Harrington , p Seeley observes that Dio Chrysostom notes that Diogenes went to the Isthmian Games so that he could go among the crowd as a "physician" and heal them of their illness of folly. Camery-Hoggat , p3 points out the irony here.
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While many read this verse as Jesus having come to save the sinners since the righteous are already saved, the writer also seems to imply that those groups typically seen as "righteous" -- the Scribes, Pharisees, and Chief Priests, cannot be saved, because they oppose him. Commenting on the Jesus Seminar, Thompson writes of the sayings of Jesus: That they are "sayings of Jesus" is to be credited to the author who put them in his mouth.
Many sayings the [Jesus] seminar identifies as "certainly authentic" are well-known and can be dated centuries earlier than the New Testament. The very project of the Jesus Seminar is anchored in wishful thinking.
Evidence for the prehistory of these sayings is so abundant and well attested that we can trace a continuous literary tradition over millennia. As Mack points out, if writers were making up Cynic chreia stories about Jesus long after he was dead, it means that they must understand Jesus as a person who could be accepted as speaking in the Cynic mode.