11 Dec 2013 
#79 Who wrote the "empty tomb" passage in Mark's gospel?

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1) Preamble:

But if, in Mark's gospel, the resurrection was not "rushed" in order to have it fall on a Sunday, why place it forty hours (maximum) after death, and not "after three days" as allegedly prophesied by Jesus?
The answer may be it was thought the only reason for any followers to go back to the tomb (and witness the corpse's disappearance) would be "to anoint Jesus' body" (Mk 16:1b). But how to explain a long delay between the burial and the next visit?
According to gMark (16:1), by way of a Sabbath day with its following night (a dangerous time to go outside), occurring right after the burial.
Also, the Sabbath and following night might also have been selected because of the improbability Joseph of Arimathea or/and the disciples moved Jesus' body to a new burial place during that time period.
But why would the women not visit the tomb every day, until they find it empty (after three days)? They were thought not able to open the tomb by themselves (this detail not mentioned in gLuke & gJohn):
Mk 15:46b, 16:1-4 "... in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb ... Now when the Sabbath was past ... [three women] bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him ... they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, "Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?" But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away--for it was very large."
Consequently, finding the tomb opened but not empty, at the first visit (in order for the women to go inside), would have looked very odd. Maybe a strong man nearby could have rolled back the stone for them? But the writer probably did not want to suggest the tomb could be opened easily by people (and the body removed!). That's why he stressed the stone "was very large" as a deterrent against its displacement (by human means).
Note: that was not enough for "Matthew": the tomb is sealed & guarded, then the stone is rolled out by an angel during "a violent earthquake" (Mt 27:66-28:2).

2) List of the clues suggesting Mk 15:40-16:8 as being an early interpolation:

A) "After three days" not matching the forty hours (as explained in a preceding post)
B) Peter as not one of the disciples:
Mk 16:7 "But go, tell His disciples--and Peter-- that He is going before you into Galilee; ..."
Here Peter is seen as an outsider relative to the disciples. But that's not the case in another part of Mark's gospel, where Peter is treated as one of the disciples:
Mk 8:33 "But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, ..."
C) Jesus is already anointed for burial (prior to his arrest):
Mk 14:8-9 "She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. ... what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her."
It does not look another "anointing" is required. And with Jesus' resurrection only forty hours later (maximum), then the earlier anointment in Bethany would not be necessary!
Remark: let's notice how odd and unrealistic (even ridiculous) is that anointment for burial (14:3-9):
- It happens day(s) before the crucifixion! But normally that is performed on a corpse.
- It is done by pouring the "pure nard" (an entire jar!) on the head! However the "perfume" should be rubbed on the whole body.
- The anointing would render Jesus highly fragrant when still alive!
It seems that "Mark" "forced" a fictitious anointment for burial on a living Jesus. Why? Probably because he knew none could have been done after Jesus' death (conflicting with Jn 19:39b-40). Also the anointment of Jesus looks suspiciously very similar to the one in:
1 Samuel 10:1a: "Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul's head ...".
Seemingly aware of the "problems",
- "Matthew" copied from gMark, almost word by word, the anointment for burial in Bethany (26:6-13) and, apparently thinking that was enough, had the women go back to the tomb with NO mention of any intended "anointing" (28:1).
- "Luke" removed altogether the anointment (for burial) in Bethany (but kept the later attempt by the women).
- "John" skillfully never mentioned the whole perfume was poured on Jesus (Jn 12:3) (but "Mark" implied it! 14:3-4) and wrote: "But Jesus said, "Let her alone; *she has kept this for the day of My burial [to come!]."" (Jn 12:7).
Therefore there is no anointment for burial then; it is done later, at the proper time (when Jesus is dead!): his body is given the full treatment at burial ("in accordance with Jewish burial custom") by two men (Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus) (Jn 19:38-42).
D) The "empty tomb" passage starts by "retroactive" "data":
The three women who cared after Jesus all over Galilee, and with many other female followers, came with Jesus to Jerusalem & witnessed the cross (15:40-41), and which day was the one of the trial & crucifixion (15:42): why are these women with their past endeaviours not introduced before (contrary to Lk 8:1-4 and, partly, to Mt 20:20, 27:56) and the day of execution mentioned after the facts (contrary to Jn 19:14)?
Likely because "Mark" had no plan to use them!
E) Naming of women:
"Mark" was not prone to name women (and to mention them!), that is prior to the "empty tomb" passage. Before Mk 15:40-16:8, only two women are named: Mary (6:3), Jesus' mother and Herodias (6:17,19,22), wife of tetrarch Herod Antipas (four namings of two women within 649 verses).
And, as quoted earlier, the anointing women (14:3-9), despite her act being qualified as momentous, is glaringly anonymous (other women not named: Jesus' sisters --but the brothers are!-- (6:3), the bleeding one (5:25-34), Herodias' daughter (6:22-28) and the Syrophoenician (7:25-30)).
But, suddenly, at 15:40, three women are named (their names appear again in 15:47 (minus one) and 16:1) (eight namings within 16 verses).
I doubt that abrupt change of pattern could come from a same writer.
F) The parable of the tenants does not foresee Jesus' "honorable" burial:
Mk 12:8 Darby "And they took him and killed him, and cast him forth out of the vineyard." (parable of the tenants)
If, as commonly accepted (including myself), the "they" stands for the chief priests, "him" for Jesus (the Son) and the "vineyard" for Jerusalem, then the parable (a disguised (alleged) prophecy) appears not to anticipate Joseph of Arimathea (not "they", as the ones who killed Jesus) to carry and lay (not "cast forth") the body of Jesus into a tomb.
Seemingly aware of the problem, "Luke" (20:15) and "Matthew" (21:39) had the son thrown out from the vineyard before he is killed.
G) The verse before the "empty tomb" seems well-suited for a gospel ending, more so relative to a Gentile audience under Roman rule:
Mk 15:39 "So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, "Truly this Man was the Son of God [or "was a son of God". In gMark, this is the only time Jesus is declared "Son/son of God" by a sane person]!"
This is a very positive & cheerful final note, much better than "They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid." (16:8 --the original ending of gMark), inviting doubts & questions.
Note: From Dominic Crossan, THE HISTORICAL JESUS, THE LIFE OF A MEDITERRANEAN PEASANT, Part III "Brokerless Kingdom", Chapter 15 "Resurrection and Authority", Page 415:
"My proposal is that the original version of Mark's gospel ended with the centurion's confession in 15:39".
3) Conclusion:
In view of the aforementioned points (foremost the first one), I think there is more than enough for claiming "Mark" did not write the "empty tomb" passage. Then considering, in order to "prove" Jesus' resurrection, "Mark" relied only on:
a) the (alleged) prophecies about it by Jesus himself (as in 8:31, 9:31, 10:34), combined with he being an excellent prophet (even predicting the fall of Jerusalem!).
b) the alleged prior resurrection of a biblical notable: Moses' one, "proven" in 9:2-8.
c) little else, except for the testimony of Paul (1Cor 9:1) and likely other "apostles in Christ", claiming to have "seen" the heavenly Jesus in some way.
It makes sense an early editor/interpolator (probably the first one) felt more was needed, more so in term of physical direct "evidence". However, a bodily reappearance was not dared going for: that will be done later by others and  added on to gMark.
Mk 16:8 "Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid."
How would the author know these women never dilvulged what they experienced at the empty tomb?
An answer would be each of these women were spied upon twenty-four hours a day up to their death or when the gospel was written (whichever comes first) and never reported to say anything about the 'empty tomb'.
That's a very absurd proposition.
But how could someone know about the empty tomb and the women's experience? And be so sure that anyone of those, at any time, did not talk about the "empty tomb" event?
The only solution appears to be that the "empty tomb" story was not known before, and therefore generated for the gospel.

Cordially, Bernard

Tags: {"Nazarenes"} {"Nazarenes" NOT having been Christians} {empty tomb} {Mark's gospel} {Resurrection}
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