She Treasured It In Her Heart

She Treasured It In Her Heart August 25, 2014

I’m wondering when it is possible to argue from silence when reading historical sources, and particularly in a Biblical context.

I have been writing recently on the Virgin Mary in early Christianity, and was initially taken aback to find how even I tended to attribute statements to the wrong gospel, and thus the wrong historical tradition (and I have been busy in these matters for some years). It just underlined for me the problem all Bible readers have of overcoming the “Harmony Principle” – the tendency to merge diverse statements about a topic into one connected whole.

Here’s the problem. Imagine studying an important historical individual who died in 1950. For various reasons, no biography was written for many years, until 1990 in fact. Just this last year, though, two new biographies appeared, each in its way very different from the pioneering work. The new biographies borrow heavily from that 1990 work, but expand on it very substantially. How critically should we examine those much later additions?

I mention that hypothetical example because the dates involved precisely reflect what we find in the four gospels. Jesus died somewhere around 30, but the first surviving gospel (Mark) dates from around 70. Matthew and Luke were probably written a good deal later, in the 90s. John’s text, as we have it, reflects multiple levels of composition. These stages tend not to bother us because we harmonize them, merging statements from all four indiscriminately. If however we look at those different strata separately, we get a radically different picture.

To illustrate this, think of “Mary in the Gospels,” and it is a very rich topic. It includes the Annunciation and birth story, the relationship with John the Baptist’s family, the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, Jesus talking with the elders in the Temple – some of the most cherished passages in the New Testament. In Acts – also by Luke – Mary also appears with the Jerusalem disciples as the core of the nascent church.


Assume, though that we did not have Luke/Acts, which is the sole source for virtually all this material (Matthew has its own birth story). Assume, in fact that we had only the earlier Mark. What would we have to say then about Mary? Truly, not much, and little of what we do have is positive.

There is no birth story, except that Jesus is the son of Mary, and the main recorded encounter between mother and son is to say the least tense. Fearing he has lost his mind, Jesus’s mother and brothers come to speak with him, only to have Jesus declare that God’s followers are his real mother and brothers. If you did not know the rest of the tradition, you would assume that that was Jesus’s final severing of relationships with his biological family.


The famous scene of Mary, at the crucifixion – stabat mater dolorosa – is found only in John, and not even in Luke.

Mary features not at all in any of the epistles. (The generic phrase “born of a woman” does not count).

So let’s move away from the harmonized approach and think chronologically. Let’s deharmonize. Think back to that man who died in 1950, and assume that all through the 1960s and 1970s we have surviving correspondence from the organization he founded. But these don’t even mention his mother. We get one slight mention in the 1990 biography, but it is highly unflattering, and scarcely even hints that she played any role whatever in his career. We get a strong sense of tension and conflict, in fact. Only in 2014 or so do new books coming along, mentioning as a matter of course that the mother was in at things very literally at the beginning, that she was the first to foresee his greatness, that she had faith in him all along….

To say the least, we would wonder at the dramatic change of tone, especially at such an enormous gap in time. This is not just new information, but a total inversion of what we already knew. Yes, Luke includes the important “Who are my mother and brothers?” tale, but it has a totally different resonance when presented in a gospel that is otherwise so thoroughly Marian from start to finish. To a lesser extent, the same is true of Matthew.

Can we suggest, then, that Mary’s role in the Christian narrative is basically zero before the 70s, but that it begins a process of rapid exaltation? By the 90s, we have the Virgin Birth narrative, not to mention the astonishing apocalyptic materials in Revelation 12. (As I’ll discuss in a later post, the Revelation passage is very unlikely to be intended to refer to Mary directly, but it was rapidly adopted to those purposes). Over the following century, Mary herself is the subject of alternative gospels that draw close parallels between her and her son, in their miraculous arrival and departure from this world.

Something dramatic seems to happen around the 80s AD, even if we can’t exactly understand why.

Maybe, but one point in Luke demands notice. In highlighting some of the more extraordinary events involving Mary, he hints strongly at access to a secret tradition dating  back to very early times.

I am referring to lines in which, after something remarkable has happened, like in the Birth narrative, Luke states that Mary “treasured these things in her heart, and pondered them” (2.19, 2.51). Those words seem unnecessary unless he wants his readers to think something like the following: “So, she remembered them carefully, and was able to pass them on to some other source, either in word or in writing. That must be what Luke has got access to here.”

This may well mean that Luke recognizes the novelty of his account, and feels the need to justify it to his readers, especially those who know shorter and less adorned works like Mark. Obviously, this is nothing vaguely like a modern footnote! At best, it is meant as a hint.

In some ways, the “secret treasury” idea raises as many problems as it solves. Realistically, Mary is very unlikely to have lived beyond the 40s AD, because women of that era rarely saw their sixtieth birthday. There really is no hint of any kind of written record of these events, so we are meant perhaps to suppose a group or church, located wherever, that still passed on those words as sacred tradition late enough to be heard by Luke. It would not have been in Jerusalem, where older linkages were savagely uprooted in 70AD.

So where might that have been? The stories linking Mary to Ephesus are very late indeed, and depend on a series of assumptions and logical leaps. John’s Gospel has a tradition that Jesus, on the cross, entrusted care of his mother to “the beloved disciple,” with whom she then lived. Later tradition linked this person to (a) the authorship of the gospel and (b) to the apostle John. Other traditions then taught that John himself moved to Ephesus. Hence Mary’s supposed connection to that great city. In the nineteenth century, the location of her alleged residence there was found after visions reported by a nun, and that is the site of a modern shrine.

I don’t have a solution to this issue. But I do return to my original question. How much can we legitimately read into Mark’s quite chilly lack of interest in Jesus’s Mother?

Put another way, does any source that we can plausibly date before, say, 80, frame Mary is a vaguely positive sense?

And why did the church’s attitude to Mary become so much kinder in later years, a half century or so after her son’s death?


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  • Just Sayin’

    “the first surviving gospel (Mark) dates from around 70. Matthew and Luke were probably written a good deal later, in the 90s.”

    I’d be interested in reading your reasons for these dates.

  • philipjenkins

    Overwhelming scholarly consensus. Doesn’t mean that’s inevitably right, but that’s certainly the mainstream opinion on both.

  • Just Sayin’

    Thanks. Every time the dates of the Gospels comes up, I seem to see different estimates, and rarely any justification for the dates given. Sometimes the estimate is e.g. “Matthew c. 70-100” (Raymond Brown) which is not very helpful, but nevertheless honest I think.

    I’d be interested in finding out what this overwhelming scholarly consensus is based on, and what arguments you find particularly persuasive? But perhaps that’s too long and involved a topic for a blog post. Can you recommend any reading on this?

  • philipjenkins

    One book I cherish is Stephen Neill, THE INTERPRETATION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, in the revised edition by N T Wright that took the story up to 1986. Astonishing amount of information passim.

  • Just Sayin’

    Thanks. I will add this book to my seek-out-and-read list!

  • smg45acp

    Icertainly love Mary,
    but if there was ever an example of someone being made larger in death than they were in life, it is Mary.
    A humble servant of Christ and she is to some the called Queen of Heaven!
    Heaven has a King, but nowhere does the Bible ever hint that there is a Queen.
    I saw a chapel in Florida were she is proclaimed to be the Queen of the Universe!
    If she was resurrected from the dead she would personally take a sledge hammer to every statue of herself while screaming “Worship God and God alone. I’m a lowly servant of the Most High, not somebody to be bowed to and prayed to.”

  • cmac

    I think Christians could agree that she was the humblest servant of God, a model even. They might even add the title Theotokos. And if you believe that typology is a valid form of interpretation of the bible, there are plenty of hints in the bible on the Queenship of Mary.

    So is it blasphemous to have statues of George Washington, Abe Lincoln, etc.? Do we not erect statues of great people to call to mind the great sacrifices and ideals they stood for? Nobody claims to worship Lincoln. And certainly no Catholic claims to worship The Blessed Virgin Mary. I’m sure Our Lady knows that.

  • philipjenkins

    As I understand it, Christians have from earliest times had
    a very strict principle about this. Venerating Mary (proskunesis) is fine, but actually worshiping her (latria or dulia) is strictly forbidden. Undoubtedly people have slipped into the latter at various times and places, but the church’s teaching is clear.

  • J_Bob

    With regards NT Gospel dating.

    More contemporary dating, indicates that the Gospels were completed during the Apostolic age.

    That is, Matthew, & Mark appear to have been mostly completed prior to the year 60.

    Luke’s, including Acts was finished in the early 60’s, since it stops during Paul’s 1st imprisonment in Rome.
    John’s would have been completed prior to the destruction of Jerusalem ( 70 AD), since he notes the pool with the 5 porticoes, is still standing, just north of the Temple.

    The Fragment of Muratorian (~160 AD), an early canon of the NT, lists the 4 gospels, Acts, all of St. Paul’s epistles, & most of the other epistles now in the canon.

  • stefanstackhouse

    Those late dates of composition are hardly gospel truth. (Excuse the pun.) It has very legitimately been asked why the hugely traumatic event of the destruction of the Temple gets no mention anywhere in the NT, and if this does not in fact suggest that it was all written BEFORE that event. At the very least, it must be said that the jury is still out on the dating of all four of the gospels.

    It is very clear from the end of the gospels themselves and the beginning of Acts that immediately after the resurrection, the disciples began “comparing notes”, remembering and reviewing all that Jesus had said and done. Indeed, it is reported that Jesus himself conducted an extensive debrief with them at His very first resurrection appearance. It would thus not have taken very long at all for a very extensive and complete oral tradition to have emerged among the first disciples. It is this oral tradition that would have been repeated over and over and transmitted from Christian to Christian and church to church. Claims, therefore, that the authors of any scriptural text could have fabricated something out of whole cloth and foisted it upon the gullible simply don’t hold water. Any text that came into the hands of any group of believers would have been compared against what they already knew from the oral tradition. They would have understood that the writer of any gospel would have to be somewhat selective in what they included, and they would have allowed them a fair amount of literary licence when it came to how the material was arranged. However, putting words into the mouth of Jesus that He never said, or having Him do things that He never did, would never have been acceptable, and the texts that did include such things did not make it into the NT. There was no conspiracy among a small cabal of ecclesiastics centuries later, just Christians who already knew what Jesus had said and done comparing new texts against that.

    Given this, it is not credible that NT accounts of Mary include inventions that simply were not true. Even as late as a century after Christ’s resurrection, the original oral tradition would have still persisted, and invented claims that nobody had ever heard before would not have been acceptable. More acceptable would have been an editorial decision of the writer of each gospel to omit much, or all, of what the early church knew about Mary. None of the gospels are about Mary; she is at most an important supporting character.

    Were there details about Mary that never made it into any of the gospels but were nevertheless true and widely known? Quite possibly. Did some of these make their way into later documents? Perhaps, but then again, perhaps not. If these details of her life were not important enough to be mentioned anywhere in any of the canonical scriptures, perhaps there is a reason for that – a reason well known by the early Christians.

  • echarles1

    “I don’t have a solution to this issue.” Actually you do. You are close. Achingly close! You simply have to do as the very earliest Christians did and listen to (what Lincoln in another context called) the mystic chords of memory. For a mundane example, did you wait for a written biography to know what your grandfather was like as a boy or did you listen to his brothers and sisters? If later on those brothers and sisters sent you letters, some of which spoke of him and some of which didn’t, did fret over it or did you read them in the light of what they had told you?

  • Aaron G.

    First of all full disclosure: I converted to Catholicism 2 years ago from Reformed Protestantism. That said, two interesting points:

    1) I think the idea that Mary lived with John for the rest of her natural life goes a long way to explaining the uniqueness of John’s Gospel. Think of all the things John would have learned from Mary, the only one to know Jesus so intimately all those 30 years before His public ministry began.

    2) Tradition holds that Mary was Assumed into Heaven after her death (dormition if you’re Orthodox). The believers naturally went to her tomb to honor her only to find it empty. This could explain why there was a shift in emphasis on Mary later on, sometime between Christ’s death and the writing of the Gospels. Could this be the “something dramatic” that happened which you refer to (although the dates would be slightly different, but they are highly contentious anyway)?


  • Walter Ray

    As a control for assessing Mark’s treatment of Mary, you might consider his treatment of Jesus’ brothers, for whom we do have relatively early information. What would we say about James if we only had Mark and didn’t have the letter to the Galatians and Josephus? As for Luke’s possible sources, don’t discount Jerusalem so quickly. The discontinuity caused by the events of 67-70 are probably not as great as sometimes stated. See Jerome Murphy-O’Connor’s comments in his recent article on the authenticity of the Holy Sepulchre.

  • Walter Ray

    As a control for assessing Mark’s treatment of Mary, consider his treatment of Jesus’ brothers, for whom we do have early information. What would we think of James if we only had Mark and not Galatians or Josephus? As for Luke’s possible sources, don’t discount Jerusalem so quickly. The loss of continuity post-70 is probably less than is sometimes alleged. See Jerome Murphy-O’Connor’s comments in his recent article on the authenticity of the Holy Sepulchre.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Mr. Jenkins’ dates here are still the scholarly consensus, notwithstanding weak conservative apologetic attempts at “discovering” new early dates. Matthew and Luke CLEARLY rely on Mark, and the Olivet Discourse clearly alludes to the destruction of the Temple. .

    Given that I think the birth narratives are theological myth and display practically no historicity whatsoever, we know practically nothing about Mary from a historical standpoint besides that she was Jesus’s mother. That doesn’t mean parts of her myth can’t convey truth, but the later stories of the Assumption/Magnificat/Conception tell us as much about Mary the historical Galilean Jew as the Infancy Gospel of Thomas tells us about Jesus’s actual childhood.

  • philipjenkins

    You make good points.

  • philipjenkins

    Some people, notably the late Bishop John Robinson back in the 1970s, have made remarkably strong contrarian arguments for such early dates, and they raise challenging questions. But their views remain a tiny minority position among scholars. I would not think of placing any of the Synoptics before 70 or so at the earliest.

  • Andrew Dowling

    The Gospel accounts focus on Jesus’s life; the sources on James you mention solely mention James as a prominent figure POST-crucifiction.

    Also, the other sources we have on James are a primary letter (from Paul) and an external ‘history’ written by a non-Christian, not the mythic narratives we have of Mary beginning with the virgin birth and going through the many writings about Mary through the Church’s first 400+ years.


  • J_Bob

    While not wanting draw to far out, I think the more contemporary dating of the Gospels & Acts seem to be be more in the Apostolic age. Looking at more recent dating of the earliest manuscripts (from Comfort & Barrett), P52 (~125 AD), P66 (~150 AD), & P104 (~100-155 AD), & noting these are copies of copies , etc. one could push the originals back, well into the 1st century.

    The late Dead Sea scholar Fr. Jean Carmignac, pushed the dates back into the 50-60’s for the Synopic gospels, and that little part in John’s gospel about the Pool of Bethesda ( the 5 porticos), being around before being destroyed by Titus in 70 AD.

    The second interesting part is, that as an exercise, Fr. Carmignac, being fluent in 1st century Greek, Hebrew & Aramaic, translated Mark into Hebrew. Far from being difficult, it was quite easy, and it would read “smoother”. The same resulted in back translating Matthew, and seems to verify what Papias noted ~130 AD. This is noted in Fr. Carmignac’s little book “The Birth of the Synoptics”.

    Another Dead Sea scholar Nehemia Gordon ( “The Hebrew Yeshua vs. the Greek Jesus)”, picks up the notion of Matthew’s original being Hebrew, by making sense of the passage in Matthew 23:2-3, regarding the seat of Moses, and who should the people follow. Using a back translation to Hebrew, he shows how a single letter stroke can turn the verse to make more sense. That is, while the Pharisees sit on the chair of Moses, follow what Moses’ says, not those who now occupy the chair.

    We also have to remember, these early Christians risked their necks, or worse, being Christians. They would certainly have a solid basis for doing that.

  • Preston Garrison

    The question I always want to ask of the people who pray to Mary is “do you think the answer is going to be different from what you would get from Jesus?”

  • philipjenkins

    The notion of a Hebrew original for Matthew remains an EXTREME minority opinion among NT scholars, even more so than the idea of a pre-70- date for the Synoptics. Don’t forget the vast amount of publication out there: you can find one or two scholars arguing virtually anything.

  • J_Bob

    I recall reading somewhere, that it was common for students, in Jesus’s time to write down notes, like shorthand, of the teachers words.

    Matthew, being a tax collector, would be a good candidate to make notes of what Jesus spoke, in Hebrew, or Aramaic. Since Jesus read from the scriptures, Hebrew, one could more logically assume the people understood his speaking Hebrew, or Aramaic, rather then Greek.

    While EXTREME positions may not be the consensus, one should remember that consensus has been shown to be wrong, & not be to dismissive of a position, but keep an open mind.

    All it would take would be to find ONE manuscript to blow the majority opinion away. In Eusebius’s “History of the Church”, he makes ref. the Matthews’ Hebrew/Aramaic writing. And he was a lot closer to the action then we are.

  • Andrew Dowling

    You are talking like Fr. Carmignac is the first person to try to translate Mark and Matthew into Hebrew/Aramaic . . scholars have been doing that for MANY decades, and they don’t conform. For Mark, not only does the earliest Patristic references place a date of Mark being at the EARLIEST in the late 60s (after Peter’s death), but clearly the author of Mark is writing for a Gentile audience, and his knowledge of Palestinian geography is poor.

  • J_Bob

    Can you show where I implyed Fr. Carmignac was the 1st person to do translate Matt & Mk from Greek to Hebrew?

    As far as Mark being the 1st gospel, Irenaeus notes that “Matthew published a written gospel for the Hebrews, in their own tongue, while Peter & Paul were preaching in Rome”. Only later does Mark complete his gospel. That is, Matthew’s gospel was 1st. Irenaeus was a pupil of Polycarp, who in turn knew St. John

    Assuming Mark is the same person mentioned in Mk 14:51-52, running away from the arresting crowd, & whose mother’s house Peter went to, in Acts 12:12-13, it would seem that Mark would have a excellent knowledge of Judea at least. An addition he did partially accompany Paul on Paul’s 1st journey, Acts 13:13, & had enough smarts to make it back to Jerusalem on his own.

    Perhaps you might illustrate how clearly it is, that Mark wrote for a Gentile audience, as there was a significant Jewish population in Rome in the mid 1st century.

  • Andrew Dowling

    I know what Iranaeus wrote . .he was wrong. Mathew is clearly a rewrite of Mark . .. whole chapters used word for word and added to/adjusted.

    There is absolutely no reason to equate the Mark attributed to be the author of the Gospel to John Mark in Acts. Nor (and I’ve never even heard this claim made before) with the odd naked youth who runs away in the narrative. That carries as much weight as the idea that the resurrected Lazarus wrote John!

    As for his knowledge of Palestine, Randel Helms writes concerning Mark 11:1 (Who Wrote the Gospels?,
    p. 6): “Anyone approaching Jerusalem from Jericho would come first to
    Bethany and then Bethphage, not the reverse. This is one of several
    passages showing that Mark knew little about Palestine; we must assume,
    Dennis Nineham argues, that ‘Mark did not know the relative positions of
    these two villages on the Jericho road’ (1963, 294-295). Indeed, Mark
    knew so little about the area that he described Jesus going from Tyrian
    territory ‘by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee through the territory
    of the Ten Towns’ (Mark 7:31); this is similar to saying that one goes
    from London to Paris by way of Edinburgh and Rome.” In addition. throughout the Gospel Mark has to explain Jewish customs and also translate
    the few Aramaic words inserted . . if he was writing for Jews that would
    be unnecessary (at least the former). The author himself was likely a rather Hellenized Jew (perhaps writing in Rome but that is merely a best guess)
    This is an opinion shared by practically all mainstream scholars.

  • philipjenkins

    Please note that I am NOT presenting the following as a real theory, but just an illustration of argument.

    The statement about the Resurrected Lazarus writing the Gospel of John actually does have a logical basis (!).

    We know from John 11 that Jesus loved Lazarus.

    John 21 refers to “the disciple whom Jesus loved” and we then go on to hear that “This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down.” (Actually, it’s a different Greek word for “loved” but let that pass).

    Lazarus can’t have done all that before his own resurrection, therefore the Resurrected Lazarus wrote the Gospel of John. QED.

    And don’t ever claim that I put that forward as a serious theory.

  • J_Bob

    You are entitled to your opinion, as am I.

    However 2 of you comments do stand out:

    “I know what Iranaeus wrote . .he was wrong.”.

    How & where did he get it wrong?

    “Nor (and I’ve never even heard this claim made before) with the odd naked youth who runs away in the narrative.”.

    For starters, you might read the footnote in the Jerusalem Bible, about some believe this man was the evangelist.

  • philipjenkins

    You may or may not agree with this, but a great many scholars would say that the events of 70 certainly do appear in the NT, understanding Jesus’s words in Mark 13 (the Marcan Apocalypse) as a retroactive prophecy. If so, and Matthew and Luke both use Mark, then they are clearly post-70.

  • stefanstackhouse

    The problem with that line of reasoning is that it then implies that the events of 70 AD were a total surprise to all the Christians. Eusebius tells us that Christians in Jerusalem evacuated to Pella prior to the siege and destruction. He only says that this was due to a “revelation”, but why would we assume that such a revelation could have been given to ordinary Christians closer to 70 AD but not to Jesus around 30-33 AD? And why would we assume that such a revelation would have come totally out of the blue with no prior reference to anything that Jesus had said?

    Now I suppose one could assume that not just the Gospel writers, but also Eusebius, were all making things up out of whole cloth. The assumptions do seem to be piling up, though, aren’t they? And among them is the assumption that the early Christians were utterly gullible and would just accept anything.

  • Andrew Dowling

    I’m saying he was wrong about Matthew not relying on Mark and its derivation from a Hebrew/Aramaic source. It’s not like Iranaeus doesn’t have a legacy of bending the truth for his apologetic purposes; post-Nag Hammadi one can see many of his claims about some Gnostics sects are mischaracterizations at best and deceitful hyperbole at worst. He also claimed Jesus reached the age of 50 to align with Greek notions of proper wisdom equating to age/experience.

  • J_Bob

    Let’s just stick to your claims relating to refuting Iranaeus being wrong on the composition order, & the never hearing about the youth running away leaving his garment.

    He was after all, closer in time, to the truth, and what would be his purpose NOT to put Mark 1st.

    BTW Eusebius, in his History of the Church, Marcus Aurelius to Severus, pt. 10. He notes the gospel of Matthew having been written in Aramaic (Hebrew?) characters.

  • cmac

    Then why do people ask others to pray for them? Do they think others might get a different answer than they would?

  • philipjenkins

    I’m curious: how does anything you say conflict with the idea that the Marcan Apocalypse was a retroactive prophecy composed around 70, by Mark or another contemporary?

  • philipjenkins

    The short answer would be the belief, mentioned in the Bible, that the prayers of particularly righteous or faithful people carry special weight with God, and in that scenario, Mary would stand at the peak of humanity.

  • Andrew Dowling

    ” . only says that this was due to a “revelation”, but why would we assume
    that such a revelation could have been given to ordinary Christians
    closer to 70 AD but not to Jesus around 30-33 AD?”

    ? You do realize the events of the war started in the mid 60s, and that by 70AD it was pretty clear that Jerusalem was going to be destroyed by the Roman army, as the rebellion fell into disarray.

  • stefanstackhouse

    And you DO realize that the Jewish people – and especially the Zealots – fervently believed that God would miraculously intervene, fight for them, and defeat even a huge Roman army? The whole affair would never have even started in the first place if they didn’t believe that.

  • stefanstackhouse

    The only thing I can suggest, and this is only a very tentative suggestion, is that if someone were going to put words into Jesus’s mouth (so to speak), then one would think that they would have gone all out rather than being so tentative and enigmatic about it. Why not have Jesus predict what was at that time a future event in extensive detail? Instead, Jesus is extremely brief, sketching out only the barest outline, if even that. He essentially just said that something terrible is coming, this Temple is coming down, but really didn’t go into any detail at all about how and when it would all come about. Wouldn’t someone creating an account out of whole cloth want to give it as much credibility as possible by making it as detailed as possible? The fact that it wasn’t all that detailed, but yet nevertheless remarkably on target, suggests to me (at least) that what we actually have here is an account of what Jesus actually said.

    The destruction of the 2nd Temple was a traumatic event on par with the destruction of the 1st Temple and subsequent exile. It is the central and dominant focus of just about everything in the Old Testament that was written on or after that time. Yet, in the New Testament documents we have a very few enigmatic allusions, at best, to the destruction of the 2nd Temple. Wouldn’t one think that, if they were mostly written after that event, all of the authors would be trumpeting this as proof that the old order had passed away and that Jesus, as the final and complete sacrifice, has surpassed and eliminated it? Yet that just isn’t what we see; just a few veiled allusions at the most, and many of those could have been (and actually seem to be) based upon Jesus’s prediction of the event rather than upon the actual event itself.

  • Andrew Dowling

    I’m sure some Zealots believed that God would save them at the last second . . but most Jews weren’t Zealots. There was actually a huge amount of internal dissent and infighting among the various factions in Jerusalem which is one reason the resistance was so easily crushed. And you can bet that most Jerusalem Jews in 69-70 knew their time was short, just like many Germans in 1945 knew Hitler’s regime was on its last legs.

  • Andrew Dowling

    “all of the authors would be trumpeting this as proof that the old order
    had passed away and that Jesus, as the final and complete sacrifice, has
    surpassed and eliminated it?”

    Hmmm, sounds like the Epistle to the Hebrews to me. Also seems clearly apparent with the Temple veil splitting at the end of Mark.

    You’re also assuming the author of Mark knew tons of details. If he was writing from Rome as tradition dictates (and I think that tradition is shaky, but its guess is as good as any) or another northern Christian community, why would he know tons of details? Clearly the evangelist wasn’t there; he would’ve known descriptions from hear-say. And lastly, the author’s task isn’t describing the events of the Jewish-Roman war, but an account of Jesus’s ministry and Crucifiction/Resurrection

  • Hillary Spragg