E Bruce Brooks
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
The Twelve in Mark and Acts
SBL Eastern Great Lakes, Deer Creek Center, Mt Sterling OHIO, 12-13 Apr 2007
Mentions of the Twelve in Mark can be shown (Brooks SBL/NE 2006) to be exiguous in Mark. Their purpose there is evidently anticipatory, not descriptive (nor are they based on earlier material, as Meyer 1921 proposed). It is also noticeable that the account of the Twelve in Acts has been blended with that of James the Lord's Brother (whose rise to leadership, not to mention his conversion, is never narrated), that the Twelve in Acts reduce essentially to Peter, and that even Peter's deeds are emblematic, being often constructed so as to be parallel to those of Paul. It has been well observed that Peter in Acts is heavily Paulinized, and Paul is heavily Petrinized. None of this inspires confidence in either account as a history of the Twelve.
I here employ the method of dissonance, and approach Mark and Acts (but not "Q," whose hazards were shown by Pearson 2004) not for a directly reported account of the Twelve, but in search of surviving fragments of an other wise obliterated tradition of the Twelve. I ask the question: What inconsistencies do these two texts contain, and which term of those inconsistencies is likely to reflect early tradition?
The material is unpromising, and care is obviously needed in working with it, but together with hints in other texts, including James (Brooks SBL/NE 2007), certain results of that inquiry tend to cohere, and in a way compatible with certain suggestions of previous scholars. Among the points of this emerging synthesis as to the earliest Christianity are that:
- At least one strand of it was located in Galilee.
- It consisted of small, separate communities of Jews.
- It emphasized mutual support and moral self-sufficiency,
- not organizational hierarchy.
- It enjoined frugality and noncontention.
- Its teaching was based on a simplified Mosaic code,
- not on the Resurrection of Jesus.
- It proselytized among Diaspora Jewish communities north of Galilee,
- with healings as part of its strategy of convincement.
- It awaited an imminent Last Day of Judgement.
- It did not include a Gentile Mission.
- It involved an attenuated expectation of Jewish national renewal.
From this core Christianity, both the rigorist Jerusalem Christianity of James the Lord's Brother and the libertarian Gentile Christianity of Paul (whose duel to the death it is the purpose of Acts to dramatize) can be seen as logical developments. The Galilean Christianity here outlined, though it vanished organizationally, did leave its mark on the second generation documents (Matthew, Luke, the final form of James). Though itself cursed by that second generation (Mt 11:21 || Lk 10:13), in part for its presumption, Galilean Christianity contributed to that generation, and even to those texts, some of Christianity's most enduring and least divisive elements.
All lectures and abstracts posted on this site are Copyright © by their authors.
2 Feb 2007 / Contact The Project / Exit to Conferences Page