Historical Commentary on the Gospel of Mark
|1: Now when the Pharisees gathered together to him, with some of the scribes, who had come from Jerusalem, 2: they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands defiled, that is, unwashed. 3: (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they wash their hands, observing the tradition of the elders; 4: and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they purify themselves; and there are many other traditions which they observe, the washing of cups and pots and vessels of bronze.) 5: And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with hands defiled?" 6: And he said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, `This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7: in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' 8: You leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men." 9: And he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God, in order to keep your tradition! 10: For Moses said, `Honor your father and your mother'; and, `He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die'; 11: but you say, `If a man tells||his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is Corban' (that is, given to God) -- 12: then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13: thus making void the word of God through your tradition which you hand on. And many such things you do." 14: And he called the people to him again, and said to them, "Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15: there is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him." 17: And when he had entered the house, and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18: And he said to them, "Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a man from outside cannot defile him, 19: since it enters, not his heart but his stomach, and so passes on?" (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20: And he said, "What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. 21: For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, 22: coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23: All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man."|
|1: Now when the Pharisees gathered together to him, with some of the scribes, who had come from Jerusalem,|
|v1: The writer has the scribes come all the way from Jerusalem to see Jesus. Is that really plausible?|
|v1: Evidence for any Pharisee presence in Galilee prior to 70 CE is scant. The Pharisees only rose to prominence in Judaism after the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE eliminated their rivals the Sadduccees, who had collaborated with the Romans, supplied High Priests for the Temple cult, and fell when it fell.|
|2: they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands defiled, that is, unwashed.|
although it is not obvious in English, the grammar of the verse
indicates that the disciples are eating the magic bread from the
pericope (Gundry 1993, p348). The YLT agrees:
there is no evidence that Jews ever practiced such washing on
return from the marketplace as a formal custom. Many scholars see these
rules as applying to priests and Pharisees only.
|v2: Handwashing is not known from the OT. However, the Mishnah (c. 200 CE) does have rules for handwashing associated with purity.|
Susan Haber (2003, p178-9) writes:
number of scholars have noticed the importance of "bread" and "eating"
motifs in Mark. Just as in Exodus, Jesus twice feeds the people in the
wilderness, and is himself fed in the wilderness on the bread of
angels. Later, at the Last Supper, he will compare himself to a loaf
and pass himself out to the people. Paul also uses this idea of
spiritual food in the wilderness, in 1 Cor 10:
|3: (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they wash their hands, observing the tradition of the elders;|
|v3: The RSV omits the unintelligible phrase "with a fist" which occurs after the word "hands." In v4 it changes the actual word accepted by scholars, "sprinkled," to the word "purify." In other words, some translations smooth out the passage and make it seem more coherent than it is. "Sprinkled themselves," which is what was originally written, is just plain wrong. "With a fist" may refer to a handful of water, rubbing with a clenched fist, or perhaps it is used as a unit of measure (Donahue and Harrington 2002, p221)|
Paul, in Galatians, also reports of the tradition of his fathers:
|4: and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they purify themselves; and there are many other traditions which they observe, the washing of cups and pots and vessels of bronze.)|
Some early manuscripts have "pitchers, kettles and dining
couches." Crossley (2003) argues that "couches" is the correct reading.
In ancient Judaism, he notes, impure objects, such as dining couches,
were immersed. Crossley also argues that the writer's knowledge of this
custom shows a thorough familiarity with Jewish practice.
|5: And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with hands defiled?"|
This verse also refers to the magic bread. The RSV has removed the
references to the magic bread from the
pericope. The YLT has a better translation of this verse:
again how the disciples are implicitly censured for getting the Master
|6: And he said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, `This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7: in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' 8: You leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men."|
Jesus is quoting the Greek Septaugint Isa 29:13. Isa 29 is part of the
background of the gospel. It is highly implausible that Jesus disputed
Pharisees by buttressing his arguments with a Greek text of the Hebrew,
especially as the Greek text differs from the Hebrew text at this point
(Wells 1999, p179). Loader (1998) argues, however, that:
1 Cor 1:19 Paul cites the next verse from Isaiah, 29:14:
|v6, 19, and 21: the word for "heart" derives from the Septaugint Isaiah passage.|
|9: And he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God, in order to keep your tradition!|
the RSV translation is strange and awkward. The NIV has:
|10: For Moses said, `Honor your father and your mother'; and, `He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die';|
Exod 20:12 and 21:17 of the LXX almost word for word. Our text
|v10: here Jesus clearly appears to agree that people who curse their parents should be killed. However, this is probably not what is intended. The writer merely has Jesus adduce this as an example of how stringent things were in the old days, much as someone today might praise the toughness and commitment of football players in the days before padding, without actually advocating that anyone play without pads.|
|11: but you say, `If a man tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is Corban' (that is, given to God) -- 12: then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother,|
|v11-12: A certain sum of money, called Corban (or Korban), could be dedicated to the Temple prior to the death of one's parents, by solemn oath. So dedicated, it could not then be used for any other purpose, even during the lifetime of the owner or parents.|
|14: And he called the people to him again, and said to them, "Hear me, all of you, and understand:|
|v14: similar phrases occur in 2 Sam 20:16, Isa 6:9, and Macc 2:65.|
|15: there is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him."|
similar to Romans 14:14 and 14:20.
16: [ spurious verse ]
|v16: this is considered spurious although several ancient manuscripts have it. It reads "Anyone who has ears ought to hear" (Donahue and Harrington 2002, p224).|
|19: since it enters, not his heart but his stomach, and so passes on?" (Thus he declared all foods clean.)|
|v19: The explanatory aside here, "(Thus he declared all foods clean.)" seems to strongly indicate a situation addressing later community issues over food laws and Gentiles. The flavor of this passage is strongly pro-Pauline. The fact that food issues were extremely divisive in early Christianity argues that this is an anachronism. Had the real Jesus left such powerful words, food purity rules would never have divided the early communities. Further, as Steve Carr (2004) points out, this revolutionary change in Jewish practice goes uncriticized by Jesus' opponents for the next 9 chapters of the Gospel of Mark. Thus, this is probably a true anachrononism.. Tomson (2001, p259-261) has argued that although the phrase "Thus he declared all foods clean" is found in the oldest manuscripts, later manuscripts change the wording so that it is digestion that makes all foods clean (Origen knows the modern reading, however, so the change was made early).|
|20: And he said, "What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. 21: For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, 22: coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23: All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man."|
Similar lists exist in 1 Cor 6:9-10, Rom 1:29-31, and Gal 5:19-21:
v1-13 concern themselves with cleanliness, while v15 concerns
with food laws. Ludemann (2001, p49) argues that v15 cannot answer the
problem posed by the Pharisees in v5. In that view the whole scene is
of the writer of Mark based on a faulty understanding of Jewish law,
thus, is utterly unhistorical. Gundry (1993, p354), by constrast sees
from how to eat to what to eat as a very natural one. As the writer of
Mark is a playful fellow with an acute sense of humor and vast
knowledge of the OT and Jewish tradition, this writer is hesitant to
the "error" explanation
Two important motifs in Mark, bread and eating, appear together here. These
two ideas wind through Mark all the way back to Mark 2, where we
encounter the loaves that David ate (or didn't eat), and Jesus eating
with sinners. In this pericope the disciples are eating the magic bread
created by Jesus in the last feeding miracle. Another important Markan
theme is highlighted by the dispute over purity: who is inside, and who
This pericope has a typical Markan chiastic structure with a
simple exterior and a complex parallel/paired interior.
The structure also displays the paired oppositions that the
writer is so fond of. In A, Tyre and
Sidon oppose Jerusalem,
and Jesus (he) opposes the
In the B bracket, the emptiness of focusing on clean hands is opposed
to the real defilement of a dirty heart. At the
same time the
interior gives us
yet another complex structure. In the interior, there are two pairs of
triplets, each beginning with an expression of anger, followed by a
citation of scripture, and finally, an accusation that they have
rejected the word
of the Lord.
As is often the case in Mark, a second, smaller structure
highlights a saying.
At the same time, Sayler (1993) has shown that this structure
contains a complex argument that elaborates and extend chreia
structures. Mark 7:1-23 is truly a
tour de force.
Basser (Jesus and the
This pericope is found in the Bethsaida section of Mark, a
disputed section that to many exegetes looks like it has been
interpolated into Mark. It has a very Markan feel to it. Note that in
v1 there is a reference to the scribes who have come down from
Jerusalem. At the moment Jesus is far from Jerusalem. Perhaps this
pericope was originally located in Mark 10, perhaps in Mark 10:46,
where a pericope has been removed. The missing events in Mark 10 take
place in Jericho. It is easier to imagine the scribes coming out to
Jericho to see the rabble-rouser rather than making the long trek to
Galilee merely to become the targets of Jesus' wit.
The presence of the supernatural magic bread from previous
events indicates that we
are not looking at a dispute preserved from a source that goes back
deep into the tradition, but rather something was created
by the author of the Gospel. The event as depicted here cannot possibly
have taken place. Nor can a tradition of dispute over handwashing be
demonstrated as no evidence exists to support the idea that there was
any handwashing violation here. Further, the dispute over eating seems
to refer to problems of later Christianity and thus represents a true
anachronism. In sum, nothing in this pericope may be deemed supportive
|24: And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house, and would not have any one know it; yet he could not be hid. 25: But immediately a woman, whose little daughter was possessed by an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell down at his feet. 26: Now the woman was a Greek, a Syrophoeni'cian by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter.||27: And he said to her, "Let the children first be fed, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." 28: But she answered him, "Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." 29: And he said to her, "For this saying you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter." 30: And she went home, and found the child lying in bed, and the demon gone.|
|24: And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house, and would not have any one know it; yet he could not be hid.|
|v24: this journey is redactional to Mark. Some authorities believe the phrase "and Sidon" is a spurious addition (Donahue and Harrington 2002, p232). During the Jewish War (66-70) the Tyrians were the bitter enemies of the Jews (Josephus War 2). Note that Jesus is alone in this pericope for almost the only time in the Gospel.|
|26: Now the woman was a Greek, a Syrophoeni'cian by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter.|
|v26: Although exegetes typically see the point of this parable to be Jesus' healing a gentile, a non-Jew has already been healed back in Mark 5. The Gerasene demoniac was from the Greek cities of the Decapolis.|
Weeden (1971) points out, the foreign woman has no trouble recognizing
Jesus' powers, although his own disciples do not.
|27: And he said to her, "Let the children first be fed, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs."|
|v27: "dogs." Dogs were unclean in ancient Judaism and were ordinarily not permitted in Jewish homes, unlike Gentiles. "Since Jewish law considered both dogs and gentiles to be unclean," Joan Mitchell (2001, p110) observes, "dog made a ready name for gentiles." In virtually all theological interpretations this pericope is taken to be from the period of the expansion of Christianity out of its Judaic cradle and into the gentile world.|
|v27: "children must be fed." In the two feeding miracles, Jesus first feeds Jews and then Gentiles.|
the children first be fed." Here Jesus says the children of Israel are
to fed first, perhaps an echo of Romans 1:16, where Paul argues "to the
Jews first" (Donahue and Harrington 2002, p40).
Sawicki (1992) notes:
|28: But she answered him, "Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs."|
|v28: Camery-Hoggat (1992, p150-1) explains the exchange in v27-28 as an example of peirastic irony, in which the speaker (Jesus) challenges the listener to come up with a riposte that confirms the speaker's own position by declaring the opposite of what one means or wants. Camery-Hoggat points to Genesis 19:2, where the angels test whether Lot is serious about his hospitality by stating the opposite of their real desire: "No, we will spend the night in the street." Camery-Hoggat argues that the vocabulary of the story, which opposes "children" (the Jews) to "dogs" (Gentiles) in the context of "bread" (with its overtones of Jesus' teachings and the Eucharist) shows that the writer has created a scene filled with wordplay which invites the speakers to engage in verbal joust and riposte, thus justifying his position.|
Pokorny (1995), notes
Pokorny also links this to Romans 10:9, where Paul says that those who confess that Jesus is lord will be saved. Note that the woman addresses Jesus as "lord" here, not teacher or master.
Thompson (2005) has also pointed to the echo of Leviticus 19:9-10 here:
Verses 25-30 contain a typical miracle story, with the usual
Elijah-Elisha parallels. Donahue and Harrington (2002) write:
It also parallels the Elisha cycle, where the son of the Shunammite woman is restored to life (2 Kings 4:18-37), where the locale is in the north, the woman falls at his feet (and grasps them), and the healing is followed again by a simple pronouncement (Donahue and Harrington 2002, p232). Funk et al (1997) observe that the aphorism the writer presents here is not attested anywhere else in the tradition, and thus is probably an invention of the writer of Mark.
The story also contains the bread motif (bread/crumbs). Strangely, it presents Jesus confronting this woman without his disciples.
This pericope presents an outstanding problem of historical interpretation for most exegetes. As noted elsewhere, exegetes tend to carry around two seriously contradictory criteria. First, they argue that anything that reflects negatively on Jesus is probably a real tradition going back to the Historical Jesus, the so-called Embarrassment Criterion. At the same time, they also wield a criterion that says that anything that looks like it was invented to address issues in the later Church is probably a fiction. These two criteria contradict each other and never more clearly than in this pericope, for the exegete can opt for either. Perhaps the Embarrassment Criterion applies, as Jesus is shown insulting the woman by implying that she is a dog. Or perhaps this is an invention of the later Church, which, aimed at gentiles itself, wanted to show Jesus approving its mission to the gentiles. Either one could be supported, and without some kind of meta-criterion that tells you what to opt for when criteria clash, it is impossible to know which one is right. This pericope is the reason the usual positive criteria are entirely rejected in this commentary, for they founder on this pericope.
One proposal for the structure of the discourse here is that in 7:24-30 we are looking at another variation on the chreia form, this one a Setting-Challenge-Riposte version, where Jesus challenges the woman to justify her position. With great skill, the writer of this pericope has interleaved a chreia and a chiasm. The center of the pericope has a chiastic A-B-B'-A' structure that focuses on the keywords children -- dogs -- dogs -- children:
There are other, similar parallel structures in this pericope. Consider this:
Gentiles, like demons, were unclean.
Here is a chiasm for this pericope. A chiasm can be constructed, but the triplet chreia structure, unlike any other in Mark, the fact that no clear bracketing is available for the verse I have blocked out as CDE, and the lack of a neat doublet in the center, as well as the masked ABBA and ABAB structures, all indicate that this is probably not from the hand of the writer of Mark.
The presence of the supernatural, the probable chreia structure, and the allusions to the Elijah-Elisha cycle all indicate that there is no support for historicity from this pericope.
|31: Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, through the region of the Decap'olis. 32: And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech; and they besought him to lay his hand upon him. 33: And taking him aside from the multitude privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue; 34: and looking up to||heaven, he sighed, and said to him, "Eph'phatha," that is, "Be opened." 35: And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36: And he charged them to tell no one; but the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37: And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, "He has done all things well; he even makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak."|
|31: Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, through the region of the Decap'olis.|
|v31: While some exegetes have argued that the verse is unhistorical because it shows that "the Evangelist was not directly acquainted with Palestine" (Nineham 1963, p40), my own experience of pre-industrial cultures indicates that even people who have lived in a region for many years may not be aware of which direction things are, since they orient themselves by landmarks rather than by compass points. No judgment about either Mark's experience of Palestine or historicity that can be made based on the description of Jesus' journey.|
|32: And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech; and they besought him to lay his hand upon him.|
William Hamilton (1960) observes:
the RSV has translated the Greek word for "stammer" as
to speech." Hoskyns and Davey (1931) write:
|33: And taking him aside from the multitude privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue;|
|v33: Spittle was widely recognized in the ancient world as having therapuetic properties. Tacitus recounts a famous story in which a blind man begs Vespasian to place the Emperor's spittle on his eyes.|
|36: And he charged them to tell no one; but the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.|
|v36: the Markan motif of secrecy, and hence, redactional.|
|37: And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, "He has done all things well; he even makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak."|
Markan motif of astonishment. "the deaf hear and the dumb
is probably a reference to Isaiah 35:5-6:
and Isaiah 42:18-19:
Ludemann observes (2001, p52) that "because of the detailed description the story reads almost like instructions for Christian miracle workers."
This healing is not found in either Matt or Luke. Meier (1994)
The specific details are often cited here as a basis for
(1993, p387), writing in this vein, states:
Such claims are totally subjective, of course. The Aramaic
word that the writer uses in v34, Eph'phatha, is often considered to
go back to Jesus, but its usage here is consistent with magical
formulae in antiquity, which often rely on imported words as words of
power (Sanders 1992, p145, also Funk et al 1997, p71)). In our own
culture Latin often fulfills
this role, as in The Book of the Dun
Cow, or the Harry Potter
This pericope has a nicely balanced
chiastic structure. However, the center is so wordy that it strikes me
as unMarkan. Markan centers typically balance a prolix comment with a
pithy one to produce a satisfying rhythmic effect.
No support for historicity can be found in this pericope due
to the presence of the supernatural, conventional formulae for magic
workers, Markan motifs, Markan stylistic signals (the interreference in
v32), the parallels to previous miracles in Mark, and creation from the
|Excursus: Is Mark Prophecy Fufilled or History
Correspondences between the Gospel of Mark and the Old Testament (OT) are noted by all commentators regardless of their particular scholarly, methodological, and religious stances. Scholars in general view these parallels in two ways. First, they are seen as evidence of Markan creativity off of Old Testament sources. Second, they see the Gospel composers as depicting historical events in terms of Old Testament ones. It is routine in historical scholarship to see close linguistic and historical parallels as raising the possibility of creativity off of a source, rather than recording history. Further, it is well known that ancient authors cast the events of their time in the more prestigious language and history of previous events.
In apologetic circles the parallels between the Old Testament and the New Testament (NT) are viewed in terms of prophecy. This view is exemplified by hundreds of websites that list links between the OT and the NT, such as this one or this one, claiming there are hundreds of such prophecies, and that the odds that any person could have fulfilled all these prophecies are astronomically low. To see why serious scholars regard such claims as low-grade apologetic tripe, let's look at how we know the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament is one of creation, and not prophecy fulfillment.
First, the Gospel concordances with the text of the OT, or Torah, are generally not with the Hebrew version of the Torah, but with a Greek version of it called the Septuagint. According to legend, the Septuagint was a translation of the Hebrew scriptures into Greek made in Alexandria, Egypt, sometime around the beginning of the third century BCE. Whatever the origin of the particular Greek translations used by the Gospel writers, it is clear that they used a Greek translation, and not the original Hebrew. The two are different (scholars debate over whether this is due to translator errors, or the fact that the early Hebrew texts were different than the ones we have now). One wonders why God would make his messiah conform to prophecies written in Greek, not the ones written in Hebrew. That was quite subtle of God, as Nietszche would later observe.
A second reason that we know the Gospel authors were creating off of the OT, is that they frequently cite it directly, without actually saying so, in ways that look as though they are pointing us back to the OT. For example, Mark 1:2 is a direct citation of Exodus 23:20 and Malachi 3:1. Again in Mark 5:21-43, the writer of Mark cited the Greek of the Septuagint in the parents' reaction to the news that their daughter has been raised. If you trace that Greek back, you come to a scene in 2 Kings 4 that contains many parallels to the scene in Mark. Similarly, in the middle of the Crucifixion scene, Jesus gives his famous cry "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" which comes from Psalm 22. If you return to Psalm 22, you will find many elements of the Crucifixion scene in it.
The third reason that we know the Gospel authors were making new, not merely recording fulfilled prophecy, is that they frequently deepened and extended each other's work, as well as made errors that point to the origin of their stories. The writer of Matthew copied Mark extensively (of 114 or so Markan pericopes, over 100 appear in Matthew) and frequently adds to it. However, the writer of Matthew was a bit dense, and sometimes made stupid mistakes. Reading Mark, he deduced that Mark had relied on Zech 9:9 for the story of Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem. Zech 9:9 states:
Poor Matthew read the Greek and got all confused, thinking that it meant that Jesus was supposed to be riding on a colt and a donkey, two animals, instead of one. Thus a famous error in Matthew points to the origin of the story. In the Gethsemane scene, the writer of Luke realized that the writer of Mark parallels 3 Kings (LXX). However, the writer of Mark declined to supply the angel that ministers to Elijah in that passage, so Luke added it, along with additional language from the Septuagint. Such changes point to both the origin of the passage, and its creation at the hands of the Gospel authors. It also says volumes about how they themselves regarded the stories they were telling.
Because of this, the parallels themselves in certain cases offer predictive value. Again, in the Gethsemane arrest scene the writer of Mark has chosen 2 Sam 15-17 as the basis for his story. A complete set of parallels includes:
There's something wrong with one of the parallels in Mark, however.
A line is missing, the line where Jesus, like David, tells the would-be assassin to put up his sword. Consequently, the violence goes unresolved in Mark. Based on this, we might expect that at least one of the other gospels might finish the parallel. Sure enough, Matt and John have the attacker put away his sword. Luke errs here, and instead of "put it back" (meaning the sword), he has Jesus restore the ear miraculously, misunderstanding the text to focus on the severed ear rather than the sword drawn from its sheath. Luke's error is revealing, however, and it seems that there was originally a line in Mark, now missing, that must have said "put it back." The idea of creation from parallels helps to predict that.
A scholarly variation on the "prophecy fulfilled" claim is the argument that Jesus attempted to live his life in terms of the OT prophecies of the messiah. A glance at the gospel stories will show why this cannot be the case. Consider the use of Psalm 22 in the Crucifixion scene. There the Roman soldiers cast lots for Jesus' garment. Imagine how Jesus could have accomplished that from the cross:
The fundamental problem with this apologetic approach is that it requires the full and constant cooperation of others. That is absurd on its face; if there is one thing one learns in life, it is that people never follow one's scripts. For example, in the Gospels suppliants always beg Jesus for help. They never bargain, threaten, demand, or offer cash or services for miracles rendered, unlike actual human beings facing actual modern miracle workers.
The final reason we know that the Gospel writers invented and overwrote history is that they tell us that they did so. The OT is named and quoted as Scripture in the Gospels. In Mark 14:27 Jesus says:
That is a direct citation of Zechariah 13:7. Sure enough, later that evening, the disciples all bail when the authorities show up to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Since, as we have seen, the Gethsemane scene is a fiction of the writer of Mark based on 2 Sam 15-17 and the Elijah-Elisha Cycle, the reader will have to answer the question of whether the writer is using the Old Testament to write history, or to write his story. Whatever answer you come up with, it probably won't be the case that prophecy is being fulfilled here.
Commentary on the Gospel of Mark
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